Sunday, 28 February 2010

The scrum of the earth

The BBC did a superb interview with Euan Murray - well he is superb in it anyway! - last year about how being a Christian relates to being a British Lion (though in the end he was injured ... his ankle I think).
Annoying I don't know how to display it, but you can find it here.

He is interviewed here very recently about putting Christ before Scotland and 'letting down' his nation and team mates as well as denting his career by not playing on Sundays.

Labouring for secularism

The story is about how an islamic group [The Islamic Forum of Europe (IFE)] are allegedly infiltrating the Labour party to seek influence, place workers and candidates in the party, so that they can work towards the establishment of an Islamic culture and society in the UK and Europe.

I have no idea whether this can be true or not. It sounds not too improbable to me. If I was a Muslim it is what I would do.

But before we get all jittery about that, lets not miss the potent religious force that is actually in power and is seeking 5 more years. Because the thing that caught my eye was Jim Fitzpatrick's (the Environment Minister) objection to the IFE's power seeking:

“They are completely at odds with Labour’s programme, with our support for secularism.”
So, there you have it, bold and in black and white. Labour's programme is the secularisation of the UK. This isn't news to me, but it took me aback that this would be so brazenly stated by a minister!

Thursday, 25 February 2010

Filling our minds with ..... what exactly?

I have not read all the Vampire stuff by Stephanie Meyer, but I know they are popular (over 17 million books sold worldwide) and one or two in our youth groups have read them (and LOVE them!! Or is that they love 
Robert Pattinson, I don't know). So I was interested to see this: 

Truly thought provoking?

Wednesday, 24 February 2010

God discriminates

In Scripture, judgment means more than 'punishment'. When God judges nations, He punishes His enemies, but that is not all He does. Judgment also means that God comes near to discriminate, to make distinctions. In Scripture, judgment is pictured not only by the image of a wine press, but also by the image of the winnowing fan (Lam 1:15, Matt 3:12, 17). When God judges, He seperates sheep and goats, wheat and tares. The apostle Peter wrote of one particular period of judgment, 'the earth and its works will be discovered' (2 Peter 3:10). Times of judgment reveal the hearts of men and force them to make choices, they are drawn into conflict with those who make different choices. To live in a time of judgment is to live in a time of conflict.  
(The Kingdom and the Power: Rediscovering the Centrality of the Church, Peter J. Leithart p3)

Monday, 22 February 2010


We must be some of the few people in the world who haven't seen Avatar yet.
This review of it makes me want to see it - but not in the way that James Cameron might like me to.

I know little about Mr Cameron. Wikipedia (mmm?) gives these two interesting snapshots of the preacher of this film (along with The Terminator, Rambo, Aliens, Titanic, True Lies, Spider-Man):

Cameron has been married five times: 
Sharon Williams (1978–1984), 
Gale Anne Hurd (1985–1989), 
Kathryn Bigelow (1989–1991), 
Linda Hamilton (1997–1999, one daughter), 
Suzy Amis (married 2000, one son, two daughters). 

Cameron is an atheist who once described the Lord's Prayer as being like a 'tribal chant'.

Monday, 15 February 2010

Bailing out with pick axes

Notes on Ch 6 - Credit Diverts Production
Government 'encouragement' to business is sometimes as much to be feared as government hostility. This supposed encouragement often takes the form of a direct grant of government credit or a guarentee of private loans.

Now all loans, in the eyes of honest borrowers, must eventually be repaid. All credit is debt.... ...They would seem considerably less inviting if they were habitually referred to by the second name instead of by the first. 
...there is a decisive difference between the loans supplied by private lenders and the loans supplied by a government agency. Each private lender risks his own funds. (A banker, it is true, risks the funds of others that have been entrusted to him; but if money is lost he must either make good out of his own funds or be forced out of business.) When people risk their own funds they are usually careful in their investigations to determine the adequacy of the assets pledged and the business acumen and honesty of the borrower.
If the government operated by the same strict standards, there would be no good argument for its entering the field at all....(so) the whole arguement for its entering the lending business, in fact, is that it will make loans to people who could not get them from private lenders. This is only another way of saying that the government lenders will take risks with other people's money (the taxpayers') that private lenders will not take with their own money (or other people's). 
Sometimes this point is conceded, even gloried in - you know, sometimes government should take the risks that private industry is unwilling to take.  The argument runs: the benefits to the economy through the sucess of those who do pay back their loans are even greater than the losses that occur through the higher than usual level of defaulting that happens. Mmmm.

Remember, we have to look at the whole picture. This might be all lovely for these sucessful famers or fisherman or 'small businesses'. But what about those who lose out through this? These are those people who don't get a farm or a tractor or the premises for a new building or whatever (there are limited resources - real capital - at any given moment). If A is lent the money to buy X then B can't buy it, or he buys it but at an increased cost (because demand has been spiked by all these A's wanting X). Trouble is, B is a guy with a proven track record of serving others well with what they want and A is not!

And what about the other factors that now creep in. Do the bureaucrats adminstering these loans have special friends they are keen to help (personal or political, or both)? Will they accept bribes? And how much are their salaries ... who is paying for the cost of the layer of administration that this 'credit' requires? And how is this fair, that an individual will profit when all his neighbours have born all the risks (as taxpayers)? Shouldn't they benefit from the profits? Taken to it's logical conclusion this should inevitably lead to an increase in the size of the state.
...the net result of government credit (will not be) to increase the amount of wealth produced by the community but to reduce it, because the available real capital (consiting of actual land, buildings, machines, labour etc.) has been placed in the hands of the less efficient borrowers rather than in the hands of the more efficient and trustworthy.
Another aspect of private loans is this, that repayment is expected with interest:
This is a sign that the persons to whom the money has been lent will be expected to produce things for the market that people actually want.
Government loans are more likey to be lent for vaguer purposes, such as 'job creation'. Well, the more inefficient it is, the greater the job creation and the greater success it has been! Oh, wait a minute, that doesn't sound right (wait for ch 7 I think).
The government can give no financial help to business that it does not first or finally take from business. The government's funds all come from taxes. Even the much vaunted 'government credit' rests on the assumption that its loans will ultimately be repaid out of the proceeds of taxes. When the government makes loans or subsidies to business, what it does is to tax sucessful private business in order to support unsuccessful private business.
Remember we have to look at it from the standpoint of the country as a whole.


This is a great quote about the general concept of credit:
There is a strange idea abroad, held by all monetary cranks, that credit is something a bank gives to a man. Credit, on the contrary, is something a man already has. He has it, perhaps, because he already has marketable assets of a greater cash value than the loan for which he is asking. Or he has it because his character and past record have earned it. He brings it into the bank with him. That is why the banker makes him a loan. The banker is not giving him something for nothing. ... He is merely exchanging a more liquid form of asset or credit for a less liquid form.
I must remember this next time a credit card company phone me up. I'd love to know what they know about about me that makes them think that I am a good bet to lend money to.

Economics in One Lesson - Henry Hazlitt

Friday, 12 February 2010

Who gets to turn out the lights?

'Authority is not given to you, Steward of Gondor, to order the hour of your death,' answered Gandalf. 'And only the heathen kings, under the domination of the Dark Power, did thus, slaying themselves in pride and despair, murdering their kin to ease their own death.' (p145)

Thursday, 11 February 2010

No best before date

The gospel is glad tidings of mercy and grace and that our corrupt nature shall be healed again for Christ's sake and for the merits of his deservings only; yet on condition that we will turn to God, to learn to keep his laws spiritually, that is to say, of love for his sake, and will also suffer the curing of our infirmities. ( Tyndale's Preface to the New Testament p24)

Cry Baby, Lie Baby?

Behavioural experts have found that infants begin to lie from as young as six months. Simple fibs help to train them for more complex deceptions in later life.
Until now, psychologists had thought the developing brains were not capable of the difficult art of lying until four years old.
Following studies of more than 50 children and interviews with parents, Dr Vasudevi Reddy, of the University of Portsmouth's psychology department, says she has identified seven categories of deception used between six months and three-years-old.
Infants quickly learnt that using tactics such as fake crying and pretend laughing could win them attention. By eight months, more difficult deceptions became apparent, such as concealing forbidden activities or trying to distract parents' attention. (see whole article here)
HT: Mike Smith

Tuesday, 9 February 2010

The Utopian dream of Total Education - 1870

Here are some interesting quotes by Mr WE Forster (see picture) from what seems to have been the opening speech at the First Reading of the Elementary Education Bill,17 February 1870: 
The question of popular education affects not only the intellectual but the moral training of a vast proportion of the population, and therefore we must not forgot that in trying to do great good it is possible to do harm.  
Now, while alluding to voluntary zeal, I must be allowed to state that I think no one could occupy my office without being fully aware of what the country owes to the managers of the schools at present in receipt of Government grants. Both before and during my tenure of that office I have had many opportunities of seeing those gentlemen at work, particularly ministers of religion of all denominations, though perhaps it has been my lot to see more of the clergy of the Church of England than of others. I have seen them at their work, and tried to help them occasionally; I know the sacrifices they have made, and not for a moment do I believe it possible that anyone who considers this question will disregard what they have already done, or will wish to do without their aid in the future. I sometimes hear it objected that they gain great influence by their efforts in promoting education. I believe they have not worked in order to attain that object, though far distant be the time when, in England, self-denying exertions, such as many of these gentlemen have made, will not give them influence! 
though we have done well in assisting the benevolent gentlemen who have established schools, yet the result of the State leaving the initiative to volunteers, is, that where State help has been most wanted, State help has been least given, and that where it was desirable that State power should be most felt it was not felt at all. In helping those only who help themselves, or who can get others to help them, we have left un-helped those who most need help. Therefore, notwithstanding the large sums of money we have voted, we find a vast number of children badly taught, or utterly untaught, because there are too few schools and too many bad schools, and because there are large numbers of parents in this country who cannot, or will not, send their children to school. Hence comes a demand from all parts of the country for a complete system of national education,  
I believe that the country demands from us that we should at least try to do two things, and that it shall be no fault of ours if we do not succeed in doing them—namely, cover the country with good schools, and get the parents to send their children to those schools. I am aware, indeed, that to hope to arrive at these two results may be thought Utopian; but our only hope of getting over the difficulties before us, is to keep a high ideal before our minds, and to realize to ourselves what it is we are expected to try to do.   

The first problem, then, is, "How can we cover the country with good schools?" Now, in trying to solve that problem there are certain conditions which I think hon. Members on both sides of the House will acknowledge we must abide by. First of all, we must not forget the duty of the parents. Then we must not forget our duty to our constituencies, our duty to the taxpayers. Though our constituencies almost, I believe, to a man would spend money, and large sums of money, rather than not do the work, still we must remember that it is upon them that the burden will fall. And thirdly, we must take care not to destroy in building up—not to destroy the existing system in introducing a new one. In solving this problem there must be, consistently with the attainment of our object, the least possible expenditure of public money, the utmost endeavour not to injure existing and efficient schools, and the most careful absence of all encouragement to parents to neglect their children.   
Now, I will at once proceed to the main principles that run through all our clauses for securing efficient school provision. They are two in number. Legal enactment, that there shall be efficient schools everywhere throughout the kingdom. Compulsory provision of such schools if and where needed, but not unless proved to be needed.   
(I found this all here)

The same sun that softens butter hardens clay

The nature of God's Word is that whosoever read it or hear it reasoned and disputed before him, it will begin immediately to make him every day better and better, till he be grown into a perfect man in the knowledge of Christ and love of the law of God; or else make him worse and worse, till he be hardened that he openly resist the Spirit of God, and then blaspheme after the example of Pharoah, Korah, Abiram, Balaam, Judas, Simon Magnus and such other. 
(Documents of the English Reformation, ed. Gerald Bray, Tyndale's Preface to the New Testament, p21)
..he that hath a good heart toward the Word of God and a set purpose to fashion his deeds thereafter and to garnish it with godly living and to testify it to other(s), the same shall increase more and more daily in the grace of Christ. But he that loveth not, to live thereafter and to edify other(s), the same shall lose the grace of true knowledge and be blinded again and every day wax worse and worse and blinder and blinder, till he be an utter enemy of the Word of God and his heart hardened, that it shall be impossible to convert him. 
(Documents of the English Reformation, ed. Gerald Bray, Tyndale's Preface to the New Testament, p21-22) 

Monday, 8 February 2010

William Tyndale

The Time: 1536

The Place: Outside of Brussels

The Martyr: William Tyndale


I refuse to look to John Huss whose goose was cooked

Lord, I wanna put your truth in books

Now concerning my faith no turning away

I know eternity awaits even if I’m burned at the stake

Like avoiding their attacks of me would profit me

Great Whore that could be properly the papacy and prophecy

They say the Pope’s the holiest

Only if these people could see its phoniness and Scripturally erroneous

The Pope of men fail to respect- they wanna seek death

of William Tyndale so then I inhale a deep breath

Two doors- my hands push

As I stride inside I was grabbed by men hiding- it’s an ambush!

I was sabotaged- he was disguised and camouflaged

As a friend of me- I didn’t know he was the enemy

Now through discerning, I see this group is yearning

With ill will to kill bill like Uma Thurman

It’s a chaotic frenzy as they plot against me

Hey if God defends me or ends me- He’ll soon determine

Now I plead for these people (forgive ‘em!) they grieve Your cathedral

I don’t wanna repay evil for evil

When I’m weak I’m made strong- got my brave face on

We’re sheep for the slaughter being killed all the day long

I’ll never be a man-pleaser

No matter how tight the grip of the hand squeezer

I can’t breathe- I’ll stand with Jesus

Even if plans are grievous as they try to put me to sleep like anesthesia

Now I’m gagging and gasping- I’m sold out for You

No doubt this noose won’t choke out the truth

And leave a lasting legacy- cats who would never read

your Word after the death of me cats can cleverly

get pass the heresy and grab for this weaponry

Your sword- now Lord I pass to the heavenlies

Sunday, 7 February 2010

The tool for the job

Though a man had a precious jewel and a rich, yet if he wist not the value thereof nor wherefore it served, he were neither the better nor richer by a straw. 
Even so, though we read the Scripture and babble of it never so much, yet if we know not the use of it and wherefore it was given, and what is therein to be sought, it profiteth us nothing at all. 
It is not enough therefore to read and talk of it only, but we must also desire God day and night instantly to open our eyes, and to make us understand and feel wherefore the Scripture was given, that we may apply the medicine of the Scripture, every man to his own sores, unless that we pretend to be idle disputers and brawlers about vain words, ever gnawing upon bitter bark without and never attaining unto the sweet with within, and persecuting one another for defending of lewd imaginations and fantasies of our own invention. 
(Tynadale's Preface to the Pentateuch p35-36)

Desperately Seeking

(the Late Middle Ages) far from being a period of decline, was alive with all sorts of spiritual vitalities. It was, as Lucien Febvre described it, an age with 'an immense appetite for the divine.' The braying at Mass in honour of the donkey on which Mary rode, the name of Jesus tattooed over the heart, veneration of bleeding Hosts. More often it followed the beaten paths of mainline piety. But, in either case, it was for many people a deeply unsatisfying spirituality. The nervous moralism and ceaseless attempts to placate a high and angry God served to intensify the primal anxieties of death, guilt, and loss of meaning. (p30)

Saturday, 6 February 2010

Can I be sure that I am born again?

Jesus is no fairytale

Well you know the story of the 3 bears
And the girl called Goldilocks
Who came in from the woods and gobbled
All their porridge up
Or the story about Snow White
And the 7 dwarves she knew
Well one thing about fairy tales
None of them are true (But ...)

Jesus is no fairytale
He's real as real can be
No one made him up
No he's as real as you and me
He's the mighty Son of God 
His word will never fail....
So put your trust in Jesus
Cos he's no fairytale

Once upon a time, there is a tale they often tell
'bout Jack and that big beanstalk
And how the giant fell
And then there's Cinderella
And the handsome prince she wed
Well they're just stories somebody
Just cooked up in their head (But...)

Jesus is no fairytale
He's real as real can be
No one made him up
No he's as real as you and me
He's the mighty Son of God 
His word will never fail....
So put your trust in Jesus
Cos he's no fairytale

Well there's nothing wrong with stories
Those tales of make-believe
Like mean old Rumplestiltskin 
Or the Princess and the pea
Just remember that the Bible's 
Not like fairytales you've heard
Cos the Bible's how God speaks to us
the Bible is God's Word  (And...) 

So put your trust in Jesus
Put all your trust in Jesus
The living, risen Jesus
Cos he's no fairytale!
He's no fairytale! 

Song by Colin Buchanan from the album 10, 9, 8....God is Great

Thou Shalt Not

Big 'G' or small 'g'?

This looks interesting. I know nothing of what big G, Grudem thinks about government. My own thoughts are work in progress in any case! So this should be the sort of thing I go to:

The tour will be at the follow places (taken from here):

Thu 24 June
London (St Helen’s Bishopsgate)
Fri 25 June
Liverpool (TBC)
Sat 26 June
Sheffield (Christ Church Fulwood)
Mon 28 June
Cambridge (Eden Baptist Church)
Tue 29 June
Peterborough (KingsGate Community Church)
Wed 30 June
Chessington (The King’s Centre)

I guess Peterborough is the nearest to a West Midlands one?


NB I have just found this:

So now I know something of what he thinks.
Not sure I agree with where he ends up, but he says some very sane things that we need to hear!

Friday, 5 February 2010

Two things

ye see that two things are required to begin a Christian man. The first is a steadfast faith and trust in Almighty God, to obtain all the mercy that he hath promised us, through the deserving merits of Christ's blood only, without all respect to our own works. And the other is that we forsake evil and turn to God, to keep his laws and to fight against ourselves and our corrupt nature perpetually, that we may do the will of God every day better and better. 
(Tyndale's Preface to the New Testament, p20-21)

Thursday, 4 February 2010

Welcome to the asylum

Gerald Warner wrote yesterday about an extraordinary event - the granting, by a judge, of political asylum in America for a German family (see below), persecuted because of how they want to educate their children! (I missed this because I was on a lovely 'day off' and didn't turn on the computer! But thanks to Pete for the lead.) 
And don't forget this is 2010 and not 1933.

He highlights how we as UK Citizens are also citizens of a Europe in which this is happening. 

Do we understand that, as citizens of the European Union, we now belong to a totalitarian state from which fleeing citizens are being granted political asylum in the United States? 
And speaking of our own government: 
The mentality is that the state – not parents – is the natural controller and shaper of children’s lives and beliefs. When a schoolgirl can be given an abortion without her parents’ knowledge, we know that, while public utilities may have been privatised, children have been nationalised. The Romeikes who fled from Germany objected to their children being forced to follow a curriculum that they believed was anti-Christian. The same would apply in British state schools, where pornographic sex education is increasingly being made compulsory. 
Above: The Romeikes
HT Pete Jackson

Ranke the events in order of importance

History is never the simple recounting of the past as it really was [Leopold von Ranke's aim to reconstruct the past wie es eigentlich gewesen or to those like me who don't speak German 'as it actually happened']. It is inevitably an interpretation of the past, a retrospective vision of the past, which is limited both by the sources themselves and by the historian who selects and interprets them. (p15)