Category Archives: Pause for Thought

Pause for Thought – a five minute read – 25

1 Corinthians 14 v 26 – 33

How many of you remember Skiffle music? Well for those of you who are under the ‘vulnerable’ age, it was a music genre of the early 1960s brought to us by people including Lonnie Donegan, Nancy Whiskey, and the Blue Grass Boys.

It had its origins in Southern United States and spread, (as it does), to the UK, having it’s two minutes of glory and then disappearing as quickly as it came. Skiffle was influenced by jazz, blues, and American folk, but the most significant thing about it was that it was performed on a mixture of manufactured and homemade or improvised instruments. – And yes I was for a short time in my school days a member of a Skiffle band.

For someone like me who at the time could not read a note of music, or play a note on any musical instrument, Skiffle was a dream come true. I mean a guitar generally has six strings which mean that you have to arrange your fingers to countless variations of positions on the strings and also strum six strings, using both left and right hands, but a Skiffle double base had one string.

It was made from an old tea chest, a brush handle, and a piece of string. One end of the string was secured to the edge of the tea chest and the other end to the top of the brush handle, which in turn was placed vertically on the other edge of the tea chest. By pulling on the brush handle the string was tensioned and the tea chest acting as a resonator emitted the sound.

I was a 13 year old bass player in a Skiffle band; – look out Royal Albert Hall here we come.

My school friend John Seymour, was just as musically illiterate , as me, so again Skiffle gave him the opportunity to shine ; – playing the wash board. He was the official wash board player in the band and his mother was totally confused when he asked for eight of her sewing thimbles so he could play the board with both hands, (a bit too ambitious as it turned out).

The wash board was not as elaborate as the double base, well it was a wash board when all said an d done, with a galvanised corrugated steel panel that he tapped with his fingers, (with the thimbles fitted).

Eric Smith, (he was in a year lower than Seymour and me), got one of the best parts in the band, he played the comb and tissue paper, (this was a comb with tissue paper stretched over it played like a mouth organ), which meant that he could stand at the front. He had a problem because he tried to play and sing at the same time the result of which was a bit of a disaster. He also generated a lot of saliva which made the tissue paper go soggy.

Eddie (Barny) Barnes, was the only one who had a proper instrument, he had a guitar that he bought from the church jumble sale for about a shilling, but no one knew how to tune it, in fact I’m not sure if it had all the six strings.

We did take part in a concert once, the end of term school talent concert. We were awful but it didn’t really matter, our parents said we were very good.

All my children and most of my grandchildren have learned to play a musical instrument ranging from, violin, piano, clarinet, guitar and flute. Some of them have performed at the Derby Assembly Rooms and other venues around the City.

My regret is that my choice of musical instrument has never been melodic. I’ve played the drums for over 25 years but it’s difficult to get a melody out of the drums.

It’s when all the instruments play in harmony together that the holistic sound is achieved and each individual sound blends together into a cacophony of high, low, mid- range and rhythm which is the complete musical experience. It is immaterial whether it is an orchestra, choir, rock band or Skiffle group, it’s the working together that makes it work.

Being a follower of Christ is not a matter for individualism, everything about Jesus, given by Jesus, or emanating from Jesus is meant to be shared or given away to others. The disciples came from different backgrounds, social levels, and intellectual abilities but Jesus brought them together into one orchestrated way of life that along with the Holy Spirit enabled them to spread the Good News of our Lord Jesus Christ across the known world and beyond.

Similarly Paul in his letters to the churches encourages harmonious living and the believers working together with a common aim, to spread the good news, not as individuals but as the united body of Christ.

How often do we witness in our church communities fragmentation, groups within groups, and cliques, despite the clear message of unity, harmony and love.

Unlike the Beatles and some other groups our Skiffle group didn’t survive. The tea chest went back into the cellar for dad’s tools, the brush handle was re-introduced to the brush head and the string went to dad’s allotment to support the peas;- Probably the best thing all considered.   

Derek T.

Pause for Thought – a five minute read – 24

Luke 23 v 32 – 49

I thought I would do something a little different this morning. I have copied the piece below which is something that I produced in 2012. I came across it again this week and it seemed relevant to the present situation

A Traveller’s Tale

A traveller told this story; –

I stopped to rest at day break at the brow of a hill overlooking a small town. Suddenly I became aware of man standing at the very top of the hill. He was tall and young, with broad shoulders, a strong determined face and such blue friendly eyes. He wore a long coat to keep out the cold chill from the wind, and carried a small shoulder bag.

As I watched him, he started to descend down the hill, with a strong stride and a straight back almost like a soldier marching into battle.

I followed; intrigued to know where this man was going in such a determined manner.

 We reached the edge of the Town and there in the gutter was a young man, sprawled out in a drunken stupor, his eyes glazed with no recognition of his demise and his mind devoid of sensible thought, an outcast from society turning to drink and drugs to gain solace from a cruel and confusing world.

The tall stranger knelt beside him and lifted his head. From his coat he took out a bottle of clear water and put to the young lips. Drink, he said, for whoever drinks from this bottle will never be thirsty again.

The young man stared into the blue eyes of the stranger; he lifted himself to his feet, turned and without a word walked off into the cold morning air and I watched him go.

I looked back to the stranger and he was walking again towards the town, but the spring had somehow left his step, he walked with different gait. I followed trying to keep up.

As we reached a cross roads he met a woman leaning against a locked hospital door, trying to ring for attention. She was pale and her face was twisted in pain. She cried out –‘ help me sir please help me’.

The stranger reached out and wrapped his hands around her face. He spoke in a gentle calm voice and said to her, – have faith and you will have peace.

She stopped crying and he opened the locked door allowing her through. I watched her go in to the waiting arms of the doctor, and then I turned back to the stranger.

He was pale and stooped, and as he walked he seemed to drag his leg behind, what had happened to that fine looking man on the hill.

We came across a small child alone in a playground. The child had no coat and wore a thin dirty t shirt. There were no shoes on his feet and his hair was dishevelled. He shivered in the cold morning air. In a small voice he spoke to the stranger; simply saying –‘I’m lost’.

The stranger took off his coat and placed round the child’s shoulders and took out of his pocket a piece of bread and gave it to the child. Follow the path, he said, follow the path I have shown you and you will come home.

The child left the playground eating the bread and I looked at the stranger and saw a physical spiritual and emotional wreck. He was on his hands and knees, he was racked with pain, his back was bent and his face was drawn and without colour. He slowly and painfully made his way back from the town, staggering up the hill from where we started. At the top he lay down against a tree, exhausted.

He turned, looked at me and said, forgive them for they know not what they do, – he closed his eyes and died.

I fell on my knees and cried realising that I had stood by while this man had suffered, while this man who had given himself to others freely, had been sacrificed while I had stood by offering no help.

 The thought has stayed with me for the rest of my life; and I still follow this man – Jesus Christ.

Derek T.

Pause for Thought – a five minute read – 23

John 3 v 1 – 21

One significant aspect of the Coronavirus crisis is the distinct absence of meeting people. At this stage I actually look forward to Thursday night at 8.00pm when I stand on my drive and applaud the NHS along with all my neighbours. I am aware that there is no close contact but we do all wave to each other and give a thumbs up sign which means both, ‘are you all right?’ and ‘yes I’m fine thank you’. I never appreciated how important meeting people actually is; -and that brings me to another point, – my milkman.

The problem is I have not met my milkman for over a year. He used to call on a Wednesday to collect his money and we would have a chat, put the world to right and update on our respective families, but that has all changed. Steve, (the milkman) delivers the milk at 4.00am when we are all asleep; accordingly I do not meet him then. About a year ago the company decided to go down the direct debit route, so he no longer needs to call on a Wednesday.  It may not be earth shattering but it does mean that I can’t say thank you for delivering my milk in snow, rain, hail, Coronavirus and all weather conditions.

So what is so important about meeting people? It stops us from becoming insular, we are naturally gregarious by nature, it’s beneficial to our communication with others, our security and mental health, and lots more. Even for people we don’t like and those who don’t like us it is important for us to meet.

They say that sub consciously we decide if we like someone within the first three minutes of meeting them. I always thought that would be a good way of speeding up job interviews but I’m not convinced that it is true.

When I first met my wife she had long flowing hair that was draped over her shoulders, had heavy make up on her face and was dressed in a Hebrew slave’s tunic. She was actually on stage at the time in a play at her church. The first time we went out I discovered that the long hair was a wig, she never used make up and she was definitely no one’s slave.

Let me digress for a moment and relate to you the occasion of Jean and my first ‘date’. It was arranged for the evening after the play and I was to pick her up from her parent’s house and go out for a meal. Unfortunately I was late finishing work so it was necessary for me to pick Jean up on the way home where I could get changed and then go for a meal.

Now, let me explain; in those days not all builders trucks/vans were supplied with a passenger seat and the one I was driving did not have one. However it did have two bags of cement that substituted for a seat.

I don’t think Jean had a particular problem with the situation, but from the look on her mother’s face as she watched her daughter climb up into builder’s truck onto two bags of cement with a driver dressed in dirty boots, jeans and a donkey jacket, allegedly going out for a meal, didn’t suggest to me that I had achieved a successful first three minutes.   

We did get married, (Jean not her mother) two years later so not all was lost.

Of course as we discussed in a previous Pause for Thought modern technology has helped to reduce the impact of social separation and last Sunday I actually took part in a ‘Zoom’ service in which I delivered a short sermon to a sea of faces on my lap top screen. Not being entirely comfortable with the technology, I sought expert advice in the preceding week from my grandson who walked me through it with the help of my mobile phone (because we couldn’t meet) and on the day it all went well, in fact I enjoyed the whole experience.

I wonder how many references there are in the Bible of Jesus meeting people, that’s something to do on a rainy afternoon instead of day time television, there must be hundreds if not thousands of examples, from individuals to five thousand people and more.

Certainly the three minute theory was correct when Jesus called his disciples, they dropped their nets, left their boats and followed him, and what about Zacchaeus? He met with Jesus and finished up inviting him to his home for a meal.

Only the Jewish Leaders had a problem with meeting Jesus.

Jesus’s meeting with Nicodemus is particularly interesting, (John 3 v 1 – 22). I like to believe that there was a three minute spark between them and that Nicodemus genuinely wanted to learn more of Jesus’s teaching and about the Kingdom of Heaven.

Nicodemus was a well-educated man, a devout Jew and a Pharisee, a Jewish Leader, but there was something about Jesus that drew Nicodemus to that meeting in order to talk to him. He accepted that Jesus was a teacher sent by God and that only through God could the miracles that Jesus performed be done. But I like to think that Nicodemus knew that there was more to Jesus than being a prophet and that he was the Son of God.

I also believe that when Nicodemus left that meeting he was a different person. How else could we explain that he, with Joseph of Arimathea, took Jesus’s body down off the cross, covered it in spices and Myrrh and wrapped it in clothe. (John 19 v 38 – 42).

Jean and I were married for 43 years so the experience of that first meeting didn’t put her off despite builder’s truck and cement bags.

Derek T.

Pause for Thought – a five minute read – 22

Luke 22 v 14 – 20

I have to admit that I do enjoy a good meal in a restaurant, it’s a passion that seems to run in the family and I certainly share with my grandchildren, although I must say that they are also very adept in the kitchen. I have enjoyed many cakes, buns, biscuits and puddings during this present lock down, all produced by my grandchildren.

It’s not just evening meals that please me, I also meet with a group of aficionados on a Friday morning to assess breakfast establishments in the local area, it’s a hard job but someone has to do it.

One observation that has surfaced recently is how difficult it is getting to order your meal in certain restaurants. I recently visited my favourite restaurant (before Coronavirus), when a family on an adjacent table were preparing to order. The young son had volunteered, or had been appointed I’m not sure which, to venture to the bar and place the order for the family’s meals. He soon returned and asked what the table number was. He was told number 12 and then returned to the bar. Soon he was back again asking, do we want chips or potatoes? , He was told that chips would be fine and he returned to the bar. Soon he returned again asking, do we want vegetables or salad? He was told salad and he returned yet again to the bar. Soon he returned yet again and asked, do we want rice or chips with the curry? His dad replied both were required at which point the lad looked confused so his mum, (O great wise one) offered to go back to the bar with him and sort it out.

They did get their meals and I assume that all their individual choices were fulfilled. I did worry however what would happen if they all required a coffee. Would it be black, white, late’, skinny late’, cappuccino, one shot, two shots or whatever, and who would go to the bar with that order?

A further complication arises when interpreting the menu, particularly when it is in a foreign language, e.g. French, Italian, Indian or Chinese. I have studied many a menu attempting to establish just what the dish actually is. One that sounds to be particularly appetising on the menu manifests itself into sausage and mash with baked beans when it arrives at the table, not that I’ve got anything against sausage mash and baked beans, but not for a special occasion.

Even self- service buffets can be difficult. I recall one occasion in a hotel in Tenerife when I selected French fried onions only to find they were octopus, or rubber bands I couldn’t tell the difference.

The Passover meal that Jesus shared with his disciples would have been a totally different situation and would not have resembled the meals in the restaurants I prefer to visit.

The Passover Seder is a ritual feast that marks the beginning of the Jewish holiday of the Passover. It is not just a meal, but is an act of remembrance of the story of and the suffering involved in the Exodus of the Hebrew people out of Egypt. Each part of the meal represents a part of the Exodus story and the experiences of the people involved. It was and is an important part of Jewish belief and culture, and there would have been specific symbolic foods and order of eating them.

  1. Moror ; – a bitter herb that represents slavery in Egypt and the tears shed by the people.
  2. Z’roo ; – Roast lamb shank bone representing the sacrificial lamb.
  3. Charoset ;- Apples, walnuts and wine which represents the mortar and bricks that were made in Egypt by the slaves.
  4. Chazeret ; – Another bitter herb or sometimes romaine lettuce  represents the hard and soft life in slavery
  5. Karpas ; – Parsley representing spring and new beginnings through the Exodus
  6. Beitzah ; – Roasted hard boiled eggs to represent offerings and possibly the circle of life.

The constituents of the meal can vary but the context of the meal would stay the same, to remember what God had done to save his chosen race. It’s theologically befitting that Jesus who came to save all people should share his last meal which remembers God saving his chosen people, also the parity of the sacrificial lamb and the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross.  

Jesus would have followed a strict procedure of preparation and eating the meal including specific drinks between courses all of which had symbolic meanings.

His Passover meal was eaten in the knowledge that he would be betrayed by one of those present around the table, one who as sharing the meal with him.

He also knew that it would be his last Passover meal.

Some years ago I went on holiday to a rather nice hotel on the island of Rhodes; it was one of the holidays when I went on my own. The fact that I was a lone diner seemed to confuse the waiter and he had a problem in finding a table for one. Eventually I was seated on the dining room balcony overlooking the sea, it was idyllic, but hardly a table for one. Above my head was a nesting place for a family of Rhodes Sparrows who insisted on sharing my meal with me.

The waiter did offer me an alternative but I declined his offer, – I never did like dining alone.  

Derek T.

Pause for Thought – a five minute read – 21

Matthew 18 v 21 – 35

Being confined to home for the past few weeks, sorting out cupboards and wardrobes etc., it has brought back many memories particularly from my childhood. Some I have already shared with you but one has come to mind that I thought I would share with you now.

I used to have an Uncle Ted and Auntie Annie, both passed away unfortunately. They were on my mum’s side and lived in Staffordshire, and in my mum’s words were, ‘ Posh’.

Uncle Ted was a builder like my dad but he built small housing estates under the company name of ‘Allman Brothers’. They seemed to be a bit more successful than my dad was, for example Ted had a car, a very big car, it was a Jaguar with big front wings and even bigger headlights. They also lived in a bungalow which my mum adored. Every time we went to visit Ted and Annie mum would say as we set off home in our ex-army truck, ‘ Oh I would love a bungalow like theirs, it’s beautiful’, and dad just concentrated on driving.

I always enjoyed visiting Ted and Annie, it was quite a journey through the countryside different to being in Bradford, and in addition Auntie Annie always put on a special tea, or at least it seemed special, she had cakes and everything.

It was when they came to visit us in Bradford that the fun started. There was no way that mum could compete house to house with Auntie Annie, after all she had a bungalow with a meticulously kept garden at the front and the rear, while we had a mid- terrace house with a back yard containing dad’s truck. The bungalow had a dining room, lounge, kitchen and front porch, whereas we had a front room and a back room, but it did not stop the dynamic duo from coming to visit.   

My sisters and I always knew when Uncle Ted and Auntie Annie were coming because a week prior, mum would start cleaning the house. The rugs, (mum made the rugs) were hung on the line in the back yard and had seven bells beaten out them, the lino in the back room was washed with bleach, the curtains were taken down and washed, and dad had to repair the cracked half-moon glass in the back door which had been on the ‘list’ since the previous year. Then there was the Lavender furniture polish, the table, chairs, and the display cabinet in the front room were all targets of the polish and duster till the whole house smelt of a mixture of bleach and Lavender.

It was my sisters and my job to tidy up all of our own things   and finally on the morning of the visit, my sisters would vacuum the front room carpet square and I would help dad tidy up the back yard. The final touch was that dad would light a fire in the front room, this only happened at Christmas and at the royal visit (Ted and Annie). I was then sent to sit on the front door step to watch for the Jaguar bouncing down the unmade road to our front door, and mum would have a final look round to make sure everything was in place.

I never knew how Auntie Annie managed it but within ten minutes of her arrival she would arise from the settee and ceremoniously pick up a sweet paper or something like, from under the chair and hand it to mum. Where it came from I’ll never know, but she found it.

It was almost as if she had to make a statement, ‘No matter how hard you try I will always find something’. Mum just sighed and carried on, dad always said that Annie put the sweet paper there herself, and my sisters and me could honestly say it was not us because we were never allowed in the front room.

It’s not like that with Jesus. Through his death and resurrection we are forgiven of all our sin even the sweet paper hidden under the chair, all are wiped out for good.

In Methodism we believe our faith is founded on four principles;

  1. All need to be saved.
  2. All may be saved.
  3. All may know themselves saved
  4. All may be saved to the uttermost

For those who turn to Jesus Christ, confess their sin and offer their repentance, their sins will be forgiven completely and to the uttermost.

My mum actually got her bungalow but had to wait until 1969, unfortunately she passed away a few years later.

Derek T.

Pause for Thought – a five minute read – 20

Haggai v 1 – 23/ Psalm 17 v 1 – 7

I’ll offer you a challenge. – put your hand up if you have read Haggai during the past year? My hand is up only because I have come across my notes from Faith and Worship Training for Local Preachers some 27 years ago. I had to write an exegesis on a Bible passage of my choice and I thought Haggai was the shortest and no one else would choose it.

Haggai is not one of the Major Prophets in the Old Testament, in fact he only occupies two pages sandwiched between Zephaniah and Zechariah, but never the less has an important message.

I have said before that I like to visualise the characters in the books that I read so I can have a mental picture, and I do the same when I’m reading the Bible. For example, Isaiah becomes a Brian Blessed look alike, big, bold, brassy and with a voice that could waken the dead. He tells it the people straight with no messing about, – repent or else.

Moses on the other hand is a born leader who never knew it; he was an intellectual, but also a bit of an athlete, not in an Arnie Schwarzenegger way but more like Colin Firth with an air of elegance but physically fit enough to climb mountains even when being mature in age.

I’ve been spoilt with Paul, because I watched a film once about his life and Anthony Hopkins played the part so now I always have his image in my mind.  I have to say that Hopkins was the perfect choice, determined, adventurous, and well-educated and an eloquent speaker, someone who is influential and persuasive.

Haggai, however, appears to be an ordinary, quiet sort of chap, one of the lads and fits in anywhere, Average height and build and doesn’t stand out in a crowd, but has the skill to be able to talk to anyone about anything  even when they have never met him before. He is one of those types of people who can get on with anyone, I suppose the stereo typed pastoral visitor.

My dad, a builder, used to describe some building inspectors as being; – ‘Very good sir – but’ people when inspecting building work, and it was the ‘but’ which was the real message, and that sort of sums up Haggai.

Haggai was around Jerusalem about 520 BC and God gave him a message to pass on to the Jewish Leaders and the people of Israel. The Jews had started to return from exile and some had lived back in Jerusalem for several years. Unfortunately there was little left standing for them when they returned so resettlement meant starting from scratch with new houses, businesses, even re-establishing a Jewish community. It was into this new Jewish community that God sent Haggai, a community that had worked hard to establish new homes and a way of life.

Remember my dad’s saying?

Haggai went to the Jewish Leaders and said;- ‘Very good chaps, – but’, and there is the ‘but’

‘Why have you built your homes and looked after yourselves when the house of God (Temple) is still in ruins?

And the people replied – ‘the time is not right to rebuild the Temple’. – Wrong answer.

Where does God reside? In the Exodus God resided in the Tent of the Lord’s presence, which travelled with the people so they knew God was with them.

In Jerusalem God resided in the inner sanctum of the Temple where only certain Priests could enter and only at certain times, but the people knew that God was with them.

 Haggai’s message was really one of, get your priorities right. How can they re-establish their Jewish community without God’s presence? How could they even worship God without God’s presence in the Temple?

Build the Temple and then build your homes.

We too are required to get our priories right. For us we are God’s Temple, he resides in our hearts through our Lord Jesus Christ; he lives as we live, through our thoughts, our actions, in caring for each other, loving each other and showing respect and humility.

And don’t forget, if we are the Temple and God is in our hearts then God is with us always no matter where we are.

I left my dad’s building business in 1969 to work for Huddersfield County Borough Council as an Assistant Building Inspector. I can still remember my first solo site inspection. it was for drains on a new housing site. I looked at the work and said to the foreman; – ‘very good mate – but’ .

Derek T.

Pause for Thought – a five minute read – 19

Acts 20 v 17 – 38

How do you keep the youngsters entertained on a long journey in a car? Many of us have been there; – the car is packed, we are all ready and we set off for the family holiday in the South of England, three hundred miles and a six hour journey but, by the time we get to Borrowash we hear, ‘are we nearly there yet?’, or ‘how long is it before we get there?’, or ‘I need the toilet’.

When our three girls were young Jean and I tried to cheat. The theory was that if we set off really early in the morning, we could wrap the girls up in sleeping bags on the back seat and they would sleep for at least the first hour, at least that was the theory, but it seldom worked. In reality one of them would wake up and wake her sister and then wake the other and before we got to the end of the road they were all bouncing about in the back.

When I was a young lad it was different. We generally went on holiday to Bridlington or Morecombe which were the closest seaside towns from to Bradford. We stayed in a static caravan which was usually ‘compact and bijou’ so five of us together was interesting to say the least, but it was not where we went that was different, it was how we got there.

I have mentioned before that my dad was a builder so we did not have a family car; we had a decommissioned army truck. After the war there was an abundance of army surplus trucks and dad bought a couple, so they were used for work and also as the family transport. Going on holiday was an interesting experience, dad would lay an old mattress on the floor in the back of the truck, and my sisters and I would sit on it along with the entire luggage. Communication between us and mum and dad was by way of banging on the roof of the cab, and mum would peer through the little window to see what we wanted. In addition the only protection from the elements for those in the back was a canvas cover that was stretched over a metal frame which flapped and banged as we drove along. Even worst was the fact that the canvas did not fully cover the rear of the truck so vehicles following had a full view of my sisters and I huddled up in blankets on the mattress. Despite all this we thought it was great.

Back to my family, at least we always had a comfortable car , so we resorted to playing various games such as I spy, 2 points for first person to see  to a red car, 3 points for a blue car etc., making up names or words from car number plates, and the first person to see an elephant, (this game could go for some time). By this time we would probably be at Leicester, only 250 miles to go.

Today technology has stepped in to save the day. My grandchildren can watch a DVD on their way to Cornwall, or play computer games on their mobile phones or listen to their own choice of music in their headphones, and if all else fails they can stop at McDonalds.

I often wonder about Paul on his missionary journeys. He must have travelled thousands of miles through Jerusalem, Macedonia, Crete, Cyprus, and Rhodes, Italy and on to Rome, not forgetting all the return visits, and these are the journeys by sea, he had many on foot. Just one journey on foot from Troas to Assos was over 20 miles. Acts 21 tells us that Paul did the same Mediterranean cruise that our modern day cruise ships do visiting Cos, Rhodes, Patara, and Cyprus, but I don’t think Paul had the same luxury or even basic comfort that we do today.

I marvel at his determination and courage as in those days travelling was not an easy task, and in the later stages Paul was not a young man and suffered physically from his beatings, being stoned and being incarcerated in prisons, but despite all these hardships he kept going. He knew that God was with him and that he had been chosen to be God’s voice in the proclamation of the good news of Jesus Christ.

Paul must have been an amazing preacher and eloquent speaker being able to hold an audience and through his words change people who had worshipped pagan gods for generations to enable them to see the light of Jesus Christ and the promise of salvation through him.

I don’t think Paul or any of his companions required having any games or other entertainment on their missionary journeys over land or sea, they were totally focussed on the spreading of God’s word and the Good News of Jesus Christ.

Some years ago I and my family went on a holiday to France. We drove 2500 miles in a little over two weeks from Derby to the South of France and back. How many games did we go through? I lost count.

Derek T.

Pause for Thought – a five minute read – 18

Matthew 7 v 24 – 27/Luke 6 v 47 – 49.

Back in 1967/68 I was a fresh faced (no beard then) twenty years old, studying at Bradford Technical College for a Higher National Certificate in Building (HNC). It was a day release program where I worked on site as a bricklayer in my father’s building business and attended college one day a week along with several nights. It was a great time of my life, which I enjoyed immensely. At that time I met Jean, my wife, I met great friends who I still go to visit, when Coronavirus allows, and everything seemed perfect, even college was great.

The HNC course was really good as it dealt with all aspects of construction many of which I did not experience on the sites that I was involved with during the day. I remember that we were told to purchase the ‘bible’ for the course, a series of books called’ Mitchell’s Construction’, I’m sure I still have a copy somewhere probably in the roof space. It contained everything that a student needed to know about building construction, but my favourite part was on the design of foundations. I can remember the lecturer saying that no matter how well you construct a building, if the foundation is wrong then you have wasted your time and it will fail.

Later in life , working as a Building Inspector, I witnessed many failed buildings , and that lecturer’s words kept coming back to me.

Whether the work relates to a brick garage in a rear garden, or a multi storey sky scraper in London or New York, the same principles apply; the foundations must be adequate and strong enough to safely support the structure.

Of course a great deal depends upon the type of ground on which the building is to be erected. We always hope for solid rock because when the ground is good the foundations are usually good. But what if the ground is backfilled with rubbish or is soft running sand? Then a special type of foundation known as piled foundations could be used. Columns of steel and concrete can be driven down through the soft ground onto solid material beneath, often at great depths. The structure is supported on the piles like a building on stilts.

Working in Nottingham town centre presented even greater problems even when the ground was rock, (Sandstone). Unfortunately, beneath Nottingham City Centre there is a labyrinth of caves, the exact location and extent of which are not entirely known. It is necessary to drill down into the rock to ensure there are no large voids lurking under the surface which could result in a failure. The Broad Marsh Shopping Centre in Nottingham became a tourist attraction when the caves and pile foundations beneath the building were opened to the public.

Due to the obvious importance of foundations it is surprising how many times an inspection reveals them to be inadequate and at least additional excavation is required or in extreme cases a complete redesign of the type of foundation.

But even in failure all is not necessarily lost, as emergency excavation and underpinning of the foundation can save it for prosperity.

It’s like life; if we build our lives on a good foundation then we can build on that with the confidence that whatever happens we can be safe. If our foundations are inferior then our lives can fail.

Both Matthew (Matt 7 v 24 – 27) and Luke (Luke 6 v 47 – 49) relate to the parable of the wise house builder. One builder built his house on the rock and, no matter how hard the storm raged, the house remained standing. On the other hand the one built on the soft sand, or on no foundation at all, fell down when the storm raged.

If we build our lives on Jesus no matter how hard the storms in our lives are we will receive the strength and support that will keep us going and see us through to the other side. Those who choose to substitute the rock of Jesus for the soft sandy ground will find that the storms can end in lives collapsing under the weight of life’s pressures.

Imagine negotiating life’s crisis like bereavement, illness, financial pressures, or even Coronavirus without the support and strength of our Lord Jesus Christ that will give hope and assurance.

The wonderful thing about Jesus is that he is always there to underpin the shifting sand beneath those who will turn to him in their time of need and accept they chose the wrong way and offer their repentance. Jesus is always looking to guide the lost sheep onto a firmer footing through his love.

Many years ago I as a Building Inspector visited a site of an extension to a house in Spondon. It was for a foundation excavation which proved to be unsatisfactory and required additional excavation to reach suitable ground. It transpired that the house was the home of a Methodist Minister. Several years later I was a member of the congregation when this minister was preaching. His text was taken from Luke 6 v 47 – 49, and he used as an illustration a visit to his house by a council inspector. He then looked at me and said that his house was still standing thanks to Derek (me)

Get the foundation right and the rest will follow.   

Derek T.

Pause for Thought – a five minute read – 17

Exodus 2 v 1 – 10/ Luke 2 v1 – 7

I’m still deciding how to deal with the roof space. There is so much stuff deposited up here over the last 47 years that’s it is a problem of where to start. The only consolation is that the roof will never blow off regardless of the strength of the wind due to the excess weight.

I will make a start with a couple of bags, one is a bag of old clothes, one is a bag of donkey costumes from a nativity years ago, and there is another bag of Top Hats from a church concert years ago at a time when we were young enough to be able to remember lines and dance steps. Then, in a corner of the roof space where the light bulb can just reach, something catches my eye.

It is a coach built Silver Cross pram. It’s not that I had forgotten that it was up here, but it had slipped my mind, if you see what I mean. But there it is looking a bit sorry for its self but still maintaining a bit of dignity.

Jean and I had bought the pram from a friend in Bradford in November 1971, ready for our first daughter, Sam who was born in January 1972. It was second hand but in perfect condition when we bought it although it had serviced our friend’s two children prior to coming into our possession. I think this pram must be well over 55 years old, and through the layer of dust I can still see a glimmer of gloss on the metalwork.

I can remember Jean and I pushing this pram down Haworth Road in Bradford on a Sunday morning on our way to Church, proud first time parents looking forward to showing off our new daughter. Where have those years gone?

The pram was something special, it was constructed of metal, coach built, with a two tone paint job, brown velour hood and front cover, chrome wheels with white tyres, and even a chrome carrying basket between the wheels under the body. It was like driving a Rolls Royce down the road, it even had chrome Silver Cross badge on the side.

Jean always said that even in the winter, inside the pram was nice and warm and as the hood and front cover was completely water proof the pram gave complete protection. I remember there was also a white gauze net that fitted over the pram to stop cats jumping in, not that it was ever needed.  

I think we used the pram for our second daughter, Helen, here in Derby, but I believe we bought a new one for Sarah. It was a pram that folded down into a push chair and although it was more convenient and easier to in and out of the car, it was never quite the same as the Silver Cross. It was at this time when the redundant pram was shoe horned into the roof space where it has languished ever since.

Today it is still sitting there where it was deposited all those years ago, in the dim corner of the roof, with a multitude of things piled on top. The once admired brown velour hood and front cover, are now compressed under the weight of the load imposed from above and unlikely to ever be restored  to their former glory. It’s four wheels are all missing, but hopefully hidden in the surrounding area under the pile of jumble.

It’s quite sad.

I started to think about the scriptures, I know there is no direct reference to any prams, Silver Cross or any other for that matter, in the Bible, but there are many references to hardship and cruelty to new born children. Right from the start, (Exodus 1 v 22) the Egyptian King declared that all baby boys born to the Hebrew people must be thrown in the river.

We can only imagine how Jochebed must have felt as she lowered baby Moses into the basket and then into the river, desperately hoping that the Kings daughter would have pity on him.

It can’t have been easy for Mary as she lowered her baby into the manger, not the best place to lay any child but certainly not the Son of God.

Or is that the theological point? Was that just the place for Jesus to start his life on earth, to be born into the darker side of poverty? He came to make the poor rich, to set the prisoner free, to make the blind see and the deaf hear, and to give peace and hope to those who suffer. Jesus preached humility, caring and love, so where better to start his ministry than in the poverty of a borrowed stable. Would his coming be as recognised in the affluence of a royal palace?

He came to save the Jews but they didn’t recognise him so he turned to the Gentiles, to all the nations and all people who will accept him as Lord and saviour.

From the poverty of the stable came the power and authority of God the Father through his son Jesus Christ.

I have just had a thought, yes I do have them occasionally, I have a 50 year old classic car, if I cleaned up the Silver Cross pram they would make a nice display at a classic car meeting.  I’ll put on the list along with the garden bench and all the other jobs.

Derek T.

Pause for Thought – a five minute read – 16

Acts 9 v 1 – 6/ Acts 9 v 11 – 19/

 Luke 24 v 13 – 35

I’m still going through the brief case that I retrieved from the roof space. It’s hard to understand why I keep this memorabilia, but after saying that it’s very interesting.

If I said to you, The Town Improvement Clauses Act 1847, I know you would say, ‘ Oh yes I know that one’, and then walk away shaking your head. Most people have never heard of it and I suspect most people would not be at all interested in it.

It is a piece of statutory legislation that sits in the background, minding its own business, never usually causing a fuss, and yet it has affected every one of us in the UK at some point in our lives.

We all live somewhere, and that somewhere is usually on a street or road, and has a number relative to that street or road. It’s called an address, and the requirement to have an address comes from; – you’ve guessed it, ‘The Town Improvement Clauses Act 1847’.

It requires local authorities to give every street or road a name, and every property on that street or road, a number. Subsequently, somewhere in the depths of the council offices there is someone who decides and allocates a suitable name and number for the properties, and for 40 years or so it was me.

The job is not as easy as it would seem. Most councils issue guidelines to follow, such as;-

  1. Street or road names must not be blasphemous or offensive. – Take care with this one because in today’s multi- cultural society what is innocent to some people is offensive to others.
  2. Street and road names must not be confusing. – You can’t have ‘X’ or ‘Y’ street because it does not mean anything.
  3. Street or road names must not be living people’s names especially politicians. – Some ‘in memory’ names such as Brian Clough Way are acceptable.
  4. Street and road names must not be duplicated in the same area. Post Codes do help to a certain extent.

I can’t wait for ’Coronavirus Close’ to pop up somewhere when the crisis is over.

I had a problem on one occasion when the street name proposed happened to be that of a gang land leader on an estate, the police objected fearing social unrest would result.

House numbers can also be a problem. No one wants number 13 or 666.

We have also had some humorous experiences, for example one particular resident on a new estate took exception to the allocated street names, so he proceeded to remove all the road signs and replace them with some of his own choice. He was gently advised that his actions were in fact illegal and he would be charged for the cost of replacing them.

We also had one developer who wished to used cartoon characters as a theme for the new estate; – imagine Donald Duck or Mr Blobby Avenue?

Historically road names can give us a clue as to their origin; Bakehouse Road suggests a bakery in the past, similarly Blacksmith Yard or Sadlergate. We even had one resident who complained about his garden being constantly flooded, his address was Riverside View.

Themed names are popular for new housing developments and when you are out for a walk to get your exercise during this crisis, take a note of the street names and try to identify the theme.

Of course street names and numbers are not specific to the UK and they apply across the world. They are part of our identity, how many times are we asked for our name date of birth and address, the three pieces of identification that are specific to ourselves.

In the scriptures our attention is drawn to the importance of some road names and their significance.

Damascus Road is associated with the conversion of Paul, and we often refer to our own meeting with Christ to be our Damascus Road experience.

Straight Street, being the place where Paul was led to wait for Ananias, the persecutor being led by the hand of the persecuted.

Emmaus Road, where the two disciples walked with Jesus, not realising that it was him. They received comfort and hope from his teaching as they walked.

The road from Jerusalem to Jericho was the chosen place for the Good Samaritan to demonstrate his love and caring for his fellow man, beaten and robbed by thieves.

Golgotha was the place where Jesus died to save us all.

Disclaimer; – I have been out of the legislation limelight for over ten years now and while the Town Clauses Improvement Act 1847 was still on the statute books when I retired, I accept no responsibility for it being repealed since that time without anyone telling me or asking my permission.            

Derek T.