Saturday, December 30, 2006

Blockbusters, War, Persecution, Torchwood and Blogging - What a 2006!

I can't believe how fast 2006 went by. Out of my nearly 36 years, yikes, that perception wise was the fastest. I don't know why, I wasn't particularly busy, it must be age!

2006 was the year I started writing this Blog as a sort of catharsis to express myself creatively........ ok also because I am an opinionated so and so and like sharing. I love reading other peoples blogs as I find it fascinating reading about others lives.

Memorable films were X-Men 3, Pirates of the Carribean #2, Superman Returns and Casino Royale. I saw many more but being a geek they stuck in my mind. Two of which I got on DVD over Christmas, bet you can't guess which ones. Since one is not out yet that kind or narrows it!

2006 was the year the 'War on Terra' raged on. The utter mess in Iraq got worse, thousands died, Muslim killing Muslim (I thought that was forbidden in Islam, oh yes, the fighting is largely nothing to do with Islam its all about power!). Saddam Hussein was executed and as much as he did some truly horrendous things I don't agree with the death penalty.

Rumsfeld went thank goodness but George and his cronies are still inhabiting the White House. It is not for me to question his faith and I agree with his stance on many moral issues but some of his decisions cannot possibly have come from Christian man guided by the word of God. Since he claims never to have read the Bible it is hardly surprising!

2006 was also the year that saw a great increase in anti Christian propaganda and outright persecution of Christians in the UK. Mainly from two directions, scientists like Dawkins trying to spread his atheism and anti-creation message and from the Gay and Lesbian vocal minorities with things like stopping courses on the Christians and biblical marriage in Universities (see previous entries). The new Sexual Orientation Regulations shortly to be made law will bring Christians wanting to uphold biblical values into conflict with the establishment. It is guaranteed that Gay groups will seek out Christian establishments and companies to cause trouble for those Christians who put biblical principles above being PC.

Christian Unions are under unprecedented attack from University Unions with some being banned from using University facilities unless they agree to nonsense demands.

All around the world Christians are being beaten and killed. This is going on in some provinces of India where radical Hindu's have enacted laws to make life very difficult for Christians to freely preach the Gospel. Also in India Christians were prevented from singing carols over Christmas and the Chinese authorities clamped down on Christians over Christmas.

TV in 2006 was a mixed bag. Invasion came and went. It had potential but like many US TV series got canceled before it really got going. Lost continued to be fascinating, frustrating and generally quite good. The new Battlestar Galactica series 2 was brilliant and has almost overtaken Babylon 5 as my top rated Sci-fi series. Of course there was also 'Life on Mars' which was just so entertaining and well written. I can't wait for the conclusion in series 2 this year.

Dr Who returned with a new Doctor and it took me a while to get used to David Tennant however I like him as the doctor and I look forward to seeing the new series with the new companion.

I had high hopes for Torchwood but have been sorely disappointed with it. I have now finished watching the complete first series and it is very unlikely I will watch any further. Russel T Davies couldn't resist stamping his pink propaganda all over the series. Given license for a more adult series he went completely over the top. The characterisation was rubbish with each person doing things totally out of established character. I think each character ended up in some gay clinch or full sexual act at some point. It seams in Mr Davies' world that he sees everyone as potentially Gay. He can't seem to get his head round the fact that only a small minority of people are Gay. I found much of it offensive in its implications and Heterophobic. If he had focussed on telling decent stories instead of his other agenda it may have been a good series. Instead it didn't know what it wanted to be. It was internally inconsistent and direction less.

Spiritually 2006 was a mixed bag. I started playing drums in the church worship team and that had brought a certain focus. I read more of the Bible than I ever have before. I have taken my faith more seriously than I have for a long time. This blog has allowed me to write and focus my beliefs and thoughts. However with that has come some quite intense spiritual pressure.

I want to read more in 2007 of the Bible and other books. I want to pray more spending more time with God and less on wasting time with TV and Internet. I need to find focus at work and stop letting my mind wander. I would like clarity on what God wants me to do with my future, to stay in IT or move into counseling. What does 2007 hold? I have no idea but God does and I am in his hands!

Monday, December 18, 2006

He was lost but now He's found!

No I am not talking about some returnee to the Lord. I am talking about my cat Oscar. Last Thursday night he didn't come home. I tried to call him in during the evening as I hadn't seen him for a while but he never came home. He always comes home at night so I started to get very worried but eventually had to go to bed. I didn't sleep at all during the night and kept getting up to see if he had come home.

I eventually got up at 6:30 am and threw clothes on to go and look for him. I scoured the woods behind the house once light arrived and still could not find any trace of him. I then began to knock on neighbours doors to ask people to look in sheds and garages etc... in case he had got stuck somewhere. I put together a little note to post through letter boxes if no one answered the doors.

Just as I had finished the last knock/post, around 9:30 am, my neighbour returned from taking her child to school and asked if I had found him. She then asked if I had looked in the empty house in the street as the lady who lived there had a cat flap. I suddenly remembered the house used to have a magnetic cat flap as the cat had a collar with a magnet on it. I recently installed one in our house as we kept getting an unwanted guest in the house so Oscar had a magnet on his collar. Sure enough when I looked through the window of the empty house there he was staring at me from the stair case. The cat flap had been left on in only so he could get in but not out again.

We went round the back and and I pushed the latch on the flap open and out he came. I have never been so relieved. He seemed none the worse for his nights incarceration if not a little hungry. He has been very affectionate since as well.

My reaction in this crisis was quite startling and a bit of an eye opener to how far I still have to go in my Christian Walk. I got so angry with God when I though I wouldn't see my cat again and that he had taken him away from me as some sort of punishment. I was at the same time begging Him to let me find him. I was threatening God with cries of 'I'll never step in church again etc... if he's dead!'.

Looking back God was teaching me something of where I am at and what I need to look at in my walk with Him. I still react very childishly to certain provocation and don't have as mature a response as I should for my 17 years as a Christian. Time to do some digging to look for that inner child who has not been allowed to grow up.

'When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. when I became a man, I put childish ways behind me.' - 1 Corinth 13:11

Hmmm, God please help me on that one and thanks for giving Oscar back to me!

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Casino Royale Review

I went to see the new Bond film Casino Royale yesterday afternoon on my day off. The reviews were good and friends who had seen it had loved it, even non Bond fans and females.

I am actually a Timothy Dalton Bond fan as he played Bond as a much tougher and colder character. I also liked Brosnan's smoother portrayal as well so I was interested in how Daniel Craig would play him.

My overall rating was 'brilliant' for a bond film and pretty darn good as film on its own. The beginning was very artistically shot in black and white before the opening credits where we see Bond make the two kills required to get his Double 'O' status. Then comes the first major action sequence of the construction site chase. It is simply stunning with the guy who invented 'parquor' playing a bomb maker being chased. The stunts are amazing especially the contrast between the bomb makers graceful jumps etc... and Bond working out less subtle ways to keep up.

Eva Green makes a good bond girl and is a good foil to Bonds icy coldness with him ultimately being won over by her and her with him. Daniel Craig plays Bond in a much more human way than has been done previously and you can believe Bond would give it up to lead a life redeemed by love and how betrayal puts the final nail in the coffin of his emotional openness for him to become the ice cold womanising killer that he is.

Judy Dench gets more to do in this film which is nice as she is always a commanding presence on screen. There is no Q and no Moneypenny and very few bond type gadgets. The Aston Martin is beautiful though if short lived on screen.

The film ends with many loose ends that I assume will be tied up in the next one.

I recommend this film to be seen and enjoyed for what it is. It isn't Bond as we have come to know him but it is how Bond needs to be in the modern world. Though the cat stroking evil megalomaniac is always welcome back!

Monday, November 27, 2006

Men have emotions too? Cave dwellers Anonymous!

I was out for a meal recently with friends and the topic of men being shallow and unemotional came up. The argument went that basically men don't talk about their emotions, only talk about football/sport/gadgets/cars etc... when they are together and can't deal with it when a woman mentions something emotional. The very stereotypical viewpoint often reinforced on TV and in magazines.

Now I had to speak up at that point because that stereotype really winds me up. Now don't get me wrong, I totally agree that many men are like that. They come across as having the emotional depth of a wet teabag. The nearest thing they get to showing any emotion is when their team doesn't win a match. That is a slightly tongue in cheek remark but it is sadly true of some men. However I know many men who talk openly about emotional struggles and difficulties and are not emotionally closed books. I realise that this may largely be due to the fact that many of the men I know and have had dealings with are Christians and so are more likely to have had cause to express such things.

Now it is a total ridiculous to believe that men don't have emotions no matter how tough they appear on the outside. We are all human beings, created with emotions, able to hurt and be hurt by others. The big problem comes when women expect men to be like women in the emotional area. The fact of the matter is that men and women are different. Our brains are wired differently to enable us to perform the different roles that God created us for. Shock, horror, what men and women are different and have roles to fulfill in life that may actually be slightly different. YES!

These roles I believe, created by God, are not mutually exclusive. They are designed to work together and complement each other. Neither is less or more important than the other. Women, like it or not have a more nurturing role, hence they are far better at dealing with emotions, whereas men have a protective and provider role. Now of course I know this flies in the face of all the PC nonsense around today. But this is not saying that men are better in any way but just different. Also neither of the roles are exclusive to each sex. Men are capable of nurturing and women are capable of protecting and providing. However each has a natural tendency.

All these incidentally are characteristics possessed by God. God has both the female and male characteristics perfectly represented.

Now men are very solution driven. A mans brain is wired around focusing on one particular task at a time whereas women are better at multi tasking. This stereotype I happen to think is true and is born out by experience and observation.

In the emotional realm men work in the same way as they do in the physical realm. Presented with a problem a mans immediate thought is 'how do I solve this?' whereas in my experience a woman similarly presented with a problem wants to talk and share about the problem and how they feel about it, the solution ultimately being less important than the sharing experience. This fundamental difference is where the heart of the debate is. Gosh its taken a lot of waffle to get here.

Man generally wants to fix, a woman generally wants to share and be understood!

I have to continue to learn to shut my mouth when talking to my wife about issues and not present a 5 point action plan on the best way to solve the problem. I have done counseling training and how to listen to people and still that doesn't come naturally to me. I am constantly amazed that a solution isn't always required when talking to a woman, just listening and giving that time to do so is what is required. Similarly ladies, when talking to men don't expect a long list of all the things bothering a man at that time. If a man has a particular problem then yes he should share it with you but it will likely be in the vain of 'what am I going to do about this?'.

Culture and upbringing of course has a huge influence on the way a man deals with his emotions. Your natural personality combined with upbringing and culture plus you life's experience is what I believe really shapes how you respond to emotions. I was brought up in a very middle class family and was privately educated through all my schooling. My dad is a typical middle class British man. The emotional side of things was dealt with by my Mum in the family. Since my dad left when I was 12 his influence obviously reduced somewhat on me. My schooling culture, especially secondary school, was one of being moulded into an high achiever. Also even though I was bullied I was expected to really deal with it myself or shut up. The psychological impact of bullying was not considered 20 years ago. Now I did become very introverted and angry inside but consequently have had to deal with the emotional results of my childhood. Sadly many men never get the opportunities of support and care I have had.

Many men never grow up in families where the father is openly emotional and so never have that as a role model, I certainly didn't. Many I would say have the opposite, where the male role model is emotionally distant, feelings are not discussed and the impression is that men should show strength of character through burying their emotions. The British Stiff Upper lip is so prevalent even today. Teenage boys are not encouraged to discuss feelings or show emotion seeing it as weakness. No wonder there are so many angry and self destructive youth around. Teenage years are hard and confusing enough emotionally without the extra pressure of not being able to talk about it.

Of course the perfect Role Model is Jesus Himself. No cold, distant and unemotional man was he. A master at asking the right questions and getting to the heart of an issue when talking to either male or female. He expressed his sorrows and emotions openly with his disciples.

Ladies, if you want a man to talk to you don't pressure him and expect him to talk in depth about how he feels about everything. Ask the right questions, learn when to back off and when to push a little harder. I think the best thing 'Men are form Mars ...' described was the whole men in their cave thing. If a man is feeling stressed or down he is likely to retreat into his 'cave' until he has dealt with whatever is bothering him. While there you will not get any response from him if you ask him to talk, he needs space. What a man needs to learn to do is to express what was going on when he emerges from the 'cave'. To tell you what was bothering him and how he has resolved it, if he has. That way you can learn to see the signs of cave retreat and maybe help him not go there in the first place. This is likely only possible if he has already learned how to express what he is feeling.

Compromise is required from both parties. Men need to learn that a woman is expressing concern and love if she wants to know what is going on and not nagging him to talk. They need to see that it is generally totally alien to a woman to retreat when troubled therefore it can be very frustrating for a woman to have to wait. Likewise a woman needs to understand that once in 'cave' mode a man needs space. He will return if given time, nagging will prolong the time spent retreating. If a man needs help he will/should ask for it and can learn to share what is going on inside him if given the space to do so.

Men do have emotions, lots of them! We just struggle to put into words what they are. Given love, security and an unjudgemental atmosphere we can do it.

My Name is Andrew! I am a 'cave dweller', but with hard work and support I don't go there as much anymore!

(edited 03/12/06 to reduce the number of number of 'Now' statements, since there were many, as pointed out by my lovely wife, who is a trainee teacher so I had better listen!)

Friday, November 10, 2006

Tired, grumpy and weak!

As I have previously posted my lovely wife is doing a Post Graduate Certificate in Education (PGCE). Now she is currently doing her first 7 week school placement over in Crawley. She is very tired and stressed and overworked and not sleeping. She keeps waking up at 5 ish in the morning and consequently waking me up as I am a light sleeper anyway. I have basically had a week of having less than 6 hours sleep and it being interrupted as well.

Consequently the title of this ramble. I am tired, grumpy and weak. Tired for obvious reasons, grumpy because I get grumpy when I am tired and weak since when tired I am easily distracted, have little focus or desire to read the bible, pray and do what God wants me to. Instead I find I do exactly the opposite! When I am tired I almost choose to rebel against God in a rather childish and self centred way.

Romans 7:15-19. Paul's classic statements about not doing what we want to do but doing the very thing we don't want to do. That battle with the sinful nature that will always be with us until we are freed by physical death and enter heaven. It is such a pain that this battle becomes all the more real when I am tired. I am short tempered and lash out verbally, usually to my wife. I want to be alone and to sit by my grumpy self. I almost lose the ability to care if I am upsetting God and start to teeter on depressive introspection if I am not careful.

But hey, thank God for Cats in general and mine specifically! They always cheer me up when I am down!

This is Bracken, one of my two cats. She is very cuddly but quite mad, but what can you expect from a ginger female!!!!!!!!

She is now sitting on my lap just to prove the point!

also Just came across this on RSJ's MySpace (see link above) and thought it was very good indeed:

When I say... "I am a Christian"
I'm not shouting "I'm clean livin'."
I'm whispering "I was lost,
Now I'm found and forgiven."

When I say... "I am a Christian"
I don't speak of this with pride.
I'm confessing that I stumble
and need Christ to be my guide.

When I say... "I am a Christian"
I'm not trying to be strong.
I'm professing that I'm weak
And need His strength to carry on.

When I say... "I am a Christian"
I'm not bragging of success.
I'm admitting I have failed
And need God to clean my mess.

When I say... "I am a Christian"
I'm not claiming to be perfect,
My flaws are far too visible
But, God believes I am worth it.

When I say... "I am a Christian"
I still feel the sting of pain.
I have my share of heartaches
So I call upon His name.

When I say... "I am a Christian"
I'm not holier than thou,
I'm just a simple sinner
Who received God's good grace, somehow!

Bye Bye Donald - Master of the english language!

As it is goodbye to Mr Donald Rumsfeld I thought I would post a couple of his choicest and best known statements:

The Unknown

Reports that say that something hasn't happened are always interesting to me, because as we know, there are known knowns; there are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns - the ones we don't know we don't know


I think what you'll find,
I think what you'll find is,
Whatever it is we do substantively,
There will be near-perfect clarity
As to what it is.

And it will be known,
And it will be known to the Congress,
And it will be known to you,
Probably before we decide it,
But it will be known.

Simply Stunning isn't it that this man was in charge of defense of the US with the largest arsenal of things that will blow you up and with such a poor grasp of communicating in the English language. Mind you when compared to George.....

As you can see the world will miss such a master of clarity or is it utter nonsense.......... Ok so maybe it won't! See you Mr R, thanks for your legacy of chaos and mayhem! Ooh your getting so political in your old age!

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

I'm on my Knees

I'm on my Knees!

I'm on my knees before your cross
ashamed to raise my head to you
My hurt my tears my wretched soul
The quiet scream wells up inside

I listened to that voice once again
Like a thief in the night I gave my heart
I once again drank from muddy pools
Hear him laugh 'you're no use to Him!'

When I fall on my face will You pick me up?
When I scream out in fear will You come to save?
When I'm sobbing inside will your arms fold round me?
When I fail your call will you restore my heart to You?

I am nothing without your hope in me
An empty, angry, direction less child
Can't walk a step without tripping up
So bruised by this worlds assault

Pain cries out from the depths within me
Anger surfaces and screams for justice
I hide it away, who could contain it
Stagnant water can't touch my thirst

Please take my hand and lift my head
I'm so ashamed I'm here once again
Wash my soul in your cleansing blood
Restore my heart and set me free

Your saving Grace is all I can cling too
Your Holiness burns but your mercy sooths
I dance in the rain of your living water
Raise my hands in surrender to you!

When I fall on my face You pick me up?
When I scream out in fear You come to save?
When I'm sobbing inside Your arms fold round me?
When I fail your call You restore my heart to You?

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Creation, Evolution and Misinformation!

Yes its that old chestnut again. Ye Olde Creation vs Evolution stuff! I have been perusing the blogosphere for articles relating to the debate on Creation and Evolution and all that goes with it. I am basically quite fed up and sad at the amount of misinformation that is peddled around. This goes both ways sadly.

I kind of expect it from secular media, secular scientists like Dawkins and people in general who have an ax to grind against anything religious or creationist. However it should not happen the other way. Christian scientists and apologists should be above reproach in representing creationism and in debating the issues regarding problems in evolutionary theory. It really annoys me when I see Creation Theory repeatedly misrepresented or out right lied about in the media and in Blog articles. A lot of the time it just falls to the base level of name calling and other such childish behaviour. Like stating a supposed belief of creationists which is totally false and purposefully makes creationists out to be moronic idiots for believing such things. Richard Dawkins is a master at this. The interviews I have seen recently of him have incensed me. When an intelligent and talented scientist such as him resorts to such pathetic techniques it is a sad day indeed. If he can't just state his case without the vitriolic and childish personal attacks then he should just scuttle back to Oxford, shut up and grow up!

It really saddens me when I see well meaning Christians misrepresenting Evolutionary theory and quote mining to try and show dissent in the ranks of evolutionary scientists. There should be total integrity and truth in all things stated by Christians who speak up about creationism and evolution.

Now I am no expert and make no claim to be. All I have is the ability to think for myself when reading what others have written. Not being able to think for oneself is one of the things that I see regularly said of creationists and Christians for that matter. Now this is simply nonsense of course and a good example of the methods used to discredit people with any religious conviction. In any walk of life there are people who like to be spoon fed knowledge and don't want to use their brains. This is sadly true of Christians as well as any one else. However that simply does not mean that everyone is like that. It is as stupid and ignorant as someone saying that anyone who believes in evolution is a brainless idiot and has thrown their brain aside.

Here are some of the things that I see written which to me are just either ignorant views or deliberate misrepresentations:

  • Creationists don't believe in Evolution!
    Wrong! Creationists do believe in evolution! Just a certain form of it. In evolutionary theory there are two types of evolution.

    Macro Evolution
    , molecules to man type evolution where one kind of living thing can evolve into a totally and distinct kind. This states that all life evolved from a single common ancestor progressively getting more complex over time through random genetic mutation coupled with natural selection. As I understand it of course, feel free to correct me if I am wrong!

    Now the second type of evolution is what is known as
    Micro Evolution, or evolution within kind. This is where evolution occurs but is confined to evolution within distinctly definable life kinds. To give a basic example there are cat kinds and dog kinds. No matter how much time is given they may evolve and diversify over time within kind to produce new species but will remain distinctly cat kind or dog kind. Very basic description I know but hey I am not a scientist! This is what Darwin saw on Galapogos with his finches and what breeders of various animals have done for years. It is what viruses do when they adapt and change or 'evolve'.

    Micro Evolution is fact and can be observed and is the kind of evolution Creationists accept. Macro evolution has never been observed in the laboratory or in nature and is what is not accepted by creation science. It is one theory to explain how we got here and one interpretation of the evidence in fossils and other life sciences. If you can't see it happening you cannot falsify it by experiment therefore it cannot be stated as fact. It is a theory! Also don't go claiming it has equal status with the theory of Gravity or any other scientific theory accepted as fact by observation, it doesn't!

  • Creationism isn't true science!
    Now this is that argument that says, since you can't prove scientifically God creating things by His word, creationism isn't true science and should not be treated as anything other than philosophical/religious belief and has no place in scientific discussion or debate. Now on the one had this is quite true. If for the sake of argument God is true and can do what He likes then of course he can override any scientific principal since He created them. So therefore in those instances obviously you cannot use science to explain them. However that does not mean you cannot use science to investigate and try and explain theories of what or how it happened, of what natural laws and principals God may have used.

    In evolutionary science, theories are postulated when new discoveries are made in biology, geology, cosmology, paleontology etc... Scientific experimentation in whatever form is then done to try and falsify those theories so they will either stand up or if not be discarded. However without doubt if you come from a conviction that evolution is true then this will shape your theories when faced with trying to explain the evidence in front of you. There is no escaping that fact.

    This is exactly what Creation Science does. It is true science in exactly the same sense evolutionary science is true science because all it is doing is developing theories to explain a certain point if view and belief and applying some of the same scientific principles to again falsify and either continue with as a theory or drop due to lack of scientific support.

    Don't ever believe any scientist comes at evidence with a totally open and objective view. It simply doesn't happen. If you believe one thing you will interpret that evidence in the light of that world view.

  • You can't prove special creation!
    Quite true in once sense but as explained above you can use the same scientific principles to support the theory of Special Creation in the same way you do Evolutionary theory. There are scientists who believe in creationism in the same scientific disciplines as those that don't, who carry out their work just as well. Who are just as academically gifted as the next egg head. They carry out research in the same way as non creationists using the same evidence but may draw different conclusions. No different from Evolutionary theory. Neither can be observed since we weren't there but both viewpoints can be examined, hypothesised and experimentally proved of falsified.

  • Creationists don't believe in science and are a threat to modern science!
    This one is just nonsense talk and any amount of reading of serious creation science research will show it. This one is just scare mongering and panic among atheistic evolutionary scientists and is good fun for the media to promote. No more to be said really other than support it with something solid!
Now I know nothing I say will convince any hardened evolutionary zealot that creationists are anything other than deluded, mentally ill or simply too ignorant to be in the gene pool type people. However to everyone else, lets stop resorting to name calling, let's grow up and have sensible and respectful debates about the whole thing. Let good science speak for itself! It is not going to go away no matter how hard the cult of Richard Dawkins and his followers try to make it.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Iona Concert - Eastbourne 28th October 2006

Last night I went to see one of my favourite bands. I have been an Iona fan ever since seeing them at the Green Belt festival back in about 1990/91. The concert was held at the Kings Church Eastbourne. This is a large warehouse type building on the large Eastbourne Industrial estate.

The gig was organised by a charity called Computers for Charities which recycles old PC's for schools and people in countries that would otherwise struggle to get access to a computer.

Iona were as usual quite brilliant in their performance and musicianship. The choice of songs was a little strange I thought. They obviously did quite a few from the new Album 'Circling Hour'. However I thought they did too many of their instrumental tracks and too few vocal ones. Joanne Hogg, the lead singer, was coughing occasionally and kept drinking water to maybe her voice was not at full capacity. However when she did sing it was clear, emotive and powerful as it usually is.

The latest album is not my favorite album they have done. With several tracks seeming quite flat in their recorded form, not the usual emotional impact their songs normally have. However live they sounded better I thought. They did perform my favorite track from the new album called 'the factory of magnificent souls' which was apparently written for Nelson Mandela about his incarceration on Robin Island.

They also performed the usual array of complex jiggs which are always impressive to watch. Seeing Dave Bainbridge's fingers moving at a blinding pace around his guitar fretboard is always jaw dropping with Troy matching him note for note on the Uilleann Pipes. Frank van Essen on the drums and Violin was also a sight to behold. As a drummer myself I just sit and stare in unbelief as I watch him move around the kit. It makes you just want to give up and never play again. He doesn't play violin and drum at the same time by the way.

Well that was the gig, overall a good solid performance and sound, mixing could have been better but thay may have been down to the hall possibly or where we were sitting. Awlays a pleasure and inspiration to watch professional musicians do their thing and to be glad there are Christian musicians who care as much about the music as the words.

Now a rant: Flag waving!

Now call me Mr Angry of Horsham but when it comes to waving flags I have to draw the line at being calm and nice. In case you are wondering what I am talking about there is this Christian phenomenon of waving coloured flags in church. Now it is one thing that really winds me up to the point of wanting to shout at whoever is doing it. (Please note of course I would never do this and am only expressing my immediate thoughts!) I know, I know not very Christian. Hey I am on this path of becoming more like Jesus but I am still human and imperfect. I find is distracting, annoying, and dangerous and there are some who think it has some spiritual power, or the colours represent some character of God. Utter theological NONSENSE!

The reason I bring this up is there was a bloke last night at the gig who evidently was chief flag waver at this church. Through the whole concert he was waving different coloured flags down near the stage. Some of the time at the front. Now call me old fashioned but when you go to see a gig and have paid money for the tickets you want to see the band, not have them obscured by some person and a flag. The folks at the front to the left must have had the patience of saints to put up with it.

DON'T DO IT.....................................EVER!

Rant over! Breathe and calm!

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Who is to blame for infidelity and sexual assualt? Australian Muslim cleric creates uproar!

Another article on the BBC Website caught my attention this week. Now I know full well the media reports things completely out of context to distort what was said in order to support the journalists particular angle. That taken into account I still find this article astonishing if this cleric meant even what he claimed he was indicating. To quote the article:

"If you take out uncovered meat and place it outside... and the cats come and eat it... whose fault is it, the cats' or the uncovered meat?" he asked.

The uncovered meat is the problem, he went on to say.

"If she was in her room, in her home, in her hijab, no problem would have occurred," he added.
Sheikh Hilali also condemned women who swayed suggestively and wore make-up,

Now even the most generous of readings of that indicate that he puts the blame of Marital infidelity or pre-marital sex strictly in the lap of the woman, let alone the possible implications of sexual assault. It is basically saying, to pull his analogy apart, that men are nothing more than animals driven by instinct and that faced with a beautiful half naked woman will have no choice but to attack or have sex with her.

This if I am not mistaken is one of the leading reasons why Muslim men insist on their wives etc being covered up in public where they may be observed by other men. The lady who was suspended for wearing her veil when in class teaching children said it was only in the presence of a male teacher that she insisted on wearing it.

The point being, unless I am completely missing the point is that it seems to be in the Muslim male mindset, either culturally or for religious reasons that a woman should be covered for fear she might cause a man to jump her if she were to show any part of her skin. Placing the responsibility on the woman and not the man to control his impulses. If that is not some form of oppression to women I don't know what is. If anyone can enlighten me on any other reason the wearing of the veil and the covering up of a woman in Islam is required I would love to hear from you. Now of course I accept that not all Muslim's follow such strict dress codes and are more moderate etc!

Now I am a devout Christian and I think that a woman should dress reasonably modestly and not wear clothes that leave so little to the imagination that they may as well not be there. After all it is often what is not revealed that is sexy rather than just letting it all hang out. Wearing very little does however encourage the sexualisation of women as objects and not people, the media being very responsible for that. That said it is squarely on a man to act responsibly when faced with any woman no matter how attired. A man is entirely responsible for his actions and has a choice in his actions and how he behaves. Hence if a woman does choose to wear very revealing attire in public it is up to the individual man to behave in a morally correct way.

Now to take it back to my title. Sexual infidelity, in this context being sex outside marriage is obviously the responsibility of both parties. It is a choice made by both, usually and is nothing to do with what one may be wearing in in any given situation. Again extra marital affairs are nothing to do with the dress code of the woman and are the choice of both parties regardless of circumstances. Any sexual assault is squarely the fault of the attacker and not the attacked. No amount of perceived provocation can excuse any form of attack on a woman or man.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Turning a blind eye to vandalism!! Do we fear our youth?

It is very interesting that this article on the BBC News site was published this week. The reason being that an incident happened last Wednesday night in Horsham town centre that highlighted this very issue.

I was attending a church small group evening at our church offices just off the central high street. When I arrived a couple of others had noticed some youths throwing a brick at the New Horsham bus shelter, made largely of glass I will add. As they carried on one of the others asked if I had a mobile with a camera as he intended to go and film them. Instead I went with him to see what they were up to. As we were approaching we heard this loud bang and saw 2 teenage girls run away and discard a brick as they ran. As we rounded the corner we saw the telephone box outside Argos had been smashed. Now the person I was with ran ahead towards a groups of youths round the fountain. I just stood and stared at the glass and shook my head in sadness and saw that the two girls had run some way down the street. We then decided to return to the offices and phone the police. Well he did, I didn't as I assumed the whole thing was caught on CCTV as Horsham town centre is well covered. He gave a description of the girls to the police and a little while later they were caught. I don't know what happened to them, probably just a don't do it again ticking off!!!!

Now this highlighted the whole issue of the BBC article to me. My attitude was to not get too involved and I was certainly not going to put my personal safety at risk for the sake of a smashed window. If it was a person being attacked I would hope I would do something. But anyway I just though let CCTV cover it and what could I do. The other guy ran after some youths but I thought. 'What would you do when you got there? What would you say?'. You cannot lay a finger in any way on a youth or even defend yourself if attacked without the danger of ending up being prosecuted yourself. Those youth certainly didn't give a stuff what anyone said to them or have thought for the consequences of their actions.

When I was their age I was at home doing homework or watching TV or anything else but loitering around a town centre in the evening. I was not allowed to by my mum. I respected that and it didn't bother me. Is it any wonder our youth are acting the way they are. Parents don't teach their children boundaries, don't teach respect for adults or others property. Don't spend time with their kids talking to them, loving them, accepting them. At least not the ones who's teenage kids are running around away from home, on a school night and getting themselves into trouble. Stop treating kids like mini-adults, even at primary age. Discipline and love go hand in hand. If you don't discipline in love and set firm boundaries don't be surprised when your kids run around with no idea what is right and wrong, no idea what is acceptable or unacceptable behaviour or even care which they pursue. Take some responsibility and teach it and model it to your children!

Now I realise this issue is more complicated than just parenting skills. Of course it is, social and domestic problems, substance abuse both parents and children, poverty, peer pressure and any number of other influences all converge on any individual to influence their behaviour and attitude. However I do believe parenting is the core influence on a child and individual responsibility is of paramount importance in our society. All the above things may influence each person but ultimately we make a choice to behave in the way we do. No teenager can claim their upbringing caused them to behave a certain way, influence yes but cause no!

We all have the capability to choose between right and wrong, to remain inside the law or break it. To take responsibility for our street, our neighborhoods and towns. To stop building walls around our selves and deferring responsibility to someone else.

Did I take responsibility for what happened in Horsham last week, not really! Should I have tried to stop the vandalism, probably! Ultimately did I care that much, not as much as I should have! If we all took responsibility for our own sphere of influence then our society would be a better place to live, children would grow up safer and more secure, having hope in their lives and a sense of who they are and their place on this planet we all inhabit.

Edinburgh University - A not so tolerant place to be!

It would seem that University, that once great place of tolerance and freedom of expression has become as polarised and intolerant as the rest of society when it comes to expression of Christian beliefs. When I read This Article I was frankly astonished, saddened and not a little angered by it.

A course run by the Edinburgh University Christian Union to study and look at the biblical view of sex to be in the lifelong commitment of marriage has been branded 'homophobic' by the university's Student Representative Council (SRC). Pickets and demonstrations have been organised with the intention to disrupt the course if it goes ahead.

Another quote reads:

'CUs across the country are due to run the Pure course, which has met with widespread criticism and even prompted the launch of a counter-campaign called Stop Pure by liberal students and gay and lesbian activists.' (my emphasis added)

I think this is what Jesus was talking about when he said you would be persecuted for standing up in my name. It is quite obvious that certain minority groups are threatened by such a course but to create a campaign called 'Stop Pure' is astonishing. It basically says we do not want to be pure but to live a life of impurity! To me that name, probably unintentionally, acknowledges that the path they have chosen is not a morally correct one.

The article also states quite reasonably that the viewpoint expressed in the course also points as much to heterosexual sex outside of marriage as it does homosexual sex as being not in line with the biblical viewpoint. They are not preaching it in the corridors, it is a course that people can voluntarily attend. No one is forcing anyone to do anything, they are discussing a view point held by Christians who believe the bible. If society starts going down the path of repressing even that kind of freedom of expression then God help us all! I mean that in a very literal sense!

To label the course 'homophobic' goes back to something I wrote a few weeks ago about society pandering to minority groups, as long as they aren't Christian and letting them influence public policy because people in government are afraid to say no to these groups. In this case the SRC of Edinburgh University has caved in to I would guess internal pressure. I brand the not letting the course go ahead as 'Christianophobic'. Sadly when the tables are turned no one gives a stuff. It just shows the total hypocrisy of it all. Muliculturalism at it best!!!!!!!!!

The even worse thing was that the University Chaplain won't hold the course at the chapel for fear of upsetting people. Oh for goodness sake, how ineffectual and pathetic is that coming from an ordained minister. Grow a back bone or retire if you can't stand up for what you claim to believe.

I pray the CU has the courage and faith to go ahead with the course and that even this publicity will make it a resounding success!

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Drums, Life and that Dawkins bloke!


What a difference a day can make to ones mood and co-ordination. I played my drums in church on Sunday and was in 'the zone' so to speak. Meaning I was awake and was able to play roughly what I wanted to. The sticks flowed, sort of and my timing was pretty good. However I went to a music practice last night and it could not have been a more different story. I didn't sleep Sunday night so was tired and had a short attention span all day. Once I had setup my drums at the practice I kind of lost the will to play. I was out of time, lacked any confidence and could not concentrate.


Life is like that for me at the moment, very up and down. I have had wonderful revelations from God and He has been teaching me much. However in between I have had some quite black moments where I have felt so down and down right miserable. I cover this up a lot of the time as it is not nice to be around someone feeling like that. At work you just get on with it which is often a good thing.

I reckon the deep sadness etc... could be the result of God stirring things up within me that I have been ignoring for a while. I think He wants me to face more of the anger and pain inside me and to heal more of it. The unfortunate result of this is it means emotionally I end up quite vulnerable. I think in some instances the enemy attacks that and pulls me down. Goes back to the same predictable attacks as someone recently said to me. Oh well, so that is my life currently.

While I think of it pop over to this link and record your diary/blog for the day to go into this national archive of life in October 2006.


I have been reading a lot of stuff around Richard Dawkins' latest fanatical rantings, in his book 'The God Delusion', on various forums etc... I then came across this link for a lecture by Alister McGrath about Dawkins' beliefs and how they don't stand up to criticism or logic. It makes good reading!

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

The Dangers of blogging!

I came across a post today on a blog I was reading about the possibility of libel cases being brought against bloggers. It can be read here.

It raises interesting questions about how far you can go with blogging before you cross the line of some law somewhere. As yet I don't think anyone has been successfully sued yet for a blog article, fired yes but not sued. However I don't believe it will be long before this happens. Probably in America, the litigation centre of the world.

However it got me thinking how long it will be before as Christians we have to be careful what we publish on the web. Already in the UK the PC brigade in government have almost made it illegal to offend anyone, certainly on religious grounds. How long before it is illegal to stand up in public and say Jesus Christ is the Son of God for fear or upsetting certain other religions. Or to claim the Christian truth of Christ being the only way to God.

Don't get me wrong, I believe in being graceful and loving towards my fellow human and I try not to consciously offend people. However that does not mean that people will not get offended by the message of the Gospel but you simply cannot make it a legal issue. It is too subjective, I am offended by much I see around me but it is part of living in a fallen world. I am sure it won't come to that ever, the British public is already sick of having its freedoms curbed in the name of security from the 'War on Terra' and from the government pandering too much to certain minority groups with loud voices!

The article I linked to is really aimed at commenting on libelous claims and basically slandering or lying about someone on a blog. As it rightly points out a Christian should be above reproach in this area. Think carefully about everything you blog about!

Friday, October 06, 2006

How Problems Occur and how they may be helped! (updated 08/10)

After my last marathon article I had flittering doubts about how biblical I was and if I was correct in saying what I said. Probably the devils attempts to undermine me. However then in my bible reading notes for that day the late great Selwyn Hughes came to the rescue and said the following in reference to John 7:37 where Jesus says 'If anyone is thirsty, he should come to Me and drink!'

In my opinion, the biggest single preventative to us having feet like "hinds feet" is a stubborn commitment to independence. This reflects itself in the lives of every one of us - even those who have been on the Way for several decades. In the garden of Eden, Adam and Eve, who were designed to experience fulfillment by being dependent on God, decided to act independently of Him. Sin can be summed up as a 'Declaration of independence' - an attempt to do for ourselves what only God can do for us.

What happened in the garden of Eden is duplicated millions of times daily, not only in the lives of unbelievers but in the lives of Christians also - Christians who use self-centered strategies to satisfy the deep thirst that is in their heart for God. Almost every spiritual or psychological problem has at its root this condition - the person is failing in some way to let God satisfy his deep inner thirst.

This might sound simplistic to some, but after many years of experience working in the field of counseling, I am convinced that this is what underlies such conditions as anorexia, sexual perversions, worry, hostility, depression, homosexuality, and so on. You see, if we are not conscious that God is meeting the deep thirst we have for Him on the inside of our being, then the inner emptiness will move us in one of two directions - to fill the emptiness in any way we can or to withdraw and protect ourselves from the possibility of any further pain.

Daily Devotion taken from Every Day with Jesus by Selwyn Hughes Copyright CWR

Now Selwyn Hughes is my all time hero of the faith. A more gentle and humble man you could never have met but one blessed with a staggering ministry and understanding of scripture. Not surprisingly my understanding of the human condition etc... is shaped partly by Selwyn's views since I studied counseling on a course devised by him. But reading this after I had written my article on Gods love reinforced my passion for people to understand their inner workings. Not for the sake of navel gazing and getting all introspective but to be released into the person God created them to be and to have God centered in their very spirit.

Many Christians as so afraid of taking a look inside their heart and pondering their inner workings. Denial is a dangerous path to take and can have all sorts of unwanted side effects. Part of spiritual maturity should be to always be open to what God wants to deal with in our hearts. Now I say again that the goal of looking into our hearts is never for self centered reasons or we get into a poor me way of thinking. It is always for the sake of looking where we are holding back things or taking control of our own life instead of surrendering them to the Lord in trust and dependence.

Sometimes a person has taken such a beating in life spiritually, emotionally or physically that more than just chatting and praying with our fellow christians can be required. I am a whole hearted supporter of professional Christian counseling since sometimes the church and even its leaders are not equipped to deal with some people and can sadly cause more harm than good even with the best intentions at heart. This should not be the case but until the church is able to deal more effectively with such hurt people then counseling services will be required.

However the evangelical church can be very suspicious of the word counseling. Maybe it is a reaction against the western worlds obsession with therapy and counseling and people box the word counseling into some sort of secular view or think Christian counseling is just secular theory with some bible thought tacked on. That maybe true of some people who call themselves Christian counselors. Secular counseling however is about helping people sort out their issues and feel better about themselves. However from my experience and training, the model I was taught is totally rooted in biblical truth and its goal is to help the person put God on the throne and take themselves off. The focus is not so much about the presenting problem but about the root which in essence is what Selwyn explains above. Sorting that out not only puts God in His rightful place but has the consequence of helping to sort out the neurosis that the person came for help with. Obviously this side of heaven we never get totally sorted and always battle with things but the difference it can make to a persons life is amazing.

I'll get off my soap box now!!!

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Knowing Gods Love at the Very Core of your Being!

I have been pondering recently the awesome nature of God inspired by my trip to the Cornish coast as I mentioned in the article below. Dwelling on how we can be in the presence of such an all powerful and mighty God and yet feel at peace and know the unfathomable Love of our Creator. It has made me realise how poor I have always been at worshipping Him for simply the fact He is God and not for what He can do for me. We say things like 'I praise You and thank You for xxxx". Where xxxx is something God has done for us. Now there is nothing wrong with that in any way at all and we should be rightly thankful for everything God does for us from Dying on the cross to the more mundane little things. However I realised that doing that falls short somehow as first and foremost we should worship God simply because of who He is! We should rest in the awe inspiring presence of the living God not initially with a list of thanks and requests but simply to soak up His nature and that will inspire worship of the deepest kind.

"Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven"
Matthew 6 v9-10

That verse, as was recently preached so eloquently by a member of my church, teaches us to lift our eyes off ourselves and onto God in heaven. It gives us an eternal perspective to start from before talking to God about what is going on in our lives. That is what should shape a Christians thoughts. To see what happens today in light of what will happen eternally. That doesn't mean living in denial and pretending those difficult things in our lives are not real and that it doesn't matter. But it does mean that when going through painful and difficult times we have a hope, the truth of which is not affected by the world we live in or what happens to us. It enables us to face the hurts and trials of life more effectively, without denial or pretence, openly and honestly, not afraid that life will crush us if we drop our defences. When we see God for who He is and then who we are in relation to Him and where we will ultimately end up, that is what gives us hope as Christians.

However God has made me very aware over the years of the fact that many Christians go through their Christian walk without actually 'knowing' Gods love deep in their hearts. Not able to do what I have described above. Not able to lay themselves bare before God, heart and Soul surrendered before Him.

They know about Gods love and are convinced of it in their heads. They can recite the verses that talk about His love. The person may have a great ministry and gifting and be actively exercising those gifts to serve others. But it is not a living reality at the heart of their soul. When living like that the Christian walk can be just plain hard work. In reality everyone's walk with God goes through rough times when it feels tough but for a person who's heart doesn't know Gods love that deep it really is a slog. How do I know, because I've been there and occasionally find myself back there.

I've been there when people have been talking about Gods love out of a passionate deeply held conviction and it has left me cold. Or alternatively thinking I wish I knew that. Where they have said that we need to open our hearts to God and let him in and we will know his Love. Where I think 'well you don't know what I have been through!. If you did you'll know I can't do that'. For me the idea of surrendering my heart sent panic and fear through me. I had a God given picture in my mind of me as a child clutching a big iron ring attached to a harbour wall, like ones you use to tie up ships. I could not let go and was holding on to it like my life depended on it. God was holding out his hands and asking me to let go and take His hands. For a long time I couldn't do it. Eventually I decided to take one hand off and keep one holding on. One day I decided I had to let go due to Gods persistence and the desire to not be stuck in fear the rest of my life. It felt like stepping off a cliff into the unknown, would God catch me? For me looking back it was like stepping off a cliff edge and screaming and crying in fear until I looked to find I hadn't actually fallen a mm and I was in fact in Gods safe secure arms. It was at the point I decided to let go that I understood in my heart what it meant to 'know' Gods love at the very core of my soul. Until then I had not let God penetrate my heart out of fear and ultimately a total lack of trust that God was good and had my best interests at heart.

That is at its core original sin. Satan tempted Eve with 'Did God Really say.....?'. The serpent undermined Eve's trust in God and set the thought going that has pervaded every generation since. 'Can I trust God? Is God holding out on me? Therefore is God good?' That doubt is at the heart of original sin and drives nearly everything we do. We lost that core belief in God's goodness and his unwavering Love for us. If God isn't good and we can't trust Him then we must do all we can to protect ourselves by taking control of our own lives and doing whatever it takes to avoid being hurt and to feel good about ourselves. We put ourselves in the place of God! Living in this fallen messed up world only reinforces that message. Hence addictions like drugs, pornography, sexual immorality, affairs, alcoholism. The way we hide behind masks of achievement, appearance, social status, perfectionism, pleasing others, pleasing no one, trusting no one and much more. All designed to fill that space left after original sin caused us to doubt God. We are in effect trying to get back to Eden but our own way. Drinking in our own muddy puddles (Jer 2:13)

Adam's sin also created in us the deep thirsts and longings in our hearts for God. What was fact prior to the fall, complete security, worth and significance derived from Adam and Eve's unbroken relationship with God became needs after the fall. We became insecure, insignificant and lacked value since we were separated from our creator by sin. Now our needs must be met, as we were created to have them met. However without God meeting them we look everywhere but God to have them met.

But the bible says the following:

"Come, all you who are thirsty,
come to the waters;
and you who have no money,
come, buy and eat!
Come, buy wine and milk
without money and without cost.

Why spend money on what is not bread,
and your labour on what does not satisfy?
Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good,
and your soul will delight in the richest of fare.

Give ear and come to me;
hear me, that your soul may live.
I will make an everlasting covenant with you, my faithful love promised to David."

Isaiah 55:1-3

Jesus answered "Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the
water I give him will become in him a spring of living water welling up to eternal life."

John 4:14

...give us today our daily bread. Mtt 6 v11

God longs for us to turn to Him to have those needs met once again in Him. He invites us in those verses to satisfy our deepest longings in Him and find life. Our relationship is restored through Christ. God can once again meet those deep soul longings and thirsts for us to feel security, significance and worth. Derived totally from our relationship to the Father as His children. Psalm 139 beautifully illustrates our innate value as children of God.

I was not trusting in Gods goodness and love when I couldn't surrender my heart to Him. That required repentance on my part when I realised this and is ongoing when I take back control of my heart and try to satisfy my needs with the things of this world. Total trust is at the core of anything we do as Christians. Without trust we cannot worship the Lord from the core of our soul. Without trust we cannot lay naked before him, our hearts surrendered and open wide allowing Gods love to permeate our very souls. We cannot face the world without self protective masks and truly love our fellow hurting human beings if our hearts are not surrendered and rooted in vulnerable trust in our Father in heaven.

Every day we must continually surrender our lives and hearts to God. Christ’s death on the cross is all the proof we need of Gods faithful, total and utter commitment to having a restored love relationship with His children. 'It is finished!', the temple curtain torn in two, total unrestricted access to the Father. God is truly Good and trustworthy!

We have been asked recently what makes us weep. People I know who so desperately need to know Gods love deeply and yet don't. People who's hearts are crying out for satisfaction of their parched thirsty souls and yet don't know the Fathers love deeply enough. That is what makes me weep!

We are all on a journey and are at different points on that journey. Those that are not Christians and have no concept of such a love. Those that are Christians yet struggle with knowing/feeling Gods love for them. Those who know with varying degrees that love in their hearts. Wherever you are my prayer and longing is that you '...may have the power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ.' Eph 3:18

You may ask what the beginning part of this long thing that I have written has to do with the second part. Well on this journey God is showing me that the more I dwell on His awesome nature and just sit in His presence and read the word the more I realise how liberating it is to open my heart to Him. That all the power of God is for us so we can rest secure and in peace. What it means to be broken before Him. To be able to trust my heart to him and not to fear being vulnerable. All lessons God is teaching me in his own gentle and purposeful way.

Do I find it easy, No! Do I run away sometimes in fear, Yes! Does God treat my heart gently and tenderly when I let Him at it, Yes! Can you know the Fathers love at the very core of your being, Undoubtedly!

It takes an apparent risk. It takes courage. It takes trust. It takes repentance. It takes asking. It takes vulnerability and surrendering. It takes tears. It takes wrestling with your heart and the devil. It is worth all of that!!!!!

If any of those are issues for you then please talk to someone. Get help and prayer. Don't let your heart be bound up in fear and pain. You can do it with the Lords help!

Friday, September 22, 2006

PGCE Husband Support!

My wife has just started her PGCE course. She has been attending now for 2 weeks and already has loads of work to do. She is very stressed and tearful at times and more tired than I have ever seen her before.

I knew going in to this that it would be a tough year for her and I am right behind her ready to support her in any way I can. However I don't think I realised what a tough year I am going to find it. I thought that I would have more time to myself and be able to catch up on stuff life recorded TV series, drumming and the odd pc game. However I am realising this is not going to be the case. Housework and cooking seem to be constantly rearing their heads. I had got off lightly over the summer holiday as my wife was at home and had done most of the jobs.

Now quite rightly I am having to do lots of things, which I don't begrudge as it is part of marriage and my pledge to support her. As well as the emotional support required for any PGCE student I hear. It makes me realise how much she does in the background sometimes.

Now don't get me wrong I am not grumbling or regretting her doing this course. I am 100% behind it and think she will make a remarkable teacher. It has just taken me a little by surprise on just how much I need to step up to the mark to help her.

Is there anyone else who has shared or is going through similar things with their partner on a PGCE course? I would be interested to hear from you!

Friday, September 15, 2006

Cornwall how I love thee!

I recently came back from a week spent down in Devon. That's not Cornwall I hear you say. Well quite correct it isn't. We, my lovely wife and I, thought we would try somewhere different this year. Different in as far as the next county along from Cornwall. We stayed in a log cabin in a woods a few miles south of Barnstable on the north Coast of Devon.

Now the cabin was nice enough and had its own outdoor hot tub. It was very nice to sit in and watch the stars come out to play. That is until the last night when it was quite clear the chlorine content had gone mental and caused my wife and I mild chemical burns over parts of our bodies, but that is another story.

We investigated some of north Devon like Woolacombe sands and parts of Exmoor. It was nice and all that but it just seemed to be missing that sparkle and heart. The drivers on the narrow roads were quite unfriendly and you could tell when they were locals as they just barged through not caring you had to break hard and reverse etc... I don't know what it was but Devon just didn't do it for us. Maybe we were in the wrong part and the south is nicer for touristy type things.

As we were near the border we drove several times in to Cornwall and immediately felt better. I love Boscastle as a place and we had a fantastic Cream Tea in the Spinning Wheel cafe there. They are recovering well and I was glad to see that the Tourists are flocking to see it as they need the money to recover. In fact it is busier now than ever before.

I just love the coastline of Cornwall. I can always sit and watch the sea whatever coast I am at but Cornwall is special. It just seems more alive than anywhere else. I was pondering while sitting out rock from where I took the above photo what it was that calmed me when I am in places like that. I realised that it gives an inkling into the awesome power and beauty of its creator. Some places are like that and I am sure everyone has their special place. For me the rocky cliffs and sandy beaches of the Cornish coast seem to life my spirit, calm my heart and bring me nearer to God.
We sat and watched the sun go down over Widemouth Bay near Bude eating a takeaway fish and chips.

Widemouth Bay as the Sun sets. Stunning!

I would one day like to move to Corwnall. However there is not much work for a Computer person there. Oh well, stop day dreaming and get back to the realities of work etc...

Doubts voiced over emergency pill!

A recent article on the BBC website states the following:

Making emergency contraception more available has failed to reduce abortion rates, a family planning expert says!

Well 'No **** Sherlock' was my first though on that report. I know not a great thing to immediately think but nevertheless I did. Sadly the solution by the experts is better education in getting people to use contraception before and during sex rather than think of this as a form of adequate protection against pregnancy.

When will these so called experts see that it is a far wider issue than a bit of education or a pill that will fix the problem of high abortion rates in the UK. A GP on the news this morning said a sensible thing that she thought it was partly to do with the fact that it is now seen as more morally acceptable to have an abortion in the UK now than it was 20 years ago.

I think she is right and I think it is incredibly sad that we in the UK have the highest abortion rate in the EU and that is it socially and morally acceptable to kill an innocent child before it has the chance of living its life because a selfish person has sex and is not prepared to take the consequences of their actions.

Once again no one is saying that maybe the attitude to sex and contraception and the way sex education is done is failing and that teaching people to hold back and wait before having sex outside of a relationship strong enough to accept the birth of a child. It is a culture that devalues the life of a child by its definition of at what point a thing growing inside you becomes a child with the rights that endows.

What a crazy mixed up world this is!

The following link is an article that has a much more sensible response to the research.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Mel Gibson messed up! (don't we all?)

If you have read my favorite film list on my MSN space then you may have guessed I am a big Mel Gibson fan. It was with sadness I read of his re-lapse with alcohol and of his comments when stopped for speeding.

Of course there is no excuse for drink driving on any level and thank goodness the Police stopped him before he injured or killed himself or someone else. He must face whatever penalty the law requires of him with humility.

The statement he put out I thought was honest and fairly humble. He has battled alcoholism for years and this re-lapse must be very upsetting for both him and his family. He has wisely sought to get help for this episode and I hope he picks himself up and is all the stronger for it in his recovery.

Now for the remarks he made in a rant after he was stopped. I don't know what prompted the remarks or what his actual feelings are but it is fair to say that when drunk people say things that are not necessarily what they mean and wouldn't otherwise say.

I think it is deeply sad and shameful that the press has jumped on and focused on the comments rather than the tragic re-lapse of falling off the wagon and the potentially deadly drink driving. Those above all must have been incredibly difficult for his family and him.

In this day and age supposed free speech has absolutely gone out the window. What used to be just passed off as criticism or someones opinion is now taken as say Islamophobia, homophobia or Anti-semitic. It is fine to criticise certain groups in this country or the US but say anything against minority groups who happen to have a big loud voice and you are immediately labelled as a phobic of some sort. The PC crowd go mad!

The Jews may yet have some sort of part to play in the future before the return of Christ, depending on your theology, however as they have done many times in the past they have lost their way currently I think and must still acknowledge Christ as the only way to be saved. I don't agree with the intense military action being carried out by either side in Lebanon. But Israel is being very heavy handed in targetting civilians and if any other western country did the same there would be hell to pay, as indeed there will be. Of course Hezbollah targets civilians, they are a terrorist movement and have dumb rockets and there is no justification for it at all. But even the US, with their reputation for missing sometimes with accurate smart bombs, don't target civilians if they can help it at all. Western democratic nations must set a higher example of compassion for the innocent and bringing justice to murderers.

I am not Anti-Semitic in any way but that doesn't mean I can't criticise them! A large amount of the problems in the Middle East are indirectly associated with Israel. Don't get me wrong I am not saying they are the cause of most of it. But with fundamental Islamics desire to see 'Zionist Israel' wiped off the map then there is not much hope for peace in the region until all sides accept violence absolutely will not sort this problem out. History shows that to be the case!

As is obvious from reading anything I tend to post I am a card carrying Christian. Last year when Jerry Springer the Opera was shown on BBC2 there was a lot of complaints from Christians as quite frankly the content of that play is blasphemous in the extreme. However the Christians who complained were labelled as fundamental evangelicals and then ignored completely. If that play had been about Islam or Judaism or any other religion for that matter then the outcome would have been very different. The inbalance and hypocrisy is quite staggering in the media.

Well my own rant over back to Mel. As for if he will work again etc... in hollywood. Of course he will! He is a brilliant actor and a great director. I know Hollywood has a lot of Jewish influence within it but I doubt very much if it is enough to affect Icon or Mel himself in any long term way. I also think he is wise enough and has indeed done so, to build bridges with the Jewish community.

Keep on that Wagon Mel!

Monday, July 31, 2006

Superman Returns - Review

Well I finally saw Superman Returns last Saturday. I had watched the trailer several times and was looking forward to the film. The original Superman the Movie with Christopher Reeve had a great impact on me as a child so I was hoping Bryan Singer had been faithful to its source. I had heard several reports from folks who didn't like the film for various reasons.

After more trailers than I have ever seen at a film it started. With the first note of that iconic theme tune you knew this was more than a passing nod to what had gone before. The titles were similar to the original, obviously updated with modern graphics. This was definitely a superman film!

Brandon Routh bears more than a passing resemblance to CR and his Clark Kent even sounded very much like him, almost spooky! I thought he did a good job and stepped up to the role with conviction and heart.

Kevin Spacey as Lex Luthor hammed it up as you would expect and demand when given such a classic villain to play. He does over the top insane menace like no other.

Kate Bosworth is the main weak point of the movie. Her portrayal of Lois Lane was a bit limp. Lois is supposed to be a feisty and strong headed character but here we get a slightly annoying and far too young Ms Lane. It doesn't spoil the overall film however.

The special effects are outstanding with the major set pieces show casing the capabilities of modern technology. I particularly liked the smaller details like the sonic wave whenever Superman flew off quickly.

I had previously read about the Christ references throughout the film and thought they would be very subtle. However there are some startlingly obvious references throughout. I don't know if they were intended or not. Two obvious ones are where Superman has his first deep chat with Lois after he's been away for five years. She has written an article entitled 'why the world doesn't need Superman'. He takes her for a fly and says " say the world doesn't need a saviour, yet every day I hear millions of people crying out for one." and the other comes from Jor-El along the lines of "...the world just needs a light to show them the way, for that reason I sent you, my only son!". I found it interesting that they are there. I guess we are used to the other darker, flawed super heroes that are portrayed in modern films, that we can relate to better. Superman comes out of the remnants of the second world war where people needed hope and a pure hero to look up to. A character that stands for truth and justice etc...

(speaking of the traditional truth, justice and the American way that superman has always been mooted as standing forI thought it was good they left off the American Way bit when Perry White states that line. At least the script writers are aware of the worlds opinion of 'the American Way' and wisely chose to leave it out)

I thought the film was well done overall. Superman is a character that makes you feel hopeful and safe. However bleak things look superman wins out in the end. It has the feel of nostalgia along with the modern look. A nice touch is the dedication to Christopher and Dana Reeve in the end credits.

Judging by what is going on in the world at the moment it is quite obvious the world does need a saviour. That saviour is not a fantasy figure but is real and brings hope and security in a world with very little. Superman is fiction, Jesus Christ is not!

Friday, June 23, 2006

Genome Cracker becomes Christian

The man who cracked the human Genome has become a Christian. See this article! I hope he will eventually go one step further away from Theistic evolution to Biblical creation.

This goes slightly against the article on the BBC site currently regarding 'Scientists urge evolution lessons'. A load of 'eminent' scientists have got together to say how Evolution 'facts' must be taught in school. The article to quote 'It lists key facts on evolution that "scientific evidence has never contradicted"'.

I read the PDF file linked on the site that is the scientific community's statement. I am sorry I didn't read any statement there that is scientific fact, theory yes but not fact. Many scientific theories contradict every one of those supposed facts. What they quote as fact cannot possibly be proved because it cannot be observed. True science is about observable testifiable fact. Yes that means Creation cannot be proved either, but it is just as scientific since it takes the same evidence and applies the same scientific method but comes to different conclusions and theories. It is purely from what world point of view you approach the evidence as that shapes your conclusions regardless of how much you protest you are impartial.

It is perfectly understandable and expected that some scientists will turn to God when they study creation '...since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities - his eternal power and divine nature - have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.' - Romans 1:20

A response to the Scientists publication from Answers in Genesis can be found here!

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Sexual Abstinence vs Be Careful!

There has been a lot in the media recently about a growing movement in the UK promoting sexual abstinence (don't have sex until married) as opposed to the liberal normal view of it's ok to have sex as long as you use contraception and are careful etc...

The media attention has focused around an issue between a school and pupils over not allowing them to wear a ring signifying their pledge to sexual purity. I am very aware of this since the father of the family involved is the Leader of my church.

It started last year with an article in the West Sussex county Times about the school refusing to allow Phil's daughter to wear the ring in school as it went against the schools dress code. Recently this has gone to national press in the Guardian news paper and on GMTV on Monday 19th June. These article seem to me to actually give a fair representation for once. As opposed to when it was mentioned in a recent Channel 4 dispatches programme by Rod Liddle entitled 'The New Fundamentalists'. This was an appalling piece of journalism but should have been expected given the history of the journalist in question. For a challenge to the claims made in this programme click here.

My church is at the forefront of this movement in the UK and is fully backing what is called the Silver Ring Thing (click on the link to find out more). Now while I am deeply skeptical about these kind of programmes as they can so often be just another bandwagon to jump on, I think this has some important things to say.

I live close to Crawley in West Sussex and Crawley has some of the highest rates of teen pregnancy in the UK. Now I am not going to point the finger at any one thing that may be behind the UK's escalating STD, teen pregnancy and abortion rates. I am not that naive as to think it is all caused by one particular issue. However it is clear that something is quite staggeringly wrong with the way things are at present. Why do so many teenagers think it is ok to have underage sex, why are so many ignorant about the choices they have? How in this day and age and so called 'respect' for life is the attitude 'if I get pregnant I can always have an abortion' allowed to be maintained as a respectable if not regrettable choice.

The SRT basically educates teenagers, although not exclusively, that Sexual abstinence is a choice open to them. Standing against what is presented day in and day out in the media and saying that being a virgin before you are married is a perfectly valid choice and all this rubbish about the more partners you have the better love life you will have is exactly that, rubbish!

Now I cannot comment first hand on the material of the SRT and the criticisms against it about not teaching teenagers about contraceptive choices leading to greater risk of pregnancy and STD's if they break the pledge. If all the education they got was that then I would possibly agree but teenagers are bombarded with info about it in school and out so there is no reason to also include it in SRT at this point. On the other hand clearly all the info teenagers do get isn't working to reduce the rates of pregnancy and STD's so it is not such a good argument anyway.

At the end of the day you make your own choice. Abstinence is a valid choice and from a Christian point of view biblical way to live outside marriage. We should be giving our young folks all the support they need to make valid choices. Present them with both sides, educate them about contraception and its pro's and cons and that abstinence is the only 100% way to steer clear of STD's and unwanted pregnancy. Educate young people to GASP! Take responsibility for the choices they make. If you have sex you must expect the possibility of a baby and killing it isn't really the option without consequences that is so often spouted by 'pro-choice' groups. Let common sense prevail and call an end to this wishy washy liberal attitude of no moral absolutes in modern society.

For Christians the Bible is clear that you should only have one sexual partner in life, excluding your marriage partner dying and re-marrying after that and divorce being a big grey area. But on the other hand there is total forgiveness and restoration if/when you fail to keep that pledge or live up to that ideal. No matter what you have done God will forgive you when you turn to him! That is not licence to carry on Sinning (shock he used the S word).

Daily Mail Article re this issue

Thursday, June 15, 2006

(You) Understand


Every time I fall down on my face
I see the one who bore all my shame
To know that you are everything I need you to be
You're my ever present help in time of need

I know you understand it all
So why don't I get back on my feet again
Every Pain I feel inside my heart
It takes a faith I know I can't depart

To know that you hear every cry I raise to you
Bringing thoughts of hope
The words I bring I know are few

I know you understand it all
So why don't I get back on my feet again
You hear me when I call
You're there when I fall
You hear me when I call
I know you understand it all
So why don't I get back on my feet again

Words by Jeremy Camp from the Album Stay (p) 2002 Bec

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Changing Rooms or Changing Lives?

I have recently been doing some DIY type stuff. Mainly tiling in my kitchen at the moment. Boring I hear you say................................. 'boring' - (thank you!) However it is whilst I am doing those kinds of things that God tends to point things out to me and last week He did just that.

We have just had our Kitchen and bathroom replaced, hence the DIY. Whilst I was tiling I realised I was covering over some very ropey walls with nice new tiles. Also you fill holes and then paint over them. The end product looks all new and clean and you look on it with some pride at what you have achieved. You then welcome visitors to see your nice new look!

But it is all skin deep! The paint has covered over filler and cracks, the tiles cover over the dodgy wall underneath. Take it all off and you are still left with grey plaster, old paint etc... This is exactly what we do with our lives. Often DIY can be a way of making surface changes to cover over how we feel underneath as people. We re-arrange our lives quite regularly, new job, new clothes, new look, new car etc... In the church we can be guilty of doing the same thing except we dress it up in spiritual language. What spiritual gifts can I get this week, what new fad can we get involved with this year. I am not saying at all that this is always the case or that individual giftings are always used this way. But the church and church members are not immune by any stretch.

All these things are designed to take our focus away from what is underneath. Often we feel unlovely, unloved, hopeless, unacceptable, dirty etc... underneath the surface of our lives. By doing the above changes it helps us not feel those things. I Corinthians 13 is possibly the greatest description of Love ever put on paper. The first 3 verses describe having everything but without love it is all for nothing. Now what God said to me in that was that those verses do not just mean doing those things described with love as is commonly interpreted. It also means that we must firstly have God's love rooted in our hearts from which we can then do those things in love.

If we focused more attention on learning who we are before God and how much His Love for us has the power to change us inside out we would spend less time focusing on covering over and redecorating the surface of our lives. We would also be in a position to actually look at what is under the surface with the confidence that it won't overwhelm us knowing that God is right there with us holding us in His arms!

Thursday, May 25, 2006

To My Beautiful Wife!

What I love about you:

I love that you married me!
I love the way you dance.
I love your beautiful big smile.
I love that you are humble enough to say you are sorry!
I love that you will put up with my choice of films.
I love your arms wrapped around me.
I love your dedication to study to do the job you have always wanted to do.
I love your sexy eyes!
I love that you still want to snuggle up on the sofa.
I love that you keep my feet on the ground.
I love your loyalty
I love your quick wit.
I love walking with you
I love sitting on a beach with you
I love the bits you hate!

Most of all I Love You!

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Let's Have a drink in the Mud!

I recently had to think of a quote to sum up my walk with God which was:

To imitate Christ is my Goal! To stumble, find forgiveness and be restored each day a reality!

It was the stumbling part that was the most real to me. People know me as the one who always has a generally well thought out opinion on a variety of issues both spiritual and worldy. I can come across as a know it all sometimes, which is never my intention. Wisdom is the one spiritual gift that I desire above all others. However back to the stumbling.

Every day is a struggle between my desire to imitate christ and my desire to dull pain by whatever means possible. One of my favorite verses is Jeremiah 2:13 "My people have committed two sins: They have forsaken Me, the spring of living water and they have dug their own cisterns, broken cisterns that cannot hold water" (NIV)

The verse highlights mans ultimate sin. To find life apart from God. Instead of drinking at the beautiful sweet water that God provides us to nourish our spirits we walk right past and dig in the mud and drink filthy, stinking sludge! No matter how many times we are taught that lesson we still insist on trying to cope with life ourselves and do it our way.

Modern society provides a whole plethora of ways to do just that. All manner of drink, drugs, sexual highs, living other peoples lives through reality TV (yes Big Brother fans I mean you! ), fantastical ways of not really facing the pain caused by living in this fallen world. Most people try not to think about what is going on in their hearts and just get on with their lives and every so often crash when reality breaks through. Others who, for whatever reason, have a much greater awareness of the pain inside them can often fall into the more serious addictive behaviours if they can't find a more healthy way of dealing with the hurt. Likewise not looking and dealing with pain and ignoring it leads to the same. Just because you pretend pain/hurt is not there doesn't mean it isn't. It then eats away unnoticed and surfaces in your behaviour.

If it wasn't for God I would be in that second category. I am always too aware of the pain and hurt that life has caused me. My two entries on becoming a Christian and depression will show you that. I often find myself walking away, digging my muddy puddle and damaging my spiritual life and self ultimately. The devil then gets his tuppence worth and condemns me further. God is forever gracious and merciful and receives me back when I repent of my self centredness, eventually. I am not always quick to do so as I mope around feeling like 'here I am again, why don't I learn my lesson etc...' (Grace - receiving what we don't deserve, Mercy - not receiving what we do deserve) . God started a deeper work last year on getting me to deal with the pain and let it go finally for Him to heal as far as will ever happen this side of heaven. Shame I keep running away from doing it!!!!!!!!

Anyway, that is why I came up with that quote!