Friday, December 30, 2005

Sentinels At Every Gate

If you read my blogs often, I hope you've noticed that I try to be honest about where I am, I feel it's better to do that, than to just coldly preach the Gospel. I've always wanted you to see that everything I say comes from the heart and is genuine... not just from a text book, that you may know that my faith is a living one and not counterfeit.

I've had it a bit rough lately... if you are interested in knowing the context, read up my earlier blog entry, entitled A Rough Ride. I failed to stop making myself feel downcast. Sometimes it's the little things that drag you down, not the big ones. As the saying goes it's often "the straw that breaks the camel's back."

When I was young I locked myself behind behavioral walls to keep people from getting close and hurting me. Having learned from that fatal mistake... I am now the kind of person who hungers acceptance from the people I care about. Rather pathetically I can take silly little things like a drought of Christmas cards to heart... I know, stupid huh? Sometimes if you feel a certain way, it is all too easy to misread signs.

I had a picture the other day. I saw myself in the centre of a circular room with many doors. Each door was guarded by an armed sentinel, holding out their right arm in a "do not enter" gesture". This distressed me a great deal, because I hate feeling trapped. What is quite frustrating for me is that in all areas of my life, that is exactly how I feel - whichever door I try, for whatever reason... entry is barred. It's a bit like having the Argonath from Lord of the Rings standing in front of me... intimidating me and forbidding me entrance into the world of men.
The Argonath

So I decided to look for a scripture concerning gates, and I was struck by some verses in Nehemiah 13. In that chapter, the gates of Jerusalem are shut and barred for the Sabbath... to keep it holy. It has dawned on me this morning that perhaps that is all that is going on. For God has spoken to me before and reminded me that "In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength" (From Isaiah).

Maybe I've had a touch of the Martha's (Christian cliche). During his ministry, Jesus stayed at the home of Mary and Martha:

"As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord's feet listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, "Lord, don't you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!"

"Martha, Martha," the Lord answered, "you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her."

Perhaps this is merely a time to sit and meditate. There are promises out there for me, but they are dependant on God's grace. I know they are coming... but it is by his sovereign choice that they will come... and not by my desire or effort.

I need not fret at trying to force those gates, it is for holiness they are shut and not for frustration.

A couple of scriptures a friend once told me have come into my thinking lately:

"The LORD your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing." 
Zephaniah 3:17


"Yet the LORD longs to be gracious to you; he rises to show you compassion. For the LORD is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for him!"
Isaiah 30:18
Certainly reading on into the following verses of Isaiah 30 gives me cause for hope.

Waiting is a hard game, especially when we don't know when a resolution will come. I always remember Professor Robert Winston's programme on the human mind. Some children were involved in an experiment. They were given a small lump of chocolate and told they could either have that, or have a larger amount in a "little while". Now to you and I the choice is clearly logical, wait for 5-15 minutes and it's a choccy fest! However, at a young age children do not have a properly defined sense of the passage of time. Most who were under the age of four... opted for the here and now, what they could see before them.

But even as adults... we are no different when it comes to the things of God, are we? We do not have a proper sense of the time in the eternal or cosmic sense... we see life in terms of our lifespan on Earth. This causes us to want all our objectives to be achieved in the here and now. God knows all the things he has for us in the fullness of time, so he's not as hasty. All we need is a little patience and trust. This, I tell you as a mere apprentice, or at best a journeyman... by no means am I a master.

Finally, for the patient - for those who wait, God promises this:

"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 40:31

So, for now; in the words of a famous Guinness commercial - "Here's to waiting!"

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Small Beginnings

Do you ever wonder why churches are packed at Christmas... and not so busy at Easter? As a child, I was once taught by a lay minister (who looked suspiciously like Ben Kenobi), that if you could only make one service a year... it should be Easter and not Christmas.

Yet each year we see the midnight services on Christmas Eve and the Christmas Day communion are filled to bursting. .. whilst Easter services are rarely any different in attendance figures. Why do you suppose that is?

It's very simple, Jesus as a baby is very inoffensive - nobody has a problem with the infant Christ because there is very little radical about a baby. Yet when we see Jesus as an adult, it is a direct challenge to us where we are. Do we take him at his word? Accept his amazing techings and more than this... accept that he lay down his life for us... rose to new life, and will come to claim us as our risen King? Or do we put the baby away with the rest of the decorations, when the season of goodwill is finally over? It's a deceptively tough choice isn't it? Do we keep our rose tinted nativity scene, and never look into the consequences of that event? Do we look at the cute baby and think how amazing it was that God the Father kept him safe through all the threats and hazards... that he went to all that effort to bring that very special baby into the world.... and yet still fail to be moved by the reasons WHY God did that... and WHAT happened next and WHO the baby was? Do we?

It's all too easy to sweep the remainder of the story under the carpet and forget who Jesus is. As Charles Wesley wrote in his carol Hark the Herald Angels Sing (one of my faves), Jesus was:

Born that man no more may die:
Born to raise the sons of earth,
Born to give them second birth.
This day, I'd like to challenge you. When you next look at a nativity scene... look deeper. If you feel able, meditate on it. I'd like you to picture in your mind Jesus as a child. Think of all the things you could have done if you were there? Herod tried to kill him... the shepherds and wise men came to adore him. How do you want to react? Think of that child growing up as a boy; as a young man; as an adult. Do you still want to stand by him? Think of the things Jesus did and said. Then think about the greatest thing he did. Think about the fact he lay down his life for you. Finally I want to challenge you with words from an old carol:
What can I give Him, poor as I am?
If I were a shepherd, I would bring a lamb;
If I were a Wise Man, I would do my part;
Yet what I can I give Him: give my heart.

Would you be willing to do that? It does not matter what condition your heart is in. We are all broken:

"The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit." Psalm 34:18

"I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws." Ezekiel 36:26,27

Christ came to heal our hearts, to make us right with God. He came to our world... our physical home; that we might be able to one day come to his world... our eternal home.

I read this morning that a little girl... just hours old, was left abandoned - cold and naked in the streets. Nurses in Yeovil (where she was found), have dubbed her "Angel". In our society, we frown on people who would abandon a helpless child to die... and rightly so. However, I wonder... is that technically what we do every Christmas - abandon Jesus in the manger and return to the rush or madness or pain of daily life?

There's an old cliche that has been adapted from an RSPCA saying - "God is for life... not just for Christmas!"

Whatever you do this Christmas, I pray that God blesses you immensely and draws near to you. May you know the peace of God... the peace that passes ALL understanding.

May you have a very merry Christmas.


Saturday, December 17, 2005

Small Men

I was horrified the other day, to hear the latest outburst from Iran's president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. For those who are unaware, Mr Ahmadinejad publically declared that the Holocaust was a myth. Of course, Mr Ahmadinejad is only referring to the Jewish holocaust... for that is the only one that is affected by his prejudice. I'm sure he would not deny the massacre of Poles, Gypsies and Communists... because they are of no interest to him. You see, he wants the nation state of Israel to become non existent.

I was watching the television with my father, the last time Mr Ahmadinejad spoke out declaring that Israel should be "wiped off the map". My heart was grieved and my blood started to bubble up. Dad sat there calmly puffing on his pipe and said "it's because he is small!" That sounded rather un "PC", so I asked him to expand on what he meant. Dad simply pointed out a psychological truth: that many men of small stature subconsciously feel intimidated around others, and so use aggressive political gesturing... to compensate. Great isn't it? A nation is being governed by a man with an inferiority complex.

I have to say, to a certain degree I am in agreement with my father. I have witnessed similar actions by similar people in my life. The worst bully in my secondary school was one of the shortest lad's in our year. Somebody else I know frivolously cracks on to every girl in sight irrespective of whether he or they are in a relationship or not, oh I'm sure most of the time he isn't going to take it further... but I find it disturbing that he uses girls in this way... just to satisfy his inferiority complex and appease his ego.

Don't misunderstand me, I'm not suggesting all short men are ruled by inferiority complexes that make them bad people... I'm just saying it's something a few short men are prone to. In truth there are tall men in stature who are very small men at heart... there are also very short men who are giants of compassion and nobility. It's the psychology I'm assaulting, not the height.

It is not enough to recognise these men and their actions for what they are, that is no solution in itself. Mr Ahmadinejad governs a country that has expressed a nuclear interest. Whether or not his polical rhetoric comes from posturing, or from his own mistaken deep-seated beliefs; he cannot afford to gamble with such aggressive statements. Even if it is not his intention to act on such flawed ideological whims... there are people in this world who will either believe he is... or use his statements to suggest he is. It has happened before... very recently. He would do well to read the story of the boy who cried "wolf"... for his situation is a mirror image of it. He makes inane statements and nobody seems to act, so he continues.

One day the wolf may come.

Then who will heed him?

I'm not a strong supporter of US foreign policy, but I would imagine Ahmadinehad is the perfect worm to bait the hungry hawks whose feet are swift rush into blood!

Oh, and for anybody who is left in any doubt about the Holocaust, the estimates for Jews slain are reckoned between 4.1 - 6 million. Non Jewish victims including Gypsies, POW's, homosexuals and Russians amounted to around 5-6 million... for every death a name, for every name a face... stolen in acts of abhorrence.

It happened.

For more information on the story this article refers to, go here.

For more information on the Holocaust, go here.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

One Solitary Life

A child is born in an obscure village. He is brought up in another obscure village. He works in a carpenter shop until he is thirty, and then for three brief years is an itinerant preacher, proclaiming a message and living a life. He never writes a book. He never holds an office. He never raises an army. He never has a family of his own. He never owns a home. He never goes to college. He never travels two hundred miles from the place where he was born. He gathers a little group of friends about him and teaches them his way of life. While still a young man the tide of popular feeling turns against him. One denies him; another betrays him. He is turned over to his enemies. He goes through the mockery of a trial; he is nailed to a cross between two thieves, and when dead is laid in a borrowed grave by the kindness of a friend.
Those are the facts of his human life. He rises from the dead. Today we look back across nineteen hundred years and ask, What kind of trail has he left across the centuries? When we try to sum up his influence, all the armies that ever marched, all the parliaments that ever sat, all the kings that ever reigned are absolutely picayune in their influence on mankind compared with that of this one solitary life...
I have read several diferent variations of the above writing, this isn't the one I'm most familiar with... but apparently it is the original. I chose it because it is the only one I could find that references the fact that Jesus rose again. I'd add the following for your consideration: Even those who do not believe in Jesus cannot escape being influenced by his story. For... art, literature and culture have been saturated with him literally and through semiotics and allegory.
How many songs... how many poems... how many books... how many paintings... how many movies... how many programmes while not explicitly being about him... have absorbed elements of Christ's story? Too many to tell!

Do you feel mediocre or insignificant? Do you come from humble backgrounds? Rejoice, that is how Jesus started and he changed the world forever. If you want to be a world changer... follow him.
Jesus is alive, but to truly experience him... you have to accept him... not just as an obscure and vague historical figure... but as the man who died for our sins and rose to reign as king and prepare a place for us.
He lives...

A Rough Ride

Things have been a bit choppy lately, I have definitely felt a great deal of internal oppression for one reason or another.

Firstly - as you may recall, I was feeling very downcast about the future at my church. Despite knowing the future blessing that God intends to pour out on the church, I had become despondent about the interference of man... some people seem to be looking to diocese and deanery to secure the future... and not trusting in God. However, God had gently convicted me that at the end of the day he's in control... and he can use man's disobedience and stubbornness to his advantage. He also reminded me that the physical situation is not relevant to the spiritual plan. Israel was not a sovereign nation when Jesus the Messiah, came to save us.

Having jumped that hurdle, it wasn't long before my peace was disturbed again. After I was made to doubt the generic blessing for our church... I was attacked with doubt about personal blessings that I am waiting on God for (December is a bad time for me, with regard to a certain area of my life). I was seeing certain things and people were inadvertantly saying things that triggered various painful memories. Not only this, but in a similar vein I felt oppressed about my home situation. My lack of ability to support myself at present. You might think that all these things, that i see as an attack... are coincidental, but the frequency of them happening suggested something else to me. Besides, something was going on... because at the same time God was speaking things that were countering all the negativity. I ran into a few familiar scriptures at somebody else's church:

The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me,
because the LORD has anointed me
to preach good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim freedom for the captives
and release from darkness for the prisoners, [a]
to proclaim the year of the LORD's favor
and the day of vengeance of our God,
to comfort all who mourn,
and provide for those who grieve in Zion—
to bestow on them a crown of beauty
instead of ashes,
the oil of gladness
instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise
instead of a spirit of despair.
They will be called oaks of righteousness,
a planting of the LORD
for the display of his splendor.
They will rebuild the ancient ruins
and restore the places long devastated;
they will renew the ruined cities
that have been devastated for generations.
Aliens will shepherd your flocks;
foreigners will work your fields and vineyards.
And you will be called priests of the LORD,
you will be named ministers of our God.
You will feed on the wealth of nations,
and in their riches you will boast.
Instead of their shame
my people will receive a double portion,
and instead of disgrace
they will rejoice in their inheritance;
and so they will inherit a double portion in their land,
and everlasting joy will be theirs.
"For I, the LORD, love justice;
I hate robbery and iniquity.
In my faithfulness I will reward them
and make an everlasting covenant with them.
Their descendants will be known among the nations
and their offspring among the peoples.
All who see them will acknowledge
that they are a people the LORD has blessed."
I delight greatly in the LORD;
my soul rejoices in my God.
For he has clothed me with garments of salvation
and arrayed me in a robe of righteousness,
as a bridegroom adorns his head like a priest,
and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.
For as the soil makes the sprout come up
and a garden causes seeds to grow,
so the Sovereign LORD will make righteousness and praise
spring up before all nations.


Those who sow in tears
will reap with songs of joy.
He who goes out weeping,
carrying seed to sow,
will return with songs of joy,
carrying sheaves with him.

I also found the following on Cien's space, which helped pick me up out of the dirt a bit:!1pk_vJePRMlchtI6n_7uc4LQ!432.trak

Now you might say I was being rebuked for feeling worn down... but I don't think that's it. It seems really important to God that I don't get downcast at this time. I'm not the only one feeling the pinch either, friends of mine have recently struggled in their own way. With this much negative activity going on, it's only natural for me to consider that something good may be close at hand. After all, the best way of stopping an army attacking is to lay siege to it while it is being strengthened.

It's important to recognise evil agendas deeds and activities for what they are. I would appreciate any prayers of encouragement at this time. Not for myself, but for my church and for the people of God in my area... the town of Alcester, the village of Great Alne and all the surrounding area.

Monday, December 12, 2005

The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe: A Review

I have to say having seen the film... I am in agreement with the majority of reviews... and not with Jonathan Ross.

All the same, this film is not aimed at media critics... it is aimed at children and families, and in it's construction it knows who it has to appeal to.

One charge he levelled against the film, was that it was ambiguous who we - the audience, should be siding with. I cannot see how he came to that conclusion. Mr Ross clearly does not have a proper understanding of how evil works. It's true, the witch does seem fair and kindly at first... but her true nature is revealed when her agenda is endangered. This is always the way of evil, if it showed itself up for what it was... do you not think we'd find it that much more easy to overcome. Evil always veils itself in our desires... that si how it gets us. I'm not insinuating all desires are evil, I'm just saying that we have to pay attention to what is driving them or leading them.

I genuinely jumped out of my skin twice when Maugrim turned up, firstly at the Ice Palace and secondly at Aslan's Camp. Ray Winstone and Dawn French as the beavers were a revelation... and there were some excellent throw away jokes. Edmund draws a pair of spectacles on a stone lioness... when Aslan restores it to life it still has them... because you can see them in the coronation scene. I loved the "Woah horsie" "My name is Philip" gag.

The animation for Aslan and the centaurs was excellent, you don't doubt that is how a half horse half man would move... even in the battle scenes.

I felt the acting was on the whole very good, not brilliant... but very good. I think a little more foreshadowing of who Aslan was before we met him, would have helped the film. Liam Neeson handled the dignity of Aslan excellently, and the moment his sacrifice is made... is truly moving. I was disappointed that the producers dropped the line about knowing Aslan under a different name in our world, but I understand the secular reasons for doing it... and it doesn't detract from the allegory.

I'm fairly confident there will be at least one sequel... public interest in the films is high.... and even if you disclude that, the support the evangelical Church is giving by block booking tickets will encourage investment. Hopefully some of the creases will be ironed out.

For me the books have always been about snapshots from each story... rather than the narrative structure itself. It will be interesting to see how many of the books are covered.

I recommend going to see the film. discover the deeper magic of Aslan for yourself.

He is not a "safe" lion.. but he is GOOD.

A Family Feud

Last night, I clashed swords with my father. Don't worry, it wasn't over anything serious and nobody was permanently injured.

What pray tell was this storm in a teacup all about? It centred around me challenging my father's affection for Dame Shirley Bassey. He was watching the Royal Variety Performance and saying how much he was looking forward to seeing his favourite singer (she has held a plavce in his heart since he was young himself); meanwhile I was suggesting that I preferred Katherine Jenkins... yeah I'm sure some of my reasons are a bit shallow (she is easier on the eye), but her singing voice has a hypnotic effect on me and makes my stomach turn to jelly.
Honestly, what is it with me and my Father and the Welsh?

My mother was on my side, so dad had to justify himself by sulkily declaring "Us pensioners have to stick together!" He then pondered whether or not Dame Shirley got a winter fuels allowance. I don't think she has need for it as he probably has at least one home in a warmer climate.

So who are you with... me or my dad?

You can read more about Katherine Jenkins here, or Dame Shirley - here. Or Watch videos of them both below.

Still on a musical theme... and I have done my bit for local band Nizlopi, in their attempt to bag the Christmas No.1 slot. I've just purchased JCB from HMV. If you were a child in the 80's, I promise you that song will strike at least a few personal chords. It is full of charm... and being acoustically driven it comes as a much needed antidote to a lot of the manufactured nonsense out there... especially the infectiously addictive money spinning Crazy Frog (which is basically just a brainwashing scam to harvest kids pocket money).

My next blog should return to "normal service", as I give you my verdict on The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe... which I will be watching tonight at Stratford-upon-Avon Picturehouse.

Until then



Saturday, December 10, 2005

A Disgraceful Law

I came across a story on the BBC that reported the arrest and trial of a young woman named Maya Anne Evans, over a war protest outside the Cenotaph in London:

All she did was read out the names of British soldiers killed in Iraq, with a friend who read the names of civilians. She was arrested for and convicted of breaching Section 132 of the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act. What this means to you and me... the ordinary punter on the street; is that we can be arrested and tried for any "unauthorised" political activism (hostile or benign) which takes place within half a mile of Westminster, London.

Basically, we now have to apply for permission from the police, to protest against politicians... you know the fools who claim to represent us - who sit on high on their green leather benches in their archaic palace... dictating policies that line their pockets and curb our rights.

The Metropolitan Police lapdogs will seemingly pander to whatever directive the Government gives them. If they are betraying their role as public servants in order to serve a political agenda, then they are guilty of corruption and should be held to account. It is very important that inquiries are held over incidents like the shooting of John Charles De Menezes. Those in authority should expect to be observed far more closely and monitored far more rigorously. Who watches the watchmen?

Ms Evans was guilty of one thing: publicly declaring "Realfacts" ... when all our Government is interested in telling the public is "Goodfacts". In the Age of Information, you can expect more stories like this to become commonplace. If the truth is not convenient you can expect it to be opposed by the powerful.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Lost - John Locke

I was very moved by last night's episode of Lost. I tend to only really appreciate a television series/film/book, if I can relate to one of the characters. Lost is rich in character and I can sympathise/empathise with a number of character's on the show - one of them being the enigmatic John Locke.

No, I haven't spent 4 years in a wheelchair and miraculously walked again, I haven't been adopted, I haven't donated my kidney to my father... and I'm not a survival expert either. Oh and most importantly, I'm not bald!

The things I share with Locke, are my determination to do the things that matter to me no matter who or what tells me I can't achieve or do them; a certain degree of insight; and as was seen in last night's episode - the fact that I devote a lot of energy to doing things for people who I want to mean something to me, even if it costs me dear.

The reason Locke wanted to donate his kidney to his father was simply because he wanted to experience his father's love, which he had been denied through being fostered. His father however was only using him in order to gain possession of Locke's kidney. Locke was so hurt by this that as soon as he found out (shortly after gaining consciousness, he checked himself out of hospital and tried to gain entry at his father's house (you can tell this was immediate because his shirt is bloodstained around the abdomen from his operation).

Similarly, the reason Locke broke down in tears... hammering on the hatch he is obsessed with, is because he had devoted so much time and energy to doing what he believed the island was asking of him... with little or no pay off. In fact at one point, the island seemed to be taking back what it had already given him -the ability to walk.

I really understand what that is about. Time after time I have pumped emotions and resources into helping people as friends... or as potential romantic interests and yet I'm the one left behind. Time after time, I get used... and I'm left yelling "What more must I do? I've done all that was asked of me?!!?!??!" I'm not at that point at the moment, but I could easily be at any given time. The last time I REALLY felt like that, was the incident in August regarding a certain girl, my service to God... and a certain scripture. Last night reminded me of that time, funnily enough there have been a lot of things that have cast my mind back to August.

If you want to know more about what I think of Lost, then check out my earlier blog entry:!1pNhAIRvoni4UOJeNRJpxHVA!1304.entry

If you really want to know what I was on about regarding the August incident, you will find it here:!1pNhAIRvoni4UOJeNRJpxHVA!1253.entry

Hoping this blog finds the people who are reading it... in good spirits.

God bless,


Tuesday, December 06, 2005

St. Nicholas Night

Tonight was St. Nicholas night in Alcester. The local Anglican church is named after St. Nicholas, and a new custom has arisen whereby a young boy is escorted down the High Street dressed as the Saint. There is much mirth... the stores are open late, soup kitchens and a plethora of fast foods are to be found in abundance. Santa gives out goodies to the kids in his grotto. Local bands and school orchestras play music... Morris Men dance in the street... ordinary folk dance in the street!

So who was St. Nicholas? We know him as Santa Claus (it doesn't take a rocket scientist to see how the name translates). You may have caught a programme on TV last year that said a lot about him. He was a bishop... a leader of the early Church who was based in Myra. He was persecuted for his beliefs by the Emperor Diocletian... and locked up in jail (he was... lucky). He eventually escaped and lived to see the Church become legalised. The reason we most associate him with giving gifts and being kind to children, is because of two stories. Nicholas was born to wealthy parents... but as a Christian he decided to use his wealth to help the poor and needy. We are told that he heard of a pauper whose three daughters were engaged to be married... but he couldn't afford the dowry payment to the grooms. Nicholas sneaked round the house at night and lobbed three bags of gold through the window. Another story tells of how he prophetically dreamed of an innkeeper murdering three children. Nicholas found the boys and prayed over them... returning them to life in the name of Jesus.

When I was born I had no name for several days. I am eternally grateful to St. Nicholas because if it hadn't been for the church giving me my name.... I probably would have been called Julian... and I would have been emotionally scarred for life (that name comes in for a lot of stick in these parts).

St. Nicholas Day is 6th December. He is supposed to be patron saint of the following:

against imprisonment; against robberies; against robbers; apothecaries; Apulia, Italy; bakers; Bari, Italy; barrel makers; boatmen; boot blacks; boys; brewers; brides; captives; children; coopers; dock workers; druggists; Duronia, Italy; fishermen; Fossalto, Italy; Greece; Greek Catholic Church in America; Greek Catholic Unionl grooms; judges; lawsuits lost unjustly; Limerick, Ireland; longshoremen; Lorraine; maidens; mariners; merchants; murderers; Naples, Italy; newlyweds; old maids; parish clerks; paupers; pawnbrokers; perfumeries; perfumers; pharmacists; pilgrims; poor people; Portsmouth (English City); prisoners; Russia; sailors; Sassari, Italy; scholars; schoolchildren; shoe shiners; Sicily; spinsters; students; thieves; travellers; University of Paris; unmarried girls; watermen.

If you want to know more about the man... you can read up on him here.

Theologically I don't believe in venerating specific "Saints". All Christians are saints. However, I'm no killjoy and tonight was a lot of fun... it's just important to recognise that in Christ, all are equal.

Hey... I just had a thought. My name is Nicholas... I'm a christian... therefore I'm a saint. I'd better stay off the mince pies because there's a good chance I'll be the next Santa!

I certainly wouldn't mind being the patron saint of unmarried girls!

Monday, December 05, 2005

Update on My Previous Post

In my last entry I told you that I felt slightly bothered that no matter how hard I try, my finances keep getting knocked back to square one (this also seems true of any advances in the area of relationships).

I thought further on this throughout the day and came to several possible conclusions:
That I am being disciplined for my past behaviour in both relationships and finance.
That some kind of oppression/curse is causing problems
Or that God is keeping me in place until the time is right.
I'm more inclined to think the latter, but I think that I need to pray about this... I also would appreciate other people praying.

After I published my last blog, I cam across the following scripture:

"To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong." 2 Corinthians 12:7-10

This would seem to back theory 3. I don't think this will be permanent, in my last blog I mentioned the verse about repaying the year of the locust. That comes just before a prophetic blessing where God promises to pour out his Spirit on all his people. As this relates to a vision that is held for my church, I believe that when the time is right... all the doors will be opened.

Rob thinks that maybe I have been put in this position to stop me gallivanting off into the sunset... chasing down my dreams away from where he wants me.

I have to admit, while I don't mind waiting on him for all my deepest hopes... I would appreciate a deposit in the area of relationships. I just don't feel the church is going to receive these blessings for a few years (though I hope I'm wrong), and that's a long time to be in the relationship desert. I mean it's not like he's just going to go bang and make someone want to marry me on the spot! These things take time. Though I am sitting here and chilling out for now... (it ain't my number one priority) if desire and opportunity come knocking I might not feel inclined to pass it up (it is probably my number 2/3 priority). Does this really mean God is going to scupper any advance I make on any girl?

Think I'm just going to play it by ear. The old joke about the guy trapped on a roof who asked God to save him keeps springing to mind.

Whatever happens, He is good. I'm going to pray on this... I'd appreciate anybody else's too!

Tomorrow I'm going to be a lot lighter, I intend to cover the St. Nicholas Day Parade in Alcester. If you want to come along, drop me a line!

God bless


Blessings in Disguise

In the run up to Christmas, my car has started to play up. I had it booked in for a service at the end of November... and knowing how pricey Christmas can be, I tried to keep as much money in reserve as possible.

When the car came back, I had just enough money to cover it without breaking into December wages. However, while the car was being prepped for the voyage home; it turned out that the master cylinder on the brakes had failed. This added another £115 to the bill, furthermore it transpires I need to have three new tires, a back box to the exhaust... and I still haven't had the cam belt replaced.

Were I feeling miserable or ungrateful I might curse my misfortune, but that would be irrational. If you look at it on the surface, yes it does look bad. Dig a little deeper and you could say I've been blessed. Firstly, yes December is an expensive month, which does make things tight... but by holding money in reserve, I've taken the sting out of it. What is more, How blessed was I that my brake cylinder failed in the workshop? Can you imagine what could have happened if it had gone on the road... in the wintry weather, if I was braking sharply behind an articulated lorry?

Yes, I will have to dedicate a large part of two months wages towards paying for this... but the simple truth is, that it is the right three months for it to happen. Any other time and I would have been stuffed. Besides I've had a little help from the people around me... I cannot complain.

One thing that does bother me though, is that I seem to be being kept at zero. I have debts to pay with regard to my car, which relate to the time when I was in a relationship with a rather dependant girl. I felt I needed my car up and running in order to stand by her properly. So when something nasty happened, I took a loan out. Turned out that God wanted me out of the relationship anyway, so I might as well have burned the money... the whole thing was a white elephant! As it stands, no matter how much I put in to breaking even, something always comes along to swipe me back down again. In several years time, the fixed term loan finishes, hopefully that'll be the end of it. However, it is quite clear that I am being held down though... either because of God's design for my future... or because of a curse that needs breaking through prayer. I honestly don't know which. All I know are the following promises:

"I will repay you for the years the locusts have eaten— the great locust and the young locust, the other locusts and the locust swarm — my great army that I sent among you." Joel 2:25

That verse comes just before the scripture that God laid on the heart of our church for the future... maybe I should be encouraged by this.

"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." Jeremiah 29:11

"No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it" 1 Corinthians 10:13

and finally Jesus promised...

"The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full." John 10:10

I'm not suggesting that life in the full has anything to do with material wealth. All I am stating is that God is looking out for me and has my whole life mapped out. So I have to trust in Him.

So I praise God, not because I'm having it financially rough... but because he's right there with me going through it and enabling me to overcome.

God bless


Saturday, December 03, 2005

Please Put A Penny in Your Politician's Hat

Tis the season of goodwill... this must be why the politicians think we will be happy for them to grant themselves a 15% pay rise. I don't think they deserve it. I also don't think that their job warrants as much pay as they would claim is fair.

They might say the responsibility that comes with their position merits high pay. However, politicians don't just have responsibilities... they also have influence. That one word - influence, has value in terms of remuneration, it is practically a blank cheque. Corporations and businesses know the worth of having a politician on their boards of directors. To have a Member of Parliament lobbying issues that are beneficial to your organisation is very desirable. So a successful politician can expect to be approached by various businesses, all of whom wish to use the power of politics to boost profits. Although from a high moral standpoint, I believe this is wrong... for the purposes of this blog entry, I am looking at it purely in monetary terms. Other wealth generators include the writing of memoirs and guest appearances as speakers at dinner parties. You can also add a healthy tab in the form of expenses.

All of this and yet they abuse their positions terribly. Yesterday for example, a debate was taking place with regard to the definition of Law regarding defending your home against a burglar. One Labour MP was so opposed to the proposal, that he made a speech for three whole hours... just to make sure that the Commons didn't have time to vote on the issue.

That is one man imposing his will on the whole of Parliament. No better than Blair or Thatcher. As some of you know, I am opposed to the use of the Whips and political blackmail to press gang MP's into voting a particular way. Conscience and the will of the constituency should be the only contributing factors in a true democracy.

I have a much better solution. If politicians truly represent the people, then they should be paid according to their electorate. What I mean is that a politicians pay should equate exactly to the mean average pay of people in their constituency. It would never happen, but it would be fair.

Personally I think Parliament should be purged anyway. Although I find Cromwell quite a disturbing historical character and his campaign in Ireland was completely unjustified. I stand by him on one quote... someone should repeat these words in the House of Commons:

'You are no Parliament. I say you are not Parliament. I will put an end to your sitting.'
The ideas and thoughts represented in this page's plain text are unless otherwise stated reserved for the author. Please feel free to copy anything that inspires you, but provide a link to the original author when doing so.
Share your links easily.