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Old Meeting House Congregational Church (1643)

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Enthusiasm is the fire that fuels my achievement (William A Ward).

I recently looked up the word “zeal” in my dictionary as it’s not a word used these days very much. The dictionary defined it as great energy or enthusiasm in pursuit of a cause or an objective. Now that is something we really need more of if we are to see revival. The early Christians believed that Jesus’s return would be immanent – just read the book of the Acts of the Apostles and hopefully you will see what I am getting at. I tend to think that zeal comes out of enthusiasm which is the greatest asset in the world. It beats money and power and influence. Single-handed the enthusiast convinces and dominates where the wealth accumulated by a small army of workers would scarcely raise any interest.

Enthusiasm tramples over prejudice and opposition, spurns inaction, storms the citadel of its object, and like an avalanche overwhelms and engulfs all obstacles. It is nothing more or less than faith in action.

Faith and initiative rightly combined remove mountainous barriers and achieve the unheard of and miraculous.

Set the germ of enthusiasm afloat in your church, in your organisation or even in your own family; carry it in your attitude and manner; it spreads like contagion and influences every fibre in our lives before you realise it; it means increase in production and decrease in costs; it means joy and pleasure, and satisfaction, it means life, real and virile; it means spontaneous bedrock results – the vital things we all long for. Let’s all pray that God will help to increase enthusiasm in our churches and in our lives.

John

Faith is like radar that sees through the fog… the reality of things at a distance that the human eye cannot see. (Corrie Ten Boom).

After a while you learn the difference between holding a hand and chaining a soul. You learn that love isn’t leaning but lending support. You begin to accept your defects with the grace of an adult, not the grief of a child. You decide to build your roads on today, for tomorrow’s ground is too uncertain. You help someone plant a garden instead of waiting for someone to bring you flowers. You learn that God has given you the strength to endure and that you really have worth.

John

I will be strong and of good courage, I act for the best, and take what comes.

Sadly, I hear a great number of people talking defeat. Their whole conversation is about loss of power. Many forget that ultimate victory in our lives has been promised by Almighty God – we need to remind ourselves that we are overcomers. In 1939, at the outbreak of the Second World War the chances of our little island standing alone against the might of Germany and overcoming was far from the minds of many. But on the 3rd of June 1940 Sir Winston Churchill wrote the following words which if we can embrace we will see chapels opening, and churches full.

“I have, myself, full confidence that if all do their duty, if nothing is neglected, and if the best arrangements are made, as they are being made, we shall once again prove ourselves able to defend our island home, to ride out the storm, and to outlive the menace of tyranny. At any rate, that is what we are trying to do. That is the resolve of His Majesty’s Government – every man of them…… We shall not flag or fail. We shall go on to the end. We shall fight in France, we shall fight on the seas and oceans. We shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, we shall defend our island, whatever the cost may be. We shall fight on the beaches, as we fight on the landing ground, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills. We shall never surrender.”

John.

Mind your motives

You might be interested to know that over 20 years ago for a short while I was asked to be an agony uncle for a newspaper in London. I had to try to answer all kinds of questions, never having met the questioners I had no idea if anyone ever took my advice.

These days as a Pastor sometimes people come to me seeking spiritual help like a lady who told me that “I feel dead inside,” were the words of a lady seeking spiritual help recently. All the forms and ceremonies of religion were faithfully performed. Prayers were said. Religious work was done, but behind it all was a sense of futility, as though she were looking on at herself playing a part, even if a worthy part, in life. Her spiritual life seemed unreal. It lacked any drive or zeal. She carried on, feeling that it was all a big burden. Yet she dared not let it down. Something in her made her go on. She wanted vitality, but somehow missed it. One result was that doubt began to lay hold on her mind. She questioned some of the fundamental beliefs of Christianity and again blamed herself for her doubts. The problem here was an un-examined self. There had been not stern facing of motive. Much of the religious work was done from selfish motives and not out of love for either God or men. Her allegiance had never been faced to the uttermost. Self and God were constantly at war for first place in her life. She had never made up her mind “once and for all” to let Jesus be her only Master. The knowledge that we have cut our moorings and are out on the great adventure for God, for better or for worse, is the only cure for deadness and doubt that arise from mixed motives and an unresolved conflict. We have to step over the line – and trust.

John

Make your mind a magnet for good

“If one should give me bowl of sand and tell me that there were particles of iron in it. I might look for them with my eyes, and search for them with my clumsy fingers, and be unable to detect them. But let me take a magnet and sweep through it, it would draw to itself the almost invisible particles by the mere power of attraction. The unthankful heart, like my finger in the sand, discovers no mercies. But let the thankful heart sweep through the day. As the magnet finds iron, so it will find in every hour some heavenly blessing; only the iron in God’s sand is gold.” (Henry Ward Beecher 1813-1887 famous American Congregational preacher).

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"There is no such thing as chance...what seems to me the merest accident springs from the deepest source of destiny." (Schiller)

To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven.

A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted.

A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up.

A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance.

A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing.

A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away.

A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak.

A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.

                                                                                      Ecclesiastics 3: 1-8

These words were turned into a pop song by The Byrds in 1965, follow this link to listenhttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W4ga_M5Zdn4

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Do away with grumblers

I was reminded the other day as I read my Bible that God has instructed us “to give thanks in all things”. I just wonder how many people have never heard this as they are always grumbling and complaining – have you ever met anyone like this? It is so easy to be influenced by these people so I make a real effort to give thanks. Here is a list of things I say to myself when I am tempted to be negative.

I may never see tomorrow… there’s no written guarantee… and things that happened yesterday… belong to history.

I can’t predict the future… I cannot change the past… I have just this present moment… I must treat it as my last.

I must use this moment wisely… for it will soon pass away… and be lost to me forever… as part of yesterday.

I must exercise compassion… help fallen to their feet… be a friend to the friendless… make an empty life complete…

The unkindest thing I do today…may never be undone… and friendships that fail to win… may nevermore be won.

I may not have another chance… on bended knee to pray… and thank God with a humble heart… for giving me this day.

 

“O, what a beautiful morning,

O, what a beautiful day,

I have a wonderful feeling

Everything is going my way.” Rogers & Hammerstein

 

Gosh, life would be really different if we could sing this song each day but sadly for many of us nothing seems to ever be going our way. Well, do not let yourself despair when things are looking grey, just hold your courage high, it may be bad but stick it out, you’ll overcome by and by. For life is full of ups and downs, not roses all the way, and even though the cloud appears, keep smiling come what may. Don’t think that you’re the only one who’s had it really rough, there’s lots of people in the world who’ve had more than enough. But strength is given by unseen hands if you stop and pray, and God will lead you through the storm towards a brighter day.

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Today is the tomorrow we worried about yesterday... and ALL is well

The thoughts of some amazing people who have lived in Norwich still inspire us to this day. If you are in Norwich you should make the effort to visit St Julian’s church off Rowen Road. It was from this ancient church that Mother Julian wrote Revelations of Divine Love. On one of the windows in the chapel you can read one of her best-known quotes: “All shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well.

Sadly, I meet almost everyday people who think quite the opposite, that all is not well. We can’t blame them as they constantly tune into the TV, read newspapers and listen to the radio which is full of negative news. Is it any wonder that so many people these days need tranquilizers to help manage their stress and anxiety?

I recently came across the following poem by an anonymous author – it encouraged me and I pray it also helps you.

With every rising of the sun
Think of your life as just begun.

The past has shrived and buried deep
All yesterdays – here let them sleep…

Concern yourself with but today,
Woo it and teach it to obey.

Your wish and will. Since time began
Today has been the friend of man…

You and today! A soul sublime
And the great pregnant hour of time.

With God between to bind the twain –
Go forth I say – attain – attain.

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Just a smile

The thing that goes the farthest
Towards making life worthwhile,
That cost the least, that does the most
Is just a pleasant smile.

It’s full of worth and goodness, too,
With many a kindness bent;
It’s worth a million dollars,
But it doesn’t cost a cent.

(Author unknown)

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The Power of Ideals

The other Sunday we sang the wonderful hymn, “May the mind of Christ my Saviour live in me from day to day, by His love and power controlling all I do and say.” It prompted me to realise that the power of ideal is incalculable. We see no power in a drop of water. But let it get into a crack and be turned into ice, and it splits the rock; turned into steam, it drives the pistons of the most powerful engines. Something has happened to it which makes active and effective the power that is latent to it.

So, it is with ideals. Ideals are thoughts. So long as they merely exist as thoughts, the power latent in them remains ineffective, however great the enthusiasm and however strong the conviction with which the thought is held. Their power becomes effective only when they are taken up into some refined human personality.

There is a huge battle going on in most of us in our thought life. If we are going to be greatly used by God we constantly need to pray that we will have His mind in us guiding us in all we do and say.

Your highest goal must be to possess maturity.

The one thing that I constantly pray for not only in my own life but in the lives of every Christian person that I meet is to reach full spiritual maturity.

Maturity is many things. First, it is the ability to base a judgement on the Big Picture – The Long Haul. It means being able to overlook the “fun-for-the minute” and select the course of action which will pay off later. One of the characteristics of infancy is the “I want it NOW” approach. Grown-up people can wait.

Maturity is the ability to stick to a project or a situation until it is finished. The adult who is constantly changing jobs, changing friends, changing churches, is immature. He or she cannot stick it out because they are not grown up. After a while everything for them seems to turn out sour.

Maturity is the capacity to face unpleasantness, frustration, discomfort and defeat, without complaint or collapse. The mature person knows he/she cannot have everything their own way.

Maturity is the ability to live up to your responsibility, and this means being dependable. It means keeping your word. And dependability equates with personal integrity. Do you mean what you say – and say what you mean?

Sadly, the world is filled with people who cannot be counted upon – have you ever met anyone like that? People who never seem to come through in the tight places. People who break promises and substitute alibis for performance. They show up late or not at all. They are confused and disorganised. Their lives are a chaotic maze of unfinished business.

Maturity is the ability to make a decision and stand by it. Immature people spend their lives exploring endless possibilities and then do nothing. Action requires courage, and there is no maturity without courage.

Maturity is the ability to harness your abilities and your energies and to do more than is expected. The mature person refuses to settle for mediocrity. He/she would rather aim high and miss the mark than aim low and make it. The quest however remains: Am I am mature person?

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