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Monday, December 31, 2007

The Pushmepullyou


In the film 'Dr Doolittle', there is a creature called a Pushmepullyou which has the ability to look backwards and forwards at the same time. Today, on the last day of December, we can take a brief look at 2007 whilst looking forward to 2008, both at the same time!

I have found it an exciting year, filled with opportunities to serve the Lord. It has been a somewhat traumatic year for the church that I pastor, with all the problems regarding the huge building project that has been subjected to more on/off moments than the light switch on a busy landing! At first it seemed as though everything was perfect, but then one spanner ater the other was proverbially thrown into the works. As each new point was raised so it was answered, only for someone to raise another. All of this takes its toll from a stress-level point of view, and many people in the church have found themselves stressed out over the issues. However, looking forward, it would appear that work will finally commence in about six to eight weeks, unless, that is, there is another box of spanners lying around somewhere! Most importantly, we know that if it is God's will tyo go ahead then nothing can stop it, but equally, if it His will that it should not go ahead then nothing can make it.

The Voice magazine has gone from strength to strength through the year, and, based upon the print-run and the estimated number of readers per magazine, we estimate current readership at around 2500. The magazine now goes to America, Canada, Finland, Israel, India, Australia, Eire, New Zealand, and across the UK, and circulation is constantly increasing. I hope that we will have doubled our circulation by the end of 2008, and we are looking forward to eventually achieving a print-run of 5000 copies per issue. Please pray for this project as we need to raise funds to achieve results, both from advertising revenue and donations.

In 2007 we released three new CDs through Sheer Joy Music, the music arm of Voice Ministries. In September there was the 'Come & Sing' CD which was recorded at Arddleen Tabernacle in mid-Wales, and featured the congregation singing a selection of my hymns. Also in September I released a meditation CD, 'One Starlit Night, and then in October came the great sound of the group 'Cantoris' who recorded There is Joy, a selection of 15 of my hymns. Lokking ahead to 2008, there are three new CDs being worked on at present, the first of which is 'When I'm With You' by Susan Marrs, a terrific mezzo-soprano, who has recorded fifteen love-songs written by Greg Scheer and myself. Hopefully this will be released about mid-february. Later on, due for release towards the end of March, there is a CD recorded in St Petersburg by the LYRA Ensemble, who have recorded 15 of my hymns in Russian and sing them a capella. The third project, still in the early stages, is to record Charlotte Kerce, a great alto who lives in Tallahassee. The music will be recorded first in Manchester and then sent across to Florida for the final recording, the end product hopefully being released about late October.

Lots to look back on and be grateful for, but lots to look forward to as well, and all to serve the Lord, pointing people towards Him in any and every way possible.

Of course, I cannot complete this review without mention of this BLOG! Since I started it with my very FIRST POST on October 4th, I have tried to post every day, something that I've almost succeeded with, excepting the few days BLOG HOLIDAY that I've taken over Christmas. I posted on all sorts of subjects, some serious, some humerous, and hope that you, dear reader, have enjoyed most of them if not all. For a Blog is a two-sided thing. Without a writer it doesn't exist, but equally, without a reader there's no point in it existing, so together we form a friendly partnership. I LOVE to get your comments, so keep them coming!

One of the things that I've tried to do on my Blog is to use pictures to speak and illustrate, so here is my final picture for 2007:

Monday, December 24, 2007

The Night Before Christmas


See! I couldn't resist posting this today, so I got up early enough to do it!

THE NIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS
by Clement Clarke Moore
'Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse;
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there;
The children were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads;
And mamma in her 'kerchief, and I in my cap,
Had just settled down for a long winter's nap,
When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from the bed to see what was the matter.
Away to the window I flew like a flash,
Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash.
The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow
Gave the lustre of mid-day to objects below,
When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But a miniature sleigh, and eight tiny reindeer,
With a little old driver, so lively and quick,
I knew in a moment it must be St. Nick.
More rapid than eagles his coursers they came,
And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name;
"Now, Dasher! now, Dancer! now, Prancer and Vixen!
On, Comet! on Cupid! on, Donder and Blitzen!
To the top of the porch! to the top of the wall!
Now dash away! dash away! dash away all!"
As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,
When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky,
So up to the house-top the coursers they flew,
With the sleigh full of toys, and St. Nicholas too.
And then, in a twinkling, I heard on the roof
The prancing and pawing of each little hoof.
As I drew in my hand, and was turning around,
Down the chimney St. Nicholas came with a bound.
He was dressed all in fur, from his head to his foot,
And his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot;
A bundle of toys he had flung on his back,
And he looked like a peddler just opening his pack.
His eyes -- how they twinkled! his dimples how merry!
His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry!
His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,
And the beard of his chin was as white as the snow;
The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth,
And the smoke it encircled his head like a wreath;
He had a broad face and a little round belly,
That shook, when he laughed like a bowlful of jelly.
He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf,
And I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself;
A wink of his eye and a twist of his head,
Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread;
He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,
And filled all the stockings; then turned with a jerk,
And laying his finger aside of his nose,
And giving a nod, up the chimney he rose;
He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle,
And away they all flew like the down of a thistle.
But I heard him exclaim, ere he drove out of sight,
"Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good-night."

Saturday, December 22, 2007

I'm taking a Blog Vacation!

With Christmas Day just a few days away, and several church services to lead over the next three days, I've decided to take a blog-holiday, albeit a little reluctantly. At least, that's my intention, but you never know --- I just might find a few moments to post a few words and maybe a picture!

Tomorrow I will lead our service of Carols & Lessons at 11am, then Christmas Eve I'll be leading a Communion Service at 11.30pm which will finish just after midnight, allowing us to herald in Christmas Day in a contemplative and peaceful way.

Later on that morning I have a 9.30am service, after which I usually go and visit one or two folk from our church family who live in Care Homes before going home to our Christmas Dinner with the family.

So all that is left at the moment is for me to wish you all

A Perfect Read

I've just finished reading a great book. In fact, out of the tremendous number of books that I've read, I would say that this is probably one of the most perfect, if not the most. It's not a new publication. In fact it was published originally way back in 1994, but that doesn't stop it being great. It was the first novel written by Tim Pears, and is entitled, In the Place of Fallen Leaves.
Tim Pears was born in 1956 and grew up in Devon (UK), leaving school at sixteen. He has worked in a wide variety of jobs and is a graduate of the National Film and Television School. His first novel, In the Place of Fallen Leaves, won the Hawthornden Prize for Literature and the Ruth Hadden Memorial Award. His second novel, In a Land of Plenty, has been adapted for television and is now a major BBC television series. Since then he has had a further three novels published, the latest of which, Blenheim Orchard, was published earlier this year.
The story is set in the long hot English summer of 1984 --- one of the hottest summers of the 20th Century, and records life in a small Devon village through the eyes of a young girl who is part of a dynastic farming family. The fact that the author is also a published poet shows through every page of this book, his descriptive abilities transporting the reader to be an onlooker, almost to the point of voyeurism, of all that took place during that summer affected by the miner's strike, record levels of unemployment and a national teacher's strike.
Jennifer Salway, in a review of this book for the Observer newspaper, wrote of it that it was 'More perfect than any first novel deserves to be'. I concur. When I finished the final paragraph last night I felt saddened that what seemed to be a special episode in my own life had ended, such is the power of this writer to draw the reader into becoming an integral part of the story themselves.
Have I eulogised too much dear reader? Well, all I can say is that if I have then this book deserves it, and more! I guess that a good second-hand copy will probably be available from Amazon.com if you want to read it for yourself.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Today is the shortest day . . .


Hurrah! Today is the shortest day of the year, and that means that from now onwards the daylight hours start to lengthen out, almost imperceptibly at first, but within a few weeks it starts to become noticeable. It starts me thinking about Spring and the abundant new life that the new season will bring with it.

Here's a few of the things that I'm looking forward to:

Lambs in the fields

Proliferation of Daffodils (Wow! That's a long word, must be for a crossword puzzle!)

Warmer days (I hate the cold weather!)

New life all around

All the GREAT things that we're blessed with!

Now I realise that some people will berate me on the basis that all I'm doing is wishing time away, BUT, when you really don't enjoy freezing cold temperatures and both getting up and coming home in the dark, what else can you do but look forward with hope to brighter days?

That's the whole story of LIFE really, isn't it, for as we go through life, travelling on the many different paths that we find, isn't our journey taking us forward to the LIGHT? If the answer's 'No' then it's time to make changes, for we need the Light in order to banish the darkness altogether. Of course, when I refer to the Light there can only be one real understanding of it, and that is the Light of the World. Jesus Christ is the Light of the World, and one day we shall all praise Him in His radiant glory. Now that is REALLY something to look forward to!

What about you, dear reader? What do you look forward to in order to dispel the dark, and often dreary, days of Winter? Let me know!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Christian Qualms about Christmas

There are many different attitudes regarding the celebration of Christmas. Today, more than ever, many Christians are concerned at the over-commercialization of what they feel is purely a Christian event, i.e. the birth of Jesus, the promised Messiah. On the other hand there are many who are concerned that much of the celebration contains, and is based upon, elements with Pagan roots. There are so many questions asked regarding this celebration, and, as is always the case, some people get very hot under the collar about it all! Of course, generally speaking, people like others to agree with them about strong issues in particular, and that makes the whole thing even more contentious.

Now you, dear reader, know that I love all the coloured lights and the 'trimmings', so you know where I stand on that one! However, like many people, I am concerned that the whole celebration of Christmas is little more than an excuse for many people to 'eat, drink, and be merry'. Whilst I was looking at Andrew Strom's Revival School website I came across the following piece on the subject, written by K. Olsen, on a discussion forum under the heading 'Does God care about Christmas?'

This was written by K. Olsen concerning the Qualms About Christmas.

'There are a growing number of Evangelicals who are concerned about Christmas and whether it should be celebrated by true believers. There are various reasons for this distress, the main one being the pagan origins of the 25 December festival. There is historical evidence that Christmas was not observed by the early church fathers and it was the Roman church which adapted the `Natalis Solis Invicti' (birth of the sun-god) and `Saturnalia' festivals. Further, there is no Scriptural injunction to celebrate Christmas. Also, the secularisation and commercialization of Christmas troubles many believers.

Some believers feel that for the above reasons Christmas celebrations should be shunned.

We submit some other points to consider - indeed good reasons why Christians should take full advantage of Christmas:

1. Ungodly origins are not always a reason to reject what God has allowed. Two examples:

a) Jesus is the King. No Christian disputes that. Yet, kings have an ungodly origin. Indeed, this pagan tradition was so prevalent that the early Israelites demanded their own king - much to God's displeasure.

But, in God's eternal wisdom He allowed it to happen and Jesus is today proclaimed King of Kings.

b) Cities have a very shady origin. The first inhabitants of cities, the Bible tells us, were the descendants of Cain. The Bible generally speaks about the evil of cities. Yet, we believers shall dwell in the holy City, the New Jerusalem.
2. Christmas is the only remaining Christian event which virtually the whole world acknowledges (even Cuba has recanted on its past banning of Christmas celebrations). It is an opportunity to proclaim Christ and the real meaning of His glorious birth. The giving of presents, festivities and the general (though temporary) feeling of goodwill can be used by Christians around the world to proclaim the Good News of the real Gift, the Christ Child, who was born to die and give us the gift of pardon from sin and eternal life.

3. Despite growing ignorance about the reason for Christmas most people still have some vague knowledge that the celebration is connected to the birth of Christ. Believers should take advantage of this and pass on the full message of the meaning of Christ incarnate. At least it is one time during the year when the secular world is more receptive to the Good News. Unconverted church members have some tinge of conscience and are willing to attend a Christmas service. What an opportunity to proclaim the Gospel.

4. Jesus and His disciples and the history of the church, have shown that opportunism is not always a bad thing. Indeed, the zealous Christian will use every opportunity, in season and out of season, to proclaim the Gospel. Paul was even willing to address ungodly philosophers in heathen surroundings on Mars Hill.
5. There are increasing attempts to `de-Christ' Christmas. Many companies do their best to avoid the word Christmas and will rather refer to Season's Greetings. All the more reason to emphasize the Lordship of Christ in Christmas and all of God's creation.

As the Editor of Evangelical Times (December 1997 No.12) puts it: Of course, opportunism is not adaptation. Jesus and the apostles did not adapt their message to the culture of their time. They did not modify the Gospel to suit their hearers. To do that must be wrong. But we must not let a fear of making mistakes keep us from taking every opportunity to preach the Gospel and using familiar things as vehicles for the unchanging truth.'

So, dear reader, what do you think about it? I always think that anything that gets people into a situation where they can hear about the Saving Grace of Jesus and the love of God is a good thing. O that our churches, chapels and cathedrals might be filled with unbeliever's and addressed by New Testament preachers!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

CBC Award Picture

I thought you might like to see the photo that was taken at the recent Christian Broadcasting Council Awards, which shows me receiving my certificate from Bishop Michael Marshall, the Assistant Bishop of London.

I received the 'Highly Commended' certificate jointly for two of my collections of Christian verse, In Praise of Him and In Praise of Him Again. The comment from the judges was:

“In a time when poetry seems to be something of a lost art, it is heartening to know of the publications from Voice who keep the art of poetry alive, focusing on faith, expressed by signs of beauty and learning from every day life. We commend Colin and Voice Publications for their heart-warming poetry and material produced.”

I'm proud to have been blessed with this award, although I readily attribute the work to the Holy Spirit!


Countdown to Christmas

Just 6 DAYS to go!

Are you ready for Christmas yet?
Are the presents wrapped and done?
Are the cards long-posted since,
each and every one?

Have you been singing Christmas Carols
'till your voice is hoarse and dry?
Have you had some early Christmas Cheer
--- some coffee laced with Rye?

Have you visited the neighbours
and been to every store?
Has your family called and seen you,
(even the one they call 'The Bore')?

Have you planned some great surprises
for the loved ones in your life?
Some very special moments shared
'tween husband and his wife?

Have you seen a thousand Santas
dressed up in white and red;
and perhaps heard sleigh-bells ringing
as you climbed into your bed?

Do you wonder if the snow will come
to fall on Christmas Day?
Do you have room for a stranger,
if one should come to stay?

Have you checked the little manger,
to make sure its got fresh hay;
so that you're ready for the baby
that will lie there Christmas Day?

If the answer's 'YES' to all these things,
then, when all is said and done,
I guess you should be ready
to receive the Holy One!

The One whose birth we celebrate
who brings LIGHT to all mankind;
the little babe who came to save
the poor, the lame, the blind.
Copyright 2007 : Colin Gordon-Farleigh

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Talking about giving . . .

At this time of year, just a week away from Christmas Day, we think about the birth of Jesus and the wonderful gift that God blessed mankind with. In and through Jesus, God has given to us the ultimate example of sacrificial giving. But how do we view ourselves when it comes to giving something back to God? Tithing is almost always a contentious subject, yet if we have our values right then there's absolutely no reason why it should be.

How can anyone who is committed to the Lord's work be anti-tithing? It's completely Biblical. We are urged to tithe 10% of our wealth, yet that still leaves us with the remaining 90%! So many churchgoers seem to think that all they need to do when it comes to money is to leave a 'tip' for God in the collecting plate at the Sunday service. Often the argument will be that 'they give what they can afford', yet when it comes to finding the money for an expensive holiday, new car, new anything-they-want, they manage to find it without a problem.
Suggest that someone puts a £10 (US$20) note into the collecting plate and the hands are raised in horror that they might be expected to give so much, yet if a loved one gives them £25 (US$50) as a birthday gift, they feel hard done by!God has given everything He could for us. How can we dare to withhold from Him what is rightfully His?
The other side of the financial coin is the responsibility factor. Suppose that an entire congregation tithe, and that most of them give considerable more than 10%, there is a great responsibility on the leaders of that congregation to ensure that the money given is used wisely for God's purpose, not as a means of improving the comfort zones of the leaders; something which has been seen all too often.
We are called to tithe to ensure that the spread of the Gospel message and the feeding of the flock is unhindered by financial restraint. The responsible church will be one who ensures that their giving achieves just that.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

A Nativity Service with a slight difference!

This morning we had our Nativity Service in my church, but this year it was a little different because we invited volunteers from amongst the congregation to play the various parts whilst i read the Nativity story from a children's Bible.

It all started because the two children in the Sunday School who usually play the parts of Joseph and Mary decided that they didn't want to this year. In fact they both said that they wanted to be donkeys instead! When, like us, you have a fairly small Sunday School, you are not left with a lot of options, and so it was decided that, as all of the congregation are God's children, we would invite participation from amongst all the children present. It worked a treat, although the older 'children' taking part kept chattering as they walked on their journey to Bethlehem!

In these days of political correctness we increasingly hear about fewer and fewer Nativity plays happening. Most schools put together some sort of pantomime which can feature a sort Nativity which includes Batman, Spiderman, Robin Hood, and Santa Claus! The end result is a confusion which sends out the message that everything is just a comic-book story, including the greatest story on earth --- that of the birth of the Son of God in the most humbles of surroundings imaginable.

If we, as Christians, fail to let our light shine out in the darkness of the world that we live in there is a real danger that the darkness will snuff the light out altogether. Now that may well be the aim of the secularists behind so much of the politically correct rubbish, and we may well recognise it for what it is and them for what they are, but if we fail to stand against it then we become party to it, and that is unacceptable.

We need to be united as never before. If we are united in Christ then we will be united too in our resolve to boldly proclaim the Gospel message, and the united flicker of our small flames of witness will together produce a light so bright that the darkness will be banished for ever.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

WalMart was Busy today!


Walmart, was Busy Today!
We went to the shops by the Mall,
they were crowded and full, by the way;
the car park was packed,
the attendants were hacked,
Oh, WalMart was busy today!

We waltzed down the aisles of food,
picking things off the shelves, jolly good;
soon our trolley filled up,
things to eat, things to sup,
Oh, WalMart was busy today!

They say that the prices are low,
that the food is the best you can get;
when it's full to the brim
then the tills start to ring,
Oh, WalMart was busy today!

We bought only things that we need,
food and drink, and something to read;
for when all's said and done,
there was no sense of fun,
Oh, WalMart was busy today!

Tomorrow's another new day,
a chance to count up our pay,
to give shopping a rest,
and to go and be blessed,
and worship the only TRUE Way!
Copyright 2007, Colin Gordon-Farleigh

Friday, December 14, 2007

It's that time AGAIN!

Here we are, the middle of December, and it's that time once more when The Voice has been 'put to bed' and the print-run has started. One of the great things with the printers that I use is that you can set everything going and then walk out of the door, leaving the machine to do all the work. OK, sometime the plan goes astray because a toner runs out or there's a paper jam, but fortunately that doesn't happen too often.

Pictured above, for all of you who receive the magazine regularly, is a sneak preview of the next cover, suitably seasonal! I often get comments about the cover pictures, so I hope that you like this one, snow and all! If you are a visitor to this Blog who does not yet get the magazine then follow the link and register to receive it. It will arrive through your letterbox every two months and it's absolutely FREE.

I edit and publish the magazine as part of my ministry, using it to bring all sorts of issues to the attention of Christians and non-Christians alike, but from a Christian perspective. In addition to the various editorials from a great bunch of writers there are cartoons, stories and anecdotes to make you smile, and regular features such as Soldiers for Christ, which tells of our great Christians who have now passed to Glory. People like Charles Wesley, Fanny Crosby, and --- in the latest issue --- Leonard Ravenhill, who still inspire us today. Currently we are running a series about some of the great Cathedrals to be visited in the UK, and the new issue features Hereford Cathedral, home to the famous Mappa Mundi. In addition there is a regular diary page by Lindsey Cox, a down-to-earth --- well mostly, anyway! --- home-schooling mum from the Southern States who runs a great Blog called Just Enjoy the Journey. It, like the magazine is a jolly good read!

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Not a Snowflake in Sight!

Not a Snowflake in Sight!
I remember, I remember,
when I was just a lad,
snow fell in December
and all the roads were bad.

No gritting lorries then,
our water pipes all froze;
we even had an icicle
that dangled from our nose!

We'd rush to make a snowman
with two eyes made from coal;
a carrot for a nose,
and warm love for a soul.

When the sun came stealing,
and melting all we'd done;
We hoped that, by next morning,
we could make another one.

At length the dark came creeping,
and covered all around;
next morning it had snowed again,
and a new world we had found.

The world was white and silent,
as we trouped out to play;
to make another snowman,
to live another day.
Now, with global warming,
there's not much Winter fun.
No snowfall in December,
just a cold and wintry sun!
Copyright 2007 : Colin Gordon-Farleigh

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

10 GREAT Christmas Memories

Christmas time is a great time, especially for children, and as we are growing up many of the special things that occur at this time of the year will form our treasured memories of days and occasions that are destined to remain an important part of our lives. I have many such memories, forged over the years, some of them nostalgic, some of them funny and some of them --- well, not exactly what I would have chosen, but nevertheless, still part of the rich tapestry of my existence! I thought I'd make a list of the FIRST TEN that come to mind. I chose to use the first 10 because I guess that they are the most vivid, and that's why they come to the foreground in my memory.

1. Number ONE has to be the very traditional Christmas Tree that we woke up to find beautifully decorated on Christmas morning when we went down to the lounge. my mother and her friend used to decorate the tree after 9 o'clock when all of us 'littlies' were asleep in our beds, dreaming of Santa's visit. The tree usually reached up to the ceiling and sometimes had to be made a little shorter to fit because our ceilings were quite low in the lounge.

2. Number TWO is the memory of the wonder of coming downstairs one Christmas morning to find that my mother had transformed our lounge with decorative branches smothered in tiny pink crepe-paper flowers. There were strands of silver hanging from the branches, and reflecting the string of Christmas lights that twinkled through them. How well I remember the pleasure of that Christmas morning!

3. Number THREE in my list of memories goes to the Christmas Stocking. In reality we didn't use a fancy one like the picture shows here, but simply hung up one of socks at the end of the bed for Santa to fill with goodies. That usually meant a tangerine (easy to peel for a child), a few nuts (impossible to get into!), maybe a twist of paper with a few sweets in, a colouring book and a small toy.
Looking back it wasn't very much really, but it was so exciting to find, and it was usually still dark when we awoke to rummage through the stocking's contents!

4. Number FOUR is the smell of the Christmas Dinner cooking, especially the lovely smell of roasting turkey!
5. Number FIVE is food-related too! Because there were so many of us sitting down for Christmas meals i used to have a small table set in front of the window seat, and this was something very special to me 'cos it made me feel quite grown up.
The meal was beautifully cooked and recalling it still has the ability to make my mouth water at the memory!

6. Number SIX is this Rupert Annual which a small 6-year old boy woke to find amongst his presents on Christmas Day way back in 1949! Always a favourite for children, the tales of the little bear kept that little boy entranced and quiet for many an hour!

7. Number SEVEN is a different sort of memory altogether! I was just 17-years old, and had newly passed my driving test, when I bought one of my father's delivery vans which he planned to make redundant. It was Christmas Day, and I decided that I would take it out for a run before Christmas dinner. I hadn't paid him for it at that point, but was going to pay him so much a week until it was paid for. I seem to recall that the price was about £30, and that I would pay him £1 per week until it was finished.
Well, that was the intention anyway! The reality was that whilst I was out, driving carefully along a country lane, the van went into a four-wheel skid on a very sharp bend and then mounted the bank before turning over and coming to rest on its roof!!! The whole thing happened in a flash, although it seemed to be slow-motion to me as the cushion that I was sitting on slid round and suddenly I found myself looking down out of the window onto the ground. I was unhurt but the van had to be written off! I never did get to pay for it, and the subject became a rapidly closed book!
8. Number EIGHT is about a present. Not one that I received, but one that I gave. I was just fifteen, and had saved for quite a long time in order to buy my mother an electric kettle for her Christmas present. When I gave it to her the look on her face made all the saving worthwhile, and I still get pleasure from remembering that look today.
9. Number NINE in my list is the great feeling of coming home from school in the dark on the school-bus, and walking round to the house past all the shops which were brightly lit and decorated for Christmas. There was something quite magical about it all that I loved!
10. Number TEN was gathering with the whole family in the lounge to watch the Queen's Christmas Speech to the Nation on our newly acquired television. It was about 1957 I think, and we had a cabinet model with a 15" screen. It doesn't seem possible now that TVs had such small screens then, especially when you see the 42" monster screens that people often have today.

Yes, Christmas has changed in so many ways. In those days it was centred around our faith mingled in with all the business of exchanging gifts and eating something different and special --- something you didn't eat the rest of the year. Nowadays, with turkey a regular part of the menu for many people throughout the year, it's all different. Not better, but different. No longer is the joy of giving the important thing, rather the pleasure of receiving has taken over in this materialistic society. We live in an age of ME! ME! ME! and that's not only sad, but it's boring too.
What do you treasure in your own memory about Christmas' when you were growing up?

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Talking Music

This afternoon I went to Moreton, which is about 40 minutes away, where I had been invited to talk to the ladies' devotional meeting. I've been there a few times before and it's always good to go back and visit people that I know. I chatted to them about my hymn-writing and played several tracks from the new Cantoris CD which they loved. I explained a little of how I set about creating a new song, and related the story of how the first of my love-songs was given to Gill as a Valentine's Day gift this year, and how the Cd of love-songs will hopefully be available by next Valentine's Day. It should be great! They are sung by a fabuloso singer with a 'triffick' voice, Susan Marrs, and I think the Cd, titled 'When I'm With You' will be a real winner.
I also taught the ladies a new Worship song which I composed last July, 'Living Water', which they picked up quickly. It's one of those songs! Every time that I share it with a group they start trying to sing along to it!

Anyway, that's about that for today, 'cos as Christmas draws ever closer time gets shorter and shorter whilst jobs get more and more! I hope that your Christmas plans are working well, and that you've got a lot of the tasks out of the way already. If not, go and do a bit more right now!

Monday, December 10, 2007

CRAZEE HOBBIES : Here's Number 10!

FINALLY
Here's NUMBER TEN
in our list of
CRAZEE HOBBIES!

Number ten in the list goes to the strange hobby of Elvis Sighting!This is a hobby pursued by many people around the world who go out of their way to prove that The King faked his death and is actually alive and well, and travelling around the world working as a shop assistant/garage attendant/waiter/gardener/many other jobs

--- in fact anything except a singer!

Weekly World News has frequently promoted the popular rumor that Elvis is alive. Numerous stories have been published featuring photos and interviews with a healthy, but notably aged Elvis Presley. In the late 1990s, they ran a front cover that said "Elvis Presley Dead!", claiming that he had been living a secret life since 1977, but was now "really dead".

Sunday, December 9, 2007

We had a great CHRISTINGLE SERVICE!

We had a really nice Christingle Service this morning at my Church, which was coupled with two 3rd Birthday celebrations for two children baptised a while ago by me. That meant that in addition to the Christingles we also had birthday cake! SCRUMPTIOUS!!!
There was a really nice feeling in the Service which helped to make it a special blessing for all involved. The hymns were great. I love the opportunity to sing Christmas Carols and the various Advent songs, all of which help to put a smile on faces and help to focus people on the true meaning of Christmas.
Here in the UK the Government seems to have been working overtime to destroy the whole ethos of Christmas as a celebration of Christ's birth. Some areas celebrate Winter Lights, some seem to keep a careful watch in case any school dares to host a 'traditional' Nativity, and so on. They are, of course, quite happy for any other faith group to celebrate their religious festivals, but when it comes to Christians it seems that anything to do with Christianity is labelled by someone as being politically incorrect. How sad that a country that was founded on Christian principles should be like it is now.
I certainly do not begrudge any other faith group their ceremonies. I think that it's all part of living in a multi-cultural society, but I do object to the festivals of my own faith being so marginalised as to bring their very existence into question. Whatever anyone, Government or individual, might like to suggest, the real reason for the Christmas is the celebration of the birth of Christ, the Saviour of mankind. All the trimmings and various aspects of the secular aspects of the Christmas Season, many of which have been handed down from Pagan ceremonies, and those which owe their roots to the Victorians, are simply ways of making merry and have nothing really to do with the REAL reason that Christians celebrate. Even the date --- 25th December --- is a date of convenience!
So this Christmas let us enjoy as much or as little of the 'trimmings' as we individually want to without any guilty feelings, but let us also ensure that, in our readiness to do that, we have also made ourselves spiritually ready to celebrate the birth of a Babe that grew to change the world, and who lives today in our hearts. Today we celebrate His first coming, but as we do so let us also look forward to His Second Coming as well!

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Christmas Shopping Starts Today


Today is a special day because Gill has one of her all-too-rare SATURDAY OFF days, and so we are going to do a little Christmas shopping this morning. Tonight I shall be singing in our choir's Christmas Concert, and so much of the afternoon will be taken up by the final rehearsal. I always love the opportunity to have a good sing, but this time of the year is even more special because the Advent Hymns and Christmas Carols are lovely to sing and to listen to.

At the time of writing this I have a picture in my mind of a group of Carol Singers gathered around a brazier full of hot coals, glowing red against the snow-covered backdrop, and wrapped up warmly in Winter clothing, as they sing their hearts out in praise! Perhaps --- poetic licence permitting --- we can add in a Hot-chestnut seller for good measure, and someone carrying a tray with hot toddies to warm the cockles of the singers as they take a short break.
Well, that gives you something to think about as you go about your day! I hope it will be a good one, whatever you plan and do.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Here's an ADVENT Hymn for you to sing

I have been gifted with many new ADVENT HYMNS over the last two years. Here are the words to one of them which are sung to the Tune DENNIS, which you'll find in the Mission Praise Hymnal, number 60. Why not make it part of your Christmas Worship?

The Infant Christ
Tune: Dennis

Worship the infant Christ
Asleep in manger bare;
The Son of God, come down to earth,
His glory shining there.

Then Mary, looking down,
At Jesus where He lay,
Saw all the angel promised her
Asleep on bed of hay.

She shed a tear of joy,
For Jesus lying there;
She placed a kiss upon His head,
The world her joy to share.

God’s love complete in Him,
Is there for us to find,
He is our Saviour and our Lord,
Our souls He’ll care and mind.

So may we ever praise,
With heart and voice and soul,
The blessed Saviour of the world,
Who came to make us whole.

Now, as we gaze on Him,
In that manger crude and bare,
Our voices we will lift in praise
Of the Christ-child lying there!


All I ask, if you sing this in your Worship Service, is that you report its use to CCLI in the normal way, as all of my hymns are licenced by them.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Well, the tree is up!

The Tree is UP!
The tree is up,
and in our room
its lights dispel
the deepest gloom.
Even in the darkest night
they shine and sparkle,
bringing light
to cast away the stress and strain
of money rolling down the drain!
Up near the top --- in brightest gold ---
an angel
looks down upon our fold.
The news calls out our belts to tighten,
yet, here at least,
the news will brighten;
for we will look across our room
and see lights twinkling bright and clear,
reminding us of why it's there.
We will think of stall and manger,
of virgin birth, Herodic danger,
of kings who travelled from afar,
guided by a shining star;
of shepherds who their watch did keep
of cattle lowing, and bleating sheep.
Our minds will travel to that night,
so we can share the glorious sight
of infant babe in manger lay,
and celebrate this Christmas Day!

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Night is Coming


More and more these days I am being reminded of John 9:4 --- 'We must work the works of Him who sent Me, as long as it is day, night is coming, when no man can work. Constantly I get emails about revival and people talk about revival at meetings and on a one-to-one basis, so that it seems that there is definitely something in the air, so to speak.

When I was away at the CBC Awards Conference last week, a lady was chatting to me about REVIVAL, pointing out that one of the things that has often signalled Revival in the past has been a surge of hymn-writing, bringing new hymns into existence for people to sing in praise of Almighty God. She wondered whether the tremendous amount of new hymns that have poured from my pen over the last two years, (well, from my PC, actually), may be part of this phenomenon. I don't know, and certainly could not claim such a thing myself, but it is interesting that I have written something like 250 hymns in the last eighteen months. Of course I cannot truthfully claim that they are really mine, for they are the work of the Holy Spirit. All I do is to write them down and deliver them. I very often describe my part in all of this as being just the postman.

It would be very easy to look around at the world today and link it to the words of our Lord, reported in Mmatthew 24. Certainly we have wars and rumours of wars, in addition to which we have famine, pestilence, and natural disasters. We have a huge increase in lawlessness, especially here in the UK. But is this the end that is forecast. Jesus said that many false prophets would come and mislead many people, so perhaps those who forecast that the various things that are happening in the world today are definitely a sign that the world is about to end belong to that camp.

What we do know for certain is that Jesus also said that these things are merely the beginning of birth pains. He was careful to warn that we should be careful to see that we let no-one mislead us. He emphasised that nobody knows when the end will be: But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone (24.36). As Christians we are all tasked with spreading the gospel of the kingdom until the whole world has had the message delivered. That's the work that we have to do, unceasingly, using every means at our disposal. Certainly we all need to be revived in this work, and when it is finally completed then we shall see our Lord returning on clouds of glory.

How easy it is to understand in the light of this the words of John 9.4, for I do believe that the day gets ever shorter, and that the night is coming when we shall mno longer be able to work.

Monday, December 3, 2007

10 Things that Make Me SMILE!


  1. The sound of children's natural laughter when they're having fun.

  2. The greeting that I get from Sam, our little dog (You've met him in this blog before!).

  3. The ludicrous site of me in shorts!

  4. Ken Dodd when he's doing what comes naturally to him --- telling jokes.


  5. Going to see the Christmas Pantomime (a peculiarly British thing!)

  6. Watching ducklings playing in the pond, climbing out and falling back in!

  7. Seeing my wife smile.

  8. Men wearing wigs!

  9. Kittens tumbling around in play.
  10. People who take themselves far too seriously!

FREE HYMN RESOURCE!


I am giving away 6 FREE Hymn Resource CD-ROM discs for your PC! If you want one of these, which contains a selection of my hymns with Sheet Music plus a selection of my hymns that use existing tunes, then just send me an email telling me a little about your church, and the postal address to which you would like the disc sent, to: colin@voicepublications.com

Sunday, December 2, 2007

We're in Advent!

Today is the First Sunday in Advent, so I thought that I'd celebrate it by sharing this new Advent hymn with you. I hope you like it. It's called The Angels Sang, and is a great tune to sing to, nice and easy to learn. I don't often give my tunes names, but this is one of the exceptions for a special reason. It's called St John Tudor, and the name comes in recognition of the church that I pastor and Kathleen Tudor who is the organist and secretary of St John's. Over the years Kathleen has been so supportive of my music and hymn ministry, something which I have greatly appreciated. To access the sheet music for printing, just click on the image. You have my full permission to print it off and use it in your celebrations without worrying about copywrite infringement! All I ask is that if you use it in church services and so on, you report its use to CCLI. Other than that --- JUST ENJOY!
Tell me about your favourite Advent hymns and what special memories they hold for you.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

To God be the GLORY!

There was no blog yesterday (30th) because I was away in Essex attending the Christian Broadcasting Council Awards Dinner and Conference, and guess what ...! I was greatly honoured to receive a Highly Commended Certificate in the 'Best Christian Poetry Book' section, the award being presented for two of my books jointly, In Praise of Him and In Praise of Him Again.

I feel so privileged to receive this award but point all the glory and praise for the work upward to God. It is God who has blessed with my gifts, the reason for them being to glorify Him through their use. I often say of my hymn-writing and praise verse, that I am merely the 'postman' called on to deliver what the Holy Spirit gives to me, and so I guess that I have accepted this Award on behalf of H.S!

Anyway, dear reader, 'cos I like to share things with you, I have posted an image of the SAward Certficate at the head of today's blog. Hope you like it! If you want to take a look at the books in question just follow the link to the website page.

Speak to you again very soon!

Thursday, November 29, 2007

NUMBER 9 is here!



Number nine in my list of
UNUSUAL AND CRAZEE HOBBIES is:

Trying to clock up the record for seeing
The Sound of Music the most times!
The title works better if you sing it in the 'Sound of Music' style.

The most ardent Sound of Music fans dress up to go the cinema to see it. I wonder if they dress up when they watch it on DVD in their own homes? Perhaps GROUPS OF FANS get together for special viewings in each other's homes, dressed up in the costume of their favourite character!

I once saw a photograph in the newspaper of a special cinema viewing where dozens of the audience were sat in a Nun's costume. Individually, of course! Not all collectively in ONE Nun's costume, that would have been strange!

Of course, dear reader, I realise that maybe one or two of you absolutely love this film, and so, especially for those of you who do, here's a few pics.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

HOW Much? ... !!!

A few years ago I ran a candle factory and employed a regular staff of around eight people, mostly female. One of the ladies worked very hard and was always ready to work any overtime that was going, which in the run-up to the Christmas Shopping Season, there always was. Her husband didn't work. He was unable to work due to a back problem. I never really fathomed out exactly what the problem was. It was difficult for me to understand because I have suffered from tremendous problems with my back due to a benign spinal tumour, and this also created mobility problems for me. Now, when I was really suffering, I really was unable to do anything! Even sitting or lying down was a problem. This lady's husband, on the other hand, managed to take on jobs for people working on their cars, painting, clearing gutters, doing carpentry etc., all of which required a pretty strong back to manage the crawling about, climbing, carrying, and so on. Still, who am I to say anything?

Now the point of this blog is to go back to the hard-working wife, doing all the hours she could get in order to buy Christmas presents for her grandson, whose mum, incidentally, didn't work 'cos she had a problem sleeping. So Grandmother was the only wage-earner in the home --- well officially, at least!). Up until she talked about the presents she was getting I used to feel sorry for her, but when she told me that she would spend in the region of £650 on the 3-year old that Christmas, (and remember this was about 20 years ago), all I could do was gasp open-mouthed,

"HOW MUCH?!!!"

Her response was to tell me that she considered it quite 'normal' to spend this sort of money, and anyway, what business was it of mine?

All these years later I still see people running up huge debts in order to provide their children with the latest, the newest, the most expensive, the designer labelled, whatnots. If only they realised that they are doing their children and grandchildren NO FAVOURS at all. What sort of lessons are they dishing up? This is one area of 'Home-Schooling' that certainly falls short when it comes to the teachers, don't you think? Isn't it better to dish out oodles of love and teach the kids about the real values in life, you know, the ones that money can't even come close to buying?

What do you think, dear reader? How much do you feel is the right sort of ceiling to set when it comes to buying for the kids? Let me know.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

It's going mad already!!!

I had to go to the local shopping Mall today --- UNFORTUNATELY! It was packed with people flowing into the shops with lots of hope and most probably a little bit of plastic, and with people flowing excitedly out of the shops laden with their latest purchases.

All this and it's still NOVEMBER!

When you talk to so many people about Christmas, the last thing that they either do or want to talk about is the real reason for it, generally speaking. When I was growing up the Christmas Nativity story was central to our Christmas. We heard about it in Sunday School of course, but we also heard about it at school and in our home. Yet somehow, with all the talk about presents and food and --- when you get older --- drink, the real message is lost a little. Sure, not all at once, but just as surely it gets chipped away at year by year until it's pigeon-holed into being a small part of Christmas rather than the story of what Christmas is really about.

Each of us has the opportunity to change that. If we return to making the birth of Jesus the centre of our Christmas, sharing that with others whenever we get the opportunity, then the pendulum will start to swing back somewhat. It won't be an easy task because it has rapidly become politically incorrect to state that Jesus is the Reason behind the Season, but then, do you really want to be politically correct? I'm certainly not interested in political correctness when it comes to fabricating things in order to hide or even abolish the truth. I lived in Zimbabwe at a time when the government was conniving with so-called 'liberal' governments such as Sweden, in order to re-write history, so I do know how evil political correctness can be.

But back to the real reason behind Christmas. It's simple isn't it? It's all about the miracle of God's love and the birth of the baby Jesus, a child that was wholly human and yet wholly divine at one and the same time. His birth is the beginning of a story of reconciliation --- the opportunity for sinful humanity to be forgiven of their sinful state and reconciled to God the Creator.

Now that was easy, wasn't it! Make sure your cards tell that story this year and you'll be helping to do your bit to spread the Word.

No thanks, I've Already Got One!

10 Presents for the Man With Everything
  1. A large hole, all ready for planting a tree in.
  2. A coaster that warns you when your glass needs refilling.
  3. A mirror that always makes you look GREAT!
  4. A hangover cure that you take before the party.
  5. A new lawn that needs cutting only once in 20 years.
  6. An OPPORTUNITY.
  7. An Exercise Machine that does it all for you --- without any effort.
  8. Some great lingerie (To give to his wife or girlfriend)
  9. Justice
  10. A velvet bag to keep his ego safe.