Learning The Ropes

The ship is a Norwegian Training Vessel, berthed in the Orkneys, this summer. This is the way  of life, first Summer then Autumn and then the heavy, stormy seas of winter – when the discipline and training gained over many seasons stand us in good stead. As it is with sailors at sea so it is with Christian voyagers.

In Acts 27, we learn of a shipwreck in stormy seas, despite advice  from the Apostle Paul, the centurion in charge paid more attention to the pilot and the owner of the ship and the majority and set sail from “Fair Havens” taking a chance that they would reach “Phoenix” a harbour of  Crete, where they would spend the winter.   Now, when the gentle South Wind blew, they thought they had it made and weighing anchor they sailed along Crete close to the shore and then the tempestuous wind called Eurakylon bore down on them from the land….

“And when the ship was caught and could not face the wind, we gave way to it and were driven along….”  {Acts 27, 15}

I have always loved this story, yes the ship, it’s cargo are lost but by the grace of God, not a single life and the Gospel is proclaimed in  Malta. One thing I notice is that when Paul goes to the centurion a second time, as the sailors were about to escape in the ship’s boat, leaving everybody else to the mercies of the sea, this time, Paul’s warning was heard, and the ship’s boat cut away and the sailors, whose experience was necessary to save the lives of all, stayed on board.

It seems to me that a Christian’s. northeaster is the ferocious wind that hurls itself at us from the world, the majority opinions whose strength is manifestly greed, selfishness, blind ambition; the determination to get at all costs but first the gentle south wind blows, this is soft persuasion, gentle invitation,  even a plea, to “come and join us” …. a good sailor never sleeps on watch!

So how do we get wised up, where do we learn what we need to know to avoid getting caught up in the wind in the first place?

Paul, advises Timothy (1 Timothy 4:6) and we too should be good servants, trained in the words of the faith and of the good doctrine handed down to us.

Who handed it down to us?

The answer has to be those who came before us, who taught simply using words that everyone can understand, the ways and rules of right conduct, the things which the Lord teaches, even today, through the Spirit of Truth and Wisdom:

“Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.” (Prob. 22:6)

Keep your ship afloat. Heed the advice and counsel, the words of your parents, teachers, pastors, the words of Holy Scripture and reach harbour safely.

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As an apple tree

As an apple tree among the trees of the forest,
so is my beloved among the young men
With great delight I sat in his shadow,
and his fruit was sweet to my taste.
(Song of Songs 2:2)

I didn’t choose my apple tree, He chose me.

I am firmly persuaded that; God’s love always takes the initiative that ours is always a response to His love.

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We love because He first loved us.” (1John 4:10)

I cannot refuse to return His love, anymore than I can refuse an apple from His basket.

“I do not ask you to think a great deal, but to love a great deal.” (Charles de Foucauld

Sometimes, recalling my girlhood days. I find myself singing,

He is not a disappointment!
Jesus is far more to me
Than in all my glowing day-dreams
I had fancied He could be;
And the more I get to know Him,
So the more I find Him true,
And the more I long that others,
Should be led to know Him too.

He is not a disappointment!
He is all in all to me-
Saviour, Sanctifier, Healer;
The unchanging Christ is He!
He has won my heart’s affections,
And He meets my every need;
He is not a disappointment,
For He satisfies indeed.
(Mary Warburton Booth)

The love of the young soul is wonderful it’s like the blossom of springtime, but the love that’s grown and matured, well that is the sweet fruit of the apple tree.

May God bless you and me under the apple tree.

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Tamed Garden versus Wild Wood

The garden has its seasons. Many autumns ago, the Briar Rose was planted. A bare root; so bare I wondered if it would survive the frosts, ice and snow of winter.

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But it did producing that first spring time its small white flowers and delicate perfume and then as summer progressed Rose Hips to provide food for my friends the birds and for me colour on a grey, wintry day, the stems of my Briar Rose stay vividly green throughout winter

So, with the garden of my soul, I want to choose well what I sow and plant, to ensure I produce good fruit in all seasons:

Love, Joy, Peace, Forbearance, kindness, goodness,
Faithfulness, Gentleness and Self-control
(Galatians 5:22 N.I.V)

But, you know what, as with my garden, the weeds and wild things get in, they blow in on the wind, under the fence, over the fence, by every means fair and foul, from the wild wood surrounding my soul garden, they leave me no choice, these things which I didn’t want but to set to with tools called watchfulness and prayer. Life in the wild wood called the world, is wild, rough, tough, dangerous and threatening to my soul’s garden, yet sometimes, just sometimes I feel sorry for the wild wood because it is in need of of the Forester’s care and attention and perhaps, just perhaps mine?

How can the wild wood, the wild things of our wonderful, exciting times be changed?

Saviour Christ,
In whose way of love
Lies the secret
Of all life,
And the hope of all people,
We pray for quiet courage to match
This hour.
We did not choose to be born
Or to
Live in such an age:
But let its problems challenge us,
It’s discoveries exhilarate us,
Its injustices anger us,
Its possibilities inspire us
And its vigour renew us
For your kingdom’s sake.
Amen

(Prayer from a prayer card created for the Lambeth Conference 1998)

And Jesus said:
“Behold, I have given you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall hurt you”
(Luke 10:19)

The Thief Who Stole My Heart Away

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Why did it have to be a friend
Who chose to betray the Lord?
And why did He use a kiss to show them
That’s not what a kiss is for?
Only a friend can betray a friend,
A stranger has nothing to gain,
And only a friend comes close enough
To ever cause so much pain.

And why did there have to be a
Thorny crown pressed upon His head?
It should have been a royal one,
Made of jewels and gold instead.
It had to be a crown of thorns
Because in this life that we live,
For all who would seek to love
A thorn is all this world has to give.

And why did it have to be
A heavy cross He was made to beat?
And why did they nail His feet and hands?
His love would have held Him there.
It was on a cross, for on a cross
A thief was supposed to pay,
And Jesus had come into this world
To steal every heart away.
Yes Jesus had come into this world
To steal every heart away.
(Michael Cord)

Jesus said,

“My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. I and my Father are one.”
(John14: 27-30)

So. I guess, this it is true,my Holy Thief and His Father had the job planned a long time.

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before Him in love.”
(Ephesians 1: 3-4) ESV

Shared with in love and gratitude by a stolen, Holy artefact.

Early will I seek you

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O Lord,
Open our eyes to your Presence
Open our minds to your grace
Open our lips to your praises
Open our hearts to your love
Open our lives to your healing
And be found among us.
(David Adam)

Shared
Because it is lovely to know the Lord is there at our side, even before we open our eyes on a Monday morning, or any other day of the week, because every day we need His grace…

From my quiet corner to yours…peace.

The Ocean Less Explored

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You must go and find out.
You must go and discover whether there is anything
In that world for you.
Promise me that you will go.
(Andrew Harvey, A Journey in Ladakh

The name, ‘Tides and Tidings’ was born from the pages within a journal
Like so many, from the beginning of my adventure with God, I have kept a simple diary, keeping safe the many blessings, memories of things done and said together. Ah yes, a simple soul and the Lord
do and say things together. Like faithful marriage partners of many years we have been together a long, long, time the Lord and I. Looking back through the years, reading in my journals, I have at times been, to say the least, not the best of ‘partners’ often misunderstanding, often downright petulant and quarrelsome. Yet, my most patient of Teachers has persevered and perseveres, always giving, always loving, always waiting for me to catch up with Him. He leads, I follow.

‘Rule a wide margin’ He said.

And within that wide margin are recorded all the fresh new insights given, over the years, when praying … a wide margin, full of faithful, patient guidance, words of encouragement, love.

Years before the first issue of ‘Tides and Tidings’ I was pondering over these words, from Pilgrim and Dom Helder Camara

When your ship,
Being moored in harbour,
Gives the illusion of being a house,
When your ship begins to put down roots
In the stagnant water by the Quay,
Put out to sea!
Save your boat’s journeying soul
And your own pilgrim soul,
Cost what it may

And, I realised that I was called to sail the Ocean Less Explored, an Ocean known to many as prayer, I am still sailing, still discovering.

Did the Lord say, “Promise me you will go”

Well not quite, He said, “Promise me, we will go together.”

May the Lord bless all your ‘comings in and going out’

Pastoral Letter: May 2017

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Where were you when you heard the news?

I was having coffee in a Motorway Service Station, when several people said, ‘there is going to be an election!’ At first I was as little suspicious, but then it was confirmed, having voted for a new Mayor in May, we will all be going back on June 8th, to have our say in who should govern our country.
If ‘Brenda of Bristol’ is to be believed then many people won’t bother – having had enough of politics – thank you very much. But I think that is a dis-service to all who gave their lives just so we could live our lives in a free society, and exercise choice and abide what the majority choose, respecting those whose views differ from our own.
Where I was a curate, the Vicar made a point of praying for each of the main political parties when the turn for their conference came; recognising the good intentions and sincerity of different views. We should pray for all in politics.
We could be cynical, and think our individual vote makes very little difference; sometimes though, it’s the small actions in life which do have an effect, if, we are patient enough to wait. A kind gesture an offer of support, these are the small things that often-separate Christians out, the way they treat others.
So, what should Christians care about over the next two months?
First, we should see through personal attacks on politicians. We may not like their politics, but that’s no excuse to demean them, digging up past mistakes, failures, or their personal appearance. That’s bullying and it is wrong.
Second, I think we must look beyond what will benefit us personally, to what will be the greater good.
• How can scarce resources be used for maximum effect?
• What laws will give people dignity, worth, security and hope?
• Not just in times of plenty, but in life’s lean years, in periods of austerity?

Third, we must be vigilant seeing through promises, impossible targets, and downright dishonesty to uncover true intentions. To say one thing. then do another does not give you credibility and respect; the electorate are not stupid. ‘Fake news’ is the modern way of describing it; I call it something else
Realistically, most of us are creatures of habit, and probably don’t give a great deal of thought to whom we vote for, looking at the party more than the person. No single party can claim the endorsement of Christians, and we shall differ where we put our X on June 8th.
Whatever the outcome, it is the Bible’s belief that all authority, finally comes not just from the ballot box, but from God. Those who emerge as victors bear a huge responsibility, for they will answer to God for their actions, choices, mistakes. As shall we all.
Pray, please, for this moment in our nation’s life; for a fair and honest campaign, truthful statements, intentions, and for humility rather than arrogance in those who seek our support.
Best wishes, Ian

[The inaugural West Midlands mayoral election was held on 4 May 2017 to elect the Mayor of the West Midland The election was won by Conservative Andy Street.]

When cleaning a church…

Here are couple of new faces I came across when cleaning church this week.

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He is Big Spender this one, I am sure of it, and this …

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…..this is his honey, waiting, all starry eyed ….

for him to pop the question this coming May Day at the Scarecrow Wedding of the year.

We are eagerly awaiting the arrival of some of the country’s best dressed scarecrow guests for this event organised by Joyce Walker, and husband Dave. It is a free to come and all scarecrows and friends are welcome. This event launches a new initiative to care for Rowley’s oldest Churchyard and to ensure a peaceful, restful place for young and old to enjoy in future years.

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And this is just what a weary cleaner needed. Arranged by Carole Annetts in a big, basketwork cup and saucer.

A cup of sunshine

Happy holiday weekend to all

Basin and Towel

I was dreaming that I was treading the streets of the Holy City,pottering about like a tourist. In my wandering I came upon the museum of that city of our dream. I went in, and a courteous attendant conducted me round. There was some old armour there, much bruised with battle. Many things were conspicuous by their absence. I saw nothing of Alexander’s, nor of Napoleon’s. There was no Pope’s ring, nor even the ink-bottle that Luther is said to have thrown at the devil, nor Wesley’s seal and keys. I saw a widows mite and the feather of a little bird. I saw some swaddling clothes, a hammer and three nails, and a few thorns. I saw a bit of a fishing net and the broken oar of a boat. I saw a sponge that had once been dipped in vinegar, and a small piece of silver. But I cannot enumerate all I saw, nor describe all I felt, whilst I was turning over a common drinking cup which had a very honourable place, I whispered to the attendant, ‘Have you got a towel and basin among your collection?’ ‘No,’ he said, ‘not here, you see they are in constant use.’ Then I knew I was in Heaven, in the Holy City, and amid the redeemed society.

Knowing that He came from God and went to God

Jesus took a towel and basin.

(A.E.Whitham)

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Only those whose sins are forgiven can really appreciate the beauty of a simple towel and basin.

The Lord Jesus didn’t just talk about loving; He loved.
Lovely thought, in Heaven the towel and basin are in constant use.
Lovely thought the Kingdom of Heaven is right here on earth, and we see it, know it in every kind deed done to another, and most especially

When brothers and sisters forgive as we have been forgiven.