Monthly Archives: July 2007

Emergency Call

I was relaxing in my morning bath, preparing for the day/week ahead. The phone rings and I’m told that there is a major emergency at work – could I please get there ASAP, if not sooner. So off I go. I’ve not shaved, dressed, packed and left so quickly in years. No one bothered telling me what he emergency was, just to move.

I haven’t even had time to change the cat litter over, FW will not be amused.

So I’m crusing up the M50 with the roof down, doing xxMPH, when the phone goes off again. So I actually pull over to answer. Well have you ever tried having a conversation at xxMPH? Plus I thought that safety was important.

“No need to rush. The emergencies over now.”

What was the rush? Someone from Hong Kong wanted to arrange a shipment that my customer wants out of there premises this week. The Chinese don’t want it till next week, at the earliest. They came to an arrangement that I’d collect it later this week.

That was not an emergency and not worth rushing for.

Weekend

Last night we went out for our (belated)Anniversary meal. We went a long, long way away – to the little restaurant down the hill. It is an Italian with a limited menu. I was a little upset when I saw the menu as there was so little to choose from compared with most places. However the food was absolutely superb. Also, where else can you have a 3 course meal for 2, with drinks, for just under £50?

This morning we went to chapel where one of the deacons was taking the service as the visiting preacher was ill. I’d told Dith a few weeks ago that I thought he was suffering from Parkinsons, as he had that unmistakeable trembling in his right hand, and this morning he confirmed it. That’s 2 diagnosis in the past few months.

On the downside it looks like he’ll be unable to drive due to the meds he’ll have to take. Its doubly hard as he works in Bridgend – 50 miles away. It also means that he’ll have to give-up on his lay preaching. As such he is looking for someone to take over from him and cover at least 10 churches around the valley. I’ll let you guess who volunteered to help.

After chapel we headed out on what, for FW, was a mystery trip. I visited the local DIY shop to buy the materials I need to begin work on my first model railway. This will be a very basic layout so that the Troublesome Trucksa can have something to play with and FW and I can use it as practice for bigger things later.

Awkward Visitors

We have two lodgers staying with us for the next 2 weeks. I’m really annoyed with my sister for going on holiday and leaving them with us. We’re not really equipped to deal with this sort of thing, especially as we have none of our own and not likely to have any either.

What makes it worse is that they’re vegetarian. What exactly do veggies eat? It’s not that easy when you’re used to catering for the 2 of you to fit in other dietary needs. It just makes life harder. I mean you can’t just open a tin of something to feed them.

We’re also left with the added responsibility of ensuring that nothing untoward happens to them. This is not really a neighbourhood renowned for easy exceptence of others. That’s why I fit in so well here. They also have an allergy to cats; I’d hate to see what happened if our 3 cats mixed with them.

Then at 23:00hrs yesterday my sister rings because my brother in law is worried and wants to make sure that they’ve settled in ok. We’d already been told that they needed a story before they went to bed and FW had told them one before they went to sleep.

Mind you I must say that they’ve been very quiet and not caused any trouble for us. In fact we haven’t heard a peep out of them. I never knew that Stick Insects were so well behaved.

Gaps in the System

I was told today about a guy who has been sleeping rough in our town. Earlier this week he had his tent and belongings stolen. From what I’ve been told he’s a really nice guy who, through no fault of his own, has fallen on hard times.

He is an ex-military person who is divorced/separated from his wife and children and has been sleeping in the area to be near them. The contract he had been working on ended suddenly and he was cast on the scrapheap. Now he is forced to find somewhere else to stay.

The problem is that the nearest emergency shelter is in Cardiff, 20 miles away. In order to secure a place you have to be there by 16:00hrs. How does a homeless person travel 20 miles in about 2 hours without money? There were shelters in Newport, about 10 miles down the valley, but they had no places. How does a homeless person then get back to see his family?

One of the things I’ve found when I’ve talked to ex-military personnel in dire straits is that they are still proud men who want to work but don’t seem to get the breaks they need. In addition many have problems that they have developed during their time in the Forces. Upon release they are neglected by the system that they once protected and fall through the cracks. This is especially true of proud military men who don’t share thoughts or feelings with other people; after all that’s not what men do is it?

I don’t know what happened to this guy. I’m sure that the organisation he went to were doing everything they could to help, as they had done already. Yet he is another who seems to have been let down by the system that is overstretched, under funded and under staffed.

Maybe there is nothing else that we can do for him at present, except pray for him…..

THE BIG ANNOUNCEMENT

Well, it’s not that big as it won’t let me write in really HUGE letters.

I have posted off my cheque and application to Spurgeon’s College to begin a distance/open learning course. If all goes well, i.e. I actually do some work, then the aim is to progress through the Certificate of Theology to the Diploma and then, possibly, a degree.

I’m not sure if that was worth the wait but hey ho!

The State of the Church – or How Did We Get Into This Mess?

At present I have no further bookings for sermonising the poor people of South Wales. This is a fairly ad-hoc experience for me. My previous minister was supposed to have organised for me to begin the process to be added to the local list. However, as with many things, it never materialised.

Following our pre-membership interview last week I have been advised that I’ll soon be hearing more from my new area. There is a great shortage of preachers – lay or ordained – in our area. Many chaurches/chapels do not have a minister and are always looking for someone to fill their vacancies. One of the deacons currently has a list of 20 churches that he preaches at.

It is also not unusual for lay preachers to perform weddings and funerals in this area, something I never thought possible. This helps to show the sorry state of Christianity in what is supposedly a religious area of the UK.

Many chapels stand empty and quite a few are now private homes or business premises. The majority of congregations are elderly and number around 27-30 members, or active attendees. This is a long way from the days of several hundred attending services every Sunday, or the 3 services each Sunday that many chapels held.

Maybe its the change in the working weeks. Maybe its the loss of confidence and hope that industrial decay spread. It could be because people just prefer to go shopping or spending time screaming at each other every Sunday instead. Or it could be the general malaise that seems to have gripped much of society.

Sermonising

Apologies to Ian but I don’t think that anyone really wants to read one of my 12 page sermons (large print of course). However I will put him out of his misery:

It was based on Moses’ farewell speeches to the Israelites before they crossed into the Promised Land. It centred on God’s promises of the riches that would be poured out onto the people if they kept to the covenant to follow His laws. It also highlighted that not following His covenant would result in the exact opposite happening to them. Moses even warned them that they’d be taken into exile.

From this we know that God, and Moses, already knew that, on past performance, the scheme would of course end in failure. This helps to show the later action of God having to intervene in the sacrifice of Jesus.

That seems to scale things down from 30 minutes to a few lines. I’m sure my dad would have prefered this version 😉

Weekend Summary

Well the sermon seemed to go well. No one feel asleep and now one walked out. Therefore I consider it to have been a God empowered success.

Afterwards we went out for an anniversary lunch; well the anniversary is today but I thought that we’d string the celebrations out over the weekend. What I hadn’t told FW was that the rest of my family were also attending. Thankfully the surprise worked and we had a great time; though it did cost me a few quid.

The unfortunate event is that the restaurant that we were going to eat at tonight is closed. Therefore our anniversary meal will be on Saturday instead.

Help, JLT!!! FW is trying to make me eat chocolate. She’s using the excuse that its white chocolate and therefore doesn’t count as a banned substance.

There will be an announcement later this week regarding an important event.

Sermons and floods

Today has been mixed, so far.

Some of Judith’s relations were due to visit as they journied down from the Midlands to the Gower. So, in order to fit in everything that needed doing, we got up early. Things were a little behind scheduled, as I took one of my legendary hour long baths. So much so that, in an act of frustration, I kicked the cupboard door and knocked it off one of its hinges. Naughty T&E.

Then we had a phone call to say that they wouldn’t be able to make it. It seems that they had taken 3 hours to move virtually no distance at all and were turning back. I should have realised after hearing from a friend of mine that he’d taken 6 hours to travel 60 miles yesterday and still had 80 to go.

So we decided to go out for lunch and then I could come home and write tomorrow morning’s sermon. Then we can drive down to Swansea to eat raw fish in celebration of Ness’ 310th birthday. Well I think that’s how old she said she is anyway….

We also have to celebrate that Lemly has (finally) passed her driving test. However that’s nowhere near as imoortant. It just means that she’ll be mobile and thus more able to annoy the rest of the population.

Welcome To My Nightmare

So we had our meeting with the deacons this evening. It went well as they are recommending us to the church for membership. We also discussed the things that needed to be done to start youth work in the church.

I’ve found that this chapel are far more organised than my previous one. They actually believe in planning things properly and not just launching something without the correct groundwork. Considering that everyone else is at least 10-15 years older than I am its good to hear that people still want to help in someway.

They also understand the need for continuing prayer in support of work carried in the name of Jesus. To me this is just as important as those people doing the actual work. Just the thought of poeple supporting you in this way is a great help.

There’s also something wonderful about the way they talk to you. The joy in their voices and the glint in their eyes is something to behold. Maybe its one of the good things things about joining a small church, that they feel more like a family.

We’re looking forward to the future with our new church family.