Monday, 2 June 2008

Secretary's Soapbox

I was reminded of God’s sense of humour the other day after writing about it in last month’s Soapbox. I always go up to bed at around 8 p.m. and there I have my quiet time surrounded by our dogs. I am reading through “The Message” (the Bible in contemporary language) and I’d been slowly going through Jeremiah and finding it very difficult. Even written in today’s language it seemed to go on forever with warnings from God to His people about what was going to happen to them if they didn’t pull their socks up.

Anyway, as I was undressing I was just asking God to show me the verses that had an important message for me to learn. I have to say that I don’t usually do this but I felt I was missing the point and wanted to be shown that Jeremiah had some thing relevant to me.

So I got comfortable, settled the dogs, opened The Message at the place I had left off the night before and there in front of me, at the start of Jeremiah chapter 49, in bold capital letters, were the words…..


I laughed out loud, because here were the words I had asked for! Thanks a lot, God, the joke’s on me.


I have now gone on to Ezekiel, another prophet, but somehow, his words are jumping off the page and seem to point to everything happening today. In the past few days we have had Parliament first of all voting for the right to produce animal x human embryos, and then keeping the upper abortion limit at 23 weeks, both of these Bills are destined to cheapen human life and cannot be pleasing to God. I have also watched a Dispatches TV programme showing some Christians praying against things that seem to be against the wishes of God, the reporting was so biased against Christians I just couldn’t believe my eyes. What is happening to the world? But of course it was foretold that all these things would happen.

In contrast to my first comments about my difficulty reading God’s Word, last night’s reading really hit me….. It’s from Ezekiel 12 verses 21-25

God’s message came to me: “Son of man, what’s this proverb making the rounds in the land of Israel that says, ‘Everything goes on the same as ever; all the prophetic warnings are false alarms’? “Tell them, ‘God, the Master, says, This proverb’s going to have a short life!’ “Tell them, ‘Time’s about up. Every warning is about to come true. False alarms and easygoing preaching are a thing of the past in the life of Israel. I, God, am doing the speaking. What I say happens. None of what I say is on hold. What I say, I’ll do—and soon, you rebels!’ Decree of God the Master.”

Saturday, 10 May 2008

10 Commandments for Peace of Mind

**. Thou shalt not worry -- most of the things we worry about never happen.

**. Thou shalt not try to cross bridges before coming to them -- it simply can't be done.

**. Thou shalt face each problem as it comes -- you can only handle one at a time anyway.

**. Thou shalt not take problems to bed with thee -- they make very poor bedfellows.

**. Thou shalt not try to relive yesterday -- just live today.

**. Thou shalt not carry a grudge -- it is a worthless thing, and a terribly heavy load.

**. Thou shalt not hate -- nothing is more damaging to the heart.

**. Thou shalt look for goodness -- beauty and truth are all around.

**. Thou shalt listen for wisdom -- almost everyone has a valuable lesson to teach.

**. Thou shalt count thy blessings -- the more we treasure them, the faster they multiply!

Tuesday, 6 May 2008

What a great lesson! We complain about the cross we bear, not realizing that it is preparing us for the dip in the road that God can see and we cannot.

Whatever your cross, whatever your pain,
There will always be sunshine, after the rain.
Perhaps you may stumble, perhaps even fall;
But God's always ready, to answer your call.
He knows every heartache, sees every tear,
A word from His lips, can calm every fear.
Your sorrows may linger, throughout the night,
But suddenly vanish, by dawn's early light.
The Saviour is waiting in heaven above,
To give you His grace, and send you His love.

Saturday, 3 May 2008

You Live

You live your life as you see fit

According to your strain

You feel it is quite normal

For your days to wax and wane

Hoping that the weeks go by

Surviving grief and pain

You know there's something missing

That you really can't explain.

You are what you've grown to be

A flower without a bloom

Because you do things your own way

You haven't made the room

For God's direction in your life

His Spirit you contain

Let go, let God, let Him invade

Release His living rain.

by Mike Bullock

Tuesday, 29 April 2008


A few weeks after my first wife, Georgia, was called to heaven, I was cooking dinner for my son and myself. For a vegetable, I decided on frozen peas. As I was cutting open the bag, it slipped from my hands and crashed to the floor. The peas, like marbles, rolled everywhere. I tried to use a broom, but with each swipe, the peas rolled across the kitchen, bounced off the wall on the other side and rolled in another direction.

My mental state at the time was fragile. Losing a spouse is an unbearable pain. I got on my hands and knees and pulled them into a pile to dispose of. I was half laughing and half crying as I collected them. I could see the humour in what happened, but it doesn’t take much for a person dealing with grief to break down. For the next week, every time I was in the kitchen, I would find a pea that had escaped my first clean up. In a corner, behind a table leg, in the frays at the end of a mat, or hidden under a heater, they kept turning up. Eight months later, I pulled out the refrigerator to clean, and found a dozen or so petrified peas hidden underneath.

At the time I found those few remaining peas, I was in a new relationship with a wonderful woman I met in a widow/widower support group. After we married, I was reminded of those peas under the refrigerator. I realized my life had been like that bag of frozen peas. It had shattered. My wife was gone. I was in a new city with a busy job and a son having trouble adjusting to his new surroundings and the loss of his mother. I was a wreck. I was a bag of spilled, frozen peas. My life had come apart and scattered.

When life gets you down; when everything you know comes apart; when you think you can never get through the tough times, remember, it is just a bag of scattered, frozen peas. The peas can be collected and life will move on. You will find all the peas. First, the easy peas come together in a pile. You pick them up and start to move on. Later, you will find the bigger and harder to find peas. When you pull all the peas together, life will be whole again. The life you know can be scattered at any time. You will move on, but how fast you collect your peas depends on you. Will you keep scattering them around with a broom, or will you pick them up one-by-one and put your life back together?

How will you collect your peas?

-- Michael T. Smith
Received from: Life's Adventures
Life's Adventures comes out every Tuesday and Thursday. Each issue features a short story. Some of these are of the warm and fuzzy variety, some are sad, some are a little of both, but they all deliver powerful messages. Sign up today and see what you're missing. To subscribe: and select "Life Adventures" found under "Other Newsletters".

Sunday, 27 April 2008

Life .....

Just when you think those stories you read in the paper apply to "other people," life hits you between the eyes . . .

* Your child is suddenly taken from you with no warning. SIDS, cancer, automobile accident, abduction. Unprepared, and lost in a myriad of emotions you feel lost and alone. What did you ever do to deserve this?

* The job you've held for 20 years ends with only a couple week's warning. A buyout, mismanagement, bankruptcy. How will you make it? You're already living paycheck to paycheck. This can't really be happening!

* The person you've loved all your life tells you they love another and walk out. You knew some things needed attention in your relationship but had no idea things were that far out of hand. Why don't they want to stay and work things out?

* The one person you've looked to for a shining example of faith falls with a fury. Adultery, financial indiscretion, child molestation, homosexuality. Or maybe they just walk away from God and the church. If faith couldn't keep them on track, who has a hope in this world?

* Fire destroys your home and all your most personal belongings. Even though no one gets hurt, you've lost things that can never be replaced. No
insurance, no relatives that live anywhere close. How can you leave for just a few hours and come back to nothing?

It's then that you realize that those newspaper stories are about real people. People just like you. People just like me. Coming to that realization never takes away the pain, or the anguish, or the loss. It only confirms a reality. We're at war. At war with the forces that seek to tear us away from God. They know our pressure points and our comfort zones. They know what tempts us and what has no allure. Their only concern is to win the war.

Revelation 17 reminds us that there's a war going on. It vividly describes the enemy... and the outcome. May the words of verse 14 remind you of a victory that can be yours when you remain faithful in the midst of the battles of life:

"Thy will make war against the Lamb, but the Lamb will overcome
them because he is Lord of lords, and King of kings -- and with him
will be his called, chosen and faithful followers."

Friday, 21 March 2008

The Highest Ransom Ever Paid

A few years ago there was a true story about a man in New York City who was kidnapped. His kidnappers called his wife and asked for $100,000 ransom. She talked them down to $30,000.

The story had a happy ending: the man returned home unharmed, the money was recovered, and the kidnappers were caught and sent to jail. But don't you wonder what happened when the man got home and found that his wife got him back for a discount?

Calvin Trillin was the writer of this story. He imagined what the negotiations must have been like: "$100,000 for that old guy? You have got to be crazy. Just look at him! Look at that gut! You want $100,000 for that? You've got to be kidding. Give me a break here. $30,000 is my top offer."
I can sympathize with the kidnapped man because I wonder how much the people in my life think that I'm worth. But I am flattered beyond description to realize that I was worth enough to God that He was willing to pay the ultimate price for my ransom, my redemption.

As Peter put it:"You know that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your fathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot." (I Peter 1:18-19)

Ultimately, the value of something (or someone) is determined by how much someone is willing to pay for it. A piece of art that may be worth millions of dollars to someone else may be worth less than a hundred dollars to me. The worth of something is determined by how much we're willing to pay for it.

What that means is that we are of tremendous value to God. He didn't quibble about the price, but was willing to pay the full ransom amount -- the highest ransom ever paid!

Have a great day!

Alan Smith

Monday, 17 March 2008

Pick Up Your Cross

Pick up your cross and follow Me
Don't saunter to your grave
There is lot's we have to do
Your company I crave
For if you want to be like Me
You have to die to self
Leave the comfort of this world
And climb down off your shelf.

For time is running out, My friend
And darkness rules this land
You are My voice upon this earth
Please give Me a hand
To reach the lonely, poor and sad
And snatch them from a fate
That leads them to the jaws of hell
Let's hope we're not too late.

by Mike Bullock

Wednesday, 5 March 2008

Secretary's Soapbox

This is a conversation between Eddy and me…………………....the other day he had just eaten some cheese and crackers and he said

"Nana, can I have free more crackers?"

"How many crackers?"

"Free please"

"HOW many?"


"Can you say THREE?"

"Yep, FREE!"

"If you can say three properly I'll go and get them."



"I'll have FOUR crackers please!"

There has been much interest in our Wurlitzer organ of late.

It started back in November when I had an email from a chap called Cled Griffin who asked whether the organ was playable and if so could he come to view it in Feb of this year.

He explained that he ran a Keyboard Experience holiday at Lyme Bay Holiday Village in Seaton twice a year and would like to see if it would be possible to use it for a concert sometime.

Then in January, I had a similar email from Michael Cull, who has retired from his profession as a performance organist. He had heard from the internet that out Wurlitzer was now unplayable and wanted to know if this was true. As he only lives in Taunton I invited him to come to a coffee morning and have a go on the 'unplayable Wurlitzer'.

On February 9th Ernest was at the church to welcome approx 50 of the Keyboard Experience holiday. I think there were at least four professional musicians and one technician who had a play on the organ. Sylvia was there to give them a cuppa and I think they all enjoyed the afternoon.

Cled has put a lovely write up on his web page, which I have added below.

Mike also came along that afternoon and took a video of Jean Martyn playing.

He came to another coffee morning the week after and videoed himself going through some of his repertoire.

The video and more can be seen on his website (Click "Out and About").

Visit to Britain's Oldest Wurlitzer

During the February Lyme Bay Keyboard Experience Weekend an informal visit was made to the nearby village of Beer to see and hear the oldest Wurlitzer pipe organ in the UK installed at the Beer Congregational Church.

The organ was played by Elizabeth Harrison, Chris Powell, Matthew Bason, Ian Griffin and Jean Martyn who said she was particularly pleased to play the instrument that was previously installed at the Picture House at Walsall - the town where she went to school.

The players, and guests who went along with them, were made very welcome by the Church officials who provided tea and biscuits in the
adjoining vestry.

Ian Griffin said on his website….
I felt very privileged to play the oldest Wurlitzer pipe organ in the UK during the weekend of the February Lyme Bay Keyboard Experience at Seaton, Devon.
The organ is located at the Congregational Church in the village of Beer, only two miles from Seaton The organ felt nice to play and sounded good - I am now looking forward to a return visit.

Wednesday, 20 February 2008

Hymns vs. Choruses

An old farmer went to the city one weekend and attended the big city church. He came home and his wife asked him how it was.

"Well," said the farmer, "it was good. They did something different, however. They sang praise choruses instead of hymns."

"Praise choruses?" said his wife. "What are those?"

"Oh, they're OK. They are sort of like hymns, only different," said the farmer.

"Well, what's the difference?" asked his wife.

The farmer said, "Well, it's like this - If I were to say to you "Martha, the cows are in the corn"' - well, that would be a hymn.

If on the other hand, I were to say to you:

Martha, Martha, Martha,


the cows, the big cows, the brown cows,

the black cowsthe white cows,

the black and white cows,


are in the corn,are in the corn,

are in the corn, are in the corn,


Then, if I were to repeat the whole thing two or three times, well, that would be a praise chorus."

The next weekend, his nephew, a young, new Christian from the city came to visit and attended the local church of the small town. He went home and his mother asked him how it was.

"Well," said the young man, "it was good. They did something different however. They sang hymns instead of regular songs."

"Hymns?" asked his mother. "What are those?"

"Oh, they're OK. They are sort of like regular songs, only different," said the young man.

"Well, what's the difference?" asked his mother.

The young man said, "Well, it's like this - If I were to say to you 'Martha, the cows are in the corn' - well, that would be a regular song. If on the other hand, I were to say to you:

Oh Martha, dear Martha, hear thou my cry

Inclinest thine ear to the words of my mouth

Turn thou thy whole wondrous ear by and by

To the righteous, inimitable, glorious truth.

For the way of the animals who can explain

There in their heads is no shadow of sense

Hearkenest they in God's sun or His rain

Unless from the mild, tempting corn they are fenced.

Yea those cows in glad bovine, rebellious delight

Have broke free their shackles, their warm pens eschewed

Then goaded by minions of darkness and night

They all my mild Chilliwack sweet corn have chewed.

So look to the bright shining day by and by

Where all foul corruptions of earth are reborn

Where no vicious animals make my soul cry

And I no longer see those foul cows in the corn.'

Then if I were to do only verses one, three and four and do a key change on the last verse, well that would be a hymn!

Wednesday, 30 January 2008

Secretary’s Soapbox

I’d just been helping Eddy on with his socks, and I jokingly asked him if I was getting a prize for it. “Yes,” he said, “you are getting a new scooter and a million pounds.”

“Wow!” I said ,“that’s a good prize for just putting on a pair of socks.”
“What about me?” said his Mum as she came through the door, “Don’t I get a prize too?”

Eddy thought for a minute and then said, “Yes, you are getting a cat toilet!”
The reason for this rather strange idea that his mother would like a cat toilet is that the day before I had been surfing around on the internet and saw that you can get such a thing as a self –cleaning cat litter tray. “you could do with one of those. “ I said, “they only cost $599!”

Eddy must have heard the conversation and decided that is what his mum really wanted, more apparently than a million pounds! You have to be really careful what you say because even if you don’t think he’s paying any attention, Eddy is listening to every word.

Some people think that they can keep things from God, too. But He knows what you’re going you say even before you open your mouth. More than that He knows what’s in your heart, all the time, not just when you’re thinking about Him. That’s why we have no hope of hiding our sins from Him, and remember, God doesn’t grade sin into white lies and mass murder type of groups. We sin the moment our minds think of something that is nasty or wrong, even if we have not the slightest idea of carrying it out.

Alan’s last day as our Pastor was a very happy time. It started with our morning service when Mary presented Alan with our gift to him of an engraved carriage clock, then at the end of the service, our Sunday Pilots came in with a cake and a card they had made.

Then in the afternoon about seventy people came to share tea with us, I’m glad to say that Alan did turn up, I was afraid that he would just send a cardboard cut-out of himself, as he kept threatening to do. But his new Grandson, Archie, was there and everyone wanted to talk about him, so that helped Alan to enjoy the afternoon. Then we had a fabulous time of worship, lots of laughs, tributes and hymns. My thanks to Noel Parry who managed to link everything together.

We had a magnificent response to our news that Alan was retiring and many folk wanted to make a donation to his retirement present, we were able to present Alan with a cheque for £1,000, which turned out to be something of a miracle. I was given the cheque by the Treasurer in the morning and had it in my bag as I went home. We parked the car outside our gate and I saw someone just coming out of our garden. I am not giving his name as I don’t want to embarrass him. We exchanged hellos’ and I went into the house, there was an envelope on the floor that had obviously just been posted there. Imagine my surprise when I found inside a cheque for £1,000 and a letter to say that it was a gift from one of our church members who had recently died.

Our God had given us back, not only the money that we had used from church funds but had increased it to cover all the donations as well!
To those who use well what they are given, even more will be given, and they will have an abundance. Matt.25:29a


P.S. The other day Eddy paid me the greatest compliment when he said “Nanny, I love you more than gravy!”

Thursday, 24 January 2008

Monday, 14 January 2008

New Year’s Reflection

Do you know what I love about life?


It’s pretty brilliant actually, I mean the sun comes up and then it goes down and every morning when that happens what do you get? You get a new day.

You get a new one!

It’s kinda like when you look at something, when you set your eyes on it, and take in the images and every time you do that, before you can blink, the images change!

These images have life, they’re always changing, always new, every second we capture is fresh. The second that I exist in, blows past me, like the wind, then another second passes, then another, …...then another,………. then another.

I look at my reflection and understand I’m not the same man I was ten seconds ago.

Always growing, always taking in, always renewing.

And every second is this beautiful new chance for a new life. A new original moment of life that’s filled with potential. Potential to love, potential to affect change in myself and in others, potential to grow.

And this year may God grant me the ability to seize the day.

To seize every second and unravel His purpose, His potential for me and that’s it,……... ….that’s what I love about life...…...Time!

Saturday, 12 January 2008


Admit it, you've been there (and you may have been there a few days ago). You receive a gift that makes you grimace -- an orange tie with purple stripes, perhaps, or a battery-operated radish peeler. You can't be impolite and say, "I don't like it. I want to exchange it." So what do you say?

Fortunately someone has come up with "The Top Ten Things to Say About a Christmas Gift You Don't Like":

10. Hey! Now there's a gift!

9. Well, well, well ...

8. What a shame! If I hadn't recently shot up 4 sizes, this would've fit.

7. This is perfect for wearing around the basement.

6. I hope this never catches fire! It is fire season though. There are lots of unexplained fires.

5. If the dog buries it, I'll be furious!

4. I love it -- but I fear the jealousy it will inspire.

3. Sadly, tomorrow I enter the Federal Witness Protection Program.

2. To think -- I got this the year I vowed to give all my gifts to charity.

1. "I really don't deserve this."

Whatever you say, you know you'll be standing in line at M & S for hours with everyone else who received gifts that were just as horrible.

There's a beautiful story in 2 Corinthians 8 about a gift that the churches of Macedonia gave to Paul to help out needy Christians in Jerusalem. It was a gift that Paul was reluctant to receive. Not because there was anything wrong with it. Quite the opposite -- it was a generous gift. Perhaps too generous. The Christians who gave it were not at all wealthy, so the gift seemed excessive.

"For I bear witness that according to their ability, yes, and beyond their ability, they were freely willing, imploring us with much urgency that we would receive the gift and the fellowship of the ministering to the saints." (2 Cor. 8:3-4)

The reason that their gift was so generous and so special, though, was because of another gift they had given: "And not only as we had hoped, but they first gave themselves to the Lord, and then to us by the will of God." (2 Cor. 8:5)

Want to give a gift that will never need to be exchanged? Give yourself wholeheartedly to the Lord. It's certain to be exactly what He wants this year!

Have a great day!

Alan Smith, Helen Street Church of Christ, Fayetteville, North Carolina

Sunday, 6 January 2008

Secretary's Soapbox

Do you believe? Do you REALLY believe? Or do you just say you believe because it’s become a bit of a habit that started when you were young and your parents went to church, or made you go to Sunday School while they had a bit of peace and quiet? Or perhaps your partner was a believing Christian and it was easier to go along with the whole church-thing. For whatever reason…… do you REALLY believe deep down in your soul that God made you and this whole world and that He sent Jesus to die in your place, so that if you BELIEVE you will never, ever die, but will spend eternity in the most wonderful place that we call Heaven.

Do you sometimes listen to people talking about miraculous life-saving things that have happened to them, and think “Yeh, yeh, good story but, pull the other one it’s got bells on!” Well, I’ll tell you something……………… do I!

The trouble with hearing or reading something is that you’re getting it third-hand, you didn’t really experience the event and so the negative, cynical side of your reasoning is telling you that it can’t have happened. This even applies to reading the Bible, you can read it cover to cover as though it was a best-selling novel, and it won’t mean anything other than a good read.

So, what’s the answer? How can you become a fully-paid up born-again (because God said you must be) Christian? Don’t ask me……. I don’t know! But I know a man who does……………………..His name is Jesus, He was sent to the earth to live as a human and teach other men (and women) all about His Father (God). He ended up dying in the cruellest way imaginable, but…... He BELIEVED in us. He didn’t know us, but He believed that we were worth saving and for that reason He died for us.

When you have moments or days of doubt, get on your knees (metaphorically if the floor is a long way down! ) and talk to Him about it, speak your mind to Him, you can even shout at Him (I used to do this a lot before I became a born-again Christian and it’s very therapeutic, but make sure you’re on your own!), He will answer you but you have to listen and be ready to do what He asks

God Bless and Happy New Year to you all