God’s Word – God’s Thoughts

Last weekend, my local council was flying the Pride flag and there were celebrations in the centre of town. I don’t live close enough to hear the goings-on, so I just ignored it, until I saw a tweet from a church in my local area, encouraging people to come and join in the carnival atmosphere. This bothers me far more than the flag being flown – Christians endorsing it. If you believe the Bible is God’s Word, and therefore the authority on life and how to live it, why go against what it says? It’s sad, but you don’t have to have read the entire Bible to end up in church leadership. Perhaps in some cases, people have just never read it.

Here’s what it says in Romans 1:25-27: “They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen. Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed shameful acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their error”. Relations between two people of the same sex are both unnatural and shameful. It’s made clear in Leviticus 18:22: “Do not have sexual relations with a man as one does with a woman; that is detestable”. This is not something to celebrate. It might sound attractive – everyone romancing whoever they want, but sometimes we have to dismiss what we think and put God first.

So, what’s the alternative? Genesis 2:24: “That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh” – a man becoming one with a woman, once they’re joined in marriage.

When I became a Christian, my sister was having driving lessons and I was challenged about the envy I felt. I could have tried to justify it. As a blind person, some would call it natural to envy someone who could drive a car, but the Bible says: “A heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the bones” (Proverbs 14:30). I had to come to God and be honest about the way I was before I could be right with Him.

You see, that’s the ultimate penalty for sin (or error, or wrongdoing) – a separation from God, the God who loves you and wants you to spend eternity enjoying life with Him – the perfect Father, who’ll always give you everything you need. Like a good earthly parent, He doesn’t always approve of our actions, but He always loves us. “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16). As we read His Word, we’re letting God into our lives and getting to know how He thinks. That’s why it’s so important.

For the Residents of Ramsay Street

In Australia they’ve already seen the last episode, but I’m in the UK and after 37 years on TV, Neighbours finally comes to an end today and I’m remembering this big part of my childhood. The final week has been one long celebration. My favourite parts were the little flashbacks to characters from the 80s who’ve died now and can’t return in person. It was quite exciting, wondering who would be next.

So now, here’s my 5-7-5 tribute. Hope you enjoy the clips.

* * *

That first episode,
It began with a nightmare
Of a swimming-pool.

Daphne introduced
When she came to the buck’s night;
Wedding was cancelled.

Daphne married Des;
I craved carriage and horses
For my wedding day.

After a car crash,
She slipped into a coma –
Real deathbed drama.

Turned up unannounced;
Scott thought she was a burglar –
The headstrong Charlene.

Ratings exploded
As they played out their romance;
Millions watched them wed.

Didn’t we all love
The portly Harold Bishop,
So set in his ways?

Or who could forget
Meddlesome Mrs Mangel,
Who liked to gossip?

Scott’s scheming brother –
How many wives did Paul have?
Gail – one of the best.

Their sister Lucy –
Model turned businesswoman –
Returns now and then.

A bundle of nerves,
Caught up in her emotions,
Julie was a wreck.

Shock revelation
From Jim’s time in Vietnam;
Unexpected son.

Poor Henry suffered
The ultimate buck’s night prank,
Kidnapped in a truck.

Great to have a show
With twins in its storyline –
Chris and Caroline.

Paul now has children,
And even some grandchildren;
They’re all leaving us.

No more friendly waves;
No more footsteps to next-door –
Goodbye Ramsay Street.

Musical Monday: Revelation

I’m writing these in advance because I didn’t want to get so far through and not be able to finish what I started, but we’ve done it – we’ve got to the end of the Bible. I’d love to know if these posts/songs have helped you in any way. Are you remembering more Scripture than before? Are you reading your Bible more regularly?

This might be the most catchy song of them all, so if you’re going round all week singing: “Revelation three twenty, open up that door”, I’m not sorry really!

Thanks for following the blog and going through the Bible with me these last 6 months. I wanted to share the songs instead of just making a playlist for myself, so I hope you’ve enjoyed listening.

Musical Monday: 2 Peter

Today’s verse is helpful to remember. It says we’ve been given everything we need to live a life devoted to God, so if you question whether you can live the way God wants you to, remind yourself of that.

Colin duets with Karen Pang on this song and it sounds like they’re having so much fun. I wondered if they were brother and sister, but as he was born in Dublin and she’s of Chinese descent, it doesn’t look that way. I think they must have met whilst working on the Australian version of “Play School”.

The short book of 2 Peter has 3 chapters. You could read that this week, and I hope you enjoy the song.

He Never Assumed

Something I often hear (and I’ve heard again this week) is about the blind man Jesus meets, when Jesus asks: “What do you want Me to do for you?”

When I hear people talk about this, they’re usually surprised at the question, thinking the answer’s obvious, but is it really? Yes, in Mark 10:46-52, the man did ask for his sight, but he could have asked for something else – perhaps the healing of a family-member whose need was greater than his, or a damaged friendship he wanted restored. One thing I love about Jesus? He didn’t assume anything; He asked the question and waited for an answer.

Speaking personally, there are times I would have chosen my sight, if asked. At other times, I’d have different priorities. She’s in remission now, but when my mum had cancer a few years ago, I’m sure her healing would have been top of my list. It’s about seeing not just the disability, but the person behind it – a person who’s blind, but who’s also having the same struggles everyone else has.

I could pose the same question, leaving the answer between you and the Lord. What do you want Him to do for you?

Fire, Fun and Fifty

There was a special Jubilee last weekend (no, I’m not talking about the queen’s, though that was special too). The Association of Christian Writers (ACW) celebrated its golden Jubilee at a conference centre in Derbyshire. Not since pre-lockdown had I been somewhere to stay overnight, plus I hadn’t met anyone who was going (not face-to-face, anyway). I knew the grounds were quite extensive, so I could see myself trying to navigate the place and getting desperately lost. In the end, the thought of meeting other writers and making new friends triumphed.

It was such a wonderful feeling when Annmarie introduced herself. She’s the publicity officer for ACW, with her beautiful Irish accent. We’d spoken on Zoom and now here she was – someone I knew! I also met Ruth Leigh for the first time over the weekend. I confess I’ve read her first book, but still haven’t read the second in her trilogy. Someone asked me: “Are you an Isabella fan?” I thought afterwards: Actually, I’m a Ruth fan. You meet people like that, don’t you? Where you enjoy their art, but what really shines out more than anything is their personality.

At some conferences or retreats, you might have an afternoon of free time to wander through the grounds or explore the local area. We didn’t have that, because there was so much else going on. Paul Karensa treated us to some of his comedy, including the time he forgot a backing CD for the carol concert and used “The Greatest TV and Film Themes” instead. Have you ever tried singing “Silent Night” to the tune of “Postman Pat”? It works surprisingly well! Unwelcome surprise later, though, when subjected to a midnight fire alarm. It must have been a sight, as we all congregated outside in our nightwear. Moral of the story: Always close your bathroom door before you jump in the shower. We never found the culprit!

Saturday morning brought us into Anne Booth’s world, where we saw how long it took for “Girl with a White Dog” (the book she seemed most passionate about) to actually reach publication. Then it was our turn to play more of a role.

When it came to workshops, I knew straightaway which ones to choose – poetry in the morning, and music in the afternoon. We rehearsed the songs for Sunday worship, as well as our entertainment slot for the upcoming Jubilee celebration – a glittering affair, with gold featured in a lot of the outfits. Rebecca won the award for the most gold with her long, sequined evening dress. Adrian and Bridget Plass made us smile and we sang “Congratulations” to new lyrics. I’m sure when I hear it now, I’ll be thinking:
Congratulations, and celebrations
To ACW now it has reached fif-ty
.

What more can I say? Tony Collins was remarkably humble, as he spoke about some of his failures, and I think a lot of us were impressed with Jonathan Bryan’s presentation. A sixteen-year-old who’s nonverbal, he uses letters on a spelling board to communicate. His experience with Jesus was very moving. I expect his book is well worth a read.

Overall, an amazing weekend with a hugely talented group of people. I hope many of them will remain friends and we’ll meet up again before too long.

My Favourite Things

One of the latest prompts on Fanstory was so much fun – to write a poem about your favourite things, to the tune of the song by Julie Andrews.

* * *

Gath’rings of Christians from different locations,
Writing on laptops when there’s inspiration;
Voices uplifted and happy to sing –
These are a few of my favourite things.

Hearing the rhythm of horses that canter,
Weddings and hugging and sweet children’s laughter;
Christmas with all of the joy that it brings –
These are a few of my favourite things.

Friends coming over to go out for dinner,
Time on the sofa with lots of “Blue Heelers”;
Coffee and hot dogs and biscuits in tins –
These are a few of my favourite things.

When it goes wrong, when there’s bad news,
When I’m feeling down,
I simply remember my favourite things,
And then it’ll turn around.