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Thursday, 29 May 2014

Hope.

Another thought for the day from our friend Ron Ovitt:



LORD, you know the hopes of the helpless. Surely you will hear their cries and comfort them.

Psalm 10:17 (NLT)
 


TODAY'S THOUGHT:

When are you helpless but not really helpless? When you have hope. No more than a young child is totally helpless when their parent stands nearby, so we are when God is in our life. The Psalmist assures us that the Lord hears our cries and comforts us. There may be areas in your life that leave you seemingly helpless. There appears to be no answer, no solution but remember, even when we seem helpless, we are not hopeless. Today, bring your situation to Christ. He knows your plight. He loves you with an unfailing love. He hears you and will comfort your heart. Remember, the Lord knows the hopes of the helpless.

I do not intend to do this very often but both yesterday's and today's thoughts for the day have been helpful to me and so I pass them on for any that are in difficult circumstances.




Ron if you ever discover this little blog please accept my sincere thanks for your ministry and every blessing to you.

Wednesday, 28 May 2014

Thought for the day.

Courtesy of Ron Ovitt inspirational e-devotions today (http://www.layministry.com):






Greetings 

 

TODAY'S VERSE:

 "Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified, do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go." 

Joshua 1:9 (NIV)



TODAY'S THOUGHT:

It is so easy to let fear grip our heart and influence our decisions. We rationalize why we can't be strong and courageous. We justify why we should be discouraged and drown our-self in self-pity. But, what is it that God commands? He commands, "Do not be terrified, do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go." Today you have a ch
oice. God is with you so decide to obey the Lord. Be strong and courageous in all you face.











This is so important and relevant. Thanks to Ron and to Ralph for introducing him to me. 

Monday, 26 May 2014

Followers of Jesus.






William Dyer (1632-1696) in his book: Follow the Lamb, says

We follow Jesus Christ the Lamb of God in His Providence: Through all afflictions, all straits, all discouragements and sorrows whatever, though it be the way of death – we must forsake all to follow a crucified Christ, a condemned Christ, in bloody paths of sufferings- if He calls us to it! “Yes, though I walk through the dark valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for You are with me, Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.” (Psalm 23:4) “For” says Paul “I am ready not to be bound only-but also to die at Jerusalem, for the name of the Lord Jesus Christ.” We must be willing to venture the loss of all for Him: our liberty, estates, relations and life itself! “We have forsaken all and followed You.” Matthew 19:27



This is truth that is hardly taught today but it is so helpful especially at this most difficult time. It is painful and oh so hard!







Saturday, 24 May 2014

40 years is a long time.





In the bible 40 seems to be a significant number! I am not particularly or to be more precise I am not at all into biblical numerology and the conspiracy theories that surround such theologies. In saying that there are what I would term significant numbers that crop up from time to time in the bible.

40 is one of those numbers!

We remember that Moses was 40 when he left Pharaoh's palace and lived in the wilderness for 40 years before leading the children of Israel for 40 years. 

 

Why 40 year cycles?

That is a question that we could go to town answering but for the sake of this blog I would just like to say that the whole life of Moses points to the Saviour who was to come many years later. We remember that it was 40 days that He spent in the wilderness before He led His people out of captivity and into salvation. 40 years is the accepted age of a generation; and so just as Moses for a generation prepared to be a leader and then for a generation was prepared by God to be a shepherd and finally for a generation led the children of Israel to the point where they could then enter the promised land then the pattern of Jesus' ministry is the same. He came into a generation of people who are in need, He is the Great Pastor that cares for His sheep and then leads a whole generation into the Promised Heavenly Land.

But what has 40 years got to do with me?

It is simple really it was the 1st June 1974 when Pam and I made promises to each other witnessed by the state and by God. The two of us became one and we have ever since been married. I am amazed that she has put up with me and my crazy schemes and fascinations. I am also eternally grateful to her for all that she is and for what she does. She is a good mother and grandmother. She is at times a great counselor and also friend. We certainly do not always agree but we get on extremely well together.


40 years is a long time!

That is true; who would have believed that all of those years ago the GPO telephonist who married the still training spectroscopist would end up having the life that we have had! 





 

We started off life in Coventry, our first house needing complete renovation became a palace and the birthplace of Jo. Our second house was the birthplace of Elaine and Marie but it was also a place where we clearly met with God through Jesus Christ in a real and clear way. Our home became a retreat for many from within the church, in particular the young people. There were camps, holidays, evangelistic meetings and great excitements born from within those 4 walls. It was from there we moved on to South Wales where theological training was followed by 17 years of Pastoring a truly wonderful church in Ogmore-by-Sea.






It would take me 40 years to recount the blessing that the previous 40 years have afforded but many are private to us and are certainly not for public perusal.

The last year has been our most challenging time. God clearly uprooted us from South Wales and into Cornwall. Jo & Jim had previously moved here and to some it might seem that we followed them. That is a gross underestimation, they and all that know us well recognize that we do not follow others into their domain. I am a child of the 60's and therefore carry the “hippy gene!” There are great evidences recognized by our friends and supporters that this was the place to be and contrary to what some might believe it is where God still wants us and so until He moves us we will sit tight.



Our place of accommodation may be under question but our residence in Cornwall we believe is not yet over. We very soon need another place to live and a work to be involved with. We need to be able to pay our bills and that is difficult with no income.

But

God is completely in control and so we can be assured that all is safe and secure in His hands. We are nervous; even frightened for our future but we trust in the God of miracles and give Him our all!

  • So what do we do?
  • Where do we go?
  • How will we survive?
  • What if one of us should die?
  • Can we afford a funeral?
  • Can we afford the bills?
  • Where do we fit in?
  • Are we really too old to be of any use?

These are all questions that constantly rumble on and produce sleepless nights If only I did not act on principle and just kept quiet!!!! How easy it is to castigate yourself BUT I could not and would not.

I am not ashamed:

I may not have everything right and am desperately sorry for my errors and ask forgiveness of any injured party. But there are some things that are easily misinterpreted and taken out of context but I do stand by my decisions and so will face up to all consequences as I pray others will also do.

We have at last found good friends from within the church membership and are exploring ways of becoming useful within the fellowship. The Pastor is a good man and even though he is son-in-law we respect him greatly. I have been approached by some to be involved with local churches on a pastoral level and an greatly encouraged and thrilled to be part of that. It is unpaid and so the supermarket will need more than a “isn't God good” when the cashier presents the bill.

We value your prayer for the future.

So what of our future? We are certainly not ready to hang up our boots in fact if aches and pains allow it we now have more time to wear our boots and explore the delights of the South West of England which I have to say is very attractive but sorry folks Wales has the edge on beauty!!!


Pam is busying herself with her gift of artistry and is producing work even better than before. I am studying the bible for myself (and my Pastor's blog) and I am thoroughly enjoying it and learning much about or Saviour and His people. We are going to celebrate 40 years in Tenerife and for such we are grateful to Barb and Neil and Caroline and Jamie; you are all kind to the extreme. I have also done something that an unemployed old duffer should never do. I have bought a ring (not ruby!) for Pam (she already has it!) we have never before celebrated our anniversary, funds have never allowed it. Our 25th landmark was marred by Pam's chemo and radio therapies and so we really were not up for celebrations. At that time we really did not think that 40 years was possible but barring God's intervention it is just around the corner and if we do make it we you will hear some of the celebrations across the Atlantic and into Cornwall.


Thank you all for this amazing journey, thanks for everything Pam and sorry to have put you through so many turmoils and also for current and future issues.


It is true that 40 years is a long time but it all seems to be so short, there is not 40 years left for us on this mortal coil but whatever happens we pray that we might remain faithful to each other and ultimately to Him who holds our very lives in His hands.

Monday, 19 May 2014

The burden of freedom.

 
 
 
 
 
The burden of freedom is a favourite song of mine. 
Kris Kristofferson has a succinct way of saying just what I think.  
 
I stand on the stairway, my back to the dungeon
The doorway to freedom so close to my hand
Voices behind me still bitterly damn me
For seeking salvation they don't understand

[Chorus]
Lord, help me to shoulder the burden of freedom
And give me the courage to be what I can
And when I am wounded by those who condemn me
Lord, help me forgive them; they don't understand

Their lonely frustration, descending to laughter
Erases the footprints I leave in the sand
And I'm free to travel where no one can follow
In search of the kingdom they don't understand

[Chorus]
Lord, help me to shoulder the burden of freedom
And give me the courage to be what I can
And when I have wounded the last one who loved me
God, help her forgive me; I don't understand
 
(Sorry Pam none of this is meant to harm you!) 
 

 

Saturday, 17 May 2014

What is the gospel?


I had the privilege of hearing Pastor Wade McLennan (Cardiff) speak on this subject last week. His challenge was to articulate the gospel accurately and clearly in 30 seconds. This challenge caused me to ask 2 questions:

  • Is it possible to cover such a massive subject in such a short time?
 
  • Is it right to attempt to declare such profound truth in such a short time?
 
 Wade reminded us that Paul did just that very thing in 1 Corinthians 15:1-11

"Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain.
For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me. For I am the least of the apostles, unworthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me. Whether then it was I or they, so we preach and so you believed."

Paul wanted to remind the rebel church in Corinth of what the gospel is. It is the good news that he had received and had passed on to them through his preaching. There is much made of anything but preaching in the modern church,. The idea that the gospel must be wrapped up in all sorts of social action has been taken to extremes that were never intended by the Lord. 

Social action has taken the fore and simple gospel declaration has been relegated to 3rd or even 4th place. I am told that modern people do not want to be preached to, they simply want loving into the kingdom. Whilst I have great sympathy with that it is simply not the prescribed way of the bible. 

Paul in the passage above told the Corinthian believers that he had delivered the gospel as of first importance:


Christians cannot be true disciple of Christ if they are not concerned about the issues of life. It is hypocritical for us to pass by a person in great need without being concerned for them and doing what we can. But we also have to keep things in a right perspective. Jesus told His disciples:

 "For you always have the poor with you, and whenever you wish you can do good to them; but you do not always have Me.  Mark 14:7

We do have people in all sorts of need, not just poverty but there is nothing better for any person to be told the gospel. It gives much more than satisfaction of mind, body or spirit.  The gospel gives hope of eternal life, the forgiveness of sins and relationship with God!


 Our problem is that we are often only afforded a very short time to say anything meaningful and so it is important to be able to articulate the gospel in the chance meeting of the short amount of time afforded by our contact. There will always be time for them to receive a sandwich or a handout or even a listening ear but the gospel is often allowed for a short time only. It is therefore vitally important to be able to do what Paul does in these verses:


"Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you:
For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures'"

That is truly the gospel in an nutshell, it is even more clear and articulate than John 3:16. It needs no explaining  and it is all there! If our hearer affords more time then of course it is good to speak at greater length but if that is all the time you have then your hearer will go away with gospel truth implanted.




 Before you leave this page believing that I am in some way against social action I would like to say that I am not. I believe that the greatest social action groups have come from within the church. The way that it has happened is that ordinary people have been converted and have then been concerned for the living conditions of society around them. They have been taught well in church and have therefore sought to do as much as possible to help those for whom their hearts reached out to. That is a far better way than the church trying to direct social projects. the church's role is to equip the saints for acts of service in soociety.

Therefore my plea is for Christians who have a heart for bettering society then get on with it as of first importance and then for the church, please focus on preaching and teaching about Jesus who is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the worl!

 

Thursday, 15 May 2014

Full moon over Looe.

We went along to one of the church house groups last night and enjoyed a great night in fellowship around the Word of God. We were challenged about what God is doing in our own life and the life of the church both now and in the future.

All of the time that we were seeking His guidance for our lives He was displaying something of His creative glory to our nation and I suppose that even though it was seen God was rarely seen through it. 

We were greeted by this sight as we entered the flat:


"God's invisible attributes, namely, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse."
Romans 1:20

One of the great assurances that I have of my faith is when I see such natural beauty. My immediate response is to see the glory of the creator in His creation. 

Some believe that God is in the creation but that is simply not true. However much the creation might be glorious it is merely a signature of it's creator. The created world can never contain the magnificence of Almighty God, but as Paul says in Romans 1:20 it clearly displays much about Him.

It firstly shows what is unseen to man. On this occasion the "man in the moon" is preaching to the world about God's unseen glory and for all who observe it then they are without excuse if they do not see something of God's character.  To apportion the sight of a full moon over the sea on a beautiful Spring evening in Looe to anything or any other deity Paul tells us is inexcusable to God Almighty.

God gives many chances in life through the wonderful creation for all people everywhere to stop and consider how this glorious world came into being. To even suggest that it all happened by fate of accident and is without purpose is according to the bible nothing but arrogance. God created and has put His signature for all to see. I know that me making such a statement is likely to cause some to rail against me but I would just like to ask that before you cast me off into the waste bin labelled "nutter and bigot" please consider what I say first and then if you deem it necessary dump my thoughts and by all means challenge me.

God's eternal power and divine nature are also clearly seen. We are observing the work of the Almighty God and as such I am not ashamed even with a scientific background to glorify Him. It might not be trendy to do so, and it may not be in line with 21st century science but my spirit raises to the God of creation when I see creation as gloriously as was displayed last night in a full moon over Looe. 

It was worth coming home late for!

A late night was followed by a waking at 4:00 am and not being able to sleep. rather than lie restlessly in bed, coffee beckoned. (It is for me a great nightcap after the drinking of which I find sleep to be more forthcoming! ) The sky was filled with the glow of the same moon but more to the west now and lower on the horizon.


It reminded me once again of the creator that put it there for His good pleasure and also our benefit. I was immediately pleased to be awake at such an hour and inspired to preach our God through this page. If you are a skeptic about what I say then I would like to tell you that the message of the moon is only the beginning. The creation is truly glorious but the creator is even more glorious. He is perfectly seen in the person of Jesus Christ. His glory is seen through another creation. The bible refers to the church as a new creation where the glory of God the Son is seen in much the same way as the Glory is seen in the first creation.

The church is a new creation comprising of ordinary people who have been transformed by faith in Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of personal sin and are then made into Christians. It is all about Him working the miracle of forgiveness on the cross and then making us into a people who are acceptable to God. When this is true then we see the natural world in a different way.

We cannot but see the creators hand in it!

And as such we give Him all of the glory.

 

Monday, 12 May 2014

Make every effort to be there!



That was the message I got from Marie on Sunday evening. Something is happening that is quite unusual at the Eden Project.

The Titan Arum is coming into flower!

You may well ask what that is all about. The titan Arum is the worlds largest flowering plant and it is coming into flower. It is in the rainforest biome at the Eden Project in Cornwall. The flower which is notoriously difficult to cultivate also has something other than size as a distinctive. It is known as the corpse flower because when in full bloom its scent is like that of rotting flesh






See: http://www.edenproject.com

We dutifully went along. As members of the Eden Project we can show our pass and pop in and so it was without cost. The flower is large; getting on for 3 metres and is very impressive. It is not pretty and thankfully due to it not having fully opened was without its stinking trademark. But it was well worth seeing and we are glad to have been there.

But why?

Tim Grigg the expert who has been able to cultivate this plant has now had a number of successes has made it possible for the average Brit to see something that normally only occurs once in a blue moon and on the other side of the world in an inaccessible jungle in Indonesia. That is worth going to see.



It all reminds me of the gospel of Jesus which makes it possible for all who come to Him to see God. You might think that such an offer would cause many to come to find him but it does not work that way. I have now been to the Eden Project 5 or 6 times and have never seen the car park as full as it was today. You see many had heard of a flower coming out and wanted to see it.



Some heard by word of mouth, others by website information. Even been broadcast in the media I am told. Word has got out and people want ot experience the delights of seeing this most extraordinary plant. The Eden project has sent out it's evangelists with the good news of the Titan Arum and people have been affected by going and seeing for themselves.



It is the same for Christians we are called to tell others about the Son of God who uniquely came once in order to die for sinners to be saved from the penalty they deserve. That is the most important event in the whole of human history and we have been affected by it!

I wonder why we do not broadcast it aloud.




Especially when the Lord tells us that this is our duty.



Saturday, 10 May 2014

A line drawn in the sand.






There come certain times in life when closure is the way forward. One thing must finish before the next can begin, we refer to this as drawing a line in the sand. It is a wonderful concept that draws a gentle barrier between what has gone before and what is to come.



I suppose the greatest line drawn in the sand for the Christian is the cross where a barrier was not only broken down with sin being defeated but another line was set up that is a barrier between the old sinful life and the new creation that Jesus makes of His people. There is no re-crossing that line. Completion has been accomplished which means that forward is the only was to go.



I am reminded of the children of Israel who had come out of Egypt where they had been slaves for approximately 400 years. By using Moses God miraculously released Israel from the tyranny of Pharaoh and his people and had brought them to the shores of the sea. It was here that the all important line was drawn in the sand. Israel stepped out on the sand of the sea bed and walked into freedom from slavery. The line was drawn by God and could never be re-crossed. It was for Israel alone; others who tried to follow were drowned in the sea of judgement. The line was for God's people alone.

My line was drawn back in 1968 when I became a Christian, my old life was finished and a new life in Christ began. I neither want to go back over that line nor can I. God prevents all who are truly His to return to the original state and so the line is well and truly in place, but over the years there have been many other lines that I have had to draw.



Almost 40 years ago the line that divided singleness and marriage was drawn. On the 1st June 1974 the line in the sand was drawn and Pam became lumbered with me and is still suffering from the promises that we made on that day. We thank God for the grace given that has kept us together all of these years despite many ups and downs on the way.

More lines were drawn when Jo, Elaine and Marie were born. New lines were drawn when jobs were changed due  to circumstances. Eventually Christian ministry beckoned and another important line was drawn. This involved a move the Midlands and South Wales and then last year another one between South Wales and Cornwall. We can never step over these lines again but life progresses and with many lessons having been learned on the way.



As we speak another line is about to be drawn and we are not at all sure of what is across the other side but what  we are sure of is as with all of the others there will be amazing opportunities and lessons that are just for us. God is good and gracious to us and as we make decisions before Him then we also see His grace being worked out in our lives in ways that are uniquely ours. It is an exciting prospect but also as with all of the other lines drawn it is daunting. There are many great things I am sure the other side of this line and we pray that there may be other lines to draw before the final one which is not drawn in the shifting sands of time but is drawn in heaven where the final curtain is lifted and we enter our own promised land.


Tuesday, 6 May 2014

Freedom of speech?









I was earlier this week in a queue waiting to be served with coffee and chatting to a friend when I was accused by somebody else of using coarse language. I was quite affronted by the accusation especially as it was my friend speaking at the time and he was legitimately quoting somebody else. The word used itself I do not personally do not find to be either offensive or coarse but that is a matter of personal choice. The more important issue is much deeper, it runs far deeper than the fact that the lady in question was extremely rude in doing such a thing and in the church as well. It made me think of the whole freedom of speech debate.




 I had previously thought that my debating days were over since reaching my 7th decade and leaving behind my responsibilities with young people. Thankfully this little blog and other places offer me the opportunity to vent my spleen and debate at least with myself the age old chestnuts of life. 

Freedom of speech; what is it? Do we have it? Do we agree with it? Should we fight for it etc are all issues that are now hackneyed and past their sell by date but maybe they ought to be resurrected somewhat.



In Britain we pride ourselves in having the freedom to speak about what we want but is it true? Jeremy Clarkson is always falling foul of it. He cannot say the words that he nchooses because it is deemed to be offensive by the Daily mirror of all people. I am certainly not supporting Jeremy Clarkson but his case proves to me that we do not have freedom of speech. In a way it is sad because if we were truly able to say just as we want then many people past and present would soon prove themselves to be fools, bigots, dangerous or just downright foolish by their own words rather than the judgement of the press which is at the least dubious.

So do I support absolute freedom of speech? I am reminded of a different rhyme to the one that Jeremy Clarkson quoted it is: "sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never harm you!"  Words may offend, they may rally others to the cause but they will never break your body. What they will do is educate real people as to the true character of the speaker and so in this it may be time to take the brakes off the politically correct brigade which will then allow my friend to say git without being castigated by some well meaning interfering lady who is possibly more like the Pharisees who watched the nation of Israel looking for such breaking of what they believed to be the moral code.




I am not afraid of words and neither should I be afraid to use them for the cause that I am passionate about. My freedom is being challenged in the church but even more so outside of it where there are many who would shut the mouths of gospel preachers like me from saying that Jesus Christ is the ONLY way to God. They will stop me being able to openly teach many of the bible truths. It is sad that words threaten them so much that they cannot hear a view that is contrary to mine, the poor little dears. In other lands people die for have a contrary viewpoint, we were like that a number of years back. We are supposed to be free but are being tied up in knots largely by the press who believe themselves to be the custodians of our freedom. They are at liberty to report on what they want but let it please be honest and without their spin that is designed to make as much money as possible from their judgements.



The Lord Jesus Christ died because He was God the Son and He was not afraid to say so. The officials of His day did not believe in freedom of speech then and neither do they today. Let us not be too quick to claim liberty when looking at other states in criticism when we are only very slightly more free to say what we want.

Thursday, 1 May 2014

A Real Dilemma:




 

I have just been studying the bible and considering a good and biblical work ethic (click on this link: Pastor's blog.)which has left me in a dilemma.  Man is created to work but my problem is that I am currently unemployed. That is a situation that I have never been in before and one that I am most uncomfortable with.




My question is: 

If God has ordained it for man to work for his living, then am I sinning by being out of paid employment?

Firstly I do not believe so because it was a matter of Christian principle that caused me to terminate my previous contract and secondly because there are many opportunities that are now coming to the fore. I am actively seeking pastoral work and with the support of good Christian friends and also the church I am most encouraged by the possibilities that might be afforded.



I have also been busying myself in studying the scriptures  and have published some of the fruits of my labours on the blog site linked to above. This has proved to be profitable for me and also for a number of readers it seems. 



My greatest difficulty is how to make ends meet. We have bills to pay and food to buy and a simple "God is good" statement does not impress the lady at the till in the supermarket. But nonetheless God is good and so are His people and so we can say for the time-being the bills are being paid.



It all reminds me of the story of Joseph where he saw injustices to himself as God's purpose as being sovereign over the difficulties caused by man.