Monday, 7 December 2009


I am truly fascinated by the theological term perichoresis.  Some associate it with a divine dance of mutual love in the Trinity.  It was something of a buzz word when I was studying for a Master of Theology degree at Oxford and beloved by Professor Paul Fiddes.  It is interesting that his book Participating in God: a pastoral doctrine of the Trinity  uses the term over thirty times and one edition of the book has on the front cover a painting by Henri Matisse of a group of dancing naked females.  In the Middle Ages perichoresis became linked with the image of a divine dance, as Fiddes points out.  Fiddes argues that the image of the perichoresis of the Trinity as movements in a dance - not as a group of dancers - accords well with the identification of the divine persons as relations.

I understand perichoresis to refer to the mutual indwelling and interpenetration in the Trinity. Apparently perichoresis was originally used by the Stoics and meant interpenetration.  It has been traced back in Christian theology to the Cappodocian Fathers in the fourth century.  Its trinitarian roots go back to Pseudo Cyril and John of Damascus and they both used the term to emphasize reciprocity and exchange in the mutual indwelling and penetration of the Trinity.

Sunday, 15 November 2009

Recommending Bzel333 on

I now subscribe to Bzel333's channel on YouTube.  His messages are sound, full of insight and biblical truth.

I enjoy seeing his videos. I particularly like his teaching on the second coming of Christ, especially against the secret rapture theory and dispensationalism, and his exposure of false teaching. Please find out more about his eschatological views, i.e. views about the end times, the last days. They are well thought out and intelligently argued.

Bzel333 clearly has a love for the Bible and the glorious Gospel message.  Download his videos; new ones are produced frequently. Try and see for yourself.  Long may his ministry continue.

Wednesday, 11 November 2009

My videos are now on YouTube

Today I started to show some of my videos of Pembrokeshire on YouTube.   My first one was uploaded a few hours ago and features Barafundle Bay on a glorious June day, earlier in this year.  I have registered under the name of Johlibaptist, so I hope you can find and view them easily.  So far all the videos are related to the Pembrokeshire Coast in Wales.  It is officially recognized as a place of outstanding natural beauty and the coastal path is a national park. Enjoy!

Wednesday, 4 November 2009

Beautiful Barafundle Bay

Barafundle Bay is my favourite beach.  It is very beautiful on a bright sunny day.  I can recall some very happy moments there.  Next year a film called Barafundle Bay will be released at the end of April, directed by Hattie Dalton and starring Hugh Bonneville, Benedict Cumberbatch, JJ Feild and Tom Burke.  There is an interesting and amusing blog about the making of this film with some fine photographs.  No doubt this film will make Barafundle Bay even more popular and crowds of people will be visiting it.  I just hope that it does not get spoilt, because part of its wonderful charm is its calm, peaceful and natural setting.  I love Barafundle Bay as it is, without the litter and pollution.  I hope there is never a hotel, bar, restaurant or leisure facility by the beach.  I also hope that you enjoy my photographs of Barafundle Bay. Such a beautiful place!

For information about the film Barafundle Bay please see:

Tuesday, 3 November 2009

Footprints in the sand at Barafundle Bay, one of the most beautiful beaches in the world.

I have inserted, among my photographs down below in this blog, a photograph of footprints in the sand at Barafundle beach, Pembrokeshire, Wales. It reminds of the famous Footprints in the Sand Christian poem. The authorship of this poem has been hotly disputed. Its message has been a blessing to many people all over the world and has been translated into many languages. There is a popular ballad sung by Leona Lewis based on the famous words from an idea by Simon Cowell.

For information about the authorship and versions of the poem please click on the hyperlink

For information about the song please go to the website

I have discovered that the fossils of dinosaur footprints can been seen in the rocks at low tide.

Saturday, 31 October 2009

Beautiful Barafundle Bay, Pembrokeshire, one of Britain's best beaches

Barafundle Bay, which is under the care of the National Trust and listed as part of the Stackpole Estate, has one of the most beautiful beaches in Britain. It is my favourite beach in Wales. The golden sands and dunes can be accessed by the Pembrokeshire Coastal path and it is not easily reached. It is unspoilt and right away from the madding crowd, car parks, caravans, holiday homes, buildings, roads and shops.

I love to visit Barafundle out of the school holiday season and on bright sunny evenings in June when there are very few people on the beach and along the coastal path. On such June evenings it is wonderfully peaceful. My photographs were taken this June on a beautiful sunny evening when my family were, by the time we left the beach, the only people in the area. Magnificent!

I hope you like the photographs in my gallery, so scroll well down below in this blog.

Friday, 23 October 2009

Fundraising lunch in aid of the persecuted church on Saturday 24 October

On Saturday 24 October 2009 there will be a fundraising lunch at Hornchurch Baptist Church, on the corner of North Street and Leather Lane above the Iceland foodstore. Doors will be open at 11.30 a.m. and at 1 p.m. Stuart Windsor of Christian Solidarity Worldwide will be the guest speaker and will give a challenging presentation. Visitors will be most welcome. Literature about the persecuted church will be on display. Items will be on sale to help raise funds for Christians enduring persecution for their faith and witness.

For further information about Christian Solidarity Worldwide, voice for the voiceless, please see the website:

Wednesday, 21 October 2009

The best soup I have tasted from a can

Have you tried the soup in the Baxters luxury range? Well, the Lobster Bisque with the new improved recipe is delicious! I thoroughly recommend it. I cannot think of a better soup that I have tasted from a can. And the Cream of Asparagus, also with the new improved recipe, is full of flavour and well worth trying. But do try the Lobster Bisque and tell me what you think. It comes with brandy and fresh double cream. Go on, get some from your supermarket. I bought mine from Sainsbury's for £1.42. Well worth it too! Do you agree?

Saturday, 17 October 2009

Good to be back blogging again

In July my PC died and I was sad to lose so much on my hard drive, though attempts to retrieve files and photographs continue with some expert help. At the end of July and in August I was in Ontario, Canada. I saw the Niagara Falls again and visited the lovely town of Niagara on the Lake.

I have added some more photographs on this blog in my gallery below. I hope that you enjoy them.
There will be some new photographs of Canada.

I now have a new computer and will back up my photographs etc. so that they are securely saved and kept for the future. It is good to be able to blog again, and I hope to share my thoughts, my joys, my theological reflections and continue to celebrate the beauty of England, Finland, Sweden and Wales.

Sunday, 5 July 2009

Bradwell Pilgrimage 2009

On Saturday 4 July the annual ecumenical pilgrimage at Bradwell took place. The weather was warm, gloriously sunny and bright. It was a real joy to walk on such a lovely day to the Chapel of St Peter Ad Murum, St Peter's Juxta Mare, from Bradwell Parish Church. There was a refreshing breeze which made the walk even more enjoyable.

Monday, 29 June 2009

Happy Memories of Hazel Hollis (1974-2008)

Last Saturday Hornchurch Baptist Church held a thanksgiving service for the life of Hazel Hollis, who sadly died of breast cancer last year. Hazel was a lovely Christian young woman who, though dead, still speaks by the fragrant memories and her kind words that she spoke during her short life on earth. Her race was not a marathon, but a successful sprint or short run.

Hazel was known for her lovely smile, positive attiude to life and people and tremendous energy in carrying out what she believed in. Her testimony was bright and clear (and copies of her story are available from Hornchurch Baptist Church, Leather Lane, Hornchurch, Essex, RM11 1RL tel. 01708 456173) ; she was open and honest. Hazel had a love for her fellow Christians and folk in the community. Her involvement in cafe church and cafe style evangelism was inspirational; it is hoped that her work in this area will continue and those that she wanted to reach will be invited to respond to the wonderful Gospel message, which Hazel proclaimed in word and deed.

Some men in the church will never forget her beautiful long hair and the little black dress that she once wore to a social event; once seen but never forgotten, because she had the figure to do justice to the said garment. Hazel did turn heads, and other women noticed the male admirers. Some were protective towards her, but Hazel could take care of herself being highly trained in Tai Kwon Do (the Korean martial art).

We believe that Hazel is now with the Lord, and though absent from our fellowship of believers she is with the saints triumphant and the great cloud of witnesses. Hazel is, I believe, cheering us on, interceding and working for the Lord in a new way.

After this memorial service there was a storm and very heavy rain which lasted for hours and it soaked quite a few people. It caused some flash flooding. To me it was like tears from heaven, weeping with those on earth who felt the grief of Hazel's death, yet this rain was welcome blessing to a parched and needy land. Hazel brought showers of blessing into many lives.

Saturday, 27 June 2009

Eastern Baptists

The Eastern Baptist Assembly took place today at Christchurch, Ipswich, Suffolk. The building was quite full, and that is very welcome in a fellowship linked to the United Reformed Church which has been in serious numerical decline in parts of the England. (In some Essex villages the URC cause seems to have a terminal prognosis. The United Reformed Church is an organization with perceptible problems; it does not seem united and its certainly not reformed from my point of view.) Certain Essex Baptist churches have closed (Ardleigh Green, Harold Hill, Mawney's to name a few), but there are some very encouraging signs of numerical and financial growth, and project development.

The seminars at the EBA were engaging and stimulating. I rejoice in the fact that Eastern Baptist wish to engage and connect with everyday folk and meet them on the high street, in the highways and byways, the ditches and the dirty places of life.

Thursday, 25 June 2009

Another warm sunny day in the Constable Country

This afternoon I spent a most enjoyable afternoon at Hall Farm, near the parish church at Stratford St Mary, buying the local farm shop produce and sampling the fine food in the restaurant. I was feeling content with my lot in life as I ate al fresco under the high June sun and admired the view across the meadows to Dedham. The magnificent tower of St Mary's could be seen above the leafy landscape with lovely lanes and farmlands. Such scenes inspired John Constable. Coachloads of tourists and day trippers come for cream teas at the Essex Rose and the Boathouse Restaurant at Dedham. Le Talbooth at Stratford St Mary has a beautiful setting and offers top quality food. There are many good places to eat in this area, and the public houses are worth visiting. I have happy memories of The Swan at Stratford St Mary, where my sons used to play and chase each other in the beer garden by banks of the River Stour. John Constable painted The Young Waltonians near this spot, but the old mill is no longer there.

Saturday, 20 June 2009

Tenby, Dinbych yr Pysgod

Tenby in Pembrokeshire will always have a special place in my heart. I have so many very happy memories of relatives, events and family holidays there. We used to visit Uncle John Cilyn Davies and Aunty Dilys Davies, who lived at Crosgar (on the corner of Queen's Parade and Trafalgar Road in Tenby. Their bedroom had a magnificent view across to Caldey Island. Uncle John, who for many years was the bank manager at Barclay's in Narbeth, bought Crosgar for his retirement. Dilys loved playing golf at the links nearby. (She was a county tennis player, and something of a gymnast when she was a schoolgirl at Tasker's School in Haverfordwest.) My sons loved the seaside and playground by the South Beach area. We would often eat at Candy's Restaurant, with the magnificent view of the harbour and North Beach. Uncle John liked a drink, well a few pints, at The Mariners.

He would come back to Crosgar and enjoy a whisky night cap. Dilys liked a drop of Valpolicella and enjoyed adventurous cooking; well it was adventurous in those days, helped by a lovely Rayburn cooker in the kitchen. My elder son liked to talk to the seagulls that visited the backyard, and made friends with one of them that he called Joey. He liked to go on the nearby swings that were there in the 1980s, and we played putting and boules on the green across the road. I loved to look across the sea to Caldey Island by the flight of steps that go down to the beach carpark; at one time there was a "fundrome", which is now a distant memory.

Boat trips to Caldey were always a most enjoyable experience; we loved to visit the Abbey, hear the monks talk about the Cistercian way of life and give informative guided tours to men only. One year I remember Roscoe Howells giving the talk and guided tour, shortly after his conversion to Roman Catholicism. While I respect the monastic way, I don't really think of it as a positive witness and best way of living the Christian life. There seems to be too much restrictive practice which inhibits spiritual activity, such as evangelism and sharing the Gospel with others, perhaps over an evening drink. Going to bed before 9 p.m. in the middle of summer seems to be a form of stupidity. What a waste of such lovely sunny daylight hours and balmy Summer evenings with beautiful sunsets.

Sunset at Whitesands Bay
I also rejoice in my happy marriage and love for my sons. The monastic life is definitely not for me. To love, to think and to engage in good conversation, that's the life. No vow of silence and celibacy for me!

Caldey Island from South Beach, Tenby

Wednesday, 17 June 2009

Joy in June 2009, pleasant days in Pembrokeshire

I spent some lovely days in Pembrokeshire walking the coastal path and enjoying the long Summer days with fine weather and brillant sunshine. I rejoice in the beauty of West Wales, especially the beaches and seascapes. I have two favourite parts of the Pembrokeshire Coastal Path: from St Bride's Haven to Broadhaven, and from Stackpole Quay to Barafundle Bay.


I have taken some photographs of the Pembrokeshire coast on my Fuji digital camera. I hope you like them, but they can in no way capture the true beauty and glorious sights that have to be experienced while walking along the coastal path in God's presence in Christ Jesus by the Holy Spirit. A foretaste of heaven!

Tuesday, 26 May 2009

Stockholm and Baltic blessings

I have just come back from a wonderful vacation in Stockholm, on the Viking Ferry to Abo/Turku Finland via Mariehamn, Aland. I love the trip through the Ska"rgarden - the many, many islands between Sweden and Finland. I really enjoyed the long days and very cool nights. Stockholm is a very beautiful city surrounded by water. To get the most out of a visit it is well worth going on a boat ride. I recommend the Stockholm Card so that the main sites can be seen at a very reasonable cost. Gamla Stan, the old city area, has immense charm and character.
I arrived on Ascension Day (Kristihimmelfa"rdsdag) when Christians remember and celebrate the ascension of Jesus, as described by Dr Luke in the book of the Acts of the Apostles (chapter 1: 6-11). Four excellent singers were practising in the ancient church.

I went as a footpassenger on the Viking Ferry to Aland and then on to Abo/Turku. I remember seeing Ingmar Bergman's Sommaren med Monika and thinking how lovely is the Swedish skargarden in Summer on warm and long Summer days.

When I arrived in Finland I stayed for one night in Abo and then drove a rental car on the Route 8 from Abo to Ha"rkmeri, about 220 kilometres north. It is very peaceful there and much better in May without the gnats (myggorna). Watching the setting sun over the sea near Kristinestad, after 11 p.m. local time, in the distant north was awesome. Such a beautiful and uplifting site. No photograph can capture the glory of that moment. I have added some photographs. I hope that folk will enjoy and rejoice in the beauty of God's creation. Hallelujah!

Saturday, 2 May 2009

The Great Escape - good news

The Great Escape is a great movie. I loved it as a kid and thought that Steve McQueen was super cool as " the cooler king". There are some memorable scenes in the film.

My uncle was a prisoner of war, but his experiences, after being captured by the Japanese forces in Singapore, were dreadful. He was an army captain who spent time on "the rail of death" in Thailand. Richard did escape from the Japanese soldiers who forced him to work very hard on this railway line. At one time he was "missing, presumed dead". He did survive several ordeals, including re-capture and insanitary conditions, worse than German POW camps. When he returned to England in 1945 he weighed about six stone. This weight may be desired by 5'9" female fashion models, but not by British army officers.

The Bridge Over the River Kwai , starring my favourite actor of all time (the late Sir Alec Guinness), has always struck some deep chords. For some people Thailand is a paradise and place of enchantment. It has very beautiful scenery and many magnificent tourist destinations.
For my uncle is was hell on earth. A living hell where captured soldiers fought over a dead man's toothbrush.

Hell? Does it exist?

Yes, there is a place in Norway called Hell.

But is there a hell that is mentioned in the Bible? Gehenna, a place refuse rather than refuge?
Yes, it does exist, but not as some torture chamber or place where Bosch's paintings or the Chapman brothers' models are enacted or brought to life/death.

Hell is a place of regret and eternal sadness. Regret and sadness for sins commited and opportunities missed. A place of weeping and wailing with gnashing of teeth. Weeping for the deeds done that can never be forgiven or forgotten, and wailing for grief so consuming that it can never be removed. There is gnashing of teeth through the sheer frustration of knowing what foolishness has been carried out and it cannot be put right. There is absolutely no hope in hell.
What darkness and despair!

The Good News, the Gospel, proclaims that Jesus delivers us from the claims and catastrophy of hell. Hallelujah! What a Saviour! What a deliverer!

How shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation?

The Great Escape has been offered to sinners. Now that's really good news!

Saturday, 25 April 2009

Middlesex v Glamorgan at Lord's Ground, home of Cricket

Yesterday I went to watch Middlesex play against Glamorgan at Lord's Ground, and what a lovely day it was. The weather was perfect: sunny, not too hot, brillant light and plenty of sunshine.

I have taken some photographs of the occasion. I think the Lord's Ground is wonderful, full of such history, tradition, great modern architecture and grand buildings. I saw some great batting by the Middlesex team and some fine bowling from Glamorgan, and at the end of the day the Middlesex attack. I was really impressed by Dawid Malan's sterling batting. But as a left handed myself and a Middlesex supporter, I'm very biased. You can't take anything away from DM, he batted very well and has loads of talent.

Tuesday, 21 April 2009

Prayerwalking 2009

My next prayerwalk (D.V.) is on Saturday 16 May 2009, the third Saturday in May. For those who have been on this prayerwalk in the Constable Country, it starts at 10.30 am in Royal Square, by the war memorial, and ends between 5pm and 5.30 pm by the River Stour, on the Suffolk side, near Dedham bridge. During the prayerwalk we visit the churches of St Mary at Dedham, Langham, Stratford St Mary and East Bergholt, passing the Congregational Church at East Bergholt by John Constable's former studio.

This year there is no Cup Final on the third Saturday in May. I understand that it will take place on 30 May 2009.

Monday, 13 April 2009

Easter Reflections

This is a special time of year for Christians.

Christ has died
Christ is risen
Christ will come again.


We rejoice in the wonderful victory of the cross at Calvary. We exult in the power of Jesus' resurrection. We are rejoice in the hope of eternal life, life that has the quality of eternity and can be enjoyed in this life but it extends to the life to come.

Through the triumph of Calvary and the empty tomb, there is forgiveness, mercy, shalom and loving kindness beyond our expectations and understanding. God's shalom is greater than man's peace, prosperity and promise. The glorious Gospel message is greater than any political pact, presentation or policy. True hope is offered and no pious platitudes or empty promises. Politicians continue to fail us and demonstrate their greed and avarice. Jesus, our Saviour and Lord, leads us forward to grace and truth.

Thursday, 9 April 2009

Maunday Thursday 2009

Today I am leading the united service of Churches Together in Hornchurch. In my thoughts are the prayers of Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane, and the passover meal which is the basis of our Holy Communion. It is for us today a meal with the Holy Trinity; that's fellowship with Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

ΚΑΤΑ ΙΩΑΝΝΗΝ 17:20-26 (1881 Westcott-Hort New Testament)

20ου περι τουτων δε ερωτω μονον αλλα και περι των πιστευοντων δια του λογου αυτων εις εμε

21ινα παντες εν ωσιν καθως συ πατηρ εν εμοι καγω εν σοι ινα και αυτοι εν ημιν ωσιν ινα ο κοσμος πιστευη οτι συ με απεστειλας

22καγω την δοξαν ην δεδωκας μοι δεδωκα αυτοις ινα ωσιν εν καθως ημεις εν

23εγω εν αυτοις και συ εν εμοι ινα ωσιν τετελειωμενοι εις εν ινα γινωσκη ο κοσμος οτι συ με απεστειλας και ηγαπησας αυτους καθως εμε ηγαπησας

24πατηρ ο δεδωκας μοι θελω ινα οπου ειμι εγω κακεινοι ωσιν μετ εμου ινα θεωρωσιν την δοξαν την εμην ην δεδωκας μοι οτι ηγαπησας με προ καταβολης κοσμου

25πατηρ δικαιε και ο κοσμος σε ουκ εγνω εγω δε σε εγνων και ουτοι εγνωσαν οτι συ με απεστειλας

26και εγνωρισα αυτοις το ονομα σου και γνωρισω ινα η αγαπη ην ηγαπησας με εν αυτοις η καγω εν αυτοις

In preparing for the communion service, the eucharist, I remember three stories:

1 The story of the Lutheran priest's wife: a simple yet profound belief
2 The story of Count Nikolas von Zinzendorf and the servant girl at communion: unity and humility before receiving the sacraments
3 The story told by Canon Hugh Dibbens about forgiveness at a communion service in Japan.

Thursday, 26 March 2009

John "Roaring Rogers " Puritan lecturer of Dedham

I have visited Dedham many times. I love the Constable Country. I enjoy prayerwalking along the footpaths by the River Stour. It is a designated area of natural beauty. The architecture of Dedham is delightful and "there is little that offends the eye". The parish church of St Mary deserves a lengthy visit. The view from the church tower is spectacular. Ask George, the verger, for details of tower tours etc.

During the 17th century St Mary's Church was the centre of a puritan revival under the ministry of a great preacher. The Reverend John Rogers was not the vicar, as some scholars have believed. He was the lecturer.

John Rogers preached powerfully from the pulpit, and on market days he proclaimed the Gospel from the small tower by the muniment room. Thousands listened to his sermons. On one occasion a bishop was unable to obtain any transport because so many people had arranged to go to Dedham to hear "Roaring Rogers".

JR loved God's Word and faithfully handled the wonderful truths until 16??. See if you can find out when. His son went to New England and exercised a preaching ministry in the 17th century.
JR's uncle was the lecturer of Wethersfield, Essex, which was place of Puritan theological education up to 1662.

John Rogers' grave is outside the church on the north side of the sanctuary wall. There is a bust in his honour to the left of the altar rail.  I intend to write much more about Roaring Rogers of Dedham.

Saturday, 21 March 2009

St Francis Hospice, Havering atte Bower

I am enormously impressed by St Francis Hospice. The staff and volunteers do such valuable work in a loving and caring environment. The buildings, gardens, facilities and fabric are beautiful, and so is the view to the south, when the conditions are right, across the Thames to the Kent countryside. On a clear day I can see for miles from the SFH gates.

I love the decor of the day room area. It is so good that folk with a very limited life expectancy can come to a lovely environment to spend their last days.

I am glad that more funds and support have come to this important place. It is a place that deserves investment of time, money, effort and wisdom. When folk there are so needy and ill, it is good to know that there are people who really care and provide a remarkable place for them to die with dignity and loving kindness. Life is fragile; handle it with prayer.

St Francis Hospice makes me proud to be a resident of the London Borough of Havering.

Monday, 16 March 2009

The joy, presence and peace of the Lord

When a person becomes a true Christian then God in Christ by a work of the Holy Spirit enters their life. It becomes, or it should become, an abundant life. It is a taste of eternity and a glorious experience of the living God. Hallelujah. Men, women, boys and girls can have a personal relationship with the Triune God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. God leaves His mark on a person's life and there is evidence that God has touched them. He crown our lives. Surely goodness and mercy/loving kindness/grace will follow us all the days of our lives. There is, at the outset, true repentance, conversion, new life ushering in a new hope. Some doubt it and others are indifferent to the life of faith, but once truly experienced then there is joy, peace and the reality of God's presence. It may seem like wishful thinking to some sceptics and agnostics, but it is a wonderful adventure in faith.

In His presence there is fullness of joy, joy unspeakable. It is not shallow worldly happiness, but joy in wellbeing, joy in an intimate relationship with God, joy in the shalom of God.

Without faith it is impossible to please God. Sadly some never receive this glorious gift of God.
Grace is amazing. It touches body, mind/personality and inner spirit, the spiritual recesses of a person. Some lack assurance of salvation and God's love for them in Christ Jesus. Providence and the provision of faith are mysterious and hidden by God in His elective purposes. We cannot fully comprehend the way God's grace, salvation, sanctification and calling operate. His ways are not our ways. God moves in a mysterious way, His wonders to perform. What a privilege it is to know that He grants us good gifts and helps us to enjoy His presence and His peace, deep inner peace in our souls. It is the peace of God that passes understanding.

The chief end of man is to glorify God and to enjoy Him for ever.


Saturday, 14 March 2009

Great Gospel verses - I Thessalonians 5:8-11

8ημεις δε ημερας οντες νηφωμεν ενδυσαμενοι θωρακα πιστεως και αγαπης και περικεφαλαιαν ελπιδα σωτηριας

But we who are of the day, let us be sober putting on the breastplate of faith and love with the hope of salvation as a helmet

9οτι ουκ εθετο ημας ο θεος εις οργην αλλα εις περιποιησιν σωτηριας δια του κυριου ημων ιησου [χριστου]

For God did not appoint us to wrath but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ

10του αποθανοντος περι ημων ινα ειτε γρηγορωμεν ειτε καθευδωμεν αμα συν αυτω ζησωμεν

who died for us in order that whether we are wide awake or fast asleep, we should live with Him

11διο παρακαλειτε αλληλους και οικοδομειτε εις τον ενα καθως και ποιειτε

Therefore encourage one another and build yourselves up, just as you are doing.

Friday, 13 March 2009

Zimbabwe - from bread basket to basket case

Zimbabwe's catastrophic collapse is accelatering. A twenty billion dollar bill from the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe will not buy you a loaf of bread. It is worth about as much as Monopoly money.
There are massive electricity power failures, a breakdown of water services, cholera outbreaks and
woeful shortages in medical supplies. When aid is sent into the country it is subject to demands for money and back-handers. Corruption is rife. As Mugabe's ZANU dictatorship continues to fail its people so spectacularly, Christian workers and missionary organizations are stepping in to help a needy population.

Let us pray for justice, wisdom and truth to prevail. The blood of many Zimbabeweans is on Mugabe's hands.

For further information about Christian missionary work in Zimbabwe, please see

Tuesday, 10 March 2009

Beyond the Rat Race - further thoughts

Here is a tale based on an anecdote in Art Gish's book.

An American financial adviser on holiday, or should I say vacation, was on a beautiful island. There he met a local fisherman relaxing on the beach. They discussed the fine weather and lovely scenery. The American told the local man that he was working long hours and saving hard so that he could live in this sort of place. He loved fishing, spending time leisurely on the beach and swimming in the sea. He sold insurance policies and advised on various savings plans. He asked if the man was interested in insurance or savings plans. The man said he was not in the least interested.

"Is that wise? Surely you want to be able to plan for the future so that you can be like me and live leisurely on the beach, swim and fish," asked the American.

The local man scratched his head and declared, " But that's what I do now!"

Monday, 9 March 2009

Beyond the Rat Race - theological reflections on Art Gish's teaching

Art Gish's Beyond the Rat Race published in 1973 is a very challenging book. It still provides a tremendously powerful critique of our materialistic, spiritually bankrupt and increasingly secular society that serves mammon and actually enslaves people in debt, greed and the poverty of affluence. His book is really asking us the question posed by Amos, "What does the Lord require of you?" It is an invitation to take on simplicity as a lifestyle.

Gish gives us some great advice which is so very relevant to people living on reduced incomes in the times of the "credit crunch". Reading his book again in the 21st century brings new challenges and fresh insights. I am on a journey to live a simpler lifestyle. I can appreciate that the more we free ourselves from unnecessary clutter, the richer our lives become. There is an impoverishment in worldly affluence, self indulgence, greed and selfish consumerism. Embracing a simpler, more environmentally friendly and ecologically responsible lifesyle brings many benefits.

Some of the comments in the first part of the book may seem a bit banal and silly, but this book is worth reading to the end. It has controversial teaching, pithy sayings and memorable anecdotes. He even argues that wealth is theft, which is not really biblical, but he has a heart for the poor and wishes to help the needy. Gish contends that "One cannot be wealthy without stealing from others." Is this true of Abraham, Joseph and Solomon? AG probably does not know of dear Christian people who use their income wisely, and manage to create wealth and well being through their generosity. Art Gish is a man of peace and integrity. He is well known for his pacifist convictions.

Gish advises us to spend less and enjoy more in life. He advocates that Christians should work towards a caring, sharing community. Community is a natural outworking of the Christian vision.
He maintains that bourgeois American lifestyle is incompatible with following Jesus; we should not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewal of our minds, as taught in Romans 12:2.

Since the days of Mrs Thatcher, we in the UK have taken on targets to achieve economy, efficiency and effectiveness but we have neglected ethics. It is more blessed to give than to receive, but our whole worldly wise society wants to grab rather than to give. People may have material riches but also spiritual impoverishment.

Applying Gish's teaching may be hard and almost impossible for some Christians caught up in the health and wealth, Word of Faith theology, but it would be a powerful witness in a needy and greedy world. We live in a society that is all at sea in times of economic uncertainty and spiritual turmoil. Will a simpler lifestyle help us to reach the lost? Art Gish certainly believes so.

Saturday, 21 February 2009


Recently I bought a copy of Rob McAlpine's book Post-Charismatic at a Christian bookshop.

This book has arisen from the disappointment, disillusionment, and discord experienced by people who have left charismatic fellowships. Rob McAlpine highlights the repellent and controversial aspects of the charismatic movement, which include televangelism, the Prosperity teachings, and the Shepherding and Latter Rain movements. I enjoyed reading his historical analysis and insights.

He attempts to define post-charismatic: "the process of separating what is truly of the Holy Spirit and what is needless - and often harmful - baggage is the whole idea behind developing a post-charismatic understanding of how a supernatural God works supernaturally amongst and through the mystical gathering called the body".

The author clearly struggles with the term "post-charismatic". In his final section he writes that while it is certainly accurate as a description, "it lacks the ability to point to a way forward, which was the whole reason for writing in the first place".

Rob McAlpine is hoping that a post-charismatic understanding of how the Holy Spirit works will serve as a critique of 'charismania' excesses and questionable teachings, and will lead to a more mature and balanced understanding, expectation and functioning in the Spirit of Christ.

For some the way forward is "charismissional" which wishes to take the best of the missional approach to life/ministry and ground it in the vibrancy of the Spirit. For Rob McAlpine, 'missional' simply means that " we stop viewing ecclesiology and missiology as separate, and explore ways of being a missionary presence in our postmodern society".

I believe that Rob offers us his "post-charismatic but not post-Spirit" position but others are still emerging and will be manifest in various forms. His position is, therefore, one of many post-charismatic positions. Christians are talking about post-charismatic journeys and experiences. I expect to see more books and blogs on this subject. Some may arrive at some sort of revised charismatic or modified charismatic position. For others, the pain, the negative experiences and abuses will keep them away from any form of charismatic Christianity.

I pray for a truly biblical trinitarian charismatic Christianity that shows the amazing charisma of God. It has been refined and proved to be genuine; it has no weird or repellent elements as the dross has been burned away. It combines the gifts and fruits of the Spirit of God; it participates in the divine nature and escapes the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.

Thursday, 19 February 2009

Victims of Bishop Michael Reid

I have just read through a blog about the infamous Bishop Michael Reid called Victims of Bishop Michael Reid. Sadly there are victims of this man's ministry and there are lessons to be learned. I expected that this man would try to re-establish a ministry. You can read my previous comments about his decline and fall. He will now find it more difficult to raise funds and fleece the flock.

You can visit the blog concerning this man's victims and his unpleasant ministry by following the link below:

He's not the anointed one; he's been a very naughty boy!

You have been warned!

Monday, 16 February 2009

The reality of women's ministry today

Opponents of women's ministry appeal to the Scriptures in 1 Timothy 2:11-15 and 1 Corinthians 14: 34-35. On the basis of these passages women have been forbidden to teach, preach and take on leadership positions in the church.

There are problems in prohibiting women preaching, teaching and leading because there are clearly some very gifted women preachers and ministers in the church today. Do we deny that God has called and equipped them? There are certain verses which indicate that women, in the New Testament, prophesied in the church, taught and exercised some sort of leadership positions. I would ask you to consider the following texts:
Acts 2:17-18
Acts 18: 24-26
Acts 21:9
Romans 16: 1-4, 19
Philippians 4: 2-3.

The Bible tells us of women who had various leadership roles: Sarah, Deborah, Esther, Abigail, Mary, Phoebe, Priscilla, Euodia and Syntyche.

Church history has many examples of women in ministry. It is a fact that not all good preachers and evangelists are men!

In defence of theology

There are some preachers and Christians who claim that theology is of no value. They do not understand that theology is the study of God. In preaching, teaching and talking about God they are involved in theology, in theological discussion! Once you start talking about God then you enter the realm of theology. There is no getting away from that. Once you start commenting on Scripture and what is found in the Bible then you are involved in theological matters. All the authors of the books in the Bible were therefore theologians.

Through the help of theologians we have had accurate translations of the Bible, helpful commentaries, sermons and messages. Through theologians we have had creeds and doctrinal statements that have kept us from heresy and false doctrine. Our understanding of the Trinity has been helped considerably by the work of theologians. The Holy Spirit has worked through theologians.

Through theology we can understand our theological heritage, our doctrinal position and historical church perspective. Whatever theological position you hold it comes with a historical and cultural context, though you may not be aware of it through ignorance and lack of understanding. The Christian doctrines and practices that you hold dear have been shaped by certain theological developments and traditions. Theology can help you to discover how these doctrines were formed and how they have developed. Every Christian is therefore a theologian, though not every theologian is a Christian.

There is sound theology and there is bad theology. Not all theology is good and helpful.
But good theology will lead you into the wonderful truths of God.

Friday, 2 January 2009

What happens when we die?

It has been said that we can all be certain of death and taxes. But what happens after death?

For Christians there is the blessed hope of the resurrection of the dead. If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith. The last enemy to be destroyed is death.

Without Christ there is the fearful prospect of judgement, punishment and peril. Jesus saves us from the coming wrath. See 1 Thessalonians 1:10 and 2 Thessalonians 1:7-10.

The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable. A mystery has been revealed and we shall not all sleep, but God's people will be changed - in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. The dead will be raised imperishable.

What a great hope! HOPE - happy outcome patiently expected. We have faith in Christ and in His second coming in glory to reign over all. FAITH - finding assurance in trustworthy hope.

But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Saviour from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.

The state immediately following death will consist of fellowship with Christ. We may be concerned and aware of our present time-consciousness and the time-interval between death and the second coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. But it may be possible that from God's point of view there will be no time interval at all and so the resurrection at the return of Jesus, the parousia, will be immediately after the believer's death. We now see in a glass darkly but one day we shall see clearly in the light of Jesus' glorious appearing.

No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him.

Thursday, 1 January 2009

Precious stones of the New Jerusalem

Recently I preached on the Christian hope of a new heaven and a new earth. When I was preparing my sermon I came across a message from David Pawson and I thought it was well worth sharing with others. It is on You Tube under the title of Dark Diamonds. It refers to the twelve precious stones in the New Jerusalem mentioned in Revelation 21. I have put the link here so that you can see the presentation.


River Stour