Sunday, December 31, 2017

That was 2017 that was .

Seeing out the old year I read a profound tweet. 'Think how stupid the average person is and remember half the people are even more stupid.' Then Corbyn came on the news. That, for me summed up national politics in 2017 I put no trust in princes. Present politics is to me a choice between the lesser of several failures.
In August I riled most readers of the local Ealing Forum with this. I retract not one word.

Remoaners are such bad losers, so unbritish one might say. Talking to a Norwegian friend I learned that their vote to keep ou of the EU was won by a narrow margin but they had no Cablelike chorus of 'Let's have another vote'. My contribution to mock the remoaning is my BIOB game.  Blame It On Brevit. What unseasonable weather for a bank holiday weekend. BIOB! Arsenal were rubbish against Liverpool. BIOB. Leeds have their best start to a season for many years. BIOB. Our church has taken 27 years to get its rebuild programme going. BIOB. The doctors are uncertain as to why I had heart failure BIOB. All that rain in Texas. BIOB. Trump has had a total eclipse of sanity. BIOB. The North Korean missiles failed. BIOB. Play up, play up and play the BIOB game. And BTW I am old and wise enough to remember an independent UK before the lies of traitor Heath.

But an even greater irritation to me is the present consensus in the media on matters green - and I do not mean Ireland though this was my comment about one eco-warrior interviewed on Radio Ulster. '
IMO that woman should have been challenged on her ecogreenery. Saying water levels were rising because she came by car. What rot. If she sincerely thinks that, she should stay at home, walk everywhere, cycle or go public transport.'

Lest you think I am merely a grumpy old man I conclude with thanks for a blessed 2017 
personally. Four major health problems but I am smiling not depressed as to church and personal life. With Adoniram Judson I believe 'The future is as bright as the promises of God'. Maranatha! Even so come Lord Jesus.

Diary w/e 30 Dec 17

Christmas Eve

Chris Roberts excellent, his fourth sermon from Hebrews 1-2. Christ came to share. Excellent illustrations in the message. Chris has so matured as a service leader and preacher. I met Ed Clowney's granddaughter, daughter of Prof Jones and wife of the head of PCA's MTW an Berlin tougher with an other MTW worker from Berlin who was formerly PA tp Rev Courtney in Spain. I also for the first time met our new IPC baby with the theologian name, Edward J Young. Weather very mild. I have mislaid Katy's present. I wrapped two. One is on the tree and the other AWOL.
   Sorted. Present found where Katy had put family ones. Discovered when we were packing for a early star. We plan to be en route to Canterbury by 7:45 am.
   This evening excellent carols at Dean hall. Pictures on Facebook. Paul gave a shorter sermon and to the point evangelistically.

Christmas day

Up 4am. Devotions. Instructed to rouse Debbie at 6 for her stockng. Unfortunately for her I misread the clock and it was some minutes earlier. After the stocking filled and placed by Mother Christmas was emptied I was told to open one present. I had suggested a jumper. Little did the purchaser know this seasonal item was flashy.

   T?o Canterbury, 10 or so miles in one and three quarter hours, Quiet roads. New Life attended, the familly's new charismatic church. More enjoyable than anticipated. Elizabeth's parents there too. Staying here is Kirsty, ex IPC now in Oxford with IFES. Also for lunch came Barbara after she had heard Wellby preach in the cathedral. Presents the turkey lunch. Replete. The Queen, Christian as ever. More presents. Tea. Chat. Evening to Chatham, new home of Elizabeth's parents.

Boxing Day

Enjoyable sunnay morning walk round the beauty of Chartham village. Family over for lunch, a rich venison casserole. After they walked we played Ticket to Ride and as usual I was rubbish but not quite the lowest scorer. Then my day went awry or rather my stomach did and I frustratingly could not eat the food on offer.

27 Dec 17

Surprised to be cheered by a good day at last i the Ashes with a Cook century. River Sour in spate by the Chartham house we left for late Canterbury breakfast' Heavy rain but no snow in Kent. David not happy that breakfast was late. Played Ticket to Ride. Last again despite a change of tactic. David won. Katy second, grandson Zac third. Left 2.15 after lunch. Rain. Busy M25. Diverted onto A30 at my initiative. Home 5.15. 

28 Dec 17

At home. Cooked green thai curry. Planning to visit my ailing friend in California.

29 Dec 17

Thought I would buy pyjamas at M&S. Nowhere to be found, not even near the dressing gowns. With difficulty I found a staff member. He took me to them right by the dressing gowns. Why did I not see them? Because they are ever so stupidly and inaccurately called loungewear. Is this an Americanism? Is this also why the bottoms have no fly? Lounges are for sitting and for drinking drinking not for nightwear! Bring back my English language - and its good Hindustani word. BTW googling I got 'Pyjamas at Your M&S - Browse Our Range Online'
   I am definitely eating less these days. Cheese is in the fridge so long I have been ordered to quarantine it in odour proof plastic container. But now there are Christmas nuts though no Brazils around.
   I have always been averse to resolutions especially seasonal ones but I am going to try to spend more time with the reality of books and less in cyberspace. It all boils down to self control.
   Today I repent of any (alleged but not admitted) triumphalism. Thanks to a superior Aussie side and the weather we are unlikely to win. England have never put two good days together all series. IIRC they have only had two good days. Cold comfort is whitewash unlikely. Small mercy.
   First visit to Nando's - a treat generously offered and received. My reaction mixed. Having no waiter taking orders like you must queue as in a pub serving meals was a surprise. Te menu was interesting and extensive but only chicken. I went for liver and will never order that again. With mango and lime seasoning it was inedible IMO. Katy's chicken breast was fine. But I will not pay to return to this chain.

30 Dec 

To Lidl on the bus before breakfast. The bus seems back on time as per timetable. A civilised time with the bus not crowded and the supermarket quiet. A Nepalese on the till descended from three generations of Gurkhas. Jonathan and family arrived before lunch. Debbie had already left to see in the new year in Camarthen area. My eldest grandchild, Bethany may be taller than me. A photo will l reveal all. I have previously shown I am shorter than sons and son in law. But I am wider than all three. 
   Greenford Green Clinic for leg dressing. District nurses did not know I was coming but dressed the one leg still in compression. They reckon I can request stockings at the next clinic which should be 8th Jan. Pleased to see a grown up missionary kid has facebooked lots of photos including probably the youngest Rachel Little ever seen on f/b.
   Round to Little's for Adrian's birthday and pizza. See photo album.

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Lillian Board

Lilian won the silver medal in the 400 metres at the 1968 Summer Olympics in Mexico City, and two gold medals at the 1969 European Championships in Athletics in Athens. I remember asking her which gave her the most pride.IIRC she said the Olympic silver. I was her pharmacist in the community until July 1970 but there was no indication she was terminal. I do not know how long she knew before she died. gives the answer. It says the road to the Munich Olympic stadium is named after her. Someone should tell Wki what Ealing has named after her.Manage
Lillian Barbara Board MBE (13 December 1948 – 26 December 1970) was a British athlete. She won…

I love the Great Satan.

No not the devil. The title is that of the Iranian regime for the USA. Well that evil repressive government knows a lot about the ways of satan but IMO USA does not deserve the title. It is a freedom loving democracy and a source for good in Christian mission. Yes like any country in a fallen world it has its faults but faults are universal. Sin pervades all of life.No. Hatred of America is not because it is particularly bad. In the case of Iran it is because USA is in no way Islamic and it supports Israel. Here in UK, hatred of the USA is very common. Why? Envy I guess. It is wealthier than us and has taken our former top place as a super-power.
   So I am not an Americanophobe. I do not think Trump is a madman nor do I think him wise.I like his anti-establishment slant though. He riles the liberal elite and that is no bad thing.
  What do I personally like and dislike about the USA and its people? I find the country one of the friendliest - together with Ireland. Their service sector is there to serve and help with politeness and respect, aspects more prominent in USA than other cultures including my own. They are generous, love freedom and spread the gospel. Prices - better  value on everything except medicines.
   Dislike. Some are arrogant and think their way the best. A good example of this is their episcopal churches and acceptance of homosexual clergy. They are right and Bible believing churches wrong in their opinion. That may divide worldwide Anglicanism but the US churches do not care.
   Insularity and ignorance of the world. I perceive the average American knows little of the world outside his own country and does not care.
   Now to more trivial matters. Sales tax varying from state to state and never included in the price displayed. That does not help foreigners like me.
   That game of chess with grievous bodily harm called football. No.  It is 'throw the ball forwards' not football. I can never work out where the ball is. Why all the padding? Rugby is the game for real men.
   Similarly baseball is rounders by another name and not a patch on cricket. In cricket any batsman can hit the full toss. It is how the ball behaves after it pitches =bounces that gives the difficulty. And watching baseball. It you blink you may miss the one significant moment of the game, a solitary home run.
   Baseball caps worn backwards. That looks stupid. I particularly hate baseball caps when worn by British cricketers. That is not proper cricket attire.
   Beer. The US has never really recovered from prohibition in its attitudes to alcohol and the strength of its brews. Microbreweries are remedying this but as for the likes of Bud. Put it back in the horse.
   Cheese. Poor availability of variety.
   On a positive note to show I am not a follower of British prejudices. Unlike our media here I did not fall in love with Clinton or Obama and I did not think Dubya an idiot.

   So there you have it. Most of my best friends have been /are Americans and I love you and your country. I have visited six times and hope to return.
   I look forward to American reaction and return shots concerning UK culture and attitudes.

Do you believe in healing?

The testimony of one of the best missionaries I knew in Nigeria, . Sue Davies was Anglican and headed her church's TEE programme as I did for our church. In her forties she was told to go home quickly as she had a lump in her breast. She said she had responsibilities so did not go home for examination for several months, the end of her present tour. When home she was told she was terminal. She wrote in a prayer letter answering those who asked if she believed in healing. 'Of course' she wrote, 'God's will is for wholeness, healing. But where and when I cannot say. It is in his hands.' Within a year she was healed. But not in this fallen world. She was one of the three most outstanding career missionaries I knew. Another of the three died young too. God's ways are not our ways, his providence inscrutable.

Honourable honours or discrediting monarchy

I used to respect the idea of royal honours because I respect the monarchy as an institution. But who decides on these honours? Presumably not Her Majesty. If so recent honours which carry her name lead not to foster respect but disrespect for royalty, disrespect by association. Do I respect Rushdie or the Big Yin? Not at all. One is an ungrateful trouble stirring immigrant, the other a foul mouthed supposedly funny man. They do not have my respect . The honours system is not respected when we now have ageing pop stars as knights. Clegg deserves honour for political leadership though I do not like his political party. Star I respect as part of the greatest pop group but that is no knighthood worthiness IMO. Gibb? Who? No. Scrap the honours I say before it brings monarchy into even more disrepute than an adulterous prince and his divorcing siblings.

Thursday, December 28, 2017

The changing world (37) May - July 1975

This spell at Vom was my last pharmacy work for over eight years until 1983 back in London and needing to keep the family fed and housed. I had been qualified eight years by now as a retail locus  and manager in England for three years part and full time then less than three years part and full time hospital pharmacy at Vom. Soon after this I would give up my British registration so avoid the annual fees.
   May 1st David Carling is to tell the state government that our finances are not sufficient and unless they increase grants we will hand them the hospital.
   6th to Jos for Programmed Instruction Committee co-operating with SIM producing TEE texts.
   10th day off from pharmacy devoted to sermon preparation and TEE writing.
   11th On duty and also preaching. Kathleen Gula and daughter eating with us.
   14th Packing drums of our goods to go to Langtang.
   15th To Kabwir. Ate with Brian Bddy. Took Joyce McQuone to Boi.
   16th Kabwir to langtang in Faith and Farm vehicle. Saw our house and returned to Vom by taxis.
   19th Visit from Winnie and Frank Ware veteran missionaries based in Jos now
   17th 25 colleagues to supper and sing song.
   24th Went with Faith and Farm lorry taking our goods to Langtang.
   29th Last day in Pharmacy.
   31st Holiday at the Danish Lutheran place,Dogon Dutse of the road out of Jos to Bauchi.
   June 1st Around 2100 at church.
Jun 2nd We bus enjoyed seeing the steam trains in Jos.
   3rd Took boys to zoo.
   14th Left DgonDutse fr Vom.
   18th Move to Langtang. Unpacked. Supper at Zamko.
   19th Findingthe labourer Yusufu (Joseph) is slow and unreliable. We live on top of the hills new house above the 1910 original one and with a view of tase Rock. Visit from Winnie and Frank Ware, veteran missionaries now based in Jos.
   20th. Started painting the house which has been empty for a while. Rimkat the cook seems a good worker.
   23rd  Cleaned out the wood stove. Painting,unpacking and laid the carpet in the living room.
   24th Finding Langrtang being off the plateau is hotter and spicy. Some prickly heat.
   25thFinished painting. Put drums to collect rainwater from the roof of the old house.
   26th Received a weeks' post which had been 16 days en route.
   28th Visit from John and jane Wibberley from Gindiri.
   29th Boys and Girls Brigades Sunday. Seated with the elders at the front of the church.
   30th Good that with pastor damina who ives at the bottom our hill. He is not happy that I will travel a lot with overnight stays meaning Katy will be on her own.
   July 1st Editing TEE book.
   2nd To Mango Petrol shortage
   3rd Five hours in petrol queue in Jos.  workington TEE book with SIM colleague.
   4th Jos to TCNN Bukuru to pick up furniture. To Foron for TEE with Enid Crane. Then to Kabwir and Langtang. Joyce McQuone staying
   8th To Jos and again petrol queues.
   9th Katy bottling mangoes.
   11th Visited the new head of local government, assistant district officer.
   14th Put up posts endwise for garden.
   16th To Mango, Bukuru and Jos hoping the TEE book had been typeset at SIM but only half done. Spoke on TEE at SIM prayer meeting.
   17th Mango to Jos via Vom.Petrol better supply.
   18th Picked up furniture from TCNN but some fastened on the roof proved insecure and unknown tome fell off. Discover this.Prayed.Returned along our rote and found it.
   19th Bottled 10ib of chizaki cherries.
   21st Dug garden then edited TEE book.
   22nd Three hours queue for petrol in the town. TEE editing.
   24th TEE manuscript finished and sent to Js. Sermon preparation. Gardening.
   27th Preached here on Rev 20-21.
   28th To Kabwir, Pankshin and Boi where I stayed overnight. Stuck in a stream on the way.
   29th Arranged to start Here TEE near Boi. Back to Langtang told of Gowon being deposed when out of the country. Listening for news on the radio.
   30th Murtala to be head of state. New state governors too and surprised a Muslim put in place in Jos.
   31st Told Lantang district church council of plans for TEE.


Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Rutherford comforts a grieving mother (adapted into modern form)

Samuel Rutherford ( c. 1600 – 29 March 1661) was a Scottish Presbyterian pastor, theologian and author, and one of the Scottish Commissioners to the Westminster Assembly.
  • Samuel Rutherford was from 1617 educated at Edinburgh University, where he became Professor of Lati) in 1623. In 1627 he was settled as minister of Anwoth in Kirkcudbrightshire, Galloway, where it was said of him 'he was always praying, always preaching, always visiting the sick, always catechising, always writing and studying. His first years in Anwoth, though, were touched with sadness. His wife was ill for a year and a month, before she died and two children also died during this period. In 1636 Rutherford published a book in Latin defending the doctrines of grace (Calvinism) against Armininiasm. This put him in conflict with the Church authorities, which were dominated by the English Episcopacy. He was called before the High Court, deprived of his ministerial office, and exiled to Aberdeen. where
     Samuel Rutherford
    Source: Wikipedia 
     'his writing desk' was said to be 'perhaps the most effective and widely resounding pulpit then in Christendom'.On the re-establishment of Presbyterianism in 1638, he escaped Aberdeen, Presbyterianism was re-established, was made Professor of Divinity at St. AndrewsAfter 5 months at St Andrews, having been a widower for nearly 10 years he remarried.  Rutherford in 1443 was chosen as one of the four main Scottish Commissioners to the Westminster Assembly of Divines in London taking part in formulating the Westminster Confession of Faith completed in 1647. While he was in London two infant children by his second wife died. She was to bear him five more four of whom predeceased Rutherford. So he was a man acquainted with grief and so well able to counsel the bereaved. It appears that the recipient of this letter from London, a mother of three sons,  was unknown to Rutherford but known to Blair his fellow minister who has pastored he son who died young. I was directed to this letter when reading Ian Hamilton's The Faith Shaped Life in family devotions. We found the language very dated hence my offering here. It is remarkable for the tender comfort given but also for the richness of his metaphors which he is not beyond the odd mixing.

    Letter 310 To Mrs Taylor on her son's death, her son being in Blair's congregation.

    Mrs Taytor - Grace, mercy and peace to you. Though I do not know you personally, hearing the concerned words of your elder son who is now also in London, and reckoning Jesus Christ to be your closest relative, I am bold in Christ to give you my poor thoughts about your son who recently fell asleep in the Lord, who has been under the ministry of the worthy servant of Christ, my fellow worker Mr Blair from whose ministry he reaped blessing. I know grace does not root out the emotions of a mother but puts them on the potter's wheel of Him who renews everything, that the emotions be refined*. So sorrow for a dead child is permitted but in proper limits.The Lord's redeemed do not have sovereign control over sorrow and other emotions to know Christ's goodness as they please. "For you are not your own but bought with a price;" and your sorrow is not your own. He has not redeemed you by halves: and you are therefore not to call Christ's cross no cross.He commands you to weep: and the Princely one who has taken a man's heart to heaven in order to be a compassionate High Priest, became your like and companion on earthly weeping for the dead (John 11:35). So you are to love that cross for it was once at Christ's shoulders before yours:so by what he did he has gilded over and covered the cross with the Mediator's lustre. The cup you drink was at the lip of sweet Jesus, and He drank from it; and so it a the smell of his breath and I think you love it no less for this sweetness.So drink and believe the resurrection of your son's body. If one ember of hell could fall off the exalted head, Jesus (Jesus the Prince of the kings of earth!) and burn me to ashes, knowing I am a partner with Christ, and a sharer with Him (though the most unworthy) , I think I would die a lovely death in the fire with Him. The worst things of Christ , even his cross, have much of heaven from Himself; and sodas your Christian sorrow , being like Christ's. If your sorrow was illegitimate and not from Christ's family for you are related to Him, like him in His death and sufferings) I would pity your condition; but the kind and compassionate Jesus, at every sigh you give for the loss of you now glorified child (for so it is fitting to believe he is) with human heart cries, "Half your sorrow is mine."
       I was not present at his death having been called out of Scotland; but if you believe those whom I believe ( and I dare not lie), he died in comfort.True he died before he could do much for Christ on earth, as I hope and heartily want your son Hugh ( who is very dear to me in Jesus Christ) will do. He has changed his place of service not his service or Master, and that should counter some sorrow. "No longer will there be anything accursedbut ethe throne of God and of the Lamb will be in itand his servants will worship him. " (Rev 22:3) What he could have done here below, he is now engaged in that same service above; and it is all one, it is the same service and the same Master, only in a different condition. And you shouldn't think of it as a bad bargain for your beloved son, where he has gold instead of copper and brass eternity instead of time.
       I believe Christ has taught you (for I believe what your son Hugh says of you) not to sorrow because of the death of your son. Yo will think, "He died too soon, he died too young, he died in the morning of his life." But God's sovereignty must silence these thoughts. I was like you; I had only two children, and both are dead since I came to England.The supreme and absolute maker of all things renders no accounts in these matters the good gardener may pluck his roses and gather in his lilies in mid-summer, and I dare say at the beginning of the first summer month: and he may transplant young trees from lower ground to higher, where they may get more sun, and better air at any time of year. hat does that matter to you or me. These plants are His own. The Creator of time and winds gave a mercy (if I may use that word) to nature , in landing the traveller safely. If you complain about a fair wind, a good tide and a quick landing ashore, in that land where all have everlasting joy upon their hearts, then you love the sea too much. He cannot be in heaven too early. His twelve hours were not short hours. And think, if you had been at his bed-side, and seen Christ coming to him, you wouldn't, couldn't have put off Christ's free love for your son who would want Christ no more. 
       Dying in another land where his mother could not close his eyes is no great trouble. Who closed Moses' eyes? Who put on his burial sheet? For all I know neither father, nor mother nor friend but God alone. And there is a suitable, fair and easy road between Scotland and heaven, as if he had died in the very bed where he was born. The whole earth is his Father's,; any corner of his Father's house is good enough to die in. 
       It may be your other living child(not Hugh) is more of a grief to you than the one you have lost. You are to be patient that in time God give him repentance. Christ possibly waited as long for you and me, certainly longer on me, and even if he were denied repentance, I could say something about that. But I hope for better of him.
       It seems Christ will have this world as your stepmother, I love you no less for it. It may be a proof that you are not a child of this lower house but a stranger in it. Christ sees it not good only, but only only good to be so led to heaven. And consider this a favour that he has given you free, free grace that is, unearned mercy,: you paid nothing for it. And who can put a price on anything from royal and princely Jesus Christ? God has given you to suffer the loss of possessions for Him. Consider this an act of free grace too. You are no loser for you have Him; and I am sure that if you esteem Christ, nothing could be bitter to you.
       Grace, grace be with you.
       Your brother and well-wisher' SR
    London 1645

    Letters of Samuel Rutherford, Oliphant Anderson and Ferrier, 1891 p 620

     * Three metaphors mixed in one sentence.

HB George Whitefield 27 Dec 1714

George Whitefield (1714-1770)
Go to bed seasonably, and rise early. Redeem your precious time: pick up the fragments of it, that not one moment of it may be lost. Be much in secret prayer. Converse less with man, and more with God.-- GEORGE WHITEFIELD

Your extremity shall be God's opportunity.- George Whitefield letter 25 July174
We can preach the Gospel of Christ no further than we have experienced the power of it in our own hearts.- George Whitefield journal: 1739

The regard I have always had for you is still great, in not greater than ever; and I trust we shall give this and future ages an example of true Christian love abiding, notwithstanding differences in judgment. - George Whitefireld letter to John Wesley, Whitefield, Works, vol 1, p.438

I always observe inward trials prepare me for, and are certain forerunners of, fresh mercies. -  George Whitefield , journal: DECEMBER 1, 1739

I never feel the power of religion more than when under outward or inward trials. It is that alone which can enable any man to sustain with patience and thankfulness his bodily infirmities. - George Whitefield , journal DECEMBER 18, 1739

Venture daily upon Christ, go out in His strength, and He will enable you to do wonders.-George Whitefield , letter: 26 July 1741

The renewal of our natures is a work of great importance. It is not to be done in a day. We have not only a new house to build up, but an old one to tear down. George Whitefield

Be content with no degree of sanctification. Be always crying out, "Lord, let me know more of myself and of thee." -- George Whitefield ,letter:

Gladly shall I come whenever bodily strength will allow to join my testimony with yours in Olney pulpit, that God is love. As yet I have not recovered from the fatigues of my American expedition. My shattered bark is scarce worth docking any more. But I would fain wear, not rust, out. Oh! my dear Mr. Newton, indeed and indeed I am ashamed that I have done and suffered so little for Him that hath done and suffered so much for ill and hell-deserving me.
George Whitefield (1714-1770), letter to John Newton

Jesus was God and man in one person, that God and man might be happy together again. -- George Whitefield

If I see a man who loves the Lord Jesus in sincerity, I am not very solicitous to what communion he belongs. The Kingdom of God, I think, does not consist in any such thing.-- GEORGE WHITEFIELD

Let a man go to the grammar school of faith and repentance before he goes to the university of election and predestination. -- GEORGE WHITEFIELD

Works? Works? A man get to heaven by works? I would as soon think of climbing to the moon on a rope of sand!-- GEORGE WHITEFIELD

It is an undoubted truth that every doctrine that comes from God, leads to God; and that which doth not tend to promote holiness is not of God. GEORGE WHITEFIELD


American Soldiers in the Ardennes Forest during the Battle of the BulgeAmerican Soldiers in the Ardennes Forest during the Battle of the Bulge
By James F. Linzey, Chaplain, Major, Arng (Ret.), Special To Assist News Service 
After holding a woodland position all night near Wiltz Luxembourg smallerESCONDIDO, CA (ANS – December 26, 2017) -- One of the most inspiring stories of peace through Christ among ardent enemies unfolded in a potentially volatile setting. Here is the World War II story of a German mother, her 12 year old son, three American soldiers, and four German soldiers -- each of the three parties previously unknown to one another, and how they came together to celebrate Christmas in 1944 in the height of the Battle of the Bulge. This battle was the turning point of World War II on the Western Front.
On December 16, 1944, the Germans initiated a massive campaign against the Allies in the Ardennes Forest, a mountainous region extending throughout Belgium, France, and Luxembourg on the Western Front. Over 250,000 German troops mounted a blitzkrieg, attempting to divide the Allies in a major offensive from the Ardennes to Antwerp. This set the stage for the Battle of the Bulge. Heavy snowstorms erupted unexpectedly, forever changing the course of this infamous battle and possibly World War II, along with the individual lives of millions of people, and particularly nine individuals one Christmas Eve.
The soldiers were fighting in trenches, on the plains, and on the mountain sides. Supplies came to a devastating halt. In thousands of cases, no ammunition, no food, no medical help, no shelter from the elements, no field jackets, no gloves, wet socks and wet worn out boots, no heat, and separation from their platoons! Soldiers were using newspapers and curtains from the wreckage of houses and cabins that were bombed to wrap their feet in. Additionally, there was a lack of communication, broken morale, and a broken chain of command.
Disorientation prevailed. But eventually, the weather improved, and the Army Air Forces dropped supplies. The battle lasted until January 25, 1945. The Allies declared victory. But with more than 100,000 casualties on the American side alone by freezing to death or by shooting, and the 106th Division nearly destroyed, is this what victory looks like? It seemed like the battle simply came to an end because the Germans ran low on fuel, ammunition, and manpower. The Battle of the Bulge has been called the most devastating battle of World War II. In contrast, out of it came forth an example of what peace through Christ looks like.
American Soldiers in the Ardennes Forest Battle of the Bulge smallerIn the Ardennes Forest an American soldier was shot in the upper leg and was bleeding to death. Two fellow American soldiers tried to help him get behind the American line several miles away. Additionally, they were starving and freezing. There was deep snow on the ground, and a heavy snow storm erupted. Disorientation set in. They wandered aimlessly in the Ardennes Forest for three days.
In the distance they saw a cabin and approached it. When they approached the cabin, the two lay their wounded soldier on the snow. They kept their speaking to a minimum and in a low tone of voice to try not to be overheard, but failed.
One of the soldiers knocked on the cabin door. Inside was a German mother named Elisabeth Vincken and her 12 year old son named Fritz Vincken. Their home was in Aacken, Germany. It had been partially destroyed when Americans bombed the area and hit their home and the family business which was a bakery. The Vincken’s were not injured when their house and bakery were badly damaged. Mr. Vincken sent his wife, Elisabeth, and their son, Fritz, to their cabin where they stayed when Mr. Vincken went hunting.
Mr. Vincken remained behind to repair their house and business.  He rode his bicycle every four days to take food to them. His plan was to join them at the cabin when he completed the restoration of their home. He had hoped to be done by Christmas Eve and celebrate Christmas with his wife and son at the cabin. But he did not show up due to the severe snow storm that erupted.
When Mrs. Vincken heard the American soldiers speaking outside, she blew out the candle light. When the American soldiers knocked at the door, Fritz, her son, went to the door. Mrs. Vincken followed. She gently moved him away from the door and she opened it. There stood two American soldiers with weapons, and a third laying in the snow. They looked like teenagers. In those days, any 16 year old male could like about his age and get into the U.S. Army if he looked old enough to enlist.
Bundesarchiv Bild 183 J28619 Ardennenoffensive gefangene Amerikaner smallerShe did not know English, nor did the Americans know German. But one of the Americans spoke some French, as did Mrs. Vincken. So in broken French and with some sign language, they explained that they were lost, hungry, close to death, and that the soldier laying on the ground was shot and bleeding to death. The American soldiers asked for any assistance she might be able to provide in terms of shelter and food for the night, so that they could start in the morning to find the American lines to get to safety.
There was a German law forbidding German citizens from harboring enemy soldiers. Mrs. Vincken could be shot for providing any assistance. But it was a Holy Night—Christmas Eve. Mrs. Vincken was Lutheran. Lutheran was the state religion of Germany. So Mrs. Vincken let them in. Had Mrs. Vincken turned them away, the American soldiers would not have forced their way in. They wold have continued on and hoped to survive the night. I would like to point out that Mrs. Vincken was not a sympathizer for the Allied forces at all. She was a Christian and would have assisted anyone needing humanitarian help.
Mrs. Vincken sent Fritz to get six more potatoes from the shed outside and to bring in the rooster. She was going to prepare a Christmas Eve supper for the American soldiers. So Frits went outside and soon returned with the six potatoes. Then he went back out to get the rooster, and then brought the rooster in. She went to work in the kitchen preparing supper. Shortly thereafter, there was another knock at the door. So she assumed more American soldiers had arrived needing help.
She opened the door and turned as white as a ghost. There stood four German soldiers with weapons. Mrs. Vincken greeted them. They had lost their way in the forest during the snow storm. Separated from their unit with no food nor warmth for days, they were hungry and feared they might die in the sub-freezing weather with no help in sight. The German soldiers were probably as young as the American soldiers, except for the corporal who was 23 years old. The three other German soldiers held the rank of private. Mrs. Vincken stepped outside and shut the door to speak to the German soldiers privately.
Bundesarchiv Bild 183 J28477 Ardennenoffensive Lagebesprechnung smallerShe explained that three American soldiers came and that one was severely wounded and bleeding to death, and that they are inside. She said, “It is the Holy Night and there will be no shooting here.” And she told them that they could eat as much as they wished. She then asked them to give her their weapons. They agreed. She had them lean their weapons against the cabin outside.
She then went inside and shut the door and informed the American soldiers that they had guests, but that they would not be harmed. She explained that there were German soldiers who likewise needed help and that they will come inside for supper and stay the night. She then asked for their weapons, and they agreed. She took the American soldiers’ weapons outside and leaned them against the cabin with the German soldiers’ weapons. Then she invited the German soldiers to come inside.
So there they were. The German soldiers were on one side of the living room and the American soldiers on the other side, facing the opposing side while Mrs. Vincken prepared Christmas Eve supper. The silence was very apparent. Out of the silence emerged the voices of the German soldiers singing the German hymn “Silent Night” in Latin. “Silent Night” was renowned in both German and Latin. Also, the Lutheran denomination in those days held mass in Latin. So German Lutherans often sang in Latin. Then their American brothers in Christ joined in in English. Tears came down the faces of the German and American soldiers as they sang ‘Silent Night.’
German soldier Ardennes 1944 smallerThe German soldiers brought out of their supplies a flask of wine and a loaf of bread. They shared their wine and bread with the American soldiers. With tears running down their faces they had communion. Then one of the German soldiers began speaking in perfect English to the American soldiers and said he was a medical student. He offered to operate on the wounded American soldier.
For several hours this German soldier operated with no anesthesia. It was such a meticulous and intense operation that his forehead was perspiring. Finally, he got the bullet out and bandaged up the wounded American soldiers. He said that the cold weather prevented infection from spreading. Mrs. Vincken had finished preparing the Christmas Eve supper. She invited them to the table and prayed, “Komm, Herr Jesus, and be our guest.” They had Christian fellowship that Holy Night.
According to Fritz, in an interview in later years, “There were tears in her eyes and as I looked around the table, I saw that the battle-weary soldiers were filled with emotion. Their thoughts seemed to be many, many miles away. Now they were boys again, some from America, some from Germany, all far from home.”
In the morning, Mrs. Vincken gave them back their weapons and said she would pray for their safety. The German corporal showed the Americans on their own map how to get back behind American lines and gave them his compass. The German soldiers and the American soldiers all shook hands and went in opposite directions. Fritz later recounted, “She asked them to be very careful and told them, “I hope someday you will return home safely to where you belong. May God bless and watch over you.’”
In 1965, Mrs. Vincken passed away. Mr. Vincken had likewise passed away in the 1960s. Fritz Vincken and his wife moved to Hawaii and he opened up Fritz’s European Bakery in Kapalama, a neighborhood in Honolulu. For years he told the story of what happen that solemn Christmas Eve.
40 Official Portrait of President Reagan 1981 smallerIn 1985, President Ronald Reagan, 40th president of the United States, had heard the story and re-told it during a visit to Germany, saying, “The story needs to be told and retold because none of us can ever hear too much about building peace and reconciliation.” The story caught on like wild fired.
In March 1995, Unsolved Mysteries dramatized the event and put it on national television. The American soldier who had been shot was Ralph Blank. He had served with the 121st Infantry, 8th Division, during World War II. Ralph was residing at Northampton Manor Nursing Home in Frederick, Maryland. He had been telling the story the same way Fritz had been for decades. But when he saw it on Unsolved Mysteries, he went public with the story.
Fritz flew to Frederick, Maryland to become reunited with Ralph Blank. When Ralph saw Fritz again, he said, “Your mother saved my life.” Fritz was very pleased that his mother had received credit for saving the lives of seven American and German soldiers. Ralph told Fritz where one of the other American soldiers was located. So Fritz went to see him as well. None of the German soldiers came public with their stories. It could be that none of them were still alive and may have been killed during the war.
Fritz passed away on December 8, 2002. But the historical account of peace through Christ on that legendary Holy Night -- Christmas Eve, 1944 -- remains as a testimony of the peace that passes understanding which only comes from an abiding relationship with Jesus Christ. Paul the Apostle said, “And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will protect your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:7, MEV).
The power of the cross of Christ brings peace through Christ no matter what your circumstance may be.
Photo captions: 1) Americans of the 101st Engineers near Wiltz, Luxembourg, January 1945. After holding a woodland position all night near Wiltz, Luxembourg, against German counter attack, three men of B Company, 101st Engineers, emerge for a rest. 2) American Soldiers in the Ardennes Forest during the Battle of the Bulge. 3) American soldiers of the 3rd Battalion 119th Infantry Regiment are taken prisoner by members of Kampfgruppe Peiper in Stoumont, Belgium on 19 December 1944. 4) German field commanders plan the advance. 5) A German machine gunner marching through the Ardennes in December 1944. 6) President Ronald W. Reagan. 7) James. F. Linzey.
Copyright © James F. Linzey 2017
James F. Linzey smallerAbout the writer: Chaplain, Major James F. Linsey, USA (Ret.) is the chief editor of the Modern English Version and the New Tyndale Version Bible translations. An ordained minister with the Southern Baptist Convention, he is the founding president of Military Bible Association, the mission of which is to raise funds to donate copies of The Military Bible and The Leadership Bible to the troops. He is a highly sought after speaker for conventions, seminars, and churches. He can be contacted at:
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Monday, December 25, 2017

The Birth of Christ retold

The Times...from Giles Coren
Looked at in the cold light of late 2017, the Nativity story available in the Authorised Version seems old-fashioned, reductive, sexist and brutal. Luckily I’ve found a copy of The Snowflake Version . . .
Chapter One 1. And it came to pass in those days that there went out a decree from a white male imperialist based in Rome, who endorsed colonialism and slavery so cannot be named in publicly funded literature and really shouldn’t have a month named after him any more (#AugustusMustFall), that all the world should be taxed.
2. And this taxing was celebrated because we love our National Health Service so much it makes us want to cry. I will tell you some time about how amazing they were with my nan when she got dandruff, which can be very painful and embarrassing.
3. And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city. In so far as anyone can be said to have their own city. For we are all citizens of the world and anyone from anywhere should be allowed to live anywhere. In fact, I would have happily had them stay in my house — if I wasn’t already renting it out to bankers.
4. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea (a place name which in no way suggests that the Jews have lived there for thousands of years or have any right to live there now) unto the city of David — who was some king who probably had slaves — which is called Bethlehem.
5. To be taxed with M, his espoused partner of no specific sex, being great with child, no doubt from an act of unwanted sexual aggression by someone in a position of power.
6. So it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that M should be delivered.
7. And she brought forth her firstborn child, which she identified as male without consulting it, due to the sexist mores of the time, and wrapped it in hi-vis clothes in accordance with safety in the workplace guidelines, and laid it in a manger; because they would not even consider staying at the inn, which was part of a chain with dubious tax practices that employed staff on zero-hours contracts.
8. But the hay in the manger set off Joseph’s allergies which was a clear case of health discrimination.
9. And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in a field, sending each other gifs of their flock by night.
10. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them, and they were sore afraid that it would set off their PTSD or epilepsy, so they made Him turn the brightness right down and put up notices.
11. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for behold, I bring you forms to fill in about your ethnicity and gender, which will enable us to select a representative group to go and look at the baby Jesus.
12. For unto you is born this day in the city of David an almost certainly real historical figure with some things to say that are in no way intended to undermine other religious practices.
13. And this shall be a sign unto you; ye shall find a babe wrapped in high-vis clothes lying in a manger from which the hay has been removed and replaced with a hypo-allergenic filler made from shredded mineral water bottles because single-use plastics are harmful to the turtles and baby whales.
14. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of heavenly host praising one of the many gods who are worshipped around the world and not placing him morally above any of the others and saying . . .
15. Glory to our particular understanding of a sort of universal ordering force, and on earth peace and goodwill to women. But not to men. Not this year. It just wouldn’t be fitting in the circumstances.
Chapter Two 
1. Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king — who later did a terrible thing to all the children under two, which may give you nightmares, so please consult your local union representative if you want to skip this module — behold, there came wise people from the east to Jerusalem, who could easily have been women, or something in between.
2. Saying, where is he that is born King of the Jews — which is not an imperialist post and does not involve slave ownership — for we have seen his star in the east and left our safe space to come to see him.
3. When Herod had heard these things he was troubled. So he took some time off work.
4. And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together he demanded to know whether Christ could be no-platformed.
5. And they said perhaps, as he might be planning to say some things which would make trans people feel uncomfortable.
6. Then Herod, when he had privily called the wise men, inquired of them what time the star appeared.
7. And they said they hadn’t looked directly at the star as they thought that might be dangerous. But they had looked at some gifs of it.
8. When they had heard the king, they departed: and, lo, their phones went before them until they brought them to where the young child was.
9. And when they were come into the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother, and didn’t make a fuss, because some people are not lucky enough to have children and should not be made to feel excluded.
10. And they presented unto him cards explaining that gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh had been sent to starving children abroad, who were less fortunate than him, with his famous father and comfy stable.
11. And being warned of God in a dream that they should not return to Herod, they departed into their own country another way. After first reminding Jesus to check his privilege

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Our family letter Christmastide 2017

Greetings from the Weeks family this blessed Christmas tide. 2017 has been most eventful. After over 33 years we have a new address. We moved in October after 30+ viewings we are now in a more modern house where we can live downstairs with Debbie upstairs and Katy has less garden to maintain.
It has been an eventual year for health too. After surgery for colon cancer Graham managed to lose most of his sight in the left eye dues to a bleed into the eye, he developed bilateral leg ulcers which are still under compression bandaging and then he had two weeks back into hospital with heart failure.That has no been without its blessings. He has lost over 30 lbs so now may wear waistcoats not worn for over a decade.Katy’s health has remained much the same with her chronic back pain. Health concerns severely curtailed our travels.First we missed going to a royal event, the centenary of the battle of Passchendale where Katy had a great uncle among the fallen. Then our planned return visit to Nigeria after 35 years had to be cancelled and finally a Reformation visit to Germany when the guide ell ill. But we enjoyed an excellent week self-catering on the borders of Shropshire and Hereford plus a long weekend in Dorset for David’s in-laws golden wedding. Two more years to ours DV.
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 classes helping women from other countries, teaching them to improve their English and a Bible half hour for those willing to stay.  
Graham has for the present stopped preaching at the Heathrow Immigration Removal Centre due to his not driving with bad legs and eyesight.  He continues to convene three specialist groups for the local University of the Third Age, world religions, current affairs and history. He is now in his 35th year as an elder in our church.  Son in law Adrian is among four men newly ordained as elders in our congregation. Our new church building has been started and we pray it will be completed by July.
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. She often cares for one of our assistant minister’s toddler on a fourth day, 
           Rachel now is freelance in her occupational therapy working part time in a local school. Elissa is making excellent progress in her final junior school year and applying to local Anglican secondary schools..Brother Ethan is resident Lego expert.                          Near Cambridge, Jonathan has found employment in the warehouse of the Cambridge Examinations Board but it is zero hours contract. Bethany and Hannah are now teenagers. Bethany is studying catering. Hannah is in high school . 
In Canterbury Zac has followed sister Sahara into grammar school where he has played solo guitar in a school concert. David is now producing many paintings of Kent seaside towns and of Canterbury in a naive style. Prints and cards are for sale.                So we are thankful for God’s blessings to all of them.
With our love and prayers for 2018,

Graham and Katy

Nigeria in quotes from Stephen Ellis, This Present Darkness

Nigerians as a group, frankly, are marvellous scammers. - Colin Powell, quoted in Stephen Ellis, This Present Darkness p3

At the time of slavery's abolition (1930s) by the British, a quarter of the population of the Sokoto caliphate was enslaved - about two and a half million out of a total of ten million. - Illife, Honour in African History p121 quoted in Stephen Ellis, This Present Darkness p 33.

Nigeria is not a nation. It is a mere geographical expression. - Obafemi Awolowo, Path to Nigerian Freedom p. 47, quoted in Stephen Ellis, This Present Darkness p 46

(Bello) In his distribution of patrimonial wealth he was in accordance with the established tradition whereby the rulers of Northern Nigeria were expected to distribute largesse to their subjects. Many Southern politicians could not claim to come from such an aristocratic tradition. They were simply men on the make. - Stephen Ellis, This Present Darkness pp 53 was neither the science, philosophy nor even the religion of the West which most impressed the natives: it was the material wealth, together with the power that was associated with it, which caught the imagination. - Otinin Onduka, Western Education and the Nigerian Cultural Background p99, quoted in Stephen Ellis, This Present Darkness p53

10,000 Tiv had been killed since Independence, and a further 3000people in the Western Region where the NNDP party was campaigning for elections in 1965. - quoted in Stephen Ellis, This Present Darkness p81

Any investigation in Nigeria into corruption in public life must be limited by the very pervasiveness of the corruption. - Stephen Ellis, This Present Darkness p106

Te official justification for military rule was still the necessity of clamping down on civilian corruption  as it had been ever since the first coup in January 1966.- Stephen Ellis, This Present Darkness p106

(Nigeria) a society of beggars, parasites and bandits. - Otinin Onduka, Western Education and the Nigerian Cultural Background p99,

(Four one Nine) .. a national affliction of epidemic proportions - Wole Soyinks, Cults, p14 159quoted in Stephen Ellis, This Present Darkness p15quoted in Stephen Ellis, This Present Darkness p 158

... in 2005 the U.S. Secret Service was reportedly detecting some 30,000 cybercrimes monthly with a Nigerian origin. - Femi Makinde, Punch,quoted in Stephen Ellis, This Present Darkness p161

60% of pharmaceutical drugs , that among drugs on sale in Nigeria in 2003, were said to be counterfeited, substandard or expired. - Stephen Ellis, This Present Darkness p 180

  By the beginning of this century an Italian ambassador to Nigeria reckoned that there were 20-30,000 Nigerian women working in the sex business in Italy. - Nwanndo Achebe, The Road to Italy, p`83,    quoted in Stephen Ellis, This Present Darkness p186

most Nigerian criminals believe that spiritual power can have a positive effect on their own careers well as being a means to exploit others.- Stephen Ellis, This Present Darkness p193

The courier had been hoping to achieve a successful run using candles obtained from a Chicago branch of a Nigerian church, the Celestial Church of Christ, that had been blessed in order to make them spiritually effective. US officials said that the use of the ritual "seriously baffled" them.-    Stephen Ellis, This Present Darkness p194

People go far more readily to a shrine of Ayelala than to the police if they have had their houses robbed, and they are far more likely to get their goods back, as Ayelala inspires respect and fear even among criminals. -   quoted in Stephen Ellis, This Present Darkness p196

,,,of some 850,000 slaves from the Biafra hinterland that were landed overseas from 1640 to 1800,67.75% were from Igboland. - Stephen Ellis, This Present Darkness p196

British colonisers liked to think that the abolition of the slave trade and of the institutions that fed it was at the heart of their mission to civilise West Africa, bu in the early days of colonial rule that did not well understand the nature of the enslavement believing that slaves were taken through raiding and that slavery would disappear with the institution of a Pax Britannica. They played less attention to the judicial role paid by oracles that made them so central to the functioning of society. -  Stephen Ellis, This Present Darkness p197

Inspector general of police,Balogun, who said in 2004 that, 'Nigeriais a distinguished member of the international community and as such we must, at all times, conform and be seen to conform with all norms, conventions and rules that are sine qua non to the peaceful ilving and respectable human coexistence.' This was shortly before his conviction on charges of embezzlement and fraud. -    quoted in Stephen Ellis, This Present Darkness p206

Police in Thailand who in the 19r0s  arrested a Nigerian drug dealer found the following prayer written on a piece of paper in his room: 'Almighty God in Heaven, I have the right to be rich. I have the right to be a millionaire, and no country has the right to pass laws that interfere with my reaching my goal of being rich. Any laws that are designed to keep me from this goal, are illegitimate.'  - Stephen Ellis, This Present Darkness p211

  (Nigerians) continue to believe that that wealth can be accessed through relationships with powerful people -a simple statement of reality - but also through networks that combine the human world with the spirit world.Apter, The Pan African Nation p13, quoted in Stephen Ellis, This Present Darkness p213

  ... in so far as an individual is seen to contribute to the welfare of his community , he is not seen as corrupt.  - Stephen Ellis, This Present Darkness p 225