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.


River Stour