31 December 2008

Happy New Year

Revelation 21:3-5 (NIV)
And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, "Look! God's dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away." He who was seated on the throne said, "I am making everything new!" Then he said, "Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true."

Revelation 21:3-5 (The Message)
I heard a voice thunder from the Throne: "Look! Look! God has moved into the neighbourhood, making his home with men and women! They're his people, he's their God. He'll wipe every tear from their eyes. Death is gone for good—tears gone, crying gone, pain gone—all the first order of things gone." The Enthroned continued, "Look! I'm making everything new. Write it all down—each word dependable and accurate."

A time for new beginnings. May you grow closer to God in 2009.

30 December 2008

About me

Between Christmas and New Year is a particularly busy time in our family. However, we're not busy doing things out and about - it's a time we look around our own house and try and rid ourselves of a lot of clutter. The bins are filling up. However, it would appear we need to do the same to our own email boxes, which are increasingly full of junk as well! One email that hit my intray this morning consisted of a series of questions about me and requesting that I should spam all my friends with my answers, however rather than litter I thought I would use part of this for my blog for today. Who knows, you might find out a bit about me...
  1. What do you usually have for breakfast? Toast, and a cup of coffee.

  2. What food do you dislike? Smoked Salmon.

  3. Favourite sandwich? Cheese (Cheese and pickle, cheese and ham, etc)

  4. Are you a morning person or a night person? Definitely morning.

  5. What did you want to be when you grew up? A journalist. I love to write.

  6. Are you a Summer or a winter person? Definitely summer.

  7. Coffee or tea? Coffee most of the time. But I might surprise you...

  8. How many years at your current job? 7 years to date.

  9. How many towns have you lived in? Only one.

  10. Favourite Bible verse? Jeremiah 29:11. "For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."

28 December 2008

Over The Rainbow...


As a present to our family, we were fortunate enough to see a production of 'The Wizard Of Oz' at the Palace Theatre in Westgate-on-Sea yesterday. As is usual at Christmas-time, something rather magical happened. You see, I never knew that the song 'Over The Rainbow' had an introduction:


When all the world is a hopeless jumble
And the raindrops tumble all around
Heaven opens a magic lane

When all the clouds darken up the skyway
There's a rainbow highway to be found
Leading from your windowpane
To a place behind the sun
Just a step beyond the rain...

Somewhere, over the rainbow, Way up high
There's a land that I've heard of
Once in a lullaby
Somewhere, over the rainbow
Skies are blue
And the dreams that you dare to dream
Really do come true ...

Music by Harold Arlen, lyrics by E.Y. "Yip" Harburg

Apparently, the introduction is regularly used in stage versions of the show, but doubtless everyone is more familiar with Judy Garland's version of the song (the classic movie omits the introduction). At least at the moment - I hear that Andrew Lloyd Webber is rumoured to be planning a stage revival of 'Wizard Of Oz' in the West End in 2010.

25 December 2008

Bravo, Doctor!

It's always tough when you build something up and then have to wait to see whether the finished article lives up to its own hype... and a prime example was laid before us on Christmas Day, with the latest 'Doctor Who' Christmas special. We've had some quite gripping specials in the past few years ... and at least one which completely failed to grab my attention, so which would it be for 2008? The hype began as far back as November, with a three-minute teaser aired as part of the Children In Need programming. The promise of multiple Doctors peaked our interest, but would it be enough to carry the BBC One Christmas night schedule?

Having seen the show this evening, which successfully interwove Victorian Christmas imagery with Cybermen, a funeral scene and a hot air balloon, and topped it off with 'steampunk' references (a sub-genre of SF that I particularly like), I found it most entertaining. Yes, the promise of the appearance of the 'Next Doctor' was the carrot that was dangled quite effectively. I won't reveal how that works itself out - for those who haven't watched the show yet. We do also get images of all the Doctors (Classic and new series) - an important milestone.

However, did this hour-long entertainment present us finally with a moral? Tonight's show seemed to be centred on emotions, from the fearsome threat of the robotic Cybermen, through to a very personal trauma of a father who loses his wife and family, and eventually his identity. Throughout the tale we are working alongside the Doctor, who aims once again to help. The father learns he can find the hero within himself, and not by pretending to be someone he is not. At the conclusion of the adventure, we find our cast are brought together around a Christmas dinner table. And, for once, that even includes our lonely Time Lord.

A Magic Christmas

You don't have to go far on the internet to find a variety of views on any subject under the sun. One example - a most timely one today - is the birth of Jesus. If you Google 'nativity' you soon get various references expressing incredulity on the 'supernatural' elements of the tale, which is all too familiar to many of us. In recent weeks I have been reminded that the whole account has supernatural elements throughout - multiple appearances of angels, guidance through dreams, guiding stars. And that's without mention of the prophecy written hundreds of years beforehand his birth by the prophet Isaiah.

Personally, I don't have an issue with the supernatural parts of the account. My God is beyond all natural laws (it's in the job description!)and is therefore capable of everything mentioned. However, there are people around who do have a problem with this, I can see that.

So to those people, I say - just re-read the story once again. There's two separate versions in Matthew and Luke's gospels. And forget what you have learned in the past - read it for what it is. A government census that forced people to travel miles to register themselves. The tale of a mother who had to have her baby in less than perfect circumstances. A group of scared shepherds on the hillside. Latch on the basic, human story. And then, perhaps, things will come clearer.

I hope you have a truly magic Christmas this year.

22 December 2008

My Christmas present


Well, the Corps Carol Service went well, so that means we can now stop rehearsing lines and music and can start concentrating on building up our own festive celebrations at home. So we went Christmas food shopping today. I thought I'd left it a bit late but judging by the queues at the shops I haven't - everyone seemed to be there today!

The Christmas telly schedule doesn't enthrall me quite like it used to in my youth, but my highlight for this week is still going to be the Wallace & Gromit special on Christmas Day - I can't wait. Just like a big kid! Blatant product placement to the left here, with the web address where you can more about this year's masterpiece.

What a cracking present!

20 December 2008

Useful tips - 2008 review

Well, it's the end of the year, and what a year! So much has happened in an 'interesting' twelve months, that I'm so looking forward to a new start in 2009! The following are all stray thoughts and words of wisdom that I have learned in 2008 and share with you now (all bible verses are from the NIV):

January & February: 2008 began as 2007 ended - with much the same going on in my life. Life can be a bit like 'Groundhog Day' more often than not: you get up, go to work, come home, go to bed. Each day is much like any other. Oh, there are times when you do something a bit different... my good friend Elizabeth lent me the book 'If You Want to Walk on Water, You'Ve Got to Get Out of the Boat' by John Ortberg, which indicates a little of what I have been trying to achieve in my life. At least I've started to get my feet wet this year....

March was probably the first occasion in the year where I boldly stepped out in faith and left my comfort zone during 2008, trying to explore new possibilities in my Christian service. It was the 'Exploring Leadership' day at the Wiliam Booth College. Well, little steps first! I know now first hand what was meant when the songwriter he wrote "Lead us, heavenly Father, lead us, O’er the world’s tempestuous sea". I knew I was being led somewhere, but wouldn't yet know how rough the sea would get ...

April: some more foundations laid, when I was fortunate enough to attend a meeting to discuss the possibility of a Street Pastors initiative in Dartford. A very promising start - I'm looking forward to seeing some fruit from this one day!

May: Another step of faith was my weekend away to ROOTS in Southport over the early May bank holiday, which gave me further confirmation as to where I should be looking... This was followed by a very pleasant family week away in late May, camping in Wales - the first time I had ever been to that beautiful country, and hopefully not the last! How wonderful that the campsite had no TV or mobile phone reception, I'm sure that's why it was so peaceful!

June: A string of memorable events occurred in this month. Firstly, my first all-night of prayer, which proved most illuminating and uplifting. More, please! Secondly, and more devastatingly, was the shock of having my car written off in mid-June (at about three in the morning), and the subsequent damage to the courtesy car almost exactly a week later by a hit-and-run driver. In both cases the cars were parked outside my house at the time. You can understand that I was a little 'sensitive' that month - all these particular highs and lows all occurred within the same fortnight! Psalm 20:7 says: " Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the LORD our God."

July: It's incredible what modern technology can do, for it was in July that I started this very blog. Some say they start blogging as a type of therapy, some because they have a need to write. I think my reasons are a little of each. Wow, what an eye-opener - I've been quite surprised about who gets to reads it and who passes comment!

August: As further opportunities of service that I tried to explore in late July didn't exactly work out, I spent much of August taking stock of my life, exploring what Andrew and Tracey Bale called 'sabbath rest' - a difficult concept. At least this meant I was able to take a short break away with the family at the end of the month, before the Annual Appeal... a good time of peace and quiet in Canterbury. And some really good Olympics coverage!

September: is of course the Army's Annual Appeal month, and thanks to a very good team the collecting went so very well this year, despite the 'credit crunch' and we even saw an increase in donations. September also saw the Corps celebrate the Battle For Bull Centre Centenary, a very uplifting event for the entire fellowship.

October: This seems to be a time of 'pruning' in my year, removing so much dead wood in my life, and this was reiterated at Harvest time. I've also been learning how to 'declutter', which is also quite tough, and getting the kids to do the same has been even harder!

November: Another great opportunity for me has been this trip to the Territorial Congress in Birmingham, which proved to be a further confirmation of where I should be headed. Some tremendous advice has been given to me by friends and colleagues, but nothing can beat the famous phrase "Don't lose your Dolphin" (thanks Don for these impressive words. They will stay with me always).

December: I've learnt this month (and indeed this whole year) that if you have a choice between two things, choose the one you haven't done before, the thing to take out out of your comfort zone. Leo Buscaglia said: "What we call the secret of happiness is no more a secret than our willingness to choose life." Looking back, I can see how far out of my comfort zone I have moved this year. Sometimes not by choice, but there you go.

Here's to a better 2009 - one full of the right choices....

17 December 2008

Good things, good times

"You've got to accentuate the positive
Eliminate the negative
Latch on to the affirmative
Don't mess with Mister In-Between"
(Johnny Mercer/ Harold Arlen)
I have achieved a remarkable first today. It was the first time that I ever completed three Sudoku puzzles in a row in the 40-minutes or so that it takes me to get to work in the morning. One easy;one moderate; one challenging. All in the free Metro newspaper. That might not mean much to you,but it's a memorable thing for me. A milestone achieved!

If I have learnt anything this year, it's that I can be my own worst critic. It is often true to say that 'self praise is no recommendation', but I find it too easy to find fault in my own work - and there's plenty around who are ready to help. I am encouraged enough by what I have learnt in the past year that God's got something special for me to do. I'm keen to embrace it!

2009 is just around the corner, and I'm already aiming high. Good times are ahead!

12 December 2008

Gullible

Are you interested in etymology? That is, the study of the history of words — there's a great BBC programme called 'Balderdash And Piffle' all about this. Anyway, it's one particular word that has sparked me off to blog today.

The term 'gullible' apparently stems back from 1793 and is probably connected to 'gull', a slang term for a dupe or a sucker. It is perhaps derived from the name of the actual bird, or from the verb gull (meaning 'to swallow', 1530, from the old French word goule, or from the Latin gula meaning throat or gullet). This means it probably refers to someone who will swallow anything thrown at them. There's also a Middle English dialect word gull meaning a newly hatched bird (1382).

The term goes a long way back, doesn't it? So we should be well aware that we need to be careful and sensible when dealing with others who may appear to be one thing but in fact are quite the opposite.

"Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves. Therefore be wise as serpents and harmless as doves." (Matthew 10:16)

"Go your way; behold, I send you out as lambs among wolves." (Luke 10:3)

"Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour." (1 Peter 5:8)

Let's go out and do His will - but remember to be careful out there!

10 December 2008

Saved To Save

I am a regular reader of the Armybarmy blog (see link to the right hand side) and am often particularly challenged by some of the entries there. Today's comments included a reference to a book entitled "My Business Here Below: Shared thoughts on Soul Winning" by Brigadier Bramwell Darbyshire. The following incident is recorded there...

General William Booth expected his soldiers to be soul winners. On one occasion one Salvationist mentioned to him that the Ss on the collars (now the lapels) of every soldier meant that soldier was "saved to serve". It's a phrase I've heard before.

The Founder was reportedly 'very cross' when he heard this - for William they meant "saved to save".

I hope those soldiers who read this and wear their uniform proudly never forget that. There is a constant reminder that as soldiers we are indeed saved to save.

6 December 2008

Compassion for others

The words of Albert Orsborn are resounding around my head today (SASB 527):

The Saviour of men came to seek and to save
The souls that were lost to the good;
His Spirit was moved for the world which he loved
With the boundless compassion of God….

Except I am moved with compassion
How dwelleth Thy Spirit in me?
In word and in deed
Burning love is my need;
I know I can find this in thee.

5 December 2008

Here's to 2009!

I've finally chilled out after another particularly hectic day, where tempers have been fraught, bad decisions have been made, circumstances have conspired against me. I've tried my best but it's not been good enough. I've upset friends and comrades, failed to complete what I set out to do.

It's now 9.30pm. I've finally unwound, having soaked in the tub for half a hour, and am sitting down with the family at last.

I've decided that looking back on today - or indeed this year - will do me no good; it's best to start looking forward. Really looking forward now to the New Year, a real new start!

The past is history, but tomorrow's a mystery. Here's to 2009!

3 December 2008

One Of Those Days

Ever had 'one of those days'? You know, days where nothing ever seems to go right. That's me, today. Amongst the things that I have experienced - or have endured today - are:
  • Despite getting to the station for my train ten minutes early this morning, the train arrives at its terminus ten minutes late. Stands to reason that I had to be in on time today. And today was the day my boss got in early!
  • A chance meeting during the course of the morning with a cardboard box which I myself had stored produced an unexpected shower of black toner that subsequently ruined my tie, and probably my shirt.
  • The journey back home again was pretty uneventful, however my son, who was due to meet me at the station when I arrived, had 'forgotten about the time'. I did however wait for him - that was another ten minutes delay!
  • When I arrived home, there were phone calls and emails that I had to attend to - plus the kitchen sink was blocked. So I rolled my sleeves up and got down to it again. No chance to relax, now!
Now I don't claim that this was anything else other than 'one of those days'. But life is indeed a battlefield, and it is of course how we handle days like these that show 'character' or 'persistance' in our lives. We carry on - determined to do the best we can for our family, our friends, our Saviour.

Psalm 63:5-6
"Find rest, O my soul, in God alone; my hope comes from Him.
He alone is my rock and my salvation;he is my fortress, I shall not be shaken."

2 December 2008

Looking back

As the year draws to a close, many of us take the opportunity to review the year that has gone. Well, it stands to reason - the TV, Radio and press are full of reviews of the year; we grab our diaries to write letters to our friends bringing them a potted history of the year to slip into the Christmas cards. I've done the same in previous years, but find that I can't help but take a sharp intake of breath this year when looking at 2008. What a stormy year!

I've already drafted out my blog entry for the end of the year, but am finding difficulty in finding many 'upbeat' things to say. My good friend Anna is always telling me to concentrate on the positive. Perhaps I'm a bit blind to it at the moment, but I find there's little to smile about nowadays.

I'm working on it though. The verse that comes to mind is one we have used before in Sunday School:

With Christ in the vessel
You can smile at the storm
Smile at the storm
Smile at the storm
With Christ in the vessel
You can smile at the storm
As we go sailing home

Sailing, sailing home.
Sailing, sailing home.
With Christ in the vessel
You can smile at the storm
As we go sailing home.

It's still stormy but I'm putting my trust in God to see me through.

29 November 2008

Get Me Out Of Here!

I don't know about you, but I've been interested in following the (edited) antics of the celebrities in the Australian outback this year. Well, to tell you the truth I've not been following it that closely, but I'm still mildly interested, y'know.

Usually when you start watching these sort of shows you get a fair idea in your mind what an individual is like from their public image - an image which of course is projected by their own agent or publicist. It's only when they're in an environment like this and the pressure starts getting applied that formerly hidden character traits stand revealed. Yes, I am aware some of the material that is seen on TV is often 'edited' to emphasise unrest or outrageous behaviour - this is after all what passes for entertainment nowadays. However, in some cases, some stars can really 'shine'.

It's funny that - it's only when you're really tested, when all the image and sham is stripped away, that the true character is finally revealed.

26 November 2008

Thought For The Day

Psalm 84:10 (NIV)

Better is one day in your courts than a thousand elsewhere; I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of the wicked.


Lord, lift me from the miry clay...

24 November 2008

Warfare


I've got a dreadful headache at the moment. And I've had it for a while, all weekend. In fact, after attending the Sunday meeting yesterday, I went home and slept all afternoon. Still no respite. So I thought I'd surf the net for a few pointers today...

"Holding on to anger, resentment and hurt only gives you tense muscles, a headache and a sore jaw from clenching your teeth. Forgiveness gives you back the laughter and the lightness in your life. " Joan Lunden

I don't know what you think, but I'm of the opinion it's the battles I have with my own 'issues' which are causing these symptoms. So, I'm trying very hard today to keep cheerful, despite feeling lousy. Well, that's not easy, and I've got it wrong already today. Forgive me my friends when I get it wrong!

Remember, Jesus said "It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick". (Matthew 9:12, NIV) Having consulted the Great Physician I have a fair idea of what to do now.

19 November 2008

Playing my part


Matthew 23:27, NIV
"Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean."

Thanks go to WordLife's thought for today for sparking me off on my blog.

I understand that the term 'hypocrite' comes from a Greek word, 'hypokrinesthai', meaning someone who is pretending, acting a part. The Greek word 'hypokritēs' in fact means actor. While I'm considering my part (and indeed learning my lines!) for this year's Corps Carol Service I am very aware of the difference between playing a part and revealing the real me. And revealing the real me is very scary!

I can understand why so many actors spend their lives as a recluse. They are practiced at 'playing a part' and often seem to be living their lives under a mask. Make a wrong move or a bad performance and the critics savage you relentlessly. Being pursued by the press would only increase the pressure on them. No wonder so many have problems with drink or drugs, the pressure must be unbearable.

It's tough sometimes to be honest enough to take a stand as yourself. But that's the way I'm being led, so I guess I have to get used to it.

17 November 2008

Never Mind, Go On!


Faithful be, delaying not to follow
Where Christ leads, though it may be through sorrow;
If the strife should fiercer grow tomorrow,
Never mind, go on!
Cheerful be, it will your burdens lighten,
One glad heart will always others brighten;
Though the strife the coward’s soul may frighten,
Never mind, go on!
(SASB 805, verse 2)

After an 'interesting' weekend, which has seen my main PC go up in smoke, and those close to me under extreme stress for a number of reasons, I have tried to stand firm to my beliefs, and understand that many of my comrades are 'dug in' alongside me, as we push ever onwards towards the goals we see before us. The CO preached a very apt sermon yesterday on this very subject and he gave me a verse to ponder on this week...

Hebrews 10:23
Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.

15 November 2008

Where Everybody Knows Your Name... part two


I've been encouraged a lot by some of the feedback I've received on the subject of community, and want to concentrate now on one particular community - that of a church, my church. Looking more closely at the criteria for a feeling of 'belonging', of a 'Sense of Community'...

Membership
The place where you feel you belong should be a place where you feel emotionally safe. I've recently read a book by Chick Yuill called 'Others' (a copy was on sale at our charity shop!) and in it Chick makes reference to three things that are required of church membership - people need to belong (be accepted as part of a caring and welcoming fellowship), believe (explore and discover a living faith for themselves) and behave (discern and embrace God's will in every area of their lives). And apparently these should be in that order. Of course, as a church we already have that 'common symbol system' that I referred to previously; both my religion and my denomination are of course steeped with symbolism...


Influence
Members of the church do get a chance to influence the leadership via regular and irregular meetings with the leadership team. Church members should feel that do have some influence in the group; however, I know from experience that if they feel they are ignored or not listened to then they will lose interest. However, they should also remember that a degree of influence by the leadership team on its members, and a suitable response, is needed for group cohesion.

Integration and fulfillment of needs
Members of the church should feel rewarded in some way for their participation in the community. The rewards would depend on your level of participation - "you only get out to it what you put into it". Thus, the rewards enjoyed by those who are 'committed' will usually be different from those on the periphery of the church fellowship.
Shared emotional connection
There are plenty of examples of members of my church having a strong sense of 'shared history' - you only have to go back to the recent 'Battle For Bull Centre' celebrations for that. Shared participation will of course depend on the individual, as discussed above.

A point to emphasise is of course to remember that as a Christian community, our own Saviour is an integral part of our fellowship. You may like to reread the four points above in the light of that. And remember that when we read about 'influence', it's often via biblical teachings that God influences us, even the leadership team, and for all of us to respond.

11 November 2008

Where Everybody Knows Your Name...


On Sunday night I listened to an interesting programme on the radio about the importance of a feeling of Community in a person's life, of belonging. This has set me thinking and pondering again this week... and as usual I've been exploring the 'net for other ideas on the subject.

Apparently, sociologists often talk about people needing to have an experience of belonging, a need for a 'Sense of Community'. Noted psychologist Seymour B. Sarason even called it "one of the major bases for self-definition." In layman's terms, you need to have somewhere where you feel you belong! Without that experience, it's as if you don't belong. This could well be your family home - a group or club - or indeed your local church. The title for this feature is taken from the theme song to 'Cheers', an American sitcom about a Boston bar, and the community that frequents it.

David McMillan and David Chavis have a published theory states that one's Sense of Community is composed of four elements.

Membership
The place where you feel you belong should be a place where you feel emotionally safe. Interestingly, psychologists also say that the community should have a 'common symbol system'.

Influence
This can be experienced both ways - members need to feel that they have some influence in the group, and some influence by the group on its members is needed for group cohesion.

Integration and fulfillment of needsMembers should feel rewarded in some way for their participation in the community.

Shared emotional connection
Members should have some sort of shared history and of course shared participation (or at least identification with the group's history).

As part of a number of community groups, each endeavouring to get others to feel part of the community and to participate, I have found it interesting today to note down these elements and to apply them to my own situation.

Some further quotations on the subject:

Chinese proverb:
One generation plants the trees; another gets the shade.

Mother Teresa:
Keep in mind that our community is not composed of those who are already saints, but of those who are trying to become saints. Therefore let us be extremely patient with each other's faults and failures.

8 November 2008

Useful tips - November


You might recall press coverage late last month about a Welsh road sign. Officials were looking to put up a new road sign near the Asda store in the Morriston area, and as is custom were obliged to prepare the sign in two languages - English and Welsh. You can see clearly enough what the sign said in English, however Swansea Council officials had to send for a Welsh translation, and fired off an email to the translators. Back came a reply, the sign was prepared and erected.

Unfortunately, the reply they had received was simply an automated e-mail written in Welsh that read: "I am not in the office at the moment. Please send any work to be translated."

They only realised their mistake when Welsh speakers pointed it out. "Our attention was drawn to the mistranslation of a sign at the junction of Clase Road and Pant-y-Blawd Road," said a council spokesman. "We took it down as soon as we were made aware of it and a correct sign will be installed as soon as possible."

Handy tip - always proofread what you are doing before you print or publish it. Particularly if it's in a language that you can't read.

6 November 2008

Burning Brightly


It's the day after 'Bonfire Night' and I'm recovering from 'keeping the home fires burning' by stoking the bonfire lit in my back garden for the evening, whilst Andrew set off the rather large pile of fireworks that we had amassed to entertain those gathered.

And once again the 90% rule seemed to be in force, with only a few of the pyrotechnics giving the crowd a chance to go 'ooooh' and 'aaahh' at their beauty. Sure, the display was fine and well-executed, but at the end of the day it was only the spectacular ones that we remembered.

I want to be spectacular and to burn brightly, too.

Psalm 18:28 (New International Version)
"You, O LORD, keep my lamp burning; my God turns my darkness into light."

4 November 2008

You'd Better Watch Out...


I am starting to look forward to Christmas already. I hear today that Aardman Animations has a new Wallace and Gromit short in preparation, entitled "A Matter of Loaf and Death". This will air as part of BBC's Christmas programming. I must admit to being very intrigued by the thought of this, as a big fan of both W&G and of the classic film "A Matter of Life and Death". Apparently, our heroes open a new bakery and soon become embroiled in a classic ‘who doughnut mystery’. The film will be created by Nick Park alongside writer Bob Baker (who co-wrote "A Close Shave" and "The Wrong Trousers"). Peter Sallis will be the voice of Wallace, with Coronation Street actress Sally Lindsay joining them this time round as new love interest Piella Bakewell.
Cracking!

3 November 2008

Just In The Nick Of Time


It's amazing, isn't it, that life's twists and turns mean things often don't turn out the way you had planned? Popular fiction of course relishes such things, often relying on the 'cliffhanger' ending to keep us on the edge of our seats, as the hero saves the day/the world/the ship/the girl just in the nick of time.

It's not just fiction, though. Lewis Hamilton's sensational Championship win in this year's Formula One season certainly falls in that same category. The final standings were still very much in contention right up to when the final Grand Prix commenced in Sao Paulo (Brazil) on Sunday, and it was very close throughout. It got even more exciting when rain started falling in the last few laps. And even when Massa (the race leader) had crossed the finish line and thought he'd also got the championship there was still a final twist in the tail, and just in the nick of time Hamilton clinched the title, right on the final lap of the course. Wow!

Trouble is, it seems all so clear to me that life is often like that, unpredictable to the uttermost. Just when you think that things are all sorted out, something happens to knock you back again. However, although we see such setbacks in our own lives, many of us don't seem to believe in the possibility that someone will be there to save the day, just in the nick of time.

Which hero will be there to save the day for you? I know who I am putting my trust in to save the day for me. And will He do it just in the nick of time?

In thee O Lord do I put my trust.

31 October 2008

Lies and Statistics - part three


My final word on this subject must of course come from The Word. Of course, you don't have to look far for biblical references to this subject. Jesus said that He is "the Way, the Truth, and the Life". If Christ is Truth, then it follows that lying must mean you are moving away from Christ. Being honest is about following in God's footsteps, for He cannot lie. My goal as a Christian is to become more God-like and God-centred, then honesty needs to be a focus. And that's honesty to myself as much as to my peers.

Luke 16:10 - Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much.

Exodus 20:16 - You shall not give false testimony against your neighbour.

However, being honest is not always easy. It's so easy for man to wander off the narrow path, and kid yourself that you're still on course. Therefore, you need to work at being truthful, and it is often pretty hard work. We need to keep our eyes on Jesus all of the time.

Remember, you should strive not only to be honest to others, but honest to yourself as well. Therefore you should try to remain both humble and modest, however being too harsh on yourself is not being truthful. Also, thinking too highly of yourself is also dishonest. We need to find a balance before we can continue to grow.

Proverbs 11:3 - The integrity of the upright guides them, but the unfaithful are destroyed by their duplicity.

Romans 12:3 - For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you.

(all translations NIV)

30 October 2008

Lies and Statistics - part two



Some quotations on lying:
You can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you cannot fool all of the people all of the time - Abraham Lincoln (attributed)

One of the saddest lessons of history is this: If we've been bamboozled long enough, we tend to reject any evidence of the bamboozle. The bamboozle has captured us. Once you give a charlatan power over you, you almost never get it back - Carl Sagan

Always tell the truth. That way, you don't have to remember what you said - Mark Twain

A lie can travel halfway around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes - Mark Twain, again (attributed)

Oh what a tangled web we weave, When first we practise to deceive! - Sir Walter Scott

Liars when they speak the truth are not believed - Aristotle

It is always the best policy to speak the truth--unless, of course, you are an exceptionally good liar - Jerome K. Jerome

A lie told often enough becomes the truth - Lenin

And a further mention of statistics, which was mentioned in part one and is shown clearly in the title of this thread. Statistics can prove anything - you analyse the data to try and make it demonstrate whatever it is you're trying to prove. Thus, although containing facts of one sort or another, statistics can lie as well.

A statistician is a person who stands in a bucket of ice water, sticks their head in an oven and says "on average, I feel fine!" - K.Dunnigan

More to follow.

28 October 2008

Lies and Statistics - part one


The heading of this part of my blog is inspired by a phrase attributed to Benjamin Disraeli and popularised in the United States by Mark Twain: "There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics." And as I published in my last entry, we know that some statistics might simply be made up on the spot!


One definition of a lie is an untruthful statement, with the implied intention of deceiving others. This may be to maintain a secret or a reputation. It might be in order to protect someone's feelings, or to avoid a punishment.

Some people also include those occasions where someone has stated something which they don't know for sure is true, with the intention that it be taken for the truth.

Of course, once you start to lie, you need to lie repeatedly to maintain those lies. You therefore become a liar by force of habit. Remember, like all habits, these can be broken - if you truly want to.

Since starting this article, I have discovered much debate on the Internet disputing the fact that Disraeli was the first to say the phrase that I commenced with. Which means there may already be one lie in this part of my blog already! So in an effort not to fall foul of my own definitions I'll just mention Henry Du Pré Labouchère (1831-1912), Leonard H. Courtney, 1st Baron Courtney of Penwith (1832-1918), Cornelia Augusta Hewitt Crosse (1827-1895), William Abraham Hewitt (1875-1966) and Commander Holloway Halstead Frost (1889-1935) - all of whom have also been attributed with the phrase. Whew!

I think I'm going to be reflecting quite a bit on lies this week. As you will see, lying is actually quite a commonplace thing. More later.

26 October 2008

Useful tips - October


Thought these might brighten someone's day - or give you food for thought:

42.7% of all statistics are made up on the spot.

Remember, half the people you know are below average.

Depression is merely anger without enthusiasm.

The early bird may get the worm, but it's the second mouse that gets the cheese.

A clear conscience is usually the sign of a bad memory.

If you think nobody cares, try missing a couple of payments.

Light travels faster than sound. That's why some people appear bright until you hear them speak.

24 October 2008

God Will Make A Way


God will make a way,
Where there seems to be no way
He works in ways we cannot see
He will make a way for me
He will be my guide
Hold me closely to His side
With love and strength for each new day
He will make a way, He will make a way.

By a roadway in the wilderness, He'll lead me
And rivers in the desert will I see
Heaven and earth will fade
But His Word will still remain
He will do something new today.

God will make a way,
Where there seems to be no way
He works in ways we cannot see
He will make a way for me
He will be my guide
Hold me closely to His side
With love and strength for each new day
He will make a way, He will make a way
(Words and music by Don Moen)

"In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths. " Proverbs 3:6

22 October 2008

Integrity!


The Webster's Dictionary definition of integrity is:
1 : firm adherence to a code of especially moral or artistic values : incorruptibility
2 : an unimpaired condition : soundness
3 : the quality or state of being complete or undivided : completeness
for synonyms see 'honesty'.

I think it's more than just 'honesty'. However, I like the definition that was given to us in a recent training session at work - so much so that's it continues to challenge me as something I need to attain personally...

Integrity is doing the right thing even though there's nobody looking.

Wow!

20 October 2008

Talking Rubbish


Another source of 'wisdom' (in the broadest sense of the word) can be found most days on the radio. I really appreciate my 'wireless', and make frequent use of the FM radio that's built into my 'phone - it's one of my most precious lifelines when I'm far from home.
I'm not such a fan of DJs (with some notable exceptions), so don't listen to the music stations very much. No, it's talk radio for me. I listen to the phone-ins on local radio, some of the current affairs shows, the occasional documentary. Yes, some of the folk who ring up can talk such rubbish - but I like to hear other people's points of view - I suppose it helps me to form opinions of my own. And of course having a basic grounding in news and current affairs - and what other people are saying about it - helps me relate to others.
But ask me what's the latest craze in music and I doubt if I'll have a clue!

19 October 2008

Happiness Is A Warm Puppy


I am well aware that most of my blogs lately have been a bit 'heavy' so I thought I would devote a blog or two to some alternative sources of wisdom that I use from time to time. Today features the collected works of Charles Schulz.

'Sparky' Schulz is no longer with us now, but his work lives on. His work as an art teacher and on a Christian comic magazine eventually led him to regular work cartooning for The Saturday Evening Post. His first regular strip was called "Li'l Folks". first published in 1947, and featuring a character called Charlie Brown, and a dog which had yet to be named. The strip was dropped in 1950, however United Feature Syndicate were approached with some of his best strips from 'Li'l Folks', and 'Peanuts' made its first appearance on 2nd October 1950.

'Peanuts' became one of the most popular comic strips of all time, and Schulz continued with the strip until just before his death in 2000, aged 77. Charlie Brown, Lucy, Linus, Peppermint Patty and the others have featured in animated shows of their own. And that little dog (Snoopy, pictured at the top of this feature) is perhaps the best known of the group, recognisable the world over. Amongst my collection of 'Peanuts' memorabilia I have a large book of the strips, and regularly read through these. Some quotations:

"It was a dark and stormy night..." (the opening line of the novel Snoopy is forever starting. It's actually a quotation from Edward Bulwer-Lytton.)

Snoopy's oft-repeated line: "Curse you, Red Baron!"

Woodstock's oft-repeated line: "!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"

16 October 2008

Up Above The Streets And Houses... part two


Sir Isaac Newton in his early physics experiments decided the colours of the rainbow were Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Indigo and Violet. Many of us remember them as 'Richard Of York Gave Battle in Vain'. However, are there only seven colours in a rainbow? Well, I understand that Newton believed in numerology and thought special numbers governed all natural phenomena. And of course, seven is a very special number...

If you look strictly at the scientific evidence, of course, rainbows are caused by the reflection and refraction of the rays of the sun shining on falling rain.

However, modern research reveals that a rainbow's appearance is in fact unique to each observer. Each rainbow is a special distribution of colours, produced in a particular way, and with reference to a definite point - the eye of the observer - and as no single distribution can be the same for two separate points, it follows that two observers do not, and cannot, see the same rainbow. A camera lens will of course record an image of a rainbow - but that's in fact different from the one we see with our own eyes. So, it all depends on your point of view.

If you look for scriptural references to rainbows you will of course come across the reference to it being a sign of God's faithfulness (Genesis 9:12-17). However, three other references exist in scripture:

Ezekiel 1:28
Like the appearance of a rainbow in the clouds on a rainy day, so was the radiance around him. This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the LORD. When I saw it, I fell facedown, and I heard the voice of one speaking.

Revelation 4:3
And the one who sat there had the appearance of jasper and carnelian. A rainbow, resembling an emerald, encircled the throne.

Revelation 10:1
Then I saw another mighty angel coming down from heaven. He was robed in a cloud, with a rainbow above his head; his face was like the sun, and his legs were like fiery pillars.
(all verses NIV)

All these verses speak of the rainbow as a radiance around an object or an individual - an aura? Even perhaps a halo? Well, some of our readers may have one or two issues with believing that.

... however, like the rainbow, this all depends on your point of view.

14 October 2008

Up Above The Streets And Houses...



The references to 'rainbow' in my recent blog on 'True Colours' brings up a familiar and recurring theme, more so perhaps for my good friend Don than me. An exploration of rainbows would not be complete without a reference to Geoffrey, Zippy and Bungle in the popular kids show, so hence my title to this entry. However, rainbows feature far widely culturally, inspiring man across the years.
You could include references to Bifröst, which in Norse mythology is the rainbow bridge leading from Midgard, the realm of mortals, to Asgard, the realm of the gods, which the gods travel daily.

We've mentioned Cyndi Lauper's earlier hit, but of course there are other musical references:

Look, look, look to the rainbow,
Follow it over the hill and stream
Look, look, look to the rainbow, Follow the fellow who follows the dream.
"Look to the Rainbow" by E. Y. Harburg (Yip Harburg) and Burton Lane from the musical play (and motion picture) Finian's Rainbow

Some day I'll wish upon a star And wake up where the clouds are far behind me
Where troubles melt like lemondrops Away above the chimney tops, That's where you'll find me.
Somewhere over the rainbow Bluebirds fly. Birds fly over the rainbow, Why then, oh why can't I?
"Somewhere Over the Rainbow", lyrics by Yip Harburg, music by Harold Arlen, from The Wizard of Oz (1939)

Some further quotations:

And when it rains on your parade, look up rather than down. Without the rain, there would be no rainbow - Gilbert K. Chesterton

The way I see it, if you want the rainbow you gotta be willing to put up with the rain - Dolly Parton

My heart leaps up when I behold A rainbow in the sky! - William Wordsworth

More on rainbows later this week...

12 October 2008

Wrestlemania!


I don't know whether wrestling is your cup of tea. I used to watch it regularly when I was growing up, as it was on the telly on most Saturdays at 4pm. A little bit of innocent fun while the tea was being made, while we were waiting for Doctor Who to start.

In my later years I have watched some of the WWE wrestling shows, which are a different kettle of fish. It wasn't too bad in the early Nineties, but over the last dozen or so years it's got pretty graphic and is not particularly wholesome. Gone are the days when you watched it for the actual wrestling - the storylines seem to have taken over. I've read biographies of the participants themselves, and find they have to commit themselves entirely to their career, as they are working night after night, on tour for several weeks at a time. Divorces are common. Drug addiction is also rife - but these are usually painkillers! Not really the right role models I need to follow; nor the right role models for my family.

Wrestling? Now it’s time for me to tap out. I've got other issues to wrestle with.

Begone, unbelief, my Saviour is near,
And for my relief will surely appear;
By prayer let me wrestle, and he will perform;
With Christ in the vessel, I smile at the storm.

2.Though dark be my way, since he is my guide,
’Tis mine to obey, ’Tis his to provide;
Though cisterns be broken and creatures all fail,
The word he has spoken will surely prevail.

3.His love in time past forbids me to think
He’ll leave me at last in trouble to sink;
Each sweet Ebenezer I have in review
Confirms his good pleasure to help me quite through.

4.Since all that I meet shall work for my good,
The bitter is sweet, the medicine food;
Though painful at present, ’Twill cease before long,
And then O how pleasant the conqueror’s song!
SASB 712 (John Newton)

________________________________________

O strengthen me, that while I stand
Firm on the rock, and strong in thee,
I may stretch out a loving hand
To wrestlers with the troubled sea.
SASB612, v3 (Frances Ridley Havergal)

10 October 2008

True Colours

One of the songs I listened to last night, after a particularly bad day. I ran a bath, relaxed and listened to this Cyndi Lauper song.

You with the sad eyes, don’t be discouraged
Oh I realise it’s hard to take courage
In a world full of people you can lose sight of it all
And the darkness inside you can make you feel so small

CHORUS
But I see your true colours shining through
I see your true colours and that’s why I love you
So don’t be afraid to let them show

Your true colours, true colours, are beautiful like a rainbow

Show me a smile then, don’t be unhappy,
Can’t remember when I last saw you laughing
If this world makes you crazy and you’ve taken all you can bear
You call me up because you know I’ll be there

(Written by Billy Steinberg and Tom Kelly - "True Colours" was both the title track and the first single released from Cyndi Lauper's second album.)

9 October 2008

Trouble

Matthew 6:34
"Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own."

Today has contained quite enough problems for one day, thank you. I'm exhausted!
I think I'm going home to listen to some good music tonight, so if you ring me I won't be in.
Tomorrow is on its way.

8 October 2008

The Miry Clay



Psalm 40 (NIV)
For the director of music. Of David. A psalm.




1 I waited patiently for the LORD; he turned to me and heard my cry.
2 He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand.
3 He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear and put their trust in the LORD.
4 Blessed is the man who makes the LORD his trust, who does not look to the proud, to those who turn aside to false gods.
5 Many, O LORD my God, are the wonders you have done. The things you planned for us no one can recount to you; were I to speak and tell of them, they would be too many to declare.
6 Sacrifice and offering you did not desire, but my ears you have pierced; burnt offerings and sin offerings you did not require.
7 Then I said, "Here I am, I have come — it is written about me in the scroll.
8 I desire to do your will, O my God; your law is within my heart."
9 I proclaim righteousness in the great assembly; I do not seal my lips, as you know, O LORD.
10 I do not hide your righteousness in my heart; I speak of your faithfulness and salvation. I do not conceal your love and your truth from the great assembly.
11 Do not withhold your mercy from me, O LORD; may your love and your truth always protect me.
12 For troubles without number surround me; my sins have overtaken me, and I cannot see. They are more than the hairs of my head, and my heart fails within me.
13 Be pleased, O LORD, to save me; O LORD, come quickly to help me.
14 May all who seek to take my life be put to shame and confusion; may all who desire my ruin be turned back in disgrace.
15 May those who say to me, "Aha! Aha!" be appalled at their own shame.
16 But may all who seek you rejoice and be glad in you; may those who love your salvation always say, "The LORD be exalted!"
17 Yet I am poor and needy; may the Lord think of me. You are my help and my deliverer; O my God, do not delay.

7 October 2008

Terrible times


"But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God— having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with them. " 2 Timothy 3:1-5 (NIV)

If we take these words written to Timothy and apply them to our own lives, what options do we have when we have to relate to people once you have proved they are 'without love' - beyond a shadow of a doubt that they are 'treacherous', 'ungrateful'? Everything they say then comes into question. Paul instructs us to have nothing to do with them. However, these are people I see regularly, relate to, even work alongside.
Terrible times, indeed.

3 October 2008

Feet On The Rock


Those who know me are constantly encouraging me to step out - to walk on the water - to step out of my comfort zone. Trouble is, stepping out will mean potentially getting into some very scary places! It stands to reason you're going to be concerned about the unknown, and feel anxious about being moving on. That's why so many people dislike change.

However, I'm looking forward to change. There's certain aspects of my life where I'm in a place that I don't want to be - I want to move on...

So, am I trapped in a paradox? A no-win scenario? Between a rock and a hard place (as the Americans have it)?

Well, I'm trusting in the Rock. I am trusting in God to hold me and keep me safe.

Psalm 27:5 NIV
"For in the day of trouble he will keep me safe in his dwelling; he will hide me in the shelter of his tabernacle and set me high upon a rock."

Lord, lift me from the miry clay, and put my feet firmly on the rock. Amen.

2 October 2008

Pruned!


Last Sunday was our Harvest Festival, and during the course of the meeting there was a lot of talk about fruit (but of course!). As Christians we are supposed to produce fruit - John 15:8 NIV: "This is to my Father's glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples."

It struck me following that meeting that a lot of what has been going on in my life could well be described as 'pruning' - removal of the dead branches and leaves, so that what is left can be more fruitful. I'm increasingly encouraged to take the opportunity to embrace my future and step further into my relationship with God, ever conscious of the fact this will take me further from my own comfort zone. Perhaps I need to let God 'prune' me!

Hosea 6: 1-3
1 "Come, let us return to the LORD. He has torn us to pieces but he will heal us; he has injured us but he will bind up our wounds.
2 After two days he will revive us; on the third day he will restore us, that we may live in his presence.
3 Let us acknowledge the LORD; let us press on to acknowledge him. As surely as the sun rises, he will appear; he will come to us like the winter rains, like the spring rains that water the earth."

29 September 2008

Sudoku



Most mornings I pick up a Metro newspaper on the way to work. It's a free newspaper, distributed at the railway station for commuters to read. It doesn't have a crossword to complete (shame!) but it does have a series of Sudoku puzzles, and I seem to be getting quite good at these, managing to do the easy and intermediate ones, and 'still being challenged' by the tough ones. Yes, it's a waste of time, but a distraction from commuting (which I dislike intensely). I also use the games page in the Metro to jot down any stray thoughts, usually things I recall from an earlier sermon, bible study or worship song, that's still kicking around in my head. Sometimes I find that this helps centre my mind.

When starting today's puzzle, I jotted down the words 'God Can Do Anything' on the page, a stray thought from another blog that I had read over the weekend. If that's true, He can even talk to you while you're doing a Sudoku puzzle, if you're open to Him. This is what struck me today:

  • The puzzle cannot be solved by maths, science or by trial and error. It can only be solved by application of logic.
  • So many people fail to see what it's all about. They only see a jumble.
  • If you do nothing, you won't get any clearer view than you already have, you'll be no nearer to a solution.
  • There is a perfect symmetry, a pattern, which it will take you time to find.
  • Depending on the situation that you find yourself, there will be certain elements missing. It's only by working out and adding the missing parts, that the puzzle itself will start to become clearer.
  • Solving a problem in one part will reveal a way forward in another part.
  • Once you've completed one puzzle, they'll be another that you need to solve...

"When we can't piece together the puzzle of our own lives, remember the best view of a puzzle is from above. Let Him help put you together." Amethyst Snow-Rivers

25 September 2008

Broken Bread


I blogged a while ago about advice. You know, advice from those well-meaning souls who tell me where I'm going wrong and then proceed to give me 'good' (and usually contradictory) advice about what I should be doing and where I should be headed. Well, I've news for them. I've received some sound advice last night from a most reliable source, and now I seem to be headed for a much less 'scary' place than before. Nevertheless it will involve quite a journey. And for some reason this song is important...

SASB 512
My life must be Christ’s broken bread,
My love his outpoured wine,
A cup o’erfilled, a table spread
Beneath his name and sign.
That other souls, refreshed and fed,
May share his life through mine.

My all is in the Master’s hands
For him to bless and break;
Beyond the brook his winepress stands
And thence my way I take,
Resolved the whole of love’s demands
To give, for his dear sake.

Lord, let me share that grace of thine
Wherewith thou didst sustain
The burden of the fruitful vine,
The gift of buried grain.
Who dies with thee, O Word divine,
Shall rise and live again.

Albert Orsborn (1886-1967)

23 September 2008

Useful tips - September

This entry in my blog simply consists of a number of things I have learnt this month in a very busy, roller-coaster ride of a September. There's been so much happening, my mind is reeling. You may like to reflect on the following words of wisdom, which is where I am at the moment... all of these could be individual blog entries but while I'm out most nights this month on SA business it's probably enough just to get them down before I forget them!

  • Whenever the man from The Salvation Army calls on your door for a donation for the Annual Appeal, it's always inconvenient. 11am, 3 in the afternoon, 7.30 at night, all times are wrong.
  • Some people just don't want callers. They have double-glazing, no doorbell, letterbox sealed up with tape or even stuffed with paper. What if I wanted to send them a love letter?
  • They say you can be lonely even in a crowded room. I've found that to be true. Perhaps everyone's really there behind you, but you can't see 'em, cos you're facing the other way...
  • If you don't show an interest in people, you're accused of being too 'distant'; when you do, you're accused of being a stalker. You can't win...
  • "Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it." Matthew 7:13-14.
  • It's interesting when someone makes a major change in their life, and when you talk to them they continually assure you that they're happier now. Are we seeking happiness, or God's will? Are these the one and the same? (Perhaps they're simply trying to find an easier path - and therefore should read the previous bullet point).
  • Committees take minutes and waste hours.
  • Remember the iceberg principle: it's a known fact that only one-third of an iceberg is visible - hence the reason the Titanic went down. Applying this principle to life, and mine in particular, we see that two thirds of anything therefore is unseen and can't be planned for. Hence why life gets a bit hectic...
  • I'm assured that I'm where God wants me to be right now. I can't disagree with the logic. What I often want to know is 'why'....
  • A diamond is formed under intense pressure, but what is produced is beautiful.
  • I'm sick and tired of 'knee-jerk' reactions. I just wish the jerks themselves would get down on their knees...
  • Lord, who made the lion and the lamb/You decreed I should be what I am/Would it spoil some vast, eternal plan/If I were a wealthy man? (from Fiddler On The Roof, song written by Jerry Bock & Sheldon Harnick)
  • What if the answer to the last question is 'yes'?
  • Sometimes, no matter how long you spend on a job, it's not enough...
  • Sorry is the most overused word in the world - probably because so many say it and don't mean it. There really needs to be a word for 'sorry and I won't let it happen again'. It's sad, so sad/It's a sad, sad situation/And it's getting more and more absurd/ It's sad, so sad/Why can't we talk it over/Oh it seems to me/That sorry seems to be the hardest word. (Music by Elton John, Lyrics by Bernie Taupin)

20 September 2008

Bitterness - the Counter-Attack!


Ephesians 4:31-32 (NIV)

‘Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.’

It's only to be expected really. After such a busy weekend last week with the Bull Centre thing and with AA collecting this week, suddenly I wake up today and discover I'm having to fight the same battle that I fought a few weeks ago. Seems the enemy has 'regrouped' and is having another go. Oh well... battle on...

17 September 2008

The Battle For Bull Centre - 2

The recreation of the Battle For Bull Centre took place on a lovely, warm September day, and was an extremely emotional occasion... particularly for the flag bearer at the front of the march. I wouldn't have missed it for the world.

100 years ago this year, Salvationists from Dartford went to Maidstone jail for their beliefs - they could have paid a fine, but voluntarily chose prison. The CO's at the time, Ensign and Mrs Roy, even left their young daughter in the capable hands of a neighbour, so they could go to jail! It's fitting then, that the modern day counterparts of the Dartford police that carted our folk off to jail a century ago formed an escort to their successors in the march. Supported by Chatham Band, we marched around the town for half an hour, culminating in an open-air meeting at One Bell Corner, very close to the site of the original event. God was praised in music, song and even with puppets!


The subsequent evening celebration in the Hythe Street hall featured music from Chatham Band and Dartford Corps music sections, together with a retelling of the whole story. The imprisonment of the Salvationists led to a mass of press coverage at the time and the event was known as the 'Dartford Disgrace' for a long time.

A superb evening festival followed, which was attended by various special guests. There were the granddaughters to Ensign & Mrs Roy, whose mother was the little girl who had been looked after by the neighbour. There was the Leader of the Borough Council, who asked to speak and then publicly declared that his own moral compass had been reset by the experience. And there was the mayor, who was one of the first to join in a glory march at the end of the meeting, in full regalia. Wow! God is good.

13 September 2008

The Battle For Bull Centre

In 1909, three Salvationists from Dartford went to prison on a matter of principle. They wanted to preach the gospel in the streets of Dartford, and the police wanted to restrict their activities. Above is the copy of the War Cry from 1909 after the Salvationists were subsequently cleared and released.
A century later, the contemporary Salvationists from Dartford are recreating the event in the town. I am pleased to be participating in the proceedings. More pics later.