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.

8 September 2008

Keeping silent


Psalm 39
For the director of music. For Jeduthun. A psalm of David.

1 I said, "I will watch my ways and keep my tongue from sin; I will put a muzzle on my mouth as long as the wicked are in my presence."
2 But when I was silent and still, not even saying anything good, my anguish increased.
3 My heart grew hot within me, and as I meditated, the fire burned; then I spoke with my tongue:
4 "Show me, O LORD, my life's end and the number of my days; let me know how fleeting is my life.
5 You have made my days a mere handbreadth; the span of my years is as nothing before you. Each man's life is but a breath. Selah
6 Man is a mere phantom as he goes to and fro: He bustles about, but only in vain; he heaps up wealth, not knowing who will get it.
7 "But now, Lord, what do I look for? My hope is in you.
8 Save me from all my transgressions; do not make me the scorn of fools.
9 I was silent; I would not open my mouth, for you are the one who has done this.
10 Remove your scourge from me; I am overcome by the blow of your hand.
11 You rebuke and discipline men for their sin; you consume their wealth like a moth— each man is but a breath. Selah
12 "Hear my prayer, O LORD, listen to my cry for help; be not deaf to my weeping. For I dwell with you as an alien, a stranger, as all my fathers were.
13 Look away from me, that I may rejoice again before I depart and am no more."
(NIV translation)

4 September 2008

Colin is fine...


(Firstly, thanks go to my good friend Elizabeth who shared this definition with me this morning).

After a particularly long evening at a PCC meeting last night; quite an early morning this morning, and a particularly intense meeting with my boss today, I can truly say I am FINE.

Feeling In Need of Encouragement.
However, good reader, rest assured that God is good, and that I'm trying hard to be good today.

Courage, brother, do not stumble,
Though thy path be dark as night;
There’s a star to guide the humble:
Trust in God and do the right.
Let the road be rough and dreary,
And its end far out of sight,
Foot it bravely; strong or weary,
Trust in God, trust in God,
Trust in God and do the right.

1 September 2008

In Thee O Lord Do I Put My Trust


I'm led today to continue to dwell on positives in my life and to trust in God for all the rest. Although I find it difficult to accept (I'm afraid I take some criticism very much to heart), I'm encouraged by others today simply to dwell close to Him, knowing that it's my relationship with the Lord that is the fundamental thing, not what others may tell me or believe. It doesn't matter what others think or say; what their opinion of me is; it is God I serve and will continue to serve.
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When we walk with the Lord in the light of His Word,What a glory He sheds on our way!
While we do His good will, He abides with us still,
And with all who will trust and obey.


Trust and obey, for there’s no other way
To be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.


Not a shadow can rise, not a cloud in the skies,
But His smile quickly drives it away;
Not a doubt or a fear, not a sigh or a tear,
Can abide while we trust and obey.

Not a burden we bear, not a sorrow we share,
But our toil He doth richly repay;
Not a grief or a loss, not a frown or a cross,
But is blessed if we trust and obey.

But we never can prove the delights of His love
Until all on the altar we lay;
For the favour He shows, for the joy He bestows,
Are for them who will trust and obey.

Then in fellowship sweet we will sit at His feet.
Or we’ll walk by His side in the way.
What He says we will do, where He sends we will go;
Never fear, only trust and obey.
I'm still battling against the negatives in my own life but I trust in the Lord to see me through this week.