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Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Cool Places for Hot Days

WOW! It's another hot day, although the sun is hiding somewhere above the cloud and we've had some rain, 'though not ennough to cool things down. I thought that it might be a good idea to share these pictures with you which might make you feel a little cooler in the heat.

Just imagine being that you are going for a walk through these trees today. If that doesn't make you feel cooler then not much else will!

I bet that this water is amongst the coolest that you could find. A great place to get wet in and cool down that way!

Of course, a visit to beautiful Snowdonia would be great today as well.

If the other waterfall didn't cool you down then surely this one will!

If all else fails, and the trip to Wales didn't do the trick, then a trip to visit the whales might be the answer. Why not give it a try!

Here we are again, trying to get your toes into the water here might not be so easy!

Aah! A tranquil pool, that's the place for me.

I love to go for a walk through the forest at nearby Delamere, and that would be a cool place to be today. Make sure you take your camera!

Finally, a picnic in a nice cool woodland glade would make a great place to take the family. Places for the kids to play and for others to snooze, and little fear of sunburn!

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Turn Back to God before it's too late!

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus is explaining how to distinguish between true and false prophets, and He is using the analogy of a good or bad fruiting tree. He points out that we should be able to distinguish the good from the bad by the fruit produced. This the passage from Matthew 7: 15-20 (NIV):

15"Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves.16By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thorn bushes, or figs from thistles? 17Likewise every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. 18A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. 19Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.

One of the greatest problems facing many nations today , particularly in both Europe and the USA, is the disregard and rejection of God. A recent survey has been carried out amongst 1000 teenagers regarding their attitude to religion and the findings are extremely disturbing, even should the results are not fully representative of all teenagers. The survey found that 60% of teenagers believe that religion has 'a negative influence on the world', with 55% claiming that other things such as family, friends, money and entertainment, are more important. On the subject of prayer, 50% claim that they have never prayed, whilst 16% have never entered a church for any reason, not even for a wedding, baptism or funeral. Whilst 3% believe that there is an afterlife, 1% believes in reincarnation.

So, who is to blame for these attitudes? Is it the governments who seem to be concerned, generally speaking, with the destruction of the family unit and promoting increased reliance on a 'Nanny State'? Is the parents who believe that it's their right to go out and enjoy themselves, generally doing what they want rather than bothering too much about their children, and treating their children as 'best friends' rather than offspring in need of moral and ethical guidance? Perhaps we can blame the schools who often spend more time, according to the reports, on form-filling and report-filing than they do on educating? Then there is the bastion of moral and ethical influence, the Church. What part does the Church at large play in the whole scenario of our God-less society?

We live in an age aptly described as a 'Blame Culture', one portion of society constantly seeking to blame another for anything and everything, so how do we get to the truth and thereby to the possibility of an answer?

One way would be to apply the words of Jesus in the concluding verse of the passage quoted above, 'by their fruit you will recognise them'. When we look at the government in the UK what do we see? What is the over-riding impression that we are left with when we investigate them? Ask most people the question and they will quickly point to the corruption that has been reported in such detail in recent years, whether it be the current 'expenses scandal' where so much dishonesty and fraudulent activity has been exposed, or the recent cases of Peers prepared to accept bribes in order to support particular causes, or the instances of sexual immorality that come to light on a fairly regular basis. Yet all of these issues pale when held against the significance of the destruction of the spiritual and moral conscience of the people whom the government is supposed to protect and nurture. Their can be no doubt that the government must share the blame for the nation turning away from God and rejecting His Son and teaching.

Then we turn to look at the parents in our society. The break-up of the family unit and the turning away from the sanctity of marriage has resulted in a society where children are often left to their own devices, and it has long been recognised that when that happens then it leads to trouble. As a result we have a generation of youngsters who are saturated with sexual imagery to the extent that they are led to believe that it is perfectly okay for them to indulge in the same sort of behaviour, which, left to their own devices by absenting parents, they do. The result is that there are huge numbers of teenage pregnancies, added to which, sexually transmitted diseases are rampant. Meanwhile, parents are busy 'doing their own thing', whatever that happens to be, whether it is sitting back watching the TV whilst their children are ensconced in their rooms with their own TV, computer and all the peripheral items, or whether they are out enjoying themselves and leaving their children to simply get on with learning how to grow up as long as it doesn't interfere with their parents' lives. Their can be no doubt that the parents must share the blame for the nation turning away from God and rejecting His Son and teaching.

What about the schools and those appointed to teach the children? Here the answer is not so straightforward, for here is a case where the schools can rightly apportion blame both on the government and parents. One universal complaint of Head Teachers is that they are given so much paper-work to do that they can no longer find the time to teach, and so the government must shoulder the blame for this. Do we really train our teachers so that they can work their way up the teaching ladder in order to become clerks? Is that really the best use of their knowledge and skills? Then again, speak to most teachers and they will have a story to tell about being threatened by a parent for correcting a youngster who was caught doing wrong, the result of such threats being that eventually, because the children know the position, teaching itself suffers because teaching and classroom disruption do not fit side by side. Yet, despite these provisos, teaching has undoubtedly suffered because God has been shut out of the equation to a large extent. Assemblies used to start the school day by instructing the children to some extent in religious belief, whilst nowadays that rarely is the case, although it does thankfully exist still in some cases. Add to these factors the media reports of teachers who are dismissed or even imprisoned for unbecoming conduct or sexual liaisons with students and you start to see a picture of a spiritually bereft situation. Their can be no doubt that the schools must share the blame for the nation turning away from God and rejecting His Son and teaching.

Well, at least we still have the Church, don't we? Yet in the vast number of instances the church itself is so far removed from Biblical teaching that it must take a large share of the blame for the situation, particularly when considered that the Church should be leading the way for the nation towards God, yet it is so often in a situation where one wonders whether God acknowledges the existence of the Church as it is displayed in so many instances.

The churches are filled in many cases with churchgoers rather than committed Christians; people for whom going to church is an important ritual in their calender, important because it declares to people that they are good Christians. Yet the reality is that if every person in the UK who claimed to be a Christian went to church regularly to join in the worship then our churches would be fairly full week by week rather than virtually empty.

Visit many churches and you will struggle to hear the message of the Gospel being preached at all, let alone regularly. Instead a diet of personally-based homilies is served up in a manner designed to make the congregation feel more comfortable. Mention the word 'Mission' in many churches and you will hear at best how they give money to this or that cause, or how some of the members of the congregation help out as volunteers in local Charity shops, yet this is not Mission. At best this is good works, provided that the intent is correct. In all denominations there are those who occupy the pulpit and yet who are unbelievers themselves, people with no personal relationship with Jesus Christ, merely a knowledge of Him through Scripture. These are the people who discount much of what the Bible says as being myth and legend, preferring instead their own interpretation of events. These are the people who claim that their was no resurrection or that the virgin birth is simply a nice story. These are the people who preach an inclusive gospel, claiming that there are many ways of reaching heaven. These are the people who are responsible for teaching that is so far removed from the truth that they will ultimately be held to answer for their false teaching by God Himself. These are the people who are happy to go against Scriptural teaching when it comes to issues such as homosexuality and the blessing of same-sex unions. Many of these clerics will be women, yet it is un-Scriptural for women to be put over the heads of men as teachers of Scripture. Their can be no doubt that the Church itself must share the blame for the nation turning away from God and rejecting His Son and teaching.

If only the Church were to return to Scripture and embrace the teaching of 2 Chronicles 7:14, If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.

Generations flout God at their peril. I believe that the ills of the present day are just a taste of what is to come if the nations continue along the path that they have forged for themselves.
  • I urge the leaders of government to change their direction to go in the direction that God desires of His people and not the direction that the Antichrist is leading in.
  • I urge parents to take the responsibility and control of their children, leading them according to God's ways.
  • I urge the schools to become focused according to the manner in which children should be taught according to God's way, rejecting the unwholesome aspects that successive governments have imposed.
  • I urge the Church to cleanse itself of heretics and false teachers, and to teach and preach only in accordance with the teachings of Holy Scripture.
  • There is only ONE way to heaven, as Jesus Himself laid down in John 14:6: I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No-one comes to the Father except through Me.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

God's Camera Flashes

Little Emily walked to and from school every day, and one morning, although the weather looked threatening, and heavy, dark clouds were forming, she made her daily trek to the elementary school.

As the afternoon progressed, the winds whipped up, bringing lightning along with it. Emily’s mother was very concerned that her daughter would be frightened as she walked home from school, fearing that the electrical storm might harm her child, and so, full of concern, she quickly got into her car and drove along the route to the school.

As she did, she saw her little girl walking along quite happily, and at each flash of lightning the child would stop, look up, and smile. Flash after flash of lightning followed quickly, and with each flash the little girl would look towards the streak of light and smile.

Drawing up alongside Emily, her mother lowered the window and called to her “What are you doing?”

The child answered, “I am trying to look pretty because God keeps taking my picture.”

Have a good day today and everyday as you face the storms that come your way.

Prayer and Trespass : 2 Ways to Heaven

This sign has been posted by a Montana farmer on his land near Nye, Montana. I guess that he must be a man of few words and direct intentions!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

A Corsham Boyhood : 'The Scars of Battle.'


Like all small boys growing up in the country back in the 1950's, our playground was the woods and parkland surrounding the area, and I was no different, other than perhaps having what I still consider to be some of the finest parkland for any child to play in. There were trees galore that simply begged to be climbed, and plenty of places where it was possible to make a den, even though it might only last for a few weeks or even days.

Going across the fields to a wood known as the Dry Arch wood, there was a small copse to your right where the trees and brambles grew in dense profusion, and it was there that the best den of all was constructed. Made, I believe, out of hazel branches that were cut and trimmed, it was a woven hut, more or less in the shape of a square box. Here it was possible to play out almost any imaginary battle or exploration, ranging from the ever-popular cowboys and indians to war games, from being stranded on a desert island to travelling to a distant planet. That hut became our very own Tardis, although at that time we'd never heard of a Tardis of course. The many adventures that took place there were countless and the enjoyment gained was immeasurable.

In my youngest years we often used to play in the woods that were just beyond the paddock to the rear of our garden, and even though the trees were not so dense as in some of the surrounding woods, nevertheless it still afforded us with hours of fun. Sometimes the fun was a bit one-sided such as the time that one of the boys in our gang brought an air-pistol and decided to liven up a game of cops and robbers by shooting pellets at us. At one point I was thankful for the fact that for some reason I was wearing my school cap, which considering that I often tried not to wear it leaves me wondering why I was on that occasion. However, back to the story. I was the one hiding from the others, and was hiding behind a tree. When I poked my head out to see why everything was so quiet the boy with the air-pistol, who had been waiting for just such a moment, fired at me, the pellet lodging in the peak of my cap! Quickly realising the danger that I was in I 'legged it' back home as fast as I could. Needless to say, trouble was in store for the boy concerned once parents became involved!

The other occasion involving an airgun was when I was out with my older brother who had been charged with looking after me, not something that any older brother relished of course. He and his friends took me across the park and one of them, Douggie Watts, whose mother ran the sweetshop at the bottom of the High Street, brought along his air-rifle. Aiming for my legs he ordered me to "Dance! or else I'll shoot!" Of course, discretion being the better part of valour, looking at the grin on his face, I danced a sort of a jig, although after a while my legs got tired and I stopped. "I mean it!" he said, "Keep on dancing or I'll shoot." However, my legs were really tired and i didn't believe that he would shoot anything other than the ground near me, just enough to scare me. How wrong I was! He pulled the trigger and I felt a stinging pain in my right calf, the scar still being with me to this day. Once again I went home as fast as I could seeking out my Mum in a flood of tears, more, I think, from the shock than the pain. I don't know what was said to my brother, but I can well imagine what it probably was!

Yes, Corsham Park was a great green playground, a place where you could let your imagination run wild or a place where you could commune with nature in a real way. With the lake, the woods and the fields, there was something very special about it, special enough to revive many warm memories of growing up with such a luxurious playground. How lucky we were!

Free Christian Magazine : The Voice Christian News & Views

The latest issue of The Voice Christian News & Views will be available in a few days time, and contains stories and features by some of the leading Christian writers. Carter Conlon, Senior Pastor at Times Square Church, writes on The Coming of the Elijah Ministry. A great thought-provoking article by Dr David Ryser, Lover or Prostitute, looks at the way the church often treats itself more of a business than a tool for the kingdom. One Billion Souls to Save is an in-depth look at the way that Christianity is booming in China, where the author of the report, Jane Macartney, points out that there are now more Christians in China than members of the Communist Party.

All this and much more is packed into this great free magazine, and it's available to you absolutely free of charge simply by registering to receive it by following this link. If you've never seen this Christian magazine for yourself why not give it a try --- you won't be sorry!

Saturday, June 20, 2009

More Tales from a Corsham Boyhood

I have written previously about days spent at Cheviot House School, better recalled as 'Miss Bailey's', and the joys of those early formative school days spent under the tutelage of Miss Bailey herself. My memories of the schoolroom with its great big windows which overlooked the garden and across towards the Neston Glove Factory workshops, are amongst the most vivid memories from that time. If I close my eyes for a moment and think back it's not long before I can conjure up the smell of the parquet flooring in the schoolroom, grey with the wet footwear of countless children, and often still somewhat damp from yet another rainy day. I can still hear the scratch of chalk as some gritty piece was resisted by the blackboard. Then there was the blackboard itself, what seemed to be a gigantic affair to us littlies, which swivelled up and over to present a second side when the first had been filled with numerals or examples of joined-up writing for us to copy. I recall carefully trying to perfect the 'hooks' that we had to copy that were, it seemed, the secret of good joined-up writing.

Part of our education was taught under the heading of 'Dance', and we learned to move and dance in preparation for a concert which would be held at the Town Hall. I recall little of these concerts, or come to that, of the lessons themselves, other than the one occasion when I, resplendant in a sailor suit, actually fell asleep on the stage in a standing position!

Perhaps it was these early appearances that infected me with a love of the stage and performing, something which remained wih me for many years. Certainly, the ability to stand up in public and perform without feeling --- or at least, without appearing to feel --- nervous, stood me in good stead when I started to preach many years ago. I remember taking part in my first play which was put on by the Sunday School class which met on a Sunday afternoon at the Youth Club in Pickwick Road. It was called 'A Man of Sorrows' as far as I recall, and was a play which enacted out the Passion tide story, written by Dorothy L Sayers. I still recall my opening lines as one of the soldiers gambling with dice at the foot of the cross, hoping to win Jesus' robe: Five and four, Elias; beat that if you can. It's strange how something like that can stay with you for ever, isn't it?

Ken Davis, who ran the Clarke's Shoe Shop in the High Street, helped to stoke the fires of aspiring thespianism too by introducing me to the basics of stage make-up. Once again the memory of that first introduction has remained with me. Leichner numbers 3 & 5, the dark pink and the ivory, being blended to form a base, and then finished off with blending powder, Leichner again, of course. The fact that Leichner was a 'Professional' Make-Up was a wonderful thing to an 11 or 12 year-old boy. Ken Davis used to be the Make-Up artist for the local drama group, and so perhaps he was scouting for future players!

Once I hit 18 I joined the 'Over-18's Club' which was based at the Community Centre, one of the star attractions being that they performed a pantomime every year. I remember Ken Oatley, a tall, good-looking sportsman, who used to dress up as the panto dame on occasion. He made, as I recall, a marvelous 'Dame'. Perhaps the main memory of those distant days comes from taking part in 'Aladdin', although I have little recall of the performances or what part I played. I suspect that I was just in the chorus, and remember learning the song 'China Town' for the performance.

The other venture into the world of the theatre as far as I and Corsham were concerned was when, at the age of 16, I produced a variety show myself at the Community Centre. I remember constantly rushing from the back of the stage to the foyer to check the numbers of people arriving, spurred on no doubt by the fear of losing money on the production! As the compere, my outfit for the night was a dark suit with silver sequins stitched down the lapels to add a little sparkle, and finished off with a pale blue brocade waistcoat which I had made for myself, and a bow tie. Dressed up I really thought I looked the 'bees-knees'! Unfortunately, all the to-ing and fro-ing between the back of the stage and the foyer was to prove my undoing. It was a rainy night and the steps at the back of the stage were slippery. Returning from what turned out to be the final sortie, I slipped, baning my head on a brick wall and almost knocking myself out. Curtain-up was only a few minutes away! In the final event of things I was held up from behind by one of the cast and the audience thought that my dazed introduction of the first act was either a show of nerves or part of my act. Whichever it was I managed to get away with it! For me, the highlight of the evening was my friend Dick Ball, a brilliant comedian who used to have a routine based on a Wiltshire Yokel. He sauntered onto the stage and started to tell jokes, the audience soon being in stitches. For one part of his act he was to sing a song about a farmer's lad. I remember it went along the lines of :

"Sowings pretty good,
reaping ain't so bad,
but scaring all the crows
suits a farmer's lad;
but if you akses me,
the thing wot suits a feller
is a little bit of straw to suck
to keep his fancies meller;
that's why I'm leanin' on the gate
beside the fence,
beside the place
where my old dog do lie."

Partway through the song he lifted his leg in order to place his foot on a piece of fencing, leaning forward over his knee as he did so. The audience burst out laughing loud enough to bring the house down. Now I knew how funny Dick could be, but I had no idea what had caused this outburst of laughter from the audience. From the wings I soon found out! Dick's fly buttons were undone, and when he lifted his leg up it showed his underpants. No, it was most definitely NOT part of his act, but it certainly created one of the biggest laughs! He was so funny, and I'm sure that had he decided to make comedy his career, he would have done well. Even now, recalling many times where we shared humour together, he can still make me smile, although sadly Dick died whilst still comparatively young from, I believe, heart failure.

Thinking about Dick Ball reminds me of some more humorous happenings which took place at his family home in Priory Street. I had a reel-to-reel Grundig Tape Recorder, and we used to record some ad-libbed radio interviews which would have the listener in stitches. Not that they ever got on to the radio mind you, but we played them to anyone who would listen to them. I remember one in particular in which the interviewer (me) was visiting a factory that made toothbrushes and interviewing members of the staff, mostly female (Dick). We spoke about the skill of putting the holes in the handles so that the bristles fitted exactly, and much more, all in such a hilarious way that we could barely contain ourselves from spoiling the recording by laughing. Think 'The Goon Show' and you have a good idea of the way it all sounded.

How grateful I am for the blessing of memories such as these, memories which still raise a smile both to my face and to the inner man, all these years later.

New Meditation from Joanne Lowe : The Sonshine of our Lives

This morning I'm sharing my friend Joanne Lowe's latest meditation with you. We all need sunshine in our lives to make us feel better, but what better sunshine could there be than the Son shine which comes from our Saviour, Jesus Christ. Surely He, more than anything else or anyone else, is the true 'Son-shine of our smile'!
.
THE SONSHINE OF OUR LIVES
“And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life. These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.”

1 John 5: 11 - 13 (King James Version)

I am so thankful for the redeeming, cleansing and atoning blood that Jesus shed for us on the cross of Calvary. Thank You so much, precious Saviour, for the sacrifice You made for us that day. To know that I am saved and that I will spend all eternity in Heaven with Jesus fills my heart to overflowing with happiness. How I praise God for my salvation. The day of my salvation is the happiest day of my life. That wonderful and happy day was August 14, 1980.

I humbled myself and admitted that I was a sinner. I repented of my sins and asked God to forgive me for my sins and invited the Christ of Calvary into my heart to be my personal Saviour. I have a mansion in Heaven reserved for me. However, much more important than my mansion, I will have the privilege of seeing my precious Saviour. I will be able to hug Him and try to tell Him how much I love Him.

Jesus willingly took our sins on Him and allowed them to crucify Him so that we may be saved. What a Saviour, this Jesus of Nazareth! However, not only is Jesus the Saviour of our lives; He is also the Sonshine of our lives. When the dark clouds of discouragement try to pull us under for the last time; when we can’t give another smile or take another step, the Sonshine of our lives is still in our hearts.

We need to allow the Sonshine of our lives to rise in our hearts just as the sun rises in the sky. Have you allowed the Sonshine of our lives to rise in your heart and life? Have you opened the door to your heart and invited Jesus into your heart to be your personal Saviour? If not, I urge you; I plead with you to give your heart and life to Jesus right now before it is too late! Don’t miss out on spending all eternity with the One who loves you so much that He died for you. Give your heart and life to Jesus today!

Friday, June 19, 2009

If only he was a 'Traveller'!

Peter Howell fought a bitter 5-year long battle with Hambleton District Council over the 5-bedroomed 'Dream House' that he had built in Ingleby Arncliffe, North Yorkshire. His problem was not that he hadn't got any planning permission in place for he'd applied for, and been granted, outline planning consent in 2004. Rather foolishly, although perhaps understandable, expecting the application to be 'rubber-stamped' through the final stages, he started to build his dream house immediately. After all, when Peter Howell submitted plans for the property he intended to build there were no major objections made by anyone. Then the Parish Council decided to weigh in with their 'two penn'orth' and sent a letter to every villager claiming that the building had been begun without proper planning consent, the response to which was a veritable deluge of objections from the hitherto unaggrieved villagers.

Now the council have sent in the bulldozers and torn the £400,000 house down. Mr Howell has been well and truly taught the lesson that you cannot do what you feel like in this country when it comes to building your home. At least, that's the lesson if you try to go down the correct routes, even if you flaunt them a little by presupposing, as he had done.

What a pity he wasn't able to claim that he belonged to that diversely ethnic group of Travellers who build complete settlements on Green Belt land, laying tarmacadam drives and roads, putting in septic tanks, and building a range of homes, the occupation of which goes to prove that they are not Travellers but Settlers. If only Peter and his wife Kay had been able to claim that they were Travellers then there would have been no problem. Not only that, but if during the course of building either of them had suffered in any manner which caused them to go to hospital or to visit a GP, then they would have been fast-tracked ahead of the villagers who raised objections to their dream home --- and that includes being fast-tracked ahead of members of the Parish council as well.

Of course he should have done everything by the book and not started to build until the ink was dry on the final stages of the Planning Permission. But is tearing down his home really the right answer?

One consolation exists at least for this couple who have lost everything that they had worked so hard for in this land where they had paid the taxes which helped to line the pockets of the very people who had trodden them into the dust of their dream home. Peter and Kay Howell, their business in liquidation, can buy a luxury caravan or whatever, and 'hit the road'. That way they will become bona fide Travellers and can find a great piece of Green Belt land somewhere and build on it without fear of it being demolished, knowing that as a member of an ethnic community they are protected by the full weight of the law, for anyone daring to raise the slightest objection will be branded a racist immediately.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

The Value of TIME


Imagine there is a bank that credits your account each morning with £86,400. It carries over no balance from day to day. Every evening the bank deletes whatever part of the balance you failed to use during the day. What would you do? Draw out every last penny, of course!

Each of us has such a bank. Its name is TIME. Every morning, it credits you with 86,400 seconds.

Every night it writes off, as lost, whatever of this you have failed to invest to good purpose. It carries over no balance. It allows no overdraft. Each day it opens a new account for you. Each night it burns the remains of the day. If you fail to use the day's deposits, the loss is yours. There is no going back. There is no drawing against ‘tomorrow’. You must live in the present on today's deposits. Invest it so as to get from it the utmost in health, happiness, and success! The clock is running. Make the most of today.

To realize the value of ONE YEAR, ask a student who failed a grade.

To realize the value of ONE MONTH, ask a mother who gave birth to
a premature baby.

To realize the value of ONE WEEK, ask the editor of a weekly newspaper.

To realize the value of ONE HOUR, ask the lovers who are waiting
to meet.

To realize the value of ONE MINUTE, ask a person who missed the
train.
To realize the value of ONE SECOND, ask a person who just avoided
an accident.

To realize the value of ONE MILLISECOND, ask the person who won a silver medal in the Olympics.

Treasure every moment that you have! And treasure it more because you shared it with someone special, special enough to spend your time. And remember that time waits for no one.

Yesterday is history.
Tomorrow is mystery.
Today is a gift.
That's why it's called the present!

'Gordon Brown & The Era of Transparency' : A modern-day Fairy Story

British Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, has promised a new era of open-ness to the electorate, and has kick-started it with the promise of an Inquiry into the war on Iraq which has claimed the lives of so many people, British soldiers and Iraqi civilians alike. Considering the shame that Tony Blair, the New World Order puppet being promoted as the first President of Europe amongst inner circles, brought upon the nation that he was elected to lead, I wondered just how deeply searching an enquiry it might be. I soon found out! With the brazenness of the most shameless hussy, Brown has announced that the inquiry will be held in secret and be directed to put the blame firmly on the shoulders of ....... Yes, you guessed it, NOBODY at all!

When I was a small boy I recall my father teaching me a rhyme about this non-person which went like this:

'Yesterday, upon the stair,
I met a man who wasn't there.
He wasn't there again today,
I wish he hadn't gone away.'

I guess then, that this will be the same Mr Nobody who will be found to blame for the Iraq debacle.

According to the information announced regarding the 'Inquiry', not only will it meet in secret but it will have no legal powers to order anyone to attend before it, nor to have witnesses swear an oath that they are telling the truth, nor even to demand documents that could be considered relevant to it. The Inquiry will be held behind closed doors, 'allowing witnesses to be as candid as possible'. In other words, whatever is said will be irrelevant.

Brown has told MPs that the Inquiry would be fully independent, and I'm sure it will be, notwithstanding the brief that it has to remain secret and irrelevant. So what, you might well ask, is the point of it? I guess that only Gordon Brown and his inner circle of Whitehall gnomes can answer that question, but I suspect that it's simply a ploy for Brown to cling on to his shaky power platform for a little longer.

There is no doubt that those politicians already credited with lying about matters such as WMDs in order to support going to war with Iraq despite fierce opposition from a massive representation of the electorate, will be quite safe from further exposure.

Why, I can judge the artistic ability of the whitewash experts already. I'm sure that the final result will be to tell those gullible enough to listen that there were WMDs after all, and they have only just been proven to exist. Perhaps the Iraq war is being used once again in an attempt to lift the flagging reputation of a leading politico.

One thing is for certain, and that is that the Inquiry will cost an obscene amount of public money in order to prove nothing in terms of Truth. Probably, when it is over, some mandarin will receive another so-called honour by being elected to the Peerage in order to ride the gravy train.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

A message from the late George Carlin


GEORGE CARLIN (His wife recently died....and George followed her, dying July 2008)
Isn't it amazing that George Carlin - comedian of the 70's and 80's - could write something so very eloquent...and so very appropriate.

A Message by George Carlin:
The paradox of our time in history is that we have taller buildings but shorter tempers, wider Freeways , but narrower viewpoints. We spend more, but have less, we buy more, but enjoy less. We have bigger houses and smaller families, more conveniences, but less time. We have more degrees but less sense, more knowledge, but less judgment, more experts, yet more problems, more medicine, but less wellness.

We drink too much, smoke too much, spend too recklessly, laugh too little, drive too fast, get too angry, stay up too late, get up too tired, read too little, watch TV too much, and pray too seldom.
We have multiplied our possessions, but reduced our values. We talk too much, love too seldom, and hate too often.

We've learned how to make a living, but not a life. We've added years to life not life to years.

We've been all the way to the moon and back, but have trouble crossing the street to meet a new neighbour. We conquered outer space but not inner space. We've done larger things, but not better things.

We've cleaned up the air, but polluted the soul. We've conquered the atom, but not our prejudice. We write more, but learn less. We plan more, but accomplish less. We've learned to rush, but not to wait. We build more computers to hold more information, to produce more copies than ever, but we communicate less and less.

These are the times of fast foods and slow digestion, big men and small character, steep profits and shallow relationships. These are the days of two incomes but more divorce, fancier houses, but broken homes. These are days of quick trips, disposable diapers, throwaway morality, one night stands, overweight bodies, and pills that do everything from cheer, to quiet, to kill. It is a time when there is much in the showroom window and nothing in the stockroom. A time when technology can bring this letter to you, and a time when you can choose either to share this insight, or to just hit delete...

Remember; spend some time with your loved ones, because they are not going to be around forever.

Remember, say a kind word to someone who looks up to you in awe, because that little person soon will grow up and leave your side.

Remember, to give a warm hug to the one next to you, because that is the only treasure you can give with your heart and it doesn't cost a cent.

Remember, to say, 'I love you' to your partner and your loved ones, but most of all mean it. A kiss and an embrace will mend hurt when it comes from deep inside of you.

Remember to hold hands and cherish the moment for someday that person will not be there again.

Give time to love, give time to speak! And give time to share the precious thoughts in your mind.
AND ALWAYS REMEMBER: Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away.
George Carlin

Isaiah 43:2 : A promise of hope


What a wonderful promise this is, giving hope to the hopeless, comfort to the worried, and strength to the weak.

I'll be visiting Cornwall for Revival Meetings

As part of my mission to share the Gospel, I'm due to visit Cornwall from the 27th to 31st July to preach the Gospel message of Jesus Christ at Revival Meetings. I will be available to speak at morning, afternoon or evening meetings, whether in churches, chapels or house groups.

If you feel led to extend an invitation for me to speak to your Fellowship please contact Andrew Chapple, Pastor of Redruth Baptist Chapel, on 01209 218561 or by email, as he is co-ordinating the Mission. Alternatively you can contact me direct for more information by emailing me.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Off to Wales today! Another part of 'The Journey'


In an hour or so I shall be hitting the road on my journey into Wales where I shall be preaching the Word tomorrow at Moriah Chapel in Loughor near Swansea. It's another part of the journey which I embarked upon so many years ago, a journey which has a goal of reaching, as Augustus wrote, 'that kingdom which has no end.' I remember likening my journey to being on a train that stopped at numerous stations, each of which was an important place to get off and explore, discovering more of the knowledge that I needed in order to continue my journey in the right direction. In fact, I guess that what walking with Christ is in so many ways, a journey of discovery, for in discovering more about God I think that you inevitably discover more about yourself as well.

So what have I discovered about myself along the way? Well, for one thing, I have discovered that I have a capacity for compassion that far exceeds anything that I would have thought myself capable of. I have discovered strengths that I never realised I had, and concern for others that far outweighs concern for myself. I have discovered that true happiness comes to you as a result of bringing happiness into the lives of others. I have discovered that the joys of giving far outweigh the pleasures of receiving, although the latter should never be falsely discounted.

I have learned that, in terms of strength and endurance, alone I am no more than average, yet with God before me, Christ by my side, and driven by the Holy Spirit, I have strength and endurance that is always sufficient for any and every need that I might have. In this I have discovered that most basic truth, that, as John Donne so succinctly put it, 'No man is an island ...', for in my alone-ness I am nothing, yet in my oneness with God I am all that I need to be.

Forty years ago this coming September, I committed my life to Christ and to serving Him in any and every way that I could, and the journey that my commitment has led me on has been amazing. I have had the blessings of good companions along the way, and have found that God has never let me down, even though there have been many times when I have let Him down. They say that to err is human, and I guess that explains the difference between us and God when it comes to letting down.

The responsibility of being a Christian is immense! Jesus Christ has commissioned each of His followers to take the gospel message into the world and share it with all whom we meet. We are commissioned to bear a burden for the lost souls whom only Christ can offer salvation to. That means that whenever we fail to share the message with someone we meet we run the risk of condemning them to a future apart from God. It's that thought, the dreadfulness of such a situation, that becomes a spur in our Christian lives, urging us onward to share and serve, serve and share, not stopping to count the cost to ourselves but only considering all in terms of the kingdom benefits that can accrue to one who receives the wonderful gift of salvation.

So tomorrow, when I once again have the privilege to share God's Word, my thoughts will not be about how people meet and accept me but on how they meet and accept God, for surely the one thing that is of great importance is that we should diminish and let God increase. In sharing the good news of the gospel message we are not the creator's of the message but the bearers of it. We are, in effect, Ambassadors for Christ Himself, and what could be better than performing our duty the very best way possible.

One hundred and five years ago the Spirit of Revival spread out from Moriah Chapel and its influence was felt around the world. Hundreds of thousands of people were harvested into the Kingdom as a result of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. Will Revival sweep out once more from Moriah as it did back then with the young Evan Roberts calling on God, "Bend me!"? Only God knows the answer to that. In the meantime, we are called upon to be ready to share the Word both in season and out of season. I'm ready to do that each and every day, and pray that God will continue to bless me as He has done for so many years.

When it comes to the question of Revival, one thing that I have learned is that every time one person accepts Christ into their heart the a mini-revival has taken place. Someone who was spiritually dead has been revived and becomes spiritually alive. Add together all of the individuals who come to Christ each day and you can see that revival never ceases to take place. Our problem is only in the way that we view the situation, expecting, as we do, Revival to come only in a massive outpouring that affects thousands, yet God does things His way, and that is often not the way that we would expect.

It's time to take our blinkers off and instead of worrying and fretting about what we think God is not doing, we should be praising Him for what He is doing. Possibly the one great thing that stands in the way of a grand-scale Revival is ourselves, as we limit God to the size that fits comfortably into human understanding.

It's time to let go and let God!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Off to Moriah Chapel in Wales once more!


This coming Sunday I shall be preaching at Moriah Chapel in Loughor, near Swansea. It will be good to return there, following the time spent there at the International Revival Gathering which I was the Moderator for at the beginning of April. I'm looking forward to meeting up with friends in the area as well, and especially to having the opportunity to catch up with Dyfrig and Jackie with whom I'll be staying on Saturday night.

Of course, to be invited to preach in the chapel where the Revivalist Evan Roberts preached is a very special thing, although it is a privilege to be invited to preach and share the Word at any time and on any occasion. Please pray that I will be given the right word to share, and that my visit there will be a blessing to those who attend and a benefit to God's eternal kingdom.

The one extra special thing about the trip is that I shall be visiting my spiritual home of Wales once again, and that is something that I never get enough of!

Tales of the Old Town : Chris Darlington's new book

Speaking of books (which I was in the last post), Chris Darlington's new book, Tales of the Old Town, is a great little read. This slim volume contains a series of recollections from the period in Runcorn's history during which Chris grew up. These are memories of days gone by as seen through a child's eyes, and ther is much humour to be found in the resultant stories.

A jolly good little read for anyone who likes local history and the opportunity to take a little peek into the past. Published by Voice Publications, it sells at £4.50 and the ISBN is 978 09553583 71

A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian


Every now and then I stumble across a book which my gut feeling tells me that I'll enjoy, even though, at first glance, it would be easy to pass it by. A week ago I found such a book idly propped against one end of a shelf in my local library, looking for all the world as though it had been picked up and discarded a hundred times. Certainly the cover never gave a lot away, at least, not until you read the odd comments on it that read: 'Extremely Funny' The Times; 'Outstanding' Daily Mail; and 'Mad and hilarious' Daily Telegraph. Definitely this was a book that simply begged me to investigate further!

The outcome was that I took the book home and started to read, discovering that, as countless people must have surely done before me, it was a book that did not want to be put down. Whilst I love reading, my work does not allow me constant free time to devote to it, and so my reading time is usually last thing at night. In the case of this book it's true to say that I devoured its content at every opportunity, finishing it in about five days, a record for me these days.

Shortlisted for the Orange Prize, winner of the 'SAGA Award for Wit' in 2005, and longlisted for the 2005 Booker Prize, Marina Lewycka's attention to detail as her story unfolds is amazing. It's obvious that she has been blessed with the ability to incorporate personal recollection, whether of her own or of a family member, together with excellent research into her subject.

Despite the title, this is not an agricultural history, nor, despite the inclusion of so much 'tractorial' detail, is it a story about tractors, in Ukraine or anywhere else. That's simply the thread that draws the reader through the story of an old man and his young bride-of-convenience.

I cannot recommend this book highly enough to anyone who enjoys a gripping tale which pulsates with humour. Reviews for it contain words such as 'splendid', 'remarkable', 'amazing', 'hilarious', and 'extraordinary'. I find it difficult to add any superlative that betters what has already been said. All I can do is recommend that you discover it all for yourself at the earliest opportunity.

Published by Penguin, the ISBN number is 9 780141 020525.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

More Beautiful places . . .

Even if you can't be there you can still dream! Here are a few more beautiful places to wander through or just to rest for a while and soak up the sheer beauty of, even if it's just in a flight of imagination.














Mission

OUTREACHING MISSION

Acts: Chapter 2, verses 27 - 32

The church is different to most organisations because it exists, in one sense, more for those who are outside of its membership than for the membership itself. The last thing that any church should be is inward looking, for if that is the case then it means that, although the membership might feel very comfortable, there is little, if any, attention paid to mission. As Christians we are each commissioned by Christ to serve in the mission fields, as outlined in the Great Commission. We are told to take the message of the gospel out into the whole world, and that means that wherever we are we must be ready, willing and able, to fulfil the command. The question should be asked whether we want to be a comfortable church or a Great Commission church. The church exists to be the salt of the earth, the light of the world, and the redeeming factor in a dying society. Everything we do must be for the purpose of reaching others for Jesus Christ. George Barna, who founded a market research group specialising in religious beliefs in the USA and the intersection of faith and culture, wrote the following about growing churches:

“These were people who were passionate about outreach...They saw every event in their lives as having a hand in better enabling them to reach others for Christ. They looked upon life as a opportunity to serve God.”

God has brought together those of us who love Him and who have a love for lost souls in order to claim our world for Christ. To reach out into our world and claim it for Jesus we must have an overwhelming desire to see persons rescued from the restraints of sin and brought to a saving knowledge of the Lord. A simple desire is not enough for this work to be successful, we must be passionate about it, driven by the desire to serve Christ in every way that we live. We must, in the fullest sense, live for Christ.

Recently I attended a Presbytery meeting where several people were being interviewed as potential elders, having had their names put forward by their pastorates. At one point, having been asked to share their walk of faith with us, one lady shared about the way in which she felt called to follow a street ministry, and with the support of her church she was responding successfully to the call. Her passion for Christ was such that she was sharing the gospel in a very public way. Of course, whilst this suited this particular lady it would not necessarily suit everyone, but the lesson that we can all draw from this example is that being passionate about serving Christ means that we must be prepared to be very public when it comes to the matter of our faith.

The gospel must be the first priority in all we do to reach people for Jesus Christ. Of course, if we are to share the gospel successfully, then we must learn more about it, and this means that it must be studied in Bible study, proclaimed in regular worship services, and shared outside the church. Peter and the other apostles were committed to the public proclamation of the gospel. They seized every opportunity they could. Acts 5:25 tells us that even after they were arrested and jailed, they went forth and spoke boldly in the temple in the Lord’s name. If we seek to see our church grow then proclaiming the good news of Jesus Christ must be our passionate aim. In the first instance it is each member of the church that must seek to grow, for as those in membership grow in the knowledge of the Lord, so more people will reach out in mission to share what they have learned, and it is as this happens that the church will increase as a direct result. Others will discover a passionate faith when we share our passionate faith with them.

Paul writes that we should be ready to preach the Word in season and out of season. In other words, we must be prepared to share the gospel wherever we are , whatsoever the occasion. The apostles were committed to reaching people in their homes as well as by public proclamation (Acts 5:42).

Our commitment to evangelize the lost is non-negotiable. The apostles let nothing stand in their way of witnessing to the lost, and if we are to emulate the early church then we must be just as committed. In our land we have a generation of people who are biblically illiterate. Even though many people have a Bible in their home but only a tiny percentage read it at all, let alone reading it on a daily basis. Ignorance of Scripture is readily displayed by contestants on General Knowledge TV Quiz Shows, and in general conversation. Even amongst many churchgoers confusion is caused simply by asking them to turn to a particular passage in Scripture, proving that even regular churchgoers do little Bible study.

For the church to be effective in evangelism it is important to understand the mentality of the Biblically illiterate. We need to make every effort to reach them, learning new ways to approach both people and subject. A church seeking to grow must have an enthusiastic commitment to ongoing evangelism, and, above all, we must be patient with people.

The early church did its outreach within the framework of meaningful ministry and missions, sharing what they had as a community (Acts 2:45; 4:32). Perhaps one of the most important and meaningful statements in regard to the attitude of the early church towards the question of mission is found in Acts 4:32, And the congregation of those who believed were of one heart and soul; . . . One reason the apostles were so flexible in their ministry is because they knew that their overall mission was to preach Christ and make disciples. They accepted suffering as a part of that ministry. After being flogged by the authorities for preaching Christ the apostles went on their way from the presence of the Council, rejoicing that they had been considered worthy to suffer shame for His name (Acts 5:41-42). Like the disciples, our commitment to ministry and missions will impact our community for Christ. Through meaningful ministries, we communicate that we care. A close correlation exists between our growth and our commitment to a needy world.

Whilst it is good to see our church grow bigger, our primary concern should not be for growth but should be for mission, and for ministry for Christ. When we concentrate on obediently ministering God’s Word, He takes care of our growth. The growth of a plant depends on three things — the seed, the soil, and the seasons. Missions and ministry create a climate in the church that makes growth possible. If we are to be passionate in our outreach, we must be involved in life-changing ministries that will touch lives and make a difference.

May God give us a passion that will not die, a desire that will be fuelled by our zeal for serving the Lord.

Amen

Sunday, June 7, 2009

A new Meditation from Joanne Lowe

From time to time I like to share Joanne Lowe's daily meditation with you, dear reader, and today I am sharing her latest

FROM UGLY TO BEAUTIFUL

“A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh.”

Ezekiel 36: 26 (King James Version)

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The song “The Old Rugged Cross Made The Difference” by The Gaither Vocal Band is very precious to me because truly the cross did make a difference in my heart and life. The words in the song describe so adequately my life before Jesus saved me. “T’was a life filled with aimless desperation, Without hope walked the shell of a man; Then a hand with a nailprint stretched downward, Just one touch then a new life began.” Because I had been raped and abused, I hated everybody. I didn’t trust anyone. My heart was very ugly.

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Then one glorious day on August 14, 1980, my precious Saviour came to me and touched my heart and my life. I now have a beautiful heart because Jesus lives in me. Does this mean that I am perfect? Of course not, nobody is perfect. I receive a lot of emails telling me how great I am because I write a daily devotion. While it is very encouraging to receive these emails and I am so grateful for them, I am only a sinner saved by grace.

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Don’t put your eyes on me, on your pastor or anyone else. We will fail you. Keep your eyes on Jesus! He will never fail you. He will pick you up in His compassionate arms and carry you through the dark valleys of your life. He will set you once again on the mountain tops of happiness. What condition is your heart in today? Is it ugly or is it beautiful? Have you allowed Jesus to touch your heart and life with His nail scarred hand? If not, I urge you; I plead with you to give your heart and life to Jesus today before it is too late!

Joanne Lowe

June 6, 2009

joannecomfort@gmail.com

www.hesetmefreeforever.blogspot.com