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Wednesday, 29 January 2014

A stitch in time!




For most of my life I have vowed that if possible I would never spend a day in hospital. I failed miserably on that account last May and now once again in January 2014. I suppose that I have done well to reach the grand old age of 61 before wear and tear caused a hip replacement for which I am eternally grateful to all involved for the relief that it brought. One of the side effects of hobbling around with a painful hip was that it caused a hernia on the other side. This was made much worse by me falling down the stairs at Jo & Jim's; before you ask strong black coffee did not go to my head and so it was nothing to do with my favoured brew! All in all it called for another visit to the operating table where I trust the surgeon (Mr Lambert in the Nuffield hospital Plymouth) has done a wonderful job of perfoming a stitch in time that will save all of the pain and discomfort that I have been progressively experiencing over the last few months.



From a currently painful position of sitting with the ever trusty lap-top on my knee I can already see the benefits yhat Mr Lambert's stitch in time will afford me. The op wouund is very painful but bits of my insides are now staying in their appointed place whereas before they seemed to be escaping into all sorts of nooks and crannies where they never were intended to be. The stitches are doing their job, all I have to do now is to be patient and take it easy and recover in order that normal life (whatever that might be) can resume.

I always thought that I would be terribly nervous and probably afraid of going under the knife with all of it's hidden dangers and possible side effects (one of which is death!) But I was not, I was perfectly relaxes and not in the least worried on both occasions. I suppose that being convinced in my faith that God is Sovereign must be one of the most comforting doctrines of Christianity. I am currently reading about the life of Joseph with the use of Alistair Begg's book: "The hand of God; finding His care in all circumstances." which if you have not read it is a fine and extremely helpful exposition of Romans 8:28  "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose."  I was able to read a large section of the book whilst awaiting "the call" of the surgeon and to rejoice in the fact that there is nothing in my life that God will not use for His glory and my ultimate benefit. I have never been thrown into a cess-pit as Joseph was or been sold into slavery etc. but my life has been punctuated by both excitements and disaapointments. Pleasures and pains, joy and sorrow as all of us experience and so with no morbidity whatsoever I was able to reflect and wonder if the operation did unexpectedly go wrong and I was called by the Great Physician to a higher place then I have absolutely nothing to complain about, in actual fact I will let you into a little secret, I would not have minded if He did call. I have unfinished business here obviously and so He did not call. My prayer is that I might be like Joseph who always seemed to keep his faith and counsel even in the most difficult of circumstances.

So what of the future?









I really do not know what the future holds but as I have said many times before I know who holds the future and He will guide me by His hand of providence. My future is safe and secure and nothing and no-one can change that. Thereore Mr Lambert's stitch in time is l for my benefit, a hospital stay is vitally important! After all where  else would I fine the time and opportunity to sit and read all of William Perkins' book "The art of prophesying" and also a large section of Mr Beggs wonderful book without interuption. The pain after the op is worth the benfit of those hours before.

So where do I go from here? That is God's plan for me. I have lots of ideas but God knows. Looe desperately needs a clear gospel witness, the Rusty Bucket is idaelly placed to be a vital part of that. Will the Lord choose to use me for that mighty task? 

 



Please pray that we will all know His leading.



 

  

Monday, 27 January 2014

Come apart and rest a while.




Mark 6:31 records these words of Jesus to His disciples after a very busy and somewhat stressful day. Nazareth had rejected the "Carpenter's son and as such had displayed thei total unbelief and disregard for God's gift of salvation. John (Jesus' cousin and His forerunner) had been murdered. It is not clear whether Jesus had heard the news at that time but we must never forget that He is God the Son and as we see from other passages was fully aware of the issues of life due to His divinity (which He never gave up: Jesus is, was and always will be the Divine Son of God!) Therefore Jesus knew that His cousin and co-worker in the gospel had been killed. It must have been a difficult day for Jesus. Those of us who have experienced rejection and the grief of a member of the close family dying know how the human emotions react at such times. Even though Jesus was fully Divine at all times He was equally 100% human apart from being sinful as we are. He experienced all of life's emotions as we do yet in a way more perfectly because they are not masked by sin's filter. There is no doubt that Jesus was hurting on that day. Later on when He saw Mary and Martha in grief over the death of Lazarus Jesus wept with the sisters. We can therefore believe that this was a difficult day for Jesus.

The disciples themselves had been evangelizing in and around the area. They had returned full of the stories of their day's events. They were keen to tell all to Jesus and to chat about how ell they had done. Can you believe it they had healed the sick, cast out demons and all!!! They are becoming very important people, we can feel pride coming on! That day was a good day for them, they were clearly tired from their work but excited to have accomplished what they had done. In all of this we can see pride and arrogance coming on and so Jesus called them aside to rest a while.

Again whilst on holiday in yet another sea front cafe I was fascinated by the owner of the cafe who spent most of his time gesturing to passers by (often without word's). He was inviting them in to come aside and rest a while. I was impressed at how he could get the attention of a passer by, invite them in, sit them down and show them his menu without speaking. Then when he did speak he was so proud of his fayre that one could not help but partake of at least the coffee on offer. I know this is true because I was one charmed by his approach.








I could not help but see in all of this the "evangelist."    He is the one who knows the place of quiet, that Jesus was inviting His disciples to on that tiresome day. Evangelist knows the fayre that is on offer in that place of rest and he is also the one that encourages his client to feast on all that is to offer. Of course evangelist shows the cross and the way of salvation found in Christ alone. That is exactly what Jesus was doing on that day with His disciples.

They had been telling others of salvation that was on offer through their friend Jesus and now they were about to experience how much more there is to the ministry of the Son of God. He came to bring a whole orbed salvation that is so extravagant that only the mitaculous feeding of an impossible crowd could begin to demonstrate how broad and high and deep is the love of God found through His Son.

The disciples were tired, they wanted to tell all that THEY had accomplished and Jesus included 5000 men and probably others also. He wanted to teach, they wanted to gloat. They wanted to be alone with Him; after all He hadinvited them to a quiet place and their space had been invaded by the crowd. They wanted to be lone with Him but He was enjoying being with them all. At thier ealiest opportunity they tried to advise Him to send them away. They in effect shot themselves in the foot and found that ministry was piled upon ministry. They had just been evangelists (very important don't you know!) and now they were expected to be servants and to feed the people. How humbling that experience was.

My thought go back to that cafe owner in Tenerife, he was not too proud to tell all that his wares were on offer and would benefit them. He was not too proud to approach people and invite them in, he was not too lofty to serve his customers because that was his calling  within his business.



The great lesson that the disciples were to learn on that day was that being a disciplw of Jesus is an all embracing ministry that includes at times being a mouthpiece but also a servant who is willing to serve God's people in whatever capacity that He directs. The preacher, pastor, elder, deacon, evangelist, worship leader, youth worker and infact all Christians would do well to remember that. Just consider the next time when you have been labouring for the Lord and are ready to tell all of your so important conquests: He may jus ask you to ga and extra mile and in your exhaustion do mighty works of service for Him on top of your already full schedule.



Our role is to be like the cafe owner and say to all that we can "come aside and rest a while and find peace for your soul!" That is our life's work for Jesus.   


 

Sunday, 26 January 2014

All we like sheep!



Isaiah wrote those words in his prophesy (Chapter 53:6 in our modern bibles). He follows them with the fact that each of us has turned away from Him but that there would be one to follow who would take all of our transgressions as if they were His own and would take the penalty that our disobedience desrves. Of course Isaiah is looking forward to the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. If you have never read this remarkeable passage of scripture why not open it up and read with the understanding that the One who takes away trangression is God the Son.

We have just returned from 11 days in Tenerife. The weather was warm, the company was good and the break was so much needed. On our last day we were sat in glorious sunshine drinking excellent coffee in a cafe on the promenade. I love to people watch and to see what antics people like to get up to. It was 11:ooam and we were pondering our return to the wet and windy UK with a remarkable array of fashions walking past us. It made me wonder as to how many of these thousands of people got up that morning with the set purpose to dress as ridiculous as possible. It seems that there is no longer any set fashion and people wear just what they want to however inapproiate that might be. In fact one rather large man passed me a few days earlier wearing a tee shirt with the logo: 
"Yes I did choose to wear what I am wearing!" 
After observing shapes and sizes of people ant the things that they were wearing mu attention went to the fact that they were all walking, one way or the other. There were only 2 choices from where we sat!
 So where were they going and why?

I am not being critical in what I say because I too was on the walkway, I had just stepped aside for a while to take a rest. What were they doing and why? The why is the simple question, thet were walking because they could and if they couldn't then that either had somebody to push them along or they had a scooter which propelled them along at ridiculous and often dangerous speed. They were walking from one end to another enjoykng the beauty of the place and the kind provision of the sun and the much needed vitamin D that comes from it's glorious rays.

The second question is maybe not so easy to address:

What are they doing?
There are a multitude of answers possible to this question but I came to the conclusion that there are really only 2 real scenarios. They are all doing as Dire Straits tell us "the walk of life!" Our good friend Pauline  unexpectedly finished her walk of life on the day that we travelled to Tenerife but her walk went right into the court room of heaven. She walked on through those "pearly gates" with a warm welcome, not from Peter but from her Lord and saviour Jesus Christ. Paulines walk was with the Lord and great purpose but statisticians tell us that at the very most 1-2% of all people are on the walk to heaven. The rest of our lovely people are walking away from the cross and are on the road to nowhere! Talking heads wrote these very interesting but also very telling lyrics:

Talking Heads – Road To Nowhere Lyrics

Songwriters: BYRNE, DAVID / WEYMOUTH, TINA / FRANTZ, CHRIS / HARRISON, JERRY
WELL WE KNOW WHERE WE'RE GOIN'
BUT WE DON'T KNOW WHERE WE'VE BEEN
AND WE KNOW WHAT WE'RE KNOWIN'
BUT WE CAN'T SAY WHAT WE'VE SEEN
AND WE'RE NOT LITTLE CHILDREN
AND WE KNOW WHAT WE WANT
AND THE FUTURE IS CERTAIN
GIVE US TIME TO WORK IT OUT

We're on a road to nowhere
Come on inside
Takin' that ride to nowhere
We'll take that ride

I'm feelin' okay this mornin'
And you know,
We're on the road to paradise
Here we go, here we go

CHORUS

Maybe you wonder where you are
I don't care
Here is where time is on our side
Take you there...take you there

We're on a road to nowhere
We're on a road to nowhere
We're on a road to nowhere

There's a city in my mind
Come along and take that ride
And it's all right, baby, it's all right

And it's very far away
But it's growing day by day
And it's all right, baby, it's all right

They can tell you what to do
But they'll make a fool of you
And it's all right, baby, it's all right

We're on a road to nowhere
When we read such words they seem to have such promise but yet if really analyzed they are empty and offer false hope to all who read them.
Talking Heads  and the majority of those people walikng along the Promenade have much in common, they are happy to live for the moment but do not realise that they are on the road to futility





Ther are 2 roads of life: Purpose Way and Futile Avenue. 

But what of the vast majority of those passing by. I am pleased that they all enjoyed the sun on their bodies and all of the benefits that afoords but my concern was that I saw no sign posts to come off Futile Avenue and to walk along Purpose way. Again I am not criticizing others but where are to 2% of believers and how are we directing those who are on the wrong road. I am as guilty as anybody but how do we in this 21st century life direct so many lost souls to the Lover of their soul??
Holidays are vital, I needed mine but we are Christians 24/7 and as such we are never off duty from being a sign post!!
 But How?

Saturday, 11 January 2014



Looking into the future.

The beginning of a new year is always a good time to reflect on the past and as I do I am amazed at the changes that 2013 have brought for us as a family. It is true to say that at the beginning of last year my head was buzzing with what the future might bring. It was clear to me that my ministry in Ogmore-by-Sea was at the end. There were a;; sorts of issues that would simply not go away, we were struggling it seemed on an island of despare and no-one but the Lord to turn to. That in itself was no bad thing because the future is completely in His hands and as we now know His plan for the near future was a move to Cornwall. 

But the new year was not simply about looking back and forward and resting on our laurels. The scripture tells me that I must be about the business of making disciples of those whom God is saving. People are saved as they hear the gospel and I am the gospel herald that God has directed and prepared. My concern for 2014 is "how do I articulate the gospel today and for the future?" 

What is my ministry today?

I cannot help it but I am a preacher by spiritual nature and as such I am really missing all that gospel preaching entails. I am missing having my head buried in the scriptures seeking the truth to pass on to any that might be in my hearing. Spurgeon is often quoted as saying that he would give a starving person the gospel wrapped in a sandwich but that can so easily be just an excuse for trusting in activity rather than the Word of God. To Spurgeon the gospel was the filling of the sandwich, the bread was simply the food that gave him a hearing. I am sitting here wondering if I have only got a sandwich to give!

What is my gospel output?

No amount of social concern will be a substitute for gospel declaration without which none will be rescued from sin. How will they be saved without hearing and how will they hear without a preacher? It is by what the world thinks is foolish (preaching the gospel) that people are saved, and preaching is in my bones. Along with the Psalmist I can truly say that God's word is like a flame burning within me. 

It is all in His hands!

As I lay awake once again in the early hours and was considering what the future might hold I was thinking of the song "I know who holds the future" and so determined to blog on about the future of this old Looe-Nattic with the words ringing in my heart and sadly for any within earshot from my lips. As I was Googling (that is now a bona fide verb!) the lyrics I came across another song sung by Alison Krauss which says much the same thing with a little lore sentiment and probably poetic licence also:

 I Know Who Holds Tomorrow


I don't know about tomorrow;
I just live from day to day.
I don't borrow from its sunshine
For its skies may turn to grey.
I don't worry o'er the future,
For I know what Jesus said.
And today I'll walk beside Him,
For He knows what lies ahead.

Many things about tomorrow
I don't seem to understand
But I know who holds tomorrow
And I know who holds my hand.

Every step is getting brighter
As the golden stairs I climb;
Every burden's getting lighter,
Every cloud is silver-lined.
There the sun is always shining,
There no tear will dim the eye;
At the ending of the rainbow
Where the mountains touch the sky.

I don't know about tomorrow;
It may bring me poverty.
But the one who feeds the sparrow,
Is the one who stands by me.
And the path that is my portion
May be through the flame or flood;
But His presence goes before me
And I'm covered with His blood.

Why not listen?
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ReJPsyKfI2M

She sang this in the White House, what gospel opportunities sha has been afforded, a simple singer with the gospel to the most powerful centre in the worls and when you think that she has recorded albums with the likes of Robert Plant the Lord really uses such people who truly belong to Him for Gospel purposes.

 But what about me?




This is not depression speaking but simply the questions I always ask at the beginning of each year and until they are resolved I will continue to ask. How can I be useful for the kingdom of God this year and who is it that God will direct me to with words of hope, comfort and salvation??

I do not know what lies ahead


I do not know what lies ahead,
the way I cannot see;
yet One stands near to be my guide,
He’ll show the way to me:

I know who holds the future,
and He’ll guide me with His hand;
with God things don’t just happen,
everything by Him is planned.
So as I face tomorrow,
with its problems large and small,
I’ll trust the God of miracles,
give to Him my all.


I do not know how many days
of life are mine to spend;
but One who knows and cares for me
will keep me to the end:

I know who holds the future, ...


I do not know the course ahead,
what joys and griefs are there;
but One is near who fully knows,
I’ll trust His loving care:

 
  I know who holds the future, ...


I have just opened the curtains to discover a beautiful day, after the storms of recent days comes the calm of a winter's sun about to rise over Looe, may the Sun of Righteousness be declared here today, 

Here I am Lord!!!!!


Monday, 6 January 2014

What a difference a day makes:




After a day of great changes I have eventually sat down with the lap top in front of me. As I ponder the events of the last day or two this wonderful song has been running through my mind. It is brilliantly sung here by Dinah Washington, well worth a listen and the time taken to do so.

The words are also relevant to the happenings of the last day or so. We have endured high storms and high tides along with lofty stories in the media. I am still receiving phone calls and e-mails from my lovely friends and family concerned for our well being in our battered town. The only thing battered here this week has been the fish in Kelly's!!!
I am so grateful to all who are concerned for our safety but as you can well imagine I am truly miffed at the antics of the out of cotrol media! Here is a picture of a reputable press photographer going to great lengths to make a storm in a tea cup just outside of the co-op:

As you can see the flood really was unimpressive but from low level I am sure that he could easily make the camera tell whopping great lies. There was also a report of beer barrels floating down the high street, hardly likely in such shallow waters. It is true that there were some barrely outside the back of the Salutaion Arms but they were chained and awaiting collection. But it is now all over the 30 foot waves did not materialise and all is returning to normality.

What a difference a day makes!


I was supposed to be having my hernia repaired today but due to hospital whatevers it has been cancelled leaving me not knowing when I will be dealt with. The coffee shop is closed I am at a loose end and so we went in search of big waves in the North of Cornwall. A lovely trip over Bodmin Moor and  lunch in Wadebridge and then sitting watching massive breakers in an unknown cove near Padstow brought everything into perspective. 

Just 24 little hours!


Then there is the telephone call from Pastor John; wisdom down the line. I do appreciate those who care for us, they lift us up when we are down. They always have words of wisdom that help us on our way. It is amazing how the Christian life puts you in contact with those who only have your best interests at heart. I do not know whether you will ever read this John but praise the Lord for your help tonight. Over years in ministry I have become accustomed to others thanking me for helpful advice and so once again to be on the receiving end at just the right time is both humbling but also thrilling:





  

Praise the Lord!
Praise the Lord from the heavens; 
praise him in the heights!
Praise him, all his angels;
praise him, all his hosts! 
Praise him, sun and moon,
praise him, all you shining stars!
Praise him, you highest heavens,
and you waters above the heavens!
Let them praise the name of the Lord!
For he commanded and they were created.
And he established them for ever and ever;
he gave a decree, and it shall not pass away.
Praise the Lord from the earth,
you great sea creatures and all deeps,
fire and hail, snow and mist,
stormy wind fulfilling his word!
Mountains and all hills,
fruit trees and all cedars!
Beasts and all livestock,
creeping things and flying birds!
Kings of the earth and all peoples,
princes and all rulers of the earth!
Young men and maidens together,
old men and children!
Let them praise the name of the Lord,
for his name alone is exalted;
his majesty is above earth and heaven.
He has raised up a horn for his people,
praise for all his saints,
for the people of Israel who are near to him.
Praise the Lord!


Good advice is always of great benefit but caution is always necessary as any actions made ought to be prayerfully considered before acted upon. I would urge my friends to pray for us as the next 24 hours are looming ahead. I wonder what a difference the next 24 little hours may make! The forecasters are predicted quieter and more normal weather conditions but for the people of God the future is well planned. God is working His purposes out through us and all that He requires of us is faithfulness.

I am a gospel preacher by calling and as such I pray that the Lord will give me opportunities to proclaim clearly the gospel of hope to those whom He is calling to Himself.






Thursday, 2 January 2014

See you in heaven?

Tonight we have had messages from well meaning friends and family warning us of impending doom. A storm is about to hit and poor old Looe is going to be flooded (allegedly). It is true that there is a storm brewing, it is equally true that it co-incides with the Spring Tides and so the sea level will be high. It is also true that the water may overspill the river bank. And due to this I am grateful for offers of accomodation  and help.

There is however a sense that this is once again turning into a media frenzy that will result in them working overtime and no doubt making lots of monet. We have already seen the customary reporter standing in his wellies by a flooded road informing us that: "this is a flooded road!" I am as usual overwhelmed by their gross stupidity but they will carry on making their little reports no matter how daft they might look and sound.

When we listen beyond the expert reporter to the actual scintist of metereologist they more honestly tell us that the intensity of the storm does not match what we have experienced in recent days and that the danger is more from tidal swell then maybe all is not as bad as the BBC and others are telling us. I do get fed up with these false prophets telling of the doom ahead.

Of course I am concerned about loss and damage but in the grand scheme of things there are a lot of folks in far worse situations.

In the Old Testament the false prophet was to be stoned because he was mis-representing God's word. I do not advocate such punishment to those who predict doom from the weather and it does not come but I wonder when they are going to be held to account for telling such lies?

If there are never any more postings on this site I think that it would be fair to say that the BBC got it right and my skepticism has at last got the better of me. I will then be in a far better place were the storms of this world no longer hold sway.

See you in heaven?

The very next day: I looked in vain for the carnage predicted. It is true to say that the road through the town is currently flooded but it is minor and certainly does not require the tv cameras, crew and customary welly endowed reporter to be present at all. In fact if they really cared about Looe and it's people they would arm themselves with mops and buckets and get stuck in cleaning up the mess that the traders have to do before they can open their businesses.
It is maybe about the time that we stopped listening to the crazy media types.
 
 
A very happy merry new to you all!

It is now 2014 and all is well. I am as usual awake at some ridiculous hour and so am musing upon the issues of the day. Or more accurately the new year and what it might hold for us as part of the community of Looe and more widely as a people living in the year 2014. 

I was saddened to hear of Michael Schumacher's accident and wish him all the best and a full recovery:


I cannot imagine how his wife and family are coping with the worries and concerns and added to that the intrusion of the world's press. They may like to think that they are showing a healthy concern for one of the most popular figures in sport and that they are informing the world of Michael's health but if there was no money to be made out of it then there would be no "paparazzi" camping out on the Schumacher doorsteps. It really is an unfair invasion into the lives of a family in shock and fear. I pray that somehow the family might find peace and hope through the Lord Jesus who is truly interested in the very best for all of His friends.

The New Year began for us with a spectacular firework display from the Banjo Pier. I was impressed that at exactly midnight the fireworks began, especially after the children had to wait for approximately half an hour for their display to begin by which time the heavens opened and they all got a thoroughly good soaking. It was frustrating to watch the men in fluorescent jackets walking backwards and forwards along the pier and yet no fireworks. They did eventually come and were worth the wait but it did make me wonder how mid-night is more important than 6:00 clock. There would I am sure have been uproar if the revellers had have had to wait for 30 minutes so why not afford the youngsters the same respect? Come on officials get it right!

If you want to see how spectacular the display was why not look at the Love Looe Campaign site:  
 http://www.ilovelooe.co.uk/looe-new-years-eve-fireworks 

If not here is some of my poor efforts:

 


A good natured evening was concluded as far as I am aware with no real problems and all went home at a reasonable hour leaving me with a peaceful night's sleep. The evening fu was replaced by a wild morning storm. I am so glad that the weather held off for the night. By morning our flat was rocking and rolling like I have not known before. The morning swim was cancelled but the swimmers did not seem to know that and the Old Rusty was closed giving the staff a very well deserved break although Josh who does not seem to look at messages on his phone turned up in the most atrocious conditions. We gave him a warm drink, wished him the customary "very happy merry new" and sent him home again.

We spent the rest of New Years day driving across Bodmin Moor (great fun in such wild conditons) to Bude for disappointing fish and chips and back again. It was not worth photographing but was great fun.

What does the New year hold for us? There is only One who knows that but we have hopes of our own. The Michael Schumacher accident reminds me of the frailty of life and so we can make no demands. That however does not stop us from hoping. The coffee shop is closed from the 2th January for the rest of January, I have my hernia operation on the 6th and am hoping that it will return me to painfree good health where I can be about life as i would like. Unimpeded by bits being in places where they ought not to be! Pam would say "too much information thank you very much!" that is my current hope.

But what of the future?
That is out of my hands but I would like to ride my bike up Barbican Hill, enjoy quality time with family and friends. Enjoy a holiday in Sweden and see the most spectacular display of the aurora borealis:

I would like my time in Looe to be profitable in both work and personal life. The best way that can be achieved is by God's gracious goodness and so what we need the most is a new year that is marked by personal devotion to my Saviour who is more than just a "happy merry new!"