The Birthday goes on and on………..

Well, here I am at 12.30 a.m. and still buzzing from a fantastic night at Birchwood Chapel where Alison, Alison Wood and Lesley had arranged a surprise party with people from all over the circuit and beyond. I was totally `gobsmacked` by the whole event; I certainly didn’t expect it.
Alison had persuaded me to dress up in black dicky bow tie and suit, then put a hood over my head just as we left the house. The neighbours must have thought I was being abducted ! She then drove me to a surprise venue which turned out to be Birchwood Chapel where the hall was full of 100+ people and decorated in black and white with pictures of the finest team in the land all over the walls. Our friend Judith had designed a huge banner which spelt out “Happy Birthday Michael” in sign language. Tina Turner was played over the music system and a “This is your life” complete with pictures was carried out by Alison Wood to the accompaniment of lots of laughter, especially the photo of me taking the part of Judas Iscariot in `Jesus Christ Superstar` 
All in all its been wonderful.
A retiring collection was taken up as people left and the magnificent sum of £250 was raised which will be given to the Chalmers family for their work in Romania, and what a joy it was that they were able to be with us. As I explained to everyone tonight their work is very special and dear to me, and they will be able to use this money to bring the love of Jesus to the families of Poiana.
I feel very privileged that all of these people thought enough of me to want to carry this out tonight. When people speak about the Church in derogotary tones they miss out on the special friendship and fellowship which exists and the love of Jesus which unites us. When I came into the Ministry God promised me that he would give me a new family. He has kept that promise in abundance in Oldham, Erewash and now in Ripley. He has given me a much bigger family and tonight showed that as all three areas and my Rotary family were represented. God is good.
One day I’ll have to move on again; tonight has made that so much harder because of the love shown so powerfully.
Thank you to all who organised, prepared, supplied food, hosted, and attended.This has indeed been the best birthday ever. Being 50 is grrrrrrrrreat !!!!!!!!!!!

hard working ??

Its amazing how many folk in this circuit have taken to thinking that I’m working too hard while I often think that I don’t do enough !! I suppose its about perspective.

Yes, I do tend to have to rush about from meeting to meeting, from caring to evangelising and often back again; yes, it is tiring and exhausting, and yes there are times when it feels like a treadmill.

BUT, this is the treadmill I chose to get on when God asked me to, and for me that is the crux of the matter. I firmly believe that God called me to this way of life. I did not have to accept it but I did. In the annual Covenant service said in many Methodist Churches each year we make the promise to give our lives to God, and I took my covenant promise 20 years ago to mean precisely that. it says in the covenant “put me to what you will…………………..” He chose to call me into the ministry and I chose to accept. That’s not to say that I want to work every minute of every day but it is to say that with this calling has come a passion. A passion to see His Kingdom established, a passion to see people come to know my Lord Jesus Christ and a passion to see them give their lives to Him in order to gain all that I’ve gained. And when you have passion for something then it really doesn’t feel like work, its too important to be work.

As a Minister this is not a job but a lifestyle. The only time I really hate it is when people become petty (as we all do at times) and worry more about the Chapel tea towels than the souls walking past the building; when people stand on their principles about the order of the hymns rather than remember who we’re praising. These are the times when I get annoyed, but I have to remind myself that I’m not a lot different.

So, yes, I probably do work too hard but I also get my breaks as well; times when I can sit and do nothing and times that I can spend with Alison. These are precious gifts given by God who has rewarded me mightily for following him,not with money but with a lifestyle full of caring people who genuinely show their love for me. This week by the admonitions of people about my work load, I simply see folk who care for me and that is the greatest pay anyone could receive. I am truly blessed.

I also recognise that God has given me a wonderful family in Alison, Rebecca and Vikki, Dad and Freda who have all supported me mightily in my Ministry and who have given me the time to do it.

He’s a good God.

Athiest message on buses

Many of you will have read about the Richard Dawkins campaign to put advertising slogans on the side of buses in London with the message “There is probably no God, so stop worrying and enjoy life”. I do find it offensive but feel that God is more than capable of overcoming such a statement so I don’t worry about it. I also think that Richard Dawkins and others will find some difficulty when they have to explain the ad to God on judgement day. Alison and I saw several of these buses yesterday and today

The Methodist Church through its Spirituality and Discipleship Officer, Revd Jenny Ellis,  said; ‘We are grateful to Richard for his continued interest in God and for encouraging people to think about these issues. This campaign will be a good thing if it gets people to engage with the deepest questions of life.’ I love the way we give thanks to the athiest society for keeping God on the public agenda.

However, probably the best response can be found in the Church Times blog. Follow this link 

Too often we get defensiv e about these things instead of seeing it as an opportunity. How much more is this a positive message to send, than to condemn Dawkins and others ?

Birthday weekend

As per yesterdays post I was, indeed, whisked away for a surprise weekend. Alison took me to London with our friends Alison and Stuart Wood. She had booked us into a 3 star hotel, the Queens theatre to see `Les Miserables` (my favourite musical-5th viewing) and a champagne reception on the London Eye.

Unfortunately the London Eye wasn`t working so that trip was cancelled (got money back) and we then walked across to see Westminster Abbey but that was closed instead !  Thankfully, good old Methodist Central Hall was open for a good cup of tea. 

We estimate that we walked over the course of the weekend about 5 miles plus as I don’t believe you really experience London on the Tube; you need to feel the pavements. Well, by the end of today we were ready to hug the pavements as we were that tired. Going to the North~East tomorrow to see Dad and Alison’s Mum, Freda.

Its easily been my best birthday ever. I could get used to this birthday lark, which is just as well as I intend having several more over the years.

But what are to make of London ? I love the place and think it is always exciting to visit; it has vibrancy, life, fun and information.I can agree with Samuel Johnson who said “Why, Sir, you find no man, at all intellectual, who is willing to leave London. No, Sir, when a man is tired of London, he is tired of life; for there is in London all that life can afford.

However, although I love the place, I am the same as many folk unable to find myself wanting to live there. This is because it seems to be an impersonal place; everyone is in a hurry living our their own lives and not getting involved in the lives of others except in passing. It is a round of getting up, going t work, often eating on the way home and not seeing neighbours, and back to bed. A friend of ours who lives on the edges of the City once said that for many of her neighbours the house was only a place to sleep in as their socialising and eating were done elsewhere. 

I much prefer the small town mentality of knowing people at a much deeper level, of neighbourliness, support and friendship. Yes, I’ll continue to go to London as often as I can but give me small towns like Ripley any day as my home base.

50 not out !!!

Well, I never thought I’d be half a century old but here I am. 50 today, wow !!

Woke up ridiculously early because I’m so excited. Don’t know whats happening today as Alison has planned a surprise. All I know is that I’ve got to be ready to go at 7.45 a.m. but where I don’t know.

I feel like a little schoolboy, full of childish excitement. Tell you all about it later.

Long day but good

Been a long day today but a good one; a day when you felt good to be a Christian and a Methodist one at that.

Alongside other circuits we are exploring the possibility of working more closely, or even of merging. Today, at Grassmoor Methodist Church, folk from four circuits were led by Rachel Macallum (Sheffield District Development Officer) in an exploration of mission and Fresh Expressions.

It was both inspiring and exciting. We then spent some time together in groups looking at various questions on the subject. Too detailed to go into at this point, but sufficient to say that if Methodism can still generate the sort of `buzz` that we experienced today then the future is very hopeful.

Long night

Isn’t the night time long when you can’t sleep ? When you get something on your mind and it keeps going round and round; hopefully this will shake it off. Thankfully I got to bed very early last night or maybe that’s the problem

Still its given me the chance to catch up on a few things, so theres always a benefit. Night night. heading back to bed.