Category: Friends

Waking..

I open my eyes before it is light, but the darkness is not dark. Rather it shines.

Shines with a peace beyond telling: and the silence breathes – the unseen presence of my Friend God.

So, nothing disturbs,

Nothing frightens

God is all.

I am not saying I never have a bad dream. I do.

I am not saying that I never go to bed with a troubled mind. I do.

I am not saying that I never have anxious and stressed prayer times. I do.

I am saying that God comforts me in the darkest night, blackest days, gives rest and peace from wildest terrors. He gives peace and rest when it is needed most.

There are those times of loss, of grieving for loved ones lost to sight.

There are those times of being sorry for things done or left undone. There are those things said which ought not to have been said and those things which have been left unsaid which should have been said – for these things there is also a promise:

if we acknowledge our sins, He is trustworthy and upright, so that He will forgive our sins and so will cleanse us from all evil,”

Peter, fisherman turned big brother to all Christian folk, warns us to keep sober and alert, because our enemy the devil is on the prowl like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour, He tells us to stand up to him, strong in faith and in the knowledge that throughout the world other brothers and sisters undergo the same kind of sufferings and trials… often if we are honest, we do not have the least clue what suffering and trials for sake of Jesus are…

It is in the shining dark and silence before the dawn that waking up in the presence of my Friend I come to realise that His suffering ones are His blessed ones, and if I would be any kind of friend to Him, I should remember them,

And the little children with no shoes, no home, no one to call mother or father, no friend, except one, my Friend God.

It is in the shining dark and singing silence I hear the sung prayers of those who grieving weeping and worship in the same moment

When you meet my Friend God in the shining darkness, and the singing silence and know His embrace of Peace.. who do you see, sharing these things with you?


A song to sing, which even though they may not know Christ as you do, all are happy to sing with you, recognising in this wonderful world, the Hands that made all things, cares for all living things and fills all things. His holy and sacred peace be yours and mine,

I see trees of green, red roses too

I see them bloom for me and you

And I think to myself what a wonderful world

I see skies of blue and clouds of white

The bright blessed day, the dark sacred night

And I think to myself what a wonderful world

The colors of the rainbow so pretty in the sky

Are also on the faces of people going by

I see friends shaking hands saying how do you do

They’re really saying I love you

I hear babies crying, I watch them grow

They’ll learn much more than I’ll ever know

And I think to myself what a wonderful world

Yes I think to myself what a wonderful world

Source: LyricFind

Songwriters: George Weiss / Robert Thiele

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A Friend is one who knows you as you are

You are my friends, if you do what I command you. I shall no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know the master’s business; I call you friends, because I have made known to you everything I have learnt from my Father. You did not choose me, no I chose you; and I commissioned you to go out and bear fruit, fruit that will last; so that the Father will give you anything you ask him in my name. My command to you is to love one another” (John 15.14-17)

The bookmark reads;

“A friend is one who knows you as you are, understands where you’ve been. Accepts who you’ve become, and still gently invites you to grow.”

The friend who gave it to me, many years ago, has long been called home to be with her friend Jesus… but I keep the little card… not to remind me of Frances… friends are never forgotten… but to remind me of some of the qualities of the friend I should be.

Just such a friend is the Lord Jesús, he knows exactly who we are, the hidden person of our heart is not hidden from our God, he knows exactly where we have been, understands the ways we trod before we knew the Way, accepts fully the person we have become, he knows the son or daughter tugging on his sleeve and heart strings and yes, he still invites us to grow.

He was just such a friend to Peter, James and John, to Andrew, lovely Andrew with the happy knack of bringing him others to befriend.

Oh such a friend, who said, pitying the sorrows of his friends, “I shall not leave you orphans; I shall come to you.”

Soon, very soon, their friend and Saviour would suffer a degrading, humiliating, horrific death, soon he would be wrapped in grave cloths, and sealed in the dark prison of the tomb.

And then they saw him again, but could not keep him; they watched as he was taken up into heaven, hidden from their sight… and then, then came

Pentecost!

May the blessings of the Spirit of Joy, be with us all, and lead us in the dance of the Fisher men and friends. Never to be parted!

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)

Catching a breath and taking regard

So here we are looking down the road to Holy Week and Easter. I am so glad that life is less rushed, less busy, despite my Martha ways, I am really a Mary, delighting in just being at the Masters feet.

How strange it is, that just when we should be slowing down in readiness for Easter Day, that Churches get busier and busier. I am so sure that all the preparations, the Bustle and Hustle, the sacrifice of time and effort, is never so sweet to the Lord Jesus as that precious half hour, when it is just Him and us, and in the stillness we are who we are, no pretence, no fuss, just Him and us.

Somewhere, in the book of books, we read that the Lord regards us from on high, and you know I like that word “regards” – it’s not as though the Lord so much as looks down on us from lofty heights, but that He sees us as we are, takes us we are, and still finds something to love in each one of us. He knows us through and through, (Psalm 139 says it much better than I ever could) God is truly acquainted with all our ways, but still loves us. And that love I know for myself when I am still, when I am quiet, when like Mary I look up and regard my Saviour’s face. When Mary looked up and regarded the face of Jesus on that last visit to their little house, when Martha peeked through the door, what did they see there, weariness, sadness, resolve. I would be happy to hear your thoughts on that, I think He noticed their looking, and was comforted by their regard, yes that word again, I think he read love in their looking, and that in his looking back was Love, regard.

However you prepare for Easter, let the Lord Jesus bless you, just sit still, be yourself and look up. 

This painting, a watercolour, was made by a friend, who died recently. She suffered her illness patiently with true Christian hope, desiring to be re-United with her dear husband Bert. I think it is a Red Kite, regarding the fields below, from on high.



Lord, open our eyes and we shall behold your glory

Lord, open our ears and we shall hear your call

Lord, open our hearts and we shall know your love

Lord, open our lives and we shall reveal your glory

(prayer from The Open Door by David Adam)

With my kindest regards,

Jean

Stormy Advent Waters

I had an Irish friend, Aileen, but she answered to Ellen, amongst other things. Ellen, lovely Ellen, was kind, homely, hospitable, and a terror to pastors. Every remembrance of her comes with a smile. Baptised and bought up as a Catholic she had avoided church like a plague for most of her life, she would’ve have loved the thought of these words being posted here, because Ellen believed in telling it, and did tell it like it was. Ellen’s sister in law was a staunch baptist and despite her best efforts, Ellen avoided her baptist church as well, until one day having turned 60 years old, she suddenly felt a tremendous conviction that she must go to church and at that church she heard the Pastor say, “You must be born again,” utterly convicted, Ellen was baptised, and as a born again Christian and staunch baptist, staunchly anti Rome and Catholicism.

In all things Ellen was fervent, she was vivacious, outgoing, and forthright in the way a true Irish woman is, and it wasn’t long, before she found the baptist way a bit too solemn and she discovered the small, Pentecostal hall, almost on her doorstep, from being overlooked, and regarded with a sniff, that little church became Ellen’s heaven. She loved everyone dearly and was dearly loved, but, and but is a big but here, Ellen always knew what the Lord was telling, and wanted the Pastor, the elders and everyone else to do. Problem was no one’s hearing was as sharp as Ellen’s … Consequently she was always sailing on stormy seas, but she never ran aground, Jesus the Captain of her soul, made sure of that. Fiercely determined, stubborn, when she made up her mind; a gentle word from the Lord would cause her to break down and weep.

This is a true story, a paragraph out of my memory book. Something had happened at the little chapel, Ellen didn’t like it, she stamped her foot and swore to the Lord, in her friend’s hearing, “No Lord, I won’t”

Ever done that?
Been so angry and worked up over some trifle, some word, put your foot down and sworn an oath?

The friend, with a reputation for quietness and meekness, held her peace, until some weeks later when Ellen asked her into her home to pray for her “foot” Yes the very same foot that had been stamped, apparently, the Doctor had diagnosed a rheumatoid flare up, on asking the question, the friend was told that the condition had developed the day following her temper.

“Maybe” the friend suggested, she should say “sorry” —-

Ellen, dear daughter of God, burst into tears and did just that. The pain went within the hour.

I don’t know why I should suddenly be thinking of Ellen, she was a good woman, but like most of us the gold in her character was mixed with other metals, mercurial temperament and iron clad stubbornness being two of them, and she was, perhaps not strangely often right when it came to Pastors .. She just couldn’t help ruffling feathers! Something that Old Testament Prophets were quite good at too.

I promised a fellow blogger that I would answer a few question about myself, and if she is reading this, I will do .. But somehow Ellen who sailed stormy waters to be near her Friend Jesus has been in my thoughts.

The picture is a collage of things around me, a picture of stormy Advent Seas, a candlestick, my bible, open at Isaiah ch. 2 verse 5, “let us walk in the light if the Lord” and a purple ribbon given to me last Sunday to remind me that the First Sunday of Advent is the beginning of the Church Year. Our hearts are often storm tossed, even the quietest of us experiences angry, disturbed thoughts from time to time, I know I do, and that I need the Lord to steer my ship, I need to come–about and pitch unwanted cargo overboard, I need the Light of Christ.

Whether you are sailing stormy seas, or peaceful ones, take the Light of Christ with you and you will journey safely

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One Poppy to Rule Them All

Over the past couple of weeks children have filled church, filled it with their art, drawing, painting and sculpture and rather wonderfully with themselves.

Two special schools visited Monday morning, among them traumatised children unable to cope with lessons in a normal school environment, the sound of a bell to announce changing lessons some would find terrifying, but come they did to see their work and the work of others, notice they did, that in the first church porch we were getting ready for Remembrance Sunday.

Wednesday morning a gift arrived in church. I have called it One Poppy to Rule Them All. Made in the Art Department at Whiteheath Education Centre, from plaster and hand painted,it measures perhaps 2ft x 2ft. We set it carefully against a choir stall .. Stood back and admired.

So much to admire, isn’t there? The skill of the hands that made and painted it, the patience and gift of the teachers who gave instruction. Most of all, I think the love of children who saw what we were preparing to do, to honour the memory if those fallen in battle in defence of freedom and peace…

Wednesday afternoon, 90 little shrimps, visited from another school. Aged just 5 years or less, they stole my heart, especially when one young lady christened their mascot a teddy, she named him Dan, in the big stone font, with me hanging on to make sure both didn’t fall into it!

Little eyes quickly spotted the big Poppy and I was told enthusiastically that all were going to buy a Poppy to wear at school the next day.

I just praise God for all of our children, and give thanks for the freedom and security they have, for the education they have, for those who teach and inspire them, I pray that all the world’s children might be so blessed. I hear a whisper from long ago,

“Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the Kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 19 v14)

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Good Morning God

One of my happier tasks is to compile and edit the Church Magazine. I like to encourage every one to contribute something, this prayer was given to me, hand written on a piece of paper carefully laid up in a friends bible, treasured in memory of Mr Alfred Mole a local Methodist preacher of many years. The words are his, the prayer he prayed at the start of each day.

Good Morning God
You are ushering in another day
Untouched and freshly new,
So here I am asking you, God,
If you will please renew me too.
Please forgive the many errors
That I made yesterday
And let me try again, dear God,
To walk closer in thy way…
But Father I am well aware
I can’t make it on my own,
So please, take my hand and hold it tight,
For I can’t walk alone

Nellie, who let me borrow the paper, tells me that right up to the moment when The Lord called him home, Alfred was still gathering folk in his Nursing Home around for a ‘word in prayer’ … and despite, the cynical times in which we live they were happy to do that. Such a faith as this speaks for itself.

Writing this the day after Jim’s funeral attended by 200 folk from every little chapel on our door step, I reflect that, none if us can make it on our own, we all need our Father to take our hand and hold it tight, and whatever failings of yesterday may have been, to look up, welcome him as we would sunshine after rain, and say

Good Morning God.

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