Sunday, 27 January 2013


Despite all evidence to the contrary  I am not a fool. Not a complete fool anyway. There are things in life that are so obvious that I don't need to be told about them. I have lived a long time. Just over half a century now -  think of that. Not all the time in that half century was spent in the gathering of wisdom (unless you count learning to walk and also to poo in a socially acceptable place). However for a goodly proportion of my half century I have been, as they say, living and learning.
So why do I know NOTHING? Why do the same things come and bite my bum on a regular basis and I either, do nothing to change them or learn some degree of serenity about the things I cannot change. Life is a balance, I know this but I spend an awful lot of time being the plonker bouncing up and down in the net under the tightrope because I have messed up the balance again.

  • I feel at my best when I have been productive and yet I am developing procrastination as an Olympic sport.
  • Developing a high level of expertise at Solitaire does not count as productivity.
  • I know that rest is a necessary part of life and yet I struggle to do it without guilt.
  • Most people probably don't hate me yet I will still apologise for my existence, given half a chance.
  • People don't behave well all the time and sometimes I really do just have to tackle it and stop it.
  • Not everything is my fault.
  • Like most people, I have been through quite a lot in my life. When suffering things in the past, I swore that I would never as our American friends say "sweat the small stuff" again. 
  • I sweat the small stuff about twenty times an hour.
  • Life makes me fearful sometimes.

Ahem. You may have noticed that I have not had the best of weeks.
So I find myself on a Sunday, looking at another week and wondering how to make a difference. And something keeps coming back into my head that has been floating in and out of my thoughts all week. It's a phrase. Out of context as usual but that, as you are well aware by now, is how I er.. roll.

"This same Jesus."

That's all. Part of a sentence that the angel used to tell the disciples that Jesus would be coming back. It's in Acts 1 if you want to find it. (Like I said - ratty today)

This same Jesus who cured sicknesses and raised people from the dead is in the heavenlies for me. There is no such thing as hopeless.
This same Jesus who walked with wisdom and kindness will expect me to do the same and will also give me what I need to do it.
This same Jesus is not diluted by the passage of time and I need to live so that I ask, receive, learn, rest, grow, give and generally exist under the same Jesus influence as the disciples did.

I think know that my task (should I choose to accept it) is to spend the days plugging in (that is such an awful phrase but you know what I mean) to This same Jesus. Getting hold of the man in the Bible: the things he said, the things he did, the love he lived and making it more and more a part of who I am. That way more peace and less rattiness lies.

Er.. Should have that sorted by about Tuesday of next week then.

Sunday, 20 January 2013


Quite annoyed this week. I rooted around the Internet and found the interview that Lance Armstrong did with Oprah. I didn't stay up until 2am or anything - are you mad? It was everywhere though and therefore, quite easy to have a look at. First of all I have to say that I think Oprah did a sterling job. If Armstrong thought he was going to come into this and have Oprah stroke his thigh and talk about his "feelings" he seemed to have miscalculated. She demanded "yes-no" answers to her first set of questions most of which followed on from "Did you dope?" including "Did you dope for all of your Tour victories?" The answer was yes. I have to tell you that I have some sympathy for Armstrong. Obsessed by winning, he seemed to mentally move into a mythical world, where cheating was the norm and once you start you are in it for good. Of course, this is easy for me to say as I am not a cyclist trying to earn a living. (I say again - are you mad? Center Parcs nearly finished me.) Riding clean behind Armstrong and his team who were riding with the blood not only coursing round their veins but also coursing out of their bodies to have extra oxygen put in, must have been the definition of the word frustration.
I know it must seem a bit of a stretch to say there but for the Grace of God go any of us. What are the chances of someone like me leading a corrupt cycling team which ran doping stations in hotels all over the world? Slim I know, but the principle is the same. Life gives us a million chances a day to make the wrong decisions and if the people around us don't challenge us and we seem to be getting away with it, sometimes we just carry on, eventually almost believing that it is ok.
I don't think it's that fact that he did it that wound me up. It's more the way he behaved when it seemed that the fat lady was tuning up and the end was in sight. People began to testify against him and he responded with the most dreadful bullying and intimidation. Really nasty stuff. He called his masseuse a whore in front of the world's press and got under the skin of another journalist by making disparaging remarks about his relationship with his dead son. Finally, he informed Oprah that he hadn't been a bully before he had cancer, and in one master stroke offended all those who have cancer or care for those with cancer who have managed live with this awful disease thus far without turning into complete rat bags.
He behaved like a cornered animal, slashing out at anything that he felt threatened him and in a way I suppose that is understandable. However, I think that eventually, whatever we have done, the easiest thing to do, is to give in and say sorry. There is a grace and a relief in giving in and admitting that we were wrong, that we made a mistake. People who admit that they were wrong seem to have a dignity about them. Maybe it's because they are wiser than us and have been brave enough to look at themselves harder than we can. People say that Lance Armstrong is looking for redemption - a chance to start again. The trouble is, that it is impossible to start again until we finish our unfinished business. Redemption can only happen after repentance  - waking up and saying sorry and only then letting it go. It is, as they say, that old time religion.

"If we claim that we're free of sin, we're only fooling ourselves A claim that is errant nonsense. On the other hand, if we admit our sins - make a clean breast of them - he won't let us down, he'll be true to himself. 
1 John 1:9

Sunday, 13 January 2013

The Year of..

Brugel - Tower of Babel
...not doing it all. I am all behind, as they say in the best pantos. Most people have made their resolutions by now. Many are still struggling manfully with them. However, lots of people I know have given up already, having been overcome by the multiple temptations of toasted teacakes, roaring fires and spending money at car boots as opposed to eating lettuce, going running and sticking to a budget. I, however, have not got to being New Yearish yet, even though it is nearly the end of January (not near enough to payday though if you ask me) I did get round to thinking about it though. I am a very, very deep thinker and anyone who knows me will vouch for this. As a result, I have decided that I am going to do a lot less this year. HOH may well be raising an eyebrow now and silently hoping that this does not apply to housework as we very much operate on a "sharing" basis in that area. Some would say that it is not always shared equally but I am a great believer in playing to your strengths and, disappointingly, cleaning Venetian blinds is not one of mine.
I thought of calling it the year of petitionery prayer but I know that some people, me included, sometimes have problems with the way this seems to treat God like a slot machine. So I thought hard about what I meant by that and I mean that I would like this to be the year when I try to lean less on myself and more on God.

I just don't ask enough.

This does not mean that this is the year that I get that Ferrari. (Don't really want one to be honest, never understood the attraction of travelling at great speeds with my bottom three inches from the road.)  I am  talking about handing over to God. About realising a lot quicker that I am out of my depth. It is about not trying to do everything myself - wading in and thrashing about, trying to sort stuff. It is about handing stuff over to God, in faith that he can sort things and then choosing not to worry.

Bill Hybels, the author tells of his life revolutionised by changing the way he prayed. He made sure that he found time to pray often enough to give everything to God. He gave things over with faith. He made a notice saying "God is Able" to remind him. The more he asked, the more he received - answers, wisdom, miracles, even.

I have to take responsibility for my life, we all do but this is the best way I know of doing that. I serve a God that knows me better than I know myself. This morning, in church, our pastor said that God's main problem with the Tower of Babel was that God wasn't in it. In the end it was just a tower - what for? I would like my life to be more than that. I have an opportunity, bought by grace, to invite God into every area of my life and see him do fab things. Or I can have a pop at it myself like I usually do and continue to miss out.

Have a great week.

Sunday, 6 January 2013


Sooo, this was the week some Christians celebrate Epiphany. I am not very good at Christian celebrations. I was not brought up in the C of E tradition. In fact, these things were frowned upon in our circles as IDOLATRY! there was probably a reason for that but I am not sure I can help you with it. Anyway, as far as I can make out Epiphany is the end of Christmas and

"A Christian feast celebrating the manifestation of the divine nature of Jesus to the Gentiles as represented by the Magi."

(Looked that up from dictionary for you. That's ok  - you don't have to thank me.)

We didn't make much of the Magi/Wise Men/Astronomers in our church. We didn't sing "We Three Kings" much ("Too much like an autobiography - not enough about Jesus") I used to find this a bit of a disappointment. At school, it was always a chance for a singing solo as three people were always picked to be a king. The pinnacle of achievement was to do the Myrrh verse as that was the most dramatic. In my youth work years there was also a memorable occasion when the young people had been forced encouraged to get together a Christmas choir for the shopping mall. They amused themselves on this hymn by starting the chorus "OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOHHHHHHHH-----STAR OF WONDER..." Sort of in the manner of a drunken rugby party. Many people who were doing their shopping seemed to be genuinely frightened. There were some frankly disappointing  stories of some youth leaders melting into the crowds and pretending there was something pressing that had to be bought from the local ironmongers - never to return.

Anyway, leaving all that behind, when you look at the Wise Men, they were your actual heroes don't you think? They had no Jewish tradition of the Messiah, no church background, no Christian Royal Family to protect them. Yet, armed only with a pressing conviction that something that they had looked for for years was actually happening, they set off to follow a star into a strange land whose leader Herod was beginning to feel like a cornered animal and behave accordingly. Yet off they went. They were determined to worship the new king no matter what. Their journey was not easy. All they had to go on was this star that they were following and a creepy king who had said - "Once you find the child - let me know so I can worship as well." Yeh right. But there was no throwing in the towel, legging it back to the East and calling the whole thing off. They had watched, they had waited. The time to move was now and they were moving matey. They were a determined bunch and when they found Jesus, they were overcome with joy. Do you ever wonder what it was about this child that made them so certain that they were at the right place? I mean, at this point, he didn't exactly fit the Great Messiah profile did he? But they knew.

Someone told me once that in life, all you need to do was to push on doors very lightly and then God would swing them open. If the door does not open, then it is not God's will. I have not always found this to be the case. Not all my doors in life have burst open. Some have needed prayer, some have needed my discipline and hard work. Sometimes I have walked away from doors thinking that things aren't "meant". Yet sometimes, I have had to come back to a door and try again and again, and then have found my way through. Life is difficult, I have found. It was the same for the Magi, dogged, determined and faithful, they kept trying until they found what they were looking for.

I don't really do New Year's Resolutions. But if I did, I think it would be to continue to pursue the things in my life that I am supposed to be pursuing - to press on and be determined to get to where I need to be.

Happy New Year from all at Martha Towers

PS FOW1 if you are reading this at uni, your bedroom was a horrendous mess when you left to go back but your dad did find over £5 in loose change on the floor so we have a had a bottle of wine on you. You really should consider buying a wallet - or a peggy purse.

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