Saturday, July 7, 2012

Storm Warnings

I woke up early this morning to rumblings of thunder off in the distance.

Unable to get back to sleep I headed downstairs and drew back the living room window curtains.

You know, it's interesting, living in this day and age.

So much heartache all around us. One friend was agonizing recently over all the people around her who are dying of cancer - and so very young.

Crazy weather patterns, violent storms, hurricanes, tornadoes in places where they've never been seen before. Floods, stifling heatwaves, massive fires encroaching on cities.

And it's interesting the language being used to describe them:

epic, historic, unheard-of, of biblical proportions, record-breaking etc., etc.,

What I saw from my living room window reminded me of those words. I have honestly never seen clouds like this before, and moving at such a rapid pace. It was calm outside, barely a breeze, no rain, no lightning...just those ominous rumbles overhead. Somebody, somewhere, was about to get a major storm. There was severe thunderstorm watch being called for "cottage country" - north-east of the city.

I also just heard that there are over 200 flood warnings due to heavy rains forecasted in the UK today.
Thinking of, and praying for, my family and friends there.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Alpha - Questions of Life

When facilitators are trained to run small groups in the Alpha Course, because Alpha is all about questions,  they are told that an Alpha guest can ask any question he/she wants to.  "No question is too simple; no question is too hostile."   This video (below) is used for some humour in Alpha training, to over-emphasize and prepare the new facilitator for the kind of questions he or she may face, and how to (or not to!) respond to them.

I guess because I am British, I think this video is hilarious -- perhaps you have to be British to appreciate the sense of humour, which is nearly always over-the-top!  But having facilitated Alpha courses for a number of years now, I think it's a great example of the kind of questions we often do face...albeit, again, over-emphasized, for fun.

Of course, the facilitator needs more than the patience of Job. One needs the Spirit of God to be able to respond in a non-confrontational way: "Yes, well, that's an interesting thought. What do YOU think, Joe?"  The premise being that the guest finds Alpha to be a non-threatening place to be able to ask questions, without being preached at, or 'beaten over the head with a Bible'  and will continue to attend Alpha each week, hearing the gospel being taught through the DVD during the course of an evening.

To watch the Holy Spirit at work in a person's life each week, through the Word of God on the Alpha video, and in the discussion groups, is awesome. And as I look around church on a Sunday morning seeing all those who have given their lives to Jesus through Alpha, and who have now found a niche for themselves in the 'community' of our church, I am blessed! Most of them are now fellowshipping and learning in other small groups; some are leading small groups themselves, others are ushers, greeters, on the prayer team etc., and many return to Alpha as facilitators and helpers. 

Have YOU ever been a part of Alpha?

Saturday, December 19, 2009

“Is not this the carpenter,
the Son of Mary?”
 (Mark 6:3)

An unusual Christmas text, perhaps, but it’s a theme that sticks with me…this thought of Jesus as a carpenter.

Jesus – learning His craft from Joseph – how to measure, hammer, nail, plane, saw and sand, how to use the right tools to produce the perfect effect, knowing just when to stop, lest He mar His work of art. No doubt He was skillful at His occupation, one who could be trusted to create a masterpiece.

No wonder Paul, years later, should remind us that “…we are His workmanship…” (Ephesians 2:10). I love that!  He is the one who is making us, shaping us, molding us – and He knows exactly which tools to use, when to stop and start, and how much pressure to exert, in order to create a masterpiece.

He is skilled at His occupation!

So I am asking myself, at the end of this year, and especially as heaven gets a little closer by virtue of age – am I squirming under the hammer, wriggling away from sandpaper, enduring the painful nails and the seemingly endless buffing? Am I complaining that He doesn’t really know what He’s doing?

Or am I submitting (as graciously as possible!) to the process, to become that work of art He has designed me to be?

I am trying to keep my eyes on eternity, since that's what this preparation is all about. Hope you are too.

I do pray that your Christmas celebration of our Saviour will be filled with a tangible sense of His presence, and that the New Year, in spite of the heartache and devastation so prevalent around us, will find you with your eyes firmly fixed on Jesus, and your heart resting in Him – the author and finisher of your faith.

He is an awesome carpenter!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

The Mystery of the Incarnation

This was written by Saint Augustine of Hippo fifteen centuries ago:

Maker of the sun,
He is made under the sun

In the Father He remains,
From His mother He goes forth.

Creator of heaven and earth,
He was born on earth under heaven.

Unspeakably wise,
He is wisely speechless.

Filling the world,
He lies in a manger.

Ruler of the stars,
He nurses at His mother's bosom.

He is both great in the nature of God.
and small in the form of a servant.

and, surprisingly, this was penned by
Mohandas Karamchand Ghandi

I have never been able to reconcile myself to the gaieties of the Christmas season. They have appeared to me to be so inconsistent with the life and teaching of Jesus.

How I wish America could lead the way by devoting the season to a real moral stocktaking and emphasizing consecration to the service of mankind for which Jesus lived and died on the cross.

Finally, I don't know who to credit for this, but it is a wise saying:

The manger lies in the shadow of the cross

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Smart Farmer and Wise Words

A farmer bought an new car after spending a lot of time pricing them.

By coincidence, a few days later, the dealer who sold him the car appeared at the farm and said he would like to buy a cow for his small country place.

The farmer quickly wrote the following and handed it to the dealer:

Basic Cow: $200

Extra Stomach: $75.00

Two-tone exterior: $45.00

Produce Storage compartment: $60.00

Dispensing device -

four spigots at $10.00 each: $40.00

Genuine cowhide upholstery: $125.00

Automatic fly swatter: $35:00

Dual horns: $15:00

Plus Tax and delivery: $595.00

Total charge: $1,190.00

(author unknown)


It can buy an education, but not wisdom.

It can buy a house, but not a home.

it can buy a bed, but not sleep.

It can buy food, but not an appetite.

It can medicine, but not health.

It can buy finery, but not beauty.

it can buy amusements, but not happiness.

It can buy gifts, but not love.

It can buy employees, but not loyalty.

It can buy attention, but not respect.

It can buy a fine funeral, but not eternal life.

It can buy a lot of earth, but none of heaven.

It can buy some people, but not God

(author unknown)

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Life is...?

I've been reading a lot of Mother Teresa's writing recently. I purchased a copy of Mother Teresa: No Greater Love at a second-hand bookshop, and although I didn't expect to, I love this book. I am only part way through it and already have so much underlined. The text above came from a greeting card I received for my birthday. If you'd like to read something a little deeper, from her book, you can find it at my other blog here

And this is from the back cover:

What we need is to love without getting tired.
How does a lamp burn?
Through the continuous input of small drops of oil.
What are these drops of oil in our lamps?
They are the small things of daily life:
small words of kindness
a thought for others
our way of being silent
of looking
of speaking
and of acting.
Do not look for Jesus away from yourselves.
He is not out there;
He is in you.
Keep your lamp burning,
and you will recognize Him.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

A Lost Art

The other day I was about to walk out of the bank, just as a man was approaching the door from the other side. I hesitated to open the heavy, glass door, hoping he would open it for me. But, no! He waited for me to open it for him! Well, I was in a hurry, so I did. He walked through and headed for the teller without even so much as a 'thank you'!

Now, not to mention that I am a woman, and I have also just officially become a 'senior,' and that under those circumstances he (a much younger man) should have opened the door for me -- it reminded me that saying 'thank you' is becoming a lost art.

Do you remember when sales clerks would thank the customer for their purchases? Not any more. When I walk out of the supermarket, I say "Thank-you" even though I pack my own grocery bags! But I don't very often even get a "You're welcome!"

The only time the bank thanks me these days, is in a preface to a letter encouraging me to go further into debt by taking advantage of great interest rates!

It was a pleasant surprise when my daughter and I had a meal at Kelsey's recently, and the young waiter gave us a hand-written note along with the bill saying, "It was great to have you with us at Kelsey's this evening!" but suspicious me was pretty sure that all the waiters/waitresses probably did the same thing with each of their customers....and was it a timely ploy to solicit a more profitable gratuity?

I raised my children with manners. They were always taught to "...mind your Ps and Qs" -- ("PleaSe" and "thank-Q"). It's a lesson that sticks. It may be habit, but it's a good habit! Saying "thanks" is such a little thing, but it makes the giver look good and the receiver feel good.

Here are a few tips on how to say "thank you":

Be sincere: don't make saying "thank you" sound routine - say it with heartfelt feeling.

Don't mumble: don't act as if you are ashamed of the phrase. This only serves to cheapen its value.

Thank people by name: if there are several people to be thanked, don't just say, "Thanks, everybody." Name each one of them.

Thank people when they least expect it: a thank you is even more powerful when the other person doesn't expect it. It's among life's most pleasurable surprises.

Find a way of saying "thank you" without using words: the gesture doesn't have to be large or expensive to be noticed.

There are so many other ways of showing gratitude to someone: a kindly worded note or card, a little gift, a phone call, an e-card, a favour in return, a certificate of appreciation for work well done, flowers - chocolates!

I'm grateful that my children are teaching their children to mind their Ps and Qs -- and grandma will always be there to reinforce the lesson.

...for reading my blog today!