Month: December 2004


It’s that time of year again when people make resolutions for the New Year. I must admit, I don’t do New Year’s resolutions any more. Haven’t done for ages. However, I think the following is a good thing to pray for and keep in mind:

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.

I don’t know who wrote it, so I can’t cite any source, so if you know, let me know.
May you know the blessing of God in 2005.

Lazy days

Been a nice quiet few days. Went to the church where I grew up on Sunday, although had to play the organ as their regular organist was away over the Christmas period. I guess the trouble with going to different churches is that you get to hear some things repeated sometimes. The sermon was on the visit of the Magi, illustrating the relevance of the Messiah to both Jew and Gentile, which I’d heard recently. Good to be reminded though.
The following days have been a mixture of shopping in the sales and catching up with old friends, interpersed with lots of games of bridge. Oh, saw Shaun of the Dead as well which was curious. I must admit, I miss playing bridge as not many people I know in London know how to play it. Went to a “pan-asian” restaurant called “Teoh’s” in Bedminster last night which was cool. They did a good beef rendang and the company was alright as well. 🙂 Only problem was we ended up chatting and playing bridge until the small hours at Marcus’ place. Didn’t get up very early this afternoon…ah well.
Throughout the past few days, I’ve been keeping track of the news reports on the earthquake/tsunami which hit parts of Asia and Africa on Sunday. I must admit to feeling humbled by the sheer power of nature, as well as a complete inability to comprehend the impact this event has had on every man, woman and child in its wake.

Happy Christmas Everyone!

Just got back from church, various family members are coming for dinner (which is currently in its final stages of preparation by my mum) and then the present opening begins.

Hope you all have a great Christmas, wherever you are!

Jesus our Emmanuel

Q: Wherein did Christ’s humiliation consist?
A: Christ’s humiliation consisted in his being born, and that in a low condition, made under the law, undergoing the miseries of this life, the wrath of God, and the cursed death of the cross; in being buried, and continuing under the power of death for a time.

(Question XXVII from the Westminster Shorter Catechism)

White elephant

This evening was a curious evening! The usual suspects congregated at Sarah’s for a “White Elephant” party, which consisted of a “White Elephant” party game, as well as some other party games. We were all told to wrap and bring an item worth less than £5, which we didn’t want. All the “presents” were placed in a pile and we each took it in turn to take an item either from the pile and unwrapping it, or from someone who had already taken an item. When the pile was gone, we were then given five minutes to swap presents with others. When the time was up, we were allowed to keep whatever we had picked up. I’d acquired a rather usuable mug, although I’d left it behind when I left. I must remember to pick it up next time I’m there.

There’s bad stuff inside me

Just seen Blade: Trinity. As far as the Blade films go, this is better than the second one, and probably as good as the first one. As far as films go, an entertaining no-brainer, with plenty of eye-candy on display, including a very impressive opening scene featuring a ziggurat.

There seems to be a spate of films featuring conspiracy theories at the moment. Many of these also liberally scatter Judeo-Christian theological terms within their titles and script. From the obvious mention of “trinity” in this film, through terms like “tetragrammaton” in Equilibrium and terms like “trinity”, “logos” and “zion” in The Matrix. It would seem to be a concious effort on Hollywood’s part to cash in on theology.

Yet, these conspiracy theory driven films (both theological and non-theological), and indeed the whole idea of of such a theory, stem back to reality. There are indeed powers beyond our control which permeate and seek to influence the human race. Augustine of Hippo coined this permeating power “Original Sin”, which together with the influence of Satan and his angels seek to drive the human race apart from God. Could it be that these conspiracy theorists have some sense of these powers and are attempting to explain it in some way?

a.m.: Matthew 2 p.m.: Genesis-Revelation

The Magi who visited Jesus had come from a foreign land. They were not Jewish, if anything they were most likely to be Gentile astrologers. Astrology had been classed as abhorrent to God. Yet, when they saw a sign from God, the star, they followed it to Jerusalem in search of the King. There, they were told what the Scriptures said about this King and so they acted on what God’s word said. Because of this obedience to God’s word, God continued to lead them, by the star, to Bethlehem. By obeying God and his word, they found what they were looking for and found the truth. They reached the place where Jesus was and worshipped him (and not Mary).

Is our approach to the Saviour of the world similar to that of the Magi? Whilst we do things which are displeasing to God, will we leave them? Will we seek God and consult his word to know his will? When God is revealed to us, will we worship him and trust him and thereby find what our souls desire? Or will we do something else?

Monopoly without the money.

Just after lunch, the usual suspects and myself travelled into central London. The first task at hand was to finish off my Christmas shopping which was duly completed with a trip to Chappell of Bond Street. We then met up with Karen and a couple of her friends at Oxford Circus and then we split up into male and female groups. The girls continued shopping whilst the boys went off to Regent Street to look at the lights, visit the Apple store and wander around Hamleys.
We merged and met up with some more friends for a brief bite to eat, just off Picadilly Circus. We then sauntered on down to Trafalgar Square to attend a carol service held by The London City Mission (meeting a few more friends at the same time). It was a usual nine carols and scripture readings, but a great opportunity to share the gospel of Jesus Christ with passers-by.
Camberwell Evangelical church was the next port of call for a evening of food and fellowship organised by the Camberwell girls. It was good to meet with with old friends and to make some new friends and a good time was had by all.
A very good day, for which I’m thankful.

Why pray?

Prayer is a curious thing. In and of itself, it has no power. It is not some form of mental or emotional exercise which will make us feel better. It is communicating with the creator of all things, that by that communication the omnipotent God he might intervene. Not that we can manipulate God into carrying out our every wish, like a genie in a bottle. How he answers our prayers is up to him and his will. He won’t necessarily grant us what we want, but may tell us “no” or “wait” or even nothing at all. He knows what is best for us, even if we ourselves might not and so his answers might confuse and perplex us, but then we should trust him.
Yet at the same time, God knows what we will pray for already before we even pray, whilst he still asks us to pray. This, I think, is the crux of prayer. God delights to hear the prayers of his people. Those who have put their faith in his Son and approach him through the Lord Jesus Christ. Those who can approach him as their heavenly Father.


Whilst I was wandering back from the opticians to my workplace during my lunch break, I was accosted by a proponent of the Hare Krishna movement. I must admit it’s been a while since I’ve bumped into one of these guys. This chap wasn’t wearing a bright orange gown, nor was he chanting with little cymbals. He was dressed in everyday unassuming attire. He stopped me with a greeting and asked me if considered myself to be “spiritual”. I wasn’t quite sure what to make of it initially as the question seems rather ambiguous, but a quick glance at the Hare Krishna books he was holding gave him away.

A brief discussion arose, with his main argument apparently being that all religions are aspects of the truth, be it Christianity, Islam, Hinduism etc. and through our own efforts we can meet with God and be right with him. I proposed that this wasn’t the case and that there were certainly significant differences between Biblical Christianity and the other big religions, especially in the nature of God and the nature of man. Only the Bible puts forward that man is inherently sinful and so is abhorrent before a holy God. This sin is so great that we cannot make ourselves right with God by our own efforts. Only the Son of God was willing and able to put us right with this holy God by taking on the sin of all who believe in him, thereby making them right with God.

The discussion meandered, yet always returned to this key proposition. After a while it became clear he was wanting to move on, so we shook hands, he said I was “an interesting person”, I wished him a happy Christmas and was on my way.

I wonder if somehow he caught a glimpse of “The Way, the Truth and the Life”, or if my rambling made him think Christians were all nutters? I certainly hope the former rather than the latter.

a.m.: Ecclesiastes 5:1-7 p.m.: Galatians 3:20-4:7, 5:1

This morning’s sermon was another look at Ecclesiastes. In chapter 5, Solomon considers those who go to the house of God.
Some go out of ritual, they are ignorant of the word of God, and of God himself, and think their rituals will somehow make them right with God. They have their own idea who God is. In effect they have made their own image of God rather than pay any attention to God as he really is through what he says in his word.
Others go with an indifference. They put on a show every time they visit God’s house, yet in every day life they carry on as if their visit never happened. Outwardly they agree with what is being said, but inwardly it makes no differnce to them.
Both these types of people have missed the point and their visit to the house of God is of no benefit to them. Indeed, it is possible that their visit is detrimental to them as will have no excuse for their ignorance and indifference.
If we are to visit God’s house, we should go with the right attitude. We should know we are going to worship God. We should seek to know God, understanding who he is, listening to what he says to us. If we know God and listen to him, it should have an impact on our lives and affect our lives in everything we do.

Amongst the brethren

Finally got to play with my new camera this afternoon with a wander around the locality. Fortunately, the weather was bright, dry and clear. London is particularly blessed with lots of parks, populated with various forms of flora and fauna, interspersed with lakes and stately homes. Before you ask, yes, I now have lots of pictures of ducks and geese.
In the evening a few of us joined up with a large group of other Christian young people from all over London for an evening of food, games and socialising. It was good to meet up with some old friends as well as make some new ones. A great evening of fun and fellowship, and something for which I am grateful.


Just had a go at “What Christmas Carol are you?“, and I came up as:

Hark! The Herald Angels Sing
You are ‘Hark! The Herald Angels Sing’. You take Christmas very seriously. For you, it is a religious festival, celebrating the birth of the Saviour, and its current secularisation really irritates you. You enjoy the period of Advent leading up to Christmas, and attend any local carol services you can find, as well as the more contemplative Advent church services each Sunday. You may be involved in Christmas food collections or similar charity work. The midnight service at your church, with candles and carols, is one you look forward to all year, and you also look forward to the family get together on Christmas Day.

What Christmas Carol are you?
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It’s pretty much got me down to a tee. 🙂

Recreational habits

Went to play snooker with Robin this evening, although I think our lack of practice is showing itself up. Whilst the rate of play was acceptable, I very rarely got a long pot. I guess this just shows that regular practice is a good thing if I’m to maintain any level of proficiency. Still managed to win by 2-1 frames though. 🙂


Was invited to a Christmas dinner for the charity LIFE this evening. It was a full three course meal consisting of soup, followed by turkey and pork with all the trimmings, finished off with a wide ranging selection of desserts.
The meal was followed by a short address on the very important work of LIFE in the locality, providing help and support to pregnant women. Some statistics on abortion were also shared.
I cannot help thinking there is something wrong with a society which sees nothing wrong with the killing of over 100,000 unborn babies every year, for the past ten years, and yet spends vast resources debating the rights and wrongs of fox hunting.
It is tragic when a person dies, regardless of their age. Surely?