Carols and cake


You call that ‘celebrating’?

Looking at what goes on in most churches most weeks, you might be forgiven for thinking that whatever was going on there, it didn’t look desperately much like a celebration!

(And at Christmas time – let’s face it – a lot of ‘celebrating’ that works out NOT fun goes on.)

Celebration – it’s a personal choice!

The truth is, I guess, we all probably chose to celebrate in different ways. It’s sort of a personal choice!

But a huge LOT of us seem to like to celebrate with cake… so this year at Grace we are having Carols and Cake at coffee time on Sunday.

Christmas 2012

(We hope you like the poster … but we really hope you’ll come and check the carols and the cake.)

We are a child friendly, people friendly church … and this event aims to be simple, celebration and fun.

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The NFU has issued guidance for farmers on mud …


This week the NFU has issued guidance for farmers on mud …

One really lousy summer …

Data from Centre for Ecology and Hydrology showed last month’s deluges, which delayed harvesting efforts and caused flooding in parts of the UK, continued the year’s trend for record wetness.

As a result of the weather, silage quality is widely expected to be poor and  wheat yields are at their lowest for almost 30 years, with weights at their lowest since 1977.

Your name is blood!

The continued unpredictability of this year’s weather is likely to lead to an increase of muddied roads, which presents a serious risk to other drivers.

So farmers have been asked to ensure road are mud free, in the wake of the wettest growing season in living memory, which saw harvest delayed by downpours in many areas and ahead of the root crop harvest.

The trouble is, it’s a bit difficult to drive over muddy ground without getting mud on your tyres, or drive back over a clean surface without leaving mud on it … and with the silage harvest as bad as it’s been, sneaking a little bit of late silage in October or even November has been an absolute necessity for many.

Legal liability

But it is illegal to leave excessive mud on road surfaces

Farmers must clean vehicles as much as possible before they are driven onto roads where mud could come loose, use signs to alert other road users, make prior agreements with contractors over who is responsible for mud issues and ensure they have adequate public liability insurance.

The NFU recommends farmers be prepared to hire in equipment, keep to their own roads or minor roads wherever possible and keep speeds down.

The thought for the week, then is this …

 In agriculture as in life, you can’t walk through a muddy field without getting mud on your boots and then spreading it about at the risk of the population at large.

And that leaves you with the big clean-up question.

 How am I going to get this stuff OFF … before I’m the cause of a pile up?!

 Clean it up!

We are  definitely, so far as God is concerned responsible for our own mess, and the way it affects other people too … and if you spend your life generating and wading through a sinful mess, it’s going to badly affect the people around you as well.

The Bible says God going to treat us like adults, accountable for the mess we make … and hold us responsible for it.

“That is why Scripture says:

“God opposes the proud
    but gives grace to the humble.”

Submit yourselves, then, to God.

Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.

Come near to God and he will come near to you.

Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.”

James 4:6-8

In the run up to Christmas, this might be a good time to give some thought to how we are going to achieve that …

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The importance of Word and worship in building spiritual resilience in the people of God


Try this and see if it works!

 

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Fan or follower?


Jesus shepherd leads sheep

If you asked most people: ‘Jesus … good idea?’, most people would probably still say: ‘Yes … I think so’.

Jesus has plenty of  fans, but that’s not necessarily what He was looking for.

When He began His preaching, teaching and healing ministry in Galilee He called for followers and was plagued with having great crowds of fans.

Here’s 23 minutes from Grace Llandeilo last Sunday about being a follower rather than a fan, and how (Biblically) we are called upon to make that change.

Please feel free to let us know how you get on with it!

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Safe


Nevin Spence

1990-2012

Safe.

The big unwelcome interruption

Death is a great interrupter.

It pushes its way in, in the most obnoxious of manners.

It is not part of the world God wanted or made, and the Bible rightly calls it an “enemy.”

It is unwelcome in our lives, as we deal with the grief, questions, pain and sorrow that death inevitably brings.

And it often doesn’t seem very fair.

Irish rugby family’s farming tragedy

Spence, 22, who was recently named in the Ireland international squad, was killed along with his brother and father on Saturday evening

Last weekend, the world of rugby was stunned by news of the tragic passing of 22 year old rising Ulster star, Nevin Spence, along with his father, Noel and 30 year old brother, Graham.

In what seems to have been a horrific farming accident, it appears the three men were killed whilst trying to rescue the family dog (and then each other) from a slurry tank.

Spence’s sister, Emma, who was also involved in the incident is being treated in hospital for the effects of fume inhalation.

The international sporting response

  • Welsh rugby legend Shane Williams said, “My thoughts and prayers go out to the family of Nevin Spence. A tragic loss. A class act on the field also. RIP”.
  • New Zealand rugby world cup winner Dan Carter tweeted: “Such sad news and my thoughts go out to his family”.
  • Northern Ireland golfer Rory McIlroy also tweeted his condolences, saying: “Just heard the tragic news of Nevin Spence and his family. Makes you cherish every day you have on this Earth”.

Genuine sorrow – but bursting with hope

However, in the midst of real sadness and grief, and in the midst of the many questions, there is something (or rather someone) that makes a difference.

In an Irish Times article at the end of last year, Nevin described his faith in Jesus.  “Listen, I’m making as many mistakes as you or anybody in the street, I suppose I just have to hold up my hands about it.  I’m not perfect, I don’t want to be put on a pedestal as I know my own limitations.”

He admitted at school, he drifted away from the Christian upbringing he had.  “I don’t think it’s too unusual.  I suppose I went off the rails.  I don’t mean I was into drugs or anything like that, but I turned my back on Christianity, but something was always pulling me back.”

Where do you turn?

Most of us feel pretty moved by hearing about incidents like this at a distance from us … let alone when it becomes close up and personal.

So where do you turn?

Whilst the death of such a promising young rugby player at just 22 is a terrible tragedy, the fact that he had trusted his life to Jesus Christ means that our grief for Nevin is not grief without hope.

Artist Emma Spence

Of course our thoughts and prayers are with his close-knit Ulster Christian family, not least with Emma Spence who has survived her brothers and father.

Few of us have any understanding whatever of the pain that must be theirs.

Yet while Christians like the Spence family recognise the pain and tears, the separation and suffering, they also look forward to the day when God will “wipe away every tear from (his people’s) eyes”, when “there will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away”.

The simple truth is that Nevin was setting out on a bright sporting career trusting in Jesus. Not an easy thing to do! For those of us who do believe, that puts a fresh perspective even on our deepest tragedies and sorrows.

This simple old hymn shows the kind of trust and hope that Christians like Nevin have in the face of death and tragedy.

O safe to the Rock that is higher than I,
My soul in its conflicts and sorrows would fly;
So sinful, so weary, Thine, Thine, would I be;
Thou blest “Rock of Ages,” I’m hiding in Thee.

Do you have a similar trust in Jesus both in this life and for eternity?

Experiences like this tend to point to the fact that there are very few more important questions than that …

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Wet Monday …


The outlook for a wet Monday in Wales

On a wet Monday in Wales it’s easy to lose any sense of satisfaction and go off trying to find it in some very non-constructive places!

And when dissatisfaction starts to take root, it’s easy to go looking for ‘extra’ … as if we hadn’t already been offered enough.

The Christians at Colossae were living through seven shades of recession (the road through this previously busy little trading town had been shifted north to run through Laodicea so the trade went away, the jobs went away, the young people went away … and the church languished in the potential for disillusionment).

And that’s were the heretics came in … there’s no evidence they adopted the slogan ‘Heresy – we give you extra!’ But they might have done.

And that’s the problem Paul addresses in Colossians. Because Jesus has got all God in Him, and the Colossians have got Jesus if they live out their lives in union with Him.

And Paul teaches them exactly how to be sure to get their all in Him …

<div style=”margin-bottom:5px”> <strong> <a href=”http://www.slideshare.net/WelshRev/colossians-2-vv-9-15&#8243; title=”Colossians 2 vv 9 15″ target=”_blank”>Colossians 2 vv 9 15</a> </strong> from <strong><a href=”http://www.slideshare.net/WelshRev&#8221; target=”_blank”>Grace Christian Community Llandeilo</a></strong> </div>

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Resilient – Colossians 2:6-8


Last Sunday’s sermon is available here

Last Sunday’s sermon notes and slideshow are available here:

Please let us know how you get on with it!

Simon.

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Big bellied Bert … star of London 2012


Well, I’d heard of Michael Phelps, but I’d never heard of Chad le Clos before yesterday’s final of the Olympic men’s 200 metres butterfly.

Previously, the Westville Boys High (Durban) graduate made his biggest mark at the 2010 Summer Youth Olympics in Singapore when he won five medals and was named the Daily News Spar Sports Person of the Year. But yesterday (just in case you’ve been holidaying on the moon) the young South African won his race in one minute 52.96 seconds, 0.05secs ahead of Phelps with Japan’s Takeshi Matsuda third.

The win was a deeply emotional moment for the young man as his spluttering Tweet reveals: “Hi Everyone thank you,thank you and thank you. I cannot express how i feel.”

For a moment he seemed phased by the adulation at the award ceremony, until the old hand Phelps standing on the step below him took the young man  under his wing and showed him all the ropes … where to go next, where to look up and what to do. It was a tremendously gracious thing of Phelps to do – and a tremendous sporting moment in itself.

Upstaged

Screenshot2012-07-31at3But Chad’s big, round, gruff Afrikaaner father … persuaded to be interviewed by ex-flat racing jockey Clare Balding … soon found a lot more words than his son to express how HE felt.

Overcome with pride Bert le Clos rapidly won us over with his big, gruff, passionate open hearted expression of pride … it was a performance to bring tears to the eyes!

With a broken voice strained by all the shouting he’d done during the race, Bert told Balding that he felt his life was now complete. ‘I have never been so happy in my life, it’s indescribable,’ he said.

‘Look at him, he’s beautiful’ Bert blurted out … before immediately pointing out how fat he looked himself!

Seven ‘unbelievable’s in 90 seconds!

“It’s like I have died and gone to heaven … Whatever happens in my life from now on is plain sailing … is this live? Sorry! Sorry!”

‘No – you’re fine!’ insisted  Balding, reassuringly.

Of COURSE he was!

Not only was this brilliant television for any interviewer, this is what the Olympics are all about.

We really don’t want to see ever-so-pro athletes who calculatingly go for gold.

We want to see people like us that are beyond tearful when they get to the podium, and even more than that we want to see their ecstatic families who have sacrificed and paid for, helped and supported them on … I don’t know … the drive to the pool on wet mornings in Afrikaaner-land! This was brilliant television. I think I counted Bert using seven “unbelievable”s in 90 seconds … is that another record?

A father so proud and overjoyed … he simply doesn’t know what to say?

A father’s pride is something that can make a mug of most of us. We don’t usually choke or blub or ramble on. (No … we DON’T!)

We’re supposed to be the rock, the anchor for the team. The family’s understated local hero. Not given to uncontrolled, gushing verbal outbursts.

But how can a plain and mortal father bear such glorious pride and joy?!

The Father’s joyful outburst of unspeakable pride and joy

When the names are called and the victors step forward, and there are three young people standing there being watched by millions of people worldwide, and when the memories of a parent start to flood the eyes with unstoppable tears, swell the heart with unbearable pride and populate the mouth with unutterable gibberish … what grown man or woman can be expected to know what to do, what to say or where to put themselves?

Such an overwhelming episode makes loving parents lose control.

But when the roll is called up yonder … and I’m there …

When the proudest parent in Creation, Who made the game plan and has executed it knowing the outcome was always certain …

That parent as we stand there … as victors in His presence … will know exactly and precisely what He’s saying:

“… enter now the joy of your Lord.”

And THAT will be some ceremony to behold!

Have.

You sorted out.

Your ticket?

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Shh! Don’t MENTION the contemporary dance!


It’s only going to happen once in my lifetime, so I sat with the family on the settee and watched the opening ceremony of the Olympic games in that far away place known as ‘London’.

Cottages with smoking chimneys.

Very pleasant.

Forty quietly grazing sheep … that was interesting.

But smocks and milk-maid aprons … oh please!

We saw Isombard Kingdom Brunel spouting Shakespeare. We saw industrial towers (complete with steeplejacks) rising from the ground. We watched rivers of steel and saw five red hot olympic rings float over the stadium as the pastoral vision was demolished. And (masterly stroke) as things started to warm up we saw Her Majesty ‘arriving’ by helicopter with James Bond.

The world got the joke as Rowan Atkinson took on Chariots of Fire with Sir Simon Rattle … and watched a fireworks and  a light show to die for.

There was increasingly amazing music and spectacle … and 27 million people around the world tuned in to see a show that we’ll all want to remember.

Freezing out contemporary dance

After initial British scepticism … almost a national duty … the commentators are now overcome with ecstatic enthusiasm and praise.

But no-one is mentioning the contemporary dance … it hasn’t come up yet on Twitter, and you certainly can’t find it on YouTube.

khan5.gifWhy?

The dance was amazing … brilliant, scintillating and I LOVED it. (I know, I know… but I’m a sucker for contemporary dance).

What could possibly have got it sidelined … or ‘blacked’?

Akram Khan

It was the brainchild of London-born Bangladeshi contemporary dance genius Akram Khan

… but it can’t be racism that’s surpressing public comment.

The whole show was SO politically correct.

So was it the music that caused problems?

Emeli Sande and Mahatma Gandi

Scottish singer Emeli Sande put in a moving, stirring and heart-wrenching performance.

Born to a Zambian father and Sottish mother, having written songs for Alesha Dixon, Cheryl Cole, Leona Lewis and Susan Boyle Emeli Sande is no musical lightweight!

It was a song, too, that almost everyone knows – a song that’s stood the test of considerable time. It gets sung every year at every Rugby League Challenge cup and FA cup Final since the ’20s and that features in probably 20 major films from Twilight Zone (through Dr Who) to Oliver Twist. It has appealed over the years to a huge range of people … a favourite of both King George V and of Gandhi!

So what could possibly have put it’s mention in the press and comment in the media beyond the pale of acceptability and approval?

Can you be condemned by what you approve?

Now of course it’s the case Biblically (Romans 14:22) that we should avoid being condemned because of what we approve.

So have the secular media picked up this Christian principle?

And if so why has this sidelined the scintillating talent of a London-born Bangladeshi contemporary dance genius and a British contemporary song writing legend?

Deeply, embarassingly Christian?

The problem can only be the content of the song choice.

You see that song was an old Christian hymn.

It’s ideology is deeply, Biblically Christian.

It’s content is overt – it’s unmissably about Christ and how He impacts my life and my death (just check out that powerful last verse, written 4 weeks before its author died of TB!).

And today’s silence about the piece sseems just stunning – don’t MENTION IT!

SHOCKING!

UNMENTIONABLE!

Don’t go NEAR it!

Why?

There was absolutely nothing wrong with the choreography.

There was nothing, absolutely nothing that was wrong with the singing.

The piece was thoughtful, creative, traditional and moving!

Deeply, embarassingly Christophobic?

And to my mind the commentators’ neglect of it has been deeply, embarassingly Christophobic.

To be truthful I feel sorry for the performers.

What they did was outstanding and inspiring.

And I can’t help feeling that they’re paying a ridiculous price in this ostracism of their art. Why else but that it’s content was so CHRISTIAN?!

(Psst. – if you switch on ‘privatebrowsing’, and make sure that no-one can see you, you can check out the shocking content on here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abide_with_Me)

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‘Less’ is a four letter word …


I paused with my first biscuit of the morning half way to my mouth.

Some early morning news items are just altogether TOO disturbing … aren’t they?

Matt Mc Grath, science reporter for the BBC had fed information to the Today programme on Radio 4 – no doubt on licence payers’ money – that was being used  to churn my delicate morning stomach.

I fairness, it wasn’t entirely his fault. He was just passing  on research published in the journal BMC Public Health.

In their report, researchers from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine have calculate the weight of the global (adult) population at 287 million tonnes.

They estimate that 15 million tonnes of this mass is due to people being overweight, and 3.5 million tonnes due to obesity.

It will, of course, be of no comfort to our transatlantic cousins that having estimated the total weight of people on the planet the team found that North America had the highest average. Although only 6% of the global population live there, it is responsible for more than a third of the obesity.

Using World Health Organization data from 2005, the scientists worked out that the average global body weight was 62kg (137lb). But there were huge regional differences. In North America, the average was 80.7kg (178lb), while in Asia it was 57.7kg (127lb) .

The implications of this for human health … as well as those for resource management and availability … are evident. What will happen in terms of food supply as increasing prosperity in developing countries impacts diet and the food supply chain?

Food supply pressure, planetary limits and the problem with saying ‘No!’ to yourself

Prof. Ian Roberts (one of the report’s authors) told BBC news: “”If every country in the world had the same level of fatness that we see in the USA, in weight terms that would be like an extra billion people of world average body mass. … We often point the finger at poor women in Africa having too many babies,” says Prof Roberts. “But we’ve also got to think of this fatness thing; it’s part of the same issue of exceeding our planetary limits.”

The environmental implications are obvious. Food production can be an intensely carbon intensive business, and the impact of increased food demand on anthropogenic global warming seems likely to become more of an issue

Clearly it is in all our interests to learn how to say ‘no’ to ourselves and our dietary desires and learn to live on just a little less.

And let’s  face it, my most long lived farmer friends tend to be the smaller more wirey men … and not those who have to expend energy hauling greater bulk!

The bottom line is that this is a matter of the first law of thermodynamics, and the law on the conservation of energy … ‘energy in = energy out + energy stored’. (THINK about it!)

The answer is to be content to eat less and to be disciplined enough to resist eating more food than we need … and that is GOOD for us.

So why do human beings, knowing these things, find it quite so very difficult to say ‘no’ to themselves?

The Apostle’s finger …

The Apostle Paul put his finger on it years ago, identifying something deeply rooted in fallen human nature as the source of our inability to say ‘no’ to ourselves … as the biscuit stands poised between the packet and our lips:

“I find this law at work: although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. 22 For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; 23 but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. 24 What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? 25 Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!”

If the Son sets you free …

And the Lord Himself comes up with the outright resolution of the matter in John 8:

To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, ‘If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. 32 Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.’

33 They answered him, ‘We are Abraham’s descendants and have never been slaves of anyone. How can you say that we shall be set free?’

34 Jesus replied, ‘Very truly I tell you, everyone who sins is a slave to sin. 35 Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it for ever.

36 So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.”

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