Friday, July 31, 2009

Whatever Moments (4)

I have been greatly limited in email access these last few days (and we have been traveling widely!) However, I just wanted to mention that last week I walked up to St. Andrew's Church, found in a dip in the headland near Clevedon called Poet's Walk. The church grounds, manicured in the midst of surrounding rough terrain, sweep up to the coastal path which runs round the lip of the cliffs, as the sea pounds below.

I went to see my grandparents' grave, marked by a small stone which is now so weatherbeaten I could only just make out their names: Muriel Davies and Charles Eustace Davies. The day was gloomy, but as I stood there the sun came out. I noticed a bench seat was placed nearby, looking out to sea. It could have been a moment of sadness and nostalgia - I guess I felt a little of that. But what hit me most was overwhelming gratitude for them as loving grandparents, whose love is embedded in countless memories - so many fragments of past good times It's said that we only properly know our own story in the present when we honor our past story. Today I was so glad to be reminded of those who belong to my story. Whatever is true, right, pure lovely....I wonder what memories my grandchildren will have of me?

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Whatever Moments (3)

I have often thought that how someone treats a predecessor is a good measure of character. When a successor finds it difficult to be generous in heart and spirit to the person who preceded them in the job or position they now hold, doesn't it reveal much truth about personality traits? Whenever you follow someone in a job, its often easy to diminish all their hard work and gifting, or to enlarge their mistakes, by subtle unfriendly ways.

My third whatever moment - whatever is noble - hit me in the extraordinarily gracious way that Nigel Wright, my successor at Spurgeon's, has again given us welcome and hospitality over these last days. Staying in our 'old' home with full access to everything, has reinforced wonder at the thoughtfulness and acceptance of their predecessors by Nigel, and very importantly his wife Judy. I am humbled by their radiant friendship. It says volumes about them!

Whatever is noble.....think about such things (Phil. 4:8).

Friday, July 10, 2009

Whatever Moments (2)

This week Carol and I celebrated our 41st. Wedding Anniversary (by sharing a Chinese take-away with our kids!) Being based near where we were married in West Norwood, London, helped us reflect happily on THE DAY 41 years ago (- as far as memories would allow, that is!) We also marveled at our marriage journey together since.

In preparing couples for marriage I used to warn them how the vows they were going to say to each other demanded enduring love that was tough (like Christ's for us). Saying 'for better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health' needs to recognize that these contrasts rarely balance out 50/50. There have been times when Carol has had to invest 100% of her enduring love to cope with the worst, and with sickness, because I could return very little. It's that generous self-giving that has welded love 'that is the greatest' into our marriage core.

Thinking again about the need for such intentional commitment, makes me realize just how appropriate these words are for partners who desire strong marriage -
Whatever is true,
Whatever is noble,
Whatever is right,
Whatever is pure,
Whatever is lovely,
Whatever is admirable.....think about such things (Phil. 4:8). For a long-lasting marriage, don't dwell on the negatives - think about the true, noble, right, pure, lovely and admirable. Oh Yeah!

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Whatever Moments (1)

After an eventful journey to the UK, (with a roadway accident on the runway behind the plane delaying flight), we arrived back at Spurgeon's College where I was once Principal. Staying in student rooms for three days to catch breath, I went to see my successor - Dr. Nigel Wright - in my 'old' room. It is a magnificent large second storey room, lined with bookshelves from floor to 12foot ceiling. Its wide picture windows were open onto a stone balcony, overlooking lawns, flower beds and trees in nine acres of grounds below. A gorgeous view on a beautiful summer day. And then it happened....down the corridor outside I heard the noise of my grandchildren coming along the corridor. Luca (aged 7) and Anton (aged 4). They reached the open door, I turned and seeing me, they both charged into my open arms. As I knelt on the floor they gave me monumental hugs and kisses. It's hard not to be overwhelmed by the sheer unreserved love of grandchildren. Lovely moment ONE.

Whatever is lovely.....think about such things (Phil. 4:8).

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Enjoying Life

I saw one of those painted signs which read: "Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take..... but by the moments that take our breath away. "

There's an interesting article in the latest edition of Christianity Today called: "When to Be Naive." Edith Humphrey argues that there's a balance between on one hand being shrewd, thoughtful (Matt. 10:16) and discerning(2 Cor 2:11) yet, on the other hand, being open with child-like wonder:

"To be Christian is to allow the Holy Spirit to foster those elements of our nature that are unshakable and that are meant to grow: awe, wonder, dependence on God and, in appropriate measure, on each other and thankfulness....It is to "read' the world with both welcome and care."

That's how I want to be, as I prepare to see my grandchildren (since a year ago) and meet old and new friends. You probably won't see too many postings from me in the next few weeks...I shall be trying not to miss moments that take my breath away.

Whatever is true,
Whatever is noble,
Whatever is right,
Whatever is pure,
Whatever is lovely,
Whatever is admirable.....think about such things (Phil. 4:8).