Month: November 2018

The Illustrated Bible

cropped-img_0424.jpgI stood behind the Scripture Gift Stall, which looked a little different to the other stalls at the Church Christmas Fayre; no elves, no Santa Claus, no glitter balls, cuddly toys, bags, shawls, scarves – just Bibles, book marks, books, journals, pens, all kinds of everything but all with a scripture verse, or Christian Message. I just didn’t want the Nativity Story, or the true meaning of Christmas to be forgotten – is Christmas really about Father Christmas in his Grotto, the Elves packing Christmas Gifts; or shouldn’t there be a child in swaddling clothes somewhere.

Lots of people came and went, and I am happy to say took with them a little gift for someone who couldn’t be here, this afternoon.

Then as I was absorbed in a child’s picture bible, my first Advent Blessing arrived; in the form of a tall young man, dressed in leather jacket and warm woolly jumper;  he stopped to buy ‘Footprints’ bookmarks and noticing the colourful picture books, took out a mobile phone,

“Look,” he said and showed me a photo of Christ wearing the crown of thorns, and another of the Virgin Mary.

“I have this one tattooed on my back,” He said with twinkle in his eye, “And Mary on my front” – he somehow managed to lift jacket and jumper high enough for me to take a look, then very quickly covered up again.

“Oh,” I said, “You are an illustrated bible!”

He just grinned, “Don’t tell everybody” and walked briskly away.

Well, I have thought about it, like this.

Jesus and the Crown on thorns on his back – because Jesus, wearing that crown, carried us all on His back as he carried that cross to Calvary, our redemption to win,

and because the infant Jesus needed a little help to arrive into this world, in order to do that, Mary who said yes on his heart.

Somehow it all made perfect sense – we are all called to carry our cross following closely our Saviour up front, but first we all have to agree with our Father and say our yes as Mary did hers.

With every blessing this Advent Season, from the Illustrated Bible and me!

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Don’t judge a book… or church mouse

People like things are not always what they seem; I learnt not to judge a book by its cover a long time ago. The most wonderful, wise and beautiful things may be hiding within battered, frail covers of an old book, the one with the broken spine thrown on to the charity shop book shelf.. may be the one containing the priceless word treasures to restore your broken heart or spirit.

Don’t judge a book by it’s cover or believe you can tell the man or woman beloved by God by their appearance, education or by what they boast. I learnt that lesson long ago as well.

Once upon a time, there was a small Christian, very quiet but always happy to lend a hand when a hand was needed. Her friend was outgoing, bubbly and super confident, as often happens with friends, they both found themselves choosing new, different paths in following Jesus; and as the Lord often arranges it, they came together, for a time, many years later. When the quiet one, answering a call from heaven to watch over a newly born Christian accompanied her to the church where the bubbly, confident one had become a “founding member”

The night before the first visit, the quiet one was wakened from sleep by the sound of dripping water, drip, drip, drip,… was there a leak, raining in, bathroom tap left running? Quietly, the quiet one switched on lights and investigated.

Nothing! No rain drops under the eaves, no leaky pipes or taps. The quiet one snuggled down under the covers. Drip, drip, drip…

“Oh I get it. Is that you Lord?”

“…. do something for Me. Be a mother to my children”

Never overconfident, she replied doubtfully, “Oh Lord Jesús, I don’t think I can ever be a mother to your children… ooohhh”

He was showing her a young girl, from her childhood, carefully tying her headscarf in a tidy bow under her chin. “At least be a big sister.”

“I will try. Where are the children?”

“Everywhere you will ever go.”


So, first steps into a new church, reunion with an old friend, who hugged and announced to all present that here was “the church mouse” … the quiet one did not deny this but with customary quietness took a seat. It took just about 5 minutes for her to realise that this church was charismatic, red hot, on fire for God another 5 and someone was calling out “the children are here.”

Another 5 and she knew this lovely, vibrant, enthusiastic family had a problem that would finally result in its scattering … the Holy Spirit was plainly saying there was a thief in the midst.

It puzzled the quiet one, that the children were being taught, insistently that the Holy Spirit never reveals anything which might cause the children to feel ashamed. It puzzled her further that a picture received, was counted as “a word from God” that a meaning could be attributed in a matter of moments. That these pictures were always promises of good gifts and financial blessing for the church … when plainly….

To cut a long story short, less than two years after this new church had formed its Pastor and teacher went to prison for theft.


I posted this true story, because there are still “children” out there who are being conned, duped, deceived by people who look “alright on the outside” … they boast of many gifts, but deny the Spirit of Truth when He witnesses against them.

Many of those “children” lost faith and broke faith with the Lord when finally the truth came out … the bubbly confident one lost a lot of sparkle…

The quiet one carried on being a “big sister” and says wherever she goes “the children are always there”

My dear friends, not every Spirit is to be trusted, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets are at large in the world.”

1 John 4.1 (N.J.B)

Salt is still required

When I was young, potato crisps only came in the one flavour, and each bag contained a separate blue paper packet, ~ the salt. It was up to you how much salt you added to the crisps in the bag. You decided how salty you wanted your crisps. Nowadays there is no choice .. the crisps (chips) are salted before they are bagged.

Also nowadays, salt is not such a desirable food additive, and the labels on packets and tins on the supermarket shelves are scanned for percentage of the recommended daily intake. Too much salt, we are told is not good for our health.

Times change. A favourite uncle used to grow wonderful vegetables, producing Runner Beans in abundance, despite generous gifts to family, friends and neighbours there were always plenty to pick and preserve in salt, for wintry days. I guess that is not done much in these days of quick freezing.

You are,” the Lord Jesus said, “salt for the earth. But if salt loses its taste, what can make it salty again? It is good, for nothing, and can only be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet.”

I think of salt as Holiness. Holiness without which ‘no one may see the Lord’ ~ holiness is the savour, the taste which the Lord looks for in our worship and our lives. In the Gospel of Mark, Jesus adds,

Have salt in yourselves and be at peace with one another”

Like salt on the table, holiness is often missing in life today, relationships are conducted just as they come, and often we hear “it doesn’t hurt anyone else” We also spend far too much time in petty squabbles with each other within our church fellowships in comparison to little time spent in praying and studying together.

~ I would say, that is often quite untrue our bad behaviour doesn’t hurt anyone else, quite plainly it often does hurt someone else, often, it is the very young, innocent and vulnerable, it betrays sin in the hidden man or woman of our heart, it is simply overlooked, people are in the dark, so to speak,

“You are light for the world. A city built on a hill-top cannot be hidden. No one lights a lamp to put it under a tub; they put it on the lamp-stand where it shines for everyone in the house. In the same way your light must shine in people’s sight, so that, seeing your good works, they may give praise to your Father in heaven.”

Scandalous behaviour amongst priests and church leaders seems to be coming more and more prevalent amongst church people – this should not be. Immediately following these words in Matthew chapter 5, our Lord taught us not to imagine He has come to abolish either the Law or the Prophets but to complete them (written on our hearts and minds by the spirit, they show us our faults and failings in order that our hearts may take on a new perfection in love and holiness)

I have thought of the Law, the Ten Commandments and the Prophets as being the fence, or wall around the vineyard and sheepfold.. these instructions were given by God in order to protect the innocent (think of all those who harmed by abuse, whether physically, or mentally, think of all victims of theft, violence, crime, all who are corrupted by the behaviour and injustice of others – we are told that we should not judge (pass sentence, and condemn unjustly) but the Lord who is our Judge, always gives justice and administers judgement to protect the innocent). When Jesus speaks of the Sheepfold in chapter 10, John’s Gospel, He tells us that He completes the wall or fence by laying Himself down at the open entrance as the Door. As Christians, members of His Body … we need to be very careful that we do not lose the Holiness, God has called us to … “not one dot, not one little stroke, is to disappear from the Law until all its purpose is achieved” The Righteous Judge stands watch at the door.

I cannot think, that the whole world is yet subject to the Lord Jesus, we who love the Lord need to continue to be both Salt and Light. Good works and Holy people. Both are still very needful.

Scriptures from Matthew Chapter 5 (N.J.B.)