surprise blessings

Okay, I have managed to fit in a quick blog (200th today).

I was so blessed and surprised recently when the kind young man (thanks Chris) who operated the video camera at our church to show the recent baptisms on the big screen presented me with a DVD of Thomas being baptised. They had had one or two technical problems with the first two baptisms but miraculously had sorted them by the time Thomas came to be baptised.

Why was it a blessing? Because I had not expected it and it is now something that we can show people who could not be there (like my Mother-in-Law who was devastated that she missed it). It was also a blessing because it is a reminder of a special spiritual moment.

In many ways that is what the Bible is – a reminder of special spiritual moments of encounters with God. Like Thomas’s baptism they were special at the time, and they are special today because we still encounter God through them. Of course the Bible is MUCH more than that (cue reminder to finish Sunday morning’s sermon on John 1). What special spiritual moments have you had this week? What did God say? What did you learn? Write it down or draw a picture or write a song or do something to record that so that in the future God can remind you of what he said and the blessing is multiplied.

A teenager is…
– A person who can’t remember to walk the dog but never forgets a phone number.
– A weight watcher who goes on a diet by giving up chocolate before breakfast.
– A youngster who receives her allowance on Monday, spends it on Tuesday, and borrows it from her best friend on Wednesday.
– Someone who can hear his favourite singer 3 blocks away but not his mother calling from the next room.
– A whizz who can operate the latest computer without a lesson but can’t make a bed.
– A student who spends 12 minutes studying history and 12 hours studying for her driver’s licence.
– A connoisseur of 2 kinds of fine music–loud and very loud.
– An enthusiast who has the energy to bike for miles but is usually too tired to dry the dishes.
– A young woman who loves the cat and tolerates the brother.
– A romantic who never falls in love more than once a week.
– A budding beauty who never smiles until her braces come off.
– A boy who can sleep till noon on any Saturday he suspects the lawn needs mowing.
– An original thinker who is positive that her mother was never a teenager.

cross purposes

(as opposed to angry dolphins which would be cross porpoises!)

I had a wonderful experience on Monday evening this week. We had an open invitation to men in the church to join together at a local hostelry for an evening – food and friendship are a great combination. Good food, good conversation, good evening. A great time.

But that was not the wonderful bit. That came when one of the blokes who came, Dave, put some crosses in my hand. I need to give a context…

For a while now I have wondered about what we can do as Christians when we see the impromptu memorials that spring up along our roads at the site where someone has tragically been killed. It seems to me that we have something to say and do. I have decided that whenever I see one (and if it is safe to do so) I will pull over and pray for that family. But I have wanted to do more.

So I thought about getting some simple wooden crosses and leaving them there with the flowers and other tributes with a simple message saying that I prayed for them and with the church’s contact details so that they can make contact if they wish. I am concerned that it does not look opportunistic or tacky, but want to be able to seek God’s blessing on people in those circumstances.

I mentioned this to my friend, Dave, who is a carpenter. (His firm is Nelson Woodcraft – not to be confused with woodcraft firms of a similar name. Other carpenters are available.) I was hoping that I may be able to go to his workshop some time and spend some time sticking bits of scrap wood together to make some crosses.

So I was blessed and touched when Dave presented me with two crosses and labels at the meal on Monday, when I had only mentioned the idea to him the day before! And he has thought about this. The crosses are in oak, a hardwood, because it will look better for longer when exposed to the elements and the labels, being hardwood, can be written on without the ink being absorbed by the wood and spreading. I would not have thought of these things. So thanks, Dave, that is brilliant. I hope it is a long time before I need to use one of them but will carry them in my car from now on. If you want to do the same, fantastic, just follow Dave’s advice and use hardwood. I intend to use a Sharpie permanent marker to write on the label (other pens are available!).

Bless you as you bless others

The following are all allegedly statements from insurance claim forms. We know what they were trying to say (I think)…

“The car in front hit the pedestrian but he got up so I hit him again.”
“I started to slow down but the traffic was more stationary than I thought.”

“I started to turn and it was at this point I noticed a camel and an elephant tethered at the verge. This distraction caused me to lose concentration and hit a bollard.”

“I saw a slow moving, sad faced old gentleman as he bounced off the roof of my car.”

“Coming home I drove into the wrong house and collided with a tree I don’t have.”

“A car drove away at speed catching our client who went up in the air and his head went through the windscreen and then rolled off at the traffic lights a good few feet away. The car then sped off and miraculously our client remained conscious and managed to cross the road.”

“I am responsible for the accident as I was miles away at the time.”

“I pulled into a lay-by with smoke coming from under the bonnet. I realised the car was on fire so took my dog and smothered it with a blanket.”

“I had one eye on a parked car, another on approaching lorries, and another on the woman behind”.

“On the M6 I moved from the centre lane to the fast lane but the other car didn’t give way.”

“On approach to the traffic lights the car in front suddenly broke.”

“I didn’t think the speed limit applied after midnight”

“I was on my way to see an unconscious patient who had convulsions and was blocked by a tanker.”

“Mr. X is in hospital and says I can use his car and take his wife while he is there. What shall I do about it?”

“No witnesses would admit having seen the mishap until after it happened.”

“I knew the dog was possessive about the car but I would not have asked her to drive it if I had thought there was any risk.”

“While proceeding through ‘Monkey Jungle’, the vehicle was enveloped by small fat brown grinning monkeys. Number three fat brown monkey (with buck teeth) proceeded to swing in an anticlockwise direction on the radio aerial. Repeated requests to desist were ignored. Approximately 2 minutes and 43 seconds later, small fat brown monkey disappeared in ‘Monkey Jungle’ clutching radio aerial.”

“First car stopped suddenly, second car hit first car and a haggis ran into the rear of second car.”

“Windscreen broken. Cause unknown. Probably voodoo.”

“I pulled away from the side of the road, glanced at my mother-in- law and headed over the embankment.”

“The other car collided with mine without giving warning of its intention.”

“I was on my way to the doctor with rear end trouble when my universal joint gave way causing me to have an accident.”

“To avoid hitting the bumper of the car in front I struck the pedestrian.”

“My car was legally parked as it backed into the other vehicle.”

“I was thrown from the car as it left the road. I was later found in a ditch by some stray cows.”

A customer collided with a cow. The questions and answers on the claim form were:
Q – What warning was given by you?
A – Horn
Q – What warning was given by the other party?
A – Moo

Q: Could either driver have done anything to avoid the accident?
A: Travelled by bus?

“I collided with a stationary truck coming the other way”

“A pedestrian hit me and went under my car”

“In an attempt to kill a fly, I drove into a telephone pole.”

“I had been shopping for plants all day and was on my way home. As I reached an intersection a hedge sprang up obscuring my vision and I did not see the other car.”

“An invisible car came out of nowhere, struck my car and vanished.”

“I thought my window was down, but I found it was up when I put my head through it.”

“The guy was all over the road. I had to swerve a number of times before I hit him.”

“I had been driving for forty years when I fell asleep at the wheel and had an accident.”

“As I approached an intersection a sign suddenly appeared in a place where no stop sign had ever appeared before.”

“I told the police that I was not injured, but on removing my hat found that I had a fractured skull.”

“I was sure the old fellow would never make it to the other side of the road when I struck him.”

“The indirect cause of the accident was a little guy in a small car with a big mouth.”

“The telephone pole was approaching. I was attempting to swerve out of the way when I struck the front end.”

“The gentleman behind me struck me on the backside. He then went to rest in a bush with just his rear end showing. ”

“I had been learning to drive with power steering. I turned the wheel to what I thought was enough and found myself in a different direction going the opposite way.”

“When I saw I could not avoid a collision I stepped on the gas and crashed into the other car.”

“The accident happened when the right front door of a car came round the corner without giving a signal.”

“No one was to blame for the accident but it would never have happened if the other driver had been alert.”

“I was unable to stop in time and my car crashed into the other vehicle. The driver and passengers then left immediately for a vacation with injuries.”

“The pedestrian ran for the pavement, but I got him.”

“I saw her look at me twice. She appeared to be making slow progress when we met on impact.”

“The accident occurred when I was attempting to bring my car out of a skid by steering it into the other vehicle.”

getting cold feet for a great reason

There are times when God absolutely blesses your socks off. This weekend is going to be one of those.

On Sunday I have the joy and privilege of baptising three people from our church. They are all young yet have very different testimonies about what Jesus has done in their lives. There are many joys I experience as a Baptist Minister but baptising believers is right up there near the top of the list, just below leading people to faith in Jesus.

[Voom] – that is the sound of a sock being blessed off.

It gets better.

“No!” I hear you cry. “That is not possible!”

Yup. It really does get better. As brilliant as it will be to baptise Amy and Sarah, and as great a joy that will be, it will be extra special when I baptise Thomas. He is my son. What an immense privilege!

[Voooom] – that is the sound of another sock being blessed off.

I don’t have any socks left, but I am sure that God will not stop there – he’s like that. Socks may be flying everywhere this weekend, and if you are in the Colchester area and want to lose some hosiery then feel free to come and join us at 10.30.

Be blessed!

There will not be any of this on Sunday, our pool is not deep enough, but enjoy the video anyway.

Bless a Bureaucrat Day

Bureaucracy is a necessary fact of life. We need people who organise things for us – those who design bus and train timetables, people who manage the benefits system, the organisational structure in the background behind important services like hospitals and the police. On the whole bureaucrats get a bad press. If you are in that line of work and someone asks you at a party what you do for a living you are more likely to say ‘Administrator’ or ‘Civil Servant’ than ‘Bureaucrat’. The word just sounds so… bureaucratic.

We all notice when bureaucracy goes wrong. I am waiting for a date for a hospital appointment and phone calls to the admissions office have been met with sympathetic resignation from the bureaucrats (I think they should reclaim the name) at the other end of the line. They are not in charge of deciding when my appointment will be and are very sorry. At the same time this week I have been chased by another bureaucrat: calling twice to offer me appointments I don’t need. It’s a shame I can’t merge the two systems!

I always try to be sympathetic to these people when I speak with them. I believe that they are trying their hardest to be helpful and often are as exasperated with the system as we are. It’s almost always not their fault that they can’t supply the appointment we want or the answer we need. 

So, I would like to declare tomorrow ‘Bless a Bureaucrat Day’. If you are on the phone or speaking face to face with someone who is a bureaucrat tomorrow (even if they will not admit it) say something encouraging to them. Assure them that you are not angry with them. Ask them how their day is going. And if they have not hung up on you or gone to see their supervisor because it has never happened before and don’t know how to cope you can bless them further with some bureaucratic one liners:

A clean desk is a sign of a cluttered desk drawer.
If at first you don’t succeed, redefine success.
I don’t have a solution, but I do admire the problem.
Jesus is coming! Look Busy.
I love deadlines. I especially like the whooshing sound they make as they go flying by.
A Committee is a group of people who individually can do nothing, but as a group decide that nothing can be done.
Meetings: the practical alternative to work.