Thursday, 28 June 2012

Today I went to Bletchley Park with a veteran who worked in Hut 6

Today it was a warm and humid. I will always remember this visit to Bletchley Park because a veteran who worked in Hut 6 was with me.  I took many photographs, and doesn't the honoured lady look happy? Very happy!  For years her top secret work from 1942 to August 1945 was a closely guarded secret.  Now her wartime service is in the public domain and recorded on the Bletchley Park Roll of Honour.  Because it was a secret, the Bletchley Park personnel received no official recognition or grateful thanks for their vital contribution to winning WWII.  Now they can be greatly honoured and praised for their top secret work which saved lives and made such a difference.  Hats off to the wonderful wartime workers at Bletchley Park.

Outside Hut 6 at Bletchley Park

Outside Hut 3 and Hut 6, Bletchley Park

It is very sad to see the neglected huts, which are significant historical buildings, at Bletchley Park (BP).  Government money, over the last few decades, has been spent on some really ludicrous and financially disastrous schemes.  Much money has been wasted by central government since the Second World War.  Overpaid civil servants and high ranking wallies have misspent public funds on various projects, procurement plans, poor planning and potty policies. Sometimes the National Audit Office reveals such profligate spending.  It is a pity that funds were not available for much needed Bletchley Park refurbishment.  The deteriorating buildings have been left in a sorry state by the State.  I am therefore very glad to hear that the Bletchley Park Trust  has managed to obtain millions of pounds sterling from lottery funds to repair and restore the famous code breaking huts to their WWII state.  It is not a moment too soon!  Hats off to the Bletchley Park Trust and the many hard working volunteers who have made BP such a great place to visit and to educate further generations.

The lake at Bletchley Park,  28 June 2012

Swans settled on the lovely lake at Bletchley Park in the late afternoon.

Wednesday, 27 June 2012

A great way to start the day?

We are all different and have different tastes, ways of working, methods of getting things done, and we enjoy different lifestyles.  Some of us love minimalism and hate clutter.  Others, like myself, could never embrace the feng shui lifestyle.  We love books, photographs, paintings, works of art and certain special and sentimental objects around us.

 I remember one professor at Oxford who had an enormous room which overlooked the High Street; it was cluttered with books and works of art. But in the centre of the room there was a clutter free area with comfortable chairs and sofas. To me it was ideal, but some people would hate being surrounded by books etc.

When it comes to starting the day, some of us are like larks and love the mornings.  We feel alive and, after a good night's sleep, ready to embrace the day with energy and enthusiasm.  There are others who are clearly not morning people; sometimes they are like bears with a sore head. Grumpy, grim and grouchy.  They seem to growl with displeasure when they have to get out of bed.  They are often like owls, who are at the best late in the day or at night.

Some Christian people advocate an early start to the day with a very early quiet time, time spent in prayer and Bible study.  This can really suit them and prepares them for the day ahead.  They consider this the way to start the day and live the Christian life. But it is dangerous when such people make the early morning quiet time a requirement for all Christians. Some would not benefit from it and would be miserable for the rest of the morning.  Some Christians would be better off getting enough sleep and then finding the best time of the day for them, a time that suits their bodily metabolism.

I knew a Christian who got up at 5 o'clock in the morning for his quiet time. He really should have had more sleep, because he was irritable and tetchy for the rest of the day.  When he came home from work the whole household would tense up. The dog retreated into his kennel and the children, who had been playing happily, made themselves scarce.  He should have had some sleep or a rest then. But he seemed to want to moan and make life difficult for others.

Whether we rise early or late, I have found it best to talk to God first before I talk to others.  In some way I like to start the day by thanking God for His goodness, loving kindness and mercies which are new every morning.  Sometimes it is good to write out my prayers and reflections in a journal.  This works for me, but I will never say this is the only way.  I have no right to inflict this way on others.  My way does not make me better than other men.

The parable of the Pharisee and the publican should warn us against pride, arrogance and pomposity.  I thank Thee that I am not like other men... I....I... NO!  I should be humble.  God be merciful to me a sinner.
The church is a hospital for sinners and not a gymnasium for super saints.

Earlier this morning I started my day with a delicious glass of Copella apple juice.

 It made me happy.  I'm glad I had one of the five recommended portions of fruit and vegetables.  It tasted good, but I'm not going to make others do likewise.

Monday, 25 June 2012

Pirlo ran the show and out England go

Italy beat England yesterday by 4 penalties to 2, following a tense game that was goalless after extra time.  Italy deserved the victory and to progress in Euro 2012.  Pirlo was magnificent during the match and scored a brilliant penalty.  Pirlo was Italy's pearl of great price.  He dominated the midfield and made some long passes of outstanding quality.  England were woeful in their ball retention and midfield management.  Pirlo was given too much time and space in the England half.  Sometimes he went unchallenged for yards and yards, metres and metres.  England's defence did very well under enormous pressure.  They all performed valiantly, giving England a chance of victory when defeat beckoned. John Terry and Ashley Cole showed their class.

In midfield England clearly lack quality. Milner is industrious but not up to the required standard. Young made far too many mistakes.  Gerrard played reasonably well, but for periods he seemed to be a spectator watching the Italians control the midfield and dominate the game.

The Rooney Carroll partnership shows some promise.  Carroll won many balls in the air.  Rooney was able to feed off the headers, but he was lacking his best form.

Italy now face Germany; it will be interesting to see how Germany cope with Pirlo, the midfield maestro.  It could be another tense game.  Perhaps Germany will go forward through their technical ability, but it is likely to be a close game.

Friday, 22 June 2012

Criminals are destroying Syria

Recently I watched the Russia Today news channel, which is available on freeview in the UK.  The news reporter was explaining that criminal elements in Syria were involved in destroying the country, causing mayhem and disaster.  Too right, criminal elements are reeking havoc in Syria today.  RT wanted us to believe that these criminal elements were led by terrorists and external forces funded by foreigners.

The criminal elements are, in fact, within the Alawite community and many of them are part of the government security forces. Syria is being run by war criminals.

 One day they will be brought to justice.  The  truth will come out, but no doubt some of these war criminals will claim that they were only obeying orders.

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

On Heresy

When I was an undergraduate studying theology, I remember one of the lecturers in historical theology saying  that it is not just what a false teacher says that makes him or her a heretic, it is also what they omit, avoid and ignore that makes them heretical.

By not teaching the whole counsel of God, a preacher can be very economical with the truth.  The false teacher will not handle the word of truth rightly, but will twist, abuse and misuse the Bible.

2 Peter 3:16 warns us against false teachers.

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Jesus was brought on to win the game for Spain

Spain have finished top of Group C in  Euro 2012.  Jesus was brought on to win the game for Spain yesterday evening, and he scored the only goal of the game. Spain beat Croatia.  Well done Jesus Navas! 

Monday, 18 June 2012

The dangers of Osteenism

Some people, many thousands in the USA, are quite taken by Joel Osteen's ministry in Texas.  Joel has good presentational skills and writes books that sell.  There are many who say that Joel's books, sermons and talks have helped them. They testify to greater self confidence and a much more positive outlook on life.

I do not doubt that Joel is brilliant as a motivational speaker.  I do, however, take issue with his theology, or what I would call "pop religion". His brand of religion is popular.  Joel is a religious man. But his pop religion is bad theology.

It is dangerous in not preaching the whole counsel of God. It may well lead people into a false sense of eternal security. It can pander to the carnal nature.

This pop religion, Osteenism, is essentially what Bonhoeffer would call "cheap grace".  It is a pop religion without true Christian discipleship.  True repentance, conversion to a life of true discipleship and spiritual, rather than carnal, renewal, taking up the cross daily to follow the Lord Jesus Christ, and walking in holiness, well these aspects of the Christian faith are not found in Osteenism.

According to Bonhoeffer:
Cheap grace is preaching forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline, Communion without confession. … Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ, living and incarnate.

Joel talks about worldly success. He considers that having good relationships with everyone are important. But Joel fails to point out that such worldly success and some good relationships could come at a heavy price.  Compromise, conformity to worldly ways and carnality are possible outcomes.

Jesus and John the Baptist did not achieve good relationships with everyone, particularly the religious establishment of the day.  The movers and shakers of their society did not promote them to powerful positions and successful jobs!

John the Baptist, in fact, came from the upper echelons of first century Jewish society. His father was a high priest.  However, John the Baptist did not embrace the comfortable lifestyle of his parents and their social milieu.  John the Baptist took up a prophetic ministry, living very frugally and away from the trappings of the rich and powerful.  He did not need great wealth, a public relations team, and expensive equipment to be effective in his ministry.

Joel's ministry earns him mega bucks, helps him fill his large auditorium, brings in people from far and wide, and helps him live the American dream.

John's faithful ministry did not get him ahead, but rather it cost him his head!

Joel's brand of religion seems to keep the flesh, the self, the ego, the carnal nature on the throne.  In his book, Your best life now, there is  much about self help and positive performance but little about biblical Christianity.   It seems to assume that all is well with the soul.  The sin question and ultimately the Son question are both avoided.

Joel Osteen teaches that the key to living in victory is to learn how to get up on the inside.  This is not biblical Christianity, but positive thinking dressed up as religious advice.

He believes that "love overlooks a person's faults. That's not always easy, but love believes the best in every person."  The case of Ananias and Sapphira in Acts does not square with Osteen's outlook.  The apostles did not overlook their faults.  Think also of Simon Magus.

Poison is most effective when it is hidden in tempting food.  Some poison, like rat poison, can smell sweet and chocolate flavoured, but it is deadly.  Clever sayings and helpful advice mixed with half truths and error can be spiritually destructive.  People can be lulled into a sense of false eternal security, especially when they trust in their own righteousness, good works and success.  They can have a form of religion, but it is man made and man centred.  It has no power to save and to bring salvation. It uplifts the works of man, but brings no glory to the Lord Jesus Christ.

The Holy Spirit will guide us into all truth.  He will convict, convince and convert.  He teaches us about sin, righteousness and judgement.  Pop religion does not like to dwell on sin, righteousness and judgement.  The holiness and wrath of God are unpopular doctrines.

God is love.  He has revealed His love and His grace in wonderful ways.  The Father has shown His loving kindness supremely in Christ Jesus.  The cross is important.  It is crucial that we understand the cost and the care that the Father's love has expressed in Christ Jesus.  Justice and mercy meet at Calvary.

We do no justice to the glorious Gospel if we dilute it with pop religion and trendy "cheap grace" teaching.

Friday, 15 June 2012

Supreme Spanish soccer players spank the Irish 4-0

Yesterday evening in Gdansk, Poland, the Spanish football team easily defeated the Republic of Ireland team, as expected, by four goals to nil.  At times the Irish defended valiantly, and their supporters sang and cheered heartily, but team was out of its depth. The Irish squad lacks quality players, particularly in midfield. Spain has an abundance of talented midfield players. Not one member of the Irish squad would be able to challenge for a place in the Spanish team, had they been eligible.  The Irish did not run out of luck; they were lucky not to be thrashed by a greater margin.  They could not score a goal during the match and they will now progress no further in the Euro 2012 finals.  This weak Irish team is the worst in the competition; they were woeful against a great side full of class players, which the Irish clearly lack.

Spain, on the other hand, look set to do well.  Fernando Torres looked sharp, and his performance must give him confidence.  He scored two goals, which showed his pace and shooting ability.  Torres was preferred to Cesc Fabrigas for the starting line up, but Fabrigas came on later to score a great goal; his shot hit the netting with immense power.

Spain and Germany are now favourites to win Euro 2012.

Thursday, 14 June 2012

Farewell dear Harry, Highly Honoured Hotspur Manager

It is very sad to hear that 'Arry is leaving Tottenham Hotspur.  It was a shock when I heard about it on the BBC news last night.  Harry Redknapp was, as the records show, a high successful manager at Spurs. He will be sorely missed.  There are not many football managers, past and present, of the high calibre of Harry, proclaimed as Harry Hotspur.  Harry really made a difference.  His skills of man management and motivating players, sometimes players lacking confidence, fitness and form, were exceptional.

As a Spurs fan since the 1950s, remembering the Bill Nicholson era and the Glory, Glory Days, I am feeling  sad to think that next season Harry will not be sitting on the manager's seat by the Tottenham bench.   Some Tottenham managers have returned.  I hope Harry will be another one.  But for now, farewell, dear Harry. Bon avenir!

Tuesday, 12 June 2012

We all make mistakes, even the Camerons

We should all take heed lest we fall, falter and fail.  The Camerons made a mistake that thousands, perhaps millions, have made throughout history.  Yes, they mislaid or lost a child temporarily.  Sometimes it leads to tragedy, as in the Bulger case, but often decent folk help anxious parents to find and locate missing children.
The Camerons evidently thought their child was safe and with the other parent.  She was, in fact, in the pub restaurant toilet.  The Plough in Cadsden, Buckinghamshire, will now do a roaring trade as media, public and the curious descend on it at this time of fame.  The publicity will do the pub restaurant no harm at all.  The Plough will be well known as a good place for a family meal, and good enough for the Prime Minister and his family to patronize when they are at Chequers.

We should not be too harsh on the Camerons, but remember that Mary and Joseph, the parents of Jesus, failed to stop a twelve year old from slipping away from their group.   Jesus remained in Jerusalem with the learned scholars, while His parents anxiously tried to locate Him.   Luke's Gospel relates the incident in chapter two, verses 41 to 52.

Monday, 4 June 2012

On the Bletchley Park Roll of Honour

Recently I saw a television programme about a man who discovered that his father worked at Bletchley Park during the Second World War.  It came as a complete surprise because when his father was alive he never once mentioned where he had served and exactly what he did during WWII.

Today I consulted the Bletchley Park Roll of Honour and found the name and service record of an elderly lady.
She had never told her parents that she worked at Bletchley Park. In fact she shared this secret years later with very few people.  Now this noble lady knows that her record is in the public domain, and more people have discovered her remarkable war service at Hut 6, Block D.  The Bletchley Park Roll of Honour shows that she served there from November 1942 until August 1945, working at deciphering.

For many years after WWII the general public knew very little about the vital work carried out at Bletchley Park.  Today we know about the Enigma story and the code-breaking achievements of the dedicated men and women of Bletchley Park.

Not only is this elderly lady on the Bletchley Park Roll of Honour, she is also on the heavenly roll of honour with her name written in the Lamb's Book of Life.  The lady has a firm saving faith in the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ. When the roll is called up yonder...she'll be there!

Honduras, the most murderous of nations

Right now on BBC News 24, freeview channel 80 on my TV set, a programme is being broadcast about the murders in Honduras and the work of the People's Funeral Service. I have already mentioned the radio programme but this is the televised version.

Lord, I pray for those at the Evangelical Church in the Los Laureles area, north of Tegucigalpa.  Please grant wisdom and help to Pastor Francis Alexander Perez.  Touch those who are experiencing hardship, poverty, grief, bereavement and oppression. O God of justice, please hear the cries of the poor and needy.  Comfort the   family of Ramon Orlando Varela.  Please provide for his children and their mother.

In Your mercy hear the prayers of Your people for the desperate situation in Honduras.  In Jesus' Name. Amen.


River Stour