Selling cars

Yesterday I had a novel experience. I took Sally’s car back to the garage where we bought it so it could be taken for an MOT test. When I arrived the garage owner asked me if I could do him a favour. I said I would if I could. 
He asked me if I would look after the garage while he took the car for the MOT as his colleague wasn’t there. He told me that if anyone turned up in his absence I could tell them that he would be back soon. I agreed and he hopped into our car and drove off, leaving me in charge of the cars. 

I spent a while looking at social media and websites on my phone but after about 25 minutes I had got bored. I wandered outside and had a look at the cars for sale. There was still nobody around so I went back inside.

I posted a selfie of myself in charge of the cars sales and posted it on Facebook. Then I played solitaire on the phone. 

45 minutes had passed and still the owner had not returned so my mind started wondering and wandering. Perhaps the car had failed the MOT… that should not be a problem as the owner had said that he would make sure that the car got through. Maybe they were doing some work on it. 

Then I wondered if it might be some sort of reality / prank show and any minute now a series of awkward customers would turn up. This fantasy was fed by the fact that there are CCTV cameras at the sales yard and I could see what they were showing. Nobody came.

Then I speculated what might happen if the police and trading standards turned up. Or what if he owed money and debt collectors turned up to tow away some of the cars? Or what if a rival came around and started smashing up cars?

By now it was over an hour and my mind was running riot. I managed to struggle back to reality and remembered that the owner had left me his mobile number. I decided to send him a text message to ask what was happening. Just as I was halfway through the message the owner turned up. 

He explained the delay  (although he was carrying a bag with his lunch that he hadn’t had with him when he left), told me that the car had sailed through, thanked me for looking after the car yard and gave me the keys.

Sounds like a parable to me.

Be blessed, be a blessing. 

sweeping changes


Luke 10:38-42

38 As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. 39 She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said.40 But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, ‘Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!’

41 ‘Martha, Martha,’ the Lord answered, ‘you are worried and upset about many things, 42 but few things are needed – or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.’

A while ago I read the passage above and wrote some reflections on it based on sermons I had heard about it which always criticised Martha and commended Mary. I wondered if there were other ways of looking at what happened…

Bad Martha?

Busy Martha

Distracted Martha

Humiliated Martha? (Jesus defended Mary)

Hurt Martha?

Jealous Martha? (would she have liked to be listening to Jesus too?)

Brave Martha (for telling Jesus what to do)

Being hospitable Martha

Caring Martha

Faithful Martha (exercising the gift of hospitality)

Neglected Martha (working in the background and nobody had noticed)

Devoted Mary

Wise Mary

Spiritual Mary

Smug Mary? (Jesus commended her)

Naughty Mary (going against cultural norms by sitting with the men)

Thoughtless Mary?

Inhospitable Mary?

Selfish Mary?

Scroll through to John 11:17-32. When their brother, Lazarus, died who showed faith In Jesus and who blamed him for her brother’s death? Who’s the spiritual one and who’s the practical one now?

Be blessed, be a blessing

view from my pew 11

Dear Internet

My writing seems to be more sporadic at the moment, for which I can only apologise as I know that there are many of you who look forward to my thoughts (or bloggages as Nick insists on calling them). I have been rather busy trying to make sense some events that have happened recently. I can’t see how they are linked except that Revd Philip Inneck-Tucker, our Minister, has been involved a lot. Let me tell you what has happened most recently and work backwards.

This Sunday morning Revd Phil (he insists we call him ‘Phil’ rather than Pastor or Reverend) gave me a large envelope. When I got it home it was a holiday brochure for Egypt. I don’t know whether he was suggesting that I need a holiday or that he is trying to get rid of me. When I asked him about it at the Sunday evening service he just smiled and said, “Have a think back over recent weeks…” I hate it when he goes all cryptic.


The previous Thursday we had our monthly prayer meeting. I attended, as I always do, and in my prayer I thanked God for all of the people who had played a part in me being a Christian – from my Sunday School Teachers, through Christian friends at University, previous Ministers, Deacons and others who I could remember. I thanked God for them all by name, which took some time. Then I thanked God for how full the Sunday School used to be (standing room only) when I was a boy and prayed that we would have the same experience again today and that we would return to the good old days of Bible exams. People said a loud ‘Amen!!’ at the end of my prayer, which I take to mean that they wholeheartedly agreed with my prayer not, as Mr Capel suggested, that they were expressing gratitude that I had finished.

So far I can’t see why that would lead Revd Phil to give me a holiday brochure for Egypt.

The preceding week had been our Church Meeting. I had asked for an item to go on the agenda for me to give a vote of thanks to everyone who had been helping with our children’s Holiday Club in the summer. When it came to that moment I pointed out how faithful those people had been in preparation and helping out each day so that all of the 27 children who attended enjoyed themselves. I also said that it was a shame that there were not more children – not like the 150 we used to have when I ran a Holiday Bible School when I was one of the church youth leaders in my twenties. In those days we used all of the modern technology available – flannelgraphs, film strips and reel-to-reel tape recordings of sermons. As I remembered these things I may have remarked that it’s a shame we don’t do those things now and perhaps if we did there may be more children coming along. I thought I was offering some helpful advice and being gracious (which is one of the things Revd PI-T keeps banging on about).

Still can’t work out what the Egypt holiday is about.

The Sunday before the Church Meeting I was asked to read the Bible passage in the morning service. I used my Grandfather’s old Bible – a proper King James Version – and read Numbers chapter 14.

14 And all the congregation lifted up their voice, and cried; and the people wept that night. And all the children of Israel murmured against Moses and against Aaron: and the whole congregation said unto them, “Would God that we had died in the land of Egypt! or would God we had died in this wilderness! And wherefore hath the Lord brought us unto this land, to fall by the sword, that our wives and our children should be a prey? were it not better for us to return into Egypt?”

And they said one to another, “Let us make a captain, and let us return into Egypt.”

Then Moses and Aaron fell on their faces before all the assembly of the congregation of the children of Israel. And Joshua the son of Nun, and Caleb the son of Jephunneh, which were of them that searched the land, rent their clothes: And they spake unto all the company of the children of Israel, saying, “The land, which we passed through to search it, is an exceeding good land. If the Lord delight in us, then he will bring us into this land, and give it us; a land which floweth with milk and honey. Only rebel not ye against the Lord, neither fear ye the people of the land; for they are bread for us: their defence is departed from them, and the Lord is with us: fear them not.”

10 But all the congregation bade stone them with stones. And the glory of the Lord appeared in the tabernacle of the congregation before all the children of Israel. 11 And the Lord said unto Moses, “How long will this people provoke me? and how long will it be ere they believe me, for all the signs which I have shewed among them? 12 I will smite them with the pestilence, and disinherit them, and will make of thee a greater nation and mightier than they.”

13 And Moses said unto the Lord, “Then the Egyptians shall hear it, (for thou broughtest up this people in thy might from among them;) 14 And they will tell it to the inhabitants of this land: for they have heard that thou Lord art among this people, that thou Lord art seen face to face, and that thy cloud standeth over them, and that thou goest before them, by day time in a pillar of a cloud, and in a pillar of fire by night. 15 Now if thou shalt kill all this people as one man, then the nations which have heard the fame of thee will speak, saying, ‘16 Because the Lord was not able to bring this people into the land which he sware unto them, therefore he hath slain them in the wilderness.’ 

17 “And now, I beseech thee, let the power of my lord be great, according as thou hast spoken, saying, 18 ‘The Lord is longsuffering, and of great mercy, forgiving iniquity and transgression, and by no means clearing the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation.’ 19 Pardon, I beseech thee, the iniquity of this people according unto the greatness of thy mercy, and as thou hast forgiven this people, from Egypt even until now.”

20 And the Lord said, “I have pardoned according to thy word: 21 But as truly as I live, all the earth shall be filled with the glory of the Lord.”

When I finished Revd Phil did give me a very funny look and said, “Thank ye Mr Grenville-Stubbs.” I was pleased that he was getting into the spirit of the reading. Later on Mr Capel asked me where I rent my clothes and I told him that I bought them from the local gentleman’s outfitters. Revd Phil did seem to look at me a lot when he preached about the Israelites grumbling, I don’t know why.

And I still don’t see the link with a brochure for a holiday to Egypt. Do you?

Yours faithfully

Mr QR Grenville-Stubbs.

the saga of the mouth scaffolding continued

not my mouth

Yesterday evening I was frustrated. You may be aware (if you read my previous bloggage) that I currently have scaffolding on my teeth (aka mouth braces) in an attempt to relocate my teeth to where God intended them to be. And it imposes limitations on me that I dislike (sometimes intensely).

One of the things about which I have to be cautious is what I eat. For example, I need to avoid hard, crunchy foods: “nothing harder than a pretzel.” That is difficult because pretzel hardness varies between types of pretzel. It’s not a universal constant and therefore is not an ideal benchmark against which to measure hardness of food. But I understand the point.

The wires on the braces are held to the mounting points by strong latex ‘elastic bands’ and I have to be careful because certain foods can stain the bands so that they are almost fluorescent. Chief culprit is Indian food, especially if it contains turmeric. My dentist advised me to abstain from curry until the night before I see her because of the staining effect, and since she changes over the latex elastics each time I see her I only have the glow in the dark mouth scaffolding for one night.

Today I am not scheduled to see the dentist. Last night I was performing some magic with a message for a men’s group that was meeting in a curry house. The curry smells made me salivate. The starters on the table looked so tempting. The menu was full of food I enjoy eating. But I resisted and instead had an omelette and chips. It was dispiriting to be eating a (nice) omelette and chips while my table companions were tucking into the food I really wanted to eat.

It reminded me again of the need for discipline (see the preceding bloggage), and the need to realise that a brief moment of enjoyment may have longer term consequences. I was aware of how easy it is to be tempted: starting with a poppadom and some mango chutney would be okay. And probably a small kebab as a starter wouldn’t hurt. And then the Bombay Potato alongside a kebab would taste nice. And if I have gone that far I might as well order a naan bread, and some rice, and I might as well have a curry because I have probably already stained the elastics so why not indulge myself.

Being disciplined at the start makes it easier not to give in to temptation later – personal resistance seems to diminish the further you slide down the slippery slope.

One of the things I am trying to do is not only listen for Wisdom’s voice but respond to it.

  • Staying up late to finish watching a film may seem harmless, but Wisdom suggests that rest of the film could be recorded and that we would benefit from a good night’s sleep which means that the next day we will be fresher and healthier. And Wisdom also gently reminds us of how grumpy we are when we are tired and how that will affect other people.
  • Having that extra doughnut may seem really attractive because we really like doughnuts, but Wisdom suggests that the doughnut looks better on the plate than it does on the hips, that we have already eaten enough and that a balanced diet is not a doughnut in each hand. And Wisdom also gently reminds us that someone else might enjoy that doughnut.
  • Running with your basket in hand to the till that is just opening at the supermarket so you can nip in front of the lady with her fractious child in the trolley and a big load of shopping may not seem that harmless. But Wisdom asks us whether we are really in that much of a hurry and to think about how upset the child already is. Wisdom gently suggests that by allowing her to go first the Mum can deal with her upset child sooner.
  • The other driver may have driven thoughtlessly and caused us to brake suddenly. They may need to be taught a lesson. But Wisdom whispers to remind us that we all make mistakes, that nobody was hurt and that the other driver may be really embarrassed by what they have done. Wisdom gently suggests that by giving them a bit more room rather than driving on their bumper flashing our lights we are increasing the amount of goodwill on the roads and that can only be a good thing.

These may seem trivial examples, but I believe that Wisdom (or God’s Spirit) speaks to us all the time, and it’s up to us whether or not we listen and how we respond. It’s easy for us to get caught up in a moment and ignore Wisdom’s voice. One of the ways in which we translate a word used for the Holy Spirit in the Bible is ‘counsellor’. Not as in ‘therapist’ but as in ‘adviser’ or’wise guide’. If Wisdom is God’s Spirit why would we ignore him?

Be blessed, be a blessing