Tuesday, 29 December 2009

My Early Life

The above shots were taken at Hampton Court, a wonderful Tudor castle just to the west of London. One of the shots is of my wife, Meg, my daughter Ruth, and my grandson, Charlie. The other one gives some idea of the glorious borders and shrubberies that abound there.
I have taken this opportunity to write something about myself, starting with my family background. If readers find my efforts interesting, and not too egotistical, I shall add other extracts, including my memory of the war years and my periods of evacuation.

I was born in the East End of London on 30th December, 1935. The address was 220 Brunswick Road, Poplar, a road that has been demolished to make way for an extension to the Blackwall Tunnel. Both my parents were East Enders born and bred, as were all of my family for several generations back. In fact, they all seem to have come from a fairly small area of Limehouse. This area was bounded by the Mile End Road to the north and by Burdett Road to the east. To the south were the docks and the Limehouse Basin. According to the researches of Charles Booth it contained streets that were among the poorest in London. It was known locally as Limehouse Fields

Dr. Barnardo, who had opened mission schools in nearby Copperfield Street in 1877, wrote a few years later concerning this depressed area, that it was a “thickly populated region covered with houses containing three or four rooms each, many of them with ceilings so low that an adult of full stature can hardly enter them without stooping. The streets are narrow with numerous side courts, alleys and squares. The population is largely a riverside one, but it includes many hawkers, costermongers, fish-curers…..and such like.” The children who attended the schools were the poorest of the poor. “They know what it is to have no fire in the grate and no bread in the cupboard; and we find in many cases that food is more essential to the boys and girls than education."

At that time my father was working at the Lloyd Loom factory, or Lusty’s as it was known in the area, making cane furniture. He seemed to have enjoyed the job, perhaps the only job he ever enjoyed throughout his working life. Before marriage my mother worked at the Black Cat, a building that made a brand of cigarettes that were popular at the time, Craven A. She was a hard worker, with deft and skilful fingers that could pack an enormous number of cigarettes in the time allotted. For the time she earned good money. This money would be spent in good-quality fashionable clothes.

My father’s family were reasonably comfortably off for that time in comparison to surrounding families. This was due to the fact that there was only one child. My grandfather, Henry Davis, known for some obscure reason as Moss by his wife, had a steady job at Bow Sawmills as a lorry driver. He got his job years before it was necessary hold a proper licence. He worked there till his retirement in 1945.

How can I describe my grandfather? He was born in Carr Street in 1880, which according to Booth was known locally as Donkey row. It was a street full of haddock-curers and carters. He was short and slightly built and had very little hair. As was usual in those days, he never went out without his cloth cap. His personality was truly attractive. He was always kindly and friendly. My father said that when he misbehaved his mother would often hit him, once with a metal plate; but his father only had to administer a mild rebuke to reduce him to tears. Sadly after his retirement he suffered a serious stroke that left him bed-ridden and incapacitated. He lingered like this for a number of years, yet he never complained. Towards the end of his life I spoke several times to him about the love of Jesus. On the day of his death he said, “Liz, he is coming to take me this afternoon.” My prosaic grandmother was at a loss who this visitor might be. I think he had an angelic visitation just prior to his death.

Thursday, 15 October 2009

A Golden Text - James 1 v.5

When I was doing my National Service in Donnington in Shropshire I used to attend the SASRA meetings for Christians in the forces. They were run by an elderly Welshman who used to travel over to us from his home in Shrewsbury. His name to us was Mr Powell. His memory remains fresh in my mind though the events I describe are over fifty years old. He used to tell us about the revivals he had witnessed in his native Wales. I can still remember his radiant smiling face.
Every week we chose a special text, which we called the silver text, and every month we chose a golden text. I still remember those simple Bible studies with pleasure.
One of the verses that I would today call a golden verse is James 1:5. In the AV it says that if anyone lacks wisdom let him ask of God who gives to all men (and women) liberally and "upbraideth not".
To upbraid is not a word in fashion; it is a bit too archaic and a little pompous. It means to scold and find fault. But this simple word hides a glorious depth of meaning. It refers that normal human condition when we pray of rather morbid introspection, that inner voice that says, "Come, come; you can't be serious about this request. You have hardly been a good Christian recently. Your Bible has three days dust on its cover and that evening that was ear-marked for prayer and intercession was spent watching Arsenal thrash Tottenham. And, last week, when your wife dropped that greasy sausage on your new white shirt you were hardly gracious about it." Thus our confidence begins to vanish in a hazy cloud of guilt. But our God is not like this. The good news is this: God delights to answer our prayers and doesn't deflate us with a list of our sins and failures. He gives to us liberally and generously and doesn't go into fault finding. So approach God confidently and experience a little of His extravagant goodness.

Monday, 12 October 2009

Autumn in the garden

Fully ripe and half-ripe crab apples

One writer said that gardening is the only hobby or interest that has not been affected by the Fall. It is a reminder of man and woman in their innocency.
I have recently bought a Macro lens for my camera. Apart from its ability to take close-ups it is also excellent for portraiture.
The two images above are shots of crab apples as they ripen on my John Downie tree. Crab-apple trees are a must for the garden. In spring they are covered with a delightful white blossom and in the autumn the berries gradually turn a brilliant red. When they are fully mature we harvest them and make bottles of delicious crab-apple jelly. This can be used either as a jam or as a very tasty accompaniment to ham or various meats.
The following recipe can be found in Home Preservation of Fruit and Vegetables published by the HMSO ( ISBN 0 11 241321 8). This unpretentious booklet is a mine of culinary information, so I am told.
Wash and cut up the apples (use a food processor for speed); add just enough water to cover (2-3 pints of water to 4 lb of fruit) and simmer for about an hour. Strain the juice. . Bring to the boil and reduce if necessary; then add the sugar and boil rapidly till the setting point is reached. If other flavours are required, for example ginger or cloves or lemon peel, they should be cooked with the crab apples
Crab apples always remind me of a poem by Shakespeare
that has remained in my memory from school days. I remember it simply as Winter, It goes:- When icicles hand by the wall, and goes on to mention roasted crabs hissing in the bowl. Evidently, in Shakespeare's time crab apples were roasted till they were very hot and then they were used to heat drinks that otherwise would chill the stomach.

Saturday, 10 October 2009

J N Darby

In my last post I mentioned J N Darby. It is hard to describe this immensely influential man adequately. He had great force of personality, a formidable intellect and great stores of biblical and classical and linguistic knowledge and expertise. I would not hesitate to suggest that he was one of the most important persons thrown up by the turbulent history of the nineteenth century church. His influence is still felt today.
He was born in England in 1800, but did his higher education in Dublin. He became a priest in the church of Ireland and led a life of apostolic, one might say exceptional, zeal and devotion. In Lent he would fast till he was feeble and weak in body, would not eat on Wednesday and Friday and Saturday till late in the evening, and then only take a little bread. At one period he lived in a wretched hut on a hill and would wear only the most tattered clothes. His heroic labours caused the local Catholic peasants almost to view him as one of the saints of old. He won many to the Church of Ireland. But when his Archbishop stated that all converts must swear allegiance to the British Crown he resigned and left the church.
The rest of his life was spent spreading a form of what was at that time a radical version of Christianity. He was the spokesman par excellence for what is known as Brethrenism. He looked upon any form of ordained clergy as anathema. Christians were to come together in great simplicity and break bread together and look to those gifted in their midst for guidance and ministry. The assemblies this formed were to have elders, not an ordained minister. He aimed to root out all denominationalism.
His other strongly held view was as follows. He held that all the optimistic high-flown ideas of the post-millennialists, that the gospel would triumph throughout the world and that society would be gradually leavened and improved by the preaching and sacrifices of the saints, were based on a delusion. He held that the dispensation of the church had ended in failure. The Church was now in ruins. All that could be done was for the saints to wait in simplicity for the coming rapture, when the saints would be snatched away to heaven just before the Great Tribulation, when God would deal with his earthly people the Jews. Then Jesus would come a second time to set up the period of the Millennium. In many ways this was a profoundly pessimistic programme.

The other obvious characteristic of Darby was his disputatious nature. He was always convinced he was right. His most famous quarrel occurred in 1848. He was at that time leading the church in Plymouth with another able and learned brother, Benjamin Wills Newton. Newton had printed a sermon which he had published views on the human nature of Christ that offended Darby. Newton apologised, but Darby was not satisfied. He continued his feud with Newton for several years, and when several Christians from Plymouth wanted to join the Bethesda church run by George Muller, and were accepted, Darby effectively excommunicated the whole Church in Bristol and split the Brethren movement down the middle, a separation that exists to this day. The new members from Plymouth were, according to Darby, guilty by association - they were therefore implicated in the original false teaching of Newton. Therefore any church that received them were as guilty as Newton.
As a result. the Brethren movement fractured into many brands. The original design of re-uniting all the true children of God into a non-sectarian whole actually produced the opposite. The redeeming feature in all this was the emergence of the Open Brethren, those like George Muller, who rejected the exclusiveness of those who followed Darby and who have, for the past century, been in the forefront of missionary endeavour.


Tuesday, 6 October 2009


I have been watching Chuck Missler on God TV commenting on the book of Revelation. He obviously takes the futurist line of interpretation when dealing with this difficult book, a book that has puzzled even the most learned of men. Even such a good classical and biblical scholar as John Wesley admitted that he had little understanding of Revelation before he came across the works of Bengel(1742), the renowned Lutheran exegete.
What is futurism? It assumes that the book of revelation deals almost exclusively with the End Times and is a manual of instruction for the saints as they see the Rapture and the Tribulation approaching. Surprisingly enough, this mode of interpretation, though extremely popular in charismatic and evangelical circles today, has not got an ancient lineage. It came to prominence in the 1830s and 1840s. Before that time it had only been seriously considered in Catholic circles. This came about in an interesting way. During the Reformation the reformers used passages in Revelation very effectively when combating the Papacy. The monstrous persecuting city that was drunk with the blood of the martyrs is described as the city that sits on seven hills (Rev. 17:9) It did not need great scholarship to realise that this was Rome. Thus Luther strongly stated that the Antichrist was the Pope. This was extremely embarrassing for the Catholic Church and a number of scholars strove to move the nexus of the book either into the remote apostolic past (the preterist position) or to the extreme future (the futurist position). A Jesuit scholar, Francisco Ribera, wrote a very learned 500-page-commentary, in 1590, on Revelation advocating the futurist mode of interpretation. According to Ribera, the 1260 days and 42 months and 3 1/2 times of prophecy were not 1260 years, but a literal 3 1/2 years, and therefore none of the book of Revelation had any application to the Middle Ages or the papacy, but to the future, to a period immediately prior to the second coming, hence the name Futurism. His book was not well received for some reason.
But the major influence on the futurist cause was the publication in 1811 by another Jesuit, Francesco Lacunza, of a fresh and important commentary on the Apocalypse. Like Ribera's book this was not popular with the church authorities and was banned in 1819. This was probably because he ignored the writings of the apostolic fathers when interpreting the text. This book gained a major influence among those interested in the End Times when Edward Irving, one of the most charismatic and eloquent of the preachers of his day, taught himself Spanish and translated and published Lacunza's work in 1827.
That year was a seminal year; the Powerscourt conferences on eschatological matters started in Ireland and among those who attended was the most influential advocate of pre-millenarianism in the nineteenth century, John Nelson Darby. Most of the ideas of Chuck Missler and Hal Lindsay originate in the powerful and fertile brain of this enormously influential man. His ideas gained enormous influence when the Schofield Reference Bible was published exactly one hundred years ago. What sort of man was Darby? And what are the other schools of interpretation when dealing with the book of Revelation? Those questions require another post.

Wednesday, 23 September 2009

Romford Market

Romford is quite famous for its market. Shoppers come from miles around to buy fruit, vegetables, fish, clothes and many other items. It takes place three times a week and there has been a market here for over seven hundred years. In days gone by the stallholders, many of them thoroughbred cockneys, were known as costermongers. The above shot was taken at dusk on an autumn day.
It is possible to buy fresh fish straight from the central fish market at Billingsgate in London. On the left are some sprats, a traditional fish popular with older people. They are a sort of miniature herring
Probably the most popular stalls in the market are those that sell vegetables. They used to come from the most famous market of all - Covent Garden, but that has been closed for many years.
You can buy lots of colourful and attractive flowers as well.

Wednesday, 16 September 2009

Strange Vagabond of God

I would like to write a bit about a strange man who seems to epitomise a form of Christianity that was common in the Middle Ages but is rarely seen today. John Bradburne was a sort of wandering anchorite, a man who cared nothing for those things that seem so important to most of us. He cared nothing for money, possessions or power.
He was born in 1921 into an upper- middle-class family in Skirwith in rural Cumbria, a beautiful region of England that has the English Lake District within its borders. His family was a distinguished one. Terence Rattigan, the playwright, was a cousin and another was Christopher Soames, the last governor of what was known as Rhodesia.
He had s distinguished military career in World War 11, during which he worked with Gurkhas in Burma. After the fall of Singapore he and a fellow officer sailed in a primitive sampan all the way to Sumatra. He was decorated for his bravery.
After the war he converted to Catholicism. He tried three times to enter monasteries but failed every time. He spent a lot of time wandering around Europe and the Holy Land, doing odd jobs and sleeping wherever he could find a couch for the night. He was obvious a restless seeker after God.
He realised that material things can never really satisfy the deepest longings of the human heart. He would express his deepest feelings in verse, some of it surprisingly good.
This sonnet seems to sum up his feelings.
No more, my Lord, to dream away Thy time,
Among the fading blooms of pleasure's lawn,
No more to slumber heedless of the chime
Which keeps untiring watch from dawn till dawn.
No more the quest of this world's finest views
Which can but fill the eye with fresh desire,
No more the crowding vanities and news
That keep from souls Thy Holy Spirit's fire.
No more the wanderer way, the wide unrest
And weary search for joys that will not cease;
No more, good Lord, to turn from Thy behest,
No more! We know Thy will to be our peace.
To thee we tread the road that Christ has trod,
So rest our hearts in His: Thy heart dear God.
In 1969 he found himself in Rhodesia, now Zimbabwe. He said he was seeking a cave where he could pray. A friend, Heather Benoy, suggested to him that he could be useful looking after small leper colony at Mutemwa, an area to the east of Harare. When he got there he found a scene of utter dereliction. The lepers were dirty and hungry; their sores were suppurating and primitive huts had roofs that let in the rain. John looked around and , "I'm staying." He kept his word and spent the rest of his life in selfless service to these outcasts. feeding them, washing their open sores, tending them in sickness and reading the scriptures to them.
In 1979, at the height of the insurgency against the Smith regime, he was abducted by a gang of insurgents. They took him to a secret location and tried to tempt and humiliate him. Young girls were offered him , but he simply held his peace and quietly prayed. A smaller group to him away into the bush and shot him in the head. He was found the next day clothed simply in his under pants by a rural road.
I include a part of another of his sonnets, probably his best, that seems to sum up his life.
Your heart's desire is nearest, though unseen,
Your haven of perfection close at hand;
And that drear quest was as a fevered dream;
God's love within you is your native land.
So search none other, never more depart,
For you are homeless, save God keeps your heart.

Wednesday, 2 September 2009

Thou art indeed just, lord, byGerard Manley Hopkins
I would like to introduce one of my favourite poems. It is based on the Latin translation of Jeremiah 12:1. It is, in my opinion, the most poignant and sad poem in our language. Hopkins manages to write in the strict sonnet form, a form that can be so artificial, and yet he is able to express his feelings and thoughts in an intensity that is almost searing in its power. Art and feeling combine to make a satisfying artistic whole.
It is the plea and cry of a desperately sincere man, who towards the end of his life, finds his life and religion so empty and disappointing. Perhaps the struggles he had with his sexuality and the rigours of his life as a Jesuit produced a suffocating legalism that almost drove his to despair. The last line contains a prayer that every Christian understands: "Mine, O Thou Lord of life, send my roots rain"
My advice is; read the poem aloud several times in order to understand the inversion and the intense brevity of his style

THOU art indeed just, Lord, if I contend

With thee; but, sir, so what I plead is just.

Why do sinners’ ways prosper? and why must

Disappointment all I endeavour end?

Wert thou my enemy, O thou my friend,
How wouldst thou worse, I wonder, than thou dost

Defeat, thwart me? Oh, the sots and thralls of lust

Do in spare hours more thrive than I that spend,

Sir, life upon thy cause. See, banks and brakes

Now leavèd how thick! lacèd they are again
With fretty chervil, look, and fresh wind shakes

Them; birds build—but not I build; no, but strain,

Time’s eunuch, and not breed one work that wakes.

Mine, O thou lord of life, send my roots rain.

Thursday, 27 August 2009

Aldeburgh in Suffolk

These monochrome images were taken at Aldeburgh in Suffolk. Aldebugh is a quaint seaside town that was once well-known as a fishing and boat-building town. All that has changed, though there are still lots of small boats that venture out each day and supply day visitors and hotels with fresh fish. There is nothing flash or superficially attractive about the town, but there is an undefinable late Victorian charm about the place that never seems to change.
I include these shots because monochrome images are so rare these days of digital photography.
I took this pictures with my old Rolleiflex twin-lens reflex camera. Then I scanned the negatives so that I could use them on my computer. I know that you can transform colour files into monochrome in photoshop, but I think you can't beat the the quality and tonality of the old technology. But it is becoming increasingly difficult to get films processed these days. So many printing houses are going out of business. Even laboratories that do digital prints are struggling. Many photograhers never see their images in print; they are happy just to share them on the web or to view them on digital frames.

Wednesday, 26 August 2009

Down the river to Kew

Posted by Picasa The above view is of the London Eye from the boat that goes regularly from Westminster up river to Kew. It is one of my favourite summer jaunts. It's lovely just to chill out slowly drifting upstream, leaving the congestion of London behind.
A typical view of the river is the middle picture. It reminds me of that comic classic Three Men in a Boat. I think this is the best way of getting to Kew Gardens if you have the time. Getting there by train is boring and laboriously slow and by car can be a bit of a hassle at peak periods.
If you are ever in London a trip down to Kew is well worth while if you have the time. The Botanical Garden, founded over 250 ago, is probably the best in the world. It has a fabulous collection of trees, shrubs and flowers all set out in a most attractive manner.he eminence of Kew today is thanks to a succession of avid collectors, visionary scientists, inspired landsche eminence of Kew today is thanks to a succession of avid collectors, visionary scientists, inspired landscape architects and redoubtable gardeners who, over the centuries, have grown and developed the gardens, and the collections they contain.ape architects and redoubtable gardeners who, over the centuries, have grown and developed the gardens, and the collections they contain.

Bible revision

For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way.
O ye sons of men,

how long will ye turn my glory into shame?
How long will ye love vanity,
and seek after leasing?

Both these verses are from the Authorised Version of the Bible, which was the Bible that virtually all Christians used till about the seventies of the last century. When I became a Christian in 1953 everyone used and quoted from it. The only other version freely available was the Moffatt translation, but it was frowned upon because it was considered too modernistic. There were two main reasons why we have so many modern translations. At the period I am alluding to, many young converts found the quaint Jacobean English of the AV too difficult. There was a desire for something more simple and readable. Also great advances had been made in our knowledge of Hebrew and Greek. Masses of papyri had been uncovered in Egypt and these discoveries had thrown much light on the koine Greek used in the New Testament. Then there were men like Tischendorf who had discovered ancient manuscripts which were much older than those used by scholars working in the first decade of the seventeenth century.
Another major problem in reading the AV was the enormous change brought about in our language by three centuries of history. The quotations from above illustrate this problem vividly.
In the first from 2 Thess 2 we read that the Mystery of Iniquity letteth and will let. This phrase has a semi legal connotation and means simply that this evil entity will stop and hinder. Unfortunately modern usage has achieved a complete about turn. To let in modern parlance means simply to allow.
The second quotation is from Psalms 4. Leasing obviously in the above verse is not approved by God. I actually came across a story concerning a missionary giving up the lease on his property after reading this verse. But anyone who has studied Middle English knows that leasing is an Anglo-Saxon word meaning lying. It has nothing to do with the modern practice of leasing properties.
In a future post I will chat a bit more about Tischendorf and my thoughts about the amazing number of modern translations

God's help in dire straits

For the LORD shall be thy confidence , and shall keep thy foot from being taken. I was a worried and anxious teenager when this text from Proverbs 3:26 fell out of my Bible onto my bed in front of me. I was on my knees in my bedroom earnestly imploring God to help in a desperate situation.
I was a member of a youth group at a church with a very strong pacifist position. I had decided to appeal for conscientious objection status when it was time to do my National service. My appeal was to take place at Fulham Town Hall. I was full of easy-going confidence as I travelled with my pastor on the District Line towards central London. My appeal was a disaster. The theologians and the barristers hired by the state tore my feeble protestations and pleas into shreds. I went home a chastened and humbled young man. Later I learned that Rob, a fellow member of the same group, had also failed his first appeal and also the second, had been called up, had refused to put on his uniform and had been sentenced to three months in prison. News from prison was not encouraging. He was in poor health and had lost a lot of weight.
When I made my second appeal I approached the ordeal with a totally different attitude. Gone was my easy-going confidence. I knew it for what it was; it was totally carnal. My heart was trembling before the Lord as I knelt before my bed on the eve of my appeal in London. I was determined to get an answer from God even if I had to pray all night. It was after I had prayed for some time that I found this Sunday-School on a tiny piece of paper in My Bible. I immediately my faith rose and I knew that god had answered my prayers. A bit later I slipped into bed and slept soundly.
The next day I presented my case. As I spoke I was surprised by my confidence and boldness. I even thought I might be rebuked for my temerity. I needn't have worried. My appeal was accepted and I was allowed to do my National Service as a non-combatant. I went home very grateful to God. The thought of doing time in Wormwood Scrubs had wonderfully concentrated my mind!
I was a member of a church wII

Tuesday, 25 August 2009

A German pietist worth knowing

I would like to introduce you to a writer with a totally different style and message from what most Christians read today. Gerhard Tersteegen was pietist mystic who lived from 1697 to 1769. Though he was a simple weaver by profession he had a widespread and profound ministry, both by his travels and by his writings. Unless you read German it is very difficult to access his works. There is only one major work on Tersteegen in English that I know of. It contained an account of his life and selections from his writings. It was published in 1832 and the author is Samuel Jackson

God is a meek and friendly Being ; He is love ; and
he that abideth in love, abideth in God, and God in him.
(1 John, iv. 16.) Be therefore also meek, friendly, and
kind in thy whole conduct and deportment. Let the
wrathful and opposite powers of thy nature, be softened by
the Spirit of the love of Jesus, the obduracy of thy temper
be calmed, and thy obstinate self-will be bent and rendered
pliable ; and as often as anything of an opposite nature
springs up in thee, immerse thyself immediately into the
the sweet element of meekness and love. God is a placid Being, and dwells in a serene eternity ; therefore thy mind must become like a clear and silent
streamlet, in which the glory of God can reflect and pourtray
itself. Hence thou must avoid all disturbance, confusion, and irritation, inwardly and outwardly. There is nothing in the world deserves being troubled about ; even
thy past faults must only humble, but not disturb thee.
" God is in his holy temple, (Hab.iii. 20.) let all that is
within thee keep silence before him !; silent with thy lips,
silent with thy desires and thoughts, silent as it respects
thine own activity. how profitable and precious is a
meek and quiet spirit in the sight of God ! (1 Pet. iii. 4.)
God is a happy, contented, and delightful being : seek
therefore to acquire an ever joyful and peaceful spirit ;
avoid all anxious cares, vexation, murmuring, and melan
choly, which obscure the mind, and make thee unfit for
converse with God : turn thyself meekly away from it,
when thou art conscious of anything of the kind in thee.
Let thy heart be estranged from, and closed against all the
world and every creature, but entirely familiar with, and
open to God. Keep a very strict eye upon thyself, thine
evil lusts, self-love, and self-will : but towards God, be
truly free, childlike, affectionate, and confidential. Re
gard him as the friend of thy heart, and think nothing but
what is purely good of him. Though everything without,
fall into confusion, and though thy body be in pain and
suffering, and thy soul in barrenness and distress, yet let
thy spirit be unmoved by it all, placid and serene, elevated
above the accidents of all things, and delighted in and
with its God inwardly, and with his good pleasure out
wardly. If thou endeavour to exercise thyself in this manner, thy
mind will gradually become more conformed unto God,
and also more and more capable of substantially finding
this all-sufficient and most amiable Good, and of beholding his beautifying countenance.

Audley End House

As my blog is concerned with both thoughts and events I shall mention a few recent events that might be of interest. My wife and I went to Audley End House, a stately home near Saffron Walden in Essex. My son-in-law's parents came over from Bern and accompanied us for the day. They love these historic buildings and especially the beautifully landscaped meadows and wooded vistas.

Three Saints

In several places in the New Testament there are sobering passages concerning what John Wesley called the Great Assize, a tribunal before which all human beings must appear. On that day all of us will have to give an account of what we have done in our bodily existence. In one well-known parable( Matthew 25:31-46) we are given a picture of a shepherd separating his sheep from the goats. The nub of the parable is given in the words of Jesus. "Inasmuch as you have done this to one of the least of these my brethren you have done it to me." In this heavenly judgment the standard is simply this; has our life displayed the love of god in our dealings with our neighbour? In the classic languages this love was indicated by the words agape and caritas, words which once were adequately translated by charity. But this word has so many misleading associations that all modern translations use the word love, a word that has equally misleading associations.
In my reading I have come across three examples of Christians whose lives displayed the love of God in its power and attractiveness.
Lord Hailsham writes in his semi-autobiographical book The Door Wherein I Went ; "My grandmother knew the Bible better than anyone I have ever met and she knew it from cover to cover . She was by far the greatest and most loving woman I can remember ever having known."
A better known quotation the one regarding John Wesley. He met the theologian Alexander Knox in Ireland late in his life. Although they differred theologically Knox was able to pen these moving and instructive words;
: "So fine an old man I never saw! The happiness of his mind beamed forth in his countenance. Every look showed how fully he enjoyed 'the gay remembrance of a life well spent.' Wherever Wesley went he diffused a portion of his own felicity. Easy and affable in his demeanor, he accommodated himself to every sort of company, and showed how happily the most finished courtesy may be blended with the most perfect piety. In his conversation we might be at a loss whether to admire most his fine classical taste, his extensive knowledge of men and things, or his overflowing goodness of heart. While the grave and serious were charmed with his wisdom, his sportive sallies of innocent mirth delighted even the young and thoughtless; and both saw in his uninterrupted cheerfulness the excellency of true religion. No cynical remarks on the levity of youth embittered his discourses. In him old age appeared delightful, like an evening without a cloud; and it was impossible to observe him without wishing fervently, 'May my latter end be like his! '"
Lastly I include Southey's appreciation of William Wilberforce. The style is a bit too formal for modern taste and it contains a word not often used these days. Benignity means kind and gentle and given to gracious acts.
"There is a constant hilarity in every look and motion, such a sweetness in all his tones, such a benignity in all his thoughts, words and actions that ... you can feel nothing but love and admiration for a creature so happy and blessed a nature"

About myself and my camera

I am a semi-retired teacher living the London Borough of Havering, an area on the eastern edge of London. In many ways it is an ideal spot; you can get into the City within twenty-five minutes and you are within walking distance of the start of the rolling Essex countryside.
I am seventy-three and live with my wife, Meg. Professionally I have been a secondary teacher in state and also in private, mainly Christan. education. Although I could have retired thirteen years ago I still do several days teaching in our local church school. I help out when children need extra tuition and also I do some work in the French department.
As I have been a christian for many years some of my posts will comprise thoughts and quotes and narratives concerning my faith. I have read widely in christian biography and church history and I would like to share some of the treasures I have found, treasures that are often found in obscure places.
I like photography and travel, so I shall mention and perhaps illustrate those episodes in my experience that I think will be interesting.
Recently I have added a macro lens to my collection. This enables one to get in really close to the subject I am still pretty much an beginner in this new field and I am finding it difficult to hold really steady focus as I take a shot. Anyhow, I shall be bold enough to include a few close-ups I took in my garden.