Thursday, December 25, 2008

Shoes Off at the Door, Please: Luke Skywalker has a Shoes-Off Rule!

Shoes Off at the Door, Please: Luke Skywalker has a Shoes-Off Rule!

I decided this week to pick up a Star Wars novel after a long break from Star Wars novels and found something thrilling.

"Please Take Off Your Shoes" Door Mat

I promised myself that when I got my own place, I would buy this door mat that says 'Please Take Off Your Shoes.' It was expensive, but I did. Mine is in brick red, with black letters. You can buy your own shoes-off doormat from Mats4u (UK)

I have not had any visitors yet, but I am sure I will in good time.

Moved in

Sorry for the lack of posts this week.

I moved into my apartment last Saturday. Many thanks to those who prayed for me.

It is a great apartment. I did not bring the computer and I don't have internet, so I have not been able to post any news.

I am not an huge fan of Stevenage. It is a pretty boring town. It seems like how I would imagine an American town, with no real centre and made up of lots of dispersed suburbs. It seems like the town grew rather too fast without enough planning and development. But I have been living there for less than a week.

I am still awaiting a date for starting work. I would appreciate prayer that I will be able to start soon, ideally next week, or the next week if not.

Thursday, December 18, 2008


I am moving on Saturday and feeling stressed about it.

How to do theology the Matthew C- way

1. Adopt the most controversial view.
2. Change your position if people start to agree with you.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Guardian: It is ludicrous to compare modern Russia with the old Soviet Union

Guardian: It is ludicrous to compare modern Russia with the old Soviet Union

'We are a fully integrated part of the global economy, and we respect our neighbours' borders'

by Dmitry Peskov

A spokesman for prime minister Vladimir Putin responds to charges by a Guardian article.

On relations beyond our borders, we are accused on the one hand of expansionist ambitions and having designed a "blueprint to bring back the Soviet Union's geography", and on the other of "becoming increasingly isolationist". It seems we can't win. And it is wrong to state that "Russia's territory now includes Abkhazia and South Ossetia" - they have both made clear that they are determined to retain their hard-won independence, something we are committed to respect.

Guardian: MigrationWatch is twisting the truth

Guardian: MigrationWatch is twisting the truth

'New figures reveal that immigrants are not taking British people's jobs – despite what Sir Andrew Green's thinktank says'

by Philippe Legrain

Whichever way you look at it, immigrants are not taking British people's jobs. On the contrary, they are helping to provide vital public services and keep small businesses going. Not for the first time, MigrationWatch's xenophobic prejudice is causing it to twist the truth. Andrew Green should be ashamed of himself.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

I am a Substance Misuse Project Worker

I finally got my contract today. The salary is very healthy, though the job description is perhaps a little on the vague side.

I am not sure when I am starting, but I am going to move into my apartment in Hertfordshire on Saturday.

Daily Telegraph: Bible-bushing

Daily Telegraph: Bible-bushing

How wonderful to be able to lay these charges at Christianity's door. What more evidence could you possible want for keeping God out of politics? Ok... Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, the Middle East generally, Northern Ireland, and Bosnia... but apart from that?

How frustrating, then, to learn that Bush is not the rigid, fanatical, Darwin-trashing, Bible-bashing fundamentalist we had all assumed. Apparently, he is not convinced that God wanted him to be president. He believes "there is an almighty that is broad and big enough and loving enough that can encompass a lot of people" (rather than just conservative evangelical Americans). God did not tell him to go to war in Iraq but, rather, he based his decision "upon the need to protect the American people from harm". He does not think evolution and the Christian faith are incompatible.

by Nick Spencer

Angels don't appear today

At the prayer meeting last night we read Hebrews 13.

I managed to generate some heated discussion on verse 2:

2 Be not fogtful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.

I argued that the author was not suggesting the possibility that Christians might entertain angels, he was merely alluding to the incidents of Abraham and Lot entertaining angels.

Eisegesis kicked in and some people insisted that it was 'obvious' that the author thought entertaining angels was a possibility.

I argued that there would be no purpose in Christians entertaining angels today. Abraham and Lot entertained angels on the momentous occasions of God revealing His purpose and executing judgment on Sodom. No events of such magnitude were going to happen to believers today.

A gentleman argued that Christians in Africa had regular experiences of a supernatural nature. In contrast Christians in the west had become blind to the spirit world because of materialist assumptions. People in the west do not expect to see angels therefore they do not see them.

I pointed out that the expectation of seeing angels should have no bearing on whether we see them or not; people in Bible times who saw angels were generally taken by surprise!

Surely we need to take our understanding of the spirit world from Scripture, not the alleged experiences of Christians in Africa. One problem with African Christianity is the widespread ignorance of Scripture on that continent and hence the possibility of confusing superstition with truth about the spirit world.

Of course somebody had to mention an 'angel testimony.' Every church has somebody who has a story about meeting some mysterious stranger who they believe was an angel.

When it comes to angel testimonies I believe we need some sanctified skepticism. It is clear that God has ordained the cosmos in such a way that we do not see angels. We know they exist and I believe they exercise a governmental role over the cosmos, yet their world and our world do not interact in any visible way. When angels did become visible, it was always related to the revelation of God's governmental purposes. Now that we have a final revelation of these purposes, there is no need for angelic visitations until the end of the age. we must therefore exercise some commonsense about alleged appearances of angels and conclude that there must be a better explanation for them.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Guardian: Rights and responsibilities bill is all wrong

Guardian: Rights and responsibilities bill is all wrong

"Perhaps Straw has veered towards Mail-think, which would be sad. Whatever Straw really believes, a British "bill of rights and responsibilities" is not an answer. Adding responsibilities to rights will not create a "balance" as he claims; it will create a nonsense. The basic flaw is that rights and responsibilities do not logically belong to the same family. They are different animals. They cannot be set off against, or complement, one another. It makes no sense to say: "Here is a right, let's have a responsibility to balance it." If you have a legal right to something and you are denied it, you can go to court and demand it be restored, or that you are compensated.

But most responsibilities or duties are not of that ilk: they are more akin to statements of desirable behaviour by good citizens. That is not something the courts can, or should, be asked to rule upon."

by Marcel Berlin

Saturday, December 13, 2008

I am fed up of being grown-up

As well as chasing up contracts and sorting out start dates for my job, I am making arrangements to move into my apartment. As well as having to get my car tax renewed.

I hate being grown-up. Too much work involved.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Prayer Update

I got through to my prospective team leader this morning.

I now understand the reason for the delay in getting my contract. I also pleased to find out that my prospective team leader is just as desperate for me to start as I am.

However, I do not have a start date yet. The situation still needs to be resolved, but I will get there.

Thanks for your prayers.

(Hope in the Prison of Despair, by Evelyn De Morgan)

Monday, December 08, 2008

Yet another prayer request

I am really wanting to start my job. However, there seems to be some delay that is keeping me from getting my contract.

I am finding this really frustrating.

Please pray that this situation will be resolved so I can plan my move to Hertfordshire.

Times: The peculiar case of middle-class benefits

Times: The peculiar case of middle-class benefits

'So it's bad for mothers to stay at home on welfare but it's OK to get state aid for your big mortgage?'

by Ross Clark

"When is a scrounger not a scrounger? Answer: when his state benefits are helping to keep him in a nice house with a £400,000 mortgage. I have been trying to square the Government's tough new proposals on welfare reform, which will involve slashing housing benefit and forcing single mothers of one- year-old children out to work, with its announcement last week of a mortgage rescue plan to allow homebuyers to take a two-year holiday on their mortgage repayments if they suffer a loss of income."

I am not sure I disagree with the mortgage rescue plan, though I do see its inconsistency with the welfare reform proposals the government is bringing in.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Parchment and Pen: Zane Hodges (1933–2008)

Parchment and Pen: Zane Hodges (1933–2008)

A tribute to Zane Hodges by Dan Wallace.

Guardian: Mayor Boris, the liberal

Guardian: Mayor Boris, the liberal

'The left thought Johnson too posh, daft, and of the cartoon right. In office he is proving an elusive foe'

by Dave Hill

Boris Johnson's administration of London has so far been refreshingly liberal. It points to an healthy direction for the next Conservative government.

Times: You're dumb if you think we're all dumber

Times: You're dumb if you think we're all dumber

'The evidence is all around us that intellectual standards are rising and that we shouldn't believe the doom-mongers'

by Tim de Liste

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

A Neo-Kuyperian Assist to the Emergent Church

A Neo-Kuyperian Assist to the Emergent Church

'How does the legacy of a Dutch intuitive genius intersect with the phenomenon of the emergent church? The aim of tonight’s presentation is to suggest that neo-calvinism’s emphasis on common grace offers the same vital support to the postmodern-friendly emergent church as it did to the late nineteenth century Dutch reformed church that sought to engage every area of life while maintaining fidelity to orthodoxy. First, I will introduce the emergent church and highlight a particular emphasis that provides the potential for an intersection with neo-calvinism. I will then introduce the doctrine of common grace, and finally discuss how it can be articulated in a way that will benefit the emergent church.'

by Vincent Bacote and Daniel Pylman

A really interesting article exploring common themes between the Emergent Church and Abraham Kuyper's Neo-Calvinism.

It is refreshing to read a discussion of the Emergent Church that is not one-sided criticism. That said, I have as much theological difficulty with Neo-Calvinism as I have with the Emergent Church, particularly the idea of a 'cultural mandate.'

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Mary is the Theotokos

In his sermon this Lord's day, the pastor denied that Mary is the 'Mother of God.' He explained that Mary was the mother of our Lord's humanity.

While we must rightly oppose the abuse of the term 'Mother of God' by Roman Catholics and while 'God-bearer' is a more literal translation of the greek theological term, Theotokos, I do get irritated when evangelicals make a straight denial that Mary is the 'Mother of God.'

We believe that Christ's human and divine natures are joined in one person. They cannot be separated. That is why we are able to say that Jesus is God.

If you say that only Christ's human nature was born of Mary, then you are unable to consistently say that Jesus is God. Jesus of Nazareth is that man who was born of Mary. In Him dwelt all the fulness of the Godhead.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Church Thanksgiving Meal

Our church held a special dinner yesterday during which we had the opportunity to speak about the things God had done for us.

Reluctantly (I hate talking about myself in public) I went to the microphone and spoke briefly about my new job.

I then spoke about the prayers of my global internet friends and the encouragment of the hymn 'The Day Thou Gavest Lord is Ended.' I then sang it (I don't often sing solo and unaccompanied).

The day Thou gavest, Lord, is ended,
The darkness falls at Thy behest;
To Thee our morning hymns ascended,
Thy praise shall sanctify our rest.

We thank Thee that Thy church, unsleeping,
While earth rolls onward into light,
Through all the world her watch is keeping,
And rests not now by day or night.

As o’er each continent and island
The dawn leads on another day,
The voice of prayer is never silent,
Nor dies the strain of praise away.

The sun that bids us rest is waking
Our brethren ’neath the western sky,
And hour by hour fresh lips are making
Thy wondrous doings heard on high.

So be it, Lord; Thy throne shall never,
Like earth’s proud empires, pass away:
Thy kingdom stands, and grows forever,
Till all Thy creatures own Thy sway.

Times: Swiss voters back £14m-a-year health scheme to give addicts free heroin

Times: Swiss voters back £14m-a-year health scheme to give addicts free heroin

It is encouraging to see the Swiss have a sensible and realistic approach to substance misuse policy.

Christoph Buerki, a doctor at the clinic in Berne, which has 210 patients, said: “Their average age is 40 now and they have an average of 13 years of heroin addiction before they enter this programme. Basically we are aiming at a group of people where everything else has failed. We have medicalised heroin in Switzerland. It has the image of an ugly illness, and that is why, I think, numbers of new addicts are falling.”

This is the right approach.

The 'War on Drugs' is a colossal failure and we need a new approach in the UK and the US.