Friday, 11 December 2015

Well done Andrew Jennings

Andrew Jennings deserves enormous credit for his hard work in exposing the bribery and corruption within FIFA.  He has campaigned vigorously against dodgy and dishonest officials in world football who have acted fraudulently. His journalism and Panorama documentaries have revealed the extent and depth of these crimes. Andrew Jennings shows who the crooks are in his latest Panorama documentary: FIFA, Sepp Blatter and me. According to Andrew Jennings, Blatter is the Godfather of FIFA's criminal racketeering, an organised crime syndicate.

The excellent BBC Panorama documentary, FIFA, Sepp Blatter and me, will be available on BBC iPlayer for 11 months.

Monday, 5 October 2015

Not another high ranking clergyman convicted of sex crimes?

Yes, another church leader, an Anglican bishop, has been found guilty of serious sex crimes which should lead to a custodial sentence. It is a sad and sorry saga, which involved the Church of England, the victims who suffered so badly, former Bishop Peter Ball and others who helped cover up the crimes.

Damaged lives reveal the deep wounds and harmful consequences of these profoundly sinful actions. Something truly toxic has ruined relationships. The flesh, the carnal nature, has reaped corruption and chaos in lives that could and should have produced abundance, fruitful growth and eternal quality.

Archbishop Justin Welby is right to call for a rigorous review of child protection procedures and the handling of sexual offences within the church. Clearly clergy have let down the flock under their pastoral care very badly indeed. Much was given to them and much shall be expected. Repentance, action and justice must be seen to be done. Deeds done without justice and loving kindness will not stand the test of time and eternity. We will all give account to God for deeds done on earth. They have eternal significance. They reach beyond this present realm. 

Saturday, 3 October 2015

Blatter disgraces himself again

Blatter will not go with any grace, but in disgrace. He is a disgrace to FIFA, the game of football and himself. His ego, selfishness and lack of integrity are amazing to the point of being incredible. Major FIFA sponsors have called time on Blatter's ignominious career. But still Blatter will not leave, though his position is untenable. For years Blatter has been well past his sell by date and shelf life. It will be a time of rejoicing when he eventually goes. Some would like to see him jailed for his crimes, which they expect to come to light. The man has been a dark presence in world football.

Tuesday, 29 September 2015

Come on FA, get with it!

It's high time that the Premiership used 21st century technology, as they do in Rugby, to determine crucial decisions during a game. They use it in cricket and many other sports, but Association Football is run by some asses who are well beyond their shelf life. Please let's put them out to pasture and allow common sense, logic and sound technology to play its part. Last Saturday's game at White Hart Lane saw some really shocking decisions by match officials. Technology would have helped them to see what thousands saw on TV.

Monday, 28 September 2015

Taliban takeaway

What a catastrophe! Afghanistan is dreadfully divided, despite lost lives of Afghan and British  service personnel, many civilians, enormous aid expenditure, diplomatic engagement, training, and economic investment. So little has come from so much effort. You can rely on the Taliban to muck up the country.

Monday, 14 September 2015

Delightful Dunster

What a delightful place Dunster is! I love it. It has charmed and enthralled me.








The magnificent castle, now owned and managed by the National Trust, offers so much. There are lovely shops, fine hotels that Miss Marple and Hercule Poirot would stay in, welcoming public houses, plenty of places to enjoy a classic cream tea, good coffee and hot chocolate. There is even a speciality chocolate shop.









Friday, 4 September 2015

Refugee crises

I have often wondered why the so called Islamic world is not offering to do much more for their fellow Muslims. Why are not Mecca, Medina, Islamabad and other sacred Islamic places the choice destinations for these refugees? There are very wealthy Gulf states with the means of funding the charitable agencies and needs of these suffering migrants. Charity, alms and helping the poor are basic requirements in Islam. I hope we will see some zakat going to these refugees.

Those who undertake dangerous sea voyages and trips in unseaworthy craft must take some responsibility for their journeys and the welfare of their families. The image of the drowned toddler has been used by the media to shame the EU. But any parent must take into account the risks, dangers and potential outcome of any trip. Responsible parents weigh up the situation and make their own risk assessment. Teachers and youth workers do it all the time. It is tragic and truly heart breaking to think that the father who lost his sons and wife at sea made such a costly and disastrous decision. He will have to live with that agony for the rest of his life. The owners of the unseaworthy boat should be found, named, shamed and severely punished.

The EU did not attack the town where this family lived. They were not forced to board this unseaworthy vessel by EU representatives. If we are to play the blame game, then it surely lies with the false ideologies in the Middle East and with those who caused the conflict in Syria.

Wednesday, 2 September 2015

The decline of the Brethren in Havering.


I have had to correct and revise my previous post as I have found that a Brethren assembly in Havering exists. The Brethren movement is not extinct in the London Borough of Havering. The Collier Row Gospel Hall is, as far as I now know, the only Brethren assembly in my area. They are no longer part of the Christian landscape in the Hornchurch area, where they were particularly a force to be reckoned with.

Update
I thought that I had found another Brethren assembly in the London Borough of Havering, at Rainham, Essex, RM13, in the south end of the borough. There was, it seems, a Brethren fellowship at the Gospel Hall in Cowper Road. Today it is apparently in the hands of Praise Communion, a Christian charity established to advance the Christian faith and tackle poverty. It is not a Brethren organization.
6 September 2015 at 19:52

Friday, 28 August 2015

Against the people smugglers and transporters of human cargoes

It is heart breaking news that 71 people, men, women and children, have died in lorry in Austrian under such tragic and horrendous circumstances.  The transporters and people smugglers responsible, irresponsible, for these deaths must be sought and severely punished for their evil deeds.  An international task force should be well funded and generously resourced to capture these perfidious perpetrators and those who currently are operating in this way throughout the world.  They should be incarcerated in specially constructed custodial units, where the families of their victims can remind them of their serious crimes against humanity. They should never be allowed to forget their heinous crimes and the misery they have caused. Let them face up to their terrible trespasses.

Let restorative justice be established in these custodial units. Let these criminals meet and hear from those who demand justice for their lost loved ones.

The decline and demise of the Brethren assemblies in the London Borough of Havering: part one

When I came to live in Hornchurch, Essex, in the London Borough of Havering, in 1975, Brethren assemblies and the Brethren movement were influential and numerically strong. They had large Sunday Schools, well attended meetings, morning and evening services, very active preachers, high profile Christian leaders and wealthy supporters.

Today in 2015, there is only one Open Brethren assembly, chapel or fellowship in existence in Havering. It is the Collier Row Gospel Hall. I believe there are a few Exclusive Brethren people who meet in the Romford area, but as far as the Open Brethren are concerned there is just one active Open Brethren place of worship and witness in this Borough. There is not one in the Hornchurch area, where they once thrived.

I remember Brethren assemblies at Rise Park, Cranham, Craigdale Hall, Upminster, Ingrebourne Chapel, Bethany Chapel near Abbs Cross, and Emerson Park. The latter, which once thrived, seemed to me like the flagship, and it lasted the longest. The premises are now used by a charity (Stand By Me) and I understand that the trustees are looking for a Christian fellowship to use the building for worship, witness and fellowship. Its future is therefore uncertain.

I wish to look at the causes for the decline and demise of this once powerful and influential Christian movement in Havering. I believe that there are important lessons to be learned from this situation, lessons from history, from experience, from the wisdom of Christians involved in this decline and demise over forty years, and from the Lord Himself.

If you were involved in the Brethren or have any observations, comments or contributions then I would love to hear from you.  This is, therefore, a work in process.

I intend to interview a number of people. In fact, I have already received helpful advice and details from people who attended Brethren meetings and were actively involved.

Tuesday, 25 August 2015

A culture of cover-up in the Catholic Church community

Love does not rejoice in the wrong or keeps a record of wrong doing. Love does not delight in evil, but rejoices with the truth.

Some Protestants may be rejoicing in the woes of the Roman Catholic Church with regard to the abuse allegations and disgrace of prominent priests, bishops and cardinals. Others, however, are saddened by the suffering of the victims of serious and criminal historic abuse. Catherine Deveney's investigations into this abuse in Scotland have been reported in the Observer. They first appeared in 2013, and last Sunday she reveals that there were decades of abuse and cover-up alongside moral and financial corruption.  Catherine Deveney contends that the Catholic church has been allowed for far too long to get away with these abuses, having been lawmaker, judge, jury and executioner in its own world.

The McLellan Commission was set up to look into abuse in the Scottish Catholic Church. It published its report on 18 August. It contains some very unedifying information but has positive recommendations concerning the welfare and safeguarding of children.

Looking into the micro-management methods of the previous pope, Ratzinger, it is obvious that on his careful watch, over some years, sexual abuses and criminal acts against minors were ignored, hidden away, deliberately overlooked, cleverly covered-up and denied.  Victims were dishonestly discredited and dealt with despicably. There has been a ruthless dismissal of victims and of criticism.

It is my prayer that those who have suffered as a result of these sad and sorrowful circumstances will live to see a good measure of repentance, justice and restoration. That means action! May justice and forgiveness flow. Words of apology are not enough.

The words of our Lord, recorded in Matthew 18:6, are sobering and seriously solemn.

If anybody causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, to stumble, it would be better for them to have a large millstone hung around their neck and to be drowned in the deep sea.

Thursday, 20 August 2015

Comrade Corbyn could clobber the other candidates

With strong support from trade union members and youthful activists Comrade Corbyn could win the Labour leadership contest convincingly. Jeremy Corbyn still has plenty of momentum. His opponents are divided and in disarray compared with his straight talking gospel and clarity. He is clearly the front runner with over fifty per cent of the estimated current vote. JC is seen as a messiah to those who dislike the so called Westminster bubble. Will Comrade Corbyn be able to bring his brand of socialism successfully to the country? I doubt it.

25 August

Jeremy Corbyn seems to have retained his appeal to Labour Party members through his sincerity, clarity and above all his integrity. I admire his desire for justice and greater social equality.  His support for and defence of the Reverend Stephen Sizer, a scholarly opponent of Christian Zionism who has been unjustly smeared, endears him to me.

Wednesday, 19 August 2015

Such sad days in Syria

The torture and murder of Khaled Asaad, the 82 year old eminent antiquities scholar who was beheaded in Palmyra, have been confirmed.  His body was left hanging in the main square of the city. Khaled Asaad had a great affection for the ruins at the Unesco World Heritage site in Palmyra. His archaeological work was highly esteemed, and teams from USA, France,  Germany and Switzerland were involved in research and excavations with him.

The criminals who committed these evil acts are indeed a curse. By their fruits shall we know them.

20 August

These shameful and evil acts were reported, but tucked away at the bottom of page 19, in yesterday's Guardian newspaper. It did not mention any torture in the edition that I read. It is now known that IS used torture to find out where certain artefacts had been hidden. Khaled Asaad had refused to reveal where precious items had been deposited.

Monday, 17 August 2015

Come off it Mr Mourinho!

Yes, yesterday's result at the Etihad Stadium was no fake. Chelsea failed to show their quality in the final third and it could be argued that they had been fortunate not to have been down by a few goals in the first half. It took them over an hour to produce a really good goal scoring opportunity and they failed to convert it. Fabrigas was painfully slow at times. The attack lacked penetration. Manchester City consequently managed to keep a clean sheet. Chelsea went home without a point, which seems fair and no fake.

Mourinho has been criticized for his petulance of late. The Carneiro and Fearn affair has not helped his cause. Experts and medical practitioners firmly believed he was wrong.

Sunday, 16 August 2015

Verses relevant to migrant crises

Psalm 82: 3-4
Defend the cause of the weak and fatherless. Maintain the rights of the poor and oppressed.
Rescue the weak and needy.
Save them from the control of the wicked.

James 1: 27
Piety that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless looks after orphans and widows in their distress, and keeps away from pollution by the world.

Thursday, 13 August 2015

We must declare war on the merchants of death and disaster

People smugglers and merchants of death and disaster by unfit vessels in the Mediterranean should captured by Interpol and police agencies. Some of these transporters have thrown women and children overboard. They have exploited and harmed desperately needy people. We must declare war on these evil parasites. Justice demands that these gangsters and murderers should now be prosecuted for crimes against humanity. 

Monday, 10 August 2015

Pangbourne on Thames, West Berkshire

This weekend I spent time in Pangbourne on Thames, the lovely town associated with Wind in the Willows. Forty years ago I spent a special night here at the Copper Inn, and I chose it because it is near Maidenhead.  Some things have changed since then, such as the name of the hotel and it is not so quiet as it was in August 1975. But the toll bridge, the River Thames, certain buildings and the riverside footpaths have not changed at all.


















Thursday, 6 August 2015

A false hope believed by Christians

It is a false belief and vain hope to think that if we get the people of God living purer and better Christian lives then people will flock to church. The argument goes "if we get the church right and Christians living the true Christian life then the churches will be packed."

Now, I don't deny that some folk will be touched by the impact and witness of authentic Christian living, but, and it is a big but, Jesus lived the perfect life and when He was presented to the people by Pilate did the people support Him? Did they flock to join His cause?

People reject Jesus and true Christians because their deeds are evil. Many people prefer darkness to light. They want to walk the broad way. They want to to do it their way. They don't want to repent of their sins or walk the Calvary way. They do not want to be disciples and embrace the Cross. They are comfortable with their sinful ways and selfish lifestyles.

Jesus taught us that few would find the narrow way. The true Church comprises those who are called out of the wicked world, called to put their faith in Christ having repented and turned to Him. Many are called but few are chosen.

The parable of the sower helps to put things in perspective.

We do need labourers, however, because the Lord of the Harvest desires to bring people into the Kingdom.

We will never get the church right or perfect this side of the Parousia, the second coming of Christ.
The church is a hospital for sinners, and it was never intended to be a gymnasium for the spiritually super fit.

We sin. We fail. We falter. We fall short of our calling.

We may never be paragons of virtue, or super spiritually sanctified and perfectly pious, but we, as Christians, are partakers of the divine nature. And that should make us different, warts, blind spots, shortcomings and all! We may not be better than the person next door. We may have less charm and kindness than charity workers, but we should be better than we had been before we came to Christ. If we are not, then something is seriously wrong, and it's time to change and to get right with God. Christ wishes to make us new creatures (2 Corinthians 5:17), created in Him to do good works which He has prepared for us to do. Ephesians 2:10. He wishes to work on your life, and perhaps there is plenty to be done.

The Good News, the Gospel, reaches out to all, and it does not show special respect to the wealthy, the healthy, the successful, the strong and the influential. God is no respecter of persons. Acts 10:34. It is for all, young and old, rich and poor, whoever lives and breathes, every living soul. The love of God revealed in the Gospel calls all to repentance, sinners to be saved by grace.


Saturday, 1 August 2015

Christian concern for migrants in Calais and the lorry drivers in Kent.

Christians should have a heart for the stranger, the needy, the foreigner and the oppressed.
They must never mistreat or oppress a foreigner. Exodus 22:21, Leviticus 19:33 and Deuteronomy 10:19 are relevant texts which enjoin correct and ethical practices concerning foreigners. British values have always supported fair play and justice.


  The situation in Calais and Kent is very serious, as matters of life, death and hardship are evident on both sides of the Channel.  Migrants clearly want a better life, but they are prepared to risk their own lives and the lives and livelihoods of the continental lorry drivers, who have been threatened, harmed, hit, abused, and these truckers have had the cargoes destroyed and ruined by desperate people and vicious thugs. The success of some migrants to get to the other side of the Channel into Kent has encouraged more attempts to get to England. Hundreds of attempts take place every day and it seems to be increasing because it is expected to get much more difficult to leave France and to break successfully through the barriers, cordons and checkpoints etc.

Some of the migrants are now living a life of dependency and drudgery. It cannot be good for them to exist on handouts and charity while not doing anything really constructive, but sometimes destructive (like smashing their way into trucks and storage units on lorries).

Migrants who use violent methods, destroy cargoes, commit criminal damage, and break through the border controls must be deterred and punished when they evidently have broken laws and expensive equipment. Perhaps laws and harsher penalties need to be put in place to stop these harmful activities.

We must consider the rights of the lorry drivers, haulage companies and businesses, as people, decent hard working people, are suffering economically and mentally as a result of the strains and stresses of this crisis. They are now in need and should be helped. Justice and fair play must be extended to them.

Food for thought, 9 August

I tell you the truth, the man who does not enter the country by the immigration gate, but climbs in by some other way, is a thief and a robber. See John 10:1.

Do we nullify the law through faith? No way! We uphold the law. See Romans 3:31.

10 August

Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that rule have been established by God. Consequently, he who rebels against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. See Romans 13.1-5.

Friday, 31 July 2015

Immigration and needed legislation

We see many migrants in Calais taking considerable risks to reach the UK. Despite travelling through countries and across continents, they want to settle illegally in England; they believe jobs, accommodation and opportunities are readily available. The grim reality is very different.  Gangsters and criminal elements are ready to exploit them and make their lives miserable.  In the UK there is a surplus of unskilled labour and housing is very limited indeed.

Legislation is needed to prevent migrants from travelling illegally through countries in order to choose or enter the country that most appeals to them. Theses migrants should be enjoined to apply for asylum in the first EU country that they enter, if they are claiming political asylum or sanctuary.
I suspect that the majority, a substantial majority, are economic migrants who have no concern, care or cultural comprehension about their ultimate destination. They want the benefits and blessings of a country that they have no love for, but they wish to get money and jobs even if it means breaking laws and disrespecting the established culture.

Some migrants are very needy people who have suffered greatly as a result of political, religious and ethnic turmoil. They need help from charities, communities and compassionate people. They should never regard the UK as some sort of world job, health and social benefits service or welfare facility. This crisis calls for an international solution which looks at the root causes and prevents unnecessary suffering.  The people smugglers, slave traders, dodgy migrant transporters and  unscrupulous merchants who deal in human misery must be arrested and brought to justice.  They must be stopped as soon as possible as they have made money immorally. They are really wicked gangsters and callous criminals without concern, care and compassion.


1 August 2015

In the USA, in some states, people without visible means of support and money are arrested and put to work on chain gangs. Chain gangs may not be the best way forward, but putting them to work on various projects must be better than their current soul destroying existence.

Something rotten in the state of Russia?

The latest news and scientific evidence seems to show that Alexander Litvinenko was murdered on British soil by agents of the Russian state. The suspects have been named, and it is said to be beyond reasonable doubt that polonium was used to liquidate the former spy. He died in hospital as the result of a Russian state sponsored assassination.  Suspicion now falls on Vladimir Putin as the political gangster behind this hit. Did the Russian Don order the poisoning that ensured that Alex now sleeps with the fishes?

Wednesday, 29 July 2015

On teachers and teaching

It is been controversially said that teachers are grossly underpaid as child minders, but grossly overpaid as educators. Food for thought?

Some of the most unpleasant people that I have encountered were secondary school teachers. I've worked in a factory, in a hospital, in banks, and for many years as a civil servant in the Home Office, Cabinet Office and Ministry of Justice, but when it comes to nasty individuals then secondary school teachers take the biscuit, the awards for unpleasantness and underhanded behaviour.

I studied at ULIE and gained a PGCE, but that did not prepare me for the teachers I met in staff rooms in secondary schools. What a cynical, mendacious, mean spirited bunch they were! I thought it would be a most noble profession, full of dedicated and vocationally minded folk. How wrong I was!

It came as no surprise to me that when I left teaching to return to the Home Office, there were more trained teachers outside the profession than in it.  Today many teachers are leaving in droves for a number of reasons.What a waste of talent and training. One of the factors I would humbly submit is the pressure of teachers to work long, exhausting and too often unrewarding hours for poor pay.
In terms of the hours worked the pay is pathetic. It's peanuts, and when you pay peanuts to good workers you get monkey business!

Some of the teachers in positions of responsibility for staff and career development are clearly not up to the job.  Some heads of department may have good classroom skills, but when it comes to staff management then they are often ill equipped and out of their depth. Some them may be able to handle kids, but they cannot handle their own staff. They fall and fail woefully. This can also apply to head teachers, who may have been, once upon a time, good class teachers, but when they are expected to be budgetary, staff and facilities managers they are well out of their comfort zones and they often struggle to do jobs that they are not suited to do.  Good teachers have been promoted out of the classroom and into desk jockey jobs as bureaucrats and bad bosses.

Every secondary school needs a good administrative system, but putting good teachers into it is not the answer. It just perpetuates the painful problem.

Monday, 27 July 2015

O taste and see

Some people never will see the glory of the King, Master of everything.
They're blind to His majesty and might.
They live in the darkness of the night
And they shall never taste and see
The extent of His grace in eternity.


Thursday, 16 July 2015

Witham, Essex, and Dorothy L. Sayers

Yesterday I visited Witham, an Essex town which is associated with Dorothy L. Sayers.  There is a statue in her honour.





There is a Dorothy L. Sayers centre at the local public library.







And the house where she once lived has a distinctive plaque on it.








Sunday, 5 July 2015

Love your neighbour as yourself?

How does loving your neighbour work out in practice, in today's society? Well, one way is to show care and consideration to the needs of the elderly, the infirm, the weak and the vulnerable who live in our street, community and area.

Car parking can be a real problem in busy streets and roads with no driveways and front garden parking.  Sometimes there are troubles, tensions and tantrums over parking in these areas. It is, therefore, sad to see selfish and inconsiderate parking which makes life difficult for carers of the needy by creating parking problems and by preventing these carers/drivers from parking, delivering, helping and dropping off these needy residents and neighbours.



This selfish arrangement certainly causes conflict and controversy.

13 July
I saw the same arrangement again this evening.

Jesus said that you should love our neighbour as yourself.  I should share the verse in New Testament Greek, which the family responsible for this arrangement would understand.

 Ἀγαπήσεις τὸν πλησίον σου ὡς σεαυτόν. 

Sunday, 28 June 2015

Evangelical free church?

A man, who bought lead free petrol, sugar free gum, and alcohol free mouthwash and wine, was very disappointed when he joined an Evangelical Free Church.

Saturday, 27 June 2015

Aberaeron, a delightful Cardiganshire coastal town with Regency architecture

My wife used to spend her long Summer holidays with her grandparents in Alban Square, in one of the lovely Regency houses overlooking the field.


It is a most charming area of the Cardiganshire coastal town.















The harbour is a short walk away to the west.















     
The hills are alive with the sound of baa-ing.


Look at those fine woolly jumpers on the hillside. Wonderfully Welsh, with more sheep than people!




Dedham

Dedham
River Stour