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Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Give thanks.

I am currently reading a book about giving thanks to God for all of His goodness in every situation. It is relatively easy to be grateful for days of ease and comfort but surprisingly that is when we are often the most ungrateful.The author of the book has gone through great sadnesseses  and trauma and is writing from a heart that is damaged by serious grief and yet the book is inspirational if not frustrating. It is poorly poetic and more flowery than the local florist but the underlying message is powerful and challenging. 

What can I give thanks for in my current uncertainties?

 I was pondering that yesterday whilst waiting for the grandchildren to arrive. It was our turn to have them whilst Mom & Dad are hard at work. We decided because it was the last day of school holidays and day out would be good fun.

But where do we go?

As cheap as possible was the immediate response but wait a moment! These are our grandchildren and we love them and want the best for them and so we went to the local wildlife park. Expecting it to be half done and a bit of a disappointment we paid the fees and went in.

  • The staff were lovely (mostly volunteers but yet it was not a charity!) 
  • The ethos was great a business that all of the profits went back into in order that rescued animals might be looked after properly and be well fed!   
  • It was clean and tidy and fun to be in.
  • The animals were easily accessible even for a 2 year old.
 It was a truly great experience.

The place was  Porfell Wildlife Park:

http://www.porfell.co.uk

And so I would like to give thanks today for:

  • Grandchildren that made it possible.
  • Parents that entrusted them to us!
  • The wildlife park and the staff that care so well.
  • The ability to pay the price. 
  • The wonder of nature.
  • So many more things!










 I am so grateful for all of the things that we saw and have experienced. We so often forget to give thanks but there are so many other things:
 
  • Pam who keeps me under control.
  • Friends who care.
  • Neighbours who smile.
  • Coffee that warms and fulfills the need. 
  • Food that strengthens.
  • At last some weight loss.
  • Surgeons who repair.
  • Church that equips. 
  • Anna Voskamp who writes soppily but with great challenge.
  • Books.
  • Music.
  • The bible.
  • Sermons to prepare.
  • The Lord Jesus who is worthy of all thanks.
Anna Voskamp's book is "One thousand gifts." I recommend it but you will need to get over the style for the challenge!  Sounds like a good walk in the country where you need to get over a stile to see more of the beauty.
 
 










  “I want to see beauty. In the ugly, in the sink, in the suffering, in the daily, in all the days before I die, the moments before I sleep.”

Thursday, 17 April 2014

Well done Mr Cameron.







I have to confess to being something of a politics geek. I love political debate and am a big fan of certain politicians. Without giving away which side of the political spectrum that I am most comfortable with I can tell you that there are or have been certain politicians that I admire because whether they are right or wrong they stand for what they believe.
People like Tony Benn, Dave Nellist, Margaret Thatcher, David Alton, Ken Livingstone and William Hague seem to me to be honest modern politicians. They actually say what they believe. I know that politicians feel that they must follow popular trends and are all about pleasing the majority. More about that later!
It was with this in mind that the Prime Minister surprised me greatly today. I have never been able to judge what I think about David Cameron. The media tell me that he is nothing but a people pleaser. But you probably know what I think of the propriety of the media. They do not seem to be able to discern what is true but they can be so persuasive. 
So what is it that David Cameron has done to please me???
This was recorded in the latest Christian Institute bulletin:

Christians

cameron-commits-to-defending-christians
David Cameron said Easter is an 'incredibly special time for people across Britain and around the world'.

Wed, 16 Apr 2014

David Cameron has said that Britain is committed to “standing up for Christians” at home and abroad.
In his Easter message, published on YouTube, he said: “Religious freedom is an absolute, fundamental human right.
“Britain is committed to protecting and promoting that right, by standing up for Christians and other minorities, at home and abroad.”

Persecuted

“Easter is the most important date in the Christian calendar, and an incredibly special time for people across Britain and around the world. Last month I was in Jerusalem and Bethlehem and I got to see for myself the places where Jesus was born and died. It was an extraordinary experience to be in those places where so much history began.”
He also called on viewers to think of those around the world “who are ostracised, abused — even murdered — simply for the faith they follow”.
The Prime Minister highlighted a similar point during the Downing Street Easter reception, when he said Christianity was the most persecuted religion around the world.

Leading role

He said, however, that Britain “can play a leading role” in raising the profile of the issue.
Referring to MP Eric Pickles, who told atheists to ‘get over’ Britain being a Christian nation, Cameron said: “I am proud of the fact that we are a Christian country and we shouldn’t be ashamed to say so”.

Chocolate eggs

He told the audience that what is needed is: “More belief that we can get out there and actually change people’s lives and make a difference and improve both the spiritual, physical and moral state of our country”.
In a separate interview with a BBC radio station he said that he had recently discussed Easter with his children and told them that the festival is not about chocolate eggs.




You can hear the message at the following:
 https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=Z5bVh97sCOk




A cute little bunny carrying Easter eggs can do nothing for your sins but it will do a lot for bad health:




It is not popular for a politician to say such things and it is certainly not a people pleasing speech! I want to  thank Mr Cameron for saying such things. I am sure that I could pick holes in his theology but I can and must applaud a Prime Minister who defends Christians and the cause of Christ worldwide. I pray for you Mr Cameron and am considering adding you to my list of honest politicians it would be even more delightful if I could add to that accolade that you are truly a brother in Christ.
Christians out there I do hope that you keep our politicians in your prayers.
You may be wondering why I do not refer to them as our leaders. The reason is that modern politicians do not lead but are led by what the media tell us is popular demand. The media seem to speak on our behalf, influence politicians who often make decisions that the people do not really approve of. Christians we have the responsibility to change society with the gospel, if we were  really about our commission then society would be changed and the politicians would follow. 
Perhaps we have the government and political mess that the church deserves!
   

Sunday, 13 April 2014

Good Friends:


I hear a lot of stories
I suppose they could be true
All about love
And what it can do to you

Highest risk of striking out
The risk of getting hurt
And still
I have so much to learn

Well, I know
'Cause I think about it all the time
I know
That real love has quite a price

And a good heart
These days, is hard to find
(A good heart)
True love, the lasting kind

A good heart
These days, is hard to find
So please be gentle with this heart of mine

My expectations may be high
I blamed it on my youth
Soon enough
I'll learned the painful truth

I'll face it like a fighter
Then boast of how I've grown
Anything is better
Than being alone

Well, I know
'Cause I learn a little every day
I know
'Cause I listen when the experts say

That a good heart
These days, is hard to find
(A good heart)
True love, the lasting kind

A good heart
These days, is hard to find
So please be gentle with this heart of mine

As I look back
On all my childhood dreams
My ideas of love weren't
As foolish as they seemed

If I don't start looking now
I'll be left behind
And a good heart these days
It's hard to find

Well, I know
It's a dream I'm willing to defend
I know
It will all be worth it in the end

And a good heart
These days, is hard to find
(A good heart)
True love, the lasting kind

A good heart
These days, is hard to find
So please be gentle with this heart of mine

And a good heart
These days, is hard to find
(A good heart)
True love, the lasting kind

A good heart
These days, is hard to find
So please be gentle with this heart
With this heart of mine

A good heart, a good heart
A good heart, a good heart
A good heart, a good heart
A good heart

Songwriters
MARIA LOUISA MCKEE



I do not agree entirely with the words written by Maria Louisa McKee and that  Feargal Sharkey sang where he tells us that a good heart is hard to find. I have just been spending a weekend with good friends. It is true to say that they were not at all hard to find, we simply stumbled across each other in my line of duty and now I count them as very dear to me.
This all caused me to start thinking as the Easter week begins: Where do we really start to find friends?

 

I have an amazing group of friends that span the globe some of whom I am never likely to see again this side of eternity but they are all good friends. Some of them span back to my youth and others are very recent indeed but they are all good friends and I guess it is accurate to say that we never went out of our way to find each other. We simply stumbled over each other in the course of life and gelled.

 



I can understand that some folks find it very difficult to get to know others because they are shy etc. But I am a naturally shy person (most who know me deny that) but I easily overcome that when comfortable in the presence of friends. Friendship it seems to me is made in an instant and continues through all sorts of issues.

 





Some that I count as good friends I no longer see due to differences of opinion (usually theological deviations!!!) but it does not break the bond of friendship, we can still embrace as we meet knowing that we have true love and respect for each other despite our differences.
We are coming up to our Easter celebrations where we remember the Lord Jesus' passion for the salvation of mankind. We see His true friendship extended to a bunch of disciples who would shortly turn their backs on him, some with cursing and swearing! We see Him embracing them in prayer and having great concern for their wellbeing, that is true friendship.

 



We even see His compassion towards His betrayer, why not read the account of Judas leaving the last supper and see the tension that is built up as Jesus clearly sorrows for Judas who was walking headlong from His presence into a lost eternity.

This is true love, it is sacrificial to the extreme! Jesus truly loved His friends to death. It is by His death that our friendship was made. He really did love His people to death.

But what of Judas?
Jesus loved Judas also, not with saving or restorative love but with common love for  a man who would never reciprocate or accept who Jesus really was. Poor old Judas is a warning to all who turn their backs on a Friend who is faithful to death in order that we might gaain eternal friendship with God. This friend we did not merely stumble upon, He chose us, sought us and called us into His circle of friends all of whom He loves more than any will ever know!

Do you love Him?

 



I fully agree with the words below written by James G. Small

    I’ve found a Friend, oh, such a Friend!
      He loved me ere I knew Him;
    He drew me with the cords of love,
      And thus He bound me to Him.
    And round my heart still closely twine
      Those ties which naught can sever,
    For I am His, and He is mine,
      Forever and forever.
  
 I’ve found a Friend, oh, such a Friend!
      He bled, He died to save me;
    And not alone the gift of life,
      But His own self He gave me.
    Naught that I have my own I call,
      I hold it for the Giver;
    My heart, my strength, my life, my all,
      Are His, and His forever.
  
 I’ve found a Friend, oh, such a Friend!
      So kind, and true, and tender,
    So wise a Counsellor and Guide,
      So mighty a Defender!
    From Him who loves me now so well,
      What power my soul can sever?
    Shall life or death, or earth or hell?
      No? I am His forever.

Thursday, 10 April 2014

Time!



I am sitting in my living room pondering what the future might bring and listening to Pink Floyd who I consider to be the pinnacle of great music. The words of this song really struck an accord with me just now, they are largely so relevant and caused me to think and pray more about my future. I simply do not want to fritter the hours away and am constantly aware that every day I am another 24 hours closer to death. As a Christian this is a good perspective to have but of course the song leaves with a note os hopelessness. More about that later!   



Songwriters: DAVID GILMOUR, NICK MASON, ROGER WATERS, RICK WRIGHT

Ticking away the moments
That make up a dull day
Fritter and waste the hours
In an off-hand way 




Kicking around on a piece of ground
In your home town
Waiting for someone or something
To show you the way

Tired of lying in the sunshine
Staying home to watch the rain
You are young and life is long
And there is time to kill today

And then the one day you find
Ten years have got behind you
No one told you when to run
You missed the starting gun 



And you run and you run
To catch up with the sun
But it's sinking 



Racing around
To come up behind you again

The sun is the same
In a relative way
But you're older

 
Shorter of breath
And one day closer to death



Every year is getting shorter
Never seem to find the time

Plans that either come to naught
Or half a page of scribbled lines

Hanging on in quiet desperation
Is the English way

The time is gone
The song is over
Thought I'd something more to say 



Home
Home again
I like to be here
When I can 



When I come home
Cold and tired
It's good to warm my bones
Beside the fire 



Far away
Across the field
Tolling on the iron bell
Calls the faithful to their knees
To hear the softly spoken magic spell...


Thank you Pink Floyd.
Here is hope for anybody interested:


It may not be the iron bell but the cross is God's way of bringing the faithful to their knees hopefully ready to hear the faithfully proclaimed gospel of hope.

Sunday, 6 April 2014

Onward and upward we go.





After a few months of uncertainty as to our future plans we are at last beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel. There are many heartaches involved in  the decisions that I have made in recent weeks but we feel secure in where we find ourselves.

Things at the Old Rusty have not worked out as we expected and so we felt it right to give the trustees the opportunity to employ somebody who is a more experienced coffee shop manager, they have taken on a very capable young lady who I am sure will do a great job.

I have to say that the experience of managing the Rusty Bucket has been profitable for my development and I also believe for the charity itself. The coffee shop has become very successful and needs full time management. I am a pastor at heart and have been missing helping people in  their Christian walk and so here I am unemployed at the grand old age of 62. We are very nervous, we do not have great resources and so by faith  we are living day by day.





I do not know who Brianna Kloutse is but her quote certainly helps me much at this moment. God's truth at times forces us to make difficult decisions that not only affect us personally but also our dependents. We have spent many sleepless nights, waking in the early hours in a cold sweat worrying about bills to pay.




It is amazing how faith eludes us at 3:00am and how black everything seems. I am so glad that I do not have a theology that can only see judgement from God upon us when things are difficult. 

It seems that when things are apparently at their worst it is quite possible for them to get even worse. They often do! Who would think that my lovely SAAB 9-3 Convertible would possibly blow the turbo and end up in Coventry and us in Looe. 

Where do we go from here??

 Well we come home to experience God's goodness beyond measure, there is a cheque in the post, a cheque in my wallet and the promise of support for gospel work on the telephone. All in all another car is paid for and we are now the proud owners of a 2005 Citroen C4 in fantastic condition. A line it seems is now drawn underneath what has gone before and we look forward to a new beginning.



God is no man's debtor and we are amazed at just what He does. He never ceases to surprise us and the amazing thing is that He uses His people to supply our every need.  It is right and proper at this moment to wholeheartedly thank those who have given so generously, words cannot tell what you have done to restore our confidence!!!!

Since we have been in Looe we have been so busy doing our duty and also trying to catch up with friends and family that we have not been able to visit for many years that we have neglected somewhat our regular attendance at the local church. Today we have started to put that right by becoming members.

We now belong to Grace Community Church Cornwall, the church has 3 branches. 

  • Bodmin where Richard is the Pastor.
  • Anthony where Archie is the Pastor.
  • Morval where son-in-law Jim Pastors. I am proud to say that I believe him to be the best preacher that I know.




Grace are willing to take on our pastoral care and we are so grateful for that. We are also starting to find real fellowship within the church and also a purpose for our belonging. Please pray for us in uncertain days that we will be faithful to our God who will never leave us nor forsake us. He even knows the rapidly falling numbers on my balding head and if he cares enough to know when yet another falls from my scalp surely I can trust Him in the wee small hours.

The way ahead might be uncertain to us but to God it is already mapped out, He is not surprised at the events that cause us to make difficult decisions and just because things are not as we would like does not mean that we are under judgement. Somebody hinted today that the car was a wrong purchase but I have never enjoyed owning a car so much and am happy to have done so. But the time is right for change and so we look forward to the next chapter of our rapidly decreasing lifespan. When we have had our fun with the C4 who know that maybe another boring old SAAB convertible might come into our possession. I can always dream and as far as I am concerned there is nothing wrong with that.

May we finish the race well! 






(This is a link to a sermon of the same title that I preached a few years ago in the church at Ogmore-by-Sea. You may find it of interest concerning the issues discussed in this posting:


http://obsec.blogspot.co.uk/2014/02/onward-and-upward-we-go.html)