Monthly Archives: January 2009

Persecution

Last Sunday I preached at our home chapel. I don’t get the occasion very often and will be surprised if I get asked again. Some people will think that my method of sermon writing is a little extreme and, maybe, thoughtless.

You see I don’t always set out with a topic in mind. I sit down with a blank computer screen and open bible. I then pray and ask God to speak through me. Sometimes the things I had thought of saying never appear in my sermons and I’m surprised that the end result is far from where I started.

Last week things were slightly different. I’d been thinking of the persecution of the church over the past week or so and when I sat down everything just came out in a long stream of consciousness. I then reread things and made a few minor adjustments.

Then, as I was preaching, it came over me that very few people actually showed any reaction. Even when I said about the church’s indifference to the fate of our brothers and sisters in Christ. There was nothing. It made me think of the reception that Old Testament prophets and Jesus received from their listeners; not that I’m comparing myself with them, honestly.

I did get a reaction afterwards though:

A member of the deaconate came up to me and asked if I actually believed what I said about the need for church unity. I’d said that unity was more important than differences over the theology of transsubstantiation, the primacy of Baptism and the 5 points of Canvinism. I was asked if such big theological differences were not important. The way it was said made it clear that such differences were more important to them than unity.

So what is the point of Christ telling us that we are one in body and spirit? I know that, as humans, we are far from perfect, subject to petty jealousies and fears. Yet we have something that drives people to fear and opposition to our message. As such they seek to restrict our message and redicule our faith.

So why shouldn’t we, as Chrsitians, support each other whenever others oppose us. We should not provide ammunition to those who oppose us and give them assistance. We should not be afraid to speak out in support of those who are being persecuted.

I was also told that it was my most political sermon. That was not the aim. I just said that Chrsitians should stand up and be counted. They should be brave enough to draw attention to themselves when others make fun of our faith or attack what we stand for. We need to show that we are proud to stand up for our faith and to show that we are still relevant to the modern world.

We can offer hope and salvation to those around us, especially in these troubled times but to many of us are afraid to draw attention to ourselves and would prefer to live in Christian enclaves where the world won’t trouble us.

Our politicians are happy to tell us that we need to be tolerant of others but then try to tell us that we have no right to evangelise as this is offensive to others. We are told that we are not relevant but when Christian charities try to raise fund to help others they’re told that they are ineligible because proselytising is not allowed. Even if this isn’t their aim because they are Christian it is taken for granted that this is our sole purpose in helping others.

Our government speaks out at extremism but you never hear them object to persecution of the church by muslims, hindus and buddhists. Hundreds are murdered or kidnapped every year but when did you last hear a politician from the West speak out against them. They’re quick enough to call us to help those who persecute and if we speak out then we’re portrayed as racists and out of touch with multi-cultural Britian.

Yes we should recognise the right of others to their faith, or lack of it, but we should also be allowed to speak out without fear or ridicule. I’m not saying that we shouldn’t help others, far from it, even those who persecute us.

We should repay that persection with love and kindness, as Jesus instructed us.

Auschwitz

There is a debate going on at the moment as to whether or not Auschwitz should be saved for the future or left to rot and return to nature.

The thing about this debate is that this is the only surviving extermination camp, though concentration camps such as Mauthausen, Sachsenhausen and Dachau remain either complete or partially. Though many died in these camps they were not on the industrial scale of Auschwitz and the other Polish death camps.

For me they should be repaired for 2 reasons:

1. It serves as a memorial to all

2. It helps to defy the holocaust deniers that exist

On the second point we need to keep physical evidence of the crime that was committed to help combat these people.  Allow Auschwitz to disappear and you help give them ammunition for their denial. Pictures and films may remain but that does not equate to the power of such physical evidence.

So it costs! Isn’t something like this worth preserving for future generations?

Guns, Knives and Whips Are Not Allowed

Today I have mainly been writing tomorrow’s sermon and having Shouty Boy’s “Birthday Day of Fun”. This is where Auntie FW and Uncle T&E take Shouty Boy out for lunch and to shop for his present(s). He gets to choose what he wants – but Sad Sister says “no guns, knives or whips”. What else would you buy an 8 year old boy?

Don’t Panic! We’re Doomed!!

The title is a combination of Corporal Jones, Private Frazier and the cover of The Hitchhikers Guide.

Why?

Well, on my home tonight I heard an American currency trader talking about the current state of the pound in the markets. One of the presenters asked why and was stunned by the answer. The rest of the world is concerned that we are not in the relatively good shape that our government tell us we are.

Governments borrow money by selling Treasury Bonds (Gilts) to other governments and financial institutions. So long as they find enough buyers you can sell as many as they like. To protect themselves the buyers can take out insurance against losses. A good idea, no?

A few weeks ago it would cost you $0.20 per dollar to do this. In the last few days the cost has gone up to $0.50 per dollar invested. That sounds alarming enough doesn’t it? To put this into perspective….

If you bought bonds issued by Royal Bank of Scotland, our almost bankrupt bank, then you would pay $0.50 per dollar. So the professional dealers believe that our government is as big a risk as the bank that they own 70% of and are propping up to avoid it collapsing.

This is not a problem for us at the moment but if things start to get worse, or are just perceived to, then the country could become a greater laughing stock than Iceland.

 

Yet our government deny that they are in any sense responsible and that this is all a global problem that had nothing to do with their policies for the past 12 years. Could we see another Labour government going cap in hand to the International Monetary Fund for a bail out? Who said that history does not repeat itself?

The Messiah & Other Stories

This week has seen the ascension of the messiah to his exalted position. The wait has been a long one but he has arrived. Of course we know that this isn’t the real Messiah but another of those wrongly acclaimed ones.

Much like the actual Messiah this one has great expectations laid upon his head. Everyone is expecting the world to change is a significant way in the next 4 to 8 years. What will happen when he doesn’t meet their aims? What if he doesn’t single handedly bring peace to the Middle East or Afghanistan; end world hunger and disease; heal all the aids victims and lead the Chicago Bears to Super Bowl glory?

Could it be that, like with JFK, people are putting to much pressure, and faith, onto one human being? Could they be rather unrealistic in outlook?

More importantly where does this leave the last messiah – Tony Bliar – or the man who believes himself the saviour of the world – Gordian Brown?

Kiva II

Thanks to Jacqui for her comment. I discovered Kiva a few years ago but never seemed to have the opportunity to make use of it.

One of the good things is that you become to feel a part of someone else’s life. You get regular updates, if you want them. You can also target your money as you want; this includes by region/country and business type.

I have decided that I don’t want to help people who sell alcohol, not because I’m a teetotaller or an abstainer, I just want to help people in ways that do not badly effect others or encourage money being spent on non-essentials at the expense of more immediate needs.

I also want to target people in the farming and transport areas, partly because I work in transport. I also have areas of the world that mean more to me than others. Now I get to help people in cental Asian republics that are often overlooked. I also love the idea of helping someone to buy cattle or a motorbike; I’m investing in things that will have immediate impact on their lives.

However the most important factor is that I’m doing what Jesus told us to. I’m helping the less well off not because I want credit or to have an ego boost but because that is how we should live. As Jesus (paraphased) said:

You clothed me, you visited me in prison, you fed me.

When?

Whenever you help someone else you help me.

 

*** If others are interested we could always set up a Wibsite team on the Kiva site on t’Internet to show others how we’re linked and how we’r helping.

Smug Git Feeling?

Today I have decided that I’m going to change the way in which I’m going to help the poor people more. It will also comply with my conservative ideals of helping people to help themselves. So instead of giving my money to charities I’ve decided to loan money directly to the people who will make use of it.

So I have begun loaning via www.kiva.org as this allows me to decide which people I wish to loan to and know that it is making an immediate difference in thoer lives. It also means that as they improve their lot and repay the loan I make recycle my money to other’s who need it.

This helps me feel better about what I give as it will mean that I’m not giving to a faceless charity that will use X amount of my giving on admin costs. I can also choose when I want to give Kiva money towards its admin costs and how much. It also means that I don’t have to worry about the charity using it for advertising campaigns or political lobbying that I may not agree with.

I will still give to conventional charities but not as much as I used to do. Micro financing is a concept that I can agree with and support.

Black Thursday

Today is a Black Day in human history. Our government has decided that the environment is no longer a priority. Instead they want to expand Heathrow Airport by adding a 3rd runway and a 6th passenger terminal.

Why is this such a catastrophic event?

Well  the government has lied and cheated throughout the process of deciding whether or not the expansion is needed. When the early environmental studies didn’t agree with their plans on pollution limits they sent BAA back to the drawing board – three times – and then the figures agreed.

In addition BAA based its calculations on emmissions from aircraft and engines that have:

a) Not been built.

b) Not even been thought of or researched.

The emmissions levels at Heathrow already exceed the EU limits that will come into effect in 2010. If this happens now how will they be reduced to these levels with more aircraft flying in and out every day? The government, BAA and the airlines tell us that new aircraft will come on line that will be more environmentally friendly and that these new aircraft will be the only ones permitted to fly into Heathrow.

How will they enforce this? Will they really tell airlines from less prosperous nations that their landing slots at Heathrow will be removed? Will they be willing to stand up to other governments?

We’re also told that Heathrow has to be expanded in the interests of the economy. They vaguely talk about expansion at places like Charles de Gaulle and Schipol. Yet this doesn’t add up. Heathrow is still ahead of these airports and is not operating at capacity. We also have runways at Stansted, Luton, Gatwick and London City. More riunways than the main competitors.

We could spend the money on high speed rail and help to take passengers from short haul flights and onto more environmentally friendly transport. Eurostar is already the largest operator on the London Paris route. Air France is so worried about losing traffic that it is already launching new lanes – not in the air but by rail. They beginning to run trains to Brussels and other destinations this year in cooperation with train operators.

There are also plans to begin moving more short haul freight by train instead of air – especially to Paris and Schipol. This is being done by Air France and several large international freight operators. Thus moving traffic from trucks and aircraft to trains.

How are our government helping this shift in modes? They’re increasing the charges for access on the High Speed 1 line into London by train by 500%. This is especially gauling as this is the only route that can accept modern European cargo wagons. There was much lobbying for this by BA and Virgin who want to protect their freight revenues.

Our only hope is that nothing happens before the next election and that we get a Tory government that will keep their promise to cancel the project in favour of a new High Speed 2 line to Manchester and the North. Many of you won’t like a Tory government but they actually accept that, at least with them, the case for an environmental alternative would be the best option.

Thank You

I have to say a big thank you to a fellow wiblogger for helping me to save a customer. Many thnaks to her for the work she has done and is doing. Without your help my company my have lost a very important account. What you are doing has helped to give them the confidence to carry on using us.

Life has been rather hectic at work for the last few weeks as I’ve tried to reassure my largest customer that we are a lot more professional than recent events have indicated. I’ve had to beg and do everything possible to pull us back from the brink. After all I’d put 9 years effort into this account and didn’t want to lose it.

Thankfully they are reassured that I’ll now be taken back the reins and not allowing other people to dicatate what happens. I know that some poeple in my company aren’t to happy. When I first broought the account I was virtualy told that I had to hand control to others. In order to do this you have to have a lot of trust in the abilities and experience of others.

Unfortunately I didn’t. The 2 directors involved were more interested in the dollar signs than anything else. The main guy I’d work with possibly had the experience but not of the specific nature I need. Neither were they willing to accept that I had anything to offer. It was a case of “this is now ours and you’re just the figure head”. After things went wrong it became “you are a valued member of our team and we appreciate everything you do.”

A week earlier I was told that a director was complaining that I was to involved and shouldn’t be issuing instructions to “his” agents. Look where that attitude got us! Now they’re falling over themselves because they’re worried that their profits will disappear.

Nothing focuses the mind more than vanishing money, especially in the present climate.

Tourist Information

Thanks to Auntie Doris, Jack & Ian – I’ve now reached 1000 comments. We’ll hold a party soon – BYO wieners.

Ian,

To answer your query… Cornwall is the most beautifulk place in the UK after Wales and the highlands of Scotland. It is great tourist destination and has the best of the weather and temperature most of the year. In addition, if you go by train, you get to run along the seawall at Dawlish, one of the most iconic and beautiful parts of the British Rail network.

  This is what you get, the red cliffs and the seawall. It always brings back memories of summer holidays in the mid to late 70’s. It was also the best part of collecting Kat the Cougar from Torquay.

In addition you have many small, attractive seaside towns and villages, the moor around Bodmin and it is the best place in the UK for surf. I don’t surf but I love swimming in the Atlantic rollers around St Ives.

 

This is St Ives, one of Cornwall’s most beautiful towns. You have the harbour and three superb beaches.

You also have places like Padstow, The Lizard (famous for its Serpentine rocks), Land’s End, Fowey etc etc.

When you come back you really need to go there.