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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.

Monday, 7 October 2013

From East to West.

A number of years ago a friend and his family from Romania visited us in Ogmore-by-Sea. His wife was amazed at the beautiful sight of a sunset over the sea. They had only ever experienced sunrises over the Black Sea and so to see the sun setting over the sea was one of the most beautiful things that she had ever seen (her words!) By coming to Looe we are experiencing the opposite to what Doina did, the sun rises over the sea here.

On Sunday morning I came into our living room (which looks directly over Looe Bay) and was greeted by the most amazing orange glow filling the room. It was about 7:30, the sun had risen and was about to disappear into a bank of cloud but just before it did it poured it's radiant glory into my flat.


I felt truly privileged to have such a glorious visitor. Other members of the family were sleeping in and taking a well earned rest whilst I was blessed with this stunning beauty.

This of course all got me to thinking, (sorry about the Americanisms.) It is so easy for us to miss important events. Just a couple of days earlier I turned my back to the window at exactly the moment a bolt of lightning blasted its way into the sea. Pam saw it and I missed it by a nano-second, I was so disappointed. But on this occasion I was privvy to this display of glory.

That is just what it is like for many people who never recognise the glory of Christ. The apostle John records these words describing his vision of Jesus Christ in heaven:

I turned to see the voice that was speaking to me, and on turning I saw seven golden lampstands, and in the midst of the lampstands one like a son of man, clothed with a long robe and with a golden sash round his chest.The hairs of his head were white, like white wool, like snow. His eyes were like a flame of fire, his feet were like burnished bronze, refined in a furnace, and his voice was like the roar of many waters. In his right hand he held seven stars, from his mouth came a sharp two-edged sword, and his face was like the sun shining in full strength.

When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. But he laid his right hand on me, saying, “Fear not, I am the first and the last, and the living one. I died, and behold I am alive for evermore, and I have the keys of Death and Hades.


Revelation 1:12-17

John saw Jesus as the most gloriously radiant person in heaven, that is because Jesus is the King of heaven, He is the Prince of peace, He is the all glorious One, He is the Sun of righteousness, He is the Glory of the Majesty on high and many other descriptions. John saw a glimpse of His glory for which words could not fully describe the depth of His beauty. As we read Revelation we find that descriptive words at John's disposal do not even begin to clearly describe the majesty of Jesus Christ.

It is a bit like trying to describe a magnificent sun-rise or sunset with mere English words. Other languages might be more descriptive but it is still impossibe to capture the beauty with words. Even photos fall far short of the glory. To fully appreciate a beautiful sunrise you have to see it with your own eyes. Everything else simply falls short; how much more this is concerning the Lord Jesus Christ and His majesty.

But thank goodness we do not have to persuade others of these things, we have the third person of the Triune God for that very purpose, it is His work to persuade people as to who Jesus is and to lead them into all truth. There they will understand and see the full glory of the Lord Jesus Christ.

It does not matter which direction sinners are looking, the Holy Spirit directs the thoughts of unbelievers whom He chooses to Jesus, where they will then see the full glory of God in the person of Jesus Christ just as John did from aprison cell on the isle of Patmos as recorded in Revelation.

Saturday, 5 October 2013

Locked out!


After eating our evening meal last night I prepared to put up a new bathroom cabinet. My drill is kept in the basement of the "Old Rusty" and so I made my weary way down the 36 steps to the cafe with key in hand only to find that my way was barred. I had less than 2 hours previously locked up after a long day at work. All seemed well at the time, I was involved with a group of men making preparations to set up home for the week in the function room. They are the Walk Cornwall team of whom I will almost certainly speak in a later blog.

Now my key is impotent, the lock is jammed and I cannot function as I ought. I only need my drill and a little door lock prevents me from getting to it!! FRUSTRATING. I have done a thorough job in locking up. No other doors for access, they are securely locked. All windows shut, the only way in is through the door and that is not letting me in.

Ralph is the obvious one to help, he is Mr Fixit as far as the "Old Rusty" is concerned. A phone call and a two way trip up Barbican Hill later and Ralph with big toolbag is working on the lock. His key was as useless as mine, his efforts as impotent.
Door handle removed, lock exposed and still no entry. All of our efforts came to nothing. Butter was tried but there was butterring up of this lock in order that we might grease our way into the coffee shop.

What can we do, we are totally impotent, we have done all that we can and it is now 8:30 pm. We need to open the door for trade in just over 12 hours.


We need an expert! Ralpgh never ceases to amaze me, if he cannot fix it then he knows a man that can! Matthew is the answer he tells me. Ralph is evangelistic in his enthusiasm and recommendation of this man who had previously fitted his wonderful garage door. If anyone can help us in our situation Matthew can Ralph told me. A few phone calls to Clare and Matthew via his wife and a little wait our knight in shining armour arrived at the "Old Rusty" in his trusty white van. Another tool box and Matthew on his knees for an hour and all is fixed and at last we are in. All is now ok. We have a new key that lets us in.

As I was pondering this, the obvious came to mind. How like life this is. We can go through life expecting many things to happen but then suddenly and unexpectedly it all goes "pear shaped!" We cannot do what we want. We need help in some way or another. There is no clearer example of this than our exit from this mortal coil into the next world. Do we have the key that opens the door to heaven or is the door locked?

When I left the coffee shop before this incident I was oblivious to the fact that I could not get back into the cafe. I went on my way believing that all was well, but there was a problem. My entry was barred. That is true for all of us as far as heaven is concerned. We are Locked out of heaven and most of us do not know it. "Locked out of heaven" just happens to be a Bruno Murs song title. I do not know anything about the song but just looking at images on Google about it tells me that the writer thinks of heaven as being in bed with a busty woman. That is the way of man, but heaven is where God is eternally and we are natutally barred from entry.


But surprise; surprise; we may be locked out of heaven but Ralph (and I) knows a man who can unlock the way in! Jesus said "I am the way, the truth and the life, no-one comes into heaven but by me." (my paraphrase of John 14:6) He is the key for all humans who want to get into heaven. There is no easy fix of the lock, no buttering up of God, no greasing our way in by our own efforts or cunning. There is only one man, the God Man; the Lord Jesus Christ who has paid the price He is the key of heaven.


How do you get there? By simple trust (faith) and repentance. Turning from the sinful efforts of self righteousness to trust in THE MAN that has done it all for you. That is Jesus Christ who is God the Son, sent from heaven to unlock the door of life in order that you enter into heaven.

It only remains for me to thank Ralph who pointed me to the man that can and to Matthew who was not only the man who could but who gave sacrificially of his time in order to save me from my difficulty. That of course is the subject of another blog sometime! But I must also thank all who told me many years ago about Jesus as being the Man who could save me and to Him for sacrificially paying the price that I could not pay myself. If you want to know more of how that happened why not check out:

http://rbcrc.blogspot.co.uk/2013/08/who-am-ii-am-simply-man-who-by-grace.html

Friday, 4 October 2013

Who is Jesus?

The Rusty Bucket is about to host part of a team of men known as "Walk Cornwall." Their purpose is to spend the next week or so in the Looe area witnessing for Christ in schools, pubs, clubs and in the open air. They are enthusiastic for the gospel and seek to reach people where they are. The church would do well to learn from their diligence. I do however have some reservations as to the hows and whys and wherefores of some of their practices but that is maybe for another blog.
The purpose for posting today is that I intend to make a course entitled "So who is Jesus?" available to any contacts that they make who might be interested in further gospel help.

The course is a Christianity Explored type of course but on a more personal level. It is only a lead to the person of Christ and who He truly is. It does not go on to teach the work and person of the Holy Spirit or the church as I believe these to be the responsibility of the local gospel church to which I will point any truly interested parties.

As I was thinking of this today I was reminded of the Josiah Condor hymn:



Thou art the everlasting Word,
The Father's only Son,
God manifestly seen and heard,
And heaven's beloved One.

Refrain
Worthy, O Lamb of God, art Thou,
That ev'ry knee to Thee should bow!

In Thee, most perfectly expressed,
The Father's glories shine,
Of the full Deity possessed,
Eternally Divine!

True image of the Infinite,
Whose essence is concealed;
Brightness of uncreated light,
The heart of God revealed.

But the high myst'ries of His name,
The creature's grasp transcend;
The Father only (glorious claim!)
The Son can comprehend.

Yet loving Thee, on whom His love
Ineffable doth rest,
Thy members all, in Thee, above,
As one with Thee are blest!

Throughout the universe of bliss,
The center Thou, and Sun,
The eternal theme of praise is this,
To heaven's beloved One.

The hymn caused me to wonder how and why Josiah Condor should write such words. My conclusion was that firstly they are true and secondly he believed them.


It is my intention to show from the bible that these are true concepts and that Jesus is the only way of salvetion and to as far as it is possible with me make disciples through the study and declaration of God's word.

Praying readers please pray that the Lord will send some who He is calling to Himself. Some will mis-interpret as they believe that all "churches" are the church and that we all preach the same message. The gospel is wholly unique and needs to be preached and taught by God's unique (peculiar)people.

God is my helper.

God is my helper! If it were not written in the bible I might have believed that to say such a thing would be blasphemous. In fact I am sure that for some religions to be so familiar with their god it would be declared to be a blasphemy against him. For others all that they want of their god is for him to help them in their time of need. Indeed that is true of some adherants to the God of the bible.

I have always majored my thoughts of God on His omnipotence, omniscience and omnipresence. He is of course Almighty God, Holy and Righteous in every way. He is sinless and perfect, awesome and fearsome. We think of people like Moses who had to be shielded when in the presence of God due to the danger of immediate death by being in God's perfect presence even though Moses was declared to be a friend of God's.

It is therefore a paradox to find that God can be called a helper to us who believe in Him.

Where do I get this idea from?

PSALM 121:

I lift up my eyes to the mountains—
where does my help come from?
2 My help comes from the Lord,
the Maker of heaven and earth.

3 He will not let your foot slip—
he who watches over you will not slumber;
4 indeed, he who watches over Israel
will neither slumber nor sleep.

5 The Lord watches over you—
the Lord is your shade at your right hand;
6 the sun will not harm you by day,
nor the moon by night.

7 The Lord will keep you from all harm—
he will watch over your life;
8 the Lord will watch over your coming and going
both now and forevermore.



Whenever I have considered this passage in the past I have majored on the fact that it is a Psalm of ascents which means that it was sung by pilgrim Israelites on their way to Jerusalem. As they approached the city they would see it surrounded by impressive hils. The Psalm was to remind them that it was not the city or the hills that was important but that God was so much greater than either man's creation or even the creation of God Himself.

It was only recently that I fully noticed verse 2; my help comes from the LORD. Yayweh is the name of the Lord Almighty and it is He that declares that He is our Helper.

When we consider helpers we often think of the toddler wearing the tee shirt "mommie's little helper." The one I like the best is "Grandpa's little helper" due to having now three delightful grandchildren who I would love to have as helpers any day of the week.



This all begs the question: "In what way does God help His people?"

The Psalm tells us that He helps us in at least 4 ways:

1) He helps us tirelessly. In verse 3 He declares that He never slumbers or sleeps. He is alert 24/7 to our needs.


2) He keeps us. Verse 5a: Like a zoo keeper looks afetr his animals best interest at all times so our God keeps us. He looks after our best interest.

3) He protests us. Verse 5-7: He protects us from all that life will throw at us. Nothing will take us out of His protecting hand.

4) He is with us in our daily routine. Verse 8: Always from now and forevermore, going out or coming in God is with us.

He is our Holy, almighty and perfest Helper. He is God to us.

As we look to the great creation let it remind us of Him, that is what Psalm 121 declares to us.