No longer a citizen of two realms

February 28, 2011

It struck me this morning that Mike is no longer a citizen of two realms, the physical and the spiritual. Of course I know that with my head. Can a Christian go to Hell? Once we are saved are we always saved? These are some of the questions I am discussing these days and they relate to the physical realm.

Paul talks much about our salvation and its very good to look at this area. We are “saved” from something, so if we are being swept along a river, we may be saved out of the river onto the bank. You are not saved if you are back in the river! I wish we would not use the word “Christian” as freely as we do, its actually not a very helpful term these days as it means many things to many people. We are “saved to serve”. People who are “saved” are those who by their lifestyles “walk with God”, they are obedient to the word, they have left the former things, they dont behave as the “unsaved”.  People ask me “is he/she a christian”? I know what they mean but I find it an incomplete question. Jesus talked so much about the heart, the motives, the inner person. We look on the outer and judge. This is why Jesus said, “You will say LORD LORD, did I not do this in your name”, and he will say “I never knew you, depart from me”.

Hey lets also be realistic that citizens of earth, who love and follow Jesus, who walk too close to the bank, can slip in again, but they quickly get out, get forgiveness and keep active friendship with Father God.

Mikes salvation is complete! He no longer has to battle dual citizenship and the struggle Paul describes “oh the very thing I want to do, I do not, and the thing I do not want to do I do”!!! Our armed forces “live to serve our Majesty”, we too must live in the physical realm but we use its resources to serve the Kingdom. When we do this, questions about can Christians go to hell and are we permanently saved, are non questions!

Dual Citizenship

When there are no words

February 26, 2011

So my Philippine friend Alex’s daughter dies a couple of weeks ago from meningitis, my friend Mike is watching his 17 month old son Andrew suffer with Cancer on the spine, I am fearful to watch an old video cassette that has been sitting on my cupboard for a couple of months in case I find video of Mike that makes me sad, Jenni is facebooking me from Tripoli as she looks out she sees someone shot in the knee, will they still find people alive in Christchurch, my friends wife has decided to trade him in for another model………..

So I sit here in Mike’s room thinking a bottle of wine would alter my sad mood, I pray for little Andrew to be healed and for Mike & Aster to experience the Father’s Love, I pray Jenni is safety, did I pray for Christchurch or just think about it? What a wimp when there is so much pain out there…..I know God, I know the biblical answer but at times there are no words……just tears and anger. How come this time last week we were so happy celebrating 25 years of marriage with friends and now we are back to the reality of  life?

I ignore the desire for wine and turn to Daily Light, I have found in this last 18 months great comfort in praise and worship, scripture is a huge part of that.  “He will never leave you or forsake you” is tonight’s reading. Thanks LORD, I know that to be so true and whether I feel you or not doesn’t change that reality. I know you saw and see every tear we are crying. I thank you that you are there all the time, even when I wish you wouldn’t look at what I’m doing!!!

I want only awesome sunsets!

Coincedence or Godincedence

February 24, 2011

Kathy and I were at a garden centre last Tuesday and whilst paying the young man my phone rang. It was John telling me we were going out at 19:30 for an Indian meal with our Bible Study Group. I discovered later that the young mans parents were also going out at around that time for an Indian meal. I said to him, “well you have given me something, let me give you something” and passed him my Father’s Love Tract.

 We arrived at the Indian restaurant and met several friends from our home group; there was also another couple our friends s&J had brought along.

This past weekend our girls took us away on a surprise 25th wedding anniversary and to our surprise s&j were there with several others. s&j had forgotten about the weekend and at the last minute had to dive in the car and race up to Scotland. On the way they realized they were to have supper with the couple they brought to the Indian restaurant. They phoned but could only leave a message on the answer phone.

When they came back to Carlisle on Monday they phoned and apologized and explained who we were and the surprise weekend. The couple then said “Oh my gosh, its now all coming together”. They had left for the Indian Restaurant on Tuesday before their son, Russell arrived home from the garden centre. He told them later about the tract but I do not think he showed them, other wise they may have recognized me. They wondered why I had given the tract to their son. So here I am giving a tract to a boy of 22 and unbeknown to us are out at a meal with his parents in the evening and our friends had to cancel a meal with them a few days later to be with us for the weekend. This is such a “Godincedence” and makes us all want to talk and reflect and express a “wow”!

Every time I pass this leaflet out I pray over it and ask the LORD to bless it and use it………God is telling us He loves us and I hope Russell realizes God is telling him with this “Godincedence” He loves him.

I so love my Father and thank Him for His love to me. In the moments that I found Mike dead, I stamped my feet and said to God, there better be eternal fruit from this or I am pissed off. I pray that Russell and his parents and all of you reading know the Father’s love. Just natter to Him like you would to me!

A weekend of celebration…….”The Castle of Friendship”

February 22, 2011

Some months ago Akila told me that Kathy and I were not to arrange anything for our 25th Wedding Anniversary. All she would tell us was the times we were leaving and returning and that we needed clothes for outside that may get muddy! As she was driving us in the direction of Scotland, although I hoped we would be warm in a tent, I was so grateful that in the new DNA of our family, our girls want to be with us on this special occasion.

This past year has been a time of healing, bonding, establishing new norms and accepting a new reality for the four of us. Kathy and I enjoy more than ever activities with the girls. We know that we will have ample time in the future to be by ourselves. For most anniversary’s Kathy and I have gone away by ourselves…..not this time.

After 2 1/2 hours of driving we came to a rebuilt small Scottish castle in the middle of no where. Akila said we were having a tour as our accommodation at the other place was not ready. This ‘castle’ was set on a small hill and was more of a fortified house, although we discovered King James has stayed there. The tour  guide was waiting for us and proceeded to take us around. As we came into the main lounge area, I heard Kathy and the girls give out a big scream and there were our friends. What an incredible surprise……the rats, we were staying in this restored 5 star castle with friends for the weekend.

Friends old and new!

A castle is so fitting a place for celebrating 25 years of marriage with friends. There are so many parallels between my thoughts on marriage, friendships and a castle………safety, strength, refuge, home, peace, fighting, history, fun, feasting, belonging, family and intimacy. Laura, Akila, Kathy and I have retreated this past year to the “castle of friendship.”  We retreated within her walls and with love to and from each other and with our close friends we healed up.

We look to new adventures with our friends as we take ‘His flag of friendship’ to the people’s of the world. King James wanted his people to have access to the scriptures, and today we have the “Authorised King James Version”. If I could only use three words to describe the message of the Bible, it would be the title of my tract about Mike and I; “The Fathers Love”. Matthew wrote, The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Here is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners.’  I dont know about you but I intend to keep feasting and celebrating with our friends and family and introducing our Father to others so they too can enjoy His awesome friendship.

And so thanks to Akila, Laura, Nick, Joyce, Stephen, Norman, Heather, Steve Todd and Karen for “The Castle of Friendship”.

No need for the 4th Present

February 14, 2011

I had already purchased 3 valentines gifts for Kathy and the girls but still had to get cards and wrapping paper. As I walked from the car to the shops it hit me that I was not able to buy Mike a valentines present this year. As I thought back, he had been included every year and I enjoyed telling him I loved him as much as the women in the house.

The empty place

 I wonder today what he thought of getting a valentines card and present from dad! Some years I put in more effort than others, but one of my favorite recollections was when the kids were small. I brought a huge white gorilla holding a heart saying “I love you”, for Kathy. I walked into the bedroom to kind Mike had climbed into the arms of the gorilla.

Mike and Valentine Gorilla.

So it is with sadness and joy I set the table this morning, knowing that the girls will come down and find a present each and a special card. I thank God again for all the happy memories of the valentines days I was able to tell Mike I loved him heaps and I cherish each day I can not only tell Kathy, Akila and Laura   I love them but find ways to show that.



February 12, 2011

“We are not into partnerships, we like friendship”, is what my friend Mark said this week, as I sat and listened to him talk to Ivan, another friend who represents OM in the UK to Churches. Wow that hit me between the eyes, what a great statement but more than that, what a great approach to life. I talked  last weekend with my friend Stephen about a book called “Raving Fans”. The author was saying “I am not happy with satisfied customers, I want raving fans”. Both Mark and the author want a deeper relationship, a covenantial one not a contractual one, one from the heart not the head.


This past week, we have continued to receive cards and phone calls from friends of my auntie who passed away. I am so deeply challenged by the common comment, “Mavis was a good friend”. It shows, why would they send a sympathy card to us as a family or take the trouble to phone. It is I believe their way of expressing gratitude to Mavis for her friendship. What is amazing is to realise that initially the friendship she had was with another family member, but when they died, somehow the rest of the family wanted to continue the relationship.

So what do I/we consider makes a good friendship? Are some friendships a bit more like a partnership? Is there an expectation that we both get something out of the relationship, advancing a common interest of goal? Is friendship not more on the emotional level and developing interpersonal ties? Am I a friend, am I a good friend? Do I open up on an emotional level and respond at the emotional level? How many ‘friendships’ are really an acquaintance?

I have to say I am so blessed with a number of awesome friendships. Those friends embrace the whole of my life, they know all my family and have taken time to know them. With one of my friends, we both have withdrawal symptoms if we do not touch base once a week! With todays communication technology we are so fortunate. We share in the joy and pain, the thrill of the moment and the sadness of life, the ordinary and the extra ordinary.

Let me encourage us all to think about friendship and be purposeful in developing and maintaining those. I am so grateful that Mike was my “buddy”. I am even more grateful for the friendship I have with Kathy. There is no point in me having awesome friendships in my third circle if the ones in the first and second are not happening!

Friendship or Facebook !

Laura follows in Mike’s footsteps

February 10, 2011

Laura, for some reason thought at the time that Mike working at McDonald’s was a bit of a “sad” job.

Mike in his McDonald's uniform

The day before his interview, we had been travelling in the car and I was taking him through interview techniques and the type of questions they may ask. My main point to him was to get talking as soon as you can about your experience the past 6 months on Logos II and the work you did. We had prepared an awesome port folio of the ship and a letter from the Captain. Well he was offered a job on the spot and we were totally proud of him knowing how hard it would have been for him to go through that process.

Laura is desperate for money as she wants to be at her “guy friend’s” prom in America in a couple of months. Like all of us, she has to live with realities and so she started to look for work. It brought back tiresome memories for me of my work with Mike as I sat there with her filling in the long physiological application form that McDonald’s have on the internet.

Laura was thrilled to be asked for an interview and then be told a couple of days later she had the job. I said to her, “no pressure but your brother went to his first job interview and got offered a job on the spot, lets see how you do!” We laughed as she is the most vivacious personality and her brother ultra introvert.

Well you can see by the photo, yesterday was her first day on the job.

Laura's first day at McDonald's

At first I wondered whether I would have emotional issues with her working there. We have two McDonald’s in Carlisle and although she applied to both, she is working at the opposite one to Mike in the north of the city. In fact I think it is a wonderful compliment to her brother that she has followed in his steps. I love my buddy so much and how proud I was of him for daily getting up at 06:15 by himself and unloading the truck at 07:00.

A funeral

February 9, 2011

As I get older, I attend more funerals. Yesterday I attended my auntie’s. Is a funeral about death or life or both? I dont view death as I once did, especially if I know the person demonstrated in life that they had a restored relationship with Father God through Jesus Christ. Mavis had a wonderful friendship with Jesus, I know that by observing, talking and more recently seeing her books, Bibles and plaques at her house, as well as stories from friends writing to us about her life.

I think for me, giving dignity and showing respect for the dead person is so important. Whilst the spirit of the person is gone, the body has a sacred feel to it and I suppose it should if we are made in the image of God. We chose as a family to celebrate not mourn at the funeral. Mavis was 89 and lived by herself right up until 5 days before she went into hospital. 

 So what does a funeral mean? I think in many ways we each have to answer that for ourselves, but I believe it is very important for us all in the grief process, whether our grief is deep or not. Yes it is the formal physical process of ceremony to either burial or cremation, but its also recognising the bringing of one chapter to an end and another starting. I am aware that the tragic circumstances of the death of someone can overshadow the persons life at the funeral. I also recognise that the memories associated with the persons life are not always happy or cause us to celebrate at the funeral. In fact the death of someone could actually now give the opportunity for “life” to someone else in the emotional area. And so I come to the conclusion that a funeral means different things for different people. May be the end of one persons chapter gives opportunity for a new chapter for someone else.

And all that leads me to want to do better in my life and my relationships, so that at my funeral, the campagne and cigars are just before the final blessing from the vicar!!!!

When was the last time you had a sleep over!

February 8, 2011

On Friday I realised Kathy and I were going to have a rare weekend to ourselves.  I thought it would be nice to surprise her with several events but only planned the Friday evening. We booked VIP seats in the local cinema and watched “The Kings Speech”. I highly recommend to all. A friend was visiting early Saturday morning and I suggested a drink later in the day, I then thought about Kathy and his wife joining, he then suggested a “sleep over” at theirs. We ended up at the pub for a great meal as well.

Our kids have “sleep overs” all the time but I am not sure if my brothers and I ever did that. What an awesome thing to do at 50! Well if I include the link, you may say, “who wouldnt want a sleep over there”! Tottergill Farm

I cannot open the box!

February 3, 2011

My brother Chris and I joined by Liz, my aunties God-Daughter cleared my aunties little flat this past weekend after she died on the 18th. I surprised myself that I did not find it too emotionally draining, well that was not until several hours later. The reality of the harshness of life is hard to cope with at times. We had to be practical and dispose of many items. The sad part is that these ment something, they had associated special memories for Mavis, but not to us. 

In the evening, Chris and I sat in font of a fire and looked through many very old photos of my father’s side of the family. What a laugh to see photos of us as kids I have never seen before. I then came across photo’s of Kathy and the kids which we must have sent. All was fine until I saw a photo of Mike and his cousin Sam in a little play army tent I brought Mike when he was 6. There was little Mike and Sam peering out the door of the tent. That then triggered associated memories for me with Mike.

There is no external emotion, no tears, but I find myself in the “bitter-sweet” area of my life. I have brought all the photo’s home to scan for the rest of the family, but knowing the “bitter-sweet” is in the box, I cannot find the emotional capacity to “open the box”.

That then makes me so sad, to think there are others of us that “cannot open the box” because of either “bitter-sweet” memories or possibly “bitter” ones. I don’t want to be and I wont let myself be paralyzed by these emotions, so I will confront them head on…..just not yet!

Can I open the box again or is it too painful?

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