Thursday, December 31, 2009

New Year Wishes

I was listening to an announcer at the local radio station as I shaved this morning, nearly causing a chunk of my beautiful looks(!) to be chopped off just in time for the New Year.  He was reporting a vox pop interviewing people in the town centre as what would be their three wishes for Guernsey this New Year.  Most of the answers were banal - people were caught on the hop and couldn't think of what to say.  I'm sure they thought of plenty after he had gone.  I stopped hacking and asked myself the same question.  Now, I'm not claiming to be full of good thoughts, so I surprised myself with these three things that sprang into my mind.
  1. A large number of young people to become committed followers of Jesus Christ.  Many are already doing so, and I am amazed at their boldness and faith, but wouldn't it be great to see a real harvest of young lives for the kingdom of God?  That would change Guernsey and probably the world.
  2. That the island's government, churches and people would spend in 2010 exactly what they spend on themselves in overseas aid.  Let's do some radical giving in the coming year that would bring a smile to millions of faces around the globe! The next year we can exceed this by giving away more than we spend on ourselves but hey, let's not hurry this!
  3. That there be no more unemployment.  I know that our jobless figures are minute compared to the UK and other Western democracies, especially post recession (if we are post??) but every unemployed person is a wasted resource and a huge drain on the public purse.  Why not put them to work in useful publically or privately financed projects that would add to infrastructure (roads, bridges, parks, pathways, sewers, mains etc) or action to reduce poverty and increase self-reliance (creating allotments from derelict greenhouse sites and then giving/renting them to the poor, redecorating church, charity and youth premises to further the creation of a community spirit).
I stepped into the shower and thought 'and what about me?'  Three wishes for my own situation?  Well, for a start, I'd love to have a new pancreas - then I could really get going!

Do let me know your own three wishes for yourself or your community, I'd love to read them.  Have a Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Courage to Face the Future

It takes an unusual kind of courage to face the enormity of being blown up in Afghanistan, losing limbs, and then facing life in a totally different way. Like the courage of Rifleman Craig Wood who was just 18 and was blown up by the Taliban on his first patrol. Losing three limbs and having 27 pints of blood he was given only a 50% chance of survival but he is facing this horrendous injury with an awe inspiring determination.  His youth, his strength before the terrible incident that nearly killed him, the excellent medical, surgical and nursing care are all contributing to his current recovery. Yet, no-one doubts the courage of this brave young man who said to his girlfriend "I have to make the best of it! I have lost a number of good colleagues, I know how lucky I am, in a way".

Courage comes in many shapes and forms.  The young officer walking out in front of his men so that he can detect and deal with the deadly IED's that threaten his troop is an obvious example.  I can think, though, of some examples of courage nearer to home.  A young friend has just endured a painful lung operation in London, a long way from home, and is facing the New Year in pain, knowing that he must move home in the first few days of 2010.  Still he can find examples of how God has helped him through the surgical ordeal and is trusting Him for his future (ably assisted by his wonderful family!)  Another dear friend is battling cancer that came as a complete mystery to him, his wife and children, and yet is testifying to God's amazing grace and presence with them in their trial.

And when you think of the Bible account of the first Christmas, courage came in large helpings too.  Mary chose to go God's way despite the possible loss of her partner Joseph (if he failed to understand or believe her) and in the light of scorn and disdain by her community.  Wise men set out from the East, facing the tyrant king Herod, and defying him, in the courage that faith always needs in order to prevail.

So, I am facing 2010 and asking God for courage.  I know I may well have to endure another long period of enforced 'nil by mouth' total pancreatic rest, and probably quite a while in hospital in London.  I know that the Holy Spirit is the 'spirit of boldness' and I'm looking to Him to help me.  And I can say, therefore, to you, whatever you are facing, that you need to ask Him to fill you with boldness, reassure you with His unique comfort, and walk beside you as your advocate, in a courageous New Year!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Sunsets and Phoney Baloney!

Sunset over Port Soif in Guernsey can be a magnificent affair.  It often comes at the end of a great day of sunshine and blue skies, but is more often the finale to a period of moody weather or even a storm.  If 'Braving the Storm' is your motto, you will, like me, regard the sunset as compensation after a tough day, and the promise of another go tomorrow.  That's a great help when we face storms - just the knowledge that tomorrow is another day, and the very worst of weather will 'come to pass', likely to be replaced by something different, if not better.

It came home to me today how long it has been since my last blog.  I felt sad that I have lost touch with you, and stirred to do something about it.  Part of the reason for the long silence is that I have been going through a particularly bad storm.  Despite the great thrill and joy of being able to preach again in November after a year out of the pulpit, the battle has raged around me, and the illness I fight has waxed and waned in its perfidious strategy designed to destroy me. (That's no exageration; take a peek at 1 Peter 5:8-9). I have made a commitment to myself and to you that I will only be honest in my blogs.  No sugarry cover-ups, no religious make believe, no phoney baloney!! But then - there is only so much you can say about pain, tears, weakness, loneliness and sorrow - without boring the socks off those who read or listen.  So, here are some positive things that are going on despite the storm:
  1. God is wonderfully providing all our needs.  We have not been on a salary since July 2008 and we have wanted for nothing!
  2. We have met some really great people and are learning from how God is working in their lives.
  3. So many people tell us that they pray for us every day - now that is amazing!
  4. I have been kept alive through 3 major operations in the last year and several potentially dangerous attacks of acute pancreatitis.
  5. Every day God's Word has spoken to us and is a lamp to our feet and a light to our darkened path.
  6. Several trips to London for Diane and I have been covered by generous giving and practical love and support from others.
  7. The sun sets daily as a reminder that God is faithful and has granted us another day.
'I’ll never forget the trouble, the utter lostness, the taste of ashes, the poison I’ve swallowed. I remember it all—oh, how well I remember—the feeling of hitting the bottom. But there’s one other thing I remember, and remembering, I keep a grip on hope: GOD’s loyal love couldn’t have run out, his merciful love couldn’t have dried up. They’re created new every morning. How great your faithfulness!  I’m sticking with GOD (I say it over and over). He’s all I’ve got left.' (Lam. 3:19-24 The Message).