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.