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!

What an evil state of affairs: terror in Tunisia

The horrors of the horrendous jihadist attacks in Tunisia have shocked the world.  Murdering marauders have struck again in the name of Islamic State. And what an evil state it is, a state of murder, malice and mayhem,  These murderers have taken lives thinking that they have the right to do so in the name of their religion.  What they hold dear is so far removed from the justice and grace of the LORD God. They do not carry out justice. They do not love mercy and loving kindness. They do not walk with the LORD in true humility.

These murdering jihadists are clouds without rain, trees without fruit, wild waves of the sea, foaming up their shame....

By their fruits we shall know them.

Friday, 26 June 2015

Christians and masturbation

I noticed that this month there is a debate online about whether it is right for a Christian to masturbate. You have probably heard the joke, is this a mass debate?

Traditionally, as I understand the conservative Roman Catholic position, masturbation has been regarded as a sin, a seriously bad one. St Augustine, who had once lived a sexually active lifestyle, had some rather negative views about human sexuality which have
 permeated church and Christian thinking. He once prayed, Lord make me chaste, but not yet. Augustine believed that sexual orgasm was sinful because at the time of climax a person would not be in communion with God and had lost control of body and mind. Orgasm, according to Augustine, took people away from God into ungodly pleasure.

In some dictionaries, masturbation is defined as self abuse. Roman Catholic theologians and others have taught that masturbation, for a man, is a sinful misuse of semen. One Jewish writer believes that masturbation is wrong for a married man because his sexual energy should be devoted to his wife, and his semen therefore is not for him alone, but for his wife.

Some argue that the Old Testament passage in Genesis 38 about Onan is a condemnation of masturbation. I am not convinced but Onanism is sometimes referred to as masturbation.

Woody Allen, the Jewish comedian and film-maker, once said, don't knock masturbation, it's sex with someone you really love, or words to that effect. 

Following the online debate, a number of Christians are opposed to masturbation on the grounds that it always comes with sexual fantasies and sinful thoughts. How they know this I don't know!

The issue of masturbation came up in discussion among house church leaders in the 1980s. John Noble and Maurice Smith had no problem with it, and viewed it as nothing sinful at all. Arthur Wallace and his band of brothers believed that masturbation was not of God. It was patently sinful, intrinsically so.

I am quite prepared to believe that in some cases, masturbation is a helpful safety valve and means of relieving sexual tension, perhaps frustration. Jesus does not mention it and various arguments from His silence have arisen.

In Finland, masturbation is mentioned in school sex education. They have got a hand on it, and that's the way they see it there. When I last visited the Aland islands, the public library had an art exhibition which featured a dildo, called the snake, designed by a famous Finnish artist.

Let the peace of Christ rule your hearts and bodies.  Augustine did say dilige et quod vis fac, which has been translated as love God and do as you will.  This needs to be understood in context. Loving God requires obedience and walking in the light as He is in the light. This Augustinian saying is not a call to spiritual anarchy or moral laxity. Our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, and we should take every thought captive to obey Christ. We have the mind of Christ and our lives should therefore show that we have a wonderful relationship with Him.

Saturday, 20 June 2015

Language of heaven and paths of paradise?

I have just spent a few days in Wales, where I am told they speak the language of heaven. Well, it may take an eternity to learn Welsh properly.  All those mutations, the pronunciation and the intonation make it very difficult for an Englishman.

The green, green grass,

 the rolling hills,

 the beautiful beaches,

 the splendid scenery,

 the magnificent coastline and coastal paths, the millions of sheep, more sheep than people,

 the singing (a Welsh funeral is so different from an English one) and the chapel culture,

 all these aspects really appeal to me. It seems like paradise, a precious park of delightful paths and pleasant places. Cymru am byth!

 Sensible measures have been taken to prevent this area from becoming a dog toilet.

 I am from an overpopulated and cramped part of the country, with far too much traffic, congestion and environmental pollution, including noise pollution. Parts of London are too noisy and nasty. Parking is a nightmare! The rat race has resulted in some people behaving like rats in crowded conditions. There are too many inconsiderate drivers, dog owners, car parkers and unpleasant white van men in the London area. Parks and cricket pitches have become dog toilets. Beautiful front gardens have been paved. The land is full of cars.

I love the civility of life in rural Wales. And the people have time to stand and stare.


What is this life if full of care we have no time for God in prayer?
Life is fragile. Handle with prayer.


River Stour