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Archive for July, 2008

 

Joshua 3:5 (New International Version)

 
“Consecrate yourselves, for tomorrow the LORD will do amazing things among you.”
Something tells me that I must blog on this text today.
I have been feeling for sometime now that God is working in our Church and area.  Things have happened which were most unexpected and which have opened doors to new opportunities.  We are starting to wait for the next thing which God is going to do for us and it is very exciting.  We are wrestling with whether we should merge in some way with another nearby Church but I just have the feeling that God is not leading in that direction.  However, God might surprise us yet again. 
During our Centenary Celebrations we hope that people will attend some of our events who have not attended for some time or perhaps have never been to our Church before.  I pray that God will show us how to us this opportunity to bring these people closer to Him.  Our next major event is the Holiday Bible Club which is open to any children of Junior School age.  If anyone reading this knows of any children who might enjoy a full week of fun and games with a Biblical theme then invite them to come or better still come along with them and see what is going on.  After the Holiday Bible Club comes our performance of Handel’s Messiah.  It must be a great many years since it was performed in our Church.  A look at the history pages on our Church website will show that it was performed in the 1920’s when the Blue Peter presenter, Peter Purves’s father was a boy soprano.  It should be a fantastic experience not to be missed by anyone who enjoys choral music.  We are bringing in a guest conductor, guest accompanist and even hiring a bigger organ for the occasion.
Let us make sure that this is more than just excitement and fun.  Let it be a preparation of ourselves so that God can work in and through us as we move into another century of christian witness and service in our community.
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Do the words expressed here in this blog give a true reflection of who I am?  Would anyone reading this be able to tell what I was like as a person?  When I am putting things down on paper or on the blog I have time to think what I am saying and see if it says what I really want it to say.  I can edit it and correct it until I am satisfied.  When I speak face to face I have only one chance to get it right.  Once the wrong words have come out they can never be edited out.  Sometimes I say things which I wish I had not said. So which is the real me?   Is the real me the one who has the time to edit everything I say to make sure that I don’t upset anyone or say anything politically incorrect.  Do I edit it so that people get the impression that I am the person I would like to be.  Would someone who had read the blog for many months be able to meet me in the street and recognise me from the way I spoke?

Is the real me the unedited version?  When I accidentally say or do something which causes offence or hurt.  Is that really me?  Am I really like that in my heart.  I want to do the right thing and say the right thing but sometimes bad habits or impulsiveness take over.  As St Paul says in Romans:-

“For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do.”

The real me is the part which is made in God’s image.  The part which desires to be like Jesus.  Unfortunately the real me is in a human body with all its faults and failings.  In a sense being born again is rejecting and leaving behind the human nature and allowing Jesus to take over my whole life.  The reality is that our life will always be a battle against the old nature and the evil that accompanies it.  But we have the armour of God to protect us against the harm that these things might do us and so keep us safe until Christ comes again to save His people for Eternity.

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Have you ever bothered to read the label on a jar of marmalade?  I have in my hand a jar of Orange and Tangerine.  This is what the label says:-

Prepared with 43g of Fruit per 100g
Total sugar content 67g per 100g
Ingredients: Sugar, Oranges (28%), Tangerines (6%),
Gelling Agent: Pectin, Acidity Regulator: Sodium Citrate.

So if it was prepared with 43g of fruit per 100g ( which is 43%) then why is there 28% oranges and 6% tangerines which only adds up to 34% ?   Is there some other fruit which they haven’t told you about ?  

I wrote to the manufacturers about this and the answer is that the 43g is the fruit they start with and the 34% is what is left after it has been cooked.  They are required by law to label it in this way but only if there are two fruits present – if there is only one fruit or more than two then it doesn’t apply.
I would have thought that most people would look at the amount of fruit and assume that the more fruit per 100g the better the product but this isn’t always the case.  If you choose shredless marmalade then the weight of the shred is included in the first figure but not in the final product.
It is very interesting to look at the labels of different makes and ingredients.  I have been very surprised at how the two figures differ from each other.

Who cares how much fruit it was prepared with.  All I want to know is how much is in the jar.  Am I being difficult or does anyone else agree with me.

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Riding a Bike

I have been helping the son of a friend of mine to learn to ride a bicycle.  He is almost ten but hasn’t mastered it yet so we went along to a nearby farm with plenty of concrete drives and places to practice.  I hadn’t realised how much effort is required to learn to balance.  When you can do it you just take it for granted yet for someone who hasn’t yet mastered it there is so much concentration required.  Falling off is obviously not a very pleasant experience and it seems to happen very frequently but the lad is  very brave and keeps getting up and trying again.  After a Saturday afternoon and an evening there is a very noticeable improvement but there are no medals for nearly being able to do it.  I am hoping that we soon reach the point when he realises that he can do it and away he will go.  Once it has been mastered it never leaves you and balancing becomes an automatic reaction. 

How amazing the brain is to be able to manage all the muscle movements required to balance, pedal and steer.  I once remember seeing a film of some volunteers who agreed to wear special spectacles which turned the image upside down.  They put them on as soon as they woke up and kept them on until they got into bed at night.  During the night they wore a blindfold.  It took them about six weeks of wearing these things before the brain learned to turn the image over and they were able to see things the right way up even though the spectacles were turning things upside down.  At the end of the experiment they stopped wearing the spectacles and it took them another six weeks before they could see things the right way up again.  Somehow the brain was able to work out what the image should look like and made adjustments when the signals from the eyes didn’t make sense.   Did all this come about by chance?  I don’t think so.

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If you travel just south of here into the hills
you come to a place by a stream
where the miners of old dug up lead from the ground
and left their great spoil heaps behind.

There were pumps and great grinders for processing ore
and tracks and big holes in the ground
They took out the lead and left rubbish behind
and rare mineral Witherite ore

‘Twas no use to them and was left on the ground
until Wedgwood the potter did hear
about Witherite – free! – I must gather it up
to mix with my Jasperware glaze

When word of this bounty reached local men’s ears
A quick buck we can make they did say
They gathered it up and shipped it abroad
for a guinea a ton it is said

Now all this has gone and to nature returned
To find it is not very clear
But a beautiful spot it now has become
And the locals are out there in force

They strip off and jump from the bridge o’er the stream
Into freezing black water it seems
And picnicking families spread themselves out
And rest in the shade of the trees

Near the end of the War a low flying plane
Crashed into the moor near this spot
If you climb to the top of the hillside and look
The memorial to them still stands

Now a reservoir sits at the end of the stream
where the young men are bathing their feet
in the water which pours from the lead mines long gone
In the water which runs to our street!

The lead in the water is a bad enough thing
But another thing bothers me too
The sweaty young men in the valley up there
are putting their feet in my brew.

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Several weeks ago I was prompted to bring to mind a song – “Don’t you know the everlasting God”. I have been singing it and listening to our church musician play it since then. 

Don’t you know the everlasting God,
Never grows tired or weary?
Those who trust in Him for help,
They will find their strength renewed.

They will rise, they will rise,
They will rise on eagles wings.
They will run, they will run,

They will run and never tire.

After a few rather low days a friend has sent me a bible passage quote and guess what it was:

“He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak.  Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength.  They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”
      –
Isaiah 40:29-31

Then off I go to church just like a good girl does and the sermon was written just for me.  I’m sure the preacher has been sat on my shoulder all week reading the thoughts that I have shared via emails with a friend.  The message covered the majority of things I have been saying.

Ok that’s fine I hear you say but what I am actually thinking is that God started preparing me several weeks ago for the blip that was coming and that got me this week.  Not got any further with those thoughts yet so will leave you considering is this a coincidence or not?

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Happiness

This is for a special friend and for special people everywhere.

I would be happy if….. I could win the Lottery.  I would be happy if…… I found the perfect husband  …… if I had a child ……  if I had a perfect body ……  if I could go on a World cruise …..  if I had a different job.  

We all have dreams of things that would bring us true happiness but happiness is rather like the end of the rainbow.  You cannot capture it to keep. 

Happiness can be found in unexpected places and needs to be looked for.  I believe that we can sometimes be happy without recognising it.   If our idea of happiness is always waking up on top of the world, always feeling cheerful, never being ill, having enough money for the things we want, then we are unlikely to find it.  As we find little bits here and there in everyday things we begin to realise how much of it there really is to be found.

First of all – think of the person who is terminally ill who would be very happy to have our aches and pains,  the friendless person who would be very happy to have someone with whom they could have a row with occasionally,  the starving person who would be very happy to have to wash the dirty pots yet again,  the displaced person who would be very happy with clothes which didn’t fit anymore and were so last year. 

Secondly – we can give away happiness without having it ourselves.  In fact we are very likely to find it for ourselves when we have given it away.   I get pleasure and happiness from singing in the church choir as a result of the time and effort put in by others who conduct and accompany.  But I wonder how often the conductor thinks of the happiness they are giving to others during the rehearsal.  Only recently I was helping a friend putting the finishing touches to a craft project which the children had done and spent a very happy hour with glue gun and pipe cleaners.  As it happens the entry won first prize in a competition for the children.    This made me even more happy – not because the project was anything to do with me but because I had helped to make the children happy.  All I did was lend a pair of hands and a bit of encouragement but I thoroughly enjoyed doing it with my friend.

I have always had difficulty with the idea that Christians should always be happy.   If a person has just suffered a bereavement then sadness is a right a proper emotion or if a person is experiencing great pain then it is difficult to see how they could feel happy.  But the things which a Christian can have, and we can be given these through prayer, are peace of mind and contentment.  These are things which we can find and keep and no-one can take them from us.

May the Peace of God which passes all understanding be with you all, now and evermore.  

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