Total Pageviews

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Motets & Madrigals : Cantoris' new CD

The Cheshire based choral group, Cantoris, are to release a new CD on May 1st, through Sheer Joy Music. This is something quite different from the CD of my worship songs which they released last October. This time it's a collection of music sung unaccompanied from past centuries, and is really quite beautiful. In a few days time you will be able to check it out on the Sheer Joy Music website, and also have a listen to a bit of it.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Pray Mugabe Away!

Mugabe has proven to the whole world that you can call an election, you can let the people express their will at the Ballot Box, and then, when the tide turns against you, you can argue and procrastinate endlessly whilst you seek for a means to rig the result. If all else fails you can simply refuse to publish the result and ponce about like some inane monkey on a stick until you get another idea to subjugate the masses. Be warned however! Mugabe may look like a clown and dress like a clown when he prances about before the rallied masses, but he is no clown when it comes dealing his enemies the swift death blows that clear his path!

Lowering the life expectancy of the people by means of continual deprivation and near-starvation is not enough for this tyrannical despot. Now he plans, having lost the election totally and without question --- despite his attempts to rig the election by having non-existent people and dead people vote --- to annihilate any further opposition at the point of a gun. His intention is that anyone who dares to oppose him will have a dose of lead poisoning.

It would appear that there is nothing to be done, but is this really the case? Mugabe is, after all, only a man. Admittedly, he's not much of one, but that's what he is at the end of the day. What power has he got that can stand up to the might of the power that can be unleashed through prayer? NONE AT ALL!!!

Join the call to pray for Zimbabwe's freedom from tyranny, and pray that God will intervene in the situation to bring about a prosperous peace to this beleagured nation. Lte's help to see an end to this despotic rule of this embittered man, who has engineered the death of so many of his people. Pray at 8am; 1pm; or at 8pm, for just one minute. Experience the power of prayer as you become part of this great spiritual movement, and you will see God at work.

Mugabe is just one little man!

You may be one person alone, but joined with God through prayer you become an army!!!

Getting back into harness!

One of the problems of going away for a few days is that just as you start to relax it's time to turn about and go back home again! I had a relaxing, but also productive, five days in Swansea last week. One of the reasons that I went was to see my friends Dorothy and Leighton, but the main reason was to blow a little fresh air into my lungs and shake the cobwebs from my mind --- metaphorically speaking at least! Anyway, I managed to do it well enough to be able to write some new songs, and I completed three songs to send to Greg Scheer for our forthcoming album of Country Songs, which, incidentally, Greg wants to record himself. in addition, and as a sort of bonus I guess, I also completed a worship song that had been hanging around for a couple of months waiting for me to do it, and also wrote a couple more new worship songs. I think, therefore, that I can claim that it was a fairly successful week.

I was really well and truly back in harness by Saturday morning, preparing my message for the Sunday morning service, and then delivering same the following day to a reasonable congregation. I think it does so much good to have a change of scenery every now and then, revitalising you as well as refreshing you. I certainly felt refreshed as I led the service yesterday! What a privilege it is to be able to lead people in worship each week and to minister to them the rest of the time.

This year I will have served my church, St John's Presbyterian Church in Runcorn, for ten years, and it's been a good journey so far. Not that everything has been wonderful all the time, for that's not the way that life is, but I have enjoyed every moment nevertheless. The photo at the top of the page is of St John's. If ever you're around on a Sunday morning for the 11 o'clock service, come in. You'll certainly find a warm welcome if you do, and one thing I can promise you without fail is that you will hear the gospel preached without fear. I don't believe in tickling the ears of the congregation by telling them the things that will make them feel comfortable and cosy. If the truth of Scripture does that then all well and good, for that's what they'll hear from me!

Very soon the church is due to undergo a radical change with the commencement of building works that will see it turned into a 2-story building with the latest amenities to help us to be a real 21st Century church. Of course, the building and so on are only the outer wrappings. What matters is what you find inside and what is taken outside of the building. I pray that inside will always be all that benefits the Kingdom, and outside that we will be a real witness to the love of God and Salvation through Jesus Christ.

It will be great to see the building undergoing transformation, but oh, how I pray for a transformation of souls as we seek ways to reach out to the lost.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Postcard from Swansea

Dear Reader,

I'm enjoying my few days of relaxation and rest here in Swansea, South Wales. The weather certainly helps! The last couple of days have been fine and sunny, with temperatures around 17 -18 degrees, which is reasonably warm for April (at least for this April!).

One of the reasons for coming down here was to give me the opportunity to write the last couple of songs that Greg and I need for our proposed Country CD, and yesterday I finished the first which is titled Just a Country Boy at Heart. Today I hope to come up with the last song that we need, so I need to get my thinking cap on pretty fast as the best part of the morning has already gone!

I'll get back to you in a couple of days, but in the meantime I leave you with above picture of Rhossilli Bay on the Gower, where I enjoyed the sun, sea and sand, on Tuesday. The promontory of rock is named 'The Worm', though I have no idea why!

I wish you all every blessing,

Rev Colin

Monday, April 21, 2008

Something different for a change!

As I'm going away for a few days to Swansea, I thought that I'd leave you with this poem. If you click on it then it should change to a full-screen image so that it is easier to read.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

ZIMBABWE: 24-hour Solidarity Vigil

I received the following by e-mail today. Many of you dear readers will know that I spent 12 years in Zimbabwe, living through a turbulent time in that nation's history. Arriving in 1972 when the country was named Rhodesia, living through the transitional period of it being named Zimbabwe-Rhodesia, and finally living under the name Zimbabwe until 1984. It is a land that is very dear to my heart, and I carry a great burden for its people, for the vastness of their suffering and deprivation under the brutal regime of the despotic dictator Robert Gabriel Mugabe.

Human life beyond his immediate circle holds no value for him, and his tyranny has extended to genocide on a massive scale. When he is finally toppled, either by force or by death, then the world will gasp as the true horrors that the Zimbabwean people have had to face become known.

Evil can only flourish when good people stand by and let it! Are you prepared to do nothing? Are you prepared to shrug at the awfulness of the situation and then ask, "But what can I alone do?"

You are being asked in the following paragraphs to pray for the salvation of Zimbabwe and its people; just to commit to praying for ONE MINUTE each day at an appointed time. Together we can make a difference! One man alone may be weak, but one man standing with God is the most powerful army that can exist.

If you will commit to ONE MINUTE of prayer each day for the Nation of Zimbabwe, please add a comment to this post. Your comment need only be a word or two, but it will serve to seal your promise of commitment.

The following is a letter from the people organising the Prayer Vigil, plus a letter from a 16 year old Zimbabwean.

Dear Friend,

In World War II, while Hitler was brutally taking over the world, there was an advisor to Churchill who organised a group of people who dropped what they were doing every night at a prescribed time to collectively pray for the safety of England, its people and for peace. Things drastically changed, and the rest is history. God is the answer, and prayer is the only way for Zimbabwe! In view of the current state of affairs in Zimbabwe we are organising a daily one minute prayer time at 8 am; 1 pm, or 8 pm. At any one of these times please stop whatever you are doing, and spend that one minute praying that God will intervene in the affairs of Zimbabwe. Someone once said that if Christians really understood the full extent of the power we have available through prayer we would be speechless. Our prayers are the most powerful asset we have. Together we can make a difference.

If you know of any Christian brother or sister who would like to participate in this powerful prayer exercise, please pass this message on to them.
ZIMBABWE 24-hour Solidarity Vigil

This message came from Margaret Kriel's Morning Mirror. Please try and pass it on to as many people as you can,

Many thanks

Dear World,
I am a 16 year old person living in Zimbabwe. I think the time has come for a more direct appeal, and so I am writing to you, the world.Maybe, just maybe, there might be someone out there who can help us...It's tough here now. The inflation rate is so high that if you don't change money within 6 hours you could get half the amount of foreign currency that you would have originally received.We're starving now; people die around us. In the last year alone at least ten people associated personally with my family have died despite the fact that they were only middle-aged. Other people don't make it to middle age. They don't even make it past childhood.Our once-proud nation is on it's knees. We flee or die. This beautiful, bountiful once-rich land has become a living hell. We have dealt with it until now; we have made a plan. That was the Zimbabwean motto: "MAKE A PLAN".
But now we can't make a plan. We're too tired, too broken, too bankrupt. We can't afford life, and life does not cost much, not really. We cannot afford to eat, we cannot afford to drink, and we cannot afford to make mistakes, because if we do we die. We don't have the capital to support ourselves, and those few who do, have to deal with the horror of watching their friends and family fall into absolute poverty as they cannot afford to help them.We're waiting desperately for a great hand to pick us up out of the dirt because at the moment we are outnumbered by Fate herself, and so we close our eyes and pray. We have fought for too long, and have been brought to breaking point. We simply stand, heads down, and bear it. Our spirit has gone; we are defeated. After a valiant struggle of over fifteen years, we have been broken.

There is no will left, no spirit. Like a horse that has been beaten until it cannot fight anymore; we are the same, and, like that horse, we stand dusty, scarred and alone, with dried blood on our sides and lash marks along our flanks. Our ribs too stand out; our hide is also dull.
Our eyes are glazed, our throats are parched, and our knees struggle to support us so that we stand with splayed legs to bear the brunt of the next beating, too dejected even to whimper...This is my plea. The thought of picking ourselves up again is sickening; one can only take so many blows before oblivion is reached, and we are teetering on the rim of the bottomless void. One more push will be the end of us all...There must be someone out there who can do something. There must be someone out there who cares! We are a destroyed nation, and the world sits back and watches, pretending they cannot hear our cries.
I appeal to you all...HELP US!

Friday, April 18, 2008

God overhears every conversation ...

We are taught that we should always be careful what we say, especially in front of children, but the thing that we must never forget is that God hears not only what we say but knows what we think. Now that's an awesome responsibility isn't it!

I heard this little story which I think illustrates the point so well. See what you think, dear reader.

It was the family mealtime and as usual the father opened in prayer, thanking God for all His blessings. Immediately after prayer, also according to his habit, he began to complain. He complained about the quality of the food on his plate, the rising inflation, the high interest rates, the poor wage he was making, the bitterness of the coffee, and so on and so on . . .
One day his little daughter set him straight. “Daddy,” she said, “does God hear you when you thank Him for all His blessings?” With confidence her father replied, “Yes dear, of course He does.” “Daddy,” she continued, “does God also hear you when you complain about things as well?” A little hesitantly he replied, “Yes, He hears that too.”
“Daddy,” she said again, “which does God believe?”

Taking a Break!

Next week I don't expect to post any new entries on the blog as I'm going to spend a few days in Swansea chilling out. I hope to write 3 new songs for the Country Cd that I'm working on with Greg Scheer, but to do that I need a breath of fresh air!

What this means, dear reader, is don't worry if I seem to have disappeared for a week! I'll be back from Wales by the weekend, refreshed and rarin' to go, you can count on that. Of course, should I get to an on-line computer, then I'll probably manage the odd post after all --- you'll just have to wait and see.

In the meantime I'm posting the pictures at the top of this entry to show you a little of the scenery where I shall be going. I shall also try to find some more nice images --- and possibly a few words --- to post over the next couple of days.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

A Little Bit Country!

I'm currently working on writing a new album of Country songs with Greg Scheer, and the plan is for Greg to record this CD himself. Even now, though he's busy composing the music, I'm sure that he's got a picture of himself in the recording studio. Perhaps he is looking further ahead to a great beach house in some exotic location. Hmmm! Could be next to mine, I guess. What do you think of that dear reader? (!!!)

One of the exciting things about song-writing is that you never know what the final outcome will be, for there are so many things that need to fall into place. Even when the song is a great song it needs to have some catchy bits in the melody so that people can't get it out of their heads. You know the sort of thing I mean, like the Mavericks did when they recorded Dance the Night Away. Now that was a song that I couldn't let go! I had to rush out and buy the CD! Even when the song is great and it's been recorded by a good singer, there is still a long way to go.

Keep on watching my blog for news about this project so that when the CD is available, possibly about the end of this year, you can listen to it and then rush out and buy it! If you keep a check on Greg's musicblog, accessed via his site, then you can find some of our songs posted there.

We have a CD of love songs that is due for release mid-May, so watch out --- or should I say, 'Listen out,' for that as well. It's called 'When I'm With You', and is sung by Susan Marrs who has a powerful voice.

Could it be that Scheer/Gordon-Farleigh might be the new Lennnon/Mcartney one day? Who knows!

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

You've just got to smile!

As soon as I found this picture it made me smile so much that I wanted to share it with you, dear reader.
Hope you like it as much as me!

More than words . . .

In her book, Can't Wait to get to Heaven, Fannie Flagg wrote about a boy being given a gift of a red kite by the old lady who took him under her wing. When asked why she'd chosen that particular gift, her reply was, "Well, the boy was always looking down and I wanted something that would make him look up for a change."

I guess that there are times in everyone's life when they need to stop looking down and start looking up! The problem is that often there's nobody around with such a good idea as that old lady had. When someone comes along who can help us to look up though, we see a whole different world, and find that we have a different way of looking at it as well.

The old lady used that red kite as a means of communication with the boy. She would go out into her garden and fly the kite with him, and all the time he was looking up he was seeing life from a new perspective. Life became better, and it was all because someone found a way to communicate with him.

Communication is about more than words. In fact, often words can seem too empty to do the job properly. So, how can we become better communicators?

I think that the best place to start is with the whole concept of communication. Just imagine a world in which communication didn't exist. imagine all the things we would be without!

  • There would be no words and so no books.

  • There would be no music.

  • There would be nothing but a silence that was interrupted by our own grunts.

  • With no conversation, nor the means of it, the human race would die out.

  • Without communication we would be incapable of showing or feeling love.

John Donne wrote that: All mankind is of one author, and is one volume; when one man dies, one chapter is not torn out of the book, but translated into a better language; and every chapter must be so translated ... As therefore the bell that rings to a sermon, calls not upon the preacher only, but upon the congregation to come: so this bell calls us all: but how much more me, who am brought so near the door by this sickness ... No man is an island, entire of itself ... any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind; and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee. John Donne recognised the need for good communication between human beings if they were to function as they were intended.

The Bible teaches us that man does not live by bread alone, but by everything that proceeds out of the mouth of the Lord. In order to live our lives in a manner that is pleasing to God we need to communicate with Him often through the medium of prayer. Like all communication, prayer is a two-way happening. To pray without believing that God is listening to you becomes little more than a meaningless babble that will have little more than a placebo effect. For prayer to become meaningful you need to pray believing that God hears you, that He will answer you, and you must also listen to what He says to you, remembering that communication is about much more than simply words alone.

  • When you take a walk in the country then God communicates with you through the scenery, reminding you of His greatness in Creation.

  • When you hear a beautiful piece of music that stirs your soul, then God is speaking to you through it.

  • When you see a beautiful picture that fascinates and holds you, then God is speaking to you through that as well.

  • When you love someone deeply, and when you are loved deeply too, then God speaks to you through those feelings, reminding you just how much He loves you.

For the greater part of my life I've been involved in communicating with people through the gift of writing, whether it be prose, verse or song. Many of the people who will read my work will never meet up with me, yet the communication is still there, just as positively as if we were meeting face to face. Through the words that I write, they will find a way to communicate with others and, more importantly, they can find a medium through which God can speak to them.

Greg Scheer --- the composer with whom I write most of my songs --- and I, have never met, yet we meet up in a sense through the words themselves. We are on a similar wave-length, and that's because the words and the music of the songs communicate, linking us together.

Communication. The tool that enables us to live side by side, cheek by jowl, comfortably. Without it we are empty, devoid of feelings and without companionship. Without it we would be lost, for without communication we would be out of touch with God. And life without God would be meaningless and empty.

Let's think about the way that we interact and communicate with others, for when we do then not only their lives are changed, but our lives also.

A kind word, a smile, a look, a touch. These are all ways to reach out and touch people's lives. In our hands we have a powerful tool that can bring about change through all these ways.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Let's help to get rid of Mugabe!

Note the crazed look on Mugabe's face. It is the face of one of the world's worst and most evil despots, a man who is responsible for murder on a massive scale; and a man who is determined by every foul means possible, to deny the beleaguered people of Zimbabwe the right to have their votes taken seriously. the only reason that this moron has allowed elections over the years of his despotic and evil rule is because he has always been able to rig the results to make it appear that he is still the popular choice.

He has systematically destroyed what was a beautiful country when he came to power, until today there is nothing left for those outside of his inner circle but an early death and a life of fear and starvation.

There are those who try to say that he has been corrupted by power. this is not truly the case. Certainly, the absolute power that he has wielded over the past twenty-eight years has made him more corrupt, but the truth is that his rule is exactly what he intended it to be. He was corrupt from his early childhood, and the evil that he has done has flourished because the world has stood by and let it. Every African leader who has paid him lip-service must to share his guilt, for they have been party to his corrupt rule, his grand theft, his murdering and torturous rule, simply by verbally offering support rather than condemnation. The attitudes of these African leaders has been one of sycophanticism with no concern for the millions of hard-working Zimbabweans who have been Mugabe's whipping posts.

Needless to say, this horrendous and evil man has had support from the Western leaders as well, for, even whilst paying lip-service to sanctions of one sort or another, they have allowed him, his vain wife and his hobble of henchmen, to travel to their countries with impunity. Obviously filling the coffers of the West's shop-keepers with the spoils of his systematic looting of Zimbabwean resources must be considered acceptable by the Western leaders. In this then, they too must share in Mugabe's guilt.

There is no doubt whatsoever that the reason that this tyrant has persistently refused to announce the results of the recent elections is because he and Zanu-PF have well and truly lost the election. Even their traditional threats to the voters finally had insufficient effect. Now his dogs have been turned once more on the people in order to offer them the opportunity to vote for Mugabe in a run-off or be destroyed totally. No doubt he intends to invite specially selected 'International Observers' from amongst his cronies once again, in order that they can state that the election run-off has been free-and-fair. The problem is that when it comes to the words free-and-fair these observers will not even know the meaning of the words. To them it's simply an invitation to 'earn' large payouts from Mugabe's slush fund for telling lies.

It is time for us to make a difference. We must not allow this man to destroy Zimbabwe even further, (as if that's possible!). Please contact your elected representative and get them to raise the matter in government, asking your government to make their protest known. Mugabe can only stay in power if he continues to receive the support of the South African government and the tacit support (often marked as support by their silence) of other world leaders.

Edmund Burke said that evil flourishes when good men do nothing. Urge your governments not to be counted amongst those 'good men who do nothing', but rather to be seen as excellent people who are determined to do something.

You can help to make life better for the Zimbabwean people. please, I beg you, do it today.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

We had a great concert!

Yesterday evening the choir that I sing with, The Frodsham & District Choral Society, performed a concert at St Lawrence's Church in Frodsham to a packed audience. We sang two Italian masterpieces, firstly Puccini's Messa di Gloria and the Rossini's Stabat Mater.

We all had an enjoyable evening, choir and audience alike, made more so by the wonderful voices of the four soloists who were:

Olivia Biddle - Soprano

Rebecca Chellappah - Mezzo Soprano

John Pierce - Tenor

Ian Gifford - Baritone

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Communication --- or the lack of it!

One of the great problems of this Age is communication, or at least, the lack of it. It’s a strange anomaly that we live in an Age where the means of communication have never been more accessible on the one hand, yet where the communication gap has widened considerably, on the other. Years ago the only means of communication was word of mouth. If you needed to send a message a great distance then it was necessary for you to use a messenger or messengers. Eventually, as mankind progressed, so did his powers of communication, and letters could be sent by messenger, ensuring that what was delivered was what you wanted to say without embellishment. As the years progressed we entered the era of the telegraph and telephone systems, and communication became far easier. People also used the mail to maintain relationships, and even as a hobby in the case of pen-friends. The latest news could be relayed to us in an instant via the radio and, ultimately, the television. We had arrived in the ‘Golden Age’ as far as communication was concerned.

When I was at school there were Public Speaking contests for schoolchildren, for it was recognised that, in order to be an achiever in this world, you needed to be able to communicate as well as possible.

The ‘Electronic Age’ has advanced us in so many ways, yet when it comes to communication, despite the advances that are open to us, such as email and text messaging, communication has suffered drastically.

Our children have grown up — and continue to grow up — lacking the power of communication. The grunts of the teenage years are often carried into adulthood. Children isolate themselves in their rooms in front of a TV or computer screen, spending their time playing games that may accelerate reaction yet decelerate human interaction. When meals are taken to the bedroom as well, to be eaten in isolation, then the death of communication in family life is almost complete.

When we fail to talk to each other in a meaningful way, how can we talk to God either. Is it not true therefore, that the demise of church attendance is down to a lack of communication, and that the ‘Golden Age’ is not only over, but dead and buried as well?
Let’s pray for a revival in communication skills, and start talking to each other meaningfully once more!

The above comment may be found in the May/June issue of 'The Voice Christian News & Views' magazine, available absolutely free of charge by going to http://www.voicepublications/ and registering on-line.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Meditations on The Lord's Prayer : 7

Why does power seem bring out the worst in people?

The empire builders and the glory seekers

seem to have taken over the world.

There are power struggles, political take-overs,

riots and revolutions,

and often the world can seem to be a scary place to be.

Father, help me to remember that
You are Lord God Almighty, and that

Yours is the Kingdom, the power and the glory,
now and for ever,

and remind me of that glorious fact every moment of every day.


Thursday, April 10, 2008

Meditations on The Lord's Prayer : 6

Why are wrong things so attractive?

They look so good and feel so good.

They offer pleasure and delight.

Surely . . .

it wouldn't matter if it was just this once . . .

if I tried just a little . . .

I could always stop when I wanted to.

Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.

Father, keep me under Your protection throughout this day.

Grant me the will to say 'NO' to sin, and 'YES' to You.


Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Another Rainy Day . . .

Meditations on The Lord's Prayer : 5

I'll never forgive them for what they did to me.
They were so rude, so mean, so unkind.
They deceived me and hurt me --- they let me down badly.
I will never forget.
I never hurt anyone --- only when they provoke me, or when I'm tired and irritable, or it's a mistake, or when I'm not really thinking . . .
and I do ask for forgiveness from God.

Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.

Father, help me to forgive and forget and know the joy of forgiveness this day.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Just a Farmer's Boy!

There was nothing that I enjoyed more when I was a boy than going to work on a nearby farm. I say 'work', but sometimes, looking back down the tunnel of time, I wonder whether what I saw as helping out was perhaps more of a hindrance to the farmer. Perhaps with the benefit of hindsight I can see that I was as much tolerated as anything, and probably because of my keenness to be involved!
Whatever the answer may be --- and does it really matter now, anyway? --- it's a period of my life that I look back on with great fondness. I enjoyed the whole of the farming year and, like many a small boy raised in the British countryside, thought that I would be a farmer when I grew up. Although I never fulfilled this ambition, I certainly drew closer to the land as my life progressed, whether it was in the amount of time that I subsequently spent connected with farming, the market gardening that I did for a while in Rhodesia, or the construction of several gardens during the course of my lifetime. Even when I became more and more involved in the Lay Ministry in Wales, the great majority of chapels and churches where I ministered were populated by farming folk. I was able to empathise with their problems because of my own background, and this helped to make my ministry more meaningful. So I see that here, once again, God was preparing me for the task that he had planned for me, even when I was a small boy.
Persistently, throughout my ministry, I have found that knowledge gained throughout my life, whether through relationships, situations relating to my own health matters, has all been able to be put to good use. It all serves to make me realise just how wonderful God is, and the way that He plans things for us so that we are best equipped to serve His purposes.
So, to return to small boys and farming, what was the best time of the year? Well, I suppose that there were things about every Season that I recall with pleasure. In the Spring I enjoyed the new life that declared itself abundantly; in the Autumn I loved the colours of the trees with all the autumn golds and russets that abounded in wood and hedgerow; in Winter there is little that can beat the tracery of a hoar frost as you take a brisk walk across the fields; but for me the best time of all was in the Summer. No doubt my memories of Summers on the farm are coloured to a degree by the long school holidays, periods which always seem longer when you are young because they represent a greater percentage of your life in relation to the years that you've lived.
Summer was always a particularly busy time in the farming calendar. It was the time when you saw the fruits of your labours in a tangible way, although, in the sweat of a hot summer day, perched atop of a hay-cart stacking the hay safely around you, or on the ground beneath forking the hay up to the labourer on the cart, that was possibly not the thought that was uppermost in your mind. It was hard work, make no mistake about it, very hard work! Not only was it hard but it was dirty because the dust that swirled around as you worked, mixed together with hayseed, clung to your sweat-riven skin, the fragments getting into everywhere possible that could make you feel uncomfortable. Despite this, there was no better way to spend the days than this. The camaraderie of your fellow-workers, the dignity of the carthorses, the breaking off for a brief respite when you enjoyed your lunch ---or 'bit of bait' as it was referred to --- the home-made cider to slake your parched throat and relieve the thirst, all these contributed to mark these days in your memory for ever.
True, as the years since those days make them more and more distant, so the memory can make them seem rosier than they perhaps were. Nevertheless, I wouldn't have wished for a different childhood when I think back to those times, certainly as far as they were concerned, and I'm thankful that I now have the memories to bring out into the light of day now and then and bring a little sunshine back into what is, as I write, a rainy day.

Meditations on The Lord's Prayer : 4

How am I going to manage tomorrow if the cheque doesn't arrive?
What about the bills at the end of the month?
How can we manage when everything keeps going up in price?
Should we cut back the heating because of the rising fuel prices?
Worry, Worry, Worry!
What should I pray for?
Give us this day our daily bread.

Father, help me to trust You for today, and leave tomorrow in Your hands.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Meditations on The Lord's Prayer : 3

What does God want to do with me?
What does God want me to do for Him?
What does God want me to do for others?
If I say 'Yes', it may cost me everything.
It may not be the way that I wanted to go.
It may not be easy if I pray

Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.

Dare I pray it --- and mean it?
Father help me to do Your will,
this day and every day.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Meditations on The Lord's Prayer : 2

What a frightening world I live in,
an angry world --- a sad world;
a violent world --- an unfair world.
Why can't it be
a loving world --- a happy world?
A peaceful world --- a sharing world?
Why is so often hell when it should be heaven?
Your kingdom come.
Father, help me today to do something towards making this world more like You intended it to be,
by Your rule of love.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Meditations on The Lord's Prayer : 1

Over the next few days I want to share with you, dear reader, meditations on The Lord's Prayer that I found whilst clearing out my friend Elsie's house. You might remember that I posted a blog about being her next-of-kin after she recently passed away. I thought that posting it over a few days would give you the chance to truly meditate on it.

Here's the first part:

A new day. What does it hold for me?
I need someone to hold on to.
I need someone to trust,
someone who won't let me down.
Someone bigger than me, better than me.
Someone I can love and respect.
Someone I can talk to right now.
Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be Your name.
Thank You for being my Father!

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Passing friendship & Friendship passing

Today I received a letter from the Executors who have been called to action by the passing of Elizabeth Shaxted, a friend of mine of just over forty-four years standing. We first met when I lived in the flat below hers in Bath, back at the end of 1964, and became good friends very easily, despite the age difference, although that seems to be of less and less relevance the older you get.

I remember going to see her after a gap of about two years, only to discover that she had become a Christian in the meantime. At that stage of my life, which was around the beginning of September 1969, I had not yet handed my life over to Christ. In fact, it would be true to say that it was the farthest thing from my mind! I had been unwell and away from work for almost a year, and I had been invited to stay with a friend of mine who lived about fifteen minutes away from Elizabeth, so it was not long before I went along to refresh our friendship and catch up over a cup of tea.

Despite all my efforts to the contrary, I ended up taking Elizabeth and a couple more of her friends to a meeting at The Friend's Meeting house, where I heard the evangelist Peter Scothern address the congregation. It was at that meeting that I handed my life over to Jesus Christ, and I have never regretted it for a moment. That was September 9th 1969, and for the past thirty-nine years I have walked with Jesus as my guide. And what a wonderful walk that it has been. I hope that it will continue for many years to come!

Throughout the years, no matter where I was in the world, Elizabeth kept in touch with me, and, of special and privileged importance, she prayed regularly for me. From those far-off days in 1969 when she first prayed for my salvation and was instrumental in leading me to the Lord Jesus, she held me in prayer. Now that's what I call friendship!

She passed to be with her Lord on Good Friday, 21st March, and though her passing creates a sense of sadness in me, the sense of her going to be with the Lord to whom she has lived so faithfully for so long is far greater, and so I am joyful for her as well.

Proud of her Welsh roots, and often a little flamboyant in her manner, Elizabeth made my life brighter for having known her. The picture at the top of this post is a tribute to her memory.

Will Mugabe FINALLY go?

I'm watching the current news items about the Zimbabwean election results with great interest, for, as some of you know, I lived in that country for many years, finally leaving in 1984 when I could see what damage Mugabe and his henchmen were wreaking on it. Over the 28 years of his despotic rule I have watched as he plunged the country into deeper and deeper crisis. Inflation is estimated to be running at 200 000 percent, which is unimaginable. In Zimbabwean money I am a millionaire, with about one and a half million dollars to my name over there --- the results of dividend payments on some shares I own. However, before any of you get excited enough to write letters that seek to relieve me of my wealth, let me explain that last weekend the price of a loaf of bread was Z$25 million!

I pray that Mugabe will finally be removed from office and that the new President, Morgan Tsvangarai, will rule with more wisdom and in the interests of the country and people as a whole. I also pray that Mugabe will be brought to trial for the heinous crimes that he has been responsible for or personally committed since coming to power. As far back as the early 1980's he was responsible for the genocide of thousands of Sindebele people in Matabeleland, and that's only scratching the surface where his crimes are concerned.

One thing is for certain, and that is that should he barter a deal that lets him off the hook, perhaps to go and live in exile at the invitation of one of his dictatorial cronies, then there is one punishment that he can never evade, and that is facing God on the Day of Judgment.

Let us all pray that finally Zimbabwe will start to recover, and that God will bless the wonderful people of that nation, just as He has in the past.