May 1985 seems a lifetime ago, well half a lifetime anyway!
Bernie and I went to Wiedenest, Germany where I had been invited to sing at a large youth conference. Meeting and talking to the kids as well as being up front was a great bonus; as was listening to the main conference speaker a much respected old friend of mine for many years the late Nigel Lee.
Both Bernie and I had forgotten that we’d been videoed several times until he found a cassette whilst tidying stuff up at home a few weeks ago. Who are these young slim looking guys playing guitar and singing? The thing that blew me away is that I don’t remember singing or even writing one of the songs! Oh, the joys of getting older (!) and neither of us can reach the high notes any more, even wearing a tight pair of Jeans!
In spite of all that, all these years later the message is still the same, ‘Won’t you let Jesus in your life’ to quote from the long-forgotten song – so we’re still singing, albeit in a much lower key, and sharing the love and mercy of God shown in the life, death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus.
Christmas how did it all start? Arguably the most important historical birth ever that continues to rock the world and affect people’s lives today.
Announced on YouTube, TikTok, Facebook, filmed by Netflix? No!! But by an angel sent from God, backed by a heavenly choir to ordinary shepherds just doing their job on a Bethlehem hillside, watching over their flocks and at night too. What a shock they must have had.
Following God’s instructions off they went, found the stable, bowed down in awe and wonder to worship the baby born to be a heavenly King then………..went back to work with a new spring in their step understanding in part that God’s long awaited Messiah had come to rescue his people.
That rescue is still open today to all who wonder, welcome and bow to worship him as King of their hearts and lives and not only, as the shepherds thought, from their enemies outside but much more from the enemy we all have within, the sin that separates us from God.
The writer G K Chesterton wrote:
‘The world will not perish for lack of wonders but for lack of WONDER.’
Let’s join the shepherds and regain that sense of wonder at the coming of Jesus to be the Saviour of the world.
Covid 19 has spread it’s gloomy shadow over the whole earth in these last few months bringing sickness and death in every place. It is also causing economic collapse in countries, in industry and most worryingly in individual homes. Yet so many are working hard to stop it’s effects and it’s spread particularly those in health services and caring professions across the world!
Where is God may well be the cry of many troubled and fearful hearts?
“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble” was the cry of the Psalmist. (Psalm 46:1)
“The LORD upholds all who are falling and raises up all who are bowed down”. (Psalm:145:14)
“The LORD is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth”. (Psalm:145:18)
In the silence of our empty streets particularly in ‘locked down’ towns and cities surely the right thing to do is “Be still, and know that He is God”. (Psalm 46:10)
But the best thing is to know with absolute confidence that the Lord Jesus His beloved Son is risen and with us always. He will save and welcome into his eternal Kingdom all who turn to him and trust in him.
‘….to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God‘. (John 1:12)
THIS WAS WRITTEN OCTOBER 2010 – following my final trip to Eastern Europe
After the first presentation of the CHOOSE LIFE drugs programme a teenage girl cries, ‘Can such a thing be in our school!’ – the first of many conversations both short and long with those whom we had the privilege of meeting.
Eighteen presentations to around 3,000 students including two in Young Offenders Units
A Sunday morning church service – a Gospel Concert in the home of some believers and also an adult male prison.
Over two thousand miles on the road and six hundred on a big North Sea Ferry wrapped up what were seventeen busy and we hope, fruitful days.
Paul the New Testament Missionary wrote – ‘Conduct yourselves with wisdom towards outsiders, making the most of every opportunity. Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned as it were with salt so you may know how you should respond to each person’.
That’s what we’ve tried to do!
Leaving for the last time,
Like closing a well loved and well worn door
But this time never to be reopened – at least not this side of Heaven
How to say ‘Goodbye’ – but not for the last time
As the old philosopher said,
“Those who love the Lord never say ‘Goodbye’ for the last time”
Narrow the circle of travel – pull in the horns
Don’t head for the distance, just some local shore
I’ve just been reading through what I last wrote about my travels and realise that most of what I mentioned there is very much what we’ve continued to be involved with during these past six months. Having said that there is much to be thankful for in the lives of those who have come to faith, grown in faith or come under the sound of the Gospel for the first time.
It was good to spend a couple of days in Kirby in August with pastor Graham Peel and the Passion for Kirby team. They really are a faithful group who work so hard to reach people in the town. I pray that they will reap a harvest in this northern town. I’ve mentioned the Johnny Cash’s Gospel Road audio/visual programme that I do in the past and we continue to get opportunities to use it as a stepping stone in the work of the Kingdom. In the Autumn we ran it at my own local fellowship and saw around 80 people come to listen, many of who have no real church connections. I say “we” ran it, as my old friend Dave Lloyd joined me on bass guitar and it was, as always, a joy to be with him. Wendy introduced us 50 years ago when I first became a Christian and he’s been a friend and mentor ever since. In fact we formed the country gospel band Canaan in the early 1970’s along with Bob Fraser and Dave Lewis – made a couple of albums along the way, played the Albert Hall and Greenbelt Music and Arts Festival then gently faded out of sight! Dave is now 83, but still serving the Lord in his local church and alongside me when time allows. No retirement here!! Dave and I recently did a benefit concert for our local soup kitchen called The Well Cafe her is St Annes and a Seasonal audio/visual concert ‘They said there’d be snow at Christmas…!’ and again good crowds of believers and non believers came along. Contacts were made and we pray for those whose hearts were warmed to the Good News of Jesus.
I’m still travelling around 10 or so prisons in the North of England giving Gospel concerts and I’m always encouraged by the warm response from these ‘captive’ audiences – I count it a privilege to serve the lads in this way.
I guess I forgot to mention that I produced another CD at the Shack with my old friend Keith Shackleton and they are available from me for £2.50 including p & p. Just email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you’d like a taste of what’s new!! Oh yes, the title is BOUND FOR GLORY.
Looking at my 2020 diary things seem to be much quieter than in past years, but we look to the Lord to fill the diary with the right opportunities. I still struggle with walking any distance or standing for any length of time due to a couple of damaged vertebrae and spinal stenosis, all signs of wear and tear (probably due to carrying heavy amplifiers over many years!), but wonderfully the most comfortable place to be is sat in the car so no problem in setting off to serve, praise the Lord!
Congratulations if you’ve read through all this and thanks, I’ll put some more stuff down in a few months time.
May the road rise to meet you, May the wind be on your back, May the Son shine warm upon your face, Nothing may you lack,
‘I’m on this lonely heartworn highway’ is the first line of a song I often sing when visiting people in our local soup kitchens. Many of the guests are always on the move but never seem to be getting anywhere or doing anything of much. In the Bible it says ‘Jesus went about doing good’ (Acts 10:38). If we’re honest a lot of the time we just ‘go about’! The key is that ‘God anointed Jesus with the Holy Spirit and with power….for God was with Him’. Peter tells how Jesus commanded the disciples to testify that God appointed him to be judge of the living and the dead and proclaim forgiveness of sins to everyone who believes in his name.
When that becomes our main aim in life we will no longer be just ‘going about’ but we’ll also be ‘going about doing good’. When the Holy Spirit was poured out on the believers at Pentecost they immediately began the good work of proclaiming and even ‘gossiping’ the Gospel. As believers today we have been given the same Spirit in order to do the same good work. Let’s be sure to make that our priority – ‘going about doing good’!