Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Hope When Your Situation seems Hopeless

Last Sunday evening my wife Diane spoke at the evening service at Eldad Elim Church in the capital of Guernsey, St Peter Port, where we have the joy of serving God at the moment.  Diane is not a preacher by choice, but she is by gift and anointing (so I tell her!).  In any case she is well qualified to speak about Psalm 42 and the impact that it made upon her life during the 15 years we have battled with serious ill health and the many years in which she also fought crippling anxiety and depression.  It was such a joy for me to listen to her tell how God's Word and His promises were the bedrock of her hope and perseverance under immense pressure.

In this message she told of the significant place of music in her own journey and in particular her joy of singing.  This is something that even our neighbours have commented upon!  She also told of her periods of seeking God in the many hospitals we have been in and how the Lord used her in those difficult situations.

Through it all this talk gave real inspiration to hang in there, no matter tough things are for you today.  If you want to hear the message go to the Eldad Elim Church website and click on the message list on the home page, or to download it go to the resources page and click on teaching.  Whether you do that or not, may her story inspire you to keep on hoping.  'Hope in God, for I shall yet praise Him who is the help of my sad countenance'.

Friday, February 17, 2012

To Say Prayers or to Pray?

There is a real hooha going on in Guernsey since an atheistic member of the island's government raised an objection to the recital of the Lord's Prayer at the start of sessions in our legislature.  In doing so, of course, he is typically trying to jump onto a rolling bandwagon, since last week a UK court declared it to be unlawful for Bideford Council to begin its sessions with prayer.  We have an election coming up in Guernsey and some Deputies will do anything to get their name in the media!

But does our atheist elected representative have a point?  In the States of Deliberation here, the Lord's Prayer is recited in French (no longer the native language of this community) and at such a rate as to render it fairly difficult to keep up.  Jesus criticised leaders in his community for perfunctory prayers which he described as 'vain repetitions' and which clearly did not express the deepest longings of their hearts!  In fact, the gospels reveal Jesus as a man of prayer, yet record him being scathing of public prayers and ritual.  Should, therefore, the committed Christian join hands with the atheist to decry this anachronism?  What do you think?

Perhaps those States members who want to pray, and who believe that prayer can make a difference, should attend the monthly prayer breakfast for States' members held in a local hotel on the first morning of each monthly session?  Or, if there is a desire to pray in the debating chamber, maybe it would be better to ask someone who does have faith to pray a short prayer from the heart at the start of business, rather like the opening moments of the Grammy Awards last week in Los Angeles.  If that feels uncomfortable for the majority it may be that the present arrangement offers a nod in the direction of tradition and history.  But a nod is probably only as good as a wink - and we all know how insincere that can be!

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Second Chance Scenario

My mind was clawing its way slowly back to clarity.  I knew that I was in hospital and that I was desperately ill.  It was February, a few years ago, and I had been to the brink.  Among my early conscious moments after a long period of deep coma I heard two nurses talking.  They were asking each other if either of them had received any Valentine Day cards.  Gradually I caught on, and realised that I had missed this annual opportunity to tell Diane how much she means to me.  I do tell her that every day, of course, but weeks of hospitalisation had robbed us of the daily hugs and reassurance that are part of the paintwork of our marriage.  So I dreamed up a solution.  When my friend Bob came to see me I asked him to buy a rose for Diane and send it to her as if it had come from me.  The only problem was that I couldn't speak.  I tried to write down my instructions and thought I had done so clearly, but years later he showed me the card on which I had scrawled a meaningless array of scratches and lines.  But, he twigged it and realised what I was asking him to do for me.

When Diane received a single red rose later that day she was moved to tears.  I had hardly spoken to her for weeks and was still lying in ICU full of wires and monitors.  'To my darling Diane, from your loving husband' my friend Bob had written.  Through her tears and sobs, she tells me, my wife began to hope that I might come back again from the valley of the shadow of death.  And I did.  God was so gracious to us.  He gave us back to one another  and allowed us to share again in a relationship that has been so special since the very first day we saw one another, February 29th 1968 - leap year day.

So - you can imagine how special Valentine's Day is to us each year.  A simple single red rose tells us both that we serve the God of the Second Chance!  Each year we look at that little flower and remember the One who says 'I will restore to you the years that the locusts have eaten!'  This year more than ever, we are so grateful for that understanding.

Thursday, February 02, 2012

Makeover Over!

The building in which the St Peter Port Elim Church meets in Guernsey has completed its makeover and the scaffolding has finally disappeared.  So, the place is ready for a new lease of life, and a new influx of people meeting Jesus!
Bring it on, Lord!

Eldad Elim Church