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Sunday, November 29, 2009


It is no secret that the Church is on the decline in the United Kingdom. In 1980 there were 50,231 churches in the UK, whilst just twenty-five years later, in 2005, the numbers had dropped to 47,635. This represented a drop in percentage terms of 5.16%, yet the population in the UK rose during the same period by 6.7%. By the year 2030 the number of churches remaining is estimated to be reduced to 39,200, so what is really happening to cause such a massive decline?

It used to be claimed that the UK was a ‘Christian’ nation, although it is dubious as to whether that claim could really have been justified in terms of what being a Christian is about, in truth. Certainly, the UK was built over the centuries on Christian-based values, yet those values have gradually been eroded over the past few decades as the nation has changed in character to become recognised as a secular nation. This has been brought about to a great extent as a result of the push towards what has been described as a multi-faith society, yet what was in reality more of a society in which Christianity has been marginalised, particularly so by the governments of the last decade.

As Christianity has declined in Britain so Islam has increased, largely due to the vast number of Moslem immigrants that have settled in the UK, both legally and illegally. In 1961 there were just seven mosques in the UK, yet this number increased dramatically until there are now slightly more than 1600. Whilst Islam is claimed as the second largest religion in the UK behind Christianity, nevertheless it is significant that a far greater percentage of Moslems attend their Mosque to worship than Christians attending a Church. The conclusion to draw from this is that many who claim to be Christian are in fact uncommitted in their belief.

For many decades now the liberal theologians have gradually hijacked the Church and influenced it teaching by the preaching of a social gospel rather than the true Gospel of Jesus Christ. Many churchgoers believe that being a Christian implies little more than being a good person and helping out others when possible. People have been misled into believing that they will ultimately go to heaven based upon the good works that they have achieved during their lifetime. Pulpits have been filled by preachers who have been happy to tickle the ears of their listeners, careful not to say anything that might be contentious enough to reduce the numbers attending. In many instances, not only has Scripture been discarded at least in part, to be replaced by a watered down liberal version of the Bible, but it’s true to say that God has been thrown out of the church as well.

Secularism, which is a weapon of the devil, is at war with Christianity, and as such it seeks constantly to destroy any sense of God. In a secular society failure is rewarded whilst success is condemned, whilst moral relativism accepts anything whilst condemning nothing.

What can be done to alter the situation, or is it already too far gone to be able to be remedied? Is it possible that within another fifty years Christianity in the UK will have been reduced to the position of small cell-groups meeting in homes, ostracised by and large by the society in which they exist?

I believe that the answer lies, as in virtually everything, in the Bible. If the Church would only repent of its failures of the past and seek to embrace the Gospel of Jesus Christ then things would change dramatically. Of course the Gospel has always been an unpopular message, pointing to people as sinners in need of repentance and forgiveness, yet it is undoubtedly where the Gospel is preached and received that church growth has bucked the trend and expanded rather than declined.

The message of the Gospel is both clear and simple; Jesus was offered as the sacrificial Lamb of God upon the cross of Calvary in order that the price demanded by God as payment for sin was satisfied once and for all. It is up to people to claim the gift of salvation for themselves. No-one can claim it on behalf of anyone else, and it is impossible to inherit the gift by being born to parents who have themselves claimed it. It comes about as a result of recognising that we exist from birth in a state of sin, and repenting of that sin before God in the name of Christ. God demands that the payment for sin is death and we must die to the old self through repentance and be reborn as a new being in Christ.

As a new being in Christ we will walk with Him throughout our lives as a matter of choice. We will seek to do all that he asks of us, and specifically the most important concern that we should have is a concern for those who have yet to hear the Gospel message. Countless millions of people in the world will die without ever hearing the Gospel, without ever having the opportunity of redemption to God, and they will be condemned to the fires of hell for eternity. Even during the time that we have been here in this service today countless souls will have been lost for ever. That thought alone should spur us to discover what more we can do to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Let us call for a return to the preaching of the true Gospel message and to an attitude of reverence that glorifies and illustrates the total holiness of our God. We sing ‘Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty!’ Let us believe it, mean it and live it every moment of every day for the rest of our time on earth. If we can all do that then perhaps the crisis of Christianity in the UK will be reversed.

To God be the glory!

'Winter Blues' : Some Thoughts about Dark Mornings

I really hate the dark mornings! After all, it's more natural to be in bed when it's dark than it is to be getting out of bed. I guess that goes back to our caveman ancestry when, just like the bears, we retire into the safety of our cave once it gets dark and stay there until it's daylight. Getting up in the dark means that it takes longer to be properly awake, and that means that it's easy to be a little bit grumpy --- a bit bear-headed.

Give me the summer mornings any day. In fact, give them to me every day if you can! On those mornings I'm happy to be up more-or-less at sunrise, and I'm usually to be found in the most cheerful of moods to boot. Even if it's raining I'm still cheerful. I think it has everything to do with the amount of light that streams into my consciousness.

I remember listening to a discussion on the radio one afternoon when I ran a candle factory in Newtown, Mid Wales. I suppose that I was sort of half-listening, as you do, when suddenly I started to take note of the discussion. It was about something called 'Seasonally Affected Disorder' or SAD for short, and as I listened, now more intently, I recognised the description of the feelings that many of us often have in the winter on dark mornings. Ever since, as a result of that programme, if I feel a little depressed because of the dark morning, instead of thinking that I should be crawling back into my cave I turn the brightest lights on and soon the feeling of 'being down' is gone.

Mind you, I often get a feeling of 'being down' when I look at the night sky as well, for the stars are so well hidden by the glow of the light pollution that fills the atmosphere around our towns and even many villages. Gone are the days when you could just look up at the sky and see the carpet of stars laid out in all their glory on a crisp winter night. When I lived in Africa we had no such problem, even living on the city outskirts, and I could look up into the heavens night after night and see the glory that God has placed there. It was the most awesome sight!

One day, we are told in Scripture, when we are in Heaven, we'll not need light from the sun or the moon or any sort of artificial light, for we'll have all the light we need shining from the Glory of God Himself. How wonderful that will be! There'll be no more 'Winter Blues' then.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!

Haley Oliver: One of the GREAT Country Music Artists of today!

Regular readers of my blog will know that I'm a music lover. In fact I love a wide variety of music, and can sit and enjoy most genres, although I freely admit that one of my favourites is Country music. Not any old Country Music mind you, I particularly favour the sort of songs sung by many of the great Country favourites like Patsy Cline, Dolly Parton, Tammy Wynette, Slim Whitman, Johnny Cash, Hank Williams . . . I'm sure that you get the picture!

A short while ago I stumbled across a UK Country Music artist who, in my humble opinion, ranks up there with the 'Greats'. Her name is Hayley Oliver, and Hayley has just released her new album, pictured above, called I Can Still Dream, and it is highly recommended. If you want to listen to some sample tracks then just follow this link. On an album of this great quality it's difficult to pick out a favourite, but I really like the title track I can still dream, and the tracks I only want to love you forever and Be love. Don't just take my word for it, visit Hayley Oliver's website and listen to the samples.

In 2006 Hayley released her first album Two Hearts and it has been a great hit with Country fans across the world. Early in 2008 she was awarded the Evy Maple Leaf Award for the 'Best New Artist of 2007' for the album. The award was presented to her by DJ Evy of Canada in February last year.

Hayley now has her own band and you can watch a clip of them on YouTube by clicking here.

I hope that Hayley might decide to record some of my songs one of these days. That would be a great accolade for me! Watch this space!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Joanne Lowe's Meditation for Today


“Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.”
Matthew 5: 16 (King James Version)

My sister gave me a small Christmas tree several years ago. I have already set it up on the table beside my recliner in the living room. The tree is decorated but there is no light coming from it because the lights are off. I did turn the lights on for a few minutes and what a difference it made in the room. It not only showed the beauty of the tree but it also illuminated the room.

The same is true with us. If we have accepted Jesus as our personal Saviour, He has illuminated our hearts with His beauty, His peace, His joy, and His unconditional love and happiness. However, all too often, we put out His light in our hearts because we allow unforgiveness, jealousy, resentment, hatred and criticism to remain in our hearts.

His beauty and His light can’t shine from our hearts when we harbor these rotten attitudes in our hearts. Not only do we extinguish His light and beauty in our hearts but our rotten attitudes also stink in His nostrils. It is time that we start forgiving those who have hurt us. Remember, we hurt people too. There was only one perfect person who ever lived or ever will live and His name is Jesus!

Is the light of Jesus off or on in your heart? Have you allowed your rotten attitudes to extinguish His light in your heart? If so, ask God to forgive you for extinguishing the light of Jesus and ask Him to please restore the light of Jesus in your heart. Thank You, Heavenly Father, for Jesus who not only is the light of the world but also the light of our hearts.

Joanne Lowe

Sunday, November 22, 2009

The loss of respect that threatens us all.

For many millions of people today the world is a place that is representative of the materialistic aspirations of the masses; a world where respect no longer has much of a place --- if indeed it has a place at all. This loss of respect is something which has gradually come about as a result of those to whom respect would traditionally be shown misbehaving in office or by their allowing themselves to be trodden down and bypassed without much more than a whimper of protest at best. Hence, the people and positions that were respected when I was a boy are now treated with indifference at best or disrespect at worst. Few people respect politicians any more, proven as they it has been that they are, by and large, self-seeking, often morally and ethically corrupt, and in many instances proven liars and fraudsters. The whole of the Legal System is called into disrepute by the 'soft' approach towards criminals, the latter more likely to receive a slap on the wrist than a proper punishment for their crimes. Few people have much respect for the police because they are generally nowhere to be found when they are needed. If your house is robbed then it may well be several days before a police officer calls, the excuse being that they are so busy. Well, I guess that they are busy when you consider the amount of chasing around in their police cars after motorists. After all, why go for hard targets when there are plenty of soft ones ripe for the picking?

At one time there was a great respect for teachers, yet nowadays the teaching profession is under threat by classroom bullies and their parents and by the Human Rights Brigade. The rights of the abusive individual heavily outweigh those of the abused teacher after all. Young child-thugs in the classroom, when chastised for their destructive and obstructive behaviour, complain to their parents, the latter often going to the school to threaten the teacher concerned, either physically or with threat of prosecution, because they perceive that their darling's 'human rights' have been threatened. It's not unusual for teachers to be physically attacked either by children in the classroom or by the parents of such children.

Respect for the church has long since been a thing of the past. Of course the Church has so often alienated itself from the real world. It fails to speak up on subjects of great importance, is openly divisive and often seems to most adept at acting like the proverbial ostrich with its head in the sand. No longer do vicars, ministers, priests, pastors and the like get shown respect by the community at large. Is it possible that this is because they have bent over backwards to preach a 'Social Gospel' rather than the Gospel of Jesus Christ, or because they have tried to show the world that they are 'one of the boys' which simply leaves the world wondering why they should bother when there's nothing better to change to.

The world, especially our portion of it, is in desperate need of change, so what can be done about it? Many will ask if there is any remedy for this great malaise, and I say that there is indeed. The answer can be found in Jesus Christ. If those who profess the Christian faith were to fulfil the calling to evangelise then it would show an example to the world. Sadly far too many are content to sit in a Sunday service once a week and consider that they have discharged their Christian duty, when in fact the way to discharge it is by openly displaying and sharing your faith every moment of every day, whether in the home or outside.

The pulpits of our churches need to be filled by those who are not afraid to preach the true Gospel of Jesus Christ, and to speak of sin and the need for repentance; of forgiveness and reconciliation to God, of serving the needs of others. People need to experience for themselves the companionship of the Living Christ, and behave accordingly as they walk with Him through their lives. Living day by day with Jesus Christ means that we seek always to emulate Him and to share Him with others.

Respect comes to us because we deserve it, and to deserve it we have to earn it. Earning it comes about by the manner in which we behave in our lives, especially our behaviour towards others. There is a need for change. Let each of us seek to bring about that change in our own lives, and by so doing help to bring about change in the lives of others.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Short Story: God has left His House!

God Has left His House!

A short story by Colin Gordon-Farleigh

It was a typical Sunday morning and the church was slowly stretching itself open at the start of the new day. The heating system clicked on, the timing carefully set by the caretaker to make the most efficient use of it, and the moisture on the windows slowly cleared away. In a few hours the heat, so carefully stored up, would be fighting against the cold draughts as the doors opened to admit the congregation for the morning service.

The service started at eleven o’clock and now, at ten thirty, the first arrivals were settling in to the round of little chores that always needed to be done. The gates at the end of the path were unlocked, the flowers were primped up in their vases and the hymn numbers were put up on the boards that had been donated in memory of some long-forgotten saint from a past congregation.

Time to warm up the organ and for the organist to stretch her fingers in an attempt to beat the arthritis that threatened to stop her from playing. After a few melodies which she considered suitable to get her into the mood, she started to practise the anthem that the little choir would sing at the commencement of the service. ’Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty …’ she quietly mouthed the words in time to the music. It was a favourite piece of hers, just as it had been for her father when he had played the organ in the little church so many years before her. She played on, ’Holy, holy, holy, all the saints adore Thee …’ and remembered the days when she was young and the pews were far fuller than they were now. ’Just the remnant now,’ she thought, and sighed a deep sigh of sadness. ‘Holy, holy, holy, though the darkness hide Thee …’ The darkness certainly seemed to hide God these days she thought to herself, it’s as though He has left the house.

The people were slowly starting to come in now. In twelve minutes time the pews would seat their regular occupants and the organ would quietly play time-loved tunes until the service was ready to start. The organist played a little louder as the music was drowned out by the chatter amongst the congregation, and as if in defiance, the chatter increased in a seeming attempt to drown out the sound of the organ.

A distinguished looking man had entered the church and was sitting quietly towards the back, his head bowed as he tried to prepare himself for the service and to meet with God. The noise around him increased until he had to sit up, his prayers stilled by the chattering people. In his head he heard a loud-speaker shouting out that this was a time to be silent, yet nobody else seemed to hear it. The minister entered the sanctuary, but still many of the congregation continued their chattering. A fleeting look of irritation crossed his face at the unwelcome sound, and then the organist struck up the opening chords of the anthem, drowning out the few who persisted in their interruption of the worship. ‘Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty!’ The distinguished looking man loved this hymn which seemed to explain so well in song the way that he felt. The choir sang, a few even managing to put the right dynamics into their singing, and gradually got to the end a they sang, ‘… Holy, holy, holy, merciful and mighty, …’ The man allowed himself a wry smile as he reflected that it was just as well that God was merciful as well as mighty, otherwise this congregation might well suffer for their irritating chatter. ‘If only it could be like it once was,’ he thought, ‘when people sat quietly in the pew before the service began, settling themselves to be in the presence of the Almighty God Himself.’

Now the choir had stopped and the minister was bidding everyone welcome, yet still a few people chattered on as though they felt that what they had to say was far more important. The loud-speaker in the man’s head screamed out at them to be silent. Despite this the few persisted to make comments on and off through the hymns and the announcements, and even during the time of prayer.

The man considered it all, his head slowly turning to take in the whole picture. The minister announced the next hymn; number 48 in Mission Praise, he intoned, ‘Be still and know that I am God.’ The man sighed and quietly whispered to himself, ‘If only they would!’ It was as though there was a determination to keep God shut out of His house in case he demanded something from those who claimed to worship and serve Him.

The minister was well into his message now, and many of the congregation quietly thought about what they would do later that day, or about the Sunday dinner. The looks on their faces cried out of the bored resignation that they felt, yet this was a ritual that they had become used to. It made them feel good to be in the little church Sunday by Sunday, and it gave them the opportunity to talk about the days when everyone did the same, and when the world was a better place. Still, at least they would be alright at the end. Soon the minister had finished. He’d been careful not to say anything that might alienate any of the congregation and reduce the numbers still further. The days of true preaching were over! Nowadays the best thing was to preach a social gospel rather than one that spoke of sin and repentance.

The distinguished looking man sighed once more, saddened that this congregation were like so many others that he’d visited, none of which served the real purpose that they were there for.

The final hymn having been sung, the minister was pronouncing a blessing on the congregation before dismissing them to their homes. Ironically, the organist struck up the chords of the anthem that had opened the service and a few of the congregation quietly sang along, ‘Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, …’

Soon they were drowned out by the chatter as people got up to leave, and once again the loudspeaker in the man’s head screamed out for silence, yet no silence came. He got up and turned towards the door. Nobody spoke to him for they were too busy speaking with the people they knew.

As he left the church there was the sound of a loud wind whistling through the open door. Those who could hear such things knew that it declared that God too had left His house.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Poem for Today: 'Birthday Boy'

Birthday Boy
For Dael Williamson, after his First birthday party
Well, anyway, I’m sure that
they enjoyed themselves,
knowing why they were there,
even though you
might have
wondered . . .
so many
all crammed into
small hands,
mouths, and
two hours;
and afterwards,
as people left
clutching children,
who were clutching
balloons, bursting,
noise and tears . . .
did you feel different,
sort of . . . Older,
sort of,
you know,

© Colin Gordon-Farleigh 2006

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Joanne Lowe's Meditations

“Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I might take it again. No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This commandment have I received of my Father.”
John 10: 17, 18 (King James Version)

Jesus willingly laid down His life for us. Nobody could have made Him die for us. He could have come down from the cross if He had wanted to stop the crucifixion. There were not enough nails or enough men to keep Him on the cross if He had chose to come down from the cross.

What amazing unconditional love and compassion flowed from the heart of Jesus for you and for me the day He died for us. The wonderful thing is that the same amazing unconditional love and compassion that flowed from His heart for us when He was crucified flows from His heart for us every day of our lives. There is no one like Jesus! No one loves us like He loves us.

What a Saviour! What a friend, this Jesus of Nazareth. I wonder if we can honestly say in our hearts that we are willing to lay down our lives for Him. Are we willing to get out of our comfort zones and serve the One who loves us so much that He died for us? Are we willing to shut off the television and go tell people of our risen Saviour and His unconditional love for them?

If we really love Jesus, how can we sit and watch television hour after hour when there are people who have not accepted Jesus as their personal Saviour and are on their way to hell for all eternity? Remember, the level of our service to Jesus depends on our level of love for Him. How much do you love Him and how much are you willing to do for Him?

Joanne Lowe

Do YOU Have the 'Nero' Syndrome?

It is said that Roman Emperor Nero 'fiddled whilst Rome burned'. His rule stretched from 54AD to 68AD, and he was the fifth and last of the Roman Emperors. During the course of his rule he achieved much, focusing much of his attention on increasing trade and the cultural development of the capital of the empire, although his reign was one that was littered with acts of the most extravagant cruelty and barbarism. His persecution of the early Christians was terrible, often using them as human torches. Despite his various achievements and the extent of his cruelty, including the murder of his own mother and step-brother, generally speaking he is remembered as the Emperor who fiddled whilst Rome burned in the great fire of 64AD.

The indication is that he simply stood by, comfortably ensconced in his own luxury, buttressed by his great wealth, and showing a lack of concern for the people at large.

Every Christian is commissioned by Jesus Christ to seek out the lost and take the Gospel message to them, sharing the Good News of Jesus and the promise of Salvation through Repentance. Jesus said, Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, (Matthew 28:19 [NIV translation]).

I believe that it is the duty of every Christian to be concerned with the lost souls in the world who have yet to hear the Good News that Jesus came to earth to bring to mankind. As we draw closer to the season of Advent so our thoughts turn once again to the simplicity of the whole Advent story, and the humble circumstances in which God Himself came down to be amongst His people to reconcile them to Himself. As children we are taught about Jesus as the Shepherd of the sheep, and perhaps one of the most telling image we have is that of the shepherd leaving the 99 sheep safely in the fold whilst he goes to search for the one that is lost. Here then is our example of what we should be doing as committed Christians in today's world.

Christianity is far more than attending church on a Sunday or of being seen as a good person; it's a way of life. When we meet with people they should be aware that there is something different about the manner in which we live our lives, with our concern for the welfare of others being a prominent feature. Taking that concern to the maximum degree means that it should encompass not only the general well-being of others but essentially the spiritual well-being also. Of prime importance for every Christian should be a burden for those souls that remain lost because they have not been witnessed to about the gift of salvation found only in Jesus Christ. Across the Third World in particular there are millions of souls hungry for the Gospel and yet insufficient Christians prepared to do anything about it. Where the Gospel has been preached there is a thirst for the Word of God, yet the great majority of Bibles are printed in English, a language that is spoken by less than ten percent of the World's people, leaving approximately two-thirds of the global population without even a portion of the bible printed in their own language.

How easy it is to dismiss the need for the work of Mission. It is argued by many that in this Age of Global Communication the amount of Christian material to be found on air or on the Internet is suffice for all, yet that argument can only be applied at best to those who have access to such material, once again leaving the majority behind. In the end, there is nothing like face-to-face witness, whether it is literally on a one-to-one basis, small groups or Revival Rallies. Firstly the need is for the lost to hear the Word, but then the hearing needs to be followed up by teaching and by sharing the reading of Holy Scripture.

Understandably, there will be many who point out that they cannot leave their work and uproot their families in order to 'go out into the Mission field', yet there are many ways of helping the work by supporting those who can go financially. Whether donating to organisations such as the Bible Society for the purpose of increasing the availability of the Word in both language and quantity or donating to Mission-based organisations such as 'Gospel for Asia', 'Heaven's Family' or 'India Village Ministries', all of which do a great job in answering their particular calling. to give financial support to such organisations is a privilege, and through it we are helping to save many souls from being consigned to the fires of Hell. The argument by some people against such giving is that they cannot possibly afford it, yet in the Western World in particular, that argument does not hold water for even those who are on pension or are unemployed are wealthy when measured against the per capita income of the greater majority of folk in the world. Even giving ten per cent of your disposable income, however it is obtained, still leaves you with the remaining ninety percent for yourself. before I am accused of pushing 'tithing' let me state categorically that I am not. Tithing is not a condition in the New Testament. However, I believe that to set aside some specific proportion of your wealth as a minimum for supporting the Lord's work is a very good policy to adhere to.

At present there are too many who suffer with the 'Nero' syndrome, and stand by whilst hundreds of souls are lost on a daily basis simply because they could not be reached in time. Many of them are children, lost because there was nobody available to reach them in time. It may be considered that the cost of providing Mission workers in the field is too high to be able to make sufficient difference, yet most local missionaries in the Third World are able to survive and carry on their important work for just a few pounds or few dollars a day. An organisation such as Gospel for Asia, for example, supports an indigenous evangelist in the Mission field for as little as between £1000 and £1500 per year (approx. US$1500 to US$2500). That means that for approximately £20 per week you could be personally responsible for sending out an evangelist to share the message of the Gospel in the Mission field. OK, so you argue that you could never afford that amount! If that truly is the case, and I'm sure that for many it may well be, then why not get together as a group of four people to donate £5 per week. After all, that's about the cost of a packet of cigarettes or a couple of drinks or a week's newspapers. If you still think that it's far too much just imagine if someone close to you gave you £5 for your birthday or for Christmas when you know that they could afford £20!

The subject of lost souls should be one that really burdens you; one that will not let you rest until you are doing all you can to help them to realise their Salvation. This is something to start with today, and not to put off until tomorrow, for tomorrow will be too late for far too many.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Meditation from Joanne Lowe

“Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.”

Matthew 20: 28 (King James Version)

One of the definitions I found in Webster’s Dictionary for minister is “to give aid or service ”. Isn’t this what our precious Saviour does for us? Whether we are sick physically, emotionally or spiritually, He ministers to us.

When our hearts are breaking, Jesus is with us to comfort and encourage us. He lovingly kisses the tears from our eyes and from our hearts. When we are in the valley of discouragement, He picks us up and carries us.

Yes, Jesus is faithful to minister to us. Are we being faithful to minister to Him? Can He depend on us to serve Him even in the midst of trials and heartaches? He showed us how to love others unconditionally while He was hanging on the old rugged cross.

He had been beaten beyond recognition, spat upon, cursed and mocked. Yet our Saviour’s heart was filled with compassion and unconditional love for us. “Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do. And they parted his raiment, and cast lots” (Luke 23: 34).

Heavenly Father, thank You for Jesus, our ministering Saviour. Plant a desire deep within us to serve Jesus with all of our hearts. Jesus, thank You for loving us so much that You forgave us from the cross. Amen.

Joanne Lowe

10 memories about Christmas

It's a long time since I did a 'Me,Me' list about anything, and so I thought I'd add one to the Blog this morning. Here goes then, with a list of ten things that I remember from Christmas past:
  1. I guess my earliest memories of Christmas are trying to stay awake to see Father Christmas come to fill up my stocking. I never managed to do it, no matter how hard I tried, and so I was always surprised by the assortment of things that made my sock bulge very early on Christmas morning. There would be an assortment of simple things such as nuts, a tangerine, a small toy and possibly a colouring book. Maybe even a couple of sweets to round it all off. However, the nuts could not be cracked open and so would wait until later when everyone else was awake. I often think about the simplicity of it all and wonder how today's children would feel to be greeted with the same sort of thing. Despite the abundance of overly expensive presents I guess the average child would still be just as excited today as I was all those years ago.

  2. Getting up on Christmas morning when I could finally wait no longer, bursting with excitement as to what the day would hold in store, is a very fond memory. I would wait patiently until I heard stirring from the direction of my parents' bedroom and the wait just a little bit longer until I heard one of my brothers or sisters up and about before creeping downstairs.

  3. In those now far-distant days --- although they often seem to be like yesterday! --- the weather was colder than it is nowadays. I loved looking out of my window, high up on the third floor of the large house that we occupied, and seeing a hoare frost that was laid out across my world. It was as though God had dusted everything in a white sparkle, and it always seemed a little magical to me.

  4. The biggest delight of all was to see the lounge and the Christmas tree, both of which my mother had decorated on Christmas Eve after I'd gone to bed. No matter how familiar the decorations were she always managed to make it different from previous years. Just enough sparkle added without overdoing it made it all seem as though a touch of magic had been used. One set of fairy lights that were always used had scenes from favourite Disney films, and Snow White sat as comfortably alongside Bambi as she did the Seven Dwarfs.

  5. I was one of seven children, and our Christmas presents would be placed in seven neat piles on the window seat in my father's office. We were allowed to open them only after breakfast, and the wait was a sort of exquisite agony! What excitement there would be as we unwrapped the books and annuals, and especially the presents whose shape and wrapping defied enquiring eyes to guess what lay inside!

  6. Going to church after both breakfast and the big present opening was special for me for I loved to see the way the church had been transformed by the Christmas decorations. For much of the year the church seemed to be somewhat austere, but it was dressed in all its finery for the various Festivals such as Christmas, Easter and Harvest, and I loved it. Somehow it exuded a warmth that was denied us for the rest of the year. An important part of the Christmas decor was the scene of the manger with the kings, wise men and animals surrounding Joseph, Mary and the baby Jesus.

  7. Christmas dinner was very special for me. Being such a big family, everyone at home for Christmas, meant that I got to sit in the window seat at my own small table. It was fun being slightly separate which made me feel very grown up, and yet still part of this large family gathering. In those days we would have either a turkey or a large farm-bred and free-range chicken, usually the former, and the taste was far superior to the factory-produced birds of today, so often injected with water by the supermarkets in order to raise the weight and cheat the customers a little. For a special treat I would be allowed to have a glass of sweet cider with my meal, and this proved, to me at least, that I was getting to be a grown-up.

  8. When I finally became a grown-up and had my own family home I would try to recreate a little of the magic of my childhood Christmas experiences all over again, although it could never be quite the same as when I was a small boy. Does my own son remember his early Christmases as fondly as I do? I certainly hope he does, at least a little.

  9. For many years now one of the things that I look forward to over the Christmas Season is the opportunity to attend a church service on Christmas Eve. One in particular comes to mind when I lived in Merthyr Cynog, high in the hills of the Epynt mountains, when my late mother came to stay. The little church of St Cynog was right next door to my home and all I had to do was step out of my front door and there was the ate to the churchyard on my right. Most of the community, whether church or chapel, attended the service. The singing was always wonderful (what else would you expect from a Welsh congregation!) and the children would parade their Christingles, the church lights being dimmed down to get the full effect of the candlelight. After the service there would be cheerful calls of 'Nadolig Llawen' and 'Happy Christmas' resounding across the churchyard, according to whether your first language was Welsh or English, and people would hurry off to the warmth of their homes.

  10. For many years after coming to Runcorn as Minister to St John's Presbyterian Church, my Christmas Day was spent by providing a meal for several elderly ladies who would otherwise have been alone on the day, one of whom was in a wheelchair. Before going to lead the Christmas Day Service at 9.30, still a little tired from the midnight Communion of Christmas Eve, I would put the bird in the oven and prepare everything else so that it would make it easier later on once I returned from conducting the service. From then on it was a busy schedule of checking that the bird was doing OK, putting the vegetables on a low light and starting to collect the three old ladies to bring them to the house. Whilst they chatted together over a welcoming glass of sherry I would complete the preparations for serving the meal. The table had been laid prior to their arrival and was always a source of delight to them. Once we sat down to eat I would light the candles and the candlelight would make everything sparkle and shine, bathing it all in a warm glow. After the meal was over it was to the lounge for the ladies whilst I cleared the washing-up, and then the next important event for them was to watch the Queen's speech on TV. Finally, after an enjoyable and happy time, I would take them back to their homes and go off to enjoy the remainder of Christmas with friends.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

And they say romance is dead!

A short while ago I posted a video that is on with my song When I'm With You featured, and today I'm sharing a link to the original 'cheesy' version that went on to YouTube for Valentine's Day last year. Why not take a peek!

Friday, November 6, 2009

'Jesus is the Name Above All Names'

There is one name, and one name alone, that is above all other names, and that is the name of Jesus, the Christ, the only Son of the Living God. Sent to save the whole of mankind from sin, He alone offers the pathway of forgiveness which leads to eternity with God the Father. The apostle Peter, when he was on trial before the High Priest and the Elders, said of Jesus that 'there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men, by which we must be saved.' (Acts 4.12 NAS).

There is great power in His name. By it demons flee in terror; by it people are healed; and He is the only way to heaven. He has said, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me." (John 14.6 NAS)

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Latest edtion of The Voice Christian News & Views' is now available

The November/December edition of The Voice Christian News & Views magazine is now available, and contains lots of great features and articles, as well as cartoons, crossword and several short stories, including the first publication of a great short story by Don Yarber entitled 'The Book'. There is also a short Christmas story by that master story-teller, Charles Dickens entitled 'What Christmas is as We Grow Older'.

The magazine, which is published bi-monthly, is available FREE-of-CHARGE simply by registering to be added to the Mailing List. Why not do it today?

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

BNP Leader does NOT represent me!

During his recent appearance on the BBC programme 'Question Time', the leader of the British Nationalist Party (BNP), an openly Fascist political party, claimed that he represented Christian Britain. Nick Griffin is certainly a strange person to make such a claim as I fail to recognise anything Christian in the way that he behaves or speaks, and suspect that there would be little Christian value in the way that he thinks, should it be possible to get into his mind.

I hereby refute totally any suggestion that either he or the BNP represents Christian Britain, and speaking as a committed Christian, albeit in a primarily secular Britain, certainly would wish neither Griffin nor his Party to represent me. Without question I totally reject any suggestion that either Griffin or his squalidly racist political party represent anything even remotely connected to Christian values.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Joanne Lowe's Meditations : 'The Light of our Hearts'

“The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light: they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined.”
Isaiah 9:2 (King James Version)

The world thinks that people who claim to be Christians are perfect but Christians are not perfect. They are just sinners who have had the cleansing atoning blood of Jesus applied to their hearts for the forgiveness of their sins. Every person walks in darkness until the light of Jesus shines in his or her heart. Jesus is not only the light of our hearts; He is also the heartbeat of our hearts.

One of the definitions in Webster’s Dictionary for the word “heartbeat” is “the vital centre or driving impulse”. Jesus is the vital center of our hearts and He is also the driving impulse of our hearts. It is Jesus who gives us the determination and the will power to go on in the face of adversity. Without Him, we are powerless.

Have you allowed the light of Jesus to take the darkness from your heart and from your life? There are many beautiful displays of lights at Christmas and they are awesome. However, the light of Jesus is brighter and more beautiful than any display of lights in the world. Is Jesus the light of your heart?

If not, I urge you; I plead with you to humble yourself, admit that you are a sinner, repent of your sins and ask God to forgive you. Invite the Christ of Calvary into your heart to be your personal Saviour before it is too late. He will never leave you, not even for one minute. He loves you so much that He died for you. Will you say yes to Jesus today?

Joanne Lowe

Sunday, November 1, 2009

A Hymn for Advent . . .

Hear the Sound

Hear the sound of angels singing,
In the heav'nly choir above.
Hear the news that they are bringing,
Of Christ's birth and of God’s love.
They are telling of the Saviour
Who has come from heav'n to earth ;
Of the joy that He is bringing,
And His lowly stable birth.

They proclaim the joy of Jesus,
And the manger where He lay;
God’s own Son is man’s salvation,
See Him lying in the hay.
Worship Him and give Him glory,
Lay your gifts down at His feet;
Alleluia! tell the story,
How Christ makes your life complete!

Copyright 2007 Colin Gordon-Farleigh