Tuesday, 29 June 2010

Come off it, that's not true socialism Diane Abbott!

Diane Abbott has admitted that she sends her son to the very expensive City of London School. Perhaps he has a scholarship and she doesn't pay the full fees, but CLS is a very elitist school and offers a very good education to the few, highly privileged boys who get through the rigorous admission process.  Diane Abbott is often on television proclaiming her left wing views and displaying her socialist credentials; she is frequently pontificating about equality and opportunity for the masses, particularly for those in her community.
Come off it Diane! You should be sending your son to a comprehensive school.  Aren't they good enough?  Evidently not. So it's the best that money can buy for your son but comprehensive education for the masses.

Personally, I believe in the best for my sons, but I don't pretend to be an ardent socialist on educational matters anymore.  When it comes to education, I want the best and I don't want pseudo-socialists lecturing me about the benefits of "grammar schools for everyone".  I went to Creighton Comprehensive (now Fortismere), which was eventually run by Molly Hattersley and was full of left wing teachers.

This is not the first time that such pseudo-socialism has been noticed.  Fred Mulley, a Labour cabinet minister and once a Secretary of State for Education (in the 1970s), sent his daughter to the City of London School for Girls, which has an excellent record; it performs very well in the league tables.  CLS and CLS for Girls are in the premiership when it comes to secondary education.  I should know, because my elder son is an Old Citizen and my wife is a member of CLOGA (City of London Old Girls' Association).

So it seems to me that socialists in high political positions often talk the talk but they don't walk the walk.

Monday, 28 June 2010

FIFA Folly

FIFA folly! Yes, I may feel a little bit smug this morning for lambasting FIFA in my blog of 6 March 2010.
The evidence of FIFA folly is plain to everyone: the Lampard line incident and the Tevez header.  Both incidents could have been given the correct decision by video technology.  The officials failed and FIFA failed! It's as simple as that. FIFA need to be dragged kicking and sceaming into the 21st century and Sepp Blatter should be splattered with white goal line paint as a punishment for his stupidity. Sepp, you deserve the red card.

Vorsprung durch Zusammenspiel? Grausen = England.

Vorprung durch Zusammenspiel.  Forward through teamwork.  The England footballers who represented their country yesterday in South Africa clearly did not operate as a team.  The defence was a shambles.  It was the worst back four performance by England footballers at World Cup finals.  And it was the worst defeat for English football at the World Cup finals ever! Grausen! I have used a German word, which was used by the German press to describe their defeat when England won 5-1 in Munich. 

I feel sorry for Stevie Gerrard to have captained a side that were woefully second rate and did not have any star quality apart from David James. Our goalkeeper, whom I have criticized in the past for poor performances, was classy. David James was, by far, the best player on the pitch for England. He saved his side from even more embarassment and shame.

We can rightly complain and winge (as we will) about the incompetence of the referee and linesman, and the lack of technology etc., but this England performance was dreadful. The horror. The horror.  Truly gruesome. Grausen. We'll grouse about it for years to come.

Wir war furchtbar.

Sunday, 27 June 2010

Bosherston's beautiful pools

On Tuesday 22 June I visited the beautiful Bosherton pools in Pembrokeshire near the MOD/NATO training area, which was having an exercise as one could hear the automatic weapons being discharged in the distance.

I understand that the restricted area around the Green Bridge of Wales was closed to the public.  Fortunately the National Trust area around the beautiful Bosherton pools remained open.  The weather was perfect and the light was lovely.  The midsummer sun shone for hours.  There was a smell of wild garlic along the western paths by the lily ponds.

Bosherston Pools in the bright June evening light

See what beautiful beaches there are in West Wales!

I have had a lovely few days in West Wales and the weather was perfect, for me anyway.  On the Pembrokeshire Coastal Path the sea breezes and many hours of sunshine at this time of year were delightful.
The beaches, which are not very crowded at this time of year, looked magnificent.  The sea is much cooler than you might think on a very warm day, so I recommend a wet suit but some tough souls brave the water and the waves in June without any problem.  It's too cold for me.

The walks along the coastal paths and the beaches are so beautiful.  I have inserted some of my photographs which capture something of the wonderful beauty of West Wales.  Please click within the image to enlarge it and ENJOY.

A beachcomber at Barafundle Bay

Saturday, 26 June 2010

What a view! What a beach! Three Cliffs Bay on a warm June day.

Exodus for the troops in Afghanistan?

It has just been announced on the BBC that the total number of troops killed in Afghanistan has reached 307.
David Cameron, the British Prime Minister, now wants the troops out of this quaqmire by the next election. Have we learnt that Western militarism cannot defeat the Afghan guerillas and so we now need a clear exit strategy?  This war was ill conceived by the Western forces, who have failed to learn lessons from history and so have been repeating mistakes and committing serious errors of judgment in dealing with the Islamic resistance movement.  While we have been wasting millions of pounds on expensive hardware and losing precious lives, the Taliban fighters and others have been training more and more roadside bomb makers and dedicated guerillas who believe passionately in their cause.  We are unable to conquer in these circumstances, so bringing the troops home is the sensible solution.  We cannot afford to help the corrupt Afghan government with its pathetic political and social infrastructure.  It's a pity that we didn't go in Afghanistan with educational, medical and sports equipment rather than weapons, armed helicopters and military hardware.

Friday, 25 June 2010

A Paradise Regained?

One the longest day of the year I spent hours walking the Pembrokeshire Coastal Path and reached Barafundle Bay from Bosherston Ponds.  The beach by Barafundle Bay on a warm day in June is as close to my idea of paradise, this side of eternity, as one can get.

Some people like it when it is deserted and noboby else is around them.  That is not paradise!  Paradise is for people and not isolation.  I showed one of my photographs of Barafundle Bay to the attendant at the National Trust stand at Bosherston.  He told me that he had photographs of the beach with not a soul on it.  Well, I have some of those too.  But the photograph I showed him had my family on this beach, and that's more like paradise.  Paradise is for people.  Jesus died so that people who trust in Him can populate paradise.  Some people seem to think that Jesus came to teach great doctrines.  And He did teach great doctrines.  But He died for people, not doctrines. Paradise is where God walks with people in the garden of delights.  Some find a paradise on earth because they walk with Him and enjoy true fellowship with His people.

A beachcomber at Barafundle Bay

Saturday, 19 June 2010

North Korea, the nearest place to hell on earth?

 Hell is where God is absent.

"If this is life, then hell is empty and all the devils are here."  This might be the sentiments of some people living in North Korea at this very moment.

What do I know about North Korea?
  Well, let me tell you what I read this morning.

I read about conditions in North Korea.  I was not reading from Christian magazines, which I receive from CSW, Open Doors etc.  I was reading from National Geographic. (I often buy back copies from second bookshops and charity shops. The photography is truly excellent.)

The February 2009 issue has a moving feature on Escaping North Korea.  It was written by Tom O'Neil with photographs by Chien-Chi Chang.

People have been fleeing the North Korean hellhole and have been taking perilously long journeys (about 2,000 miles) to freedom. Soldiers in the brutal North Korean army are instructed to shoot to kill any defectors attempting to leave by various routes.  However, border guards take bribes to allow defectors to escape.

Please pray for North Korea and for those who are leaving North Korea by these dangerous escape routes. 

Friday, 18 June 2010

Revival and repentance

Time and time again, and also every year or so we find those who claim that God has specifically told them that revival is coming soon.  Some claim special revelations and "downloads from God".

It really does depend on what one means by revival.  I, personally, would love to see a revival of sound Gospel preaching and proclaiming the Kingdom of God.  This message should include teaching or at least an understanding of repentance and humility before God, in order to be in the right state to receive His richest blessing and gifts of love and grace.

Praise God that He is the author and finisher of our faith, the pioneer and perfecter. He directs our paths if we are His children.  The Lord truly goes before us, alongside us and keeps us in the Way and also in Christ Jesus the Lord.  His providential care is so wonderfully at work in our lives.

What do we mean by REVIVAL?  The word is not found in the Bible, but the Lord as our shepherd revives us and keeps us.

One could argue that Luke's early church history in Acts 8, from verse four, gives a good account of revival or conditions that accompany revival.  Perhaps "revival" is not the best word, but divine manifestations of God's powerful grace. The passage mentions great signs and miracles; see verses 6,7 and 13. 

For many years I wondered what prompted Simon the sorcerer to offer money for "this ability so that everyone on whom I lay my hands may receive the Holy Spirit."  Was it tongues?  Was it seeing people in spiritual ecstasy?  What exactly did he wish to get?

I now believe that Simon saw the very power and presence of God working in the lives of those around him.  He saw changed lives, people delivered from the darkness of the occult, from despair and depravity.  He would have witnessed their joy and new found freedom in Christ as they renounced their evil ways.  Simon and the people saw the miraculous signs, the removal of evil spirits, the healing of paralytics and cripples.  God was working mightily through His servant Philip. Simon coveted the ability to manifest the power of God.

Some Christian leaders seem to talk a lot about it and even have a ministry promoting revivalism.  But the Kingdom of God is not talk.  I wish to see what Simon saw, but I will not be paying any money to preachers who promise much but deliver little.  They can talk a good talk, but do they walk a good walk with the Lord, who really does mighty works?

Overwhelmed by the love of God

Sometimes, and they may be very rare, we can experience the overwhelming and awesome sense of God's love.
His loving kindness can knock us over, perhaps knock us out.  His grace is amazing and the times of such blessing may be difficult to express in words.

Lamentations 3:22-26 are words that can touch our inner spirit in a profound way.

The Lord's lovingkindnesses indeed never cease,
For His compassions never fail.
They are fresh every  morning.
Great is Your faithfulness.

The LORD is my portion, proclaims my soul.
Therefore I have hope in Him.

The LORD is good to those who wait for Him,
to the one who seeks Him.
It is good that they wait silently for the salvation of the LORD.

Thursday, 17 June 2010

Fight the good fight and fight the flab

We Christians believe that our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit; we should therefore respect them and care for them properly. Many Christians, and judging by my observations at recent Baptist events, quite a few pastors, preachers and present day prophets are seriously overweight. Mea culpa.

 A letter in yesterday's The Independent (on page 12 of the Viewspaper) is worth mentioning on this matter:
        With half of Europeans estimated to be overweight or obese - including 61.5 per cent in the UK - it is time to curb this epidemic. Obesity significantly increases the risk of heart disease, cancer and Type 2 diabetes and has large cost implications too.


I went to the hospital yesterday to consult a dietitian.  To lose weight I'll have to change my lifestyle. It, in effect, requires metanoia: repentance and conversion.

μετανοησατε ουν και επιστρεψατε      Acts 3:19

I'll have to forsake certain things and re-educate my stomach.  So this involves lifestyle change, repentance, conversion to a better way of life.  Sounds familiar?

It's time to pray and read my Bible on the exercise bike!

Wednesday, 16 June 2010

Across Havering event hosted by The Gideons.

This afternoon Havering Gideons hosted an event at The Manor Hotel and Restaurant (AA***)

with a lunch for local church leaders.  I have inserted some photographs, which I hope give a flavour

of the occasion. Click inside the image to expand it and enjoy.

Tuesday, 15 June 2010

Bobby Moore, arguably England's greatest football captain

Yesterday I bought a copy of The Times, rather than the Independent (my favourite daily).  I was tempted by the "free" book, Bobby Moore, by The Person Who Knew Him Best Tina Moore (who was married to him for 24 years). My wife groaned as another book was coming into my cluttered library, which does need a good clear out.

In the media there has been much talk of 1966 when we won the World Cup at Wembley and Bobby Moore lifted the Jules Rimet trophy above his team.  I am so glad that I was able to see him play for England at Wembley and for West Ham at Upton Park and against my team at White Hart Lane. He was not my favourite player, as I used to chant "Jimmy for England" on the Tottenham terraces in North London, but I recognized that he had sheer class on the pitch and showed real quality in defence. Cool under pressure and re-assuringly calm when his team were up against tough opposition, he displayed great composure and skill.  I loved the way he used to dribble the ball away from danger around the penalty area and move forward with such authority.

Today we hear about the Bobby Moore Fund because his life was tragically cut short by bowel cancer. 

We can honour his memory by supporting this fund.  He is also honoured by the retired number six shirt billboard at Upton Park and by the bronze statute near the Boleyn ground.

Sunday, 13 June 2010

Eastern Baptist Association: 2010 assembly at Romford Baptist Church

Yesterday hundreds attended the EBA assembly, which was held at Main Road, Romford Baptist Church, Essex. They rejoiced in another event on a warm sunny day in June.  I have inserted a number of photographs and I hope to upload some videos showing some parts of the proceedings on my YouTube channel.  Click within the photographs to enlarge them and enjoy.

Green at Goalkeeping for England

England's disappointing opener in the World Cup football finals in South Africa will be analysed and debated at length throughout the land. Many pundits and armchair critics will be feeling very sorry for Robert Green, who committed a really horrendous goalkeeping error, in the match against the USA which ended in a one all draw yesterday.  England fans have suffered in the past with howlers from goalkeepers: David James, Paul Robinson and Scott Carson.  David James was known as Calamity James. (Just think of that match years ago against Denmark.  When he played for Liverpool he was also known as Cinderella: late for the ball.)  One comment last night seem to say a lot: Green looked green. Yes, Robert Green committed a basic error that made him look like a Sunday afternoon player in the local park, really green at goalkeeping. Sadly he's now in the hall of shame.

West Ham fans will know this street where Upton Park can be reached.

Paul Robinson is a fine goalkeeper who lost his confidence and England place.  He also lost his confidence playing for Tottenham Hotspur and was transferred to Blackburn Rovers, where he now excels.  (Robbo, in the England jersey, missed what seemed to be a easy clearance when the ball bobbled in Zagreb a few years ago. It was an embarassing goalkeeping mistake.  Then Scott Carson committed another howler against Croatia, which played a significant part in England's elimination from the European championships.)  Last season Paul Robinson definitely had more clean sheets and far better performances between the posts than Robert Green, who looked far from confident at times for West Ham during their abysmal season close to the Premier League drop zone.  The Hammers' defensive frailties around him did not help.   I hope that Robert Green is able to keep his confidence and improve on his performances, just like Robbo has done.  And perhaps we will win another...

Saturday, 12 June 2010

A night out with Street Pastors in Romford

Having given a devotional message to a group of Street Pastors, I decided to venture out with them on the Friday night ministry in the centre of Romford.  It was a mild and pleasant June evening yesterday, on the streets of the town where I got married.  I enjoyed their company and learnt more about this valuable ministry on our streets, where drunkenness and disorder can rear their ugly heads at a moment's notice.  But tonight there was little to be worried about.  The Street Pastors of Romford went armed with prayer, divine protection and confidence in their Lord, who has the victory.  I took some video footage and hope to upload it on YouTube soon.

You may be interested to know about my devotional message.  Well, it was based on Hebrews 12:1-10 and I spoke about God challenging us to relinquish hindrances and besetting sins, to retain our knowledge of His Word and what the Holy Spirit prompts us to keep and maintain in the Lord, and to replenish what we may have lost, neglected and spilt, as we may have leaked and lost some of God's power and grace in our lives.  God wishes us to live an abundant and full life in Him, so we should check to see if we are leaking or losing what He is giving us or has given us.  Our cups can overflow when we have removed the sinful ways and allowed Him to fill us with His pure water of life.

I also showed them three notes: a banknote for billions of dollars from Zimbabwe, a tract type banknote drawn on eternity with the promise of salvation provided in Jesus Christ, and a sterling five pound note.
Only the five pound note has real value or worth as legal tender.  If this note was torn, screwed up and badly soiled, it still retains its value of five pounds sterling, which is worth remembering when meeting people who have been torn, turned inside out and soiled by life today in the UK.

Update 14 June 2010
Please see my YouTube video


Friday, 11 June 2010

Trendy teaching gone mad!

I visited my old primary school, a Church of England institution, in North London and mentioned that in my day we had really enjoyable games of football and cricket with great rivalry against the other primary school in the area.  I was told that this is no longer the case because competitive sports have been banned at the school.
I thought "What?".  No football or cricket matches?  No 100 yards, sorry metres, no egg and spoon races.  NO!  Competive games are not allowed anymore.

So this trendy teaching or philosophy of education could seriously impact our future, at the World Cup, the Olympics, at various levels and in numerous ways.  It's madness! Trendy teaching gone mad!

Whether we like it or not, we live in a competitive environment.  We compete for jobs, for positions of responsibility, for a number of  professional enterprises.

This teaching is against the Olympic spirit. It is very dangerous because it does not prepare children for life.  Competitive team games are so valuable and teach us important lessons.  Cricket, for example, helps children understand the role of teamwork, specialist skills, mathematics (in scoring), strategy and tactics, sensitivity to weather and conditions.

Let's ban this stupidity and never allow trendy teachers to spoil a treasured way of life.

Thursday, 10 June 2010

Evangelical Christians and the Joy of Sex

When I got married in 1975, Dr Alex Comfort's The Joy of Sex was a bestseller.  It was marketed as the gourmet guide to sexual intercourse.  The black and white line drawings of a young energetic, trendy looking couple left little to the imagination. I was intrigued to read within its pages that Dr Comfort advised his readers, when seeking advice on sexual matters from their doctors, to avoid evangelicals. At that time Forum was a popular magazine and sold well at most newsagents.  Some young schoolgirls working at Saturday jobs, at the local shop which sold newspapers and magazine, found its content somewhat embarassing and too sexually explicit for adolescents.  Mrs Mary Whitehouse, the campaigner for Christian morality in the media, would not have approved!  Billy Connolly once remarked, that after reading Forum, "my sex life must be incredibily dull."  I think he was referring to the section in Forum which shared letters from readers, who described in vivid details their sexual antics.  Mrs Whitehouse would definitely not have been amused.

Evangelical Christians had been active in supporting the Nationwide Festival of Light in the early 1970s.  Mrs Mary Whitehouse and Malcolm Muggeridge were the leading speakers for this movement, which on one  occasion packed  London's Trafalgar Square.It was a sincere attempt to influence the media and to prevent the spread of "bad" films, books and ideas, which were thought to be corrupting the moral fibre of society.

Whether you agree with the stand that Mrs Whitehouse took or not, I think it is right to say that evangelical Christians and perhaps many in Anglo Saxon society were, and still arguably are, very uptight with regard to discussing openly sexual matters and the joy of sex. We still have a very conservative approach to the human sexuality and the body. It's a generalization but one worth discussing.  And the problem is not confined to Anglo Saxon society at all.

The following true accounts illustrate what I'm trying to say.  A group of British young ladies went for a winter sports holiday in Northern Europe.  At the end of the day after an exhausting time on skis, the group retired to the women's ski lodge. After taking showers the British group dressed very quickly and kept together, enjoying the warm log fire.  They were extremely shocked by the naked and scantily clad young Nordic women who were drying their hair, frolicking around the ski lodge and chatting merrily without a care in the world.  These women had no desire or thought to cover up.  Such behaviour was considered most unladylike by the British group.

As many of my readers will know, I have been to Sweden and particularly Finland on many occasions.  I have even worked in a kitchen during a Swedish speaking Lutheran conference and been involved in a confirmation camp, even though I'm a Baptist!  On one Sunday I was with a Pastor (Kirkoherde) of a large church (fo"rsamling) in Western Finland.  I preached, wearing my Sunday best, at the morning service and my friend, dressed in Lutheran ecclesiatical finery, translated.  The service went well and we really felt the presence and enabling of God's Spirit, especially in the translation process.

After lunch at the vicarage (pra"stgarden), the clergyman friend wanted me to enjoy a typically Finnish Sunday afternoon in high summer. Now I was not sure at the time if that meant attending some sort of fellowship picnic or outdoor Christian meeting.  So we drove to his parents' flat and collected a large container from the garage; this container was then attached to a trailer behind the VW camping bus.  The four of us drove many kilometres into the Finnish countryside and eventually arrived at a summer cottage by the shore of beautiful lake.  There the container was used to heat the sauna and before long we three men were naked enjoying a swim and a sauna.  I wondered at the time, what would the congregation think of us now?

Peace at Peniel Church, near Brentwood, Essex

If you visit Peniel Church today you will find all reference to the previous ministry has been removed.  Yes, a certain name has, as it were, been execrated  from buildings and signs.  The artillery cannon no longer points towards the Brentwood Council Offices; it is gone.

 The current senior ministers, the Linnecars, who served under the old regime, are rebuilding links with the local Christian community and church leadership, who no longer feel at odds with the Peniel Church ecclesiology.  I understand the Peniel Church has re-joined the Evangelical Alliance and supports the Churches Together in Brentwood.

Peniel Church has excellent resources, talented members and much to offer in fellowship, Christian music and education.  The future looks very promising for them as they are now stronger and spiritually fitter to face the challenges of Christian evangelism and living in the 21st Century.


River Stour