Wednesday, 29 April 2009

Blue Jeans.

I spent the morning at an old lady’s house waiting for the doctor to make a house-call.

Eventually the door bell rang and standing there was a young man in his late twenties wearing jeans, a tartan style red shirt with no tie, and a sports jacket.

“I’m doctor Grange,” said he.

I let him in without a word and the old lady said: “You’re not Doctor Stuart; he’s my doctor you know!”

“Doctor Stuart is away, I’m new with the medical practice,” replied the young man as I left the room to give them some privacy.

As I waited in the hall I thought about this young man and, I must confess, I took an instant dislike to him. A doctor in jeans, indeed! And so young, what can he possibly know about medicine; he’s probably hardly ever practiced, still in diapers and just out of school.

Then it occurred to me. A light bulb switched on within my head and a message flashed in huge letters.

What a terrible thing prejudice is.

Just because he is young doesn’t make him a bad doctor. He’s probably the best qualified from his University and since he must have recently entered into practice his knowledge must be really up to date. Unlike an older doctor perhaps. (More prejudice.)

And so what if he’s wearing jeans? He’s probably off-duty and was advised by his practice to visit this old lady in the absence of her regular doctor. He obviously doesn’t attend work dressed like that.

You know, it’s human nature to be prejudiced. We all have our likes and dislikes and we react differently to peoples’ appearances, attire, age, accents, and the multitude of other feelings we have towards each other.

We’d do well to be aware of this part of our human nature and learn to keep it under control.

When Jesus walked this earth, He must have met many poor people whose clothes were dirty and torn. Lepers too, as well as prostitutes and evil-doers of all kinds. He didn’t use our prejudices in order to avoid them and judge them.

Instead, He used pity, compassion and love to help them to a better life.

Tuesday, 28 April 2009

Memories.

I visited an elderly lady today.

She said: “Nostalgia isn’t what it used to be … when I was young we used to think back about holidays by the sea, walks in the countryside, and all the simple clean fun we had when we were kids. Now it’s all computer games, DVDs, and confounded gadgets which people don’t really need. Pretty soon they’ll need a satellite navigation system to find the toilet in their own homes!”

The elderly can sometimes dispense wisdom which escapes most of us most of the time. But I suppose there’s a hidden message in what that lady said.

How we live and what we do today, will soon become our memories as we grow older and look back on our youth.

Just imagine a few years from now. As you look back on today, will you remember a happy or a sad time?

So you also now have sorrow; but I shall see you again, and your hearts will be glad, and your gladness no one will take away from you. John 16:22.

Saturday, 25 April 2009

Alone in a Crowd.

Insecurity, shyness, loneliness, not quite fitting in.

All too often one meets people who, for one reason or another, feel that they are left out from what this world has to offer.

They may well be part of a group of friends at work, or at school, college or university, but yet they feel that they don’t quite fit in somehow. They are not the center of attention – the funny one that everyone admires, the intelligent one, or the artistic or athletic one.

They are part of the group alright, but they are on the sidelines. The one who never quite gets noticed!

Such inner loneliness and insecurity can be crushing and can so easily suffocate one’s soul and one’s potential.

Look around you today – is there such a person you recognize? Do the kind thing and include them in your personal world.

True Happiness consists not in the multitude of friends; but in their worth and choice.

Thursday, 23 April 2009

Lost.

I got lost the other day … yes lost !

I was out driving in the countryside showing off to some friends from abroad the beauty of my part of the world. I turned left and right and left again not paying attention to road signs (not many in the countryside) and before I knew it I really didn’t know where I was.

Some of the signs pointed to towns and villages I’d never heard off and I really didn’t know whether I was heading North or South. I pretended I knew what I was doing of course. You won’t find me admitting to a mistake … no, never !!!

Eventually we found our way home … and without asking for directions either !!!

You know, life’s like that sometimes. We find ourselves at a cross-road and don’t really know where to turn.

Should we change career? Move to another place? Do this or do that? Do we do it now or later? How much later?

I think at times like these it is more important to focus on God rather than focus on what we’re to do and when. After all, He allowed us to be where we are at this point in time and surely, if we hold His hand, He will see us through it.

Set your hearts on the things that are in Heaven ... Keep your minds fixed on things there, not on things here on earth. Collossians 3:1-2.

Tuesday, 21 April 2009

Ill Health.

I suppose it is easy being a Christian when all is well. Life is wonderful, good job, happy family and great health.

But what happens when health starts to fail. I had the misfortune to visit a hospital the other day and saw many people in various states of bad health. I’ll leave the vivid descriptions to your imagination ….

I then recalled the many people I see in church on Sunday who are obviously very unwell. People in wheelchairs, blind people, the old and infirm … there’s even a man who has to carry with him a small machine to help him breathe (I think)!

How can these people who are obviously in failing health still turn up to church and pray? What inner strength do they possess to keep and maintain their Faith in God?

I don’t think I’ll ever know the answer. But let me at least pray to God to give them the courage to continue to be an example to others, and also to make their lives more comfortable.

Please join me in praying for all who are sick right now.

Monday, 20 April 2009

Enjoy Life.

Today I took the car for its annual maintenance service. As it was a beautiful, warm sunny day, I decided to leave the car at the service garage and walk the couple of miles or so home. They’d phone me later when the car is ready for collection.

As I walked slowly down the hill I took time to gaze at the many houses in the street on my way home.

Some were big and modern, others more compact and a few years older. I stopped every so often and looked pensively at the gardens and mentally gave each garden points on how it was maintained and looked after.

There was a garden full of lavender which attracted several bees – it smelled wonderful. In another garden I saw a bird with a small twig in its beak – no doubt building a nest somewhere. I really enjoyed myself on my way back home.

I realized that although I had driven up and down this hill for years I never noticed the beautiful houses and their gardens. You miss so much when you’re in a hurry and concentrating on something else.

Just like life really. We’re so busy these days just to keep up with living that perhaps we forget to live.

There’s so much that God has placed on this earth for us to enjoy and we just ignore them in pursuit of our individual lifestyles.

Sunday, 19 April 2009

Peter's Legacy.

What do we know about Peter?

He was a fisherman chosen by Christ as a disciple. He immediately left his nets by the sea shore and followed Jesus. (Matthew 4:18).

He can be a little impetuous and acting on impulse. When Jesus walked on water towards the boat Peter asked if he too could walk towards Christ. Jesus said: Yes, and Peter soon jumped into the lake, walked a few steps, then lost Faith and almost drowned. (Matthew 14:22).

He can talk without thinking. When Jesus taught His disciples that He was to die and then rise from the dead, Peter rebuked Christ, his own Master, and told Him this should not happen. (Matthew 16:21).

Days later, when Peter, James and John were up a high mountain with Jesus; and they saw Moses and Elijah talking with Jesus, again, Peter comes forward mouth first and suggests he builds three tents for Jesus, Moses and Elijah. What was he thinking? Having a picnic up there? (Matthew 17:1).

When Jesus was arrested, Peter really lost his head. He drew out his sword and attacked the high priest’s servant. (John 18:10).

Yet, not so longer later he denied knowing Jesus three times. (Luke 22:54).

So there you have it. A hothead, a loud mouth, who denies His Master even though he said he never would.

Yet, he then went on to lead Christ’s early church to greater things.

So, what is Peter’s legacy to us?

It is this: God is forgiveness. No matter what you have done, no matter what your sin is, if you truly repent and promise not to repeat your sin, God will forgive you and help you to greater things.

Peter denied God Himself. Yet, through forgiveness and love, became God’s leading light here on earth.

Saturday, 18 April 2009

On Stage.

They say the whole world is a stage and we are actors on it. They also say this life is no rehearsal – this is it. One and only life. Get on with it!

Let’s consider for a moment we’re on a stage. What part does God want you to play? Are you in a leading role? Centre stage? A great Christian orator, writer, pastor, celebrity or role model?

Or have you only got a minor part? Waiting on the side-lines, behind the curtains, for your time to be in the spotlight?

Whatever role God has given us in this life to witness on His behalf and to spread His Word; we’d better be ready because this is the most important task we’re ever asked to perform in this one life which we have.

Now as Jesus was walking by the Sea of Galilee, He saw two brothers, Simon who was called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea; for they were fishermen. And He said to them, "Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men." Immediately they left their nets and followed Him. Matthew 4:18-20.

Friday, 17 April 2009

Just in case.

A man is very sick in hospital having undergone several operations and getting weaker all the time. The doctor approaches him looking very solemn. The patient asks in between deep labored breathing: “How am I doing doc?”

Without raising his eyes from his notes the doctor replies: “Do you believe in God?”

“No … never; I’ve never believed in Him or anything like that,” replies the sick man.

“Well … you’d better start believing … just in case” says the doctor as he walks away.

Now here’s a thought …

Who is God? Is He our Creator, a loving Father, who gave us so much that we could never repay Him back?

Or is He just an insurance policy … just in case.

Thursday, 16 April 2009

Planning ahead?

If you want to make God laugh tell Him your plans.

Years ago, I was talking to my boss about career plans in a large organization. He smiled at me and said that in three years’ time he’d achieve a great ambition.

I was puzzled; but he explained, showing me a small organization sketch he had drawn up, that within three years several senior managers would have left the organization. He said “X retires next year, they’ll promote Y to take his job, this leaves a vacancy which will be filled by Z” and so on and on. He had planned who would leave when creating a potential vacancy which he was best placed to fill.

How sad, I thought. He was so keen to progress up the organization that he had plotted a potential path to help achieve his ambitions.

How often do we too, plan so far ahead, that we forget to take into consideration what God wants for us, or what He might wish us to do on His behalf.

“So do not worry about tomorrow; it will have enough worries of its own. There is no need to add to the troubles each day brings.” Matthew 6:34.

“Not my will, however, but your will be done.” Luke 22:42.

Wednesday, 15 April 2009

Consider others.

Many years ago when I was young I had to drive from my office to a town some miles away for a meeting. I took a colleague with me.

He was gregarious, always joking and telling stories and was fun to be with.

Our journey took us through narrow winding country lanes, up and down steep hills, and at one point near the sea with beautiful mountains in the background. It was a warm and sunny day and I enjoyed the drive ahead.

My passenger was unusually silent and I surmised that he was rehearsing in his head the important speech he was about to make at the meeting.

When we arrived at our destination he got out of the car and said in a loud voice: “I will never, ever, get in a car with you again!” then he stormed into the building.

That evening he took the train back home and I drove alone.

I was to learn later from other colleagues that my driving was too fast – “almost reckless” he had described it. Yet he was too polite (or frightened?) to say anything during the journey.

I apologized to him of course. But the problem was that I had totally miss-read the situation and took his silence for what it wasn’t.

How often do we fail to consider the feelings of those close to us as we rush speedily through our busy lives?

Tuesday, 14 April 2009

Memory Lapses.

Two elderly couples are having a pleasant evening meal together. When they finish the ladies go to the kitchen whilst the men stay at the table enjoying a brandy and a cigar.

The host says to the guest: Jolly nice restaurant we went to last night. I can really recommend it.

The guest replies: Really? What’s it called?

The host mumbles: Ehmmm let me think … what’s the name of that flower you give when you’re in love … you know … usually red with thorns …

The guest says: A rose.

The host replies: That’s right …

Then looking towards the kitchen he says: Rose … what’s the name of that restaurant we went to yesterday?

We all have lapses in memory from time to time. So let’s jog our collective memories for a few moments.

Have we forgotten to say thank you to someone lately? God, for instance, for all He has done for us.

Or a relative or friend who has been kind to us?

Have we failed to say sorry for any hurt we may have caused?

Have we missed someone’s birthday and did not send a card?

Let us not forget that some things in life are too important to forget.

Monday, 13 April 2009

When you're down.

Ever felt disheartened, sad and really low down? Most of us have.

We look around us and see things going wrong, and perhaps we can’t cope any more. What’s worse, we see good things happen to bad people. People who don’t even believe in God. At least that’s how it looks from where we’re standing.

This is what Jesus had to say to His disciples: “The Father Himself loves you. He loves you because you love me and have believed that I came from God. I did come from the Father, and I came into the world; and now I am leaving the world and going to the Father … I have told you this so that you will have peace by being united to me. The world will make you suffer. But be brave! I have defeated the world!” John 16:27-33.

Wednesday, 8 April 2009

Granite Heart.

What’s our heart made of?

Tender flesh soft and gentle,
Feels the pain that’s all around,
Cries at hurts, wrongs and injustice,
Bleeds with every tortured soul.

Or slowly hardened by life’s cruelty,
Fatigued by constant repeated ills,
To the point it beats no longer
And turns to granite cold and still.

Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. Matthew 5:8.

But the seed on good soil stands for those with a noble and good heart, who hear the word, retain it, and by persevering produce a crop. Luke 8:15.

Change.

A very rich woman in hospital in intensive care dies for a few seconds. She sees herself leave her body in a near death experience and meets God in Heaven. “Is that it?” she asks Him, “Am I dead?”

“No,” says God, “you will live for many more years yet!”

She recovers in hospital and is well again. She is so cheerful that she decides to improve herself. She gets plastic surgery done on her face, loses some weight, gets her hair re-styled and dyed a different colour, gets a new set of stylish clothes and looks terrific once again.

A few days later she is hit by a bus and killed instantly.

When she meets God she complains, “I thought you said I’ll live for many years yet!”

God replies, “Sorry, I didn’t recognize you after the make-over!”

When we look in the mirror, do we like what we see?

Is there anything about us we would like to change?

I don’t mean physical characteristics, but things about our character and personality. A little kinder perhaps, more generous, less glum and moody and a bit more hopeful and joyful.

Dear Lord, please help to change me into someone you recognize and like.

Tuesday, 7 April 2009

The Way ...

A woman gives her husband two beautiful silk ties for his birthday. In order to please her, he decides to wear one of the ties as they go out to a restaurant to celebrate his birthday.

As soon as she sees him wearing the tie she said: “What’s wrong with the other one?”

Choices …

I was at the supermarket the other day looking for some basics: toothpaste and soap. It’s surprising how many different types and brands of toothpaste there are. The same applies to soap, or any other product for that matter.

In a consumer society we seem to be spoilt for choice. Choice can be a good thing, or a bad thing – it all depends on your perspective and way of thinking.

Now let’s consider this:

“I am the way, the truth, and the life; no one goes to the Father except by me.” John 14:6.

The choice here is simple.

Monday, 6 April 2009

Relying on God.

A little child of six was taught by his parents that Jesus is always with him. Helping him, protecting him and guiding him as he goes through life.

One day the child was out riding his tricycle. He was pedaling as hard as he could up a hill followed by his parents on their cycles. No matter how hard his little legs went round and round, the tricycle hardly moved up the steep hill.

Eventually the child got off the tricycle and said: “It’s no use Jesus, you’ll have to get off and help me push it up the hill!”

There are times in life when we are really down. Maybe it’s because we’re over-tired. Or it is because things have been going badly for us lately. Things out of our personal control perhaps, like the illness of someone we love, or loss of a job, failure in exams and so on.

That’s the time when, like a child, we should stop and ask Jesus to help.

Sunday, 5 April 2009

Denying God.

This week we read that, whilst Jesus was arrested, Peter denied Him three times. Luke 22: 54-62.

Is this relevant to us today?

Let’s consider if, like Peter, we ever deny God.

Are there occasions in life when God is mocked at work, or amongst friends and acquaintances, and we keep our heads down, don't say anything in case we're unpopular or laughed at; and in doing so deny Him in silence?

Are there times when people discuss Christianity and we would rather not take part lest they think less of us?

Do we miss opportunities to proclaim our Faith and glorify our Father in Heaven?

For whom the cock crows?

Poor.

While Jesus was eating, a woman came in with an ababaster jar full of very expensive perfume made from pure nard. She broke the jar and poured the perfume on Jesus’ head. Some of the people there became angry and said to one another, “What was the use of wasting the perfume? It could have been sold for more than three hundred silver coins and the money given to the poor!” And they criticized her harshly.

But Jesus said, “Leave her alone! Why are you bothering her? She has done a fine and beautiful thing for me. You will always have poor people with you, and any time you want to, you can help them. But you will not always have me.” Mark 14 3-7.

It is perhaps significant that no one asked Jesus, “Why? Why will we always have the poor with us?”

Is Jesus saying that God will always allow poverty in this world? Is He saying that all our efforts to help the poor are in vain?

Of course not. He is not saying this.

Jesus is reminding us that there will always be someone worse off than us. Someone who is poor in material things, poor in spirit, poor in health, poor in education or poor in Faith.

He is reminding us of our responsibility towards those in poverty in one way or another.

If we are fortunate to be rich, we should give to those who have not. If we are in good health, we should help those who are sick. And if our Faith is strong, we should help and pray for those who falter and fail in their walk with the Lord.

This is our responsibility to those who are poor in one way or another.

And with this responsibility comes a greater and more onerous one. That is to answer to Him when He asks us: “And what have you done with the riches I gave you?”

Saturday, 4 April 2009

Repeat Sin.

A woman was taken to hospital with two burnt ears. When asked how it happened she replied: The phone rang whilst I was ironing. The doctor said: That explains one burnt ear. What about the other? The woman replied: That happened when I rang for an ambulance.

OK … before any ladies reading this get upset with me, let me apologise and explain that I couldn’t have said a man was ironing, since, as we all know, men can’t iron a handkerchief to save their lives.

And if any men are upset by my comments let them prove me wrong by doing the household ironing for a month.

Right, now let’s get back to the message behind the joke.

Why can’t we learn from our mistakes? There’s nothing wrong in getting it wrong every now and then as long as we learn from it and get it right.

“Go, but do not sin again.” John 8:11.

Thursday, 2 April 2009

Old age.

Today I learnt a salutary lesson.

I visited an old lady of 80 years of age. She has been very ill recently and age has had its toll … she walks very slowly with the aid of a stick. She can hardly move because of the pain … and just getting out of a chair is a Herculean task for her.

As she was shuffling from one room to another slowly, I offered to help. She declined gently and said defiantly: I will not be trapped in my own body.

Those words are still ringing in my ears. Her brain is as sharp as ever but she is hindered by her body.

I remember reading somewhere that scientists can’t find a good reason why we age – i.e. why not just shut down and die. What is the purpose of a continuous and painful aging process?

I suppose God allows aging so that the rest of us can help those less able than ourselves. What do you think?

Wednesday, 1 April 2009

At the doctor's.

I was standing in the street this morning outside a doctor’s surgery; I was waiting for an elderly patient to take her back home.

Out came an impeccably dressed old gentleman. He was wearing a three-piece tweed suit, a heavy overcoat, a hat, and carrying an umbrella. The sort of old gentleman you only get to meet in Britain I suppose.

He stopped on the sidewalk, looked left and right in puzzlement, then said to me: “I can’t remember where I left my car !!!”

I smiled and said jokingly: “You haven’t left it at home, have you?”

“Ah … !!!” he replied, “now you mention it; yes I have. It’s such a nice day, I thought the walk would do me good. Cheerio !!!”

And he walked away happily.

A few minutes later another old man came our of the doctor’s.

“Hmmm …” he said, “the doctor told me I’m overweight and my blood pressure is high. He suggested I get some exercise. He said I should do something every week that leaves me slightly out of breath. I think I’ll take up smoking again!”

And he walked away chortling to himself.

It’s not often I’m entertained by elderly people. May God bless them and all senior folks.