Thought For The Day - Archive
Former President Clinton tells of his first meeting with Nelson Mandela. In his conversation with this leader of South Africa, the president said, “When you were released from prison Mr Mandela, I woke my daughter at 3 am. I wanted her to see this historic event. As you marched from the cell block across the yard to the gate of the prison, the camera focussed on your face. I have never seen such anger, and even hatred, in any man as was expressed on your face at that time. That’s not the Nelson Mandela I know today.”
Mandela answered, “I’m surprised you saw that, and I regret the cameras caught my anger. As I walked across the courtyard that day I thought to myself, ‘They’ve taken everything from you that matters. Your cause is dead. Your family is gone. Your friends have been killed. Now they’re releasing you, but there’s nothing left for you out there.’ And I hated them for what they had taken from me. Then I sensed a voice saying to me, ‘Nelson! For 27 years you were their prisoner, but you were always a free man! Don’t allow them to make you into a free man only to turn you into their prisoner!’”
An unforgiving spirit creates bitterness in our souls and imprisons our spirits. A failure to forgive imprisons us.
Father, forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.
Watch the borders!
Apparently in the mid 1960’s, FBI director, J Edgar Hoover was proof-reading a letter. He didn’t like the way the margins had been set out, so he wrote ‘watch the borders’ on the bottom and asked for the letter to be re-typed. The secretary retyped it and sent it to all the top agents. For the next two weeks, FBI agents patrolled the borders in droves, as requested!
How easy it is to misunderstand! Jesus came and loved those who appeared unlovely and who were broken and cast out; yet he was rounded on by many from orthodox religion.
How easy it is to misunderstand. The church was to be a means by which people meet with the risen Christ, just as they are, and to receive his grace and mercy. It is not the church’s job to ‘watch the borders’ and to exclude people. It is our job to break down the borders and barriers and to find people who are still ‘afar off’ and to lead them to the one who has all the grace, mercy and forgiveness they need.
A good question to ask ourselves would be; are we enabling people to see and meet the risen Christ or are we keeping Him hidden within our buildings where so many are reluctant to come?
It is good to be reminded that we are the Church and each one of us is called to share the good news of love and forgiveness with everyone.
Put your faith in fears and you will be paralysed with fear.
Put your faith in doubt and you will be questioning and uncertain.
Put your faith in yourself and you will fail time and time again.
Put your faith in your feelings and you will be constantly disappointed.
Put your faith in Jesus and you will know His victory.
May today there be peace within.
May you trust God that you are exactly where you are meant to be.
May you not forget the infinite possibilities that are born of faith.
May you use those gifts that you have received, and pass on the love that has been given to you.
May you be content knowing you are a child of God.
Let His presence settle into your bones and allow your soul the freedom to sing, to dance, praise and love.
It is there for each and every one of us.
St Teresa of Avila
‘I thank my God every time I remember you’ (Philippians 1 v 3)
A professor called William Stidger taught at a well-known university. He reflected on the great number of unthanked people in his life. He remembered those who had nurtured, inspired or cared for him enough to leave a lasting impression on him. One was a school teacher that he’d not heard of in many years, but he remembered that she had gone out of her way to instil a love of verse in him. As a result he had loved poetry all his life. He traced her and wrote her a letter of thanks.
The reply he received included these words....
‘I cannot tell you how much your letter meant to me I’m in my eighties now, I live alone and find myself to be quite lonely. I was a teacher for 50 years and yours is the first note of appreciation that I’ve received. It has cheered me as nothing has done for many years.’
We all have unthanked people from our past and probably most of us have unthanked people in our present too. Mother Theresa of Calcutta said that kind words are short and easy to speak and yet their echoes are truly endless.
Who are the people that we can speak or write to today to thank the for their influence on our lives?
‘Greater love has no-one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.’
John chapter15 verse 13.
During the war, whilst that infamous bridge known as ‘the bridge on the River Kwai’ was being built, the prisoners of war were under tremendous pressure. The Japanese were not kind to their prisoners and worked and starved them until they were literally skin and bone, and many died as a result.
One day a contingent of prisoners came in from their afternoon’s work. They put their shovels in the storeroom and stood to attention as the Japanese officer addressed them. A Japanese soldier informed the officer that one shovel was missing and the officer threatened to shoot every every prisoner if no-one accounted for the missing implement. He loaded his rifle and took aim. Suddenly a man stood two steps forward, stood to attention and said ‘I did it’. The officer was so angry that he beat the man to death. He was still lying there when the soldier came running out of the storeroom and apologised to the officer. There had been a miscount, he said, and all the shovels were accounted for. One man died for his friends.
Jesus took two steps forward for you and me. Totally innocent, he laid down his life so that we could live forever. All we have to do is to accept his gift, repenting of our sins and thanking him for his incredible love for us.
The Wednesday Worry Box
Sometimes, if you will just wait, problems take care of themselves. J. Arthur Rank had a system for doing that. He was one of the early pioneers of the film industry in Great Britain, and he also happened to be a devout Christian.
Rank found he couldn't push his worries out of his mind completely; they were always slipping back in. So he finally made a pact with God to limit his worrying to Wednesday. He even made himself a little Wednesday Worry Box and he placed it on his desk. Whenever a worry cropped up, Rank wrote it out and dropped it into the Wednesday Worry Box.
Would you like to know his amazing discovery? When Wednesday rolled around, he would open that box to find that only a third of the items he had written down were still worth worrying about. The rest had managed to resolve themselves.
If you have a troubled heart, ask God to give you a new perspective. Also ask him to give you patience so that you do not jump ahead and worry about a problem that may never come. But most important of all, ask God for more faith. Faith in God is the best remedy for all our problems. Jesus put it plainly, "Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me."
There is a traditional folktale of three trees growing together on a mountaintop. As they grow tall and strong, they each dream of being something wonderful when they grow up. The first wants to hold treasure and to be the most beautiful treasure chest in the world. The second wants to be the strongest ship carrying cargo and passengers to all parts of the world. The third wants to grow to be the tallest tree to point people to God.
The time came for the trees to be cut down. The tree that wished to be the most beautiful treasure chest was made into a simple feedbox for animals. The tree that wanted to be the strongest ship was made into a humble fishing boat and the tree that wanted to grow the tallest was left as forgotten beams in a woodyard. All the trees were wondering what had happened to their dreams.
It was when first tree became the manger in the stable at Jesus’ birth and the second tree became the boat that carried Jesus when he stilled the storm and the third tree became the beams of the cross on which Jesus died that the trees began to realize that their dreams had come true…albeit not in the way they expected. They understood that the presence of Jesus changes everything.
This Easter may we remember that Jesus makes a difference in our lives when we are willing to receive Him.
The Trouble Tree
A carpenter was working on a restoration project on an old farmhouse. He had just finished a rough first day on the job. All manner of things had gone wrong with the job and then his truck wouldn’t start. His employer drove him home and the carpenter maintained a stony silence. On arriving home he invited his employer in to meet his family. As they approached the front door, the carpenter paused briefly at a small tree, touching the tips of the branches with both hands.
When he opened the door, the carpenter was transformed. He had a broad and beaming smile and hugged his wife and children.
His employer’s curiosity got the better of him. How did such a change come about? The carpenter explained;
‘You see that tree? That’s my trouble tree. I know I can’t help having troubles on the job, but one thing’s for sure; those troubles are not coming home to my wife and children. I just hang them up every night on the tree when I come home.
Then in the morning I pick them up again.’
‘Funny thing is’ he smiled as he continued, ‘when I come out of the house in the morning go to pick the up, there’s nothing like as many hanging up there as there were the night before.’
Well, maybe we don’t have a trouble tree growing in our front garden, but we do have a God who cares for us and invites us to leave our troubles with Him.
Give all your worries and cares to God, for He
cares about you. (First letter of Peter, chapter 5 verse 7).
It’s Up to You
One song can spark a moment,One flower can wake the dream.One tree can start a forest,One bird can herald spring.One smile begins a friendship,One handclasp lifts a soul.One star can guide a ship at sea,One word can frame the goal.One vote can change a nation,One sunbeam lights a room.One candle wipes out darkness,One laugh will conquer gloom.One step must start each journey,One word must start each prayer.One hope will raise our spirits,One touch can show you care.One voice can speak with wisdom,One heart can know what’s true,One life can make the difference,You see, it’s up to you! (Anon)
Thought for the Season
We all know that the reason we exchange gifts at Christmas is to celebrate the most wonderful gift given to the world in our Saviour, Jesus Christ. What gift would Jesus like to receive from us?
St. Jerome helps us find an answer to that question. St Jerome was one of the distinguished church fathers who helped to guide the Church in matters of faith and the Bible. He translated the Ancient Greek manuscripts into Latin to help put the Bible in the language of the people. He wanted the people to read and know the Bible. He lived in the actual town of Bethlehem for a time to get a feel of how Jesus lived during his earthly journey among us.
The rich oral traditions of the church share how St. Jerome, while living in Bethlehem, had a dream that Jesus visited him.
The dream was so powerful and convincing that St. Jerome rounded up all his material blessings and offered them to Jesus.
He heard the Lord declare: "I do not want your possessions."
So being a good church leader, he offered all his money to Jesus.
Jesus once again declared, "I do not want your money."
Finally, in desperation, St. Jerome cried out "Jesus, what do you want from me?"
Jesus simply replied, "Give me your sins. That is what I came for--I came to take away your sin. Give me your sin."
Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners
1 Timothy chapter 1 verse 15.
Jesus said ‘But whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a fount of water springing up to eternal life."
There was a beautiful lake that lost its zesty freshness. The water formerly had been clear. It was alluring to animals and people alike. But it became covered with a green scum. The farm animals became ill from drinking the water. Finally someone came by the lake who understood the problem. Debris collecting from the hard spring rains had stopped up the dam and prevented the free flow of water, not into the lake, but out of the lake. The spillway was cleared, and soon the lake was fresh and clean again. The flow in and out was necessary to keep the water pure!
Doesn't the same principle apply to you and me as human beings? The blessings of life flow to you and me, but we fail to realize that most of these blessings are not meant just to flow to us, but through us, for the good of others around us, especially for those in need.
Mother Teresa of Calcutta
On 4th September , Anjezë Gonxhe Bojaxhiu or Mother Teresa became Saint Teresa. At the time of her death, she was a highly influential and powerful figure with close ties with top leaders and opinion makers of many countries.
Here are some of her more memorable sayings.
“Let no one ever come to you without leaving better and happier. Be the living expression of God's kindness: kindness in your face, kindness in your eyes, kindness in your smile.”
“God doesn't require us to succeed, he only requires that we try.”
“A life not lived for others is not a life.”
“Prayer is not asking. Prayer is putting oneself in the hands of God, at His disposition, and listening to His voice in the depth of our hearts.”
“Yesterday is gone. Tomorrow has not yet come. We have only today. Let us begin.”
“If you can't feed a hundred people, feed just one.”
“If you judge people, you have no time to love them.”
You can identify them by their fruit, that is, by the way they act.
Matthew 7 v 16
We recently had a holiday in Athens and on the plane going we found ourselves seated next to a young man who wore a huge badge. This is what it said;
“Want to lose weight? Ask me how”
What an irresistible temptation. So we asked him. As you can imagine he was totally enthusiastic about the wonders of the diet plan his company were recommending and the supplements that could be bought from the company to help you reach your desired weight.
It was very impressive and convincing...until the stewards served the breakfast. We then watched him consume a full English breakfast, pan au raisin and sweetened yoghurt. The diet plan no longer seemed impressive and convincing, for clearly the young man didn’t believe in it himself. His words and actions didn’t match!
Jesus is the perfect teacher in that He bases his message not on what He says but on who He is and what He does.
May we who seek to follow as Him as His disciples live lives that give credence to the message of love and forgiveness that we teach.
Robert and I were very happily sitting and enjoying a cream tea at Mellinsey Mill recently when we were joined at our table by an unexpected guest. Content to gather the crumbs both on and under the table, we took great delight in encouraging him to do so! We think he was a young thrush and he thrilled us by returning over and over to sneak another morsel allowing us to marvel at his amazing beauty and delicate frame. When Robert got his cameral out, our guest obligingly stood to offer us his best pose cocking his head to one side with an almost cheeky expression. It was wonderful to see him in such detail, his tiny legs no bigger than a darning needle, his beak smaller than my little finger nail and his astute eyes no more than a dot. As we were entertained by his comings and goings I couldn’t help but wonder at his fragility, his smallness in the big scheme of things, his vulnerability and the struggles that lay ahead of him.
As I remembered Jesus’ words in the Sermon on the Mount I became quite overwhelmed. He spoke about the little birds and that not one of them falls without our Father knowing. That such a tiny, insignificant being should have a place in God’s heart is so amazing and gives us tremendous hope and reassurance for Jesus tells us that God’s love for each one of us is infinitely greater.
As the psalmist reminds us -‘How precious are your thoughts about me, O God. They cannot be numbered! I can’t even count them;
they outnumber the grains of sand!’
(Psalm 139:17-18New Living Translation)
‘Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you.’
Matthew chapter 5 verse 44
As I write this ‘thought for the day’ prayers are being offered and vigils held in churches across Wakefield and Huddersfield for Batley and Spen MP, Jo Cox, who died so tragically after being shot and stabbed outside her constituency advice surgery in Birstall.
On Thursday night, the Bishop of Huddersfield, Dr Jonathan Gibbs, led a vigil for Jo. “She grew up here, she lived for this community and in the end she gave her life for this community,” he told the more than 400 people who attended the ceremony at St Peter’s Church. Bishop Jonathan went on to describe Jo as a "woman of real compassion" and a "lovely human being".
"This reminds us of the vulnerability of the people who put their heads over the parapet, she's paid the ultimate price for that service," he said.
Jo Cox, 41 was married with two young daughters aged 5 and 3. She was a former head of humanitarian operations at Oxfam and had a heart for the dispossessed and the disadvantaged.
In a statement her husband Brendan Cox, a former deputy director at Save the Children, said, "Jo believed in a better world and she fought for it every day of her life with an energy and a zest for life that would exhaust most people. She would have wanted two things above all else to happen now. One, that our precious children are bathed in love, and two, that we all unite to fight against the hatred that killed her.
Hate doesn’t have a creed, race or religion – it is poisonous.”
In his book Handyman of the Lord, William Borders tells the story of a man whose poverty left him begging for food. He rang the front doorbell of a mansion to ask for help. He was told to go round the back where he would be given something to eat. The owner of the mansion met him on the back porch and said,
“First we will bless the food. Repeat after me ‘Our Father, who art in heaven...’”
The hungry man replied,
“Your Father, who art in heaven..”
“No”, the homeowner corrected, “Our Father who art in heaven.......”
Still the beggar said, “Your Father who art in heaven”
Frustrated, the giver of food asked,
“Why do you insist on saying your Father when I keep telling you to say our Father?”
The beggar answered,
“If I say our Father, that would make us brothers ; and I’m afraid the Lord wouldn’t like it, you asking your brother to come to the back porch to get a piece of bread”
Are we ready for God to answer us when we pray the Lord’s prayer? It turns the world upside down!
Time for a spring clean?
I went into St Gerrans church earlier this week and opened the drawer where we keep the keys for the noticeboard. I tugged the drawer the way one has to, because of all the clutter that resides there. It was fortunate that I didn’t pull the drawer out and have the contents all over my feet, for the drawer was devoid of clutter and its remaining contents were neatly organised! This isn’t the only time I have been in St Gerrans and St Philleigh and found that some kind person has spring cleaned a cupboard, a drawer, a vestry or the whole church! (Thank you to you all!)
Clearing out is a wonderful experience, at least it is when it is done. It is hard starting, sometimes painful when we clear out some of the things we have hoarded, but exhiliarating and so beneficial when complete.
We are still in the season of Lent for most of March, and it is time for a spiritual spring clean. Like springcleaning our homes and churches it is hard to start on the process, painful to let go of some of the things that we know the Holy Spirit is speaking to us about, but it brings such blessing when it is complete as we have relinquished those things God has asked us to.
This Lent let us invite the Holy Spirit to help us with our spiritual de-cluttering so that we may become more like the people God calls us to be.
What Anger Leaves Behind.
There was a little boy who had a bad temper. His father gave him a bag of nails and told him that every time he lost his temper, he must hammer a nail into the back of the fence.The first day the boy had driven 37 nails into the fence.
Over the next few weeks, as he learned to control his anger, the number of nails hammered daily gradually dwindled down. He discovered it was easier to hold his temper than to drive those nails into the fence.
Finally the day came when the boy didn't lose his temper at all. He told his father about it and the father suggested that the boy now pull out one nail for each day that he was able to hold his temper. The days passed and the young boy was finally able to tell his father that all the nails were gone.
The father took his son by the hand and led him to the fence. He said, "You have done well, my son, but look at the holes in the fence. The fence will never be the same. When you say things in anger, they leave a scar just like this one.” The little boy then understood how powerful his words were.
Do not use harmful words, but only helpful words, the kind that build up and provide what is needed, so that what you say will do good to those who hear you. (Ephesians 4 v 29)
Keep the wheels turning
Once upon a time some visitors went to look round a heavy-duty grease factory. The visitors were ushered into a large room and a tour host proudly introduced them to the company history and the vast number of employees who worked round the clock producing the best machine lubricants in the world. The visitors toured the noisy factory, with lots of machinery and wheels whirling, mixing and packaging. The level of activity was incredible.
As the tour came to its conclusion, one of the visitors was puzzled. He said, "I am very impressed by this amazing operation but I didn't see a shipping department."
The guide tour guide responded, "Well, we don't have a shipping department because it takes all our time and all the grease we make to lubricate our equipment and keep the wheels turning. There’s neither grease nor time left for shipping our product outside these walls"
It has been said that the Church is the best lubricated grease factory of all time! What's missing is the shipping department. It is so busy oiling its own wheels, it has so little time left to fulfil its God-given purpose of making Christ known throughout the whole world. May we make Christ’s command our priority.
Jesus said to them, ‘Go therefore into all the world and proclaim the good news to the whole creation’
(Mark 16 verse15)
© 2018 United Benefice of St Gerrans with St Anthony in Roseland and St Philleigh.