(Minnie Louise Harkins 1875-1957)
May God bless us all throughout 2019 –
and enable us to walk forward with our hands in His,
as He leads, directs and encourages us in
accordance with His promise.
Thank you for your company and support in our journey this past year.
May His Light shine ever stronger for you as you press on with Him.
Take me down to the spring of
and tell me my nature and
Give me freedom to grow;
so that I may become that self,
the seed of which you planted in me
at my making.
Out of the deep I cry to you, O God.
George Appleton (1902-93),
adapted by Jim Cotter (b. 1942)
The key is not to prioritise what’s on your schedule
to schedule your priorities.
I have a serious problem with that statement – only because of all the things that I like doing and which are not priorities!
Interestingly, this was what Jesus was about during those forty days of temptation in the desert – before He became involved in the detail and pressure of His everyday ministry. And it was because of that preparation that He never lost sight of His primary objective and kept going to the end when He could declare triumphantly “It is finished!” At that point He does not appear to have been sad that He had never learned to play the bagpipes, read all of Shakespeare or purchased a holiday villa on the Riviera.
His priorities are interesting.
• Life is about listening to God and His directions – not the cravings of the flesh or the demands of the world
• The end result depends upon a good process – the end does not justify the means
• Everything to the glory of God – no sensationalism and personal glorification
The problem in Eden was that eating the fruit ‘seemed good’ – only it wasn’t. So much of what gets onto a schedule also seems good at the time. It is often only later that we realise that it wasn’t. Maybe Jesus really did have the right idea – just a little bit before Stephen Covey and me. And He still had time for Himself.
Joan of Arc, known as the Maid of Orleans, was burnt at the stake in Rouen today in 1431 – aged just 19.
Born the daughter of a peasant farmer she grew up pious and intelligent, although illiterate. At the age of 14 she first claimed to hear the voices of the Archangel Michael, Saint Margaret, and Saint Catherine of Alexandria, telling her that she had to save France – which had been invaded by armies under the command of the Duke of Bedford. Some of her predictions were fulfilled and she was sent to the Dauphin. After being examined by theologians they advised him to make use of her abilities.
At her request, and dressed in white armour, she led a force to relieve Orleans in April 1429. Her presence and belief in her mission was a great encouragement to the troops. She gained prominence after the town was saved, and the English forts around it captured, after only nine days. She took part in another campaign which led to the victory of Patay. When the Dauphin was crowned Charles V11 at Rheims in July 1429 Joan stood next to him with her banner.
In a later operation she was captured by the Duke of Burgandy and sold to the English. Put on trial by the pro-English Bishop of Beauvais Pierre Cauchon on a variety of charges she was eventually declared a lapsed heretic and sentenced to death. She died with fortitude, looking at a cross and calling on the name of Jesus.
(All this at an age when many of us had barely completed our secondary school education!)
The charges against her were later quashed and she was declared innocent. She was proclaimed a national symbol of France by the decision of Napoleon Bonaparte, beatified in 1909 and canonized in 1920. She is one of the nine secondary patron saints of France.
Mitch Albom wrote this story in his book “Tuesdays with Morrie.”
“The story is about a little wave, bobbing along in the ocean, having a grand old time.
He’s enjoying the wind and the fresh air – until he notices the other waves in front of him, crashing against the shore.
‘My God. This is terrible,’ the wave says. ‘Look what’s going to happen to me!’ Then along comes another wave. It sees the first wave looking grim, and it says to him, ‘Why do you look so sad?’ The first wave says, ‘You don’t understand! We’re all going to crash! All of us waves are going to be nothing! Isn’t it terrible?’
The second wave says, ‘No, you don’t understand. You’re not a wave, you’re part of the ocean’”
* * *
One of the reasons that it appeals to me so much is that the sea has always been an important part of my life. I have watched it, smelled it, listened to it and felt it, in many of its varied and expressive moods.
Silent, I have marvelled at the rolling swell of purpled water, sparkling with sun-kissed stars.
Fascinated, I’ve watched the waves curling up out of its depths, creaming down ahead of themselves, streaming up over the sand, and whispering quietly home once more.
Spellbound, I have sat and looked as they gleefully hurled themselves down upon the glistening black rocks –to bounce up again in radiant droplets, laughing in excited celebration, before falling back in chuckling streams.
And it was through this that I really began to grasp what it is to be a Christian.
I’m not just an individual – I’m part of Christ.
I have been listening to a newish recording of the Psalms by David Suchet. What a blessing they are again proving to be. Read clearly and with a gentle expression they speak into every emotion and condition of man – well this one anyway!
I have read them a number of times and continue to do so. However there is a deeper blessing and a different engagement with their reality and message when they are heard – or expressed personally.
The first edition that I heard and enjoyed was by Michael York in the days of audio cassettes. I kept them in the car and would listen to them daily as I traveled to and from work and appointments. This present one I discovered quite by chance (or by God!) They are available without charge on the convenient Bible Gateway app (under Audio Bible) and on YouTube.
David Suchet is an English actor well-known for his work on British stage and television. Many will recognise him as the face and voice of Hercule Poirot from the long-running television series Agatha Christie’s Poirot. ‘In 1986 he underwent a religious conversion after reading Romans 8 in a hotel Bible’ and was baptized soon after. In 2012 he was appointed a vice-president of the British Bible Society and in 2014 fulfilled a long-held ambition to make an audio recording of the NIV Bible.