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Thursday, December 31, 2009

Love and Hope for the New Year

As one year draws to a close and the next is awaiting just around the corner, so the TV screens, magazines and newspapers carry features about all that has happened in the preceding twelve months. As the current year draws to a close there is an added dimension, for they are looking back over the first decade of the new millennium as well.

Now, don't get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with looking back! In doing so it's possible to relive the good moments and be reminded of the things that needed to be put right as well. It's a time to reflect on what achievements have made the world a better place, and what has worsened because it has not been addressed.

Unfortunately there is far too much that has not been addressed in our society, and as a result we have seen an dramatic increase in hate crime. We read of teenagers carrying knives and guns, either to protect themselves from other like-minded young people or to threaten others with. We hear about young lives, both victims and aggressors, wasted on the streets by killings. Drug-taking is constantly increasing, and many of the idols that young people look up to are known as much for their drug-taking as their ability in their particular occupational field.

The good news is there, however, because of an amazing act of love. The good news is that God loves each of us, even those who choose to deny His existence. God's love is selfless and unconditional. This means, dear reader, that He loves you. He is a personal God, not some distant figure who looks down on us, demanding that we worship Him and yet not interacting with us.

Because of His love for us He sent His only son, Jesus Christ, to come with a message of hope and reconciliation. That message is as it always was, for every human being on the earth. It matters not what religion you follow now or even if you have none , the message is still for you. It's a simple message --- God loves you! You can know the peace that comes through Jesus Christ by believing on Him, believing that He is the only true Son of God; believing that when He died on the cross at Calvary for the sins of mankind, He died for you; believing that He defeated both death and the grave and that He lives today with God the Father, interceding on behalf of those who have chosen to follow Him.

Jesus Christ is the Hope that we have for the future. Even today, despite all the bad things that happen in our world, Jesus Christ is at work through His followers, spreading the message of hope that He was sent to bring in the beginning. It's part of the greatest love story that has ever unfolded. Every page of the New Testament in the Bible tells of God's love, and in doing so emphasises the ultimate truth for us that God not only loves us but that God is love.

I wish you a very happy new year for 2010. May it bring you love, peace,happiness and, above all, true hope for the future. If you haven't already accepted Jesus Christ into your life as your Saviour and Lord then may it be a year in which you make that life-changing decision.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Joanne Lowe's Meditations


“For he is our God; and we are the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand. To day if ye will hear his voice, Harden not your heart, as in the provocation, and as in the day of temptation in the wilderness.”
Psalm 95: 7, 8 (King James Version)

Have you ever had a day when it seemed like everything that could go wrong did go wrong? I had a day like that yesterday and I’m so grateful to God for giving me today to serve Him. Yesterday, I was unable to log in to my website to edit it. Also, my computer was acting crazy and I had to do two complete system recoveries on my computer.

Yesterday was a very frustrating and discouraging day for me. However, as usual, Jesus won over satan. Jesus defeated satan at the cross and the war has already been won. However, as long as we are in this world, we will have battles. What an assurance it is to our hearts to know that Jesus will always bring us through every battle victoriously.

For some of you, Jesus has been knocking at the door of your heart for many years to let Him come in. Yesterday is gone but it’s a new day. Jesus said “Harden not your heart”. Please don’t hurt Him any longer by refusing to let Him come into your heart.

Will you swallow your pride today and humble yourself? Admit that you are a sinner, repent of your sins, ask God to forgive you and invite the Christ of Calvary into your heart to be your personal Saviour before it is too late. Jesus is waiting for you with a heart filled with unconditional love and compassion. Let Him come into your heart today.

Joanne Lowe
December 27, 2009

Friday, December 25, 2009

A Hymn for the Christmas Season (5)

Good Men and True 88 88

Good men and true, sing out your praise,
To Christ the King your anthems raise;
Your gifts and worship you must bring
To praise the Lord, the heavenly King.

He is our Lord,, so make your choice
To praise him with your heart and voice;
And celebrate this Christmas Day,
For Jesus Christ has come to stay.

He is our Saviour and our Lord,
Just as was promised in the Word;
Confess Him now and you will see
God’s Kingdom for eternity.

Know Jesus Christ and see the Light,
And worship Him this very night;
Before the Ancient of all days,
Good men and true, sing out your praise!

© 2006 Colin Gordon-Farleigh

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Christmas Greetings

May I wish you all, dear readers, everything that you wish for those whom you love and care about this Christmas, and may the richness of God's blessings be with you today and remain with you always.

Happy Christmas!

Christmas Eve Message 2009

Karl Barth, arguably one of the greatest theologians who has ever lived, was once asked what the most profound theological insight that he had ever known was. After a few moments deliberation he said simply, ‘Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so.’
I’m sure that we all appreciate a good love story, and from early childhood we are raised on ‘Happy endings’. At this time of the year there are pantomimes galore being performed around the country, and many of the basic stories that lie behind them are love stories. Take Cinderella, for example, which is a classic love story about poor put-upon Cinderella who falls in love with Prince Charming.
But there is one love story that is timeless and never-ending, and that’s the story of God’s love for people. Of course we know that God has always loved people from the very beginning, even though He has been angry with them from time to time. After all, do not all of us who are parents say at one time or another that we love our children always even though we might not like them sometimes.
Just over two thousand years ago something miraculous occurred, the like of which had never been seen before and has never happened since; God came down to earth to live amongst His people on that night when Jesus was born in the stable at Bethlehem. He didn’t come purely for a visit, but with a purpose, and that purpose was to put into operation His plan for the salvation of mankind.
The world was a sinful place then, just as it is now. The Bible tells us that not only does God hate sin altogether, but that He demands retribution for it by way of death for the sinner. Yet God also loves His people with such tremendous love. How could He exact the payment for sin ― the result of which would exile His people from Him for eternity ― yet still find a means to forgive them and reconcile them once more to Himself?
It was this conundrum that resulted in the birth of Jesus on that night so long ago. Born into the humblest of circumstances, He was born for a purpose, and that purpose would take thirty-three years to be fulfilled.
It’s not hard for anyone who is a parent to imagine the scene in that stable. In those days the houses were what we would now refer to as multi-purpose dwellings. The animals lived on the lower level whilst the family lived in rooms above. The stable would have been adjoining the family rooms. It’s most likely that Mary gave birth in one of the rooms in the living quarters but moved into the stable because of shortage of space afterwards, tenderly laying her new-born baby in the manger which had been filled with fresh straw. You can imagine them watching the tiny infant with a mixture of concern and intense love, just the same as any new parent would.
The greatest miracle of all about the event of Jesus’ birth is that it was the point where God and humanity met in a very real way. This was the moment when the Divine and the human arrived at life’s greatest intersection to become joined together forever. The birth of Jesus was much more than just the birth of a new baby, it was the physical demonstration of Gods love for His
people, love that depended only on the person who loved, love that was selfless and freely given, even to those who would go on to deny it and refuse to accept it.
One of the greatest tragedies in this world is for someone to feel that they are unloved and unwanted. Because of the event that took place in the stable that night in Bethlehem, that night of miracles, this need never be the case. Karl Barth chose the hymn ’Jesus loves me’ to quote from. Perhaps I can illustrate my point with the title of another great favourite hymn, ‘What a friend we have in Jesus’.
The miracle of the birth of Christ in Bethlehem was followed by many other miracles as the child grew into a man, culminating with the greatest miracle of all when Jesus became the sacrificial Lamb of God and died on the cross at Calvary as the once-for-all payment for the sins of mankind. The price of sin that God demanded has been paid in full for everyone who chooses to claim Jesus Christ as their Redeemer and acknowledge Him Lord.
The hymn-writer tells us that ‘God is Love’, and the love story starts for us at Bethlehem in that stable, continues to the cross at Calvary, and on into an eternity spent with Christ our Redeemer. It’s a love story that embraces everything and assures us that nothing can ever separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus, our Lord and Redeemer.
I started by quoting the words of the hymn, ‘Jesus loves me’, and now I’ll conclude with a line from another well-known hymn by Samuel Medley (1738-1799):
I know that my Redeemer lives!
What joy the blest assurance gives!
He lives, He lives, who once was dead;
He lives, my everlasting Head!
He lives, to bless me with His love;
He lives to plead for me above;
He lives, my hungry soul to feed;
He lives, to help in time of need.
What amazing love! And it’s there for all of us to share in, simply for the asking.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Rest easy --- At least our Ejucashun Sistem is great!

The following questions were set in last year's GCSE examination in Swindon, Wiltshire (U.K.)
These are genuine answers (from 16 year olds)
Q. Name the four seasons
A. Salt, pepper, mustard and vinegar
Q. Explain one of the processes by which water can be made safe to drink.
A. Flirtation makes water safe to drink because it removes large pollutants like grit, sand, dead sheep and canoeists
Q. How is dew formed.
A. The sun shines down on the leaves and makes them perspire
Q. What causes the tides in the oceans.
A. The tides are a fight between the earth and the moon. All water tends to flow towards the moon, because there is no water on the moon, and nature abhors a vacuum. I forget where the sun joins the fight.
Q. What guarantees may a mortgage company insist on.
A. If you are buying a house they will insist that you are well endowed.
Q. In a democratic society, how important are elections.
A. Very important. Sex can only happen when a male gets an election.
Q. What are steroids.
A. Things for keeping carpets still on the stairs.
(Shoot yourself now , there is little hope)
Q. What happens to your body as you age.
A. When you get old, so do your bowels and you get intercontinental.
Q. What happens to a boy when he reaches puberty.
A. He says goodbye to his boyhood and looks forward to his adultery.
(So true)
Q Name a major disease associated with cigarettes
A. Premature death
Q. What is artificial insemination.
A. When the farmer does it to the bull instead of the cow.
Q. How can you delay milk turning sour.
A. Keep it in the cow.
(Simple, but brilliant)
Q. How are the main 20 parts of the body categorised (e.g. The abdomen).
A. The body is consisted into 3 parts - the brainium, the borax and the
abdominal cavity. The brainium contains the brain, the borax contains the heart and lungs and the abdominal cavity contains the five bowels: A, E, I, O and U
Q. What is the fibula?
A. A small lie.
Q. What does 'varicose' mean?
A. Nearby.
Q. What is the most common form of birth control.
A. Most people prevent contraception by wearing a condominium.
(That would work)
Q. Give the meaning of the term 'Caesarean section'.
A. The caesarean section is a district in Rome.
Q. What is a seizure?
A. A Roman Emperor.
(Julius Seizure, I came, I saw, I had a fit)
Q. What is a terminal illness
A. When you are sick at the airport.
Q. Give an example of a fungus. What is a characteristic feature?
A. Mushrooms. They always grow in damp places and they look like
Q. Use the word 'judicious' in a sentence to show you understand its

A. Hands that judicious can be soft as your face.
(Yes, that really was the answer given!)
Q. What does the word 'benign' mean?
A. Benign is what you will be after you be eight.
Q. What is a turbine?
A. Something an Arab or Sheik wears on his head.

Monday, December 21, 2009

A Little Gentle Christmas Humour

A man in Scotland calls his son in London the day before Christmas Eve and says, “I hate to ruin your day but I have to tell you that your mother and I are divorcing; forty-five years of misery is enough.”

'Dad, what are you talking about?' the son screams. “We can't stand the sight of each other any longer” the father says. “We're sick of each other and I'm sick of talking about this, so you call your sister in Leeds and tell her.”

Frantically, the son calls his sister, who explodes on the phone. “Like hell they're getting divorced!” she shouts, “I'll take care of this!”

She calls Scotland immediately, and screams at her father “You are NOT getting divorced. Don't do a single thing until I get there. I'm calling my brother back, and we'll both be there tomorrow. Until then, don't do a thing, DO YOU HEAR ME?” and hangs up.

The old man hangs up his phone and turns to his wife. 'Sorted! They're coming for Christmas - and they're paying their own way.'

Saturday, December 19, 2009

'January Jade' : New CD from Sheer Joy Music

Earlier this year I met up with Robert Beaton, a songwriter/composer/musician/singer, and we collaborated on a new song called Love Away the Hate which is to be released soon by Jennifer Douglas on the Sheer Joy Music label.

More recently Robert has been busy in the SJM Recording Studio putting an album together of some of his earlier songs, and January Jade is the result. It will be available from the Sheer Joy Music shop in the next 48 hours, so keep a watch for it and you'll be able to listen to some sample tracks. Robert is already busy working on his next album, called Empty Spaces, at the Studio. It will be released early in 2010.

Runcorn Local History: Tanning Industry

Local Runcorn author Chris Darlington has just released a local history CD about the Tanning Industry that used to be one of the major industries in the area. Retailing at £4.95, this is definitely a great stocking-filler for the local history buff. I had the pleasure of being invited to do the voice-over on this project, drawing the various threads of the interviews together. The CD is available from the Curiosity Bookshop in High Street Runcorn, or email to Chris Darlington at to arrange payment & postal delivery.

There were four main tanneries in Runcorn, the Highfield, the Camden, the Puritan and the Astmoor, and the interviewees worked at one or the other of them. All too often history becomes consigned only to the printed page or as stories to be passed down through the family, but in releasing A Little Bit of Leather these memories have been saved for posterity by Chris Darlington.

A Little Bit of Leather . . .

A major part of Runcorn’s industrial history is represented by the Tanning Industry, and A Little Bit of Leather gives you an evocative glimpse into that era as you listen to interviews conducted with folk who played a part in forming the history. A ‘must-have’ for everyone interested in Runcorn’s local history.

Friday, December 18, 2009

An Advent Poem for Today

A Carolling!

A carolling! a carolling!

Hot toddy, snow and holly;

Mistletoe and mince pies,

A time for being jolly!


A carolling! A carolling!

Sing of the Saviour’s birth;

Of angels and of shepherds,

Of peace on all the Earth.


A carolling! A carolling!

The songs so full of joy.

Sing of the heavenly choir

That praised the infant boy.


A carolling! A carolling!

Sing of the guiding star;

Of shepherds and of wise men

Of how they journeyed far.


A carolling! A carolling!

Sing of that glorious day

When God came down to Earth

A baby in the hay.


A carolling! A carolling!

A story of God’s love:

The Christ child in the manger,

Who came from up above.


A carolling! A carolling!

From that crude manger bare,

His travelled to the cross,

He hung and suffered there.


A carolling! A carolling!

His death ordained to be;

He bled upon that cross,

And died for you and me.


A carolling! A carolling!

Our Saviour, brother, friend;

Destined soon to rule

That Kingdom without end.


A carolling! A carolling!

Our song will never end,

Till everyone on Earth

Knows Jesus Christ as friend.

© 2005 Colin Gordon-Farleigh

Obama's Speech at Copenhagen Summit Meeting

Commenting on President Barack Obama’s speech at the summit, Tearfund’s Director of Advocacy Paul Cook said: ‘Obama highlighted the need to ‘act boldly and decisively in the face of a common threat' and that he came to Copenhagen to act not to talk.

'Unfortunately he completely contradicted himself - the US’ actions in terms of figures for action on mitigation and finance, even after yesterday's announcement, just don’t stack up or equal survival for poor people and the planet. There were no new pledges on targets and a complete failure to acknowledge the fact that the richest and most powerful nations must take responsibility for the climate crisis that they have caused.

'For the sake of the poorest and most vulnerable people living on the front line of climate change, we sincerely hope world leaders do not squander this opportunity by providing the most vulnerable with nothing more that great oratory and empty promises.’

A Hymn for the Christmas Season (4)

The Angels Sang 7777

See a manger filled with hay,
Where the infant Christ-child lay;
There in oil-lamps flick’ring glow,
God was born on earth below.
And the angels sang, Alleluia!
And the church bells rang, Alleluia!
And all the stars shone bright,
That first Christmas night, Alleluia!

Hear the song the angels sang,
Hear the tune the bells all rang;
Peace on earth, goodwill to men,
Hear them singing it again.
And the angels sang, Alleluia!
And the church bells rang, Alleluia!
And all the stars shone bright,
That first Christmas night, Alleluia!

Glory shining all around,
People bow to heaven’s sound;
Voices sing in harmony,
Jesus came for you and me.
And the angels sang, Alleluia!
And the church bells rang, Alleluia!
And all the stars shone bright,
That first Christmas night, Alleluia!

© 2006 Colin Gordon-Farleigh

This Carol has a catchy tune to it, and when I was busy composing it I drove my wife mad! I sang it day after day until I was happy with it. In the end I felt very happy with it and it has become one of my favourites. I hope you like it and enjoy singing it, dear reader. Why not print out the sheet music and get your whole church to sing it this Christmas. If you click on the sheet music image then it will enlarge, or right click on it and save it as a picture to print out full size.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Can Your Mattress Kill You?

Many centuries ago people used to sleep on purely natural matter, starting with the earliest man who probably slept on an earth floor, comforted at best by plant material to help to cushion him against the hardness of the floor. Gradually progress was made in the sleeping department, and people slept on mattresses that were little more than hessian bags filled with straw or dried bracken. Still not the most comfortable, but better than the alternative of sleeping on the floor. In many parts of the Third World people still sleep on a rush or cane mat, often on concrete floors, even today. However, the wealthy wanted more comfort through the long nights, and so gradually the bags were made of smoother materials and filled with softer things such as feathers. Even these were improved upon for the seriously rich people, for they had theirs filled with down rather than any old feathers. Ultimately mattresses evolved to become what they are today, offering a wide range of coverings, firmness or softness, and fillings.

Over the last few years one type of mattress that has become hugely popular is the Memory Foam mattress. There have been many surveys conducted about the efficiency of these mattresses, and in almost every survey published by the manufacturers and retailers of these products, about 90% of those surveyed claimed that Memory Foam mattresses gave the best night's sleep that they had ever had.

However, one important factor that the manufacturers and retailers fail to mention about these products is that the foam is made from petroleum-based chemicals. So, if you have one of these mattresses you are sleeping on a potentially lethal mix of chemicals! Alarmist propaganda? Well, just read through the following and then judge for yourself.

Let's consider what the term polyurethane means first of all.

The term refers to any polymer made of organic units joined by urethane connections. By organic units you should understand hydrocarbons from the petroleum or derived chemicals.

Theoretically, a fully reacted polyurethane polymer should be chemically inert. But any chemist will tell you that even fully reacted polyurethane can produce dust inducing mechanical irritation to the eyes and lungs. And, as there are no industrial processes 100 % complete, you should expect the polyurethane to expel its chemical load. Only the resin blends can expel isocyanates, which were proven to be skin and respiratory sensitizers, causing asthma. This is just a short list of toxins found in an analyzed type of memory foam: TDI (Toluene Di-Isocyanate), Polyol (Poly Ether Gycol), Silicone Surfactant, Tertiary Amine, Stannous Octoate, Flame Retardant, Pigments/Dyes. TDI is an aromatic hydrocarbon (it is really smelly) causing asthma. Tertiary amines have strong odors and are allergenic. No need to comment on the dyes... You can read here how the "technology chemicals" can impact your health.

By using the material to make mattresses which people will spend a large portion of their life sleeping on means that those people will be repeatedly exposed for long periods of time to low levels of carcinogenic chemicals. Without doubt, the hydrocarbons evaporate and invade the bedroom, and the resultant chemical exposure can lead to severe damage of the immune and nervous systems. It has long been held that protracted exposure to petro-based products will worsen conditions such as arthritis, allergic asthma, lupus and similar disorders. Some research has detected extremely high levels of toxins such as arsenic and phosphor compounds in Memory Foam.

So, why am I so interested in this subject?
Well, the answer is simple. A couple of years ago in an attempt to get a better night's sleep for my wife and myself, I purchased a Memory Foam mattress which came highly recommended by the retailer concerned. It was certainly not a cheap option, costing us £1000, but we felt that if it performed as promised then it would be a worthwhile investment.

Almost immediately I had a problem with getting unbearably hot at night, so much so that we had to use a lightweight duvet even in the winter. We experienced aches and discomfort soon afterwards, and we soon questioned the wisdom of our purchase choice.

The next thing that shocked me somewhat was to discover that there was a large body-sized stain appearing on the mattress where I slept, and this despite a mattress protector and under-sheet. Even though the mattress was not supposed to be turned over due to the fact that the Memory Foam was on the top surface only, I did just that.

Over the period that we had the mattress, which was up to about four months ago, my asthma increased to previously untold levels, and my health in general deteriorated. About four months ago we had had enough, and so we went out and purchased a new bed and mattress which was made of natural materials. We also changed the carpet in the bedroom. I certainly would not recommend Memory foam to anyone, especially now that I have learned a little more about it.

The following is an extract from the Softpedia website where you can access and read the full report about this subject by clicking here.

What Is Memory Foam?
Polyurethane is synthetic and is made from petroleum products. Therefore, its production furthers our dependency on fossil fuel resources. The production of synthetics from petroleum products is energy-intensive and often generates toxic waste byproducts.

Polyurethane foam is not biodegradable, and it ends up in the landfill for a very long time.
The chemicals in new polyurethane foam outgas into the air. These toxic chemicals are called VOCs, or volatile organic compounds, and you can often smell them until they dissipate. Most of the VOCs from polyurethane foam dissipate in several weeks to several months, depending on many variables, such as the types and amounts of synthetic materials; amount of fresh-air exchange in the room; temperature and humidity; and breathability of bedding materials like comforters and bedspreads.

All mattresses made with synthetic foams, batting, or fabrics must be treated with flame-retarding chemicals so that they meet the federal open-flame flammability test. Whether a mattress is made with standard polyurethane foam, memory foam, recycled polyurethane foam, Dacron, or even a combination of soy-based and polyurethane foams, there's no getting around the problem of flame retardants. Although bioaccumulative PBDEs, the most toxic flame-retardant chemicals, have been voluntarily discontinued by U.S. mattress manufacturers, the alternatives are only somewhat less toxic, and not considered acceptable by the German field of Bau-Biologie. (The measurable Bau-Biologie standards for health are perhaps the most stringent in the world.)

Flame-retardant chemicals in mattresses that contain any amount of polyurethane foam are called organophosphate chemicals. Unlike VOCs, these chemicals do not become gases, are not easily detectable by smell, and levels may increase over time as the materials age. Even though the levels are chronically low, since your body and face are on the mattress for a third of your life (during your most sensitive regenerative time), it might be best to consider a chemical-free alternative.