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Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Runcorn Bridge & a modern Parable

From the upper floor of my house you can see the wonders of the Runcorn-Widnes (or, if you live in Widnes, the Widnes-Runcorn) bridge which spans both the River Mersey and the Manchester Ship Canal. Named The Silver Jubilee Bridge, it is a wonderful feat of engineering. It was officially opened on 21st July1961 and widened between 1975 and 1977, and, for the technically minded amongst you, it is a compression arch suspended-deck bridge. A Grade II listed building, the vital statistics of the bridge are 482 metres long, 16 metres wide, and 87 metres high. A single span bridge, it has a 24 metre clearance over the Manchester Ship Canal. Construction on the bridge was started in April 1956 and took five years to complete. During the construction 720,000 rivets were used, and the carriageway is suspended from the main arch by means of 48 lock-coil wire ropes.

There are frequent accidents on this heavily congested bridge, and also occasional suicides by people climbing to the top of the main arch and jumping into the river below. About eighteen months ago we were involved in an accident when the driver of a large white van tried to run us off the road because we were in his way. If you are a regular reader of this Blog you may recall that my car was torched outside my house later on the same evening by the van driver who objected to my insisting that the matter of the damage be dealt with through the proper channels. (See my Blog Post of Monday May 19th, 2008, headed Things really warmed up . . .)

I remember relating the following story to the Sunday School one day:

There was once a young guy who was attacked and robbed whilst walking across the Runcorn Bridge, and he was even stripped of the designer-label clothing which he wore, leaving him almost naked and half-beaten to death at the side of the carriageway. Cars speeding past just ignored him, not wanting to get involved in case they somehow became victims as well. A priest, hurrying from Runcorn to Widnes to a church service, saw the man but decided that he couldn't stop because he would otherwise be late for his service. Finally a burly Hell's Angel drove up on a motorbike, and seeing the man by the side of the carriageway, he stopped and dismounted. With his emblazoned leather jacket, long hair streaming from under his helmet, and wild looking beard, he was enough to put fear into many people.

The Biker knelt by the side of the man and then took off his leather jacket to cover his nakedness. He lifted him to his feet and then flagged down a car. Together they went to a nearby pub where the Biker asked the publican to look after the man, feeding him and getting him somewhere to sleep. He left enough money for all that was needed, but told the landlord that he would look in the next day in case he needed more.

Who did the best for this man? Certainly not the motorists who just drove past, looking the other way. Certainly not the priest hurrying on so that he wouldn't miss his service. Yet the Biker, someone whom many in Society would look down on or drive around rather than near, never gave it a second thought. He simply responded to someone in need of assistance.

There's a lesson for all of us in that.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Meditation from Joanne Lowe

“Give ear, O Lord, unto my prayer; and attend to the voice of my supplications. In the day of my trouble I will call upon thee: for thou wilt answer me.”
Psalm 86: 6, 7
(King James Version)

Heavenly Father, we come to You this morning with heavy hearts. We are in trouble! There is so much violence in our land. Every day we read in the newspapers about someone who has been killed. Dear God, please help us to get back to the plan You originally had for us when You created us. Help us to love one another unconditionally and live in peace with one another. Forgive us, Father, for hurting You.

I believe as You look down and see the way we treat Your beloved Son that Your heart is broken day after day. Help us to realize that Your beloved Son, the Saviour of the world, is not a puppet to perform when we want Him to do something for us. May we stop treating Jesus like He is a puppet and only call on Him when we need something. Help us to treat Him with the respect that He so richly deserves.

Cleanse our hearts, Father. Make us fit for the Master’s use. Help us to get out of our comfort zones and spread the good news of our risen Saviour and His unconditional love. There are so many people, Heavenly Father, who feel all alone and they are hurting. They desperately need to know they are loved. May we carry the light of Jesus to a world that is in darkness starting with our own families and friends. Amen.

Joanne Lowe
September 28, 2009

Poem for Today : 'Thank You, Lord'

Thank You, Lord

For the mountains and sun,
For the sea and the sky,
For creatures and fish
And for songbirds that fly,
For all living things
In the world today,
Thank You, Lord!

For the people I love,
For the joy that they bring,
Summer and Autumn,
And Winter and Spring
For all the good things
In the world today,
Thank You, Lord!

For the food crops that grow
In the warm summer sun,
For bright clear blue skies,
And for new life begun,
All wonderful things
In the world today,
Thank You, Lord!

For the birds in their nests,
For the fox in his hole,
Praises to You, Lord,
For making me whole,
For being with me
In the world today,
Thank You, Lord!
© Colin Gordon-Farleigh, May 2006

How about a nice cup of tea?

It was just a teapot. Some people might have said it was just an ordinary teapot, but not me. To me it was the whole world in microcosm, because of what it stood for. It had been placed on our table more times than I could remember, gazed at, admired or ignored, by countless visitors. To me it was more than just a useful object; much more than a means of refreshment. Yes, to me it was a thing of great beauty, the colours telling people as much about me as the teapot itself. The base was a rich blue, blue enough to remind me of the sea one minute and the sky the next. Then there was that band of earth colours --- terracotta and mustard --- that reminded me of the goodness of the earth. Finally the handle, which apart from the warmth of the colours, was reassuringly robust. When you gripped it to lift the teapot and pour out the welcome liquid into a cup the handle reassured you that it was up to the job. You had, so to speak, nothing to worry about.

But, as if all of this was not enough, there was the activity that the teapot represented. People gathered around the table or scattered around the room, all brought together by the nectar that had come to life in that teapot. On a cold day even the steam from the hot tea was welcome, bringing with it that warm glow that comes with the imbibing of the swirling brown liquid. It caused people to exclaim, to sigh, to laugh. It brought warmth into their lives in its own special way. Later, even the memory of it would bring back a little of the warmth that was shared around the table.

Some people would have covered it with a tea-cosy in order to maintain the heat inside, but I always thought that a little sacrilegious myself. After all, when you have a thing of such beauty why cover it up?

If I ever feel a little lonely nowadays, all I have to do is to recall any of the many afternoons when I, in the company of a friend or friends, enjoyed an hour gathered around the teapot, chatting about old times or postulating on new ones. Do that for a few moments and the loneliness is soon gone!

One or two people thought that the teapot was so special, so beautiful, that it should be locked away in a glass cabinet, not to be used but just to be admired. Yet what would be the purpose of it then? It was, after all, a functional thing as well as a thing of beauty.

People often lock away something because they feel that it's too precious to be left for all and sundry to share. In the Bible there is a parable about a man who purchased a field in which he had found a great treasure. In order to keep it for himself he purchased the field, keeping the treasure hidden from others. Yet the value of the treasure was in its sharing.

Sometimes I visit people who proudly show me the Bible that was given to them when they were baptised, or for a special occasion, and they display it still in the box that it was given to them in, with the tissue paper as crisp and clean as the day that it was packed into the box with. They think that by keeping it so pristine they have done something good with it, but the sad truth is that they were given the Word of God to feed their spiritual being on a daily basis, yet rather than do that they did just as the man who found the treasure did and buried the bible out of sight. It was a hidden treasure that had been locked away, it's value hidden from sight, yet it was a priceless treasure that needed to be shared in order for its value to be appreciated.

There we are then, dear reader, there's something to think about as you gather around your teapot to enjoy a nice hot cup of tea with your family and friends today.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Poem for Today : 'The Flood'

The Flood
‘Come,’ said Noah, to his three sons,
‘For God has spoken to me;
He says that we must build an ark
From the wood of the cedar tree.
Three hundred by fifty by thirty,
Is the size God said we should make;
And it should have three decks,
Each living creature to take.
We shall bring to the ark
Two of each kind,
And food for us and for them:’
So he set about to build the ark,
With Japheth, Ham and Shem.
The animals went to the ark,
As God commanded they should,
And just as God commanded them,
It was made of gopher wood.
After Noah, his sons and their wives;
Then the Lord closed the door,
And rain started to pour,
Outside the rest lost their lives.
For forty days and forty nights
The flood covered over the earth,
As God blotted out all living things,
For man had abused his birth.
The waters covered the mountains,
Till no land was left in sight:
Then God caused a wind to pass over,
After the fortieth night.
Slowly the waters receded,
So Noah decided to see
If the land had been returned,
And if the mountains and plain
Would sweep once again,
Down to the shores of the sea.
He sent out a raven
Which flew here and there,
Over the face of the land,
But could find no place to rest;
So he sent out a dove
Which, soaring above,
Found no place to build a nest.
Noah waited for seven more days,
Then the dove was sent once again,
Returning this time with proof
That the land was free from rain.
The waters had dried from the earth,
And God spoke to Noah once more:
Take your sons and their wives,
Each beast and each bird,
And leave the ark through the door.
Then God made a promise to Noah,
That never again would there be
Such a flood as had been in those days,
When the land was covered by sea.
I’ll set in the sky, for all men to see,
A bow, high up in the cloud,
That will stretch from heaven to earth,
To trumpet my promise aloud.
That’s why, when it rains,
We often will see,
As the sun comes shining through,
A rainbow of every colour,
Confirming God’s promise to you.
© Colin Gordon-Farleigh, January 2006

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Happiness & Friendship

keeps you sweet,

keep you strong,

keep you human,

keep you humble,

keeps you humble,

BUT . . .

keep you going!

Friday, September 25, 2009

The Islamification Factor

Not every Muslim is a terrorist
We live in greatly troubled times where our cultural and spiritual identity is under greater threat than probably any other time in history. Since the horrors of the atrocity known now simply as ‘9/11’, the Western world has come increasingly under attack by Islamic Fundamentalists bent on converting the West to Islam and replacing existing Law with that of Sharia Law. Terrorist atrocities, perpetrated by Islamic so-called ‘Upholders of the Faith’ have, since then, become relatively common-place in the West to the extent that squads of special undercover law-enforcement officers have been formed in most, if not every, country in the Western world, specifically to deal with the threat posed by Islamic groups.

Whilst it is true to say that not every Muslim is a terrorist it is equally true to state that virtually every terrorist is a Muslim.

We have seen the ‘Great’ taken out of our national title systematically, and this nation is more likely to be referred to simply as ‘Britain’ or the ‘United Kingdom’ than anything else. Part of the foundation that made this this country great were the entrenched Christian moral and ethical values upon which modern democracy was founded. To say that they have been eroded beyond belief is an understatement. Systematically, with the move over the past few decades to a more materialistic society, Christian values have gradually become something to be derided rather than upheld by the majority of those in power, and that attitude has devolved in a seemingly unstoppable downward spiral through our society today. No longer is this nation referred to — as it was when I was a boy — as a Christian country. Now it is openly referred to by its leaders and the majority of its citizens as a Secular Society.

Increasingly, the liberal theology of secularism has been allowed to pervade all aspects of our society with its political correctness, causing the average citizen — or at least those who still care — to watch the very fabric of their culture, inherited over centuries, to erode until it’s in danger of disappearing altogether.

Despite the fact that the West, and this nation in particular, is increasingly under the threat of Islamification, it can be construed as an offence under the Race Relations Act to dare to speak publicly about it for fear of upsetting the Islamic community. Yet what those outside of that community are punished for, those within it are protected from similar punishment when they speak out because they are portrayed as a beleaguered minority.

So, whose door can the causes of the problem be laid out at? Is it the fault of the government? Or the Church? Or is it the fault of the people? I believe that it is a combination of all three. Generally speaking, given the freedom of choice, the majority of people do not naturally attend church, for the basic tenets of Christianity are not something which come naturally to people carte blanche. In times past, the authority of the Church was extremely strong, due in part to a largely uneducated factor in society. Despite their reticence, many people attended Church because they were required to by their employers, or because they were afraid of the local priest. That has changed, and today neither can be said to be true. Does this mean, therefore, that the fault lies entirely with the people? Of course not! The Church itself must shoulder much of the blame for adopting and embracing increasingly liberal theologies that, in extreme cases, deny such fundamental issues as the Virgin Birth and the Resurrection of Christ. How can people be expected to embrace something when even those appointed to teach them are in such disarray? In many areas of the modern Church those who embrace the literal truth of the Bible, stating it to be the breathed Word of God, are sneered at and castigated for their childlike ignorance in matters of spirituality. Yet we live in an age when the majority of people are searching for spiritual answers to their life-problems. In so many areas of the Church it’s true to say that it is the Church itself that has failed their flock by removing Christ from the word Christian, and then allowing Christian to be misinterpreted as Citizen.

Of course much blame for the overall situation must be laid at the door of Government, in particular the government over the last decade. Increasingly they have bent like corn in the wind in order to accommodate the demands of the Islamic Community, no doubt due to the power of the Muslim vote now that, due to the enlargement of the EEC, there has been such a huge influx of Muslims into this country. Of late we have heard the diatribe of Jack Straw postulating about Turkey’s admission into the European union, and claiming not to see any reason to oppose it. Well, the fact that Turkey is an Islamic country that will have relatively unfettered access to this country’s riches, is surely reason enough.

The Islamic fundamentalists make no bones about their aims to see Britain and the West as part of an Islamic world order. There is, of course, nothing new about this, for one of the features of current Islamic practise is the annihilation of the kafir or non-believer, and ahl al-kitab or ’People of the Book’ i.e. Christians and Jews. Both groups are regarded as avowed enemies of Islam, and the only way to avoid death for the is to submit to Muslim authority.

Our government helps to perpetrate the popular myth that portrays Islam as a peaceful and tolerant religion. History, though, has proved otherwise, for though there have certainly existed periods of relative tranquillity and tolerance, minorities and non-Muslims have always been prosecuted under Islam. In fact, Islamic ideology is based upon an intense hatred of the non-Muslim. The claim that Islam is a religion of peace is supported by their apologists on the basis that they allow non-Muslims to live within their Islamic state, yet the truth is that they only do so as dhimmi, which is a protected but non-Muslim status. This means that, at least officially, non-Muslims such as Jews and Christians are permitted to avoid execution provided they acknowledge the superiority of Islam.

As to the Christian there is none superior to God and Jesus Christ, this means that no Christian can ever acknowledge Islamic superiority. Further, as Jesus has commissioned every one of His followers to spread the gospel throughout the whole world (Matthew 28.19/20), this means that they must take the message of Salvation to all, non-Muslim and Muslim alike, for as Scripture records, all have sinned and fallen short of the righteousness of God.

How easy it would be to hate the Muslims, yet that is not the way of Christ. Rather we should pray for their salvation through Christ, and declare an ideology based upon love, forgiveness and reconciliation, rather than of hatred and fear.

The question remains then, as to how the situation can be changed. The answer has to be that the people of this once-great nation must turn to God and, bowing to His perfect wisdom, acknowledge that the only way to live is to live according to God’s holy laws. When I say ‘the people’, I mean all people of course, and that includes those in the corridors of power, both local and national.

Change can come through the power of the Holy Spirit, but we need to see those who confess Christ as their Lord praying in the sincere belief that the Power of God can and will change things. There also needs to be a change in the mindset of people long-held under the glamour of materialism, and a determination that those aspects of society such as respect, responsibility and accountability, should be embraced with a new vigour. People need to learn to respect themselves, for without self-respect there can be no respect for anything else. There needs to be a lead in distinguishing right from wrong, teaching the young in particular in this respect.

Change does not simply happen on its own. It needs a catalyst. Today, with the threat to our society’s cultural and ideological structure as never before, that is the one factor from which a catalyst can emerge. Leaders need to come forward who will lead without fear. The Church itself can and should lead the way, casting aside the liberal theologies that have so watered down the gospel as to render it ineffective, converting it to the gospel of man rather than the gospel of Jesus Christ. It is not man’s message to the world that will save it from destruction, but God’s message. Only His saving grace can provide the answer, and that answer has already been provided in and through Jesus Christ, the Son of the Living God. The Church leads an army of believer’s, all of who have one powerful weapon in their arsenal, irrespective of their age or status, and that is prayer. When believer’s cry out to God in prayer then they unleash His formidable power to fulfil their prayers to the eternal benefit of His kingdom.

It’s interesting to note that the Muslims worship Allah, the name being derived from the word al-ilah, the name given to the Moon-god of Arab worshippers living and worshipping in Pagan times.

Whilst Christians are urged to effectively love their neighbour unto salvation through Jesus Christ, Muslims have a great many verses in the Q’ran that incite them to kill those who refuse to submit to Allah. Here’s a few for you to read and judge for yourself:
  • A Muslim must ‘fight for the cause of Allah with the devotion due to him’ (Sura 22.78).
  • Muslims must make war on the infidels (unbelievers) who live round about them (Sura 9.123).
  • Muslims are to be ‘ruthless to unbelievers’ (Sura 48.29).
  • A Muslim can kill any person he wishes if it be a ‘just cause’ (Sura 6.152).
Of course there will be many casualties in this war, but that is one of the problems in any war. One of the most important things is to know your enemy, and yet sadly the majority of those who call themselves Christians have either very little or no knowledge in this respect. I know that there will be some who read this and view it as some form of extremist vilification of Islam. In today’s politically correct climate it may well be considered Islamophobic, yet how can that be the case when my concern is that we recognise the equality of all people, and their right to practise whatever faith they wish, even to proclaim no faith at all. Yet we, if we are to be true to our own faith as Christians, must share the Gospel with everyone, particularly in the light of our Lord’s words recorded in the Bible in John 6.14, whilst being acutely aware of what I perceive to be the greatest threat to our faith ever, I hate none, but profess only love and concern for those whom my God tells me, through His Word, are lost.
Copyright 2008, Colin Gordon-Farleigh

Obama and John 16.3

On August 26th I posted an entry which pointed out that reports of President Obama muddling John 3.16 and John 16.3 were false. The following comment is what I said at the end of the post:

'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.'

Checking through my Blog stats, I notice that, individually, there are more searches for items relating to this fallacy than any other. What becomes obvious from that is that there are a great number of people who would seek to put Obama down. I wonder why. Is it because he's the first black president? Or is it because of the draft of reforms that he's been busy steam-rollering through on Capitol Hill? Or is it perhaps something far more sinister than that?

We live in an Age when there is so much turmoil in the world that people are looking for someone to blame for their feelings of financial and emotional insecurity, and who better to knock down than those appointed to lead nations. I'm not one of the army of people who think that Obama is the greatest news since the inception of sliced bread, but surely, if reports are to be broadcast about him, or anyone else for that matter, then it's important to get the facts straight by verifying the report first.

An old adage says that 'If you cannot say anything good about a person then it's better to say nothing.' Well, that generally applies, but at the same time, sometimes you find it difficult to say good about someone because there is little that fulfils the requirements that qualify the category when speaking of politicians. One of the facts about leadership is that once appointed to lead there will always be those who seek to pull you down for one reason or another.

So, what about the fable about Obama and John 16.3/3.16? Perhaps, rather than seeking to pull Obama down by misrepresenting what his speech-writers got him to say, it might have been better to ask him, off- the-cuff, what other verses in the Bible he particularly liked. What, for example, would have been his second and third favourites? Had he been able to answer with little or no hesitation then it would have been credible to credit him with a knowledge of the Bible which came from himself rather than his speech-writers.

Edmund Burke is credited with the saying that 'All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.' Despite this saying being often quoted, it is believed to be a paraphrase because searches of his speeches do not turn it up as quoted. However, the sentiment of the phrase is nevertheless true. So, should we continue to heap coals on the heads of those appointed to lead, or should we blindly accept that everything they do is great? I guess that one only has to look to the relatively recent past to find the answer to that. Perhaps the mere mention of either President Nixon, Johnson or Clinton, might answer the question as far as US politicians go. Alternatively, here in the UK, one need look no further than politicians such as Blair or Mandelson.

I guess that the answer lies in being vigilant, and in order to do that it requires people firstly to be interested enough to seek out the facts rather than believing every scurrilous rumour --- and there are always plenty of those --- that is published abroad about people.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Today's Poem: 'God's Love'

God’s Love

Such a simple story,
It tells of the Saviour’s love,
Of how He came from heaven,
Sent down by God above.

He paid the price for sin,
And for freedom, set us free,
Gave us the Holy Spirit
To teach how we should be.

Christ, the blessed Saviour,
God’s mercy He came to bring;
And now we call Him Master,
Our friend, our Lord, our King.

The awful price was paid
On the cross at Calvary;
Now resurrection glory’s
Promised for you and me.

You can claim His promise,
Acknowledging Christ as Lord;
Then tell the simple story
As told us in God’s Word.

© Colin Gordon-Farleigh, June 2006

All a Matter of Attitude

Sometimes you wake up and it seems to be one of those days when the world appears to be against you. You feel like you are overwhelmed, overworked, and under appreciated!
Just in case you are having a day like that today, take a few moments to check out this little boy’s smile!

Whatever it is that has been bugging you, doesn't seem so bad any more, does it?

If only we all could have the spirit that this little boy has!

Your attitude towards life defines not only who you are but the quality of life you are after.

Just in case you've missed the point,
Life is what you make of it!

A Ghostly Armada denies Recessional Recovery

"The biggest and most secretive gathering of ships in maritime history lies at anchor east of Singapore. Never before photographed, it is bigger than the U.S. and British navies combined but has no crew, no cargo and no destination - and is why your Christmas stocking may be on the light side this year..."

Here, on a sleepy stretch of shoreline at the far end of Asia, is surely the biggest and most secretive gathering of ships in maritime history. Their numbers are equivalent to the entire British and American navies combined; their tonnage is far greater. Container ships, bulk
carriers, oil tankers - all should be steaming fully laden between China, Britain, Europe and the US, stocking camera shops, PC Worlds and Argos depots ahead of the retail pandemonium of 2009.

But their water has been stolen.
They are a powerful and tangible representation of the hurricanes that have been wrought by the global economic crisis..."

So reads this story by Simon Parry on the Mail Online. To check out the rest and see the supporting pics, just follow this link. This, of course, is not the sort of story that the government want you to read, nor the photographs that they want you to see, for they are trying to convince you that the world recession is almost over. Have a look at this and make up your own mind about it.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

The 'Age of Consent' argument

In a programme planned to be aired tomorrow evening on the BBC Radio 4 programme 'Iconoclasts', John Spencer, who is a Law Professor, proposes to argue in favour of reducing the 'Age of Consent' for children to engage in sexual intercourse to be lowered, basing his argument on the fact that so many children under the age of 16 already do so, and that accordingly it 'makes criminals of half the population.' Presumably he intends his comment to relate to the members of the population who are under 16, rather than literally 'half of the population.'

Vast numbers of children in the UK become pregnant each year, many of the pregnancies ending in the murder of the foetuses by abortion. Records show that over 8000 under 16's became pregnant in England and Wales in 2007, most of the pregnancies ending in termination.

This is just another example of the way in which young people are taught that 'anything goes', rather than being taught responsible behaviour. Suggest that the emphasis should be on saying 'NO!' and you face ridicule by those responsible for the erosion of the moral and ethical fibre of society.

We live already in a land where respect is almost a dirty word; where law and order is geared often in favour of the perpetrators of crime and against the victims; where the opportunity to apportion blame rather than use common sense, and where successive Governments have eroded all sense of family values. If the age of consent is lowered then what should it be? After all, many children as young as 11 or 12 engage in sexual activity, so should this be the age of consent, and if not then why not?

If the age of consent is lowered, for example, to 14, would this mean that if a 30-year old man engaged in sexual activity with a consenting 14-year old it would no longer be regarded as paedophilia?

Let us hope that some common sense rules and wins the day in this debate, and that the age of consent will not be lowered. would suggest that it might be better to raise the age of consent to 18 and promote the use of the word 'NO!' instead.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Judge Jeffreys, the 'Hanging Judge'.

"I remember finding this grave for a little 12-year old girl ..." So said Evelyn Evans to me during the course of yesterday's interview. She went on to tell me the story of how the girl had been in service to a family in Dorchester and had stolen a loaf of bread from her employers to help feed her parents and ten siblings who were starving back at her home. The mistress of the house discovered the theft and had the child arrested, whereupon she was thrown into prison to await trial. The judge at the Assize Court was the infamous Judge Jeffreys, known as 'The Hanging Judge', and he sentenced the child 'to be hanged by the neck until dead.'

This story obviously had had a profound effect on Evelyn when she first uncovered it, and the memory has stayed with her. How different then to the sentences handed out these days. Then a young girl was killed for trying to feed her starving family, whilst nowadays people murder and maim and yet receive minimal sentencing, often little more than a slap on the wrist. Even when they are incarcerated 'at her Majesty's pleasure', they have most modern luxuries available to them.

The question for me in this case is whether it was the girl who was the bigger criminal for her crime of compassion or the Society in which she lived that allowed such draconian punishment to be meted out for it. What do you think, dear reader?

Monday, September 21, 2009

"I remember Thomas Hardy . . ." she said

This afternoon I interviewed a remarkable lady by the name of Evelyn Evans, who is 94 years old and currently resident in a Retirement Home in Runcorn. Her memory is sharp and she easily recalls the events which have shaped her life, especially growing up in the County of Dorset, often referred to as 'Thomas Hardy Country'.

Once the interview has been edited and interlaced with photos and a bit of music, then it will be available on DVD to share with anyone who is interested, particularly with schools.

Evelyn grew up in Dorchester, which Hardy immortalised under the name of Casterbridge. She well remembers Hardy walking around the surrounding countryside as he worked out his novels in his head prior to committing them to paper. The interview will be well worth looking forward to! If you would like a copy then just watch this Blog and when it is available then I'll post about it and how to get a copy.

Today's Poem: 'In A Country Churchyard'

In a Country Churchyard
Names upon some gravestones
Reflecting tender years,
Make me wonder sadly
At those who mourned with tears.
Tears of grief and sadness,
Of sorrow and of pain,
That meant no joy and laughter
Would ever come again.

Lichen-covered monuments
Reach upwards to the sky,
Like fingers pointing heavenward,
To tell where loved ones lie.
Etched upon the tablets,
Now worn away with time,
Telling tales of loves, long-lost,
In wistful, longing rhyme.

People, long-forgotten,
Now naught but dust and bone,
Resting in eternal peace,
Lying there alone.
Yet all that really mattered,
That made them in this life,
Returned now to their Maker,
Freed from pain and strife.

© Colin Gordon-Farleigh 2007

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Alan Watson & Jennifer Douglas in Sheer Joy Music recording session

Yesterday I spent much of the day down at the church with our mobile recording studio for a recording session with a great singer called Jennifer Douglas, who was recording her first single with Sheer Joy Music, and also Alan Watson, (pictured above), who was laying down the first five tracks for his next CD. One of the tracks is a new song that I have written called Anniversary Serenade, with music by Andrew Millinchip. Andrew, who is the Director of Music at The Grange School, which is in Hartford, Cheshire (UK), has composed several pieces of music previously for some of my hymns, and is an extremely gifted composer. He also sings bass with the choral ensemble, Cantoris, who record on the Sheer Joy Music label.

I first heard Jennifer Douglas when she sang at a Young Life meeting at my church a couple of months ago. (You can find out about Young Life, Runcorn on Facebook.) Jennifer Douglas is a bright, zappy, 21-year old, from Manchester, and she has a voice that definitely has the X-Factor. The track that she laid down yesterday is a Christian New Wave song called Love Away the Hate, with lyrics penned by me and music by Rob Beaton. I really feel that this will be a song that can chart on the Christian charts, so watch out for more info on it in the very near future. I will be collaborating with Rob when time permits over the coming months to put together an 11-track CD with Jennifer. Rob is also going to be releasing his own album with us in the near future.

Both recording sessions were filmed by freelance photographer and TV cameraman Paul Walker, who is part of the Sheer Joy Music team. Paul will be producing a video which will be uploaded to Youtube and also to Tangle (previously known as Godtube.) We already have a video on Tangle which features Susan Marrs singing one of my love songs, When I'm With You. If you haven't already seen and listened to it then why not take a visit now by clicking here.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Hayley Oliver: A GREAT Country Singer

The above pic shows Hayley Oliver with Best New Artist Award 2007 from DJ Evy of Canada. Who is Hayley Oliver you might ask. Well, she's a really great Country singer from Kent, here in the UK, who deserves to be heard by loads of people who will then be so impressed with her singing --- like I was --- that they rush to buy one of her Cd's online.

Want to know what she sounds like? Want to know more about her? Then just visit her website by clicking here. To go straight to listen to one of her songs on her website click here. Listen to this song Take Me To Your World, and you'll see what I mean!

I've sent her a batch of my songs to see if she wants to record any of them, so keep your fingers and toes crossed and hope that she likes them! I'll keep you posted, dear reader.

A Poem for Today : 'Frustration'


A bee


On the wall

Of my room,



Paper flowers.

I noticed this

And I cried.

First published in Flight of a Bee (Gazebo Books, 1978) Copyright Colin Gordon-Farleigh

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

A Bouquet for Rev Colin!

Yesterday evening the Ladies' Fellowship group at my church celebrated their 45th year, which was a celebration of 45 years of fellowship, fun and fundraising, during which time they have raised a tremendous £45,000 for charity, which I think is a fantastic effort.

I was one of the two speakers invited to address around 60 people, made up from a mix of members and guests, and I led the devotions, speaking on Paul's Letter to the Colossians, Chapter 1, verses 15-20.

All in all it was an enjoyable evening, with great company and the usual standard of buffet that everyone has come to expect from this group of dedicated ladies. It was made even better for me when I was presented with the lovely bouquet that you see in the photo at the top of this blog.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Trusting God in All Things

'Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable ― if anything is excellent or praiseworthy ― think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me ― put it into practise. And the God of peace will be with you.' (Philippians 4: 4-9 NIV)

In Philippians 4:6, we read
‘Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.’ Whilst we lie awake at night, tossing and turning in our beds, unable to sleep because of the multitude of things that worry and trouble us, God is waiting for our request.

The following comes from the devotions of Gail Rodgers:
It’s easy to begin depending on our own best thinking when we lose heart in expecting God to answer our prayers. Trusting God, when our path in life grows muddy, is not an easy task. The mud of weariness, busyness and hurt can cause us to trip and even fall. We wonder how we will ever get up again. Faith can feel like a thread that threatens to break.

Trusting God with your life, even when it makes no sense to you, is to choose to grab hold of the pearl of wisdom. As Christian women we know the vital connection prayer is to our God, yet we can let it slip away from fingers muddy from falling. We must be deliberate in choosing to cling to it. There is great wisdom and reward in depending on our God even in the silence.

Maintaining that vital connection to God in prayer is a choice. Step by step, through the fog on our pathway, we can choose to trust that God has our best interest at heart and lean on His strength to get us through our day… or … we choose to shrug Him off with little expectation and lean wearily on our own understanding.
(This article is under Copyright : Used with permission)

Prayer for Trust
Heavenly Father, most of the time I have no idea where I'm headed because I struggle to see the path in front of me.Not only that, but I'm not certain where or when it will end. I think that I am following your will, yet I realise that it's not certain that I am doing so. Nevertheless, I believe that the desire to please you does so. Please help me to maintain that desire in all I do, for I know that if I keep my focus on You and work towards pleasing You in all that I do and all that I am then You'll lead me along the right path, even though there may be times that I fail to recognise it. I will trust You always. Help me never to fear, secure in the knowledge that You are always with me, and that You will never leave me alone. Amen

New Meditation from Joanne Lowe: 'EYES OF LOVE'


“And Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every sickness and every disease among the people. But when he saw the multitudes, he was moved with compassion on them, because they fainted, and were scattered abroad, as sheep having no shepherd.”
Matthew 9: 35, 36 (King James Version)

Just as Jesus looked with eyes of love at the multitudes and was moved with compassion for them when He saw them fainting and scattered abroad, so He also looks with eyes of love at us. He is moved with compassion for us when He sees us hurting and heartbroken. Our family and friends can’t see the pain and despair that we are hiding in our hearts. They only know how we are feeling by what we tell them.

As Joyce Landorf Heatherley, a Christian author and speaker said on one of her teaching tapes about the people we sit next to in church “They look fine and they look darling but inside they are dying”. Only Jesus can look into our hearts and see the pain and despair and only Jesus can heal our broken hearts.

I don’t know what is in your heart today but Jesus knows and He cares about you. When you are heartbroken and the tears roll down your cheeks and in your heart, He is moved with compassion for you and He weeps with you. Jesus really does love you and it hurts Him when you are hurting.

If you are hurting today and feel like you can’t take another step or give another smile, run into His waiting arms and allow Him to comfort you as only He can. Thank God for a Saviour whose heart is moved with compassion for us. There is no one like Jesus. Nobody loves you like He loves you.

Joanne Lowe
September 15, 2009

Monday, September 14, 2009

A Theatrical Reunion for the Powys Theatre

Last Saturday I drove down to Newtown in Powys where I lived for about ten years, during which time I spent many happy hours as a member of the Newtown Amateur Dramatic Society which is based at the Powys Theatre, a small theatre owned by the Society. Saturday was an opportunity both to get reacquainted with friends from the Society and also to be reminded of various plays that I took part in, and as such, was a success on both scores. In some cases I had not met up with some of the folk for about twelve years, although others I had met with when I last visited the Theatre about three years ago.

Anyway, dear reader, I thought that you might like to share my trip down a Thespian Memory Lane, and so here are a few pictures from those days.

The following is the Cast List for the first play that I was in at the theatre, Lloyd George Knew My Father, written by William Douglas-Home. I played the part of Hubert Boothroyd MP. It was the first play of the 22nd year at Theatre Powys. I also show the face of the programme and the first two photographs below are from the play.

I took the part of 'George Westwood' in 'The Small Hours', a Francis Durbridge play.

Ray Clooney's play, Run for Your Wife, was a great comedy to be in. I took the part of Detective Sgt. Porterhouse.

Above and below are scenes from that wonderful Emlyn Williams' play, Night Must Fall, which was the second play in the 25th season.

In Murder Deferred i played Mick Clancy, the Irish barman.

Charity Cases was a comedy written by one of the members, Graham Harris, and it was the third play of the 25th season, following on after Night Must Fall. I played a drunk named Ferdinand Grapehillock, and was on stage for the entire performance. I had no lines to learn but plenty of grunts and noises to make during the performance. It was an extremely testing performance as I had to ensure that it was not over-acted!

During my years with the Theatre I took part in many classic Northern Comedies, and Cat Among the Pigeons by Duncan Greenwood was one of them.

The years that I spent with the Powys Theatre are very full of fond memories, not only for the plays that I was privileged to act in but also for the opportunity to act alongside some very talented players. During my time there I greatly appreciated the friendship and camaraderie that existed and continues to this day.