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Showing posts from December, 2015

Books to Take you Into the New Year

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As we stand on the cusp of the New Year today's blogs brings you some books which will help you move forward with God. These are a mixture of books for both adults and children so something for everyone to use as part of their journey with God.
A short Journey through the book of Ruth Buy from: Amazon

Turmoil in Turkey and a ‘lone wolf’ who sets out across the Balkans for a strike on a foreign target
Buy from: Amazon
A time-shift thriller, Namestone pits fallible, ‘good’ people against implacable evil dealing with the inter-connectedness of life and beyond, and the conflicts evil produces in normal people under abnormal stress. Buy from: Amazon
Biblical fiction based on the woman at the well Buy from: Amazon
Emma, a young and self-contained professor of history, leaves Cambridge for a post in an exclusive university in the USA, intent on finding a long-overlooked 17th century journal. Bound within its pages are secrets that threaten to bring Emma into conflict with the present; bu…

The Deep Channel by S.E. Gill

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A ship of large tonnage is to be brought up the river; now, in one part of the stream there is a sandbank; should someone ask, ‘Why does the captain steer through the deep part of the channel and deviate so much from a straight line?’ His answer would be, “Because I should not get my vessel into harbour at all if I did not keep to the deep channel.’ So, it may be, you would run aground and suffer shipwreck, if your divine Captain did not steer you into the depths of affliction where waves of trouble follow each other in quick succession. Some plants die if they have too much sunshine. It may be that you are planted where you get but little...because only in that situation will you bring forth fruit unto perfection. Remember this, had any other condition been better for you than the one in which you are, divine love would have put you there.” – Charles Spurgeon

It can be so disheartening when things seem to veer off track. Whether it just affects you, if it affects your loved ones …

The Little Goat by Veronica Bright

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The sheep were a friendly lot. There were one hundred of them in a vast meadow within ancient dry stone walls. They munched soft sweet grass, and drank clear fresh water from a stream that bubbled over stones and round boulders, as easily as the breeze lifting a feather and carrying it away. The mountain rose elegantly in the distance, always there, invincible.

Nobody knew where the little goat came from. Someone said she’d jumped over the wall in the night. Someone else claimed she appeared suddenly amongst a cluster of lambs, running and bouncing with them on springy legs. An older member baaed that she was sure the little goat used to be a sheep, and that something, she knew not what, had altered her entirely. Whatever was bleated amongst the tribe, they all agreed. The little goat had an engaging smile, and a cute way of putting her head on one side to consider anything anyone said. But the truth was, she didn’t fit in. She couldn’t agree with the doctrines of the sheep…

Bethlehem Embattled by Trevor Thorn

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As Christmas memories take shape, for anyone who has had the privilege of visiting the Holy Land, as we did in May 2013, I guess there will be many who will be reminded of the sadness of finding Bethlehem and other New Testament locations enclosed behind the 'Separation Wall'. The picture here is of the wall in Bethany and gives just a glimpse of its size and oppressiveness. As I have reflected on this during this Christmas period, the following short poem emerged.
Bethlehem Embattled
Bethlehem, You gave birth to earth’s true hope; Yet now you are enclosed By hostile wall and strangling gates, And quotas, fierce imposed.
May Angel hosts, not barred by walls, Proclaim their song anew, ‘Let love and concord flood the earth, through the peace of our Lord, a Palestine Jew'.
In part this felt an appropriate piece of writing having put up on my own blog a more conventional style of newly written Carol ‘Stable Talk’ in which Joseph makes his plans for his new-born son - though Mary is not so…

The God of every place, by Lucy Mills

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This originally appeared as a Finding Inspiration column in the Autumn 2013 edition of Christian Writer, under the title 'Uncontainable God'.


Place was very important to the people of Israel. They saw the temple as the place where God could be found – or at least, where they could communicate with him.

In 1 Kings 8, Solomon dedicates the newly constructed temple in prayer. Note how much significance there is in "praying towards this place". But Solomon makes a very important caveat: “Will God really dwell on earth? The heavens, even the highest heaven, cannot contain you. How much less this temple I have built!”

Nevertheless, the temple was to be the great connector between heaven and earth. When Israel was sent into exile, this challenged everything she knew about herself. The people had to learn that their God was not just the God of one special place but the God of every place.

Think about the places that inspire you, and about the places that don't. How can we…

Boxing Day

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by Fiona Veitch Smith

So now that it’s over, how do you feel? Exhausted? Elated? Relieved? The family and friends have gone (if you had any visiting) and it’s just you, your nearest and what’s left of the turkey. Or perhaps it’s just you – and that’s all it ever was. For some people I’m aware that Christmas is just like any other day of the year, just a bit lonelier. If that’s you I would like you to think of another day – a day after something exciting, that you’d waited for and prepared for a long time – and transpose that day for Boxing Day. Because that’s what I’m really talking about – the day after. The week after. The months after. The years after …
In my writing life I’ve had some mountains and many, many valleys. And as most of you know, the valleys are the worst. I know some of you still have to reach your mountaintop of being published, broadcast or produced, but you too know what it’s like to achieve a writing goal: your writing being complimented by someone you admire, fi…

A perfect Christmas? by Fiona Lloyd

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Each year, I promise myself it'll be different. The Christmas in my head is organised weeks in advance: cards posted, presents wrapped, and sprouts prepared in good time. I have an annual ambition that in the few days before The Big Day I'll be free to relax and maybe enjoy a coffee with friends, as well as having plenty of time (and energy) to meditate on the wonder of the incarnation. And for the first three weeks of December I convince myself that I'm on top of things and that once I get to the end of term I'll be able to chill, in a house that'll somehow be calmer than a turkey farm on Boxing Day.


So why is it that every Christmas Eve I feel overwhelmed by the amount of stuff still left to do? I have managed to write all the cards (although I still have three sitting by the front door waiting to be hand-delivered), and I've wrapped most of the presents. We did the big supermarket shop on the 23rd, an experience about as far removed from the concept of "…

The great disappointment

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Another taster from English Literature in the Sixteenth Century
C. S. Lewis’s aphorisms are wonderful. ‘One of the greatest disappointments in the history of Europe’ he declares, in his introduction. And what is he talking about? The discovery of America!
The reasons for Columbus’s voyage were mundane and mercantile. His aim was to enable his Spanish sponsors to circumvent the Turks and Venetians who obstructed or engrossed the lucrative trade with the East by finding a route to China the other way round the world, spurred on by the Portuguese discovery of a route to India around the southern end of Africa. The enterprise was not guided by high-minded ideals stemming from the ‘new learning’. Commendably, Columbus, who was a brave man, acted in faith upon ‘the age-old doctrine of the earth’s rotundity’ (not a new ‘renaissance’ idea, Lewis reminds us) and sailed west to find the east.
It was therefore an irony that ‘lands which no one had dreamed of barred his way’. America was, essent…

Norman's new growth - by Helen Murray

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It's Christmas time, so my husband and I recently dragged the Yucca plant into the greenhouse to be wrapped up cosy for the winter. As a result the front corner of the house looked a little bare. And there's a grubby circular mark on the paving that needed to be scrubbed or covered up - so covered up it was. I pulled Norman the Nordmann Fir Christmas tree over to fill the gap.

Norman has a special place in my heart, because we rescued him a year ago. Typically late to the game, we went shopping for a smallish (cheapish) Christmas tree in December last year for the Yucca-spot near the front door because Bruce the Spruce, the previous incumbent, had gone brown and crispy by May. Alas, the locusts had visited the garden centre before us and the enormous space where the flock of Christmas trees had been was a wasteland of broken branches, discarded labels and lots of pine needles. Huddled in a corner, askew in his tiny pot and looking ashamed of himself was Norman.

Of course we ha…

Improving My Writing...

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Many of you may have seen a blog posted on the ACW Facebook group page earlier this week about increasing word count (in the writer’s case from about 2k to 10k a day). I've found Rachel Aaron's methods useful, but I've also been encouraged to look at what adds to my own writing process - not just what I write, but how I write.

From a faith perspective, I consider my writing as an act of worship, and I want to use not only my gifts but my time wisely. The article got me thinking not just about how I can increase my productivity, but about how I can be obedient by writing.

Here's are the things I've come up with that improve my work - in both volume and quality.

CoffeeWe all laugh, don’t we, at the stereotypical pictures of writers drinking copious amounts of coffee to meet a deadline. But for me, coffee denotes something else. My first cup of coffee marks the start of my writing time as apart from everything else. Not only does it demarcate that time from the rest of m…

The most precious of gifts................by Ruth Johnson

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“If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!…                  Matthew 7:11

The enormity of God’s gift of His Son, and the salvation He brought us, will take this life and eternity to unwrap.



To the Ephesians Paul wrote that the Holy Spirit is only a deposit of our heavenly inheritance.  Jesus’ parable of the talents surely points to our need to invest what He has put within us. 

Many seem to have forgotten, or have no understanding that Jesus was the Son of God and is the reason for the season we call Christmas.  And I’m sure your desire is, as mine, to take people beyond baby Jesus in a manager.  How can we make Jesus' commission to take away the sin of the world relevant, when in a corrupt world people aren't bothered by their sin?  Or bring understanding that Jesus' death released the Holy Spirit so mankind can have a relationship with a Holy God.  He'…

Looking upwards

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Among the many excellent and enlightening posts on this blog there have been just recently remarks that set up, for me, a chain of thought. On 16 December Lynda Alsford spoke of a way of prayer that in bypassing the mind allowed a 'turning away from my own needs and thoughts and simply seeking Him with all my being.' I have never had the gift of tongues nor, come to that, much success in turning off my busy mind, but rising above my own needs and thoughts seemed to me a goal worth pursuing. Then, further back, on 11 December, Deborah Jenkins suggested that perhaps our writing may not be the most important thing we do in God's service. I thought that perhaps of equal or greater importance may be visiting a sick friend, putting goods for a food bank into our shopping trolley, collecting someone's prescription, or even cooking a meal for our family. Deborah wrote, 'The highs and lows of the writing life...must only be part of our lives.'

In one sense, for me, this…

This little light of mine by Joy Lenton

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Words I sang as a child still rattle around my mind.

They seem to be easy to dredge up from the depths.

Maybe it's because my early years come back into sharper focus over time.

It's especially hard to get song lyrics out of our heads, isn't it?

Does anyone else remember, 'This little light of mine, I'm gonna let it shine'?

It came to mind as I pondered on being a light for Christ in a dark world.

Most days I feel more like a wavering wick or briefly flaring match than a constant, fervent flame.

Yet a seemingly insignificant match dropped into the right place can become the start of a conflagration, instigator of an inferno.

Our spoken words can do this too - those said in the heat of anger, fire of passion or flame of love can have huge impact.

What about our written words? 

We send out fiery dart prayers, wave creative sparks around, light a small candle or two, hoping others are drawn toward their light.

Where is our calling in all of this?
To be living flames on fire f…

Keeping the main thing the main thing by Claire Musters

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Here we are in the countdown to Christmas and, even before that, the countdown to the day the kids break up from school. Just two work days left before they will be on holiday, full of excitement and energy as they look forward to Christmas day. Is it just me or does it seem like schools are breaking up early this year?!
Perhaps it is the fact that we’ve just had our son’s birthday, and our first carol service. Perhaps it is the list of work I need to get done before Christmas (preferably in the quiet, before the kids break up from school). Perhaps too, it is the fact that, as a freelance writer, articles and reflections for Christmas were written months ago and I’m now concentrating my efforts on writing Bible study notes for Easter.
Perhaps…
… all these things are crowding into my mind – and crowding out the opportunities for reflection on this amazing time of year. I really do wonder how much I am embracing our current season. I am mindful of the busyness, stress, tiredness and I am g…