Wednesday, 31 July 2013

Looking at suffering differently (and smiling)

If you went to a personal trainer and asked them to get you into the best shape of your life, you would expect that there would be some pain. But if you are really serious about it and committed to the result, you lean into that pain. You do not show up on day two saying, “I’m thinking today we should just eat quiche instead. This was all a very bad idea!”

HT: Femina

Sunday, 28 July 2013

Batter my heart

Miniature of John Donne by Isaac Oliver, 1616 (Royal Collection)
Batter my heart, three-person'd God, for you
As yet but knock, breathe, shine, and seek to mend;
That I may rise and stand, o'erthrow me, and bend
Your force to break, blow, burn, and make me new.
I, like an usurp'd town to another due,
Labour to admit you, but oh, to no end;
Reason, your viceroy in me, me should defend,
But is captiv'd, and proves weak or untrue.
Yet dearly I love you, and would be lov'd fain,
But am betroth'd unto your enemy;
Divorce me, untie or break that knot again,
Take me to you, imprison me, for I,
Except you enthrall me, never shall be free,
Nor ever chaste, except you ravish me.

 John Donne, Holy Sonnet XIV 

A bit cryptic... I think Donne is trying to say that faith is entirely God's gift and that man as a fallen creature is incapable of good works - agree?

Monday, 22 July 2013

Death of the NHS predicted 30 years ago

There is one defining cause of the decay of the NHS: the colossal increases in its funding and the barely imaginable multiplication of its senior managers and employees have created an institution which no longer exists for the health of the people it was set up to serve, but for the benefit of the hordes of highly-unionised staff who operate it. This was always predictable and indeed, more than 30 years ago, it was actually predicted by Dr Max Gammon in what has come to be known as Gammon’s Law: 
“In any bureaucratic system… increase in expenditure will be matched by fall in production… Such systems, and particularly the NHS will act rather like black holes in the economic universe, simultaneously sucking in resources, and shrinking in terms of emitted production.” [Via Cranmer's blog]
I hope those like the US of A who are keen to establish a nationalised health system are listening while those here in the UK better get started on a suitable elegy for the not too distant demise of the NHS!

Saturday, 20 July 2013

Knox's warning to the Queen

Those who know me know that I'm a big big fan of the Monarchy – – – I love the Queen, I love the palaces, I love the pomp, I love the ceremony, I love the interesting outfits – you name it – if it’s linked to the Monarchy – I’ll be there – I love all things Royal. I think part of my appreciation for the Royal family comes from my being a foreigner – I was born and bred in Kenya (East Africa) and so for me coming to England and seeing an actual Monarch – someone who wears a crown, sits on a throne, has the most fancy outfits ever...        I mean did you see the fantastic robe she wore a couple of months ago for the State opening of parliament? For me those kind of things only occurred in fairy tales and so when I arrived in England I was like wow – it’s for real – an actual Queen – how amazing! The other wonderful thing about the Queen is how she has confidently displayed her Christian faith – regularly seen attending church and over the years speaking winsomely (in her Christmas broadcast) of the unique hope found in the only true Saviour Jesus Christ. It was with deep sadness therefore to read earlier this week of her assent of the homosexual marriage bill into law. I know there is a sense in which her signature was rubber stamping exercise; more a nod to tradition rather than the result of her deliberate consideration. I also partly sympathise with her given the enormous pressure she is under from various clamouring voices and often hostile (i.e. atheistic) viewpoints. Nevertheless she is the Queen – God has given her the right as Sovereign to rule over our Kingdom and to govern her people well. Beyond that she ought to remember that all pomp, glory and esteem will one day fade when we all will stand before the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen. If that be the case she ought to adhere and seek out His counsel rather than submit to the folly of our age which is attempting to do the impossible and redefine marriage – an absurd and untenable task, akin to trying to defy gravity or push water uphill. God is the one who determines what’s right or wrong not the houses of parliament or the number 10 policy unit or the European Union. John Knox put this well in a letter that he wrote interestingly to the other Elizabeth reminding her of who the ultimate source of good and righteous laws is: 

Neither the consent of people, process of time, nor multitude of men, can establish a law which God shall approve. But whatsoever He approveth (by His eternal Word) that shall be approved, and whatsoever He dampeneth shall be condemned, though all men on earth hazard justification of the same.

I esteem a lot and pray often for our Queen. I hope therefore that she (and her ministers) will take heed – God’s word not ours determines what's right.

Wednesday, 17 July 2013

Heart before the course

On this day in July 1949, American missionary and Auca Indian martyr Jim Elliot recorded in his journal:
It is dangerous to get the cart before the horse, but essential in God's program to get the heart before the course
In other words we are to believe in Christ, before we attempt to serve Him. Thus the Christian minister cannot give what he does not already have, he cannot preach what he does not already live

Tuesday, 16 July 2013

The evolution of the bikini

With the onset of warm weather and forecasters predicting a scorching UK summer, it's worth reflecting how the current swimwear of choice - the bikini - was once scandalously shocking (and rightly so). In the video below, fashion designer Jessica Rey talks about the evolution of the bikini and how women all over the world are turning to modest alternatives.

Great quote: "My goal is to disprove the age old notion that when it comes to swimsuits, less is more."

Friday, 5 July 2013

7 ways to protect your heart and ministry from an affair

1) Never meet alone with a woman (unless they are your wife or mother)

2) Do not conduct overly personal or intimate conversations with women

3) When talking to couples focus your visual connection mostly on the man

4) Try not to stare at women

5) Spend lots of time with your wife

6) Remember your kids

7) Love your church

Read the full thing here.

Monday, 1 July 2013

Simple answer to the wine (or not) for communion question

I think Scripture is fairly clear that wine (not grape juice) should be served at the Lord's Supper. Thus anyone suggesting that the drink to be offered at communion should be something sickly like Kool-Aid instead of a hearty Chateauneuf du Pape badly needs to hear Chesterton's prescient rebuke against the temperance movement:
If an angel out of heaven
gives you something else to drink,
Thank him for his kind intentions;
Go pour them down the sink
Or as the Psalmist puts, God likes it when we raise a toast to Him