Friday, 24 February 2017

Walking around Heybridge Basin and Maldon on the Essex coast

What a difference a day makes. Yesterday I was walking in Dedham Vale when Storm Doris blew violently through Essex. Today, in contrast, it was mild and clement weather on the Essex coast around Maldon, with gentle breezes and light temperate winds. It was, in fact,
a joy to walk along the coastal paths by the sea and land below sea level.

The track to the right is below sea level

The lake to the left is below sea level

Sunday, 19 February 2017

Niagara Falls, Canada, in the Fall of 2016

I love waterfalls and I love going to Niagara Falls in Canada. The Fall is a very beautiful time in Canada when the colours (colors US spelling) of the tree leaves look so splendid, so magnificently wonderful. I went on a sunny day when the rainbow effect made it all the more magnificent. I hope you like the photographs. They gladden my heart and cause me to rejoice in the joy of God's creation, one of the wonders of the world. Breathtakingly beautiful, no matter how many times it is seen.

Monday, 6 February 2017

Seattle, a city that has so much going for it despite the weather.

Seattle was great. It was better than I had expected. I fell in love with it. One of my favourite movies was filmed there. Not Sleepless in Seattle, but the disturbing political thriller The Parallax View. (And I'm still trying to figure out the meaning of parallax.) I was thrilled to go to the top of the Sky Pod, ride the monorail, see the flagship Starbucks, visit the Farmers Market, eat the tasty seafood, dine in fine restaurants, walk around the Dale Chihuly exhibits, take a boat trip around the harbour, and enjoy a few hours at the Museum of Pop Culture, though I should have paid extra for the special Star Trek exhibition. Beam me back in time, Scotty!

Chihuly works of genius

Sunday, 5 February 2017

Craig Thomson into my hall of shame

During the match between St Johnstone and Celtic, referee Craig Thomson made a truly dreadful decision. He must be ashamed of it. It was so bad that it goes into my hall of shame. For a penalty to be given at the highest level, well I am being generous here, the referee should be sure in his mind that the decision is clearly and certainly beyond all reasonable doubt. If in doubt then don't! That's a good maxim. Don't give it unless you are certain when refereeing. Now when you look at this decision in real time and look at the angles, the position of the defender's body, then you must err on the side of caution and therefore not award a penalty. In this case the defender did not handle the ball. It did not even brush his hand or arm. The defender did not control the ball, but it did hit his torso and go to the goalkeeper.

I have been arguing for video referral and appropriate technology to eliminate these howlers for years.

Does Craig Thomson need to go to Specsavers? Craig Thomson's decision to award Celtic a penalty is disgraceful. It possibly robbed St Johnstone of a victory, but it certainly left many fans seething. We do not know the result of the anger and the wrath of the fans. Did it bring violence which could have been avoided? This dreadful decision could have been avoided by technology, technology that shows what a dreadful referee can do to a game.

Saturday, 4 February 2017

The Open Brethren- even more reflections

Dr. Rowdon once likened the Brethren to the little girl, who when she was good she was very, very good, but when she was bad she was awful.  Harry loved the Brethren, especially their commitment to sound Bible exposition, evangelism and fellowship around the breaking of bread. I do not think he liked some of the eschatological teaching, the weird analogies that crept into some sermons, but he highly esteemed Brethren Elders and preachers who studied to show themselves men of the Word, men who hungered and thirsted after righteousness, who lived godly lives and were examples of genuine holiness. We have to acknowledge that many Brethren men and women spent much time in the Word, and in the living Word, in Christ Jesus, and were devoted to prayer and the ministry of the Word. That is a fact. I wish that truth to be known.

One Brethren elder became convinced that the Brethren often lacked a consistent and comprehensive preaching ministry. So much Brethren preaching depended on gifted men who lacked theological training and skill in homiletics. In some cases their sermons were badly constructed, poorly prepared and dreadfully boring. Some preachers did not have good communication skills and little anointing. In fact some had no calling to preach and should have been told, in a spirit of love, that they should keep away from the pulpit.

Now I am not arguing for all preachers to go through theological training at an academic institution. Think of John Bunyan. Think of the original disciples; they had the very best theological education at the feet of the Master. There is no better education than that. It is much better than an Oxford tutorial, for sure.

It is, however, absolutely essential to have preachers who understand sound doctrine, the Faith once delivered to the saints, to God's people, and who have the ability to declare and to share the Christian message clearly.

It really helps when these preachers can lead, and when you have a good Spirit filled leader then people will follow and will stay.

Friday, 3 February 2017

John Smyth, a lawyer in need of a lawyer

There are many jokes about lawyers and their severe costs and charges, but John Smyth's counsel came with serious physical pain by his cane. Those who suffered from his abusive control still bear the scars, physical, psychological and spiritual scars, deep wounds of the soul. Smyth is clearly in need of legal advice as he faces very serious charges. The strong evidence against him is based on the testimony of fine Christian men. He punished young men for their "sins".

 It is now time for John Smyth to take responsibility for his wicked actions, to repent and to ask his victims for forgiveness, at the very least.


River Stour