Author Archives: SMCjon

Pause for Thought – a five minute read – 35

Matthew 17 v 1 – 9; Matthew 26 v 36 – 44

I think it was to celebrate our thirtieth wedding anniversary that Jean and I went on holiday to Austria. It was early June as our anniversary was on the twenty first of May, and we stayed in a rather nice hotel in St., Gilgan on the banks of Lake Wolfgang.

Geographically it was superb, surrounded by mountains and small villages nestled on the banks of the lake, but also in easy reach of Salzburg with its rich history and musical heritage, being the birth place of Mozart.

Some of our friends , and Bob the travel agent, advised us to take our walking boots, as the area around the lake was renowned for its outstandingly beautiful walks and scenery, so as we always take other people’s experiences as being good advice we packed our walking boots, thick socks and small back packs.

The mountains around the lake seemed to come in three sizes; the towering mini Everest size, the moderate medium range, and the small Dovedale replica size. After ruling out the mini Everest, and the Dovedale replicas, after all we were on holiday away from Derbyshire; we chose to assault the medium sized mountain to give our walking boots an airing. I think the fact that this particular mountain had a railway to take you to the top was also a deciding factor.

We booked our tickets through the hotel and when the appointed day arrived we were delighted to see sunshine and blue cloudless skies as far as the eye could see, even at breakfast it was warm enough to sit outside.

‘You ought to have your shorts on’, Jean told me over breakfast. ‘Everyone’s got their shorts on and you’re here in your trousers’.

Well known for doing as I am told, after breakfast I changed into my shorts and off we went to climb a mountain. On arrival at the small station we ascertained that we had three options; we could get the train to the top and return on the train, or we could get the train to the top and walk back down, or we could walk up to the top and walk back down and not  use the train at all. We decided on option two and ride to the top and walk down, just to show willing.

There were about twenty people on the train mostly German tourists, with one family from America and a man and wife from Liverpool who were actually staying in the same hotel as Jean and me. Everyone was very quiet and there was little or no conversation and what conversation did take place was in whispers.

The train set off, rattling its way upwards along a narrow gauge track and almost immediately the vista across the lake unfolded like the pages of a glossy travel brochure, there were cameras and mobile phones clicking in every direction.

It was about twenty minutes into our forty minute journey when I noticed flecks of white in the lush green outside the carriage window and with every metre that we climbed the white began to engulf all available green until the landscape changed into an Alpine Christmas Grotto. People on the train started to put coats and scarves and even gloves, I whispered to Jean, ‘have we brought a coat?’ and she whispered back, ‘No’ and smiling gave my naked legs a gentle slap.

We disembarked from the train at the end of the track but still about a hundred meters or so from the summit, a distance I had to walk up to my knees in snow. The views were breathtakingly beautiful, (or was it the cold that took my breath away) as we viewed the panoramic display of mountains, some towering above us and some we looked down onto their summits, and everyone was still whispering as in fear that we could start an avalanche.

Suddenly I became aware that the Liverpool couple had moved over to be next to us. The wife then whispered to me, and said, ‘Are you cold?’. I didn’t bother about a whisper, I proclaimed very loudly, ‘Actually, I am absolutely freezing!’.  

My loud voice in the quiet atmosphere, metaphorically speaking seemed to break the ice, and everyone started laughing, including the Germans. By the time we had walked back down the mountain, (taking the ‘easy route’) the conversations were flowing and Jean and I seemed to know the family life story of most of the group.

As I explained the couple from Liverpool were staying at the same hotel as Jean and me and they had obviously shared with the hotel management the story of me up a mountain in my shorts. At dinner that evening I was served with an extra pudding with a note that said, ‘ for the man who conquered the mountain in his shorts’. Everyone laughed, well almost everyone, but I did get an extra Apple Strudel.

We know that Jesus had ‘special’ places that he chose to visit and where he felt close to his Father God. The high mountain in Matthew 17 was almost certainly on the banks of Lake Galilee and a place where Jesus would have visited on previous occasions. It was here where the true glory of Jesus of displayed. Up to now his glory had been veiled in flesh and blood but here in this special place he was transfigured and his face and clothes became radiant like the sun.

Similarly it was usual for Jesus to walk in Gethsemane’s gardens after an evening meal. It was a place where perhaps he would meditate and talk in prayer to God the Father. It was a place where Judas knew Jesus would be at that time, a place where Judas would betray Jesus. (Matthew 26 v 36 – 44)    

Derek T.

Pause for Thought – a five minute read – 34

Luke 2 v 41– 52

In writing these Pauses for Thought I have realised that I drift off into nostalgic journeys, and I know from messages that I have received that some readers have been doing the same. Being confined to home sorting out photographs and the like, generates many, ‘do you remember when?’ scenarios and conversations, so I thought I would share with you some of my childhood memory’s

Many of you will be aware that I was born and brought up in Bradford in West Yorkshire, in a suburb called Lidget Green, which, as with many such suburbs was once a village in its own right before being absorbed into a larger conurbation.

The centre of Lidget Green was actually the junction of four roads; Legram’s Lane, Cemetery Road, Clayton Road and Beckside Road, and the village had grown around this point. A cluster of small shops stone built with stone slabs for roofs, the Methodist Church, and the Oddfellows Pub were all grouped around the cross roads.

We lived down Cemetery Road, the’ we’ being Mum, Dad, my two sisters and me. At the top of the road there was a narrow access road called, Necropolis Road and as a young lad I always thought how nice it would be to live on a road with a ‘posh’ name like Necropolis, until I discovered that it means ‘place of the dead’ and it lost it’s attraction. It did lead to the cemetery when all said and done.

Typical of Bradford’s topography Cemetery Road was a steep hill and as we descended it opened out into allotments and open fields, (locally called the Filla’s), on the left hand side, and Lidget Green Primary School on the right, a single storey stone built rather uninviting group of buildings that I attended from the age of 5 till 11 years old when I moved to Priestman Senior School a bus ride away.

I can’t say that I was happy at Lidget Green Primary School, I can’t put my finger on why but I can recall going home half way through the morning and mum dragging me back on several occasions. I did have a speech impediment, a stammer that badly affected my ability to speak particularly when I was excited or nervous. Reading out loud in class, which is what we had to do, was a nightmare and took me twice as long to complete as the rest of the class.

Our house was half way down the street among several rows of terrace houses all with a ‘Glendare’ prefix, Terrace, Avenue, Street etc. We lived on Glendare Terrace number 17, a stone fronted mid terrace house.

It was quite a comfortable house with two rooms on the ground floor level, two bedrooms and a bathroom on the first floor, and a large attic at second floor. I stress an attic not a roof space, because this was my sister’s bedroom. It was a proper room with its own staircase leading off the landing, and a small roof light on the pitch of the roof.

I always thought it looked spooky up there, and anyway, it was out of bounds for little boys, it was girls only.

I had the small ‘L’ shaped bedroom at the rear on the first floor, it used to be a bigger room but it had been divided off to form a bathroom and a bedroom so it was quite small, but I thought it was great, and with a couple of dad’s overcoats on top of the bed in the winter it was reasonably warm.

We had coal fires and I always enjoyed watching the coal man delivering the coal. He reversed his lorry up the back alley, carried the bags of coal across our yard on his back and then expertly tipped them into the chute into our cellar. My mum made me sit at the window and count how many bags he delivered so that he didn’t overcharge us. 

The cellar was accessed down a stone stair from the back room and half way down, high up on the wall, was the gas and electric meters. They were slot meters and dad would push in half crowns, (2/6d), and if he forgot to put them in, the gas or the lights would go out. Periodically the gas or electric man would come and empty the money out of the meter and calculate if we had overpaid, if so mum got some money back.

At the end of our terrace we had a Fish and Chip shop and if you took an armful of newspapers to the shop they would give you a bag of chips (worth 3d), needless to say that was my job.

At the end of the other Terrace there was a small shop owned by Mr. and Mrs. West, and when mum ran out of Woodbines (cigarettes) after closing time, I had to go and knock on the West’s back door and ask for mum’s cigarettes. They always grumbled but then they always served me.

We know very little of Jesus’s childhood in fact the only reference is (Luke 2 v 41) when during a visit to the Passover celebration the child Jesus went missing only to be found in the Temple. I would like to think that Jesus played games just the same as all the other children. I like to think that he ran races with his friends and played what- ever the Hebrew version of football, cricket or rugby was with his cousin John.

I’m sure that during his childhood he went out for walks with his parents and had days out having a Jewish picnic.

But it was in his Father’s house, the Temple where he felt most at home, it was there where he heard the word of God from the scriptures and learned the prophecies that would mould his destiny.

Derek T.

Pause for Thought – a five minute read – 33

Jonah 2 v 1 – 10

I never owned a Sat Nav in my car until 2009 as I always had a town centre map or a gazetteer provided by the local authority. Generally these were adequate because my journeys were of a local nature or at worst within the boundaries of Derbyshire or Nottinghamshire.

In 2009 I retired from local government and for a couple of years I worked with a local company of private surveyors, who operated on a national basis which meant that I could be sent anywhere in the UK. Now I needed a Sat Nav, so I purchased one which at the time was fairly top of the range but on occasions even that was not good enough.

I recall one occasion when both Sat Nav and map book were of no use. I was sent to remote farm just West of Llangollen in Wales. I set the Sat Nav for the destination but it would not recognise the name of the farm (I couldn’t even pronounce it), nor was there a road name, so I had to rely on the post code.

All went well until I left the main A5 road and soon the roads became ‘unsuitable for heavy vehicles’ then ‘unsuitable for caravans’ and then eventually they became ‘unsuitable’ and this was at a time when I did not have a 4×4. My Sat Nav continually told me to do a U turn when safe to do so, and indicated that I was driving across an open field, not very helpful.

All building regulation applications should have a site plan which shows the location of the work in relation to the surrounding roads, so I parked in a gateway leading to a farmer’s field and extracted the site plan from the big envelope containing the application. On examining the plan it indicated a few spidery lines, which I assumed to be tracks, and a red circle around the word ‘Farm’.

I was just in the mental process of expressing my dissatisfaction as to quality of the site plan, when I heard a tap on my car window. It was an elderly gentleman who had the appearance of a farmer, asking me if I was lost. I explained that I was not actually lost because I knew roughly where I was but had difficulty in finding the farm. He explained that he had lived here all his life and he may be able to help.

I showed him the site plan and he pondered over it for a minute, then smiled and said, ‘that’s Owen’s place’. I pointed out that the name on the plans was ‘Travers’ and not Owen, but he was adamant and repeated, ‘that’s Owen’s place’.

He then gave me directions; – turn round, go down the track for about a mile, over the cross roads, through the ford, and about a mile further you come to Owen’s place.

I had noticed a cross roads on the spidery lines on the site plan so I thought he could be right so I thanked him and prepared to drive off until he put his hand on the car door.

‘I’ve just thought ‘he said, ‘just after the ford the road forks, don’t go left keep to the right. If you go left it takes you to, Travers place and you don’t want to go there’.

I found Travers place, and I wish I hadn’t, it took me a month to get the mud off my car, if it was mud, despite driving through the ford twice.

Since then I have bought cars which have Sat Navs fitted which seem a little better than the detachable versions, although I still have the need to argue with it when it doesn’t know where it’s going. The times when it tells me to turn on the next left and the next left is someone’s drive way, or when its tells me to turn right at the traffic lights, but the road has been changed and there is no traffic lights, but there is a very large roundabout. Why can’t the Sat Nav think like me?

I’m always waiting for the day when the Sat Nav answers me back when I’ve got it wrong and says, ‘OK now you’ve tried it your way, try it mine’

I wonder if that’s what God said to Jonah

God gave specific directions to Jonah to go the Nineveh and deliver a message of repentance, but Jonah insisted on going in the wrong direction. He would have rather have gone anywhere but to Nineveh and tried all he could to avoid the place.

But when God gives directions there is no getting away from it. There is no wrong advice from God; his is the right way, the only way. It may not be the most scenic route or the route that avoids hills and valleys but God’s route is where we must go. Just like Jonah if God gives us a job to do we will do it, like it or not, ask most preachers and ministers when God first calls there is reluctance in our hearts and we ask questions, am I good enough? Is this really what God wants me to do? Do I have the necessary skills to do this?

Despite the questions God keeps bringing us back to his route and taking us on his journey. Like Jonah we will reach that place where God wants to be and we will give his message.

Many years ago as a young man, I watched the first James Bond film ‘Dr No’ at the cinema. Bond had an Aston Martin with a Sat Nav that came up on his dashboard to enable him to track the bad guy. As I sat in the cinema I thought that one day I would have an Aston Martin with a gadget like that.

I got the gadget but the Aston Martin still eludes me. 

Derek T.

Pause for Thought – a five minute read – 32

Genesis 1 v 1 – 31

I have always had a quiet fascination for astronomy; I say a ‘quiet’ fascination because I never have fully understood it. I mean its one thing to be standing in your back garden looking up at the sky and the stars, but it’s something else to actually know what it is that you are looking at.

It’s a bit like modern art, all the information is there but I still don’t know what it is.

I can stretch my knowledge to the formation of stars that make the Plough and the North Star, and of course I was around in 1969 when man walked on the moon, ‘One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.’

It was the year that I got married and changed my job so I can’t help but remember that.

But generally life in the Universe for me is a bit of a mystery;- until, Professor Brian Cox burst onto our television screens. I believe that he has redefined the rules for demonstrating how the galaxies were formed and why they are as they appear today.

His illustrations using pebbles and boulders on a beach explain the positions of the planets in great detail, and his use of balloons to demonstrate how planets have bumped into each other millions of years ago and send each other off in tangential directions are mind blowing, It is like an inter galactical game of snooker, and throughout all this turmoil the earth has quietly got on with its own business and developed into what it is today.

Thanks to Professor Cox I can now tell you that in our galaxy, Mercury is the planet nearest to the sun and has an iron rich core, Venus is next with a liquid core, then comes Earth with a rocky metallic core, then Mars also with a iron rich core, then Jupiter which is liquid gas at its core, then Saturn with again liquid gas, followed by Uranus with gas and rock, Neptune is just a ball of gas, and finally the smallest planet in the galaxy, Pluto which is a ball of ice.

Come on you must be impressed.

But if that does impress let me introduce you to something that really impresses me, please meet the New Horizon Voyager1 and Voyager 2 Space Crafts. Nothing new, they were launched early 2000 with a primary purpose of a fly- by of Pluto, (smallest planet see above) which was completed in 2015, after which they were sent off where no one has been before , to infinity and beyond, taking pictures as they went.

It’s now 2020 and New Horizons are still travelling at speeds of over 36400 miles per hour, (600 mile per second, Land’s End to John O Groats in one second) and are now reaching the outer limits of our galaxy in an area known as The Kuiper Belt. This is the farthest any probe has ever been, some 5 billion miles away from Earth, so far that it can take twenty months for signals from the crafts to reach earth. Soon (possibly 2021) the on board batteries will die and contact will be lost but the probes will keep on going.

You have to admit that it is impressive, but it’s not the space crafts that impress me. I’m impressed by the fact they are so far away from earth, travelling for so long at such great speed and still going, but they have not yet found the edge of God’s creation, and they never will.

We tend to think that when God formed the world, he created our planet, but we don’t appreciate that our world is a small part of the full extent of God’s total creative plan. God created the entire universe with all its planets and galaxies, those we know and those still to be discovered.

The more we learn and discover of the universe and the other galaxies the more we understand the greatness of God’s creative hand, and how God so loved us and our world to make it as beautiful as it is. The wonders that we see around us are not replicated anywhere else in the universe including the wonders of the human race. God so loved the world that he gave his only son so that we can live.

No other planet has been found that can support life as we know it in all it’s beauty and miracles, should we not be protecting and caring for it more than ever knowing it is unique and without comparison?

As in all things in life God gives us the gift of making our own decisions but always gives us all the information necessary for us to make our choices. The evidence on what is happening to our environment is clear and we must decide what our individual actions will need to be and live accordingly to maintain our world as a special and unique place in all creation, let us make it last as God intended.

Derek T.

Pause for Thought – a five minute read – 31

Matthew 19 v 13 – 15;- Luke 18 v 15 – 17

Since the lock down started and when I have the time to watch, I’ve noticed that I watch some programmes on television that I normally wouldn’t have been particularly interested in. For example I actually watched. ‘A midsummer Night’s Dream’ and ‘King Lear’, and I don’t normally do Shakespeare. I also watched ‘Great Expectations’ and a documentary on a Dennis Severs’ House, a private museum in Spitalfields in London that specialises in the Dickensian period.

One thing that came to mind from most of Dicken’s novels is the unfortunate plight of the orphaned children at that time when life expectation was quite young and this is a time before Social Services or even thoughts of social responsibility towards the poorer classes.

A couple of years ago I was asked to take part in a celebration service dedicated to the Children’s Society and as a result of my research for the service I came across Edward Rudolf.

Edward Rudolf was born on the 11th April 1852 in Lambeth South London, not into poverty but certainly not wealth. He had two brothers and a sister (who died at the age of two years).  His father was a military man serving in both the British and Dutch Armies and his military background was reflected in his family life, he refused to send his children to school and insisted on teaching them himself at home, a situation that Edward had to redress in later life. However, Edward’s father was a bit of a linguist and was fluent in several languages including Dutch, which he passed on to Edward. The family also received a £20 a year gratuity from Edward’s uncle which supplemented the income from the military.

After his father’s death the family income ceased and Edward (now 15 years old) managed to get a job as a clerk in the Dutch consulate in London, his Dutch language lessons paid off, the salary from which enabled the family to have food on the table and also enabled Edward to study for education he missed out in younger years. His further education also took him into the Priesthood of the Church of England.

Although he never had a parish he was in the upper echelons of the Church of England and was eventually asked to be Superintendent of a newly formed Sunday School at St. Anne’s Church in Lambeth, a post he held for ten years.

It was at this time when two boys in the Sunday School who were regular attenders failed to attend without warning. Surprised that they had not contacted the school, Edward went to the boy’s home and discovered that their father had died and their mother was seriously ill, and in addition there was no food in the house. The boys had eight siblings and they had been sent out on to the streets to beg for money to buy some food. The mother had done this as an alternative to the Workhouse which would have had resulted in the family being split up.

Edward went out and found the boys, brought them home and gave them food and money but to his horror he discovered that this family was just one of hundreds of orphaned children begging on London’s streets.

He was determined to do something about it and persuaded the high ranking members of the Church of England, including the then Archbishop of Canterbury, to provide food and shelter for orphaned children on the streets. This developed into the ‘Waifs and Strays Society’.

Edward Rudolf’s vision was to give poor and homeless children, not just food and shelter, but also a secure family environment, and he started to achieve this by opening ‘Cottage Homes’ that could accommodate 10 – 15 children with a Master and Matron who could act as parents. This was the start of the ‘Children’s Society’, and the Cottage Homes model was developed not just in London but in other parts of the UK and overseas. It was developed into providing nurseries, day centres, libraries and education centres.

Edward Rudolf died in 1933, but the society that he founded still drives forward his vision of a secure family life for all children. In the 21st century Social Reform has reduced the need for the Cottage Homes but the Children’s Society is now active in the political and legislative arena driving social reform with regards to child abuse, child trafficking, poverty and education.  

Jesus said, ‘Let the children come to me and do not stop them because the Kingdom of God belongs to such as these.’ (Luke 18 v 16)

Derek T.

Pause for Thought – a five minute read – 30

Matthew 4 v 1 – 11

I painted the fence today, well two panels of it any way, only 12 more to go. It is one of those jobs that I have intended to do for the past two years but never got round to it. It’s quite a big fence, fourteen panels in all and each one is high and wide so painting it is quite an undertaking. That’s not the reason for the delay or why it has taken so long to get round to it, there have been a multitude of problems to overcome.

First I had no paint and it’s difficult to paint a fence when you have no paint. Then my son-in-law knocked on my door and presented me with four tins of fence paint, for which I assured him that I was eternally grateful.

Then it was a matter of time. There is never enough time. It is strange that we always have the same amount of time but there is never enough of it. Seemingly time is magical and it disappears, one minute it is there and the next minute it has gone.

Then along came Coronavirus and overnight we seem to have obtained buckets full of extra time. I think the government had the extra time stored up somewhere in case of emergency and released it when the crisis was declared.

Then I had another problem, weeds, brambles, nettles and an Apple Tree had grown in front of the fence, so I couldn’t get near it to paint. Every time it rained the weeds etc grew higher and looked even more formidable every day. But then, along with the lock down, came warm dry sunny weather, with not a drop of rain in sight, so it was time to attack the weeds while they were off their guard.

After wearing my Machete down to a pen knife, it looked clear at last and now I could start to paint, but then;- Do you remember the Robin in Pause for Thought 5, well it liked my/his garden so much that it decided to take up residence in the bird box which is fastened to the fence, and bring his wife along. No working on the fence now.

I watched the progress of the Robin family with great interest, even observing the parents feeding the offspring on the lawn, a fluffy ball of feathers already bigger than both its parents. Then last weekend they all disappeared and the bird box is now empty.

I often have a conversation with my neighbour over the fence (well over 2m away), and he was asking me if fence painting was on the agenda. He said that it was the only way to save the fence and without painting it would turn out to be very expensive.

Now to a Yorkshire man words like ‘expensive’ are a great motivator so I thought it was time to take heed of his advice, and as I had expired all the excuses and now under threat of financial loss, I had better energise myself and introduce the fence to the brush and paint.

This I started to do that today and successfully saved two panels from impending disaster.

(Matthew 4 v 1)

There was no question of Jesus finding excuses to avoid has destiny to save all people through his death on the cross, although he had a number of opportunities or temptations to do so.

Satan presented Jesus with three opportunities to avoid the pain and suffering of his crucifixion, all of which appeared in human terms to plausible and Satan was very persuasive.

Jesus had been fasting for 40 days and 40 nights so was very hungry, so the idea of materialising bread to eat would have been physically satisfying for him. But we are not talking in human terms, the Son of God never considered himself first and his destiny to the cross was more important than self- physical needs.

In human terms throwing himself off the top of the Temple tower would certainly have brought Jesus to the attention of a greater audience, and the miracle of being unharmed would have proved without doubt that he was the Son of God, but that was not the Fathers will but Satan’s and the Son of God would never take instructions from Satan.

The futile attempt to offer Jesus all the kingdoms of the world could never tempt the Son of God as they were already in Jesus’s possession, so there was no agreement to be made.

Jesus knew his Father’s will and his journey through his ministry, to Jerusalem and on to that hill at Golgotha, was his destiny, prophesised and inevitable. His death on the cross and his resurrection saved the world from the power of sin and offered everlasting life to those who believe and follow him.

The instructions on the tin of paint read; do not apply in rain or when rain is forecast. Just my luck, the forecast for the next week is dry, not a rain cloud in site.

Derek T.

Pause for Thought – a five minute read – 29

1 John 4 v 1 – 12

Do you ever have one of those moments when you get a silly thought in your head and it won’t go away but it leads you in all sorts of directions? It happened to me a few weeks ago.

It was a Sunday afternoon and I was reading a book about authors and their books. One of the authors was a Chinese physician called Han Suyin.

 Han Suyin was the author of, ‘A Many Splendid Thing’. I immediately thought it was Andy Williams who did that and I was just about to shout at the book, ‘You are wrong’; when I thought I would look it up first. It was a good job that I did or I would have looked a bit silly shouting at a book, because we were both right, Han Suyin wrote the book, ‘A many splendid thing’, but Andy Williams sang the song, ‘Love is a many splendid thing’, so that was that, but it wasn’t.

That is when the annoying thoughts crept in, if love is a many splendid thing why did Doris Day sing about her secret love? Didn’t she want anyone to know about it? And if so why sing about it and tell everybody?

Then there is Roy Orbison singing that love hurts, scars, wounds and mars, that doesn’t seem a splendid thing to me, more like the wrong kind of love. In that case is there more than one kind of love and if so how many can there be? It’s all very confusing so I looked up the official definition of ‘Love’, and found this;-

  1. An intense feeling of deep affection.
  2. A great interest and pleasure in something.
  3. An indescribable deep euphoric feeling for someone.

That’s all well and good but I love a good steak, well done, with black pepper sauce, but I can’t say I have an intense feeling of deep affection for it. Similarly, I overheard a conversation when a teenage girl said ‘I love him because he is so cute’. Does that mean that she only loves him while he is cute, if so what happens when he becomes not cute?(she was talking about a puppy dog at the time).

So do we put conditions on our offering of love or do we use the word too loosely to describe our feelings and don’t really mean what we are saying.

The Bible tells us that God so loved the world that he gave his only Son so that we can live; now that’s what I call intense love.

The scriptures give us at least four kinds of love;-

  1. Storge – empathy bond (love)
  2. Philia – friend bond (love)
  3. Eros – romantic love
  4. Agape – unconditional ‘God’ love.

So yes it seems there are different kinds of love. There is the kind that we feel for all people across the world who we don’t necessarily know but we care for their well- being. There is the love we have for our family and friends. There is the emotional love between two people who are attracted to each other. And there is the love that God shares with all his creation.

It’s when I try to picture love that is starts to get complicated. The love for others across the world shows as warm pastel colours, the love for our families and friends shows as stronger, vibrant colours, and the romantic love shows as flashing white light with flashes of rich noisy colours.

But what colours can we put to God’s love?

A picture of Jesus Christ hanging on the cross bearing our pain and carrying our sin, could be considered as a dark intimidating colour or] one of mourning and sorrow, but is this a picture of God’s love, or is the explosion of the resurrection and the living Lord with its brilliant white shafts of light searching and destroying the darkness, into every heart that will allow it entry, into every life that will accept his presence, that is a picture of God’s love.

The love of God is not just about feelings, it is about action. It is about how we live, how we behave, how we relate to each other and how we follow Jesus.

The Bible tells us that;-

Love is patient

Love is Kind

Love does not boast and is not proud

Love does not dishonour others

Love is not self- seeking or easily angered

Love keeps no record of wrongs

If we build on these building blocks and love God with all our hearts and with all our soul we will know the love of God.

I think Han Suyin and Andy Williams were both right, love is, a many splendid thing.

Derek T.

Pause for Thought – a five minute read – 28

Matthew 8 v 23 – 27

Two things in life that my wife Jean did not like were camping and going on a boat. The only occasion I can recall of her being under canvas was on a family holiday to France when we drove across France to get to the South coast and stopped at camp sites on the journey there and on the return.

We borrowed a tent from a minister friend as we didn’t own anything suitable ourselves. I think it was a two person tent and there were five of us, accordingly we had to lie across the tent as opposed to length ways. This meant that I had to sleep across the doorway so that any creepy crawlies got me and the girls were safe inside. I also remember that it was particularly hot and sleeping in a hot tent was difficult which didn’t help the situation.

Fortunately, when we arrived at the holiday site the large static caravan that was our accommodation was excellent so the trauma of the camping was soon forgotten (until the journey home).

As for going on a boat was concerned I felt that I had greater success. In Austria, we stayed in a hotel on Lake Wolfgang, so the only practical way of visiting the towns and villages around the lake was by a boat, but it was a big boat and the lake was very placid so it was bearable.

However, I think the most memorable boating experiences came from holidays on the island of Tenerife, when on one occasion we had two days when sea journeys were involved.

The first adventure was to go whale watching. We attempted to book on the tourist excursions but the time slots available did not fit in to our itinerary, but we were lucky enough to get seats on an Australian research boat which could also accommodate a limited number of passengers on condition that we recorded the numbers of whales that we spotted.

As in Austria the boat was a big one so Jean was happy, (well sort of), to embark upon a whole day of sailing on the open sea. The sea was like a mill pond and in no time we were surrounded by pods of Dolphins and schools of Whales which were extremely photogenic. Also the sea was so clear that every detail of the animals was in high definition and the whole situation was an amazing experience. 

After the success of the whale watching sea fairing expedition, I suggested a second adventure across to a neighbouring island of La Gomera, some 32km (20 miles) away. Access to the island is on a commercial ferry which was a very big boat so confidence was high.

As the journey was about four hours it meant an early start but again the sea was like a mill pond and the sun was warm at 8.0 am.

The island was beautiful, mostly untouched by tourism and has escaped the onslaught of commercialism allowing the pace of life to almost reduce to a standstill. Not a McDonalds in sight but one or two small bars serving thankfully cold fruit juices. It was a perfect day and I was quietly congratulating myself on a great suggestion for the day out as we embarked on board the ferry for the journey back to Tenerife. In retrospect I should have noticed that loose chairs on the deck had been tied together and all passengers were being guided inside the boat.

In the hotel later we were told that the stretch of water between Tenerife and La Gomera can be unpredictable and they were right. It’s all down to the tide they said.

It started as we left the shelter of the small harbour and continued for the entire journey back to the much bigger harbour of Tenerife. I never knew a boat could achieve so many contortions and still sail in a straight line. I’m afraid that all my words of encouragement to Jean were to no avail and we were both thankful that our lunch was had been just a small sandwich and a fruit juice. The ship’s crew were totally unconcerned and went about their duties as if it was a cruise down a river.

Even when we disembarked our legs didn’t believe we were on dry land and refused to walk normally. And whose fault was it? I’m sure you can guess.

(Matthew 8 v 23 – 27)

The Sea of Galilee was notorious for erupting into a maelstrom due to squalls and storms without warning, and many fishermen had been caught out to their grief. Winds would sweep down the valley of the Jordon from the North and be squeezed through the narrow gap between the mountains onto the lake.

It was one of these occasions that took the disciples by surprise. They, along with Jesus were sailing from the West side to the East side and experienced the full force of the storm. The disciples were terrified and woke Jesus with frantic cries for help.

Jesus was calm and unaffected, calling for the wind to ease and the storm to cease and it became calm.

All disciples encounter storms sooner or later and at times it feels like we are taking on water to such an extent that we could sink, but what a comfort it is to know that Jesus is in the boat with us to calm and comfort us and guide us through to the other side.

No one can quell the storms of life like our Lord Jesus Christ.

Jean did forgive me and we had a laugh about the experience later. I didn’t get her back in a boat again though, but we did go on a 4 x 4 off road experience up Mount Teide the island volcano and that was amazing, (well I thought so anyway), and not a tent or boat in sight.    

Derek T.

Pause for Thought – a five minute read – 27

Mark 7 v 1 – 8

I came across an advertisement recently for an exhibition at a museum. It attempted to encourage parents to bring their children to the museum so that they (the children) could learn about the past in order to move into the future. I fully support this principle but I also think that some museums should issue an emotional hazard warning for persons who fall into the recent definition of ‘vulnerable’ category.

Let me give you an example, last year I visited a museum exhibition on the history of children’s television. It was brilliant but the oldest exhibits were the programmes that I watched as a lad on a black and white television in my neighbour’s house. Do you remember Muffin the Mule?

Similarly I recently visited a National Trust venue where they had an exhibition on the history of Fashion throughout the ages. We came to the 1950/60 era and the display included a blue, Italian pin striped suit with drain pipe trousers and black velvet collar, a pink shirt with a boot lace tie. A group of children were laughing at the style; – I had one just like it. I wore it with pride on a Saturday night at the Majestic Ballroom in Bradford, and with the winkle picker shoes I thought that I looked great.

But it doesn’t stop there; take a look at the Museum of Childhood at Sudbury. Once again some of the oldest exhibits are the same as those that I had when I was young, like the money box in the shape of a man’s head wearing a Fez. When you put a penny (old one) on his hand he lifts to his mouth and swallows it.

It was years before I realised that you could retrieve the money from the back of the box.

Even more modern examples can be embarrassing, when I go to tractor rallies and classic car meetings half of the vintage cars on display, I have owned at some point in my life, and yet there are youngsters polishing away at what they consider to be an antiques.

However I was fascinated recently when I visited the workshops of a transport renovation group on the outskirts of Nottingham. They restored vintage buses, Trent Barton coaches, trams and Trolley buses.

I can remember riding on trolley buses in Bradford. Powered by electricity with two arms on the roof that reached up to cables overhead. They were quiet, comfortable, environmentally friendly, pollution free and efficient, so why did they dispense with them for diesel engines?

I do recall that on occasions the arms came off the overhead cables and the driver or conductor had to get off the bus and use a long pole (stored under the bus) to hook each arm and reposition it back onto the cable. As a lad this was very exciting and well worth the 2 or 3 pence bus fare.

They also had long advertisements along the side of the bus which for a very young lad was confusing as I thought they sold the product on the bus. Later in life this brought my dad to say ‘just because it says Bisto on Bradford buses is doesn’t mean to say they sell it. ‘

I must admit when at a museum, I’m particularly pleased to see how the medical profession has moved on, the old instruments from the past look terrifying.

(Mark 7 v 1-8) Jesus warned about using the laws and traditions of the past in place of the Word of God. The Pharisees and Scribes had interwoven their own laws into the Jewish Law and imposed them onto the Jewish people. One such law was known as ‘corban’ which enabled the Jewish leaders to avoid their responsibilities towards their parents and widows simply by saying that all their wealth and goods were dedicated to God, but were actually retained in their possession.

(Mark 7 v 5) When the disciples were accused of breaking the Jewish Law because they had not ritually washed their hands before eating, Jesus retaliated by accusing the Pharisee as being hypocrites, and pointing them to the words of Isaiah; – they profess great devotion to the Lord, but inwardly they were corrupt. They pretended to worship God but they substituted their traditions for the doctrines of the Bible, for their own benefit.

The Jewish people justifiably expected honesty, compassion, and righteousness from their Jewish Leaders, but they got corruption, dishonesty and self-importance.

What did my dad say?

‘It says Bisto on Bradford buses but they don’t sell it’

Derek T.

Pause for Thought – a five minute read – 26

Luke 21 v 5 – 19

I watched a programme on television two or three weeks ago now, but it was on BBC 4 so I have been able to watch again twice on iPlayer. The programme is about the Cathedral at Notre Dame, which just over a year ago suffered devastating damage by fire. With the aid of computer generated images the programme explained the original design and construction of the building, the damage inflicted by the fire, and the work being carried to stabilise the structure before any remedial works can even begin.

The size of the building, which is over 850 years old, is impossible to imagine, even with the benefit of incredible computer images. It is 90m high, accommodates 9,000 worshippers, has 500 tons of timber (Oak) in the roof construction, and has two 68m high bell towers housing 8 bronze bells each weighing in at 4 tons.

The design of the cathedral is incredibly sophisticated; the vaulted roof pushes outwards onto the external walls which in turn are reinforced by buttress columns in order to resist the lateral forces. The building can then achieve equilibrium as long as both the walls and roof are intact, but the roof was completely destroyed so in theory the structure should have collapsed, it did not but it could at any time, even now.

The greatest loss was the 90m high timber with lead cladded spire that fell into the already hungry inferno that burnt the timber and melted the lead.

Some years ago I visited York Minster which has also been damaged by fire in the recent past. When I visited the remedial works had been completed but there was an exhibition containing photographs showing the damage after the fire, and as in Notre Dame, considerable damage was done to the roof which put the entire building in jeopardy.

Obviously God’s hand has been evident in the saving of these buildings. 

I had another example while on holiday some years ago on the island of Malta. We visited the Basilica at Mosta which had an incredible story to tell.

On April 9th 1942, two German bombs were dropped onto the Basilica at Mosta at the time when 250 worshippers were attending a service. One bomb clipped the tower and ricochet off into the surrounding area. The second crashed through the roof and landed on the Marble floor spinning around the worshippers. Neither bomb exploded, and they were successfully defused by British military. The roof was repaired and now a replica of the bomb is on display to remind worshippers of God’s miracle at Mosta.

In William Golding’s controversially disturbing novel ‘The Spire’ the story revolves around the building of  a medieval Cathedral Spire bigger and higher than any other ever built, and the effect the project has on the lives and emotions of those people involved. The spire was to be a landmark to which people would be drawn in fact at one stage of the construction the main character Dean Jocelin, realises that villagers were changing the traditional paths leading to the village to new paths leading towards the spire.

I can imagine how the disciples would have been awestruck by the size and opulence of the Temple in Jerusalem as they walked through it with Jesus. After all they were Galilean’s more familiar with rural scenes rather than with this gigantic structure with its gold decorations and marble pillars.

It was truly a landmark for the Jewish nation

Jesus was realistic and prophesised that all this splendour would be destroyed and not a stone left standing, an event that came to pass in AD 70.   

The landmark was about to change from the physical landmark represented by the temple to the spiritual landmark which is Jesus himself.

The medieval spire guided the traveller on their physical journey but it is Jesus who guides us on our spiritual journey through life, no matter how our journey meanders, how steep the path becomes, and how uncertain our future may be over the horizon, Jesus is there walking with us taking our hand to guide us.

The believers in the early church did not have a temple or a church building, they met in their homes or outside in the open. Their spire was the Holy Spirit and their landmark was Jesus Christ.

I thought of all the Cathedrals that I have visited, Mosta, York, Lincoln, Southwell, Coventry, Derby, St., Pauls and others. All have survived fires, social and religious unrest, Civil War, World wars, several plagues, and will survive Coronavirus. What we must do is concentrate on the landmark that towers over all others, the Spire above all Spires; – Jesus Christ.      

Derek T.