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Monday, August 31, 2009

'DRUG ADDICT' . . . More from a great poet : Richard Ball

A few days ago I published one of Richard Ball's poems on my Blog, taken from his book In Memory of Dylan Thomas, published by Gazebo Books in 1969. Due to the good reaction to this greatly under-rated poet, I'm publishing one of my favourite poems of his here today. It's called Drug Addict, and it manages to tell it like it is in just a few words, the sparsity of words adding to rather than detracting from the subject matter. See what you think!

Drug Addict
See him
in the crouched hour
of his dream,
and lonely ---
the hubbub of his living
grown from the shaft
which pounds all the
young flesh of his days,
feel the intense cur
in him cringe
for the meat-bone of existence,
craving its wound
which wills this life
to him longer,

curse the crazed
tide-race of his veins,
and the loitering man
selling him to death.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Spooky happenings at Lacock Abbey

This is a photograph of the hauntingly beautiful Lacock Abbey in Wiltshire, about five or six miles from my home town of Corsham. Lacock, which is a wholly owned National Trust village, is home to this ancient Abbey, which was converted to a home after the Reformation. Once the home of William Henry Fox-Talbot, a pioneer of early photography, there is now a Fox-Talbot museum close by. In more recent times parts of the Abbey, such as the Cloisters, pictured below, have been used as backdrops in the Harry Potter films.

I recall an occasion in the early 1960's --- I think it would have been 1961 --- when I was at Lacock Abbey for the local Hunt Ball, where I was to be working for my father for the evening. As a local Wine Merchant, he had been given the task of ensuring that the evening was well-oiled, and my job was to wander around collecting empty glasses and washing them up ready for refilling.

Because I was there to work rather than as a guest I had arrived fairly early in the evening, and there was a momentary panic on because the lights had blown a fuse, something which I was told by the occupier, Col. Burnett-Brown, was not unusual. I walked with him through parts of the Abbey, being shown around on a sort of mini guided tour, on the way to fix the fuse. At one point, walking down the corridor, we passed a room which gave one a strange feeling as we passed by the open doorway. The Colonel explained to me when I commented on this that his dogs would not enter the room willingly. He told me that if you tried to drag them into the room they would struggle to get out as quickly as possible. He then added that even he tended to not enter the room unless he absolutely had to, because it sent shivers down his spine and made the hairs on the back of his neck stand out. I asked him whether he thought the room was haunted and he confirmed that this was definitely his conclusion, although he had never seen a ghost there personally.

The fact that he was very much a 'no-nonsense' sort of man added a sense of authority to his comments, and from the sensations that I experienced walking past the room, and at several other points in the corridor, I have no doubt that the area was definitely the scene of ghostly happenings. I would imagine that this building, part of which is in a semi-derelict condition, is home to many such events. Perhaps another contender for a 'Ghost Walk, for the intrepid.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Richard Ball, a great Poet and a good friend.

This morning I wandered in my mind back along the tunnel of time to the mid-1960's, and in particular, to the great friendship I enjoyed with the poet Richard Ball who lived on the border between Wales and England. Born in Maesbury, Shropshire, when I met him first it was whilst he was employed as a desk Sergeant at the police station in Bedminster, Bristol.

I was privileged to be the first publisher to publish his work in book format, and his book about the Titanic was duly released in 1968 under the title The Last Voyage of the Titanic. It's an epic poem filled with the facts and dramas of the ill-fated ship, and helped to establish him to be recognised as a serious poet. The following year, 1969, I published In Memory of Dylan Thomas, a series of poems crafted in similar style to Thomas, and also included in the slim volume was another mini-epic poem entitled Rearguard Action at Dunkirk, a subject well-known to Richard Ball who had been one of those evacuated from the Dunkirk beaches. The photograph above shows Richard Ball with (a very youthful) me at the launch of his book The Last Voyage of the Titanic.

In this volume he included a poem as a tribute to our friendship which I reproduce below, and which I feel greatly privileged by.


Written on a serviette, whilst having a meal with his wife,

and Colin Gordon-Farleigh at 9 p.m. on the 27th November, 1968.

And then I would see him

climb the stairs,

this friend,

who brings a quiet

to this disease of thought

and I would greet him


raiding his store

of the rare words

that did not come

before his visiting.


they will help me,

perhaps not now,

but when his

passing at the door

casts shadow in the light,

and the lone room

shouts of him once more,

and tells me 

this is the time

that he speaks on,

and I must write.


Now as they were travelling along, He entered a certain village; and a woman named Martha welcomed Him into her home.

Many homes still have wall plaques dating from the Victorian era, and I recall seeing them quite often when, as a youngster, I used to visit elderly relatives or friends whose parents would have them on the dining-room wall. They would proclaim the message Christ is the unseen head of this house or Christ is the unseen guest at this table. Others carry messages such as Our house is open to God. I have no doubt from my recall of the people concerned, that those really were homes where our Lord would have been welcomed with open arms.

I wonder how welcome Christ would be in people's homes today. An old poem asks the question, If Jesus came to your house ... and then goes on to question whether He would be welcomed right in or whether it would be necessary to put the house straight first. Would there be some things that needed to be hidden away? Would it be necessary to pretend that things were different to the way that they appeared?

Christ was welcome in the home of the two disciples who lived in Emmaus, (Cleopas and probably his wife). We read in Luke's account that, they urged Him, saying, "Stay with us, for it is getting towards evening, and the day is now nearly over." And He went in to stay with them (Luke 24: 29). There are many instances in the Bible where Jesus was welcomed into individual homes.

· He was welcomed into Peter's home where He not only healed his mother-in-law, but also delivered those who were under demonic possession who were brought to the house, along with many more sick people (Mark 1: 29-34).

· Jesus, seeing Zacchaeus the tax-gatherer up a sycamore tree which he had climbed in order to get a better view, invited Himself to his house. We read in Luke 19: 6 that Zacchaeus hurried and came down, and received Him gladly. Christ came to make some changes in the life of Zacchaeus and his household, and Zacchaeus listened, responded, and rejoiced over the great changes that came about because of Christ's presence.

There are other New Testament passages which record visits Jesus made to people's homes, and there’s always a sense of joy and rejoicing at His presence. Amongst these we can find records of His visiting His friends, Mary, Martha and Lazarus on three occasions, although there are almost certainly many more that go unrecorded.

Jesus paid an unexpected visit to Martha and Mary, according to the passage in Luke 10. We know that it was unexpected because we are told that Martha was distracted by the preparations that she had to do. If she had known He was coming then she would have got things ready beforehand. Perhaps He was a self-invited guest on this occasion as the living demonstration of God's grace. We can reasonably assume that Jesus often invited himself into people's homes in order to bring God's blessings to them, and as a friend of the three, it’s quite probable that He had a standing invitation to visit whenever He was nearby.

Probably the best known occasion was when He received the message from Mary and Martha that Lazarus was sick. The Bible records that by the time He arrived at the house, having delayed his departure, Lazarus had been dead for several days, and we are told that Jesus wept (John 11: 35). Yet Jesus, arriving to a house of sorrow, used the opportunity to demonstrate His resurrection power, calling Lazarus to come from the grave, and restoring him to his grief-stricken sisters. Why did He weep? After all, Jesus knew that in a few minutes he would raise Lazarus back to life. I believe that his weeping was a demonstration of the immense love and compassion that He felt, and still feels, for every soul created by Him. His love for all of us is such that he shares not only our moments of joy but also those of pain and grief. All around Him the family and friends of Lazarus were distressed and grieving their loss, and Jesus would have empathized with them in their pain.

Later we read in John 12 that Jesus made another visit to Lazarus' home, and celebrated a feast with them (1-3). He was a specially invited guest on this occasion, and it was a happy and festive time. These stories show Christ's presence at the house on all types of occasion, always a welcome visitor, always a reliable friend. If you and I want Him to come and stay with us in our times of sorrow and of joy then we need to ensure that He has a standing invitation to come as often as He wants and stay as long as He wants. Importantly, our homes need to be fit places for Him to come to at any moment.

We read in Mark 10: 45 that the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, ... He didn’t intrude where He was unwelcome. He would never cause embarrassment to people by suddenly arriving where He was uncertain of the welcome. He visited to fulfil both his own needs and the needs of others, for He was both divine and human, and He had the same needs that others had for nourishment. On two of His visits we read that He sat down to eat with His hosts. He had a need for the friendship and companionship of others, selecting the twelve apostles in order that they might be with Him. He needed encouragement, being aware of the imminence of His death upon the cross, and when Mary poured out the expensive perfume on Him it was a special sign of devotion that would help to strengthen Him as He faced death. He came to this home to teach the loving ways of God. Luke records that Mary was listening to the Lord's word, seated at His feet (10:39). Jesus gently admonished Martha for worrying unduly about the things of comfort. The meaning of this, in all probability, is that we can go without food and comfort without doing any real or lasting harm, but we cannot go without communication with our Lord because He supplies our spiritual food, and to go without spiritual food would be a massive deprivation with lasting effects. The lesson for us here is to understand the importance of prayer in our lives over all else.

We can also learn from these situations that Jesus comes to bring sympathy in times of sorrow, to share joy during times of happiness, and that when He comes into the home then He brings with Him the power to give new life.

Learning what the stories mean is one thing, but it is putting that learning into action that’s the most important thing. Jesus wants to come into your heart to be your Lord. Bringing love and power, He wants to make the necessary changes in your life, reversing some things and reorganizing others. He wants to complete, enrich, empower and use your life.

Is Christ the Unseen guest at every meal, and the Unseen Head of the Household in your home? If He isn't, I wonder if you will change that situation and invite Him to come in whenever He wants, starting today?

To God be all glory, and power, and dominion, for ever and ever.


West Wales : More Holiday Snaps

We enjoyed a great time at Little Haven, just a few miles from Milford Haven.

We sat on a bench for quite a while, enjoying the sun and the sea. What a fantastic view we had of this special little place.

We found some great places where we could enjpoy nature and appreciate the quiet as a change from the hustle and bustle of our usual lives.

At Little Haven we spent a while at a small Nature Reserve, and the following pics are from our visit. There was a lot to see when you really looked for it, and the lichens on the trees were amazingly beautiful.

Joanne Lowe's Meditations : Are You Leaning


“Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

Matthew 11: 28 - 30 (King James Version)

John Stallings wrote a beautiful song “Learning to Lean”. I believe that these words came from the depths of his heart. “I’m learning to lean, learning to lean, Learning to lean on Jesus. Finding more power than I’d ever dreamed, I’m learning to lean on Jesus.” It is only when we lean on Jesus that we find rest, comfort and encouragement for our weary hearts.

In our Scripture verse Jesus tells us to learn of Him. We may know all the geographical places in the Bible and know about all the events in the Bible but if we don’t know the heart of Jesus, all we have is knowledge. Telling people about the places in the Bible and the events in the Bible will not lead them to accept Jesus as their personal Saviour.

We must tell them about Jesus and His unconditional love for them. However, it is not enough to tell them about Jesus. We need to live so that they will see Jesus in our smiles, hear Him in our words, and feel Him in our actions. We can tell people all day long that Jesus loves them but if we never prove it to them by our loving actions, they are not going to believe us.

Are you leaning on Jesus or are you still carrying your burdens and trying to solve your problems by yourself? You may find a temporary solution but only Jesus can give you a lasting peace. Give all of your heartaches, burdens and problems to Jesus and He will give you rest. We have a loving and compassionate Saviour. Thank You, Jesus, for loving us and caring about us.

Joanne Lowe

August 28, 2009

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Obama's choice of Bible verse surprises Christians

An email currently doing the rounds contains the following information:

It amazes me how God is able to show his presence and send messages to those who will listen, and DO believe in his presence and plan. The Lord has a way of revealing to those of us who know Him and those that don't!

Think about this........................!

Obama gave a big speech about how his faith is 'so important to him.' In an attempt to convince the American people that he should be president, he said his favourite verse in the Bible is John 16:3. Of course the speech writers meant John 3:16, but nobody in the Obama camp is familiar enough with Scripture to catch the error, including Obama.

What John 16:3 says is this:
"And they will do these things because they have not known the Father nor Me."

The Holy Spirit works in strange ways..............................

The problem is that this particular story has been used before and is, in fact, no more than a legend. It certainly has been used against Kerry and Bush to name two politicians, and no doubt there are many more as well.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Lutherans Endorse Homosexuality & God pours out His wrath!

On August 19 the Lutheran Church in America voted to allow same sex marriage and clergy. This video shows a tornado that hit Minneapolis on August 19 around 2 pm at the time they voted. It
sheered the cross off the Lutheran church next to the conference centre where they were meeting. Take a look at the video on YouTube by clicking
here and form your own opinion!

The vote was won by just one vote, and that vote represents the chasm that the Lutherans have created between themselves and God's leading through Holy Scripture.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Joanne Lowe's Meditations : 'God's School of Love'


“Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.”

2 Timothy 2: 15 (King James Version)

Imagine what would happen if every Christian would enroll in God’s school of love. I believe that we would have a revival that the world has never known. When we attend Bible School, we are to study the Bible but if we never put into practice what we learn, we are breaking God’s heart. What is the good of learning what the Bible instructs us to do if we never do it?

O’ we may receive an “A” and graduate because we passed all the tests but we haven’t pleased God. It is only when we do what He tells us to do that He approves of us. We need a school that only has one course. The course should be unconditional love which teaches us how to love one another as Jesus has commanded us to love each other.

I think that sometimes we forget that loving one another is not an option; it is a commandment. “This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you. Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down His life for his friends” (John 15: 12, 13). Can we honestly say that we love each other as He loves us?

Are we loving our families and our friends unconditionally or is our love based on certain conditions? Jesus set the example for us when He died for us on the cross. Our precious Saviour loves us unconditionally. If you have never enrolled in God’s school of love, please enroll today. It is time that we start loving each other unconditionally as Jesus has commanded us to love. Then and only then will God approve of us.

Joanne Lowe

August 22, 2009