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Tuesday, 31 December 2013

2013 out with the old?

New year celebrations have always left me somewhat apathetic. I cannot get over excited by the change of one day for another, after all it is only a matter of a moments difference. As I reflecy upon the old year we have had many new experiences. 
My year started with the disappointments of a number of cancelled operation dates and so my old worn out hip was getting worse by the day and with the prospects of a new life beckoning in Cornwall we were feeling somewhat confused and concerned as to how it might all happen. I remember many discussions about how worried I was for the planned move.
That caused me to think of an answer that Winston Churchill gave when questioned about what worried him the most during the war years. His answer was as we might expect both useful and profound:
He said that he worried most about those things which never happened. That is so typical of all of us, we spend many sleepless hours worrying about what might become!






  One day of 2013 ranks among the worst days of my life. It was the day that I had to announce to my brothers and sisters in Jesus that I would be leaving them for a new work in Cornwall. To see sadness and shock in most of the congregation was "gut wrenching" to say the least. I did notice a smug look on the faces of one or two but then they probably deserved a break from this old incumbant. It was followed by an operation and us finally moving away on 24th June.


 Maitor which we loved beyond compare sold in just a few hours. It was amazing to see the queue of traffic down Slon Lane the night before it went on sale. The estate agent told us that they had never had so many hits on their web site as they did that night. Should we put the price up was the the question posed but we fely that the Lord had directed and so we sold it to a young family at a bargain price for them and a quick settlement for us. I suppose you could say "out with the old and in with the new!" But it was with great sadness and trepidation that we moved into pastures new.

It was not just moving house and home we moved country and profession  also. Pastor Pete became coffee boy. How did that happen? God moves in mysterious ways His wonders to perform. But what are the wonders He has planned and how do we fit into the grand scheme of things? That is the "NEW" for us and it began on 1st July. The 1st January is simply a continuation of what has begun. 

So why all of the fuss?
That is really the purpose of my writing, I really do not know and neither do I care. You are probably now thinking that negativity has taken over again and to some extent you are right. But does a new year really make any difference at all? Some will be pledging undying friendship and eternal forgiveness of all wrongs done to them at 12:00 but by morning nothing will really have changed.  But there is something that is important for me:

Fireworks!!!
New year is an excuse for a firework display and it seems that Looe is the place to be for a good one. I am not interested in the fancy dress, auld langs sine or alcoholic excess just give me a display of pyrothechnics and all will be well. 

Roll on 12:00 pm
That is all that I can say. I am amazed at what man can do with a bit of gunpowder, a few added chemicals, a cardboard tube and a match (safety of course) Bangs, whistles and bright colours make a pictoral delight to any man's retina. I am looking forward to the new year, not because it changes anything but because the fireworks will thrill me to bits.

As for old being replaced with new, that is God's regenerating work in the hearts of all repentant sinners, That does not happen at the begiining of a new year but when new life is given by the Author of Life Himself.

Happy new year all! 
But are you in receipt of new life yet?


        



Sunday, 29 December 2013

It's over!

Roy Orbison wrote his song "It's over" many years ago about a failed relationship (I hate that term), which has been buzzing around in my head over the last few days. It has absolutuely nothing to do with anything personal other than my musings about the recent passing of Christmas and other things. Christmas is over and all we are left with are memories of yet another festive season behind us leaving one less in our existence on this planet. That all sounds morbid to some but to me as a Christian it is another Christmas closer to the Promised Land.







Some believe this to be :

It is all hope in a God that does not exist. But do you know something? I have spent many years now listening to the God debate and have concluded that it is really futile. I have come to realise that all of my arguments and apologetics count for nothing to the unregenerate (or if you wish to be less theological " the unenlightened!!) heart. It is impossible for me with all of my reasoning or with all of my powers of persuasion to convince even the most simple minded of people that the God of the bible is the One True God of heaven and earth. He is Yahweh, Almighty God who reigns supremely over all things. He is certainly not pie in the sky for us to nibble at in our times of spiritual need.





John Lennon in his song imagine considered a world according to his gospel of hippy peace. A world of perfection brought about by lying in bed with his wife with the world looking on. Peace bought about by an army of folks with flowers in their hair and LSD in their cigarrettes. He considered many things what  that world look like:
 
 "Imagine"

Imagine there's no heaven
It's easy if you try
No hell below us
Above us only sky
Imagine all the people
Living for today...

Imagine there's no countries
It isn't hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion too
Imagine all the people
Living life in peace...

You may say I'm a dreamer
But I'm not the only one
I hope someday you'll join us
And the world will be as one

Imagine no possessions
I wonder if you can
No need for greed or hunger
A brotherhood of man
Imagine all the people
Sharing all the world...

You may say I'm a dreamer
But I'm not the only one
I hope someday you'll join us
And the world will live as one 
 
I love that song, it is a musical masterpiece but it is inept in all that it proclaims it is naeve beyond compare but moreimportantly it is one of the most hypocritical statements ever made. The man who was imagining no hunger in the world and was preaching no posessions as being the paradigm of earthly perfection became amazingly rich from this one song alone. I never saw the man give all that he had to bring about his dream.
That is also true for the raft of celebrities (whatever they are!) that plead the cause of the hungry and abused people of the world. They from their ivory towers demand that you and I give from our little to help the cause (there is nothing wrong in that) but there is no evidence that their concern for the underprivileged extends to the emptying of the vast bank balances. In fact as I see it their careers are usually enhanced by their verbage that comes across our tv screens and so we now have Sir Blah-de-Blah  of celebrity world telling us how we ought to spend our hard earned cash.

I will however echo poor old John's chorus and say:

You may say I'm a dreamer
But I'm not the only one
I hope someday you'll join us
And the world will live as one!
Now I believe in those words but it will never come about by lying in bed or by wearing flowers in our hair. It will never happen by peace protests or by standing in front of tanks. They might make a smal difference but will they really bring about worls peace?
 
Will all of the millions given by our celebrities efforts reall make a vast difference. Of course many will benefit and to that I am most grateful and impressed but will it reall bring about world peace and the world really living as one.
 
"Imagine no religion it is easy if you try!" really???? I cannot imagine no religion, man will always want to find God because He is not Pie in the Sky, 
 
He Is!

I unashamedly declare Him who is God to you. He could have sent John Lennon's chorus into the world as He calls us to imagine the world as He intends it to be: A world at peace!!!

But how can that be? The true answer to thast is that it has been accomplished. That is what the birth of Jesus is all about! When He was born in Bethlehem God had emptied His Heavenly cheque book and payed the way of peace. Peace beyond what John Lennon could ever imagine. Jesus Christ who may not have been as popular as John Lennon at the time by his death made peace for many millions. John Lennon by his death brought about nothing but a profit for many in the media as they endlessly reported the facts as they saw it. I am sorry to say that poor old John Lennon never was able to accomplish his dream..

But
By His life and death Jesus Christ accomplished God's purpose of making true peace available to all who will believe in Him.
 
Christmas is over, I cannot say that I am sorry, the new year is just around the corner and as far as I am concened January the 2nd cannot come soon enough (let's get abck to normaL LIFE!) But I am assured that the promises of God are coming about, Last Chrismas makes it just one less for me to endure before I enter that promised land of heaven!
 
You???
 
 
 


 

Saturday, 21 December 2013

Changes:

As I write this morning I am struck by the fact that many things are changing today. 
  • It is the shortest day of the year. It is still 24 hours more or less if we are to be absolutuely accurate. But it is the day of the least amount of day light. That means that after today all will change. Instead of a contraction of day light and a steady lowering of the sun in the sky things will begin to brighten. It is a day of hope: spring is on the way!








  • Before Spring can arrive there are 12 weeks (more or less) of winter to contend with. The good news is that spring is on the way and I suppose to some the bad news of the day is that Autumn is now behind us and all is change because we are in the first day of WINTER! To some that is a great dread.Cold and frost is what we expect but so far it is warm and wet. The temperature today in Looe is expected to reach the dizzy heights od 12degrees Centigrade (that shows mt age!). The new season it seems at present is not very new at all.


  • Another thing that changes from todayish (perhaps something of Cornwall is rubbing off!) is that the Christmas season begins in earnest. It is the last Saturday before the big day and therefore likely to be the busiest shopping day of the year so far. There are only 4 sleeps to Christmas which is magical for children and probably distressing for most who are beyond their childish ways. There is a spirit of Christmas that has dawned and is growing by the minute. I saw it best in ASDA last night, people, people people and all of them in my way! Why is it that others meet up in supermarkets just in front of where I am trying to see if the product on the shelf is reall what I want?  The spirit of Christmas also showed it's Ugly head as the Boscarn turfed out the clubbers at 2:00 am. A fight just outside my window woke us up and left me annoyingly sleepless for hours. My spirit damaged I am afraid to say for the day!
 But yet winter is also a time of hope and a looking forward. It is a time of rest for nature. I always envy hibernating animals. Going to bed when it starts to get cold and dark and waking up to the new beginning of spring. The earth is being purged of bad things by the cold and damp in readiness for the harvest of the new year.

Winter is similar to many of life's experiences in that it may be difficult for a season but it reaps a blessing far beyond compare. Without winter nature would be in a mess, it needs the restful months of winter.

How true that is for us as humans:
We need to rest.


In order that we begin well for the new year and in readiness for all that comes upon us. 

My advise for this new and ever changing season is to take the rest that it affords and be prepared for the future.

I wrote recently about what Christmas really means to me and not seeing the necessity of putting Christ back into a celebration but I do believe in the necessity of Jesus who came to bring peace with God being brought right into the hearts of all. He is the way of truth and life and through him our own winter of discontent can bring forth a life of hope and promise.


Monday, 16 December 2013

Mixed Emotions.




We have had a very busy time since arriving in Looe. We arrived and were immediately thrown into a new work at the busiest time of the year and the busiest season since the "Old Rusty" opened. The result of all of this is that the "old duffers" are somewhat jaded. It has been said of me (by unthinking and largely critical Christians) that I am now learning what real work is. The Pastorate cannot be compared to any other profession, it is truly a vocation and ought not to be belittled especially by the Lord's own people. That maybe is for another excursion into the mind of this "Old Looe-Nattic."




My purpose for waxing lyrical today is that we are now beginning to find our way into Looe life. We are addressing real issues that are important to us as a Christian couple living and working in this part of the world. As Christians fellowship is important to us and so the church that we attend is of vital importance. Son -in-law Jim being the pastor of Grace Community Church at Morval is a blessing which means that we get to spend more time with Jo and the family but it does bring other issues that are of great significance. It has never been our intention to follow our children, much less to hinder them in their lives. We have no desire to crowd them out and so we have been deliberating long and hard as to whether it be right for us to join the church there at Morval.

That all having been said we have also wondered whether we really fit in at the church. You see it is so different to what we are used to. The preaching is fantastic, Jim is a brilliant bible scholar and teacher and preacher.  The service (to me as a reformed and rather stayed old boy) is somewhat odd and at times difficult but that again is not the point of this post.

I suppose it is all about fellowship, I am eternally grateful to the "Rusty people" for all that they do and I am proud to call them friends. Some have really cared (beyond the call of duty) for us and we are thankful for their geuine and hard felt friendship. We find a true kindred spirit with them, thanks R&C.

But (there is always a but isn't there??) we are used to a large group of friends and that so far has not really happened and so we spend a lot of time in the flat looking at each other every so often over the top of our kindles, books or laptops and wonder what on earth are we doing here. I remember a Deacons meeting in one church where a prospective Pastor asked if the church has a music group. One of those present answered in the affirmative but with added information that he like to call them the "mixed emotions" because when you heard them you did not know whether to laugh or cry. Not a wise comment consdiring the leader of the group was present in the meeting.



There is something of the "mixed emotions" syndrome that is our current experience. We know that the Lord has led us here and that what we are doing is His will but we are confused, the Christian life is more than work. It is more than a cafe or a Christian charity. It is all about belonging, firstly to Him. Gladly that is safe and sound in His hands. It is about belonging to our earthly family and we are so grateful that Jo and Marie with their respective families are so close at hand, Elaine is a free spirit (somewhat like her parents) but is always close to our thoughts and visits as often as possible. It is also about belonging to the  people of God. This is what we must now put in place and so it was really wonderful yesterday to make new friends from the church. We met Janet and Duncan for the first time and had a lovely meal with them and warm and vital Christian fellowship. We discovered that in many ways our experiences are somewhat similar.

We spoke much of the "mixed emotions" of life. The griefs of losing those close to us and the difficulties of health and increasingly age related problems but we spoke much more of the glories of belonging to the Lord Jesus Christ who is so much more glorious than the difficulties of life. In fact the more we talked the more we saw that through the difficulties that we have experienced God has led us all exactly to this place at this time. You see He is sovereign and uses our "mixed emotions" for His glory.



It was also with great pleasure that on opening my e-mail at some ridiculous sleepless hour this morning that another "Grace" friend John had sent me his thoughts on Luke 9 (John is a retired Pastor) and I was blessed by his sermon on paper. I began feeling angry that I could not sleep yet again but was blessed by the Word that John so faithfully opened up for me. My "mixed emotions" came to the fore again and as always our God glorified Himself.

As  a Christian I am truly  privileged and can see (mostly) beyond the difficulties to the greater plan and can now see how God has used the most painful experiencs of my little life for His glory. I suppose what I do not yet know is how He is going to glorify Himself through my current "mixed emotions!"


Monday, 9 December 2013

Put Christ back into Christmas?

This is a familiar theme within Christian circles during the month of December but is it a fair demand? 
As a Christian now for over 40 years Christmas has been for me a time of great confusion. I love the brightness it brings in dark days and the magic that it is for children. But is Christmas as we know it compatible with biblical Christianity? I know that many believe that there are great gospel opportunities at this time of the year but does that really justify bringing Christ into the season?

This time of the year can be so depressing especially for those who suffer from the wretched vitamin D deficiency. There is simply not enough natural sunlight to prevent the onset of winter blues for sufferers. Our fore-fathers must have felt much the same as they observed the time when the sun is at it's lowest point in the sky which results in the days of least daylight. There was of course some religious overtones to what they were doing when they decided to celebrate the fact that things will get better in the months to come. They instituted a winter solstice celebration to which early Christians tagged the birth of Christ.

The reality is that Christ was never in the season and so can we honestly put Him back into it???

My dilemma does not end there because I do not believe that we should add Christ into our celebrations! They seem to be diametrically opposed to the Incarnation of Jesus Christ who is God the Son. He condescended to come into the world in order to deal with the sin of all whom He chooses to be His people.
That is a massive difference to a man dressed in a coca cola red gown who is a mythical figure that brings gifts to good children. On the other hand Jesus is God's Good gift to desperately evil people. The two characters could not be different!

Now before you label me as the archetypal  party pooper and Bah humbug misery guts. I have to nail my colours to the mast and tell you that I love the season and was pleased when Birmingham City Council a number of years declared it to be WINTERVAL rather than Christmas.  There is an honesty in what they did that maybe the church would do well to consider.

I hope that by my "coming out" I am not losing good Christian friends. I do not wish to step on evangelical toes but would challenge you as to why we try so hard to make something out of a season when our whole nation would rather believe in Santa (an anagram for Satan!!!)  than consider Jesus Christ.

But you might say when do we celebrate the birth of Christ? 

My answer to that must be in line with what the bible declares. We are to celebrate the birth, death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ CONSTANTLY! The incarnation separated from the life, death and resurrection of the Man Christ Jesus is not biblical and so is heresy, as is simply celebrating any other aspect of the coming of Messiah in isolation. From before the foundation of the world God purposed that Christ would come to deal with sin and so we as Christians celebrate His coming, His living, His dying, His rising and His ascending every single day. This means that Wizzard when they sang I wish it could be Christmas every day were closer to the truth than they have ever been given credit for.













Now that I am simply a coffee shop manager and no longer a Pastor of the church I have found the freedom to consider where I stand in this matter and so I will celebrate the birth of Christ on the 25th of December as I do every other day and I will also join with the rest of society in celebrating the return of the sun into the Northern hemisphere.

As I type this up I am sitting in the flat with lovely decorations all around which tell the story of the winter equinox but in my heart is the absolute truth that Jesus came into the world 2000 years ago and by His life, death and resurrection He has secured salvation for this old Looe-Nattic!


A very happy, merry new to you all and also for any that stumble across these ramblings who are not truly celebrating Jesus Christ then please read the gospels and ask God to show you the deep truths contained within.

Sunday, 8 December 2013

The Late Peter Thatcher.


Thankfully this is not an obituary but some musings of the day concerning myself. I have always prided myself on being up to date with current affairs. For years now I have been infuriated with media comment that is passed as news. Much of what I have read in newspapers and heard on radio or even watched on tv that has been declared to be the news has been far from news only. It is comment (usually as far as I am concerned from the BBC) on what is the news of the day. It has been my practise now for a number of years to listen to BBC Radio 2 whilst driving and so I have heard "news bulletins" on the hour many times a day but that did not satisfy my thirst for more of what is going on. Watching the 6 o'clock news became standard practice (as did at 1 o'clock if I happened to be eating lunch at the same time) and the news at 10 followed by newsnight were essential. 

More and more I would become infuriated as I watched goofy reporters in their wellies standing in puddles whilst telling the nation of the floods that they were experiencing. I laughed for ages at the goon that stood in a blizzard with trusty microphone in hand telling the nation what they already knew: "It is snowing!!!!"

Then there were more serious and worrying reports that absolutely incensed me. The day of the disgraceful bombings of the twin towers of New York became a feeding frenzy of nonsensical comment on out televisions. We had a Cuban friend staying with us who was convinced that this was the beginning of the apocalypse. Whilst he was glued to the "news???" report I was more amne more disgusted at what I saw on my screens. It was awful what the terrorists had achieved but the BBC were doing something far more sinister. In the corner of the screen costantly being shown was a 10 second footage of clips of the planes fying into the buildings and later followed by people jumping from upper story windows and finally the towers collapsing.

This is not news:

It is profiteering to the n'th degree! It was garbled comments from media appointed experts, constantly talking about the worst man made disaster on USA soil. It was talk and tell clap trap as 3000 people died. There was no real compassion for the victims or their families. Privacy was invaded and the most private time in a persons life (the passing from time into eternity) was being screened around the world by media magnets who have become rich by their interpretation of  current affairs.

As you can discern I am not the greatest fan of the press who wholeheartedly believe that they are honest brokers (how can the believe such delusionary lies? Especially in the light or recent court cases???). It is said that we have a free press, that is more true than the average punter will ever know. The are free to re-wright our modern history and give it the political slant that pleases their bosses. That to me is a freedom that is in the hands of tyrants and a bondage that the reporters find themselves in. 

I could wax lyrical on these issues all day but must stop being the "grumpy old man" that I am and come back to reality. After all it is the season of mistletoe and holly and all will be jolly. I even went to see the "old man in red" arrive TLooe via a multi reindeer powered lifeboat on Friday evening. It was a great evening of fun and good music from local group "the Huckleberry Finns." Thank you Rob for telling me of the event and to Nathaniel for giving me the excuse to go. If you are in Looe and the "Hucks" are playing give them a hearing they are a blues style band with a great bass player. That in perfect keeping with the subject of this article is my slanted view of the group, you see I know Rob who is THE BASS PLAYER.

There have been 2 events in the last week that have happened without my knowledge. Ever since coming to Looe I have only turned on the tv 3 times (in almost 6 months ) and so I am hopelessly out of touch with current affairs. I could not tell you for instance what is the current value of the £ against the $ or even the Euro (sorry I could not find a euro symbol on the keyboard!) I do not know what the ftse 100 closed at or what the weather is going to do in the next x number of days. All of this means that it was Monday before I heard of the tragic helicopter accident in Scotland. Nelson Mandela died 24 hours before it was drawn to my attention and so in this respect I am 

The Late Peter Thatcher

This now gives me the opportunity to be a new man. I can at last be me without being a slave to an unscrupulous media. I am certainly not saying that it is wrong to be up to date and I am sure that very soon I will redress the balance but I can now live life in the light of what is around me without all of the issues of the world flooding into my living room and moreimportantly into my experience.
I am sure that I am a better  for this and am far more relaxed. As a Christian it is also beneficial. I have enjoyed reading the "Good News!" far more, I have been able to pray more and also am more concerned about local issues than I have ever been. I should not be too surprised at this because I am not filling my mind and spirit with the thoughts and shemes of an ungodly media who are intent on getting their doctrine into the minds of their devotees, thanfully of which I no longer belong.




Friday, 15 November 2013

None of us are getting any younger!





We had the great privilege to spend the evening with Jo, Jim and Marie to celebrate Marie and Pam's birthday. Marie is in her late twenties and Pam entered another decade (it is up to you to discern which one). I was a great time and wonderful food with Kim and Steve just over the road from the old Rusty. If you should find yourself in Looe with a mere £25 in your pocket you could do no better than visit Mawgans Retaurant: http://www.mawgans.co.uk/

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Birthdays are a great celebration but they are also a reminder that "none of us are getting any younger. During conversation I discovered that on that very day the oldest woman born in Britain had died. She was 113 years old and had lived during 3 different centuries. She must have seen some remarkeable changes in our country, she had experienced many things but now it is all gone, in a fleeting moment on the 14th November she was no more. This is suddenly becoming somewhta morose! It only goes to remind me of the question that I am so often asked: 

"what is life all about?"

Linked with that question is a statement (the real inspiration for todays ramblings!)  from a colleague yesterday. I was somewhat taken aback when told quite categorically that this person did not approve of what we Christians declare as a good thing! 

Forgiveness

The bratinale is that he does not believe that anybody deserves forgiveness. That made me ponder somewhat and to wonder about how we present our gospel. We speak so freely about being forgiven to others but do we deserve it? There is not a true Christian that I know that believes that they truly deserve the favour extended to them in Christ. Forgiveness is not what we deserve but it is what we gain by God's grace. 

I am so sorry that I may have misled others into believing that forgiveness is a pre-requisite for God when He graciously saved us. Forgiveness is God's gift to us in order that He might have fellowship with us. It comes from His amazingly gracious forgettery. He remembers what we were no longer because by His love and mercy he desires a broken fellowship with us to be restored. That forgiveness of course does not come freely, justice demands that wrongdoing is dealt with. Sin as God calls wrongdoing can only have one result: separation or death away from God's presence and grace.

None of us deserve forgiveness, my friend is right in that but God chooses to forgive those whom He chooses (subject for another blog when I am feeling bold enough to publish my Calvanistic viewpoints!). Undeserving forgiveness needs to be carefully explained to unbelievers because as I found out yesterday poor preaching leaves hearers confused as to God's true character and that of course is not true gospel!


Well all of that come from a title that "none of us is getting any younger!" therefore it is a good thing to learn in a late decade (yes I did get there 2 years before Pam!) that we must clearly declare the truth of God's purpose for mankind.

All I can say about it is that we can only guarantee life for this moment and so it is imperitive to speak of the hope that is within us. A 113 year old Brit enered eternity yesterday, she was either forgiven or not (that is God's choice) and she will have been dealt with just as she was. She deserved no favours from God but my hope is that one day I will meet her in heaven because she belonged to the great company of those undeserving "FORGIVEN" called the church. Her name was Grace and it is only by grace that we can enter into God's presence.




 

Saturday, 9 November 2013

Christmas is just around the corner.

It is easy for me to be negative about Christmas, I will probably post something of my thoughts on the religious festival later but I do love the season and so when looking at Byrds video's on You Tube I was thrilled to find this video. 


That is what I like about Christmas.
You aint going nowhere!

The weather forecastors were telling us that the weather is going to be bad. Rain and wind spreading up from the west and engulfing our neck of the woods. But we had planned to go for a walk from Polperro to Looe with good friends who were visiting. The forecasters were saying along with Bob Dylan "you aint going nowhere!" (Sorry about the poor English, it was after all written by an American poet and so that gives licence to almost anything!) It does remind me of a great version of Dylan's song which is featured on one of my favourite albums of all time; Sweetheart of the Rodeo by the Byrds:




I do have to say that the music is good but it looks like somebody has released a few fleas amongst the audience.

The forecasters told me that I was going nowhere but the sky was blue it was a bit windy but remarkebly warm for a November morning so ignoring the experts we set off from Polperro along the coastal path and enjoyed a wonderful walk with great friends. We have been looking forward to doing this walk for a while now and we were not in the least disappointed:





As you can see the sky was blue all of the way and we most certainly did go somewhere, we achieved our end and received the reward of coffee and crepes at my favourite coffee shop in Looe (after the Old Rusty of course!!!) 

We were served by the rather eccentic but wonderful proprietor Martin (if you find yourself in Looe at any time you must visit Larsson's; it is an experience). The food was as always excellent and the coffee posibly the best around. Some of our number had hot chocolate made with melted dark Belgian chocolate which caused some whooping to be exclaimed. It was an alll round experience folllowed by the short but rather steep climb of Shutta Hill to visit Marie and Riley.

We had a lovely day that the experts said that we should not have had. When it was over the heavens were opened and the promised "weather" arrived. By that time we were locked in home and we did not want to go anywhere.

All of this goes to show that if we take too much notice of what others say then we might not experience great things.

 Again it reminds me of principles for life: the scripture says that the preaching of the cross is foolishness to those who will not believe but is life itself to those who do. Many experts tell me that my gospel takes people nowhere but I know different!


Do you?







Saturday, 26 October 2013

I'm just a coffee shop manager.





A number of people are asking me the question "Why?"

Why have you changed your career? Why a coffee shop?

Why Looe?

What on earth am I doing is the question often in my thoughts. I have to say that I do miss the preparing and preaching of sermons. That is what I have done for the last 20 years or so. I have rubbed shoulders with the greats of the Evangelical world and I must say that I greatly miss their fellowship.

I have just received an invite to (what I consider the best Pastor's conference that there is) the "eccentric Pastors." Am I qualified to now join this group of respected Pastors? I hope so because Stuart Olyott will be preaching but I am only a Coffee Shop Manager now. I am simply a servant to the general public in a coffee shop!!


But wait a minute, I am the same person that I was as Pastor of Ogmore-by-Sea Evangelical church. I have the same gospel in my heart and on my lips and I have more gospel opportunity. I was a servant to the church I am now a servant in a different way. I need to be equipped and I most certainly want some of what I have been used to.

I am only a coffee shop manager can be such a cop out! I am development manager of the Rusty Bucket Christian Resource Centre, that is an awesome task and I wonder am I equipped for such a role?

Yes of course I am!
How can I be so sure??


God called me here, it is as simple as that. I will at some time update my testimony and explain how I know this to be true. Suffice it to say that I believe that this is where He would have me and so I am fully equipped to do what He wants of me.

But what difference can being a manager of a Christian charity in Looe make?

  •  I am reminded that it was just a handful of followers of Jesus that turned the world upside down according to scripture.
  • It was just a few Christian's who due to their faith made such a difference to Great Britain as they fought for the abolition of slavery and for children's, women's,  workers, prisoners and even animal rights in the 18th and 19th centuries.
  • The gospel always makes the difference!
Therefore I can under God's  guidance make a great difference even as a coffee shop manager. I was earlier reading some of Aesop's Fables and came across the story of the mouse and the lion. What use can a mouse be to a lion?
 The weak help the strong? 

Inconceivable!!!!!

The Lion and the Mouse
Illustrated by Craig Diminico

Once when a Lion was asleep, a little Mouse began running up and down upon him; this soon wakened the Lion, who placed his huge paw upon him, and opened his big jaws to swallow him.

"Pardon, O King," cried the little Mouse, "forgive me this time, I shall never forget it. Who knows but I may be able to do you a turn some of these days?"
The Lion was so tickled at the idea of the Mouse being able to help him, that he lifted up his paw and let him go.
Some time hunters who desired to carry him alive to the King, tied him to a tree while they went in search of a wagon to carry him on.

Just then the little Mouse happened to pass by, and seeing the sad plight in which the Lion was, went up to him and soon gnawed away the ropes that bound the King of the Beasts.

"Was I not right?" said the little Mouse.
Little friends may prove great friends.

The gospel always makes a difference. God uses the weak, the powerless, the downtrodden and even the coffee shop manager to confound the wise. The gospel is the wisdom of God and it changes lives and situations for all who hear it and respond to the call of the gospel. How will they hear if they are not told?

Who will tell them?

It is fully my intention that this coffee shop manager will do his bit and tell all who I have the opportunity to do so!

Will you? 





Monday, 21 October 2013

A bright light in dark days.




Sometimes it makes me wonder if what we do really makes a difference. Here we are in a small town at the tip of a small island just off the continent of Europe. Small we might be but in God;s economy we are certainly not insignificant. In church last week the Pastor reminded us that as the church we are more precious to God than we can ever really imagine. We are the specially chosen people of God, called out of darkness into the glorious light of salvation. Freed fro sin due the Saviour who gave up everything in heavens and condescended to come into our world, to become a man but not just any man. He is the God man, a mystery that we cannot even begin to explain but yet it is true. The Divine becomes fully human but yet remains to be God the Son. How does that work???

As the divine Son He took our sins as if they were His own and died and was punished by God on our behalf in order that we have a new relationship with God that is not hampered and hindered by our personal sin.


That truly is the amazing gospel, but are we effective in our efforts to represent Christ as we serve the community of Looe? It is always good to be encouraged and so Charles Colson is a great source of help in my present circumstance. Here is a quote from his booj (which I highly recommend) The Body:

“In a world full of shadows, it is sometimes difficult to believe we can really make a difference. Sometimes our little lights seem small indeed. Sometimes the darkness looks overwhelming. But throughout history the church has always shone as a community of light that cannot be quenched. In a thousand dim arenas of need around the world the light still shines in darkness- and darkness cannot extinguish it.”

I hope that this might just encourage somebody in their own gospel effort.


Sunday, 20 October 2013

Comparisons.






Whenever I go somewhere new it is interesting to compare past experience against new. As a Pastor I used to be comparing churches that I visited with the church in Ogmore-by-Sea. Always looking for the things that we did better but also for inspiration that would benefit our little church. But now that has all changed since I am now "only the manager of a cafe." I now make different comparisons.

Pam and I have for many years now enjoyed visiting coffee shops, but now our visits have taken on a whole new dimension. We look through different eyes. We know something of what goes on behind the scene. We know the pressures and the thrills of being the servant rather than the served. We can see where we do it better in the "Old Rusty" and where we could improve our customer service. A visit to a coffee shop now has become something of an extension of our work. I wa snever able to "switch off" as a Pastor but now it seems that wherever I go I am a coffee shop manager with much to learn. I never knew before that drinking coffee could ever be so important!

Our interests now are in the atmosphere of the tea room, the efficiency of the service, the friendliness of the staff, the quality of the equipment, the value for money of the product, what kind of music is played. You would not believe how it has changed asimple cup of coffee in a cafe for us. There is so much to discuss now. Coffee now takes second place to the mechanism as to how the coffee arrives at my table and what sort of experience my visit really is. A simple visit has become a great big deal. That is all to be expected and so we still enjoy the brown liquid in our cups and the rest on the seat provided, that is as log as the coffee is as good as ours and the seat is as comfortable.

As we discuss all of these things we go through a variety of emotions, concerns and attitudes. We are at times pleased and at others concerned. We so easily become pompous and proud when we believe that the "Old Rusty" is so much better but then at times we are jealous because the place that we are in has so much more to offer. Our comparisons of one against the other is now our main talking point when in a cafe. That is only to be expected, it was true when I was "only a Pastor." And now it is true of the "Coffee shop manager!"


There are other comparisons in life that are important; an old Puritan wrote the following words. They are both inspirational and challenging why not just for a few moments stop all other comparisons and reflect on what the Lord Jesus Christ has done for you?


“Jesus Christ brought life to us but we brought death to Him! He brought to us a life of grace, a life of comfort, a life of glory but we brought shame to Him! He brought riches to us but we brought poverty to Him! He brought joy to us but we brought sorrow to Him! He put a crown of glory upon our heads but we put the crown of thorns upon His head! He does not think that heaven is too good for us but we thought that earth was too good for Him and would not let Him live here but put Him to death! He is not ashamed to own us before His Father but we are ashamed to own Him before men! He justifies us but we condemn Him! Oh sirs; think of your unkindness to Him and let the considerations of His infinite love and favour to you draw out your affection!”

William Dyer: The titles of Christ



Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Atmospherics




There is much said about creating the right atmosphere in the home, workplace or where we spend our leisure time. We often expect that what we particularly like is what will make others feel at home. At the "Old Rusty" we are concerned that we make our customer's visit something more than a contract made between them and us for food and drink. We have covenanted to make their visit an experience that will be more than simply having visited a re-fuelling station. I fully understand the fast food mentality that says "bums on seats for 15 minutes and then replace them with another!" Fast food makes fast profits but that is not what we are about!

We are privileged in that we do not have to worry so much about the profits because we are a charity and our mandate is to affect others with the gospel message. We are not "in your face evangelists" but yet we are thoroughly evangelical. Most of our customers come for refreshment and not to be preached to but we do have a Saviour who is keen to be introduced to them.

How do we approach this apparent impasse?

We have had a number of customers who have been pleasantly surprised to see pictures on the wall that show places of great beauty but are enhanced by complimentary scriptures that speak of the glory of God. Comments are made by customers and then we have the opportunity to share gospel truth.


Music is a great help towards building the right atmosphere. I have trawled around many cafes in order to glean useful information (that is only my excuse for having a cup of coffee!)regarding the running of a cafe. I am personally put off by hearing yet again the same music as I hear blasted at me in the shopping mall or the shops that I am dragged screaming into and having to look at endless racks of womens clothes. There are many places that leave me angry of spirit due to the awful racket coming over the sound system.

On one of my visits to Larssson's Cafe in Looe (possibly the best in town; well maybe the second best!) Martin was playing some opera, I am not a fan of opera but this music made the place seem even better. Where do you go and hear opera or classical music these days? You would be forgiven if you had concluded that the general public only likes music recorded in the last year or so. It is so boring and ordinary to hear the same sounds everywhere you go. The music makes the atmosphere. It is therefore important that we in the "Old Rusty" pay special attention to what we play. Our clientelle are largely of a certain age and so we ought to consider what we play as they enjoy their time of refreshment and rest. We want them to be relaxed and to feel at home. We have spent much time, effort and money in building a comfortable place to be and so we must keep the background music in keeping with what we are.

Why do I say this?

I have over the last few weeks been interspersing the regular music that we play with simple but gentle instrumental music and every time that it is put on their is comment made about how the cafe is a place of peace that it is lovely to be there. Jesus is of course the one who came to bring true peace (which is far more than a feeling of peace.) The peace that He brings far surpasses anything that we can do by our atmospherics but to be able to bring peace to the person gives us many opportunities to tell of the Prince of Peace.

As I write we have just been experiencing a night of heavy rain and high wind, it has been wild out there but at the moment peace is coming back to Looe. The wind is fading, the sound of rain is getting less and it is now feeling more peaceful. It is now 6:00am and I can return to bed for an hour before the day really begins.

People are living such busy lives that resemble a storm. For us to be an oasis of peace for them is important and we pray that we might be the vehicle that brings them into peace with God.


Wednesday, 9 October 2013

The amazing testimony of Rosaria Butterfield.



It is not often that you find a well written autobigraphy that is both articulate and also God honouring. Testimony is often a vehicle for self exaltation and a glorying in life prior to Christian experience. That is certainly not true of this book written by Rosaria Butterfield. She is an academic and so her writing is at times difficult to understand (for us pleb types) but nevertheless it is inspiring.
This a testimony for Christians to pour over and to pick the bones out of.

I have to say that there are things that she forcefully endorses that I cannot agree with such as her covenant theology (she is a Psalm only singing Presbyterian) she therefore promotes child baptism etc. She is also a proponent of home schooling and promotes it very strongly in the closing chapter but all of that having been said this is a brilliant book and worthy of reading.

Rosaria was an academic teaching English in universities in the United States. She was formerly a staunch feminist (and is now a thoroughly biblical feminist)and a womens rights activist but more importantly for her testimony she was a homosexual, living in a lesbian relationship when God irresistably called her to grace. She was converted and describes all of the emotions and difficulties (at least those things that are useful for her readers sanctification)that conversion brings. I am thankful to her for the lack of any graphics but for the honest opening of her heart that God is dealing with.


The title of the book is "the secret thoughts of an unlikely convert." It is both instructive and inspiring. It is helpful for Christians as we seek to understand the hearts and minds of those who are sexually confused. It is challenging and hard hitting. It will at times break your heart and at other times rebuke you for your lack of understanding of people who we live amongst.

Finally it proves without a shadow of doubt that those crazy Christians who stand with placards declaring the God (and they also) hates fags, queers (Rosaria's word!) or homosexuals! That is a terrible lie!!!!! They have no licence to say so; Paul in his letter to the Colossians (chapter 3:5-7) is urging the church to actively put on the Christ life and so he reminds the people that they are not to walk in their former ways of immorality and passions etc. that they once did. The point that I make is that from this passage (and others) that it is clear that God does NOT hate gays. In fact it tells us something quite different, God's grace is available to people of all sorts of persuasions. It also teaches us that once a person is converted then God expects them to live holy lives and not lives that fulfil worldly desires.


We easily understand this with those who are "prone" to stealing etc but it applies equally to all sin. That includes glutony, (how many fat christians do you know?) John Wesley said that "the amassing of treasures on earth was every bit a sin as is adultery. Adultery being the taboo sin of Wesley's day; he is saying that whatever the sin' in God's eyes it is of equal proportions. Have you ever been guilty of taking an extra sweet? That to God is gross sin as is the worst thing that you can ever imagine.

This book helps us to understand how grace changes hearts and minds sanctifying them for the Master's use.


The upshot of it all is that Rosaria is now married to a Pastor and lives a very different lifestyle by conviction, obedience and choice, her chapter concerning the headship of the husband is refreshing and inspiring and thoroughly biblical.

I thank her for a most helpful book.