Monthly Archives: November 2015

On ‘Rebuking’ a Fellow Believer

There are people in the Church who believe that all their fellow believers are subject to ‘Church Discipline’. Now on one level, that’s understandable – if someone is a direct threat to the congregation, say they’re distributing drugs or porn videos, then yes, you need to put a stop to it.

But some people feel they have a right to challenge and ‘rebuke’ fellow believers on aspects of personal belief, that they just happen to disagree with. Maybe on minor points of doctrine, maybe it’s some perceived ‘sinful’ behaviour or attitude.

Well, if you are thinking of such confrontation, you should think very carefully first. I’ve already written on this subject here – and it may be best to read that other post first (it opens in a new tab) but here’s a bit more to think about.

You need to be in an already established, loving relationship with the person whom you would want to speak to, and you must be sure that God Himself has not already initiated dialogue with them about the ‘problem’, because if He has, He’s already sorting it.

I need to make two further points, though.

Firstly, their reaction to the rebuke is between them and God. You place your ‘rebuke’, then you leave the response to them. Remember that their response to correction is between them and God from that point onwards, if He actually agrees with your rebuke. Remember that their ‘sin’, if indeed it is so, does not stand between you and God, but if it is a real problem then it stands between them and God. (More on this here). Once you have discharged your responsibility, it is no longer your problem.

Secondly, the vast majority of ‘loving rebuke’ is in fact no such thing. It is carried out by unloving, harsh and judgemental Pharisees who have no care for the best interests of the person being ‘rebuked’, and usually without relationship and carried out with some sort of threat, either stated or implied. Usually, the ‘rebuke’ is made because the rebuker is uncomfortable with some aspect of the rebuked, not because of anything God is saying. Read my post on judging others for more on this subject.

The potential for harm is far, far greater than the potential for benefit…..and especially if the ‘correction’ is done in any way incorrectly.

My own opinion is that most of us should just live-and-let-live, rather than presume to speak for God into someone’s life. This latter is a really dangerous thing to do unless it’s done truly lovingly – and by that, I don’t mean the ‘tough love’ approach of ‘You don’t like this but it’s in your best interests’ kind of ‘love’. Too many believers presume to have the right to speak critically into the lives of people they hardly know. This is a grave mistake in the vast majority of cases. Jesus’s Love is gentle and involves the co-operation of all parties; it’s not a unilateral thing where we just have to ‘obey’ and that’s the end of the matter!

And remember that being in a Church is an entirely voluntary thing. Rebuke someone too harshly and you will lose them; you will fail to ‘win them over’ (Matt 18:15). This is far worse than saying nothing to him in the first place because you will not only fail to win him over but you will also alienate him and harden him against future relationship.

Also, remember that the objective of anything like this is not simply to tell him he’s wrong just for the sake of it. The objective is restoration; restoration of relationship – either between him and God, him and others, him and you, or any combination of the above. Gal 6:1 says, “…if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently”. Gently. And only if you live by the Spirit (others translations say things like ‘those who are godly’). If you don’t, or if you’re not, forget it.

Remember also that you are talking here about God’s precious child, just like you are His precious child. Treat them as He would treat them, or rather, as brothers and not as sons (he’s not our child; he’s our brother). It is not our job to discipline people, period. If still you feel you must do this, examine your motives, examine your relationship, and if you’re still convinced of your total, complete and faultless rightness, go ahead. But like I said, you are not responsible for his response. That’s between him and Father.

So, if you are thinking of ‘rebuking’ someone, then please, please be careful! And, preferably, don’t do it!

The Mighty Vulcan

This entry is part 6 of 22 in the series Beautiful Destroyers

There really is no other aeroplane quite like the Avro Vulcan. Majestic, huge, loud, yet graceful, agile and just plain classy. Her beautiful, distinctive delta shape has graced our skies once more for the last eight years since her restoration to flight status, due both to the incredibly hard work and dedication of the owners of the last flying example of the type, and to the enthusiasm and doggedness of hundreds of thousands of ordinary people all across the UK who have supported her financially. In so many ways, she is indeed the ‘People’s Aeroplane’.


Sadly, I am writing this piece in the few days before our beautiful Vulcan takes her last ever flight. XH558, the world’s last flying Vulcan, is right at the end of her last season of flight – she cannot fly after this season because her technical support companies will be withdrawing their help. This is, amongst other reasons, because XH558 has now flown 10% more hours than any other Vulcan has ever flown, and she is now in uncharted territory, technically speaking. System failures are therefore very hard to anticipate, and it is of course extremely important for safety reasons to be able to perform preventive maintenance on any aircraft. But because of the ‘unknown’ element, this maintenance is becoming almost impossible to guarantee. Click here to go to the Vulcan company’s website for more details on this decision.

xh558_bank vulcan

I think it’s fair to say that the Vulcan is the most popular aeroplane that has flown in recent British airshows. She draws crowds like nothing else. Even if there’s another aircraft performing its display, if the Vulcan is due soon, people are constantly on the lookout for her appearance in the distance. When someone spots her distinctive silhouette as she waits her turn a few miles from the display, the news spreads like wildfire and all heads turn to look where people are pointing. She has this effect like no other aircraft, and it’s what’s known as the ‘Vulcan Effect’.

Here’s XH558 arriving at Dawlish Airshow in Devon on August 22nd, 2015. We were there, and we thought this would be the last time we would ever see her flying – fortunately, though, we saw her again a week later when she made a late change of plans and decided to visit Dartmouth Regatta too.

The characteristic and awesome Vulcan Howl is apparent on that clip. It is so loud on that clip that it is distorted by the microphone, but at least it does succeed in drowning out the noise of nearby kids 😉 It’s caused by a resonance in the the air intake geometry, shifting a hundred kilograms of air per second into the engines, and it only occurs between about 87% and 95% power. So you tend to hear it more when the engines are spooling up to near full power, and it tends to be most easily heard if you’re standing somewhere more or less in front of the aeroplane.

xh558b vulcan

Here’s a great YouTube video of Vulcan XH558’s Dawlish display:

The Vulcan bomber was originally designed as part of the ‘V-Bomber’ force, part of Britain’s nuclear deterrent during the Cold War. However, she was only used in action in one theatre of operations – during the Falklands War of 1982, when she flew the ‘Black Buck’ missions to deliver conventional high-explosive bombs to disable the runway at Port Stanley, to deny its use by Argentinian aircraft, and other strike missions against Argentinian ground forces such as search radar installations.

In the picture below, XH558 is visible flying a final ‘salute’ flight over Vulcan XM607 at RAF Waddington towards the end of the 2015 season, where ‘607 is the ‘gate guardian’. XM607 is the aircraft that flew the first of the Black Buck missions on 1st May 1982 under the command of Flt. Lt. Martin Withers, now XH558’s Chief Pilot.

558.607 vulcan

Here’s a short clip (this one taken by me) of this magnificent aeroplane as she climbs away directly over our heads at Dawlish. The Howl happens just before the end of the clip:

More pictures of the Mighty Vulcan:


xh558_1 vulcan

It’s almost unbelievable seeing a four-engined, 111ft wingspan aeroplane doing the things that the Vulcan does. The display pilots throw her around the sky, often going to inverted bank angles; her performance looks more like a fighter than a heavy bomber. In fact, the Vulcan even has a fighter-style control stick (a ‘joystick’) whereas most heavy aircraft have more of a ‘yoke’ arrangement, which is a bit like a steering wheel. Clearly Roy Chadwick, the lead designer of the Vulcan (and the chap who designed the famous Lancaster) knew what a ‘hot ship’ the Vulcan would be, and included the joystick controls to encourage the pilots to ‘maneuver’ the aircraft a bit…..


xh558 vulcan

xh558a vulcan howl

I remember in the ’70s and ’80s, watching four of these beauties scrambling (fast take-off) one after the other down the runway at both RAF Waddington and RAF Finningley (where ‘558 now lives). They were demonstrating a QRA (Quick Reaction Alert) scramble where they all get off the ground in under two or three minutes. Imagine it. Four Vulcans taking off in a row, followed by a full-power climb-out directly over the crowd, howls and all. Is it any wonder I love this aeroplane?

It’s going to be a sad day for me when they announce that Vulcan XH558 has made her last ever flight. But to quote Dr. Seuss,

‘Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened’

I think for me it will be a bit of each…..

vulcan banking

[Edit: XH558 completed her final flight on 28th October, 2015. Farewell, dear old lady, we will miss you. Click here for a report on the fight]