Friday, December 14, 2007

My Mate Bob

This week I had to have my car serviced. I have a friend called Bob who has his own car repair business who has been 'doing my cars' for years. So off I went to drop off my Ford estate for a few hours in exchange for his 'courtesy car', an old Maestro van.

If you want quality surroundings and coffee while you wait RJ Bartle Motors is not the place for you. If you want a quality mechanic who is as honest as they come and an hours chat when you drop your car off and when you pick it up then Bob is your man.

As I drove back home in the courtesy van I reminded myself of how we met and how instrumental this ordinary man of God was in bringing me back into the fold.

I had been out of the 'ministry' for a couple of years and Mrs P and I were not attending church. We had many issues and felt hurt and rejected so we didn't go. We were okay with that but in reality if we had stayed in that routine we would have missed much.

I was out of work and we had no money. Ben, our eldest, was a baby and I had an old Ford Cortina that we could just about afford. One day the engine kept cutting out. My father-in-law advised me that he knew a mechanic who happened to be a Christian and who we could trust to do an honest job. That was Bob. He had a garage not far from home and so I managed to get there and within a couple of minutes he diagnosed and fixed the problem. Can't even remember if he charged us.

Not long after I got a job and changed my car for a VW Camper. I had always wanted one. It turned out to be the biggest drain on my finances. Always in for repair. Bob was the one who benefited from this. We began to develop a friendship, Bob is a talker.

One January through a Christian friend at work we were invited to a concert held in a school hall. We drove freezing cold in our camper quite a distance out of Birmingham where we live. The concert began and who should be one of the lead singers but Bob. His seven month pregnant wife was one of the other singers. We got talking at the end and found out that they attending a little Baptist Church not far from where we lived.

Over the next months my camper spent more time with Bob than me and so my visits to see him increased. Eventually he found me another car when I finally gave in and sacrificed the dream for reality (and solvency). Then one day he asked me bluntly why I didn't attend church and why didn't I go to his that Sunday. I did and my wife and I spent three years there before moving to another Baptist Church which we attended for thirteen years.

That little church brought great healing to us. God used it to restore us and we gained great friendships that will never end. There is lots more to the story but time limits what I can write.

Thank God for His ordinary people who take faith seriously and live the gospel not just preach it. Thank God for the Bob's of this world who are naturally supernatural.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

School Days in France

I am just about to return from France after spending a week with my friends the Hadleys who live in Sorbiers near St Etienne.

Yesterday I went with Wayne to his school, St Paul's, to take part in an English Conversation lesson. I did this a year back and recognised some of the faces of the pupils. The lesson took the same format with me being asked questions about myself, my name, age, where I have been etc.

Last time this happened I was with my wife and another friend, an older lady from the church we attended. A question I was asked was, 'Is this your daughter?' pointing to my wife! There were puzzled expressions when I said it was my wife. The next question was, 'Is this your mother?', pointing to the older lady! It grew worse as we were then asked our ages etc. They couldn't quite get their head around the fact that I was married to someone so young. It caused great hilarity for Wayne and the team visiting France with us.

This time the questions were kinder. Age and name came up but nothing embarrassing. I really enjoyed my time with the class. They were really nice kids and I already have added one of them, Camille, as a friend on Facebook.

I find its much more interesting to visit France and stay with a family. You see the people and country in a different way. I love France and have a growing love for the French. I have found a welcome in this town and enjoy the experiences of being here.

So its off to the airport in Lyon and back to my home country but part of me is in France and I hope to come back again and again and again. My prayer is that this country will find God's blessing and the love and joy that I have found in serving Jesus.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

New Operating System

I have finally come to realise that soon I need to buy a new laptop for my business. Normally I would be excited and in part I am but I know this time it will mean I have to get to know a new operating system, the dreaded Vista.

It is so different from what I have grown used to but because I sell PC's and repair and fix them I need to bite the bullet. I know I will get frustrated because they have renamed familiar tasks and some of the ways of working will seem long-winded. Its par for the course.

I then realised that coping with change is not something that I have just found difficult as I get older, I have never relished the process of change. What is it about change that is challenging? For me it is having to become vulnerable. I like the unfamiliar that change brings but the vulnerability is the thing that gets to me.

I remember when Windows XP replaced Windows 98. I was an expert in 98. I didn't want to become a novice again. Now I am quite knowledgeable on a PC with XP installed so I don't want to move into Vista.

In the Bible there were similar experts in Jesus time. They were experts in the law of the Old Testament. They could quote it, tell you how to apply it and in some cases how to get round it. In one example the law says that on the Sabbath you can't travel more than a mile from your gatepost so they made the gateposts portable and put them in the cart with them.

Jesus came a long with a new operating system. It was all about humility and grace, love and meekness and faith in God justifying a person for eternity. It threatened the whole way of life for the law experts. They were sincere in their beliefs but Jesus said the effect of this on people was like carrying a heavy yoke on your back.

This challenge of new things didn't end with Jesus. The Apostle Paul began to reveal new things as well. Things like, no circumcision, priesthood for all and everyone being Spirit-filled believers.

The challenges still continue. I am seeing that the new challenge is for the church. Is God bringing new things that we are seeing as a threat to our way of doing things? I think He is. After all its His Church He can do what He wants with it can't He?

Eventually the thing that I was expert at will become obsolete. Windows 98 is a fading glory, XP will follow in the same way. Vista is the new thing and if that's were the work is I have to adapt. I won't get much work as an expert on Windows 98! I have to name the old as obsolete and embrace the new.

Maybe spiritually this is what is holding some of us back. Has God moved on and we are clinging to old operating systems.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Not fit for the task

This week I returned home from working away and discovered the next morning that the shower was faulty. It was no longer fit for the purpose it was made for. I was hoping for a rest yesterday, I had only slept in my own bed three times in the previous three weeks, but the shower needed replacing.

I managed to find a bargain and presumed that if I bought one almost identical that I could fit it without too many problems. I duly ordered one and decided to have a go with the help of my son Ben.

I was brought up not being shown anything about DIY and it always makes me feel inadequate when I have to do any. The theory seems easy but application leaves me at a loss. When I lived in my first house after being married I was hopeless. What made it embarrassing was that it was the church manse and as such a public arena. Most of the older men in the church were skilled workers and this made it worse. I was hopeless and only one of these guys, Mr Wills, took the time to get alongside and do jobs with me. There were some funny moments and not so funny moments. In truth looking back I can probably laugh at them all now. The familiar cry during those times was, 'What have you done now?' This was the beginning of my 'DIY' history and like the shower I often feel 'unfit for the task' when I attempt any. Some of us are just not built that way.

Ben and I took our time and began the job after lunch. All went well, we managed to get the old shower off and started to fix the new one to the wall. I then realised that although the water and electricity supplies would be fine I needed to drill new holes through the tiles to screw the unit to the wall. I have done this before so I knew to put tape on the wall to stop the drill bit from slipping but I couldn't remember which drill bit I used. I came to a full stop, realised that I needed to buy a special bit or risk messing things up. Off to Wickes and hey presto the right tool made it easy and the shower was up and running in no time. I could feel a certain amount of pride at completing the job.

I was reminded of how important it is to have the right tools and for things to be fit for purpose otherwise they are useless. Spiritually there was a lesson in this for me. I need to be reminded that if God chose me for a reason He must think I am 'fit for purpose'. The Bible says that we are 'called according to His purpose'. I know that when I have messed up its because I have done things outside of that call, I wasn't made to do them and therefore couldn't do them well.

Often I don't feel fit for His purpose. I sometimes feel that maybe God has got it wrong or that I am doing things that I can't really do and one day the whole thing is going to blow up in my face. I then realise that all I have to be is His tool. A great tool can be right for the task but in the wrong hands its useless. All I have to do is keep submitting and obeying and He will continue using me. I am not great, in fact I wouldn't cross the road to see me but if God speaks and acts through me that's something different.

I am only a great tool as long as He uses me.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Crazy Solutions

Our 'just out of warranty' tumble dryer suddenly stopped working earlier this year. What with being away for the summer and no longer having the obligation towards a lodger we just left it. I recently started to see washing on airers which really annoys me so I thought I'd look to repair the dryer.

I decided that all a tumble dryer really is is a hair dryer, so I should be able to fix it if I had the right parts. So I looked on the internet and found several sites that provide spare parts. In my searching I discovered a fix for my problem (the dryer one not my personal one). The fixer wanted £1 and in return he would send me an e-mail with the fix. I thought its only £1 and his reviews on E-bay seemed good. I sent the £1 and a while later got an e-mail back. It told me to take the back off the dryer, take this thing called a capacitor out and throw it against a hard surface. I thought I'd been done but decided what the heck I'll do it. It worked! Saved me a fortune.

I just watched a DVD of a sermon by my friend André Pelser called, 'The Man Born Blind'. It tells the story of Jesus healing this man in John 9. André acts out the event and it is very funny, first time I recall seeing someone trying to make clay balls out of sand and spit in church. Then as I thought about it I thought of lots of things Jesus did that if we had been there would have sounded crazy. He once spat into someone's mouth to heal them, he took two fishes and five loaves and fed 5,000 men and many other things.

I suppose to those who haven't experienced it faith seems a crazy notion, putting your trust in someone you can't see and have never met in the flesh. Yet my life has been lived by having faith in this Father God, trusting His son Jesus and relying on His Holy Spirit. In fact I have gone a long way and done a lot of things because of this. I have seen lives turn around and bodies healed and people set free from all manner of things. Best of all it didn't even cost me a £1, it was all totally free.

Monday, October 01, 2007

AM or PM ?

A couple of times a year I have to have a blood test, its to ensure that some possible side effects of medication I am taking aren't occurring.

Off I trot to the Doctor's a couple of weeks ago and she tells me its time for one of the blood tests. In preparation for the test I have to fast and am given a slip of paper with instructions on that tell me what I am to do..

"Please do not eat or drink anything except water after 12.00pm the night before the test."

I think about this and wonder whether 12.00pm means midnight or midday. Obviously I need to get this right so I decide to be sure and I will fast from midday. My appointment is 9am the next day so it means missing a couple of meals.

Next day I keep the appointment at the surgery and a blood sample, (three vials full actually) is taken. I then ask the phlebotomist what time should I have fasted from. "Midnight" is her reply.

It didn't bother me but did make me wonder if 12pm is midday, as I thought or midnight as they thought so I did some research.

It turns out that it depends where you live. Officially in the UK we observe the standard 12 noon or 12 midnight statements. In the US it is 12pm noon and 12am midnight, but not always! Confused, yes I am too. The article I read said, 'the terms AM and PM are used in the UK but will no consistent meaning'. Tell me about it!

I often find that we can say the same thing but have different meanings behind it. I missed a couple of meals because of it. Not a big deal but maybe in other circumstances it could have cost me a lot more. There is a requirement to be accurate.

I find many people interpret the Bible in different ways and end up using the same words but meaning different things too. How do you avoid that? I heard a phrase whilst ministering in South Africa, 'Aim though the cross'. Does what you have to say stand that test? Does it fit in with the redemptive work of Christ and all that He stood for. I find a lot of our differences in the faith come because we lose the focus of the cross. We then major on minors, things that aren't in the long run going to matter. Behind the act of the cross was love. This shone out of Jesus is what He did and said to people. Sure He came to fulfil things but He also came to get rid of the unnecessary things that created a religious spirit towards God.

The cross speaks of relationship, its about restoring a right relationship with the Father. What do we major on? Are we causing confusion because although the words seem right they don't really aim through the cross and have no love behind them? Jesus said, my yoke is easy and my burden is light'. It should be easy to follow Him not confusing.

Sunday, September 16, 2007


I am currently having a battle with next door's cat. He likes to dominate our garden and as even been known to try and take over the house if we leave the windows open too much.

He wasn't the first cat in the area. A neighbour's cat two doors away used to be the only one and it was his turf. Then 'Ginger' arrived, colour not necessarily name, and war broke out. We would be lying in bed and hear the screeches and wails as they argued about territory.

My latest beef with Ginger is to do with our garden fence. He took to using our fence as a scratching post, problem was he did it so often he wore through the top panel spar and the panel fell apart. The rest of the fence was also ropey and so we replaced the lot with feather board. I thought this would be safe, nothing to balance on and so the scratching days were over. Wrong! I caught him standing on top of the gate and having a go at the feather boards from there. It took several shouts before he moved.

From what I have read of cat psyche this is just the beginning of the battle, the opening salvo. After all to Ginger this is his territory and he has fought to prove that.

As I mused on this dilemma I realised that the problem only arises because of my territorial attitude. That's why the fence is there isn't it. When the old one was removed we were without a fence for a few weeks and I felt so vulnerable. Mind you the old fence was so rickety it provided no real protection anyway. I think the new one if you give it a good push wouldn't be much better. (apologies to my father-in-law for all of his efforts)

So how to defend my fence? Hosepipe, bucket of water, loud shouting, recording of Rottweiler? I need help here. Suggestions welcome.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Are we nearly there yet?

I am sure that many of you who have children, or maybe remember your own childhood, can identify with the phrase that entitles this posting. One of my children in particular used it many times. We would often be travelling on holiday from the Midlands to Holland or France and sure enough somewhere along the way this would be said.

As children the journey isn't important, its the arrival. They don't know the significance of knowing how to get there. They can't gauge the length or time it will take. They just see the beach or camp site swimming pool in their minds and want to experience them.

As adults you realise the need to know roughly where you are going, you plan the ferries, look at maps and plan routes. You are not only interested with the destiny but the steps along the way.

I am currently writing an article and the phrase, 'milestones aren't destinations' came into my mind. As a preacher I thought there may be a sermon in this so started the meditate on it. I realise that many of us miss the milestones or in our eagerness to arrive at a destination see the milestones as our final stop.

Milestones are reminders that we are on our way, they help to chart the progress we've made. They can be resting places but they are not meant to be places where we take up residence.

They can also remind us of events along the way, maybe a glory moment or a spiritual high. Yet how many of those milestones are remembered because they are where we overcome issues, or went through suffering that produced something new in us. We like to linger around the good and forget the difficult times on the journey but they are equally important, if only to tell us not to go that way again.

We had a recent milestone event that was very painful. We were not expecting it. It was something we hadn't planned for yet it turned out to be a a time of discovering the reality of God in deep pain and despair. I don't want the pain back but I do want to remember the lesson.

Milestones also remind us that many have also journeyed the way we are going. They remind us that someone had to pioneer and discover the route we are treading. Maybe they were the first to chart the path. They're mapping of their journey meant we can travel with greater knowledge and safety.

I think as we gain experience the road we travel in some ways is less daunting. It should be that our faith in the map as we follow it grows as it proves itself to be accurate. Our faith in what we have given given for direction increases.

We can have patience with the childhood cry of, 'are we there yet?' because not that long ago it was our cry. I realised that I could comfort my children because if only in part I know the journey ahead. I could give them indication of what to expect on the journey. I also realised that God sees the whole because He has journeyed ahead of me and planned out every detail. I just need to trust the map and not be surprised if the milestones aren't always easy times on the way.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Be reconciled

I agreed to attend a meeting in a small village outside of Alloa in Scotland on Thursday so decided to make some plans to travel up via my daughters near Wigan.

I hadn't see them all since May due to my being away in South Africa and France for most of the time since. When I went with Mrs P in May my new grandson was only a few weeks old and Eloise was two the next day. I played hide and seek and exhausted myself trying to get under the bed.

I noticed a subtle change this time. Eloise is still sweet and lovely but there is an edge of defiance and a wanting to hurt that has crept in. Several times I had to firmly say no to her attempts to pinch and scratch. I began to think about this and asked myself what was happening.

I realised that what I was seeing was human nature and the development of things that the Bible calls sin. Not that Eloise is a great sinner but the nature of man is to rebel against God and this can be seen in the way a two year starts to show this. It fascinated me that without anyone showing her these things are happening naturally.

What has God done about this. He has sent the solution and remedy in His own Son Jesus. A verse in the bible in 2 Corinthians 5:18 tells us God is reconciling us to Himself through Jesus Christ and giving us the ministry of reconciliation.

I am guilty of sometimes looking at today's parenting skills and complaining but I realise that what we see in society today is more than unruliness. Malachi, ends the Old Testament by saying that there needs to be a turning of hearts, from fathers to sons and sons to fathers. He calls them the sons of disobedience. He then says 'lest I strike the land with a curse'. Is this what we are seeing around us a curse in the generation that we live in?

God's answer is reconciliation. First towards Him as our Father, learning to respond in the security of His love to His correction; then to each other to turn our hearts to one another for those kind of relationships that bring the same love and correction. Maybe we should be looking for these kinds of relationships in life.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Family and friends

Mrs P and I decided for various reasons we needed a few days away. So we planned a little trip to Yorkshire during the half-term break. We hitched up our folding camper and set out for a small village called Roecliffe, about 20 miles from York. We left early Sunday and decided to deliver a birthday present for my granddaughter on the way. The present was a slide that took up half the estate car. This meant I could also introduce Mrs P to my new grandson, Harry. I am discovering grandchildren are exhausting. We could only be there for a couple of hours but I don't remember being allowed to sit down for more than a minute. Eloise thought that hide and seek would be a good game to play with granddad. Have you ever tried hiding under a bed at 51? These were the types of games I played with my kids when they were young along with balloon football (proper football was banned indoors after I broke the glass door to the dining room), sardines, and wrestling. I really enjoyed being with Eloise and it was good to see Harry again.

We arrived on site early afternoon. It had rained all the way to Yorkshire but as we started to set up the rain stopped long enough for us to set up dry and put the kettle on. The site was very nice, good clean facilities. Only one problem, it was next to a small industrial estate. Five AM next day and every day of our short stay lorries started their engines and seemed to park by our pitch to check their goods. Mrs P was not amused.

Monday morning we spent time praying and reading the scriptures. We have learned over the past few years the preciousness of our times together with God. We don't make a big fuss about it and we try not to feel condemned if it doesn't happen every day but it is a special privilege for a couple to know God together. We have been amazed at God's goodness to us this past year. We reflected on how He has been leading us and some of the decisions we have taken which He has confirmed in so many ways. We wrote down things that we felt He had led us to do and will be sharing that with our prayer partners sometime soon.

Monday afternoon we went into York. It is one of my favourite places. I love history, it was something I was always good at and it fascinated me. I first went to York when I lived in Yorkshire in the mid-seventies and it has never lost its charm. The rain held off and we were able to window shop and have coffee and toasted tea cakes. Whilst in York we received a call from a couple of dear friends inviting us to a meal in Halifax that evening so we accepted and went back to site to change and relax before meeting them.

Mrs P dozed and I went for a stroll and had an idea. Our son Ben might want feeding up and Leeds is on the way to Halifax. I called him and in true student fashion he accepted. I thought this would be a nice surprise for Mrs P so didn't tell her. I thought she might get suspicious when she saw the route I took but she didn't. As we drove down the Otley road into Headingley she decided she might ring him. I managed to dissuade her. Not even turning into his road on the off chance we might see him gave her a clue. She saw him walking towards us and for her this was a great coincidence. Only when I said 'hop in then' did she realise what we had schemed between us. She really enjoyed the surprise.

We arrived at the Chinese restaurant on time and were soon met by Philip and Ruth. I have known them for thirty-two years. Ruth was a young person in the church I led and Philip was her unsaved boyfriend. It was two years of coaxing and befriending before he made his decision to follow Christ. It was a powerful conversion one Sunday evening in November 1977. He is now a leader in that church and is a great personal witness to many. We had a great evening of food and fellowship and ended up talking to the owner for quite a while at the end. Philip managed to get him to agree to come to the church in return for the 35 person booking he had given him for a few weeks time. We dropped Ben off agreeing to pick up his things on the Wednesday on our way home to Birmingham. Leeds terms seem very short for him!

Tuesday we spent more time with the Lord. This time we looked at where God is leading us. For me it was the USA for two weeks, then Mrs P, Jenny and me are in South Africa. What's after that? We are sure about some things but other things demand more thought and prayer and taking things a step at a time.

Tuesday afternoon we decided to go for a walk before meeting up with a new friend in Thirsk who we first met in Honfleur, France. We were not far from a place we had been to about ten years ago, Sutton Bank. This hill is very steep. You can drive up it but it is so dangerous you are not allowed to tow anything up there. It is a 1 in 4 or 25% gradient and is very meandering. Once you get to the top there is a nature park centre with a café, shop and exhibitions. Several walks leave from the centre and we decided to do the one that goes along the top of the bank and gives you fantastic view towards the Pennines and across the Vale of York. The sun shone, we saw many different species of birds and enjoyed beautiful views of Yorkshire before heading back to the car.

We drove from there to see our friend Gina. Gina is a terrific spiritual warrior with great insight and anointing. Gina is also almost blind. She has some peripheral vision but not much else. She prepared a great tea for us. We enjoyed good conversation that led naturally into a time of prayer and ministry to each other. I am so blessed in times like these. It should be the most natural thing for us Christians to simply pray and bless each other in this way.

Wednesday morning the sun shone and we packed everything away, hitched up the camper and headed for Leeds and Ben to pick up crates and boxes. It didn't take long to fill the car with his things. Good job he wasn't coming back with us, there was no room!

Arrived back to Brum in the rain, emptied the car and treated ourselves to fish and chips.

Family and friends - a blessed few days.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Know what I mean 'Arry

I promised some photos of my new grandson, Harry Taylor. He was born on April 10th in the early hours after a bit of a scare. Alison, my daughter went into the details but I will save you the gore. Dad Darren was brilliant and all are well.

Today I enjoyed a great time sitting out in the garden with my daughter, son-in-law and two lovely grandchildren. I can't wait to watch them grow.

Thank you Jesus

Saturday, April 14, 2007

It always happens when I am in France

After a great few days in St Etienne Mrs P and I travelled to Honfleur in Normandy. We stayed with friends who run a guest house. The main reason for going was to meet up with Prophet Barbara Smith from Scotland.

On the Tuesday I was told a message had just been left on my mobile. It was my son-in-law telling me to call him. I rang to find out that my daughter had given birth to her second child and my second grandchild, a boy they called Harry.It was a complicated birth and Harry was born three weeks early after an emergency caesarian but mother and baby are well.

My first grandchild, Eloise was also born when I was in France! I am now not allowed to travel abroad within the last month of any of my children's pregnancies, just in case. Do you think there is a reason my grandchildren choose to be born when I am out of the country?

Off to see them tomorrow so hope to post some pictures soon.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Past times

I spent yesterday in West Yorkshire with some friends who I have known for thirty plus years. Ruth and Philip were young people in the church I pastored as a young man. He was the first person brought to Christ in my ministry there and as a couple they were the first couple I married. They are very special people with a lovely serving spirit.

I lost contact with them for a long time. I left the ministry with a lot of pain and so the contact with them was not kept up. Three years ago at the wedding of my eldest daughter I met them again and the friendship was reborn.

We spent most of the day chewing the fat over church issues and spoke of many happy memories of times when despite us rather than because of us God showed up and did some special things. We were young and some of the things we did I would think twice about now but there was something about raw faith and a daring attitude that seemed to bring about things.

We spoke of people I had baptised who I never remember baptising, healings and changed lives. It was good to remember.

We can't have those times again but 'now is the day of salvation'. It reminded me that thirty years have gone by and what have I done that counts. My wife sent me an Anniversary card recently to celebrate out twentieth wedding anniversary. On the card she put, 'Here's to the next 20'. As I thought about that I felt as if I had been allowed to pause and take stock, catch my breath, and I am now at the point of taking my journey on. I enjoyed the nostalgia and looking back but with Paul I realise I now need to 'press on'. There's a race to finish and a prize at the end with I hope a 'well done' as a reward.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Second Home

I took Mrs P to France last week for a lovely restful time in a beautiful Normandy B and B owned by a couple of Christians I met last year. It is in the middle of beautiful countryside not far from the port of Honfleur.

France is fast becoming a second home to me. I visited France for the first time in September 1974, just before the start of my second year at Bible College. I went with my best mate with a view to sightseeing and also to give out tracts and other christian literature. We spent most of the time in Paris, camping in a two man tent in the Bois de Boulogne, literally next to the river Seine. It was at this time that I fell in love with the country. Paris is a magical city and is one of my favourite places. Spiritually, however, France is one of the darkest countries. Secularism rules.

The weeks holiday was a half-term treat for us. We had not been away together since the summer. We visited several friends, one of who was getting engaged. (See photo)

We spent the day with her and her family, a farming family, and were amazed at the different foods that seemed to just appear as we sat around and chatted.

I also got into conversation with her dad who decided to spend half an hour chatting with me in French! My brain was fried by the end but I did manage to get quite a bit out of him about farming in France and what he actually did as a farmer. He was good with his hand gestures which helped.

We also spent quite a bit of time praying with individuals. They know me as the visiting prophet from the UK so people will ask for ministry. It is such a privilege to see the hunger in many of them. There are not many churches in France that are lively and many Christians will travel over an hour to a service. They are desperate for God and their faith is simple and effective. We learn a great deal from just being with them.

Mrs P and I had a great time, we visited a museum, had great meals and great conversations and know that for us France is a special place. In April we are leading three teams to St Etienne on prayer mission and I know that those who go will never be the same again. It may be a dark place but it is a hungry place and has people of faith who are passionate in their love for God.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

A walk with my grandaughter

Yesterday I spent a great time with my eldest daughter and my beautiful granddaughter Eloise (I am biased and don't apologise for that). I try and go once a month but with all of my other recent commitments haven't been for a while.

Like with your own children when they are little, I am discovering a lot of firsts with Eloise. She has learned new things every time I go and speaks a lot more, but I still find for some things I need mum as an interpreter. Her squeezes and blown kisses just melt my heart and I already am excited at the prospect of grandchild number two in later April early May this year.

My 'first' for this visit was a walk to the play ground, maybe for me a five minute walk one way, but together maybe fifteen. As we walked I began to think of how this walk reminded me of my spiritual walk with my heavenly Father.

First of all He sees a lot more that I do. I could look over the walls and through the gardens to the swings and play equipment when all Eloise could see was plants and fences. She insisted on walking and not being carried so that was the view she had. I could describe all of the things I could see and try and get excited about it but she didn't get any sense of joy until she saw the swings. That's often like my walk with God, He is trying to excite me but if I take a 'unless I see it I won't get excited' I will miss out on all of the joy I could have. I need to capture by faith the promises He makes and learn to really enter into the joy of them. That's what He wants.

My daughter Alison told me before I left the house, 'she will wait if you tell her to'. She had been trained to respond to that word because with the best will in the world Alison can't always hold her hand in times that could be dangerous. Sure enough that proved true. If only I could learn to respond to the 'Waits' of God. As I have grown older I have learned to do that more but I could relate a lot of times when that caution wasn't heeded and I walked headlong into disaster.

Then there is the joy of making her squeal and laugh and seeing her face as she went on the swing. I admit to being a bit reckless with swings and kids, mind you my eldest daughter has learnt well and is far more adventurous with Eloise that I was with her. I think the mum with the kid on the swing next to me didn't know where to put herself as I pushed Eloise and ran and hid behind her then ran quickly in front of her to howls of laughter. I realise that I have missed a lot of the times when God was doing that with me, enjoying me, gaining great joy from being with me, loving my joy and laughter moments. A number of years ago I had a special moment when I realised this, it broke me just to think God loved me this way. Cath Horne spoke on the same passage not long after it had been given to me. Its from Zephaniah 3 and it tells us that He delights over us with singing. Imagine that, He sings a song over me in heaven.

Then came the moment to leave, to leave the swings and slides and all the things that for Eloise had brought joy. She didn't cry just hung her head down and stood still, unmovable. She couldn't see that there may be other times. Eventually with a little coaxing she moved on - a bit. Then another bit. The only way I could get her back home was to pick her up and take her where she didn't want to go. When I placed her on my shoulders the sulking stopped and the joy returned. How often God must have had to use His strategies to get me to move on. I'm sure I have had those times when I didn't want to move on and I am sure that once or twice He has given me a spiritual kick up the backside to get me to move. His motive was because He knows there are things that only I can do for Him and there are so many more things He wants to give me that with bring joy and blessing to Him, myself and others.

It was a great day. I wish I lived nearer and could go more often. It is so special to love and be loved. These times are never lost because of distance. I have so many memories of moments such as these and they sustain and give me the encouragement that is is worth it all. I pray that my Father in heaven will feel the same about my life as I live it for Him.

Monday, January 29, 2007

In a different culture or is it me?

I am trying to type this message without typos. I am in a different country, on a computer set to a different language with keys all in the wrong place. Or is it me that is different and everything around me in normal?


Answers please but not too harsh due to my delicate state being so disorientated.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

One of those days

Yesterday was 'one of those days'. You know what I mean. It begins with problems and goes on either downhill or on the same level.

First of all my morning routine was disrupted. We eat as a family together most days and breakfast is sacrosanct, prompt at 7. That way we know what each other is doing. That went well. Seeing as my my day is more flexible I usually let the others sort themselves out and leave the house then I get ready. Not yesterday, I was sitting in my PJ's watching the news when Mrs P came and said her car wouldn't start. Avoiding the usual humour (she didn't look amused) I quickly dressed and decided I would have to take her to work in my car and sort the issue out later. After getting back I got ready to go out to help an OAP out and then to a lunchtime business meeting.

The errand for the oldie was easy enough. His tumble dryer had broken, he had ordered one on the Internet and asked me to pick it up. Simple, apart from the fact that when he had said 'Tesco' and 'Beggars Bush' I had assumed that it was this store I was getting it from. So I duly arrived at Tesco's with enough time to pick it up, drop it off and get to my business meeting in Erdington on time. I went to the customer service desk and was directed with a puzzled look to the electrical desk. After explaining to the girl on the electrical desk she got her manager. After explaining to the manager she got the store manager. I assured them that this was the right place and even saw a couple of tumble dryers with the same make waiting to be picked up. They rang extension numbers I had and told me the extensions didn't exist. Things were made worst by the fact that my mobile phone had no signal so I couldn't ring the guy to ask him. After half an hour I decided to go and use the store's public telephone and sort out the issue. I spoke to my friend and told him where I was and could I have the reference number he had given me again. "Why are you in Tesco's, its Curry's you need to go to" Now I am sure no such word was used the previous day. I left the store quietly. So off it was to Curry's who produced the tumble dryer in five minutes and wished me a 'nice day'. Not sure I can ever be seen in Tesco's again!

Anyhow, dropped the thing off and managed to get to the meeting with seconds to spare. Turned out to be one of those meetings where they want all of your knowledge for the cost of a free lunch. Still it was a nice sandwich.

So now to sort the car out. I sussed out that the problem might be the battery. Mrs P had made one of those useful comments, 'It has been starting sluggishly the last few days'. So after a word with my mate Bob the mechanic it was off to Halfords for a replacement battery. Why do these places never make it clear what goes with what? Another wasted half an hour trying to work out which one to buy. (I was never very good at asking) Finally sussed out the coding and bought one.

Now the debate in my own mind about fitting it. Do I attempt this or not? Then I get a flashback to the last time I did this and the way I eventually rounded off the head of the nut trying to get the retaining clamp off. So off to my mate's garage in Tamworth (via a petrol station, how come when ever I get into my wife's car it has no fuel). This is always an interesting time. He is a Penty if you know the terminology, and the worst kind, a converted Baptist Penty. The job takes two minutes but is interspersed with him telling me everything about everything that is happening in his church and closes with an invitation to go one Sunday.

By the time I get away I have a mad dash to Wylde Green to pick up the Mrs via a crowded rush hour Sutton. To cap it all it is my turn to cook!!!!

I often look back on days like yesterday and wonder what I managed to accomplish and was it worth it all. I can be guilty of feeling that if I haven't prayed for an hour or been 'spiritual' in some other way then I haven't done much. Then I realise that what to me was a dull day had done a lot for an Old Guy who can't get out of the house and had blessed my lovely wife in sorting out an issue that if I had not been around to do would have ruined her day. Maybe it is in these type of 'serving' moments that the real blessing lies. In fact I am sure of it.

So its into another day. Not sure what it will bring but we have prayed this morning that we will walk into God's opportunities so here I go.......

Monday, January 01, 2007

Looking Back

I am not someone who normally looks back much, there's too much happening to dwell on the past, but for me 2006 was a special year that I will remember for all kind of reasons.

It began with getting to know two very special people, Matt and Heidi. January was our first get together for a meal. It was an evening of great fun with lots of banter. It ended with us praying together as God spoke into lives. It was from this that I started to meet Matt regularly and we developed a very special relationship. It was two-way, he often spoke into me and in turn I passed on the new things God was showing me. For a period when work was being done on his home that affected him working there we shared my office. Not sure how much work got done but many meaningful conversations took place that cemented the friendship. He soon became part of our family with 'fridge raiding' being one of his favourite pastimes. He even had his own key for a time. Matt introduced me to many things: lunches out, blogging, cricket and many more. My last memory of him is watching God use him at one of our Friday evenings. It was meant to be a worship session but the musician couldn't come so we just waited on God. The Spirit began to stir us using the prophetic which ended up in ministry. I sensed Matt had somethings to pass on so when he looked at me I released him. He spoke into many lives that night and some are different because of it. It ended up with him and Alan rolling around on the floor laughing in the Spirit. We finally parted with a big hug, a hug that I have clung on to during some of the darker times. Two days later Matt went to be with the Lord who he loved and I lost a son. It was a short friendship but one of the most lasting in its effect on my life.

2007 was also special because in it God began to link me with people who would be used to open doors for me in my role as Prophet. In April I travelled to France to meet up with Wayne and Wendy Hadley in St Etienne. The trip started with my flight being cancelled which meant I arrived a day late. Wayne and I spent a day in prayer and out of that time it was agreed that teams from the UK should visit there in Easter 2007. I also reunited with Apostle Andre Pelser from Cape Town. I had met him the previous year when he prophesied over me in a leaders meeting in St Etienne. This encounter was during a weekend of meetings at which he was the main speaker. Out of this time he invited me to South Africa which led to me going there to celebrate his 25 years in the ministry. I had an amazing time and saw many new and exciting things God was doing in the earth. That one trip opened many doors for me. From South Africa doors were opened in France, Scotland and the USA (from where I am writing this posting). God is amazing and His ways are so much higher than ours.

It was a year of letting go, not only of Matt but of my son Ben. Not for good but into a new era in his life at Leeds University. This reminds me that me baby, Jenny, will also be on her way before long. That is difficult to adjust to but as a parent you want the best for your children and their progress is reward enough. To see God in both of them is the main thing and that gives us so much joy that the letting go is made easier.

So its into 2007. For Mrs Prophet and me it is a time of change. I am sure there will be more adventures and more heartache. That's life. How we react to these things is what is important. So far I have more trips to France planned, a possible trip to the Faroe Isles and maybe a summer tour in South Africa. All of that seems exciting but with it will come challenge. I have been stretched last year and I don't see 2007 as any different in that regard. Travelling may seem an adventure and it is but being away from the ones you love is not easy. One thing I am sure of, God has gone before. If I simply desire His path, His way and His destiny, then whatever comes, good or bad, easy or challenging, will come with enough grace to see me through.

Blogger friends, have a God filled 2007. I pray that you will rise to meet the challenges and don't forget that its all about HIM, King Jesus.