Don’t drink the dregs.

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This has been a difficult and confusing year for many, both in the political turmoil and in personal lives. Only the last dregs now remain in the bottle, don’t feel you must mull them over and take in the toxins. Instead, grasp a new bottle of champas, get ready to pop the cork and celebrate new beginnings. A fresh, unsullied, new year, awaits us. Take a good, mouth swilling, swig!

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Thank you, US pastors.

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Our old assistant pastor, while visiting us from the US where she’s doing a training course, told the most amazing story. Apparently, five well-known pastors had gathered to pray for the UK elections. Being the only UK one around she was asked to join them. The intense prayer was accompanied by physical manifestations (those are personal to her and not mine to share) but she was overwhelmed by their concern for the future unity of the UK.

Of course, many of us were praying here also, but this gesture of unity with us touched my heart. Thanks be to God the prayers were answered. Whichever side of the political divide the overwhelming prayer of the people here was for unity to be able to move forward after a year of political chaos. Whatever paths we take as a nation we now have once more a functioning parliament. Thanks for your part in that guys!

Light a Christmas Candle.

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It hasn’t felt like Christmas. There have been glimmers here and there, in the smiles and hugs of friends, in the Christmas messages, but somehow each year it dwindles as the Christmas child stands neglected by all but a few.

Even on TV there used to be several nativity movies to choose from at Christmas, but even Netflix and Amazon Prime had none. There are no carollers on our doorsteps (they’ve switched to Halloween) and TV has long replaced family carols around the piano. I sometimes feel I’m searching here and there, under this or behind that for Christmas. I look back in nostalgia to long ago Christmases when it was cold and presents lay at the end of the bed so we could stay warm opening them till dad went to build up the coal fire. When dads got ties or socks and kids were often disappointed on opening presents to find hand-knitted sweaters of questionable taste. When money was short, and joys were simple, and the tree candles could be lit only for a few minutes due to the fire risk. When the table was heavy oak handed down from mother to daughter and we actually enjoyed the jokes and paper hats and were jolly without needing to resort to more than a glass of port or sherry.

No good to look back, those days are past, along with the simplicity of childhood. No, better to look forward, to light a candle, that by it the Christ child’s face can yet be seen. For light is seen better in darkness. Rather than to seek a flame to warm our hearts, rather be that flame, be a warm, cosy fire to warm others and be warmed in return. Do not seek Christmas but live it, only in this shall we find the Christ child.

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A well good christmas!

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Best family Christmas service I’ve seen, especially since we’ve been without a pastor for almost a year!

It began with the “host’s” three-year-old son singing “Happy birthday Jesus” to celebrate Jesus birthday party -so cute! Followed by a boy I’d not seen before, wheeling in a giant birthday cake (to be shared after the service) complete with candles for the little ones to come blow out. There were nativity costumes among the congregation, many of which were invited to enter into an enactment of the delightful children’s book “A Well Good Christmas”.

We discovered the labels we found on our seats (shepherd, wiseman etc.) were to enable us all to join in waves of standing for the adaption of the 12 days of Christmas. Best of all though were the new faces of families coming to join in for the first time!

contagious giving

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I heard of some lovely things happening yesterday at a small, local Christian school.

1)The first to give, a traveller family who’s children were attending donated a big Christmas tree, but as school broke up it needed a home.

2) One of the pupils had recently lost his father to an unsuspected medical problem and it was discovered his mum had been too busy and upset to think about a tree etc. so the school decided to give them the tree – adding all the lights and decorations.

3) As it was a large tree there was a problem getting it there, till one of the school families offered the use of their truck.

4) The mum being busy, the school caretaker offered to come along and set it up and help with the decor.

All this was on top of their planned Christmas good deeds – inviting lonely old folks in for carols and a Christmas dinner, and distributing gifts to needy families. God bless them in their giving.

Speak it into being.

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God said, not made. This often-overlooked detail of Genesis is of earthshattering importance. Throughout mankind those that would help others, change the world, improve their life or heath etc. focus on the doing, the works. There is nothing wrong in this, it’s good, proactive, but because of this, we tend to overlook the incredible power of speech.

Ever noticed with those that continually gripe and grown, prophesying worse to come, life tends to meet their expectations? Similarly, the sunny souls who seldom speak of their troubles and ailments tend to fare far better.

There is a reason for that over and above our perceptions. This is particularly true for Christians. The God that spoke creation into being dwells within us and our words have His same power. That is how and why miracles and healings happen. Like God, we have the power to speak things into being. Waking this dormant power within us takes faith and, faith for healing for example, more often begins with healing a cut finger or headache than curing cancer or aids. Like a muscle, it must be exercised in small things first, but even for non-believers, words work to a degree, which is why these self-help techniques can be so effective.

The modern trend in literature and media is for “realism”, happy endings are frowned upon as unrealistic. I’m happy to say that has not been my experience of life, (and believe me, my life has been very adventurous, often dangerous, and if I were to go by the “reality” the world promotes I should be dead or at least destitute lol!) Instead I seem to lead a charmed life. I’ve been challenged about this before, why, though we have our share of troubles etc. our family eventually come out “without even the smell of smoke” in fact better than before. I would say it was due to Rom. 8:28 (if you don’t know it look it up, it’s one of the best verses to claim!)

So if life is not treating you well, speak change, speak health, provision, love, a relationship, whatever you are lacking, into being. Think of it like building a wall or dwelling each positive statement of faith, each verse claimed, each promise proclaimed is like a brick you set in place. Sometimes the enemy will come in and try to tear down your wall, especially in the beginning, but your word is stronger than his because you have God’s power inside you. Don’t run scared, speak his attacks into oblivion, wield the promises of God aloud and unrelentingly till he is forced to give up and leave. He cannot stand the word, nor can anything evil in this world.

A lost art?

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“Work is not always required of a man. There is such a thing as sacred idleness, the cultivation of which is now fearfully neglected.” George Macdonald 1824 – 1905)

I wonder what he would think of modern society?

I notice it most on my walks when, awestruck, I stand and gaze enthralled at some spectacular aspect, the light through the trees, reflections in the water, tall, pale grasses against the sky, vibrant autumn leaves, dewdrops on a web. On and on my list goes, without limit, any time, any weather, such wonders lie about us if we will only stop and ponder. I watch others, blinkered, pass them by. Joggers, minds set on goal fulfilments, earphones crowding out the sounds of nature, women endlessly chatting, engrossed with each other, couples whose eyes turn upon each other. Only dog walkers pause to look sometimes, trapped by their canine associates, whose world revolves on scents and smells.

We rush to accomplish and neglect to be.

lessons from a teapot.

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  1. It’s what’s inside that counts.
  2. To be about to carry “hot stuff” you must have endured the heat of the kiln.
  3. If the spout is blocked no matter how good the tea, no one gets to taste it.
  4. Don’t judge the tea by the pot that contains it.
  5. You don’t need to be pretty, new, expensive or something special to be of use.
  6. Even with a few chips and worn pattern you can bring refreshment to people.
  7. Being of familiar use every day trumps special glorious accomplishments.

“We have this treasure in earthern vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God and not of us.” (2nd Cor 4:7)

I love that word “earthern”. Having studied pottery I understand just what that clay went through to become a pot – the slamming and cutting of the wedging process, the intimate touch of the potters hand, being “abandoned” pushed into the fiery kiln etc. Something of the earth, taken from the earth, shaped by the potter’s hand to become a vessel to hold the living spirit of God. Earthern vessels hold no glory of their own but into the vacume formed within God pours His lifegiving spirit, which, like the tea, we share with others. The simple, teapot, at home with friends, family and neighbours pouring forth comfort and refreshing.

Things I love about winter.

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  1. First has to be the sunrises! It rises later so I shuffle sleepily along to open the balcony blinds and stop awestruck, suddenly awake to the beauty of creation.
  2. Toasting my back against warm radiators mmmm nothing like it!
  3. White vistas, whether snow or frost, white light and sparkling edges against pale blue skies.
  4. Changing wardrobes to cuddly sweaters, hats and gloves.
  5. A change of foods – pies, soups and stews suddenly become attractive.
  6. Hot chocolate after a long walk in the cold.
  7. Last but not least snuggling into my comfy warm duvet on a cold night.