Friday, December 30, 2016


I recently started quite a provocative thread on Facebook. 
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There isn't an argument.

 Amid the negative reactions from young men, a Christian friend has made some very good points.

No, I cannot agree with the artificial distinction you make between a person's sex and a person's gender, whatever you feel you have observed, and however your views lead you to interpret those observations. It is perfectly open to you and others to redefine terms to suit your own opinion or purposes if you wish; you can decide to call a chair a lamp-post (though in its present form it will still retain the intrinsic characteristics and functions of a chair, whatever you personally decide to call it); you could decide to perform major surgery on it in order to make it look a bit more like a lamp-post. You could perhaps persuade or bully others into calling your chair a lamp-post, by threatening them with legal proceedings if they do not, or accusing them of hatred towards chairs that want to be lamp-posts, and vice versa, or declaring them to be ignorant or unintelligent if they persist in calling a chair a chair and not a lamp-post. You could say that for many people, being a chair is about other things than something to sit on, and being a lamp-post is about other things than a means of lighting a street. In short, you can say what you like, but the fact remains that the words 'chair' and 'lamp-post' conjure up historically distinct objects with distinct functions in the minds of the majority.........even, metaphorically, in the minds of chairs that would for some reason like to be lamp-posts (or lamp-posts that would like to be chairs). If this were not so, then neither would hanker after being the other, because neither would have a clear idea of what the appearance and function of the other actually is. 'How people see themselves' is irrelevant. An anorexic sees him/herself as grossly overweight; onlookers see him/her as dangerously underweight; in this case the theory of the validity of 'how people see themselves' could lead to death or irrevocable damage if somebody does not attempt to correct the distorted vision of the anorexic. Why try to correct the distorted ideas of anorexics in order to stop them doing irrevocable damage to themselves whilst in the grip of their delusion, yet encourage those whose ideas about their true gender/sex are equally deluded - and even offer to pay for and perform the permanently damaging surgery that they wrongly think will give them what they seem to hanker after? That is extremely cruel, and there are a number of well-publicised cases of people who have undergone such radical procedures and later regretted it bitterly. In the book of Genesis we read 'Male and female created he them'. We should be seeking to restore that truth in human minds, not encouraging the damaged perceptions which have increasingly developed as a consequence and concomitant of sin.

 There is a logical problem with the idea that a person 'knows' themselves to be 'born in the wrong body' in terms of sex/gender. What really defines a man or a woman? It goes way beyond choice of clothing, playthings, interests, career etc., or even emotional response. One can only know what being a man/woman really feels like by actually being one. Saying that you 'have always felt you were a woman', when in fact you have only ever have been a biological man, has to be self-deception. You cannot know what a woman experiences from infancy which defines her womanhood to her. Even she herself might have difficulty in establishing it. Third party observation can only be a very superficial and often misleading guide, and it is interesting that those who are thus confused often go overboard on what they think of as visible evidences of femininity/masculinity. However outward characteristics change. Ladies now wear trousers and become mechanics. Men use make-up and wheel their children around supermarkets. Whilst human customs and desires can, and do, change, the above simple *equation does not. It was established in creation. You say that you are interested in why such people have such desires, since they say that these are not matters of choice. There can be a number of explanations, and they themselves may not know why, but God does, and he has provided both answers, and a solution in Christ. I find that the Bible answers any and every such question if I am diligent to study it and look for the principles contained therein. You, apparently, depend on the opinions of secular philosophers (Mill) and your own observations to shape your thinking. I trust in what I believe to be the wisdom of my Creator, as transmitted through the Bible. We are not going to agree because our criteria for discussion are fundamentally opposed. However there will come a time when the truth will be made evident to all, and in the meantime I think that compassionate Christian friendship, despite such firm disagreement, will do more to alleviate the suffering of confused humanity than any amount of sycophantic political pandering to unnatural desires.

I wonder, if I were a school child who was convinced that I was a monarch, and wanted to be addressed and referred to as 'Your Majesty', whether staff would be instructed to sanction anyone who refused to do this? Actually, according to your reasoning, I would not even have to be convinced of my 'queenliness'. I would simply need to experience and express a desire to be addressed as 'Your Majesty'. if I wore some kind of crown, should that entitle me to use the special toilet facilities that are provided for the Queen when she carries out official duties?

Another friend has written  For a thoughtful and informed review of this subject see
. Paul McHugh is a distinguished psychiatrist formerly at Johns Hopkins University Medical Center. There is another aspect to this quest
ion, referred to obliquely by Professor McHugh. This is the tendency in some contemporary discussion to consider mental phenomena as definitive, even when there are contravening physical conditions. So, regarding gender identity without regard to physical reality. This is an ancient philosophy called gnosticism which reappears periodically in history. Gnosticism is not compatible with Christianity, nor actually with living in the real world.
In The Wall Street Journal, Dr. Paul McHugh writes that a drastic physical change doesn't address underlying…

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

The Twelve Days of Cumberland Turkey

On the first day of Christmas my true love said to me I'm glad we've 
bought a turkey and a Whitehaven Christmas tree.
On the second day of Christmas much laughter could be heard As we tucked 
into our turkey - a most delicious bird.
On the third day of Christmas we had friends in from Cleater Moor The 
turkey tasted just as good as on the day before.
On the fourth day of Christmas, Gran came from Kirkoswald. We finished 
up the Christmas pud and ate the turkey cold.
On the fifth day of Christmas, outside the snowflakes flurried But we 
were nice and warm inside--we ate the turkey, curried.
On the sixth day of Christmas the turkey spirit died. The children 
fought and bickered and we ate the turkey--fried.
On the seventh day of Christmas, my true love gave a wince When he sat 
down to dinner and was given turkey mince.
On the eighth day of Christmas, the dog ran off for shelter I served up 
Cumberland turkey sausage and a glass of Alka-Seltzer.
On the ninth day of Christmas, poor Dad began to cry He said he couldn't 
stand the strain of eating turkey pie.
On the tenth day of Christmas, the air was rather blue And everybody 
grumbled at eating turkey stew.
On the eleventh day of Christmas, the Christmas tree was moulting Mince 
pies hard as rock and the turkey quite revolting.
On the twelfth day of Christmas at last Dad smacked his lips The guests 
had gone, the turkey, too - we dined on Workington fish and chips

Monday, December 26, 2016

HB THOMAS GRAY 26 Dec 1716

The boast of heraldry, the pomp of power,
And all that beauty, all that wealth e'er gave,
Await alike the inevitable hour.
The paths of glory lead but to the grave.
Gray's Elegy

To each his suff'rings: all are men,
Condemn'd alike to groan,
The tender for another's pain;
Th' unfeeling for his own.
Yet ah! why should they know their fate?
Since sorrow never comes too late,
And happiness too swiftly flies.
Thought would destroy their paradise.
No more; where ignorance is bliss,
'Tis folly to be wise.
THOMAS GRAY (1716-1771) An Ode on a Distant Prospect of Eton College (London: R. Dodsley, 1747)

The hues of bliss more brightly glow,
Chastised by sabler tints of woe. --- Thomas Gray, Ode on the Pleasure arising from Vicissitude. Line 45.

Sunday, December 25, 2016

O come, all ye faithful, joyful and triumphant,

 "O come, all ye faithful, joyful and triumphant, . . ."
We sang little above a whisper, our eyes darting
anxiously up to the barred windows for any sign of
the guards.
"Joyful and triumphant?"  Clad in tattered
prisoner-of-war clothes, I looked around at the two
dozen men huddled in a North Vietnamese prison cell.
Light bulbs hanging from the ceiling illuminated a
gaunt and wretched group of men--grotesque
caricatures of what had once been clean-shaven,
superbly fit Air Force, Navy and Marine pilots and
We shivered from the damp night air and the fevers
that plagued a number of us.  Some men were
permanently stooped from the effects of torture;
others limped or leaned on makeshift crutches.
    "O come ye, o come ye to Bethlehem.  Come and
     behold him, born the King of angels. . . ."
What a pathetic sight we were.  Yet here, this
Christmas Eve 1971, we were together for the first
time, some after seven years of harrowing isolation
and mistreatment at the hands of a cruel enemy.  We
were keeping Christmas--the most special Christmas
any of us ever would observe.
There had been Christmas services in North Vietnam
in previous years, but they had been spiritless,
ludicrous stage shows, orchestrated by the
Vietnamese for propaganda purposes.  This was our
Christmas service, the only one we had ever been
allowed to hold--though we feared that, at any
moment, our captors might change their minds.
I had been designated chaplain by our senior-ranking
P.O.W. officer, Colonel George "Bud" Day, USAF.  As
we sang "O Come, All Ye Faithful," I looked down at
the few sheets of paper upon which I had penciled
the Bible verses that tell the story of Christ's birth.
I recalled how, a week earlier, Colonel Day had
asked the camp commander for a Bible.  No, he was
told, there were no Bibles in North Vietnam.  But
four days later, the camp commander had come into
our communal cell to announce, "We have found one
Bible in Hanoi, and you can designate one person to
copy from it for a few minutes."
Colonel Day had requested that I perform the task.
Hastily, I leafed through the worn book the
Vietnamese had placed on a table just outside our
cell door in the prison yard.  I furiously copied
the Christmas passages until a guard approached and
took the Bible away.
The service was simple.  After saying the Lord's
Prayer, we sang Christmas carols, some of us
mouthing the words until our pain-clouded memories
caught up with our voices.  Between each hymn I
would read a portion of the story of Jesus' birth.
    "And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for,
     behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy,
     which shall be to all people.  For unto you is
     born this day, in the city of David, a Savior,
     which is Christ the Lord."
Captain Quincy Collins, a former choir director from
the Air Force Academy, led the hymns.  At first, we
were nervous and stilted in our singing.  Still
burning in our memories was the time, almost a year
before when North Vietnamese guards had burst in on
our church service, beaten the three men leading the
prayers, and dragged them away to confinement.  The
rest of us were locked away for 11 months in three-
by-five-foot cells.  Indeed, this Christmas service
was in part a defiant celebration of the return to
our regular prison in Hanoi.
And as the service progressed, our boldness
increased, the singing swelled.  "O Little Town of
Bethlehem," "Hark, the Herald Angels Sing," "It Came
Upon the Midnight Clear."  Our voices filled the
cell, bound together as we shared the story of the
Babe "away in a manger, no crib for a bed."
Finally it came time to sing perhaps the most
beloved hymn:
    "Silent night, Holy night!  All is calm, all is bright, . . . "
A half-dozen of the men were too sick to stand.
They sat on the raised concrete sleeping platform
that ran down the middle of the cell.  Our few
blankets were placed around the shaking shoulders
of the sickest men to protect them against the
cold.  Even these men looked up transfixed as we
sang that hymn.
    "Round yon virgin mother and child.  Holy infant so
     tender and mild, . . . "
Tears rolled down our unshaven faces.  Suddenly we
were 2000 years and a half a world away in a village
called Bethlehem.  And neither war, nor torture, nor
imprisonment, nor the centuries themselves had dimmed
the hope born on that silent night so long before.
    "Sleep in heavenly peace, sleep in heavenly peace."
We had forgotten our wounds, our hunger, our pain.
We raised prayers of thanks for the Christ child,
for our families and homes, for our country.  There
was an absolutely exquisite feeling that all our
burdens had been lifted.  In a place designed to
turn men into vicious animals, we clung to one
another, sharing what comfort we had.
Some of us had managed to make crude gifts.  One
fellow had a precious commodity--a cotton washcloth.
Somewhere he had found needle and thread and fashioned
the cloth into a hat, which he gave to Bud Day.  Some
men exchanged dog tags.  Others had used prison spoons
to scratch out an IOU on bits of paper--some imaginary
thing we wished another to have.  We exchanged those
chits with smiles and tearful thanks.
The Vietnamese guards did not disturb us.  But as I
looked up at the barred windows, I wished they had
been looking in.  I wanted them to see us--faithful,
joyful and, yes, triumphant.
     --John McCain
      (A U.S. Arizona senator, former U.S. Navy pilot and
       five-year POW in the Hoa Lo "Hanoi Hilton" prison after
       his plane was shot down over Hanoi on October 26, 1967.
      _Reader's Digest_ [December 1984], "Joyful and Triumphant")

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Christmas tide. 2016

71 Lee Road, Greenford, UB6 7DA, 02082480579,

Greetings from the Weeks family this blessed Christmas tide. 2016 has not been a very eventful year but here is the news. Our health continues to be reasonably good considering we have both reached the three score years and ten.We enjoyed two overseas holidays this year. In April we flew to Germany to visit our Ealing friends in Essen.  2017 marks 500 years since the start of Luther’s reformation. It would be good to find a suitable church history tour.

In August, ten Weeks and Littles went on a family cruise suggested by Adrian’s parents.  So our party was Adrian’s parents and sister, Adrian, Rachel, Ethan and Elissa, we two and Debbie.  We had two weeks cruising from Southampton to the Canary Islands and back via Lisbon and Spain - very relaxing.
Katy continues to be very busy with her cello and piano in church and cello in various outside groups.  She is also very active in our Church’s English class helping women with their communication skills.  Graham continues to preach at the Heathrow Immigration Removal Centre.  He continues to convene two specialist groups for the local University of the Third Age as well as volunteering at the Evangelical Library. He is now in his 34th year as an elder in our church.  Adrian is among four men about to commence an elder’s training course at our church. Our building plans have once again been delayed over costings but we are about to appoint a contractor and we hope building will start in January and be completed this time next year.
Debbie still lives with us. She helps in the church mother and toddlers group and also a weeknight club for children in school years 1 to 6. Her craft and design skills are much in demand. Her work is still child minding three days a week caring for our pastor’s three children including one year old Phoebe who has Down’s Syndrome. Rachel now is freelance in her occupational therapy working part time in two local schools. Near Cambridge, Jonathan has found some temporary employment in the warehouse of the Cambridge Examinations Board. Bethany and Hannah are now teenagers. Bethany was baptised last month. It was a very encouraging service for her and all the church members were very supportive.  We had a lovely bring and share lunch together afterwards.  In Canterbury Zac has followed sister Sahara with good marks in the 11 plus. So next year he will enter a boys’ grammar school there.
One major event we would pray for in 2017 is to move house. We have been here over 32 years and would like to downsize a little. We want to be no further from church but cannot afford to be nearer. We would like a smaller garden (Katy can’t cope with ours any more), a downstairs toilet, two reception and at least thee bedrooms.  We are praying for God’s guidance in this and trusting in His goodness.  
With our love and prayers for 2017,

Graham and Katy

Thursday, December 22, 2016

My reasons for voting BREXIT

The morning of 24 June 2016 was one of the happiest and surprising of my seventy years. The night before I had retired to bed after seeing Nigel Farage more or less admit defeat when polls closed in the EU referendum. To wake up and hear we were leaving the EU, or EUSSR as I call it, was bliss. To hear Cameron was resigning was added euphoria. I have detested him ever since the fiasco of same sex 'marriage' for which he had no electoral mandate.
    Since the vote, the minority who voted to remain (the remoaners)have slandered us, the Brexiteers as old, poorly educated, xenophobic little Englanders. I merely say the remoaners are bad losers like the USA's Democrats.
    So why do I want out? First of all I shall refute the slanders. Yes I am old by the standards of a younger generation. But it means I can remember when I lived in an independent, sovereign United Kingdom-It was not inequitably devolved nor encumbered by laws not of our making. It was a representative democracy where I was a happy subject of the Crown, not a citizen of an undemocratic union of foreign nations.
     As to my level of education, a 2:1 honours and I declined the offer of a Ph.D course. So like most people I class myself as of above education and intelligence :-)
     Xenophobic? As my many friends from diverse nations. I am in some ways ambivalent on immigration. I enjoy culinary diversity but not multiculturalism. I believe the levels of immigration in my lifetime are something not envisaged nor welcomed by many. But I defy anyone to say I have been less than welcoming personally. Immigration, on the positive side for Christians means you can engage in cross-cultural witness at home. You do not need to go the thousands of miles that we did in 1970. I do believe we have suffered from a sloppy Home Office failing to control our borders. They count people in after a fashion but fail to count then out when visas expire. I do object to free access for citizens of EU nations when life is made difficult for our Commonwealth allies, often kith and kin to come here. But I never questioned the right of EU nationals now here, to remain if they wish.
     Little Englander? That is not what the bathroom scales say. They almost cry,'One at a time please.' Englander? When I was young I would say I was British. Now I am English. That is what devolution, noisy nationalists and immigration have done to me.
     But let me leave the slander and give positive reasons. I object first and foremost to the loss of sovereignty from parliament and our courts.The decision had no real electoral mandate then, back in 1969 or 70, we had a general election prior to Heath taking us into the Common Market. We were offered no electoral choice. The main parties wanted in. In my constituency all the candidates were for joining. In my father's constituency the candidates were against the Common Market. So we had no choice and the majority of people were happy to be led astray by the repeated lies from all sides telling us this was a solely economic matter, nothing political. Heath et al lied. They knew it was political, not least to keep peace in Europe, stopping the Germans and French fighting for a third time in the century. When Heath fell and Wilson offered a referendum it was questioning about the stable door after the horse has bolted. Or to put it better, it was like asking the young mother some time after the shotgun wedding and birth of the baby, 'You didn't mind ,did you?'. Everyone now says Wilson only did it to unite his divided party.
 So parliament has ever since voted to reduce its own powers and have us governed from Brussels The whole EU is undemocratic. Laws are not parliament made like at Westminster. We have been tied into a continental legal system based on Roman law and not one ancient common law. In the EU the citizen can do nothing unless permitted by law. Here the subject can do anything unless prohibited by law.
     So for me I want out for sovereignty, democracy, rule of law by our courts and control of our borders. I do not wish to expel anyone except law breakers and those who are a threat to national security. I do not need to spell out who most of the last mentioned are.

December 22: Hugh McKail Martyred (1666)

He Gained the Martyr’s Crown
by David T. Myers
The enemies of the Covenanters had very long memories. Long after sermons were preached or actions taken, the authorities in Scotland remembered words and actions against them. Such was the case with a young minister by the name of Hugh McKail.
A child of the manse, from Bothwell, Scotland, his pastor father was one of those forced out of his pulpit and parish when he refused to conform to Prelacy.  Little is known of young Hugh’s early days, but he did go to Edinburgh for education. There he was soon marked out as a young man of exceptional ability. For that, upon graduation, he was chosen to be a chaplain and tutor of the Lord Provost of Edinburgh, Sir James Stewart. In that Covenanter home, he would sit at the feet of those in leadership positions in the church and learn of the dire situation facing both the church and the state.
In 1661, he applied to the Presbytery for licensure in the ministry. Preaching in a variety of situations, he was quickly recognized by his hearers for his great ability in the Word of God. However, his ministry soon came to an end as it became obvious that he wouldn’t compromise his convictions, just as his father before him.  Preaching his last sermon in a church in Edinburgh, he had a sentence in it which marked him for remembrance by the Prelate forces of his day. He said, “the Church is persecuted by a Pharaoh on the throne, a Haman in the State, and a Judas in the Church.” The identification was obvious to all in the pews that day.
Forced to leave his beloved Scotland, the young twenty-six year old would spend the next three years in Holland. On his return to Scotland, the situation had not improved any and there was a spark of rebellion in the air. That spark was ignited, as a prior post here, one November 28th indicated, at the Battle of Rullion Green. Hugh McKail was among the nine hundred in the Covenanter ranks that day. But his own physical weakness removed him before that great battle arrived, and he traveled to Edinburgh instead. There he was arrested by the authorities, not so much for his Covenanter attachments as for his statement made in that Edinburgh church some years before.
Interrogated in prison, he was placed in the Boot, a fearful torture device which all but crushed his leg while he remained silent in voice. He was ordered to die by hanging on December 22, 1666. His exact words that day of death have been preserved through the ages. They were:
Farewell father, mother, friends, and relations; Farewell the world and its delights; farewell meat and drink; farewell sun, moon, and starts; Welcome God and Father; welcome sweet Jesus Christ the mediator of the New Covenant; welcome blessed Spirit of grace, the God of all consolation; welcome glory, welcome eternal life; welcome death!  Into Thy Hands I commit my spirit.”
Words to Live By:
Could Hugh McKail have compromised his convictions and avoided suffering and death? Certainly, and many did. But this young man  was reared by a parent who by his example remained steadfast to the Word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ. With such an example like that, it is no wonder the young minister was given over to sacrifice, in loyalty to both the Living and Written Word, come what may to his physical body. Addressing all parents reading these posts on Presbyterian history: Your life preaches all the week. Are those in your family being helped or hindered to follow the Living and Written Word?

The Battle of Rullion Green November 28, 1666

The Time Was Not Ripe
This mysterious phrase is found on a stone memorial on the grounds of the Battle of Rullion Green which is located eight miles south of Edinburgh, Scotland. It tells the tragic story of defeat in the first battle of the Scot Covenanters—Presbyterians all—against the English government of Charles II.
This battle was part of the Killing Times era of Scottish Covenanters. In essence, the Anglican government had declared war against the Presbyterians of Scotland, asking for unconditional surrender on their part. Their pastors—some 400 of them—had been ejected from their pulpits, their manses, and their parishes. When some of them began to preach to their people in the fields and moors, that whole scene became a dangerous practice, with fines leveled against the attenders, and imprisonment and death as well. All that was needed was a spark to ignite the smoldering indignation of the Scottish people of God.
That spark occurred on November 13, 1666 when an old man by the name of John Grier was accosted by the soldiers of the English government. Unable to pay a fine for his absence from his church with its Anglican curate in the pulpit, he was beaten severely that day. Four local Covenanters  happened upon the scene, and tried first to reason with the soldiers. When that failed, words turned to actions, and one of the soldiers was shot. Other villagers joined in the fray and took the solders prisoners. At this point, the Covenanters numbered ninety people.
Aware of the danger posed by their actions, they marched to Dunfries, Scotland, where they attacked other soldiers, killing one in the process. By this time, their numbers had reached two hundred and fifty. On the way, they captured Sir James Turner, the overall military commander in the area. Continuing further, they encountered a soldier friend by the name of James Wallace, who had experience in warfare. He and his military subordinates joined the Covenanter crowd. They then headed to Edinburgh, the capital city, to find more support for their actions to stop “the killing times,” though to their surprise, the weapons of the citizens were turned against them. The time was not ripe for a rebellion against English rule, evidently, despite their numbers having reached some three thousand or more by this time.
The English government dispatched General Thomas Daiziel against them, who with an army of 3000 (some sources say 5000 soldiers), marched after them. The Covenanter force, with their inadequate weapons and supplies, began to fail, with many deserting the force, leaving some 900 left to do battle. On the afternoon of Wednesday, November 28, 1666, on a long slope in the country side south of Edinburgh, three thrusts by the government forces eventually brought a crushing of the valiant forces of the Covenanters. Some fifty were killed, including two Presbyterian ministers from Ulster. But that was only the beginning of the killing done that day. A bloody retribution was exacted upon the prisoners, including starvation, death by handing, and sending many on prison ships to the American colonies and the West Indies.
Words to Life By:
On the monument which marks the battlefield, there is carved a biblical text from Revelation 12:11, which reads, “And they overcame him because of the blood of the Lamb and because of the word of their testimony, and they did not love their life even when faced with death.”  Another inscription reads,
“A cloud of witnesses lyes here,
who for Christ’s interest did not appear,
For to restore true Liberty
Overturned then by Tyrany
and by Proud Prelates who did rage
Against the Lord’s own heritage.
Their sacrifices were for the Laws
of Christ their king,  his noble cause,
These heroes fought with great renown,
By falling got the Martyr’ Crown.”

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Tribute to David Barnes November2015

Late on Saturday night I received a call from our pastor Paul. His voice was troubled as he said, ‘There is no easy way to say this. David Barnes has died from a massive heart attack.’ He had been watching Finchley play Harrow. Viewing local football was David’s usual Saturday afternoon pastime. On Sunday I had a message from Lesley asking me not to put anything on Facebook as the family would tell people. Last night seeing how many friends were posting messages I decidedI should write this short tribute. I had known David for over 33 years end counted him one of my closest friends. Christian friendship triumphed over differing sporting and political allegiances. If asked for one phrase to sum up David it has to be “full of good works”. If heaven were attained on good deeds, David would be at the front of the queue for both his public and private life. Of course we know David is in heaven now, not because of what he did but because of the work of the Saviour in whom he trusted and in whose resurrection we know David will share for David died firm in the faith. That Saturday morning he had been witnessing at our church book table in Greenford. In public life David the solicitor specialised in family law advocating the cause of disadvantaged children and parents in the courts. In private life he was passionate in prayer, evangelism, for the unborn child and mothers and for the homeless. He appeared to me to have an amazing ability to show a cheerful disposition even when undergoing major problems in work and home. He served for some years as an elder in our church and I think he had been a deacon too. He was a very affectionate brother to me and a faithful one when counsel or rebuke was needed. I will end with a little humour. David reminded me of the television portrayal of Rumpole of the Bailey, a lovable clever and able advocate. I think they both appeared at the Uxbridge Magistrates Court. David of course was a solicitor not a barrister. His labours now as a lawyer are ended. I mourn his loss with tears. Mourning is for those of us left behind. For David, troubles are over. He is with Christ which is far better The trumpets have sounded for David on the other side. My thoughts, love and prayers are with Lesley, Rosie, Pete, Tom and Elaine.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Militants kill 40 to ‘rid Kaduna of Christianity’

From Release International, PO Box 54, Orpington, BR5 4RT, UK 

Pastor Akut and his community are in mourning after Fulani herdsmen raided their town in northern Nigeria and killed more than 40 people.

Nearly all the homes in Godogodo have been burned down and crops destroyed. Thousands have fled the area.

Please pray for all those who survived the brutal attack on this mainly Christian community in Kaduna.
The attack began at about 5pm on Saturday. Pastor Akut and his family were among many people who fled into the bush. They slept rough until they felt safe enough to seek refuge in a nearby town the next day.

‘The attackers were in their hundreds and were well armed,’ said Pastor Akut. Many wore police and army uniform, he added.

The assault follows closely an assault on the town in late-September in which eight people died. A total of 16 church buildings and worship centres were damaged in both attacks. 
Pastor Akut sees this as part of a concerted campaign to rid the area of Christianity. ‘It is an Islamic holy war against Christians in the southern part of Kaduna state,’ he said.
  • Pray for all those who are grieving loved ones or recovering from injuries in Godogodo. Pray that God will heal them.
  • Ask God to provide for all those who have lost their homes, belongings and crops.
  • Pray for wisdom for state and national officials in tackling violence by Fulani herdsmen. Pray that they will have fresh resolve to end this crisis and protect vulnerable Christian communities.
(Source: Morning Star News)

Lloyd-Jones on the Aberfan disaster

I was at Westminster Chapel on the evening of Sunday 23rd October 1966. It was two days after the disaster at Aberfan. On the morning of 21st October 1966 in the small mining village of Aberfan an avalanche of colliery waste slipped down the mountainside, swept through houses, and overwhelmed Pantglas Junior School.  It killed 144 people, 116 of them children. Here is an excerpt from my notes on the sermon.
"Creation groaned in Aberfan. Creation subjected to vanity because man sinned and all creation was involved in the punishment for his crime. There were no calamities in paradise. Part of the explanation for Aberfan was greed of man for moneymaking. Why does God allow war? Man produced it. God allows him to reap the consequences of his rebellion and sin against God. Why did man ever sin and destroy a perfect world in which such suffering could not happen? God's permissive will is seen in this.He is the God of providence, in control yet allowing certain things to happen. God allows coal tips to fall because man built them in greed. They have turned their backs upon God.The cause of the church in Aberfan has declined since the war. God allows the consequences."
This was a most forthright reflexion.It was also remarkably prescient as to the physical cause of the disaster.  The subsequent public enquiry said the National Coal Board had knowingly built the slag heap over a spring of water

Monday, April 11, 2016

Books read in April 2016

1. Made In America: An Informal History of American English by Bill Bryson

I am not surprised to read that Bryson is the top selling non-fiction author. This is one of his early books. It is more than a history of English in America. It is a history of the USA and many things in it as well as the development of the language. His final chapter on American English today examines the call for non-sexist inclusive language. Bryson is in the main happy with this and he quotes examples from a modern Bible translation. Here is where I part company, having theological reasons for a more literal translation of the original languages.

Saturday, March 05, 2016

Books read in March 2016

1. The Lost Continent: Travels in Small-Town America by Bill Bryson 

I have read most of Bryson's books.I think he is the best humorous travel writer .... but not here. Firstly he surprised me by his negativity about small town America. Either he never plans to go back to these places he insults or he thinks they are not literate enough to read his book. Either way this is not the America I have experienced which is most friendly, polite and welcoming. Bryson also manages to be very negative about NHS hospitals en route. I am left wondering if he was commissioned to take this trip to write the book and it was a job he did not enjoy.

2.  The Hollow Crown: The Wars of the Roses and the Rise of the Tudors by Dan Jones 

An excellent, readable account of the 15th century wars between the houses of Lancaster and York. Usually called the Wars of the Roses we learn here that this should be called the age of the first English civil wars

3. No More Champagne: Churchill and his Money by David Lough

This is not a book that enhances the reputation of Churchill. He starts life in a typical aristocratic family where bills are not paid on time. A typical army officer he lives beyond his means and takes to journalism to remain solvent. In fact it is his literary accomplishments which are the source of his finance through the years. He gambled on the stock market, usually it seems with borrowed money. This speculation seems to me to not be qualitatively different from his love of the casinos when he holidayed in France. He was a consummate tax avoider even when chancellor of the exchequer.  Eventually, thanks to gifts from friends and his lucrative literary output he became a wealthy man. The author has done an amazing work  of research to reveal a less than admirable side of the great man.

Monday, February 29, 2016

The religion of peace

Quran (2:191-193) – “And kill them wherever you find them, and turn them out from where they have turned you out. And Al-Fitnah [disbelief or unrest] is worse than killing… 
but if they desist, then lo! Allah is forgiving and merciful. And fight them until there is no more Fitnah [disbelief and worshipping of others along with Allah] and worship is for Allah alone. But if they cease, let there be no transgression except against Az-Zalimun (the polytheists, and wrong-doers, etc.)” (Translation is from the Noble Quran) The verse prior to this (190) refers to “fighting for the cause of Allah those who fight you” leading some to believe that the entire passage refers to a defensive war in which Muslims are defending their homes and families. The historical context of this passage is not defensive warfare, however, since Muhammad and his Muslims had just relocated to Medina and were not under attack by their Meccan adversaries. In fact, the verses urge offensive warfare, in that Muslims are to drive Meccans out of their own city (which they later did). Verse 190 thus means to fight those who offer resistance to Allah’s rule (ie. Muslim conquest). The use of the word “persecution” by some Muslim translators is disingenuous (the actual Arabic words for persecution – “idtihad” – and oppression – a variation of “z-l-m” – do not appear in the verse). The word used instead, “fitna”, can mean disbelief, or the disorder that results from unbelief or temptation. This is certainly what is meant in this context since the violence is explicitly commissioned “until religion is for Allah” – ie. unbelievers desist in their unbelief.Quran (2:244) – “Then fight in the cause of Allah, and know that Allah Heareth and knoweth all things.”
Quran (2:216) – Fighting is prescribed for you, and ye dislike it. But it is possible that ye dislike a thing which is good for you, and that ye love a thing which is bad for you. But Allah knoweth, and ye know not.” Not only does this verse establish that violence can be virtuous, but it also contradicts the myth that fighting is intended only in self-defense, since the audience was obviously not under attack at the time. From the Hadith, we know that this verse was narrated at a time that Muhammad was actually trying to motivate his people into raiding merchant caravans for loot.
Quran (3:56) – “As to those who reject faith, I will punish them with terrible agony in this world and in the Hereafter, nor will they have anyone to help.”
Quran (3:151) – “Soon shall We cast terror into the hearts of the Unbelievers, for that they joined companions with Allah, for which He had sent no authority”. This speaks directly of polytheists, yet it also includes Christians, since they believe in the Trinity (ie. what Muhammad incorrectly believed to be ‘joining companions to Allah’).
Quran (4:74) – “Let those fight in the way of Allah who sell the life of this world for the other. Whoso fighteth in the way of Allah, be he slain or be he victorious, on him We shall bestow a vast reward.” The martyrs of Islam are unlike the early Christians, who were led meekly to the slaughter. These Muslims are killed in battle as they attempt to inflict death and destruction for the cause of Allah. This is the theological basis for today’s suicide bombers.
Quran (4:76) – “Those who believe fight in the cause of Allah…”
Quran (4:89) – “They but wish that ye should reject Faith, as they do, and thus be on the same footing (as they): But take not friends from their ranks until they flee in the way of Allah (From what is forbidden). But if they turn renegades, seize them and slay them wherever ye find them; and (in any case) take no friends or helpers from their ranks.
Quran (4:95) – “Not equal are those of the believers who sit (at home), except those who are disabled (by injury or are blind or lame, etc.), and those who strive hard and fight in the Cause of Allah with their wealth and their lives. Allah has preferred in grades those who strive hard and fight with their wealth and their lives above those who sit (at home).Unto each, Allah has promised good (Paradise), but Allah has preferred those who strive hard and fight, above those who sit (at home) by a huge reward ” This passage criticizes “peaceful” Muslims who do not join in the violence, letting them know that they are less worthy in Allah’s eyes. It also demolishes the modern myth that “Jihad” doesn’t mean holy war in the Quran, but rather a spiritual struggle. Not only is this Arabic word (mujahiduna) used in this passage, but it is clearly not referring to anything spiritual, since the physically disabled are given exemption. (The Hadith reveals the context of the passage to be in response to a blind man’s protest that he is unable to engage in Jihad, which would not make sense if it meant an internal struggle).
Quran (4:104) – “And be not weak hearted in pursuit of the enemy; if you suffer pain, then surely they (too) suffer pain as you suffer pain…” Is pursuing an injured and retreating enemy really an act of self-defense?
Quran (5:33) – “The punishment of those who wage war against Allah and His messenger and strive to make mischief in the land is only this, that they should be murdered or crucified or their hands and their feet should be cut off on opposite sides or they should be imprisoned; this shall be as a disgrace for them in this world, and in the hereafter they shall have a grievous chastisement”
Quran (8:12) – “I will cast terror into the hearts of those who disbelieve. Therefore strike off their heads and strike off every fingertip of them” No reasonable person would interpret this to mean a spiritual struggle.
Quran (8:15) – “O ye who believe! When ye meet those who disbelieve in battle, turn not your backs to them. (16)Whoso on that day turneth his back to them, unless maneuvering for battle or intent to join a company, he truly hath incurred wrath from Allah, and his habitation will be hell, a hapless journey’s end.”
Quran (8:39) – “And fight with them until there is no more fitna (disorder, unbelief) and religion is all for Allah” Some translations interpret “fitna” as “persecution”, but the traditional understanding of this word is not supported by the historical context (See notes for 2:193). The Meccans were simply refusing Muhammad access to their city during Haj. Other Muslims were allowed to travel there – just not as an armed group, since Muhammad had declared war on Mecca prior to his eviction. The Meccans were also acting in defense of their religion, since it was Muhammad’s intention to destroy their idols and establish Islam by force (which he later did). Hence the critical part of this verse is to fight until “religion is only for Allah”, meaning that the true justification of violence was the unbelief of the opposition. According to the Sira (Ibn Ishaq/Hisham 324) Muhammad further explains that “Allah must have no rivals.”
Quran (8:57) – “If thou comest on them in the war, deal with them so as to strike fear in those who are behind them, that haply they may remember.”
Quran (8:67) – “It is not for a Prophet that he should have prisoners of war until he had made a great slaughter in the land…
Quran (8:59-60) – “And let not those who disbelieve suppose that they can outstrip (Allah’s Purpose). Lo! they cannot escape. Make ready for them all thou canst of (armed) force and of horses tethered, that thereby ye may dismay the enemy of Allah and your enemy.”
Quran (8:65) – “O Prophet, exhort the believers to fight…”
Quran (9:5) – “So when the sacred months have passed away, then slay the idolaters wherever you find them, and take them captive and besiege them and lie in wait for them in every ambush, then if they repent and keep up prayer and pay the poor-rate, leave their way free to them.” According to this verse, the best way of staying safe from Muslim violence is to convert to Islam (prayer (salat) and the poor tax (zakat) are among the religion’s Five Pillars). This popular claim that the Quran only inspires violence within the context of self-defense is seriously challenged by this passage as well, since the Muslims to whom it was written were obviously not under attack. Had they been, then there would have been no waiting period (earlier verses make it a duty for Muslims to fight in self-defense, even during the sacred months). The historical context is Meccaafter the idolaters were subjugated by Muhammad and posed no threat. Once the Muslims had power, they violently evicted those unbelievers who would not convert.
Quran (9:14) – “Fight against them so that Allah will punish them by your hands and disgrace them and give you victory over them and heal the breasts of a believing people.” Humiliating and hurting non-believers not only has the blessing of Allah, but it is ordered as a means of carrying out his punishment and even “healing” the hearts of Muslims.
Quran (9:20) – “Those who believe, and have left their homes and striven with their wealth and their lives in Allah’s way are of much greater worth in Allah’s sight. These are they who are triumphant.” The Arabic word interpreted as “striving” in this verse is the same root as “Jihad”. The context is obviously holy war.
Quran (9:29) – “Fight those who believe not in Allah nor the Last Day, nor hold that forbidden which hath been forbidden by Allah and His Messenger, nor acknowledge the religion of Truth, (even if they are) of the People of the Book, until they pay the Jizya with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued.” “People of the Book” refers to Christians and Jews. According to this verse, they are to be violently subjugated, with the sole justification being their religious status. Verse 9:33 tells Muslims that Allah has charted them to make Islam “superior over all religions.”This chapter was one of the final “revelations” from Allah and it set in motion the tenacious military expansion, in which Muhammad’s companions managed to conquer two-thirds of the Christian world in the next 100 years. Islam is intended to dominate all other people and faiths.
Quran (9:30) – “And the Jews say: Ezra is the son of Allah; and the Christians say: The Messiah is the son of Allah; these are the words of their mouths; they imitate the saying of those who disbelieved before; may Allah destroy them; how they are turned away!” 
Quran (9:38-39) – “O ye who believe! what is the matter with you, that, when ye are asked to go forth in the cause of Allah, ye cling heavily to the earth? Do ye prefer the life of this world to the Hereafter? But little is the comfort of this life, as compared with the Hereafter. Unless ye go forth, He will punish you with a grievous penalty, and put others in your place.” This is a warning to those who refuse to fight, that they will be punished with Hell.
Quran (9:41) – “Go forth, light-armed and heavy-armed, and strive with your wealth and your lives in the way of Allah! That is best for you if ye but knew.” See also the verse that follows (9:42) – “If there had been immediate gain (in sight), and the journey easy, they would (all) without doubt have followed thee, but the distance was long, (and weighed) on them” This contradicts the myth that Muslims are to fight only in self-defense, since the wording implies that battle will be waged a long distance from home (in another country and on Christian soil, in this case, according to the historians).
Quran (9:73) – “O Prophet! strive hard against the unbelievers and the hypocrites and be unyielding to them; and their abode is hell, and evil is the destination.” Dehumanizing those who reject Islam, by reminding Muslims that unbelievers are merely firewood for Hell, makes it easier to justify slaughter. It also explains why today’s devout Muslims have little regard for those outside the faith.
Quran (9:88) – “But the Messenger, and those who believe with him, strive and fight with their wealth and their persons: for them are (all) good things: and it is they who will prosper.” 
Quran (9:111) – “Allah hath purchased of the believers their persons and their goods; for theirs (in return) is the garden (of Paradise): they fight in His cause, and slay and are slain: a promise binding on Him in truth, through the Law, the Gospel, and the Quran: and who is more faithful to his covenant than Allah? then rejoice in the bargain which ye have concluded: that is the achievement supreme.” How does the Quran define a true believer?
Quran (9:123) – “O you who believe! fight those of the unbelievers who are near to you and let them find in you hardness.”
Quran (17:16) – “And when We wish to destroy a town, We send Our commandment to the people of it who lead easy lives, but they transgress therein; thus the word proves true against it, so We destroy it with utter destruction.” Note that the crime is moral transgression, and the punishment is “utter destruction.” (Before ordering the 9/11 attacks, Osama bin Laden first issued Americans an invitation to Islam).
Quran (18:65-81) – This parable lays the theological groundwork for honor killings, in which a family member is murdered because they brought shame to the family, either through apostasy or perceived moral indiscretion. The story (which is not found in any Jewish or Christian source) tells of Moses encountering a man with “special knowledge” who does things which don’t seem to make sense on the surface, but are then justified according to later explanation. One such action is to murder a youth for no apparent reason (74). However, the wise man later explains that it was feared that the boy would “grieve” his parents by “disobedience and ingratitude.” He was killed so that Allah could provide them a ‘better’ son. (Note: This is one reason why honor killing is sanctioned by Sharia. Reliance of the Traveler (Umdat al-Saliq) says that punishment for murder is not applicable when a parent or grandparent kills their offspring (o.1.1-2).)
Quran (21:44) – “We gave the good things of this life to these men and their fathers until the period grew long for them; See they not that We gradually reduce the land (in their control) from its outlying borders? Is it then they who will win?” 
Quran (25:52) – “Therefore listen not to the Unbelievers, but strive against them with the utmost strenuousness…” “Strive against” is Jihad – obviously not in the personal context. It’s also significant to point out that this is a Meccan verse.
Quran (33:60-62) – “If the hypocrites, and those in whose hearts is a disease, and the alarmists in the city do not cease, We verily shall urge thee on against them, then they will be your neighbors in it but a little while. Accursed, they will be seized wherever found and slain with a (fierce) slaughter.” This passage sanctions the slaughter (rendered “merciless” and “horrible murder” in other translations) against three groups: Hypocrites (Muslims who refuse to “fight in the way of Allah” (3:167) and hence don’t act as Muslims should), those with “diseased hearts” (which include Jews and Christians 5:51-52), and “alarmists” or “agitators who include those who merely speak out against Islam, according to Muhammad’s biographers. It is worth noting that the victims are to be sought out by Muslims, which is what today’s terrorists do. If this passage is meant merely to apply to the city of Medina, then it is unclear why it is included in Allah’s eternal word to Muslim generations.
Quran (47:3-4) – “Those who disbelieve follow falsehood, while those who believe follow the truth from their Lord… So, when you meet (in fight Jihad in Allah’s Cause), those who disbelieve smite at their necks till when you have killed and wounded many of them, then bind a bond firmly (on them, i.e. take them as captives)… If it had been Allah’s Will, He Himself could certainly have punished them (without you). But (He lets you fight), in order to test you, some with others. But those who are killed in the Way of Allah, He will never let their deeds be lost.” Those who reject Allah are to be killed in Jihad. The wounded are to be held captive for ransom. The only reason Allah doesn’t do the dirty work himself is to to test the faithfulness of Muslims. Those who kill pass the test.
Quran (47:35) – “Be not weary and faint-hearted, crying for peace, when ye should be uppermost(Shakir: “have the upper hand”) for Allah is with you,” 
Quran (48:17) – “There is no blame for the blind, nor is there blame for the lame, nor is there blame for the sick (that they go not forth to war). And whoso obeyeth Allah and His messenger, He will make him enter Gardens underneath which rivers flow; and whoso turneth back, him will He punish with a painful doom.” Contemporary apologists sometimes claim that Jihad means ‘spiritual struggle.’ Is so, then why are the blind, lame and sick exempted? This verse also says that those who do not fight will suffer torment in hell.
Quran (48:29) – “Muhammad is the messenger of Allah. And those with him are hard (ruthless) against the disbelievers and merciful among themselves” Islam is not about treating everyone equally. This verse tells Muslims that there are two very distinct standards that are applied based on religious status. Also the word used for ‘hard’ or ‘ruthless’ in this verse shares the same root as the word translated as ‘painful’ or severe’ to describe Hell in over 25 other verses including 65:1040:46 and 50:26..
Quran (61:4) – “Surely Allah loves those who fight in His cause” Religion of Peace, indeed!  The verse explicitly refers to “rows” or “battle array,” meaning that it is speaking of physical conflict. This is followed by (61:9), which defines the “cause”: “He it is who has sent His Messenger (Mohammed) with guidance and the religion of truth (Islam) to make it victorious over all religions even though the infidels may resist.” (See next verse, below). Infidels who resist Islamic rule are to be fought.
Quran (61:10-12) – “O You who believe! Shall I guide you to a commerce that will save you from a painful torment. That you believe in Allah and His Messenger (Muhammad), and that you strive hard and fight in the Cause of Allah with your wealth and your lives, that will be better for you, if you but know! (If you do so) He will forgive you your sins, and admit you into Gardens under which rivers flow, and pleasant dwelling in Gardens of’Adn- Eternity [‘Adn(Edn) Paradise], that is indeed the great success.” This verse refers to physical battle in order to make Islam victorious over other religions (see verse 9). It uses the Arabic root for the word Jihad.
Quran (66:9) – “O Prophet! Strive against the disbelievers and the hypocrites, and be stern with them. Hell will be their home, a hapless journey’s end.” The root word of “Jihad” is used again here. The context is clearly holy war, and the scope of violence is broadened to include “hypocrites” – those who call themselves Muslims but do not act as such. Other verses calling Muslims to Jihad can be found here at
Hadith and Sira
Bukhari (52:177) – Allah’s Apostle said, “The Hour will not be established until you fight with the Jews, and the stone behind which a Jew will be hiding will say. “O Muslim! There is a Jew hiding behind me, so kill him.” 
Bukhari (52:256) – The Prophet… was asked whether it was permissible to attack the pagan warriors at night with the probability of exposing their women and children to danger. The Prophet replied, “They (i.e. women and children) are from them (i.e. pagans).” In this command, Muhammad establishes that it is permissible to kill non-combatants in the process of killing a perceived enemy. This provides justification for the many Islamic terror bombings.
Bukhari (52:65) – The Prophet said, ‘He who fights that Allah’s Word, Islam, should be superior, fights in Allah’s Cause. Muhammad’s words are the basis for offensive Jihad – spreading Islam by force. This is how it was understood by his companions, and by the terrorists of today.
Bukhari (52:220) – Allah’s Apostle said… ‘I have been made victorious with terror’
Abu Dawud (14:2526) – The Prophet (peace_be_upon_him) said: Three things are the roots of faith: to refrain from (killing) a person who utters, “There is no god but Allah” and not to declare him unbeliever whatever sin he commits, and not to excommunicate him from Islam for his any action; and jihad will be performed continuously since the day Allah sent me as a prophet until the day the last member of my community will fight with the Dajjal (Antichrist)
Abu Dawud (14:2527) – The Prophet said: Striving in the path of Allah (jihad) is incumbent on you along with every ruler, whether he is pious or impious
Muslim (1:33) – the Messenger of Allah said: I have been commanded to fight against people till they testify that there is no god but Allah, that Muhammad is the messenger of Allah.
( from Jihad Watch)