Saturday, December 10, 2016

Are we there yet?

Are we there yet?

Most folk who have driven over long distances in either the UK or the nearby European mainland,with children in the back, will be all too well acquainted with this question. "Are we there yet?" In fact, over a long journey, it could drive you crazy if you let it! Repeated queries as to when something big or exciting is going to happen is a very human thing, but it’s also child-like. God calls us to live as His children, and there is room in our relationship with God for excitement, anticipation and hope. The Bible tells us that God Himself is a “God of Hope” (Romans 15:13) so He invented the idea of expectant joy.

The word “enthusiasm” derives from the Latin term meaning “having a god within”. Well, that’s what Christmas is all about isn’t it? God coming to us in the form of a little child. Not "a god" but "the God" in astounding vulnerability and humility. Jesus was God’s perfect gift chosen with just you and me in mind. Mind you – as with all gifts – we need to receive it with gratitude. Then, if it’s electric, we must switch it on. Not much point just being all excited but not receiving and using the gift, is there?

Christmas Day is coming and the whole Western world seems to be champing at the bit for it to arrive. When it does come, though, the day will be over quite quickly, but the process of opening and receiving God's amazing gift can take a lifetime. Joseph was told by the angel "Mary will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins."

Are we there yet? Well, very nearly!  

Friday, November 25, 2016

"Carpe Diem" means taking life in small steps.

Life is best taken in small chunks. One day at a time may have been a great song title, but it's not the whole story. In reality one step at a time may be nearer to the mark, and a far greater challenge. "Carpe Diem" literally means "pluck the day" but is best translated as "seize the moment". Yesterday is gone, never to be repeated. Tomorrow may never be ours to enjoy. So seize the moment and live in it to the full. A young father and husband I know lies desperately ill in the Intensive Care Unit, his life in the balance. Each heartbeat is precious. Every breath to be treasured as a gift. I pray daily for his recovery.

This can, of course, work in two different ways. One may lead to a profligate lifestyle, saying "ah well, blow the future, I'm just going to enjoy myself today". But the Bible tells us to number our days and be careful how we spend them, always seeking the kingdom of God and his righteousness. It also shows us that our lives are like a tale that has been told, just a breath on a windy day. We need to make every moment count.

I took a small step forward this week in that the results of a liver biopsy show that the state of my liver should not adversely affect the chances of a successful main operation to remove my pancreas etc and transplant part of it into my liver. It is so hard to wait for the next step. Every time the phone rings I jump thinking it might be the Professor or his secretary. I find a day to be quite a long time when you are waiting for answered prayer. It stretches out interminably, especially when pain or other symptom prevents much activity. Learning to be grateful for the small step taken this week, and then trust God for the next one is the challenge facing me today, and possibly you too.

Monday, October 31, 2016

Angel of the North

We leave tomorrow for yet another trip to the north of the UK for medical help. Getting there involves two flights to cover the 450 miles or so. The stop-over means a journey time of around three to four hours if there are no delays. I will be admitted onto the liver transplant ward at the Freeman Hospital for a liver biopsy to be taken on Thursday morning. This is one of the most prestigious units in the country for anything to do with the liver, pancreas etc. At the top of the nearby old main road to the area stands the Angel of the North statue, a contemporary sculpture, designed by Antony Gormley.

Completed in 1998, it's a steel sculpture 20 metres (66 ft) tall, with wings measuring 54 metres (177 ft) across. The wings do not stand straight sideways, but are angled 3.5 degrees forward; Gormley did this to create "a sense of embrace".

As I continue along the road that will lead, hopefully, to a new start for me, I am not particularly impressed with modern art, but I am distinctly aware of a sense of embrace. Firstly, Diane will be with me. The BBC have been doing some research recently into what constitutes beauty.  Well they can stop right there, because I am embraced by one of the most loyal, kind, selfless and caring of people I know, whose smile can light up a whole hospital ward! Then we are supported by the prayers of so many. Yet the greatest reassurance comes from that which is described by the hymn writer as "the love that will not let me go".  Now that is some embrace.




Friday, October 28, 2016

News has just reached us of the passing into heaven of a dear friend and fervent evangelist, Peter Jackson. Peter was in our home not many months ago when he made one of his frequent visits to Guernsey. Peter was totally blind from infancy but his gift at playing the piano was superb and deeply moving. Listen to Peter's dynamic playing behind the spoken intro to a DVD of his life and ministry, and then the very thrilling crescendo - speaking of heaven the lyrics ask "Is this the crowning day?" Well, for Peter it is, and may his amazing life's story move each of us to be ready likewise for our own call into eternity. I have been able to order this DVD from Christian Faith Ministries at http://www.cfmscotland.com/acatalog/All.html

Saturday, October 08, 2016

Simply the Best


I was sipping tea, still in bed, waiting for the 8am news to come on my local radio station. Out of my tiny radio came the glorious chant of Tina Turner singing "Simply the Best". Wow, I always love the refrain of that song, if not all the lyrics. Then came the news and within seconds I was in despair for the world in which we live. One of the presidential candidates hoping to be elected to become 'the leader of the free world' as some describe the office, Donald Trump, has exceeded all the dismal things he is alleged to have done. I listened to a scandalous and disgraceful recording, which he has now said was a true record of what he felt about women in 2005 and for which he has apologised. The other candidate, of course, Hilary Clinton, will be delighted with this piece of dirt-digging by her team and is crowing her horror, whist overlooking claims that allege that she should be in jail and not on the presidential trail for her past wrongdoings.

This came on top of another story which reported that two leaders of a growing and well-supported political party in the UK were reduced to a bout of physically slugging it out at the European parliament. This unseemly joust ended with one of the MEP's in hospital - the one offering himself as leader of the party!  Is there anybody worthy of being followed any more? Are the two US presidential candidates 'simply the best' available in the USA? Does UKIP have a future in government if its leaders behave this way?

I mentioned the lyrics in Tina Turner's famous song, as some fail to charm me, but I am very taken with these lines "You're simply the best, better than all the rest, better than anyone, anyone I ever met.' For me, these words speak of Jesus Christ, the one I follow without fear of being disillusioned. There was not one ounce of corruption in him that his enemies could point out, however deeply they dug. The record of his life, penned by a man who watched him closely for at least 3 years night and day, was that he - Jesus - was without sin (1 Peter 2:22).

Now that's simply the best and he gets my vote! But we need to pray for America and Europe in their leadership famine, and ask God to raise up leaders worthy of respect.

Friday, September 23, 2016

Some Action at Last!

We are so grateful for the praying and caring of so many dear friends and supporters. Many of you have been aware that I have been waiting for a long time now to hear about a treatment plan that involves a very major operation including an element of transplantation. We have been to Newcastle three times in the last year and most recently went for scans and tests. Anyway, we had a really helpful conversation today with the Professor who leads the team and he is really hopeful they will be able to operate before Christmas.  I know we have been at that point before when we actually came within a fortnight of an op-date, 23rd June, when it was cancelled because of concerns about safety in the light of how very ill I had been over Easter etc. This time, the delay is because there are question marks over whether my liver will be well enough to sustain the Islets of Langerhan (that control insulin) once they have been recovered from the removed pancreas, as they plan to transplant them into the liver.

So, we have to go back to Newcastle once again quite soon for liver tests (Diane always comes with me as I don't think I would make the trip without her help, and I certainly could not face anything traumatic without her at my side). Sincere thanks to those of you who have helped us on all these trips in all kinds of ways, not least of all, prayer and intercession.  We are still holding on to our promise text from 1 Peter 5:10 "After you have suffered a little while our God, who is full of kindness through Christ.. will personally come and pick you up.. and make you stronger than ever". We feel that is what God has said to us and it is the basis of our confidence, because the promises of God are "Yes" and "Amen" to those who trust him. I know that may appear naive to some, but it has sustained us through some very low times as I set out in my first book "Braving the Storm" which is still available from me or Amazon if you have not read it yet.

Thursday, September 01, 2016

When Waiting is the Hardest thing to do.

Just about everything in the old prophet's life had let him down. 'Habakkuk' is a tough name to be landed with anyway (imagine how that would have gone down when you were at school!) but the passing of the years had not been kind to him. Surveying all his assets one morning and recognising the reality of his loss, he penned words that have given generations to follow a language to express their pain, their determination and hope.

 He wrote: "Though the fig-tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will be joyful in God my Saviour." (Hab. 3:17-18)

Habakkuk was a man waiting for better days - which he knew were coming because of the promises God had made him - but in this 'in-between time' he knew that he had to keep his spirit clear of resentment and find rest for his soul. Bitterness due to his loss would only be like eating his own skeleton and would leave him a shapeless jelly, unable to make good decisions or to cope with the pressure of the day. So he wandered up to the high place where he had created a space to stand before God and he cried - not in anger or regret, but in worship and surrender.

It's a funny day for me today. I am still waiting for the surgical team in Newcastle to make a decision as to whether they can help me or whether the massive surgery might be too dangerous for me.  All we seem to do these days is wait! But in the waiting I was so encouraged to read these verses in today's page in the reading notes Encounter by Scripture Union where Alison Lo looks at these very verses in Habakkuk and sums them up so brilliantly. "Amid the raging storm, the prophet has grown from restless doubt to deathless faith; from protesting anger to quiet contentment".

Lord - grant me that attitude today, that grace to sustain me in waiting, and that calm assurance in knowing, in the midst of the barrenness, that You are silently planning for me in love. Amen