Monday, 27 June 2011

Providence and our employment

John Flavel wrote:

Another excellent performance of providence, respecting the good of both your bodies and souls, concerns that employment and calling it has ordered for you in the world.  It has not only an eye upon your well-being in the world to come, but upon your well-being in this world also, and that very much depends upon the station and vocation to which it calls you.

When God puts men into a lawful calling, in which the labour of their hands or heads is sufficient for them, it is a very valuable mercy; for in so doing they eat their own bread. (See 2 Thessalonians 3:12.)

To have an honest and lawful employment, in which you do not dishonour God is benefiting yourselves, is no small mercy.

If God has fitted you with an honest employment in which you have less toil than others, and more time for heavenly exercises, ascribe this benefit to the special care of providence for you.

Friday, 24 June 2011

The Lisbeth Salander Phenomenon

I have mentioned that Lisbeth Salnder has been a goth feminist icon and has inspired teenage hackers all over the world, but the phenomenon does not end there.  The Millennium Trilogy by Steig Larsson has sold many million of books. (A March 2010 estimate is 27 million. Some 2011 estimates are over 55 million for worldwide sales.)  The films in Swedish starring Noomi Rapace, arguably the definitive Salander, have been seen internationally, with and without English subtitles.  Now Hollywood is filming an English version around Stockholm with Daniel Craig as Mikael Blomkvist a.k.a. Kalle Blomkvist. (Craig has been cinema's James Bond since 2005.)  The first Swedish language film in the trilogy has already grossed over 100 million dollars, and the three videos are selling extremely well.  DVD and blue ray box sets will probably be out for Christmas 2011.  December 2011 is also the expected release date for the English language version of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.

The role of Lisabeth Salander will be played by Rooney Mara in this adaptation of Stieg Larsson's Ma"n som hatar kvinnor ( Men who hate women), which we know as The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.  We shall see how she measures up against Noomi Rapace's amazing performance, which some say deserves an Oscar.

Now there are Lisbeth Salander tours and tourist walks in Stockholm.  They have created a  bonanza for Stockholm's tourist industry.  Stockholm is a very beautiful city on Lake Ma"laren

and the sea, to the east, which leads the wonderful ska"rgarden, skerries in the Baltic.  The Stockholm archipelago is beautiful, perfect in high summer. It's a very popular weekend destination in the holiday season. The Finnish archipelago around Abo is also lovely.   I love the boat trips from Stockholm to Mariehamn and then on to Abo (Turku) in May and June, when the days are so long and the weather is warm. Hours and hours of sunshine.  Fint va"der!  Det a"r vackert.  I recommend the Viking Line cruise ships. I have been several times and have had such happy and memorable journeys.

Thursday, 23 June 2011

Getting out of Afghanistan and Libya

UK politicians are coming to their senses in realizing that we cannot afford to fight these wars in Afghanistan and Libya, fighting on two fronts and costing the British taxpayer a fortune when our economy is in deep trouble through debt and serious inflation.

The Afghan war cannot be won through military intervention, weapons and the current ways of our warfare.  British forces and NATO will leave without winning, though politicians and pundits may try to spin a positive line and use persuasive propaganda.  The military investment in Afghanistan has been an expensive waste of money, men and munitions.  Too many civilians have died tragically.  Day after day foolish and costly decisions have been made and fine young men and women have been sacrificed.

Bring the troops home and let's spend the money on the NHS. Fighting for a better life at home for many sick and suffering would be money well spent.  So much has been wasted on weapons and warfare. It's  time to wake up and call time on this Afghan failure.

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Wickford Web Wonderkid is wanted for web attacks.

Essex Police have arrested a teenager living in Wickford for various web offences known as hacking and cyber attacks.  Ryan Cleary is allegedly the web wonderkid who has been linked to cyber attacks on Sony, the US Senate, and the CIA plus our beloved NHS. These organizations are clearly concerned and out raged by the scale of the data breaches thought to be carried out by the "hactervist" network, LulzSec, that Ryan allegedly belongs to.

Apparently he was a computer obsessive since he was 12 years of age.  Hacking has been considered to be cool and clever by teenagers, and  older hackers, who have been influenced by films and books that glorify and put such web wizardry in a positive light.  The Millennium Trilogy by Stieg Larsson has made the super-hacker  Lisbeth Salander into an urban folk heroine and goth feminist icon, certainly in the form of Noomi Rapace.  The fictional Salander hacked her way to a fortune and fabulous lifestyle, and, in the novels, brought male chauvinists to justice.  She had martial arts and fitness training so that she could really look after herself and give a good account of herself in a violent confrontation.  Many teenagers love her illegal modus operandi and wish to emulate her.

Ethical considerations and a true sense of responsibility are needed when a powerful tool is employed.  Greed, pride and the lust for power have hidden dangers which put people on the road to the broad and easy way that leads to destruction, spiritual death.

Does Basher Assad's sad speech show that he is a sad ass?

Robert Fisk has written that Bashar al-Assad's latest speech was sad and ridiculous, showing him to be out of touch with the people and the reality of the sadness of the many bereaved Syrians.  They are grieving over the cruel murders on the streets of Syria by armed gangs and special forces.

Protesters are rioting on the streets of Damascus and other cities.  There is no turning back.  The waves of discontent and rebellion will eventually overwhelm and remove this dictatorship; human rights, the freedom of the press and democratic politics are all denied to the oppressed people.  The toothpaste is now out of the tube and the Basher cannot stop the tides of change and opposition to his evil reign of terror.  Assad's response is asinine.  His days are numbered; the writing is on the wall.  He will have to go, for he has been weighed in the balances and found wanting. Bashar is responsible ultimately for the evil  bloodshed on the streets and in the towns and cities.  He has done evil in the sight of the Lord and has not walked in the ways of righteousness.  There is a lack of justice, mercy, and humility before God and the people. The House of Assad will fall.  The people are saying "No to dialogue with murderers."

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

The Mystery of Providence: marvellous, majestic and mighty.

Reading from John Flavel's work, The Mystery of Providence, which has been published by the Banner of Truth Trust (BTT), is a joy. It was first published in 1678, when John Flavel was in his early fifties; he died in 1691. I bought a copy of the 1963 edition, which cost me four shillings and sixpence, when the BTT operated from Chiltern Street, London W1.

Over the years this book has helped me to understand and to appreciate the wonderful workings of divine providence in my life and in the lives of other Christians.  There are areas of mystery when one looks back on decisions, doubts and disappointments as well as the manifold blessings, benefits and the bounty of God's care.
God's providential care has been very evident in conversion, employment including church ministry, family life and marvellous answers to prayer.  Hallelujah!  To serve the Lord is to love Him, and to love the Lord is to serve Him!  He is faithful and just.  He cares for us and He corrects us.

In providence we see the hand of God at work in human hearts and lives.  He cares for our needs and our spiritual development.  He shares His grace and loving kindness, so that we enjoy true inner peace, even in the turmoils of life, and salvation bringing us into eternal life, life that has the quality of eternity.  He bears us up when we falter, fall and fail, giving us strength to endure to the end and to carry on to the eternal kingdom, where our true citizenship resides.

Our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Saviour from there, the Lord Jesus Christ.

 ημων γαρ το πολιτευμα εν ουρανοις υπαρχει εξ ου και σωτηρα απεκδεχομεθα κυριον ιησουν χριστον

Philippians 3:20.

John Flavel wrote:
           Consider your spiritual mercies and privileges with which the Lord Jesus has invested you, and complain at your providential lot if you can.  One of these mercies alone has enough in it to sweeten all your troubles in this world.  When the apostle considered them, his heart was overwhelmed with astonishment, so that he could not forbear in the midst of all his outward troubles to cry out, Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings (Eph. 1:3).  Oh, who that sees such an inheritance settled upon him in Christ, can ever open his mouth again to complain at his providential lot!

Sunday, 12 June 2011

Apostasy and Pseudo Revivalism

Since the 1990s I have heard a number of high profile preachers and church leaders make predictions about a mighty coming revival.  There was talk and prophecies about revival being imminent and "just around the corner", or coming in the next decade.  I have known some Christians, now deceased, who were absolutely convinced that they would not see death but would be "raptured".  These Christians were convinced that God had told them personally about end time events, but they were clearly mistaken.  They believed in their own private and personal "revelations from God".  I have even heard the term "downloads from God" used about these private and personal messages from God.

Now I believe in revival, but not the pseudo revival of Todd Bentley and his ilk.  Revival, in fact, is not a word found in the Bible, and certainly not in the New Testament.  But certain events described in the life of the early church in the Acts of the Apostles, to my way of thinking, would constitute a revival, a mightly move of the Holy Spirit bringing new life, power and miraculous works among the Christian community and beyond.

Today Christian leaders, in some fellowships, are predicting and prophesying mighty revivals, especially in the next few years.  They are claiming special revelations and messages from God.

I do not agree with these revival mongers.  I contend that the reverse is nearer the truth.  We are living in days of apostasy and spiritual declension.  I maintain this position based on the following facts and observations:

For hundreds of years criminals would not rob from churches, having some respect for the Church and Christians who often helped them.  Now wall safes are removed, lead is commonly taken from roofs, altar items, furniture and artifacts are stolen for the antique market. Collection boxes are taken to pay for drugs and alcohol. 

There is increased activity by sex offenders and criminals using the Internet, social networks, improved communication and travel links.  The mystery of lawlessness is now at work.

Our prisons are full to capacity and seem to be bursting at the seams.

Adultery and fornication (including many forms of sexual immorality) are being promoted as normal, healthy and acceptable ways of life.

Some housing estates have very few male role models living stable and responsible lifestyles.  Many fathers have simply gone AWOL from time to time; they have failed to provide and promote a good environment for their children.  Many teenagers have had to grow up without the support, security and sustenance of a stable two parent family.

We have many broken homes, dysfunctional families and domestic disasters. Thank God for the work of the NSPCC, Spurgeon's and Barnardo's children's charities.

There is a famine in the land: a famine of the Word of God.  Ignorance abounds. Bible knowledge, that was once taken for granted, is foreign to many schoolchildren.

The media often now sneers at and cynically ridicules Christian morality and beliefs.

So there has been a falling away, and that's apostasy!

Pray for the serious situation in Syria

We need to pray for the serious situation in Syria where refugees are leaving the land to go to refugee camps in neighbouring countries.  Helicopter gunships have been firing on the civilian population.  There is a humanitarian crisis because medical aid and hospital treatment are needed by injured people and those suffering from the violence of the brutal Assad regime.

O Lord, please hear the cries of the afflicted, the wounded, the wanderers on the borders, the refugees, the bereaved, the sick and the sorrowing. Make haste to help them and send assistance to deal with their needs.
I pray for justice and for action against the shameful Assadian reign of terror.  It is time for regime change, and for Assad and his criminal cohorts to be brought to trial for their heinous crimes.

O Lord, in Your mercy, bring justice and help to the Syrian people. Amen.

Saturday, 11 June 2011

Brutal, belligerent, bashing by soldiers and security services persecute the poor Syrian people.

The situation in Syria has been getting worse over the past few days.  Innocent civilians, protesters and people with legitimate grievances have been mercilessly murdered by Syrian government forces, sanctioned by military and political leaders.  The bloodshed and the bitterness call for UN intervention.  Soldiers have apparently defected rather than continue such bloody violence against the civilian population.  The Syrian ambassador to  France, Lamia Shakkour, allegedly resigned in protest against the Assad regime.  Reports now deny that a resignation took place.

Syria is in turmoil as thousands are fleeing for their lives, having crossed borders to settle in refugee camps.  The UN seems to be dithering while killings continue on the Syrian streets.

Wednesday, 8 June 2011

Bashar the Basher? Basher al Assad

The Syrian people, especially the protestors, have taken quite a bashing from Bashar al Assad.  Bashar has bashed them with troops, torture and tanks. Bashar's secret police and security services are brutally bashing, bullying and butchering the brave bondsmen and bondswomen, builders of a better society.

Basher's father chastised the people with whips, but Basher has chastised them with scorpions.

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

Cotswolds are lovely, especially far from the madding crowd

It is a joy to visit the Cotswolds on a bright sunny day in June.  It was slightly overcast when I arrived but I loved the walks by the streams and by the quiet waters.

Some of the cottages are beautifully kept with such lovely gardens.

Monday, 6 June 2011

Swansea City is so very pretty by the sea and among the hills.

Last week I spent some lovely sunny days in Swansea city, which is currently rejoicing in its elevation to the top flight of football - the Premiership. It was over 25 degrees celsius on Friday, 3 June.  The sea in Swansea Bay sparkled majestically.


Thursday, 2 June 2011

Lord Taylor has felt the fury of his ex-wife.

Poor Lord Taylor. He has been sentenced to prison for fraud relating to his Parliamentary expenses and has felt the fury of his ex-wife's tongue. Yvonne Louise has soundly tongue-lashed him, calling him the Warlock of Warwick.

She said: "He is an incredible actor, the best liar...Everything he does is for money."

Her comments that have been reported widely in the media do not put Lord Taylor in a positive light at all.  It is a sad and searing judgement on a high profile politician who proclaimed his Christian faith and commitment.

Perhaps there is a future for John Taylor on the stage or on the screen.  He may even perform well in the prison Christmas review.

This is a tragedy.  A very talented man has been brought low by his folly.  Lord John Taylor showed much promise and potential.  He performed well in Parliament and in business. Now it is time for his punishment in prison.  It is his time for reflection and repentance in order to find the path to rehabilitation and renewal.


River Stour