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One of my readers, Boetie (‘Brother’), asked for my view of the future of UKIP and Nigel Farage in light of Brexit.

UKIP past

The following will make it clear why many people in Britain had little time for UKIP, although they do acknowledge that if it hadn’t been for Nigel Farage, David Cameron would never have given us the EU Referendum nor would we have the Brexit result today. Therefore, Farage has delivered.

UKIP supporters make Farage out to be a national hero. Yes, he is very interesting and well informed. I have seen him speak in person. He graciously answered the questions I had about his party’s direction. And, yes, it was great seeing him on the hustings with a cigarette and a pint.

However, let’s not forget that, in 2009, Farage was called to account about his MEP expenses. The Observer (The Guardian‘s sister Sunday paper) has a good article from May 2009 which provides much detail. Excerpts follow, emphases mine:

The leader of the UK Independence party (Ukip), which wants to lead Britain out of the EU, has taken £2m of taxpayers’ money in expenses and allowances as a member of the European Parliament, on top of his £64,000 a year salary.

Nigel Farage, who is calling on voters to punish “greedy Labour, Conservative and Lib Dem MPs” at the European elections on 4 June, boasted of his personal expenses haul at a meeting with foreign journalists in London last week …

During a debate about Europe at the Foreign Press Association – which was discreetly taped by the hosts – Farage was asked by former Europe minister Denis MacShane what he had received in non-salary expenses and allowances since becoming an MEP in 1999.

“It is a vast sum,” Farage said. “I don’t know what the total amount is but – oh lor – it must be pushing £2 million.” Taken aback, MacShane then joked: “Is it too late to become an MEP?”

Farage insisted that he had not “pocketed” the money but had used the “very large sum of European taxpayers’ money” to help promote Ukip’s message that the UK should get out of the EU.

That is the main reason why I could never go gaga over Farage or UKIP.

Here is another. The Observer helpfully summarises what happened after the 2004 European elections and UKIP’s success. This was two years before Farage became party leader, incidentally:

… one of the dozen, Ashley Mote, was expelled from the party – and later jailed – for benefit fraud. Another, Tom Wise, is now facing prosecution for alleged false accounting and money laundering relating to his EU expenses. He denies the charges. Television presenter Robert Kilroy-Silk, who won the East Midlands for Ukip, later left to form another eurosceptic outfit, Veritas.

Kilroy-Silk, a former Labour MP prior to presenting his erstwhile morning current events show, did the right thing by leaving UKIP. He left Veritas in 2009, and the party was absorbed into the English Democrats in 2015.

Money aside — perhaps it is no coincidence the £ sign appears in the party logo — one then needs to look at what UKIP MEPs and councillors have said. Thejournal.ie has a round-up of some of their statements from 2004 to 2015. Several follow.

Godfrey Bloom (MEP who has since left the party) said in 2004 that a small business owner would have have to be a ‘lunatic’ to employ a woman of child-bearing age.

David Silvester (councillor, expelled from the party) said in January 2014 that the disastrous flooding in England was caused by the Coalition government’s decision to bring in same-sex marriage. He had also written to No. 10:

I wrote to David Cameron in April 2012 to warn him that disasters would accompany the passage of his same-sex marriage bill.

Janice Atkinson (MEP) described a self-employed UKIP-supporting Thai lady with British citizenship as a ‘ting-tong from somewhere’ in August 2014. ‘Ting-tong’ not only sounds bad, but in Thai it is a derogatory term denoting madness. Not surprisingly, the lady and her husband withdrew their UKIP membership.

Bill Etheridge (MEP) praised Hitler for his ‘forceful’ manner of oration. That was at a talk in November 2014 in the north of England.

Rozanne Duncan (councillor) said in a Channel 4 documentary in 2015 that she did not like ‘negroes’. She talked about it for three minutes.

UKIP supporters

During the general election campaign of 2015, UKIP supporters trolled in comments sections everywhere, most notably those of The Telegraph, The Guardian and The Spectator.

Those sites were deluged with the same cut-and-paste messages — many of them lengthy — from the same people day after day after day. Those people should have been banned, not for what they were saying but for the nauseating spamming of those sites.

While the overwhelming majority of UKIP voters and supporters are responsible, well-meaning people who are rightly concerned about the changes they have seen in their local areas over the past 15 years, there is a kernel of support from a handful of extremist-sympathisers. I have read many comments over the years from this tiny faction of UKIP supporters discussing their attendance at fringe/extremist marches.

Farage attempted to change party image

So far, there is something to be said for David Cameron’s referring to UKIP as ‘loonies, fruitcakes and closet racists’.

He said that in 2006 and again in the run-up to the 2015 election.

Fellow Conservative Michael Howard, Cameron’s predecessor, also labelled UKIP as ‘cranks and gadflies’ during his time as party leader.

Farage, who is married to a German, did his best to cleanse that image but with his MEPs and councillors saying silly and stupid things, the tarnish remained.

However, UKIP have gained strength in parts of the South East and the North in recent years among voters who have legitimate concerns.

Nigel Farage

Farage stood down as party leader within days of Brexit.

Leave voters thought he would stay on to police the triggering of Article 50 of the Treaty of Rome. However, that was not to be, for whatever reason.

The ironic thing about his abrupt resignation was that, just hours before he made the announcement, UKIP supporters were writing at length anticipating that Farage would not be getting a seat at the Brexit table. In summary (sarcasm alert): ‘Waaaah! The mean, nasty Tories will ignore our Nigel!’

Maybe that’s because Nigel didn’t want to play anymore.

He will, however, continue as an MEP in Brussels. Perhaps his attendance will improve. He shouldn’t forget who’s paying his salary: the taxpayers.

The future — a new party?

Personally, I really do hope UKIP sink like a stone.

The party was weird to begin with and never changed.

Businessman and entrepreneur Arron Banks has given much money and time to UKIP. He also gave £5.6 million to Leave.EU during the referendum campaign.

Banks told The Guardian that UKIP might be pruned back, but he seems to favour a brand new party in a Brexit era. Infinitely preferable, in my humble opinion.

“Ukip grew so rapidly it had problems with personnel and all sorts of issues and I believe that could be better tackled with a new party,” he said …

I think we have a good shot at taking over from Labour as the opposition because Labour are imploding and Labour voters for the first time ever have defied their party, voting for leave,” Banks said on Wednesday.

But he hinted Farage might not be his choice of leader for any new party, saying: “He may have had enough. And by the way, going out at the top is a good way in politics.”

Indeed. Banks should start afresh. He understands what is needed:

Banks has been credited with professionalising Ukip’s referendum push through the Leave.EU campaign. He deployed senior executives and staff from his insurance companies and hired the Washington DC political campaign strategy firm Goddard Gunster on a multimillion-pound fee to sharpen its message.

“It was taking an American-style media approach,” said Banks. “What they said early on was ‘facts don’t work’ and that’s it. The remain campaign featured fact, fact, fact, fact, fact. It just doesn’t work. You have got to connect with people emotionally. It’s the Trump success.”

Agreed.

I wish Arron Banks the best of luck in putting his project together.

2016 is a year of huge change. The spate of obituaries during the first three months of this year in the US, UK and France signalled the end of an era. More recently, we saw more change with Brexit. We now have a new, no-nonsense Prime Minister. We might well see a Trump victory in November.

Before the year is out, we might also see a new political party in Britain capturing the hearts and minds of many, particularly in England: a new party for a new era.

Boetie, I hope this responds adequately to your request. If not, please feel free to let me know.

The Republican National Convention held last week at the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio, was such a success that Democratic Governors Association (DGA) fired off the following email (excerpted below):

We’re PANICKED, Friends:

Nate Silver just confirmed that Donald Trump could be our next president – and polls show him within single digits in key swing states (Pennsylvania, Ohio, Florida) …

This is NOT good. If we lose these swing states, Donald Trump becomes president …

But, wait, Nate Silver always says Trump can’t win, right?

I wonder if the DGA are also concerned about Michael Moore’s interview last week during the convention wherein he says he thinks Trump ‘will win’, taking swing states like Michigan. Moore describes American voters’ reaction as ‘the Brexit effect’.

No pun intended, but Moore’s opinion has more weight than Silver’s analysis. Silver failed to predict the general election result in the UK in 2015 and, if I remember rightly, he and his at fivethirtyeight.com didn’t want to touch Brexit. Yet, Donald Trump called it correctly weeks beforehand.

After Trump’s acceptance speech at the convention, the Washington Examiner‘s Byron York interviewed several GOP delegates, all of whom said the Republican nominee knocked it out of the park. Among the reactions were:

“Awesome.”

“He rocked it.”

“I loved it — it was fabulous.”

“Wonderful — everything about law and order and the military — it was huge.”

“Oh my gosh, I was blown away.”

“Great — very presidential, actually.”

Meanwhile, left-wing critics from the media asked for signs.

A reporter from NBC — Lester Holt — practically demanded from Donald Trump Jr that Trump Sr show emotion:

Trump responded by assuring his interviewer that his father is indeed capable of crying. But Holt interjected again, and said, “I think we want to see it.”

Trump Jr. answered by explaining there is a time and place for emotion, and that his father doesn’t think now is that time.

If Holt had actually been paying attention to the numerous speeches and films from the convention, he would have heard specific instances of what a compassionate and caring person Trump is. Trump does a lot of individual charity work with families or couples with whom he’s met. It’s private. He doesn’t have to announce it. Nor should he. Imagine if he did. The Left — including types like Holt — would accuse him of boasting.

There’s no winning with these people.

Dems should be shaking in their boots. I watched nearly all the convention coverage that Right Side Broadcasting put out on YouTube, including the opening session on Day 1.

It was an organisational triumph, revelation of unity and beautifully done. GOP chairman Reince Priebus (pron. ‘Reintz Preebus’) can take a lot of credit for that, and I say that as someone who was not terribly fond of him during primary season. This was the most contentious Republican convention in many years.

The delegates may have arrived divided and not all applauded the pro-Trump speeches, but viewers at home saw more Republicans coming together in unity, day by day. They were happy. They were cheerful. They were getting to know Trump better through the variety of speeches given, and not just by him or his family.

The Hill has a post listing five successes of the GOP convention: lack of chaos outside, organisational strength as a party, Ted Cruz’s damp squib of a speech which failed to produce a mass exodus, a great address by Mike Pence and a final evening of inspiring talks and films, many of which pointed to past greatness in American history.

Trump is on his way.

It will be interesting to see how the Dems can top this in Philadelphia over the next few days.

Bible oldThe three-year Lectionary that many Catholics and Protestants hear in public worship gives us a great variety of Holy Scripture.

Yet, it doesn’t tell the whole story.

My series Forbidden Bible Verses — ones the Lectionary editors and their clergy omit — examines the passages we do not hear in church. These missing verses are also Essential Bible Verses, ones we should study with care and attention. Often, we find that they carry difficult messages and warnings.

Today’s reading is from the English Standard Version with commentary by Matthew Henry and John MacArthur.

Matthew 19:16-22

The Rich Young Man

16 And behold, a man came up to him, saying, “Teacher, what good deed must I do to have eternal life?” 17 And he said to him, “Why do you ask me about what is good? There is only one who is good. If you would enter life, keep the commandments.” 18 He said to him, “Which ones?” And Jesus said, “You shall not murder, You shall not commit adultery, You shall not steal, You shall not bear false witness, 19 Honor your father and mother, and, You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 20 The young man said to him, “All these I have kept. What do I still lack?” 21 Jesus said to him, “If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” 22 When the young man heard this he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.

——————————————————————————————–

Two other accounts of this story are in the Synoptic Gospels: Luke 18:18-23 and Mark 10:17-22. Mark’s version is in the three-year Lectionary.

I wrote about Luke’s in 2014 and looked at the differences in the three versions.

What can we deduce by ‘rich young man’? My post on Luke’s account says he was the leader of a synagogue because Luke used the Greek word arche to describe him.

Matthew Henry’s commentary says that Matthew’s words in the original manuscript imply that he is a magistrate, or justice of the peace. Henry also points out:

it is probable that he had abilities beyond his years, else his youth would have debarred him from the magistracy.

We are looking at a brilliant young man who is highly respected and comes from money.

He approaches Jesus — Mark says he ‘ran and knelt before’ Him — and asks what he must do to have eternal life (verse 16). The words he uses to address Jesus are of interest in the original manuscript. Henry explains (emphasis in the original):

He gives Christ an honourable title, Good MasterDidaskale agathe. It signifies not a ruling, but a teaching Master. His calling him Master, bespeaks his submissiveness, and willingness to be taught and good Master, his affection and peculiar respect to the Teacher, like that of Nicodemus, Thou art a Teacher come from God. We read not of any that addressed themselves to Christ more respectfully than that Master in Israel and this ruler.

John MacArthur has this (emphases mine):

Didaskolos, or master, or teacher. He acknowledges that He was a teacher of divine truth. Mark and Luke tell us he called Him “good.” It’s added here in the Authorized of Matthew, but it isn’t in the manuscripts of Matthew, but it is in Mark and Luke. And so he said, “good,” agathos. Kalos means good form, good on the outside; agathos means good on the inside, good inwardly, good morally, good in nature, good in essence. So he says I know that You are good. I know that You are a good person. I know that You’re moral. I know that You’re upright and I also know You teach and You teach divine truth. You perhaps know the secret of getting eternal life.

It is also noteworthy that the young man asked about eternal life. From that, we know he was not a Sadducee, who intellectualised theology and discounted the afterlife because it was irrational. He was more of a Pharisee in mindset, thinking of obedience to religious law and the next life.

Jesus responds initially to the way the young man’s addressed Him (verse 17). There was, He said, only One who is good, referring to God the Father. He is not revealing Himself as Christ Jesus here.

He then answers his question: obey the commandments and eternal life will follow.

The young man asks which commandments must be obeyed. Jesus mentions all those which concern the way we treat our fellow man and our parents (verses 18, 19): ‘you shall love your neighbour as yourself’.

The young man is certain he has maintained these all his life (verse 20), thereby setting himself up for a fall. Henry deduces the young man answered Jesus with a lack of respect:

By pride, and a vain conceit of his own merit and strength this is the ruin of thousands, who keep themselves miserable by fancying themselves happy. When Christ told him what commandments he must keep, he answered very scornfully

The manner of his response and its content indicate that he had no idea he was sinning in some way every day. He considered himself to be perfect.

For that reason, Jesus put him in his place by saying that if he would be perfect, he should sell his possessions and become a disciple (verse 21). Remember, Jesus is omniscient. He knew what the sticking point — the source of temptation — was here: materialism. Recall His earlier words (Matthew 6:24):

“No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.[a]

The young man perceived he had kept the commandments towards his fellow men. Jesus was saying, in essence, ‘Okay, now keep the commandments honouring God: sell your possessions and give yourself to His service’.

The man couldn’t do it, because he ‘went away sorrowful’ (verse 22). In my exposition on Luke’s passage, I cited MacArthur’s sermon which explained that he would have been expected to maintain whatever property and money he had for his descendants or other family members. It’s a tough choice.

Perhaps the better — and humble — question would have been, ‘What must I do to repent and have my sins forgiven?’

As it was, he gave up God for Mammon. Henry asks:

What then would the sorrow be afterward, when his possessions would be gone, and all hopes of eternal life gone too?

Does this mean that all of us have to give up our possessions in order to be true Christians? MacArthur says no. This was a specific reply to a specific person, not an overall commandment:

The Lord didn’t say that to other folks. But do you have to be willing to do whatever the Lord asks you to do? Yes. And it may be different in different cases. But the Lord put the finger on the issue here. He took us right back to the principle of Luke 14:33, the people who are My disciples are the people who forsake all. And He says to the guy, “Look, are you willing to do what I tell you? And right now I’m telling you to get rid of everything.” And He knew right where He was talking because He knew this was most important to the guy. For some people it might be a car. For some people it might be a girl. For some people it might be a job or a career or a certain sin they want to indulge in. For this guy, it was his money and his possessions.

MacArthur goes on to contrast the rich young man’s response to that of Zacchaeus, the vilified tax collector who climbed into a tree to get a better glimpse of Jesus. Zacchaeus was not wanting materially, either. Yet:

Zacchaeus stood and said to the Lord, “O behold, the half of my goods I give to the poor and if I’ve taken anything from any man by false accusation, I restore him fourfold.” You want to see the attitude of this guy? Boy, he knows he’s been doing wrong all the time and he says, “Oh, I’ve got to get my life right. I’ve got to get my life right. I’ve got to get it right. I’ve got to give everything back. And I’ve got to give all this stuff to the poor. And I’ve got to return to everybody four hundred percent.” This is the opposite, isn’t it? I mean, the guy want…the first thing he wanted to do was unload everything he had. And Jesus said, “This day is salvation come to this house, for he also is a son of Abraham.”

Here’s a true Jew. And, boy, this is real salvation. Why? Cause the guy can only think of what a sinner he is and he wants to unload all of the stuff that he’s taken unjustly from people and give them back, not only what they deserve but everything else he’s got. “For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which is lost.”

Our response to God’s requests says everything about us. May we, too, be able to release possessions, situations or relationships for His glory.

Next week’s reading continues this theme.

Next time: Matthew 19:23-30

The 2016 Tour de France is likely to be defined by Stage 12, which stopped just short of the iconic Mont Ventoux and saw Chris Froome running to the finish as he awaited a new bike.

Running up that hill

The intense crowds near the finish line caused a television motorbike to brake suddenly. Richie Porte (BMC Racing) slammed into it, followed by Froome (Team Sky) and Bauke Mollema (Trek-Segafredo). Then, a second motorbike ran into Froome, breaking the frame of his bike.

What do you do?

Mollema was able to get back on his and continue to the finish.

Froome decided to start running up the hill so he had less distance to cover when his replacement bike arrived. Running in bike shoes is not easy. The neutral service car arrived with the replacement bike, but Froome found it ill-fitting. He struggled and made it to the finish in 25th place.

Thomas de Gendt (Lotto Soudal) won the stage with Serge Pauwels (Dimension Data) coming in two seconds later, followed by Daniel Navarro Garcia (Cofidis).

Deliberation took place afterwards about the riders in the general classification, Froome having been leader for most of the Tour. The Telegraph explained this dramatic Bastille Day stage, soon to be overshadowed by the terrorist attack in Nice later that evening:

Froome lost around a minute and a half on the road and slipped to sixth on the provisional general classification, 53 seconds behind fellow Briton Adam Yates, before the race jury intervened.

They ruled that Porte and Froome should receive the same time as Mollema after the Dutchman got back on his bike and stayed clear of the chasing rivals.

A grateful Froome said:

Ventoux is full of surprises. With about 1.2km to go, the motorbike slammed on its brakes – the road was blocked in front – the three of us just ran into the motorbike and another motorbike ploughed into me, breaking my frame. I just started running. I knew the car was stuck and was five minutes behind.

I think it was a fair decision, and I want to thank the jury and the organisation. It was the right decision.

We agree, although millions of Frenchmen would not.

Froome has received bad press for the second year running, certainly in Le Monde‘s En Danseuse blog, which has also commented on the dominance of ‘Anglo-Saxon’ (English-speaking) riders in the top of the GC and stage wins.

Incidentally, Bernard Hinault was the last Frenchman to win a Tour. That was in … 1985.

The French do not say anything critical about Peter Sagan’s (Tinkoff) dominance of the green jersey for the points competition, however. And not a peep about Alberto Contador (Tinkoff), previously banned for doping, who had to drop out part way through this year’s Tour because of a crash.

Froome rightly

questioned why he faces more scrutiny that other previous Grand Tour winners.

“I wouldn’t say they need more scrutiny but I’ve got to admit it’s frustrating to an extent that if you look at last five Grand Tour winners, there’s not the same outcry for data and numbers. We didn’t see it with Contador, we didn’t see the same level of questioning. I don’t really understand why it seems to be such a hot topic in the Tour de France because I won a mountain stage (to La Pierre-Saint-Martin in the Pyrenees) by 59 seconds. It just seems strange to me.”

Agreed.

Another first — collapsing flamme rouge

As riders were approaching the finish line of Stage 7, the inflatable flamme rouge collapsed.

In addition with a rider running up a hill, this was another first. For years, I’ve been wondering when one of the flammes would collapse. Cycling News has the full story and photos of the incident.

A spectator caught his belt on one of the cables keeping the flamme upright.

Britain’s Adam Yates (Orica-BikeExchange) took the brunt of the collapse. He required four stitches on his chin and sustained other cuts as well as bruises.

Best wishes to Adam for the remainder of the Tour. This is his first one and he has been wearing the Best Young Rider shirt for several stages now. As I write, he is also third in the general classification!

Mark Cavendish

The Isle of Man’s Mark Cavendish (Dimension Data) continued to dazzle, taking four stage wins this year before he left the race to prepare for the Rio Olympics.

His 30 stage wins put him second between two Tour de France legends — Eddy Merckx with 34 and Bernard Hinault with 28.

Hinault was at the podium presentations every day. One couldn’t help but wonder what Hinault thought of Cav’s surpassing him.

Team Sky

ITV4 has been fortunate in being able to interview Sir Dave Brailsford of Team Sky a few times during the Tour this year.

He said that Froome was not only an amazing rider but also a well-balanced individual. Although Froome is highly competitive, he takes a measured approach to each stage.

In one of the ITV4 interviews, Brailsford said that the team are coached to remain calm: never do anything out of emotion. Those are wise words all of us should consider.

Brailsford said that team members are carefully evaluated and continually coached so that they can deliver the best for themselves and the team. Each rider’s talents are considered as to where they can best be placed.

It sounds obvious, but careful, cautious initial planning yields better and more consistent results than chopping and changing every so often.

Team Sky are a smooth running machine. Long may it continue.

More ‘Anglo-Saxon’ inspiration

Although the French are livid at the ‘Anglo-Saxon’ mastery of cycling on their home territory, the coach of the England Rugby team, Eddie Jones, spent Stage 9 in the Orica-BikeExchange’s team car in order to study their strategy.

Jones was also interested in the riders’ preparation and recovery.

Stage 9 took place in the Pyrenees, which riders either love or hate. Even Mark Cavendish said this year that he ‘hates the Pyrenees’.

Jones hopes to take lessons back to the rugbymen. The Express had the story (emphases mine):

The 56-year-old, who has won nine out of nine with England, is still not satisfied after their 3-0 series win over Australia and reckons his side can learn a lot from the cyclists.

Jones, who was at Lord’s with the England cricketers yesterday, said: “It was just the professionalism of the preparation, really good individually before the ride, during the ride the information that each rider gets and post the ride the debriefing they did.

“Also the way that they set up, the preparation, it just shows that we’ve done some good things in rugby but there’s still a long way to go.

“There is almost a race behind the bike race as the cars with the head coaches drive behind the bikes giving instructions and water. It’s quite incredible – just the toughness of the riders and what they do.

“They’ve done that nine days in a row and they were talking about their recovery, so they had recovery Monday and they’ll ride for an hour and half to recover. That’s professional.”

Jones is right. Tour de France riders are indeed incredible. I’ve been watching ITV4’s live afternoon coverage in earnest for several years and have been more amazed with each passing Tour. This truly is the king of endurance sports.

Stamina also needed for publicity staff

Just as much stamina is often needed for drivers of publicity vehicles as well as the staff.

I wrote about the sausage and snacks company Cochonou in 2014. Just as riders making the Tour find it a coveted position, so do those hired to work for this company — and others — in handing out free goodies to spectators. My 2014 post described what Cochonou looks for in staff. It’s not an easy brief to fulfil nearly every day for three weeks’ running. You have to be smiling and cheerful even with the most obnoxious customers, even when they spit or urinate on you. Yes, it happens.

Being an official sponsor of the Tour de France benefits them enormously. In fact, it is ‘indispensable’.

Thanks to their Twitter feed, we can see what the company’s publicity caravan was up to on July 14 in a film from La Provence newspaper:

Teisseire is another official sponsor. They make fruit flavoured syrups and ready mixed juice drinks.

They began recruiting for the Tour in February. Their exacting and demanding brief for staff is very much the same as Cochonou’s.

Teisseire’s distribution staff must represent the company properly at all times, including when they are off-duty. Other characteristics which must be exhibited at all times are conviviality, good humour, participation in a close-knit group, proactivity and, of course, smiling. The same is expected of vehicle drivers, who must also keep the vehicles immaculately clean at all times.

It all sounds quite exhausting.

Here’s a short video of Teisseire‘s publicity parade:

Tour de France vocabulary

This year, it seems that the official Tour handbook given to journalists and broadcasters is covering a lot of rider vocabulary.

A new term comes out every day or so and previous ones are reinforced when appropriate on subsequent stages.

As the Tour does not end until Sunday, July 24 in Paris, it is possible that one or more of the following might be heard in commentary:

allumer la chaudière (to light the furnace): be on performance-related dope

descendre comme un fer à repasser (to descend like a clothes iron): to have a not-so-smooth, hesitant or rough descent

être en chasse-patate (to be in a potato chase): idiom for expending a lot of energy on nothing, as a rider does when caught between two groups hoping to reach the one in front and can’t

saler la soupe (to salt the soup): be on performance-related dope

sprinter comme un fer à repasser (to sprint like a clothes iron): to have a less-than-smooth or hesitant sprint

Abelard’s France Zone has many more — including English, Spanish and Italian cycling expressions.

The yellow jersey lion

And finally, in case anyone is wondering if they can order a yellow jersey lion online: no, they cannot.

Those lions are only for the rider in the yellow jersey. Chris Froome is building up quite a collection.

The lions are part of the LCL — Le Crédit Lyonnais — yellow jersey sponsorship agreement which began in 1987, although the bank has been a commercial partner of the Tour since 1981.

Although Lyon’s name in Latin was Lugdunum, implying no connection with a lion, the king of the jungle has been on the city’s crest for centuries and might have had some bearing on the later name of Lyon.

Sports magazine Outside explains the reason for the toy, which the bank has been providing the Tour since 1987:

the lion was actually the mascot of longtime Tour de France title sponsor Crédit Lyonnais.

‘Was’. Outside notes that it no longer is because LCL considered it ‘too aggressive’ a symbol. Executives discussed whether to discontinue the toy lions but decided not to, fortunately.

The lion supply is closely guarded on the Tour.

As LCL’s sponsorship continues to 2018, they will be around for a few more years.

Thanks, ITV4

In closing, millions of Britons would like to thank ITV4 for another year of fine coverage and commentary.

The live coverage has been a joy to watch once again, especially the extended time at the weekends.

David Millar’s commentary has also provided viewers with new, updated information. He knows many of the riders and understands the strategies, augmented by team radios and the latest bike technology.

Jens Voigt’s Tour insight has also been a treat. He sees a few stages ahead and his predictions are bang on the money.

We’ll be sorry to see it come to a close on Sunday. The riders, on the other hand, will be relieved!

On Tuesday, July 19, temperatures in much of England were between 88° and 92° F.

It was, by far, the best day of the year. Full sunshine made it a perfect opportunity for me to soak up some rays whilst doing the gardening.

Just a few days ago, I was wearing a cashmere sweater, a daily item of clothing this year. Despite warnings about global warming, this has been one of Britain’s coolest summers in more than a quarter of a century.

Nonetheless, the country went into hysterics over one day of hot weather. There was even a melée in Hyde Park, possibly exacerbated by the heat.

I am aghast at the number of articles in the media saying the UK is experiencing one of the hottest summers ever. I’m bundled up most of the time. We had the heat on during the first week of June. If the mercury reaches 70°F, it’s a blessing. It’s usually cool, cloudy and breezy. Piers Corbyn’s WeatherAction readers agree on June — and July. Corbyn, incidentally, predicted a cool summer.

Enough hysteria. It’s summer. It should be hot now and then. Even in England.

It has been just under four weeks since the UK voted to leave the EU.

Theresa May has been our PM for one week.

She has done quite a lot of housecleaning in that time with many new appointments to the Cabinet, making it her own, and has created a department for Brexit.

It is unfortunate that the Nice attack took away our initial enjoyment of May’s premiership. I have much to write on her appointment and the lady herself.

For now, a few brief observations follow.

The Conservative Party — best for women

The Conservative Party is the best political party for women in Britain.

Within 26 years, they have given us two female Prime Ministers, redoubtable women both.

By contrast, the right-on, progressive Labour Party has never had a female leader.

Around the time May was entering Downing Street last week, Angela Eagle — a contender for Labour leadership — said that it was high time they had a woman at the top. What Ms Eagle misses is that the Conservatives chose Margaret Thatcher and Theresa May not because of their gender but because of their competence.

I remember watching Andrew Neil’s Sunday Politics (BBC) in 2015 prior to the general election. Several Labour women MPs told Neil week after week that the Conservatives should have more women in Cabinet.

Ho hum. Which party has two female Prime Ministers? The Conservative Party. Which party just happened to have an all-women shortlist for party leadership with Theresa May and Andrea Leadsom just ten days ago? The Conservative Party.

Enough said.

First PMQs an absolute blinder

On Wednesday, July 20, Theresa May held her first Prime Minister’s Questions in the House of Commons.

She played an absolute blinder; she was confident, competent and concise. She answered every question with historical data and/or departmental updates. She took questions on housing, Brexit, ‘honour’ killings and the NHS, to mention a few.

Afterwards, I watched Daily Politics (BBC2) with Jo Coburn and her panel, most of whom, like Coburn herself, are very much left-of-centre. All said that May did very well indeed. Veteran reporter John Pienaar said she was much better than Margaret Thatcher in her early days of PMQs.

Meeting Merkel

May will be travelling to Berlin on July 20 to meet with Angela Merkel over a working dinner. (I will have an update in a subsequent post.)

Brexit is likely to dominate the dinner discussions. Terrorism and the recent attempted Turkish coup are also probable topics.

This is an historic occasion, as both Britain and Germany have female leaders at the same time.

The two seem similar in several respects: both their fathers were clergymen, neither has children, both have a penchant for improving society and they have strong personalities.

Expect mutual respect and honest discussions. It will be interesting to see if, once she meets May, Merkel is willing to engage in some sort of negotiations prior to our invoking Article 50 of the Treaty of Rome.

May will be meeting with France’s François Hollande on July 21. Calais and terrorism are sure to be on the agenda along with Brexit.

Brexit

On July 19, May held her first Cabinet meeting.

She reiterated her commitment to Brexit and will personally oversee that new department as well as those for the economy and social reform.

May has wisely appointed three Leavers to key positions involving Britain’s future outside the EU. Longtime MP David Davis is in charge of the Brexit unit as the Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union. Boris Johnson, MP and former two-term Mayor of London, is Secretary of State for Foreign and International Affairs. Liam Fox is the Secretary of State for International Trade.

Keeping a close eye on Brexit, the economy and social reform ties together May’s overall agenda for her administration:

we will not allow the country to be defined by Brexit; but instead build the education, skills, and social mobility to allow everyone to prosper from the opportunities of leaving the EU.

I hope she continues to make progress in these areas. I’m beginning to like her a lot.

Anyone who has watched a Red Sox game at Boston’s legendary Fenway Park will have seen the iconic Citgo sign in the background.

It’s particularly thrilling when someone hits a home run and, as the ball nears the sign, fans yell out ‘See it go!’

The sign is on a building belonging to Boston University. The university intends to sell that property, potentially leaving the sign in limbo.

New owners might take it down or have it moved elsewhere. Despite efforts in 1983, Citgo sign fans have been unable to persuade the Boston Landmarks Commission to grant it landmark status, thereby protecting and ensuring its future.

A petition to grant preservation status now has more than 5,000 signatures. That healthy response has resulted in the Boston Landmarks Commission to vote unanimously to examine the possibility of granting it landmark status. On July 14, 2016, the Boston Preservation Alliance explained:

This is just the first step to designating the sign an official Boston Landmark. Within a few months, another vote by the Landmarks Commission is required, and the Mayor and City Council will need to approve official designation.

You can read more at the Alliance’s website and find out more about this American icon.

Never mind that Citgo has been owned by Venezuela’s PDVSA — specifically, PDV America, Inc. — for many years. Citgo started life as Cities Service Company in 1910. It was a highly successful corporation that supplied gas and electricity to small public utilities, furnished 100-octane aviation gasoline to bomber jets in England during the Second World War and had many petrol stations across America. The photo at right shows one of them. The sign was a trefoil shape, white with green trim and lettering.

PDVSA did not enter the picture until 1986, with a 50% share in the company, by which time Cities Service had been rebranded as Citgo. In 1990, the Venezuelan state oil company took full ownership through its American subsidiary.

Returning to Boston and the topic at hand, millions of us around the world hope that the Boston Landmarks Commission, the City Council and the Mayor ensure that the Citgo sign remains in situ for many generations to come.

Photo credits: Wikipedia

Readers of mine and admirers of Lleweton will enjoy this guest post from him about Fleet Street, which, until the 1990s, had been Britain’s journalistic home for nearly 300 years.

Llew has written guest posts before about Fleet Street and newspaper work:

Fleet Street, a lost Bohemia

Fleet Street’s cut and paste diplomacy

Llew’s post today concerns in part the controversial ‘Rivers of Blood’ speech by the well-known Conservative MP Enoch Powell. Powell was an erudite man and devoted MP. He was steeped in the Classics, having learned Greek and Latin in his childhood. He became a full professor of Greek at the age of 25. He also served his country during the Second World War, attaining the rank of brigadier. As he achieved so much during his lifetime, suffice it to say that Powell was a polymath.

Enoch Powell 6 Allan Warren.jpgPowell (pictured at left) hoped that, when he gave his ‘Rivers of Blood’ speech in 1968, it would open up an honest nationwide discussion about immigration and integration, both of which concerned his Wolverhampton South West constituents in the Midlands. Like them, he believed that rapid immigration was harming integration into English society.

The title alludes to a line from Virgil’s Aeneid. Powell wrote:

As I look ahead, I am filled with foreboding; like the Roman, I seem to see ‘the River Tiber foaming with much blood.’

It has been said that Powell used that line only as an expression of foreboding, not as a prediction of conflict.

He sent out advance copies of the speech so that it would not be ignored. Certain Conservative MPs, including future Prime Ministers Ted Heath (party chairman at the time) and Margaret Thatcher, criticised Powell’s speech. Whilst the British public thought Powell had said nothing untoward, the elites were damning.

Powell gave the speech just three days before the second reading of the Race Relations Bill in the House of Commons. Heath had sacked Powell from his shadow Cabinet position two days before the reading.

The speech is still controversial today as is Powell himself. Both are taboo subjects.

Powell left the Conservative Party for the Ulster Unionist Party and served as an MP for South Down from 1974 to 1987. He died in London in February 1998.

Someone who knew Powell wrote a long article about him for The Telegraph in November 1998. The author seems to have been a politician, but the archive post has no byline. In any event, this person wrote:

As I have noted, Enoch was no racist, but he was a nationalist in the best sense of the term – that is, a British patriot who also acknowledged and respected other nationhoods. This was surely why he understood so clearly and so early the European Common Market’s true nature and purpose. Like me, he had originally favoured EEC membership because of the benefits of opening up European markets to British trade. But in the late 1960s he changed his mind and started to emphasise the incompatibility between the root assumptions of the Treaty of Rome and British legal and national sovereignty.

Now onto Llew’s guest post, which touches on Powell’s speech and, briefly, the EU Referendum. It also includes an overview of classic journalism. Enjoy!

————————————————————————————————–

The perils of copytasting

So much of the current political/moral climate brings back memories.

I don’t think I need to stress that I deplore racial hatred and discrimination. But one thing that I think links 1968 and now is that the working class world, under a Labour Government then, felt that its worries were not recognised or taken seriously and were even despised. We have seen that same sentiment recently in reaction to Brexit.

Because many Britons did not think the Labour Government was interested in their concerns, the Tories won the 1970 General Election. I remember winning a pint from a very left-wing Revise Sub-Editor for predicting that result. (Ironically, we got Ted Heath who took us into the EU!)

In April 1968 I was working as a Night Sub Editor at the Press Association (PA), similar to America’s Associated Press (AP), when Enoch Powell sent in an embargoed copy of his controversial ‘Rivers of Blood’ speech. That was during the Easter Recess that year. Easter fell on April 14.  Powell gave the speech on April 20.

The question that evening involved how much of the speech to print in the morning edition. Was it a minor story or a major one?

Determining what news runs in newspapers involves a process called copytasting. Editors and sub-editors – subs — decide what stories get covered and at what length.

I’ve done plenty of copytasting in my time. It’s always a gamble. I remember once we spiked a Ministry of Defence story about a new warship.  It was a rehash of an old announcement.  The MoD press officer, a former colleague, confirmed that. Then the Daily Telegraph led with the story the next day and we caught a rocket for not using it.

In my day the pecking order in a subs’ room at a daily newspaper or agency such as the PA, Daily Telegraph and the Leicester Mercury was:

Day or Night Editor

Deputy  “  “  “ (sometimes)

Chief Sub Editor

Copytaster

Those were Top Table positions. Also involved often would be a senior sub-editor known as the Splash Sub. Then there were the Down Table subs.

This is how the process worked.

The original copy first went from the reporter to the copytaster, who decided whether to use it, how much and marked it up.

He handed the copy to the Chief Sub who sometimes made more assessments.

Then the copy went to a Down Table Sub who followed the instructions, looked out for pitfalls, cuts, checks, etc. In my day this often involved complete rewrites.

The Down Table then passed his work to the Revise Sub–Editor, a Top Table sub, who checked through and could make more amendments before handing the copy to the printers.

When computers came in this was still the process, but it was done on the machine.

It may all be very different now.

With regard to the ‘Rivers of Blood’ speech, I did not witness the exchange but was told that evening that the then Night Editor had looked at it and told the Night Chief sub to cut it to 300 words. I presume because of the nature of the Powell piece the Chief Sub involved the Night Editor from the start. The Chief Sub, a tough Glaswegian veteran of the Scottish Daily Express, insisted: ‘We’re using it in full.’ He won that argument.

It was the Night Editor who wanted to use 300 words and the Night Chief Sub who said every word should be used.  The default position of all subs in those days was to try to keep things as short as possible, within the confines of fairness.

I think, essentially the Night Editor, for whatever reason, didn’t pick up the seriousness of the Powell speech. It didn’t miss the awareness of the old sweat from the Scottish Daily Express. Real judgement. There were reports among my colleagues that evening that they had quite a row about it.

The subs had an ironic joke about their seniors on the Top Table or the ‘back bench’ paraphrasing their instructions as ‘Cut it to the bone and let the good stuff run’. The virtue of the system was – and I hope still is – that we reported events without slant, political or any other. In those days we also did frequent updates and summaries of running stories – and no computer copy and paste function. We were also, broadly speaking, an agency of record: Law Courts, criminal cases, both Chambers of Parliament, all sports, including horse racing, etc. etc. Output was enormous.

The PA, like the AP, Reuters and the AFP, served outlets all over the country and, via the foreign agencies, the world – from regional newspapers like the Falmouth Packet and the Southport Visiter (sic) to the national UK and Irish newspapers as well as the broadcasters – all via teleprinter and, in some cases, ‘train parcels’. Yes, really.

I often attended the early morning Holy Communion at St Bride’s when not working at Westminster. The vicar was the much admired Canon John Oates, who arrived in 1984. He helped to smooth the waters at a time when Fleet Street was undergoing dramatic change.

No. 85 Fleet Street was the HQ of PA and Reuters then. Metro International, publishers of the free newspaper Metro, are there now. Reuters moved to Canary Wharf along with some of the national newspapers, the Murdoch titles and the Telegraph. The PA stayed in central London, relocating to Vauxhall Bridge Road, not far from Victoria Station.

I started in local newspapers before that time. I think that is where my heart is still. To sell papers we needed to report what went on in the town or county. People loved reading about their community. I’ve many good memories of calling on vicars and pub landlords and eating cheese ‘cobs’ with parish councillors in their local pubs and Women’s Institute (WI) ladies, gathering their news and editing the reports they sent in on my own WI page.

The job involved day and evening coverage. If there was something to report, we went to it. And reported it. Yes, there was a romance about the job. Reporters are not funded, or allowed, to do that now.  I know that from my battles with the local press as a former volunteer press officer for a charity here. Not that I recall being paid overtime for my trips out of office hours. Four shillings for a lunch – around £5 today — with a contact was the max. It was not a lot.

Free newspapers, based on ad income, have been the ruin of truly local newspapers. It’s a great loss to community cohesion that this sort of coverage doesn’t happen anymore. Online local news does help keep the parish pump flowing but, to me, it’s not the same because it is only seen by initiates.

Times change. Newspapers change. Fleet Street, in journalistic terms, is a shadow of its former self. Only D.C. Thomson & Co., Metro International and the AP are there now. Modern computerised printing plants were built to the east of London in Wapping, hence the transfer of newspapers to Canary Wharf. The widespread use of the Internet has seen newspaper circulation decline. Most people receive their news online for free.

Looking back, I am pleased to have been part of local journalism and Fleet Street in their heyday. Despite the hectic pace – often there were days when stories and names blurred past because of the breakneck speed — those are memories to be treasured.

Charles Haddon Spurgeon by Alexander Melville.jpgContinuing an occasional series on quotes from the Reformed Baptist preacher, Charles Haddon Spurgeon, today’s post concerns his views on growing old.

Previous entries addressed ambition, eternity and unity.

Numbers following the quotes refer to the relevant sermon.

Spurgeon gives hope to those of us who see twentysomethings and think they look like 12-year-olds. That’s my criterion for old age!

Without further ado, here is wisdom from the man known as the Prince of Preachers, with much more at the aforementioned link. Emphases mine below:

It is a crime to permit our fires to burn low while experience yields us more and more abundant fuel. AM191

From the altar of age the flashes of the fire of youth are gone, but the more real flame of earnest feeling remains. ME556

O you of forty, fifty, or sixty, what a world of mischief there is in you that will have to come out. 1248.455

Many of God’s aged servants who have been spared to advanced years, have come to look out for the setting of earth’s sun without a fear of darkness. While they have seemed to have one foot in the grave, they have really had one foot in heaven. 1922.537

Old men sometimes arrive at a second childhood. Do not be afraid, brother, if that is your case; you have gone through one period already that was more infantile than your second one can be, you will not be weaker then than you were at first. 2457.137

In the case of some old people, who have been professors of religion for years, but who have done next to nothing for Christ, I find it very difficult ever to stir them up at all. 2618.183

I always find that the older saints become more Calvinistic as they ripen in age; that is to say, they get to believe more and more that salvation is all of grace; and whereas, at first, they might have had some rather loose ideas concerning free-will, and the power of the creature, the lapse of years and fuller experience gradually blow all that kind of chaff away. 2991.287

When somebody said to a Christian minister, “I suppose you are on the wrong side of fifty?” “No,” he said, “thank God, I am on the right side of fifty, for I am sixty, and am therefore nearer heaven.” Old age should never be looked upon with dismay by us; it should be our joy. 3183.72

What a positive way for us oldies to start the week!

Age aside, may all my readers enjoy a blessed day!

Bible boy_reading_bibleThe three-year Lectionary that many Catholics and Protestants hear in public worship gives us a great variety of Holy Scripture.

Yet, it doesn’t tell the whole story.

My series Forbidden Bible Verses — ones the Lectionary editors and their clergy omit — examines the passages we do not hear in church. These missing verses are also Essential Bible Verses, ones we should study with care and attention. Often, we find that they carry difficult messages and warnings.

Today’s reading is from the English Standard Version with commentary by Matthew Henry and John MacArthur.

Matthew 19:13-15

Let the Children Come to Me

13 Then children were brought to him that he might lay his hands on them and pray. The disciples rebuked the people, 14 but Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.” 15 And he laid his hands on them and went away.

——————————————————————————————–

This event has two parallel accounts: Mark 10:13-16 and Luke 18:15-17. I wrote about Mark’s in 2012 and Luke’s in 2014.

Odd, isn’t it, that none of these readings is in the three-year Lectionary used in public worship?

Surely, the future of the Church lies in parents, guardians and other responsible adults bringing children to Christ.

The word ‘then’ in verse 13 implies that our Lord’s blessing of children took place in the house where He had delivered His teaching on marriage and divorce to the disciples. Mark’s account makes this clearer (Mark 10:13):

And they were bringing children to him that he might touch them, and the disciples rebuked them.

Therefore, it would appear that this followed soon afterwards, particularly if the disciples were trying to shoo people away.

The ancient Jewish tradition of blessing children arose from Jacob‘s — Israel’s — blessing of Joseph’s sons near the end of his life (Genesis 48:8-10):

When Israel saw Joseph’s sons, he said, “Who are these?” Joseph said to his father, “They are my sons, whom God has given me here.” And he said, “Bring them to me, please, that I may bless them.” 10 Now the eyes of Israel were dim with age, so that he could not see. So Joseph brought them near him, and he kissed them and embraced them.

The Jews of Jesus’s time carried on this beautiful tradition. As Jesus’s teachings and miracles were well known far and wide, especially at this point in His ministry, it was only natural that adults would seek His blessing of the children in their care. This was so that these children would lead a godly life. This tradition continues in the Christian faith. Matthew Henry explains:

If they cannot stretch out their hands to Christ, yet he can lay his hands on them, and so make them his own, and own them for his own.

Jesus rebuked the disciples for rebuking the adults with these children. He told them two things (verse 14): let the children come to Him and do not hinder them. John MacArthur analyses this for us (emphases mine):

Interesting that He uses two verbs and there’s a reasonThe first one is in the aorist tense, point action, permit right now this moment, let them come.  And then “forbid them not” is present tense.  And what He’s saying is right now let these come and from now on don’t ever make it a practice to stop them from coming.  So He takes care of the present and the future. 

MacArthur says that these children were probably infants, even though Matthew’s manuscript used the generic Greek word for children, paedia:

But if we were to compare the other passages and go to Mark, we would find that he uses the term brephos.  And so, whereas Matthew just generally says little children, Mark tells us how little, brephos, and that word means a suckling, a nursing baby, an infant.  They were bringing in their arms their infants.  And we know they must have been infants by our Lord’s response because the Bible says in Mark that He took them in His arms and blessed them.  They were bringing babies to Jesus.  They wanted Him to pray for them with His unique divine power, with His unique proximity to God, they felt, they wanted His prayers on the behalf of their little ones.

Jesus blessed these little ones — laid hands on them — and left afterwards (verse 15). Henry explains:

As if he reckoned he had done enough there, when he had thus asserted the rights of the lambs of his flock, and made this provision for a succession of subjects in his kingdom.

MacArthur tells us why Jesus was so angry with the disciples:

He was furious with them.  Only two or three times He really got mad at them.  Frustrated with them a lot, disappointed a lot, but really angry, just a few times.  This is one of them.  And the only time that particular word of indignation is used of Jesus in reference to them.  But He was very angry with them for trying to stop these parents from bringing their children …

Reason number one, He loved babies.  He loved them.  And He knew they were a creation of God, a creation of His.  And He felt a tender affection for them. And He felt a sympathy for them for the world in which they were born.  And it seemed, of course, that the disciples were utterly deficient in such an attitude.

Secondly, I think He is angry with them because He also loved adults and He knew full well that if you say no to people’s children, you’re going to have a tough time getting their attention.  Politicians learned that long ago.  I mean, He knew the first and foremost way to a parent’s heart was through their baby and He wanted to demonstrate the genuineness of His tender love and care for the little ones.

Thirdly, I think He was angry with them because no one is outside the care and plan and love of God, not even a baby.  No one is outside the concern of God, not a baby.  No one ever coming to Jesus Christ intrudes on Him.

Fourthly, I think He was angry because children provided Him a tremendous picture, a tremendous illustration, a tremendous analogy for salvation.  And He took advantage of it every time He could.

Fifthly, I think He was angry with them because He needed to set them straight about something.  And that something was this, you don’t ever say who can or cannot come to Christ.  That’s not within your prerogative.  If you follow the life of Christ, you will find that He refused some people they brought and He sought some people they rejected.  And it is a lesson of who’s in charge, again.  And so, He really was eliminating their misunderstanding, their lack of concern for little ones.

Note that Jesus told the disciples that the kingdom of heaven belongs to little children (verse 14). It belongs to them and to believers who have their innocence of the world and dependence on God the Father. If that sounds familiar, it is because Matthew recorded it in the previous chapter (Matthew 18:1-4), verses which I covered in May 2016.

Parents and people in charge of children close to them — family friends, aunts and uncles, grandparents — do well to begin religious instruction of some sort from an early age. My mother taught me how to pray by the time I was three years old. The sooner adults begin, the sooner the child begins to know Jesus Christ and God the Father. Furthermore, the sooner that begins the longer that journey in faith progresses and continues.

MacArthur gives us the following advice about children:

if God made them and God gave them and God gave them to be a blessing, then God wants them “returned” to Him for His use.  And that is why Proverbs 22:6 says, “Train up a child in the way he should go and when he’s old he won’t depart from it.”  That’s why Ephesians 6:4 very clearly says, “Bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.”  Because the task that you have is to give your children back to God, that’s your stewardship.  So remember, where they came from, and to where they are to return.

Go back to the Pentateuch, I’m thinking of Deuteronomy 6 for a minute.  Let me give you just a look at a pattern that you need to understand if you’re going to effectively teach children.  We must remember whose they are, where they came from and where they’re to return and we must teach them…we must teach them.  And here is how.  I believe God gave this to Moses in the very beginning with His people because it’s so basic, it hasn’t changed, the principles are here.  Verse 4, “Hear O Israel, the Lord our God is one Lord.”  In other words, if you’re going to teach your children, it all begins with you worshiping the right God in the right way.   No idols.  You cannot teach them unless you commit yourself to the true religion.

Secondly, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, with all thy soul, with all thy might, these words which I command thee this day shall be in thine heart.”  What does that mean?  That means internalize what you believe about God.  Not only have the right theology, but the right heart.  You’ve got to commit to your children not only truth but truth in an uncompromising heart of conviction, truth in a pure heart, truth in a holy life so that you see God in everything.  You love Him with your heart, your mind, your soul, your power, everything.  If you’re going to teach your children, you’ve got to have the right God and the right faith and it’s got to come right out of your heart.  It has to be internal with you, not just external.

And then verse 7, I love this, “Teach them diligently unto thy children and shall talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, when thou walkest by the way, when thou liest down and when thou risest up.”  What does that say?  That simply says that you have to teach from life situations.  You have the right faith in God, you’ve internalized it, your heart is filled with love, your passion is toward God, you love Him with your heart, mind and strength and now out of every vicissitude, every trial, every struggle, every moment of life, you teach the truth of God….when you stand up, sit down, walk in the way, lie down, every time you’ve got an opportunity.  It isn’t enough to sit down with your kids and read them a Bible story and then go on and live a worldly life the rest of the day.  You’ve got to draw God into every analogy, into every aspect of life.  They have to see the Lord in everything.  All of life becomes a blackboard in which you teach the truth of God.  And it’s unending, unceasing, constant.  Teach it diligently all the time, sitting down, walking, lying down, rising up so that it’s the flow of life.

Bedtime Bible stories, a religious bedroom wall plaque, simple prayers for toddlers, the Lord’s Prayer by the time the child starts nursery school, conversations about God’s creation when looking at plants or animals, saying Grace before meals in thanksgiving of His provisions are just a few ways parents, families and other guardians can convey the reality of divine truth.

Don’t wait for Sunday School or Christian school teachers to do it. Start with yourselves — today. Teaching a child about God’s love for him or her will be more effective than their hearing it from someone they see once a week for an hour. Patience, faith and a pure heart will benefit children enormously in their religious journey.

Next time: Matthew 19:16-22

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