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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.