Blogs for July 2016

Sweet fellowship Jesus in the midst, life blossoms in the Church, men by men are blessed when Jesus is in the midst. Things are really beginning to buzz at St.James. The Prayer Meeting was so full last night the ticket touts were selling seats! No but seriously - if the Prayer Meeting of any Church is a barometer for what is happening in that Church you would have to conclude that something is really happening at St. James.              14 July 2016. StanH.


My friend Russell Crabtree(the Poet) reckons he's no preacher but he brought a few thoughts from Psalm 46 at the choir practice this week....It spoke to him firstly of the world we live in today in verse 6, "Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall;he lifts his voice. the earth melts". I think we can all agree with that - for the nations are cetainly in uproar. But the word he brought was a word of comfort that has been brought on many occasions and its a truth we all need to cling to because in verse 10 God says, "Be still and know that I am God". And as Bob Gass would say on TBN UK - "that is the word for today ! "    15 July 2016. StanH.


I've had my new bible for months.  So I suppose it is no longer new is it? But I still can't bring myself to underline anything. Which made me wonder why we underline things in the first place. I suppose its like a long bit of string that connects you back to an important thought or enables you to find your way back to a hidden treasure - like John 3v16, "For God so loved....". After more than 40 years as a Christian I find I don't need anything like as many bits of string. Maybe its because I now know a lot more than I did when I first set out on the Christian path - that God really does love the world. And I know He loves me !   16 July 2016. StanH.


If Jesus came to Doncaster and you knew where he was staying then on what pretext would you go and knock on his door? Because thats what Nicodemus did. Lets make no bones about it, he got his foot in the door on some pretext to get into Jesus' presence. We all come to Jesus as we are - as the old hymn says, "Just as I am, Thou wilt receive, wilt welcome, pardon, cleanse, relieve: because Thy promise I believe, O Lamb of God, I come! I come!". But Nicodemus came in his religious persona - ironically to a man who hadn't got a religious bone in his body! He addressed Jesus respectfully enough as teacher, as Rabbi, as a performer of signs. But thats not how Jesus wants us to come. He wants us to be real with him - just as we are.  17 July 2016. StanH.


Do youknow what? - there's hope for us all. I read 1 Peter v1-2 and I thought: here's a bloke (Peter) who started out just a red-necked fisherman, was the first to realise that Jesus was God's Messiah - the Son of God, but nearly made a complete shipwreck of his faith in the most critical 24 hours in history and ended up ministering to scattered Jewish Christians across large swathes of Asia Minor in his later years - what a turnaround and what faithfulness to the commission he'd been personally given by Jesus when he was told to feed the sheep. 18 July 2016. StanH

Let me summarise 1 Peter 4v7-11. It comes in that section Living For God. If you like a formaula this is how we are told to live for God: be alert and sober, love each deeply, be hospitable without grumbling, use the gifts you've been given to serve others, be faithful stewards of Gods grace in all its various forms, speak  as one who speaks the very words of God and serve with all the strength that God provides. When you read any of the letters, whether it be Peter, James or Paul you've got to wonder - what had prompted the content of their letters. Why did Peter feel he had to say that? Today we might say - do you want to live life to the max then do this... 19 July 2016. StanH

A coach load of us from around the diocese went on a charrabang trip around our region yesterday visiting five churches, as far away as Hull.  They had all undertaken various modernisation projects (known in the business as re-ordering) to their church buildings. It was meant to be inspirational and it really was. There's a phrase we sometimes use about ourselves or others,  "not getting out much", which comically describes our insular and sheltered lives and, if you get the opportunity, it is healthy to see how other Christians are "doing church". The building we live in often captures the essence of what we are and how we see church. Another way of looking at that is to turn right round and re-order our building to reflect how we want to Church be. Our vision. Wow! that could be a really deep thought if we allow our thoughts to go there. 20 July 2016 StanH
One of the Churches we visited on our charrabang trip was Drypool St. John in Hull, quite near the Prison (which brought back memories). No - its not what you think - I used to work there ! The parish ranks 698 out of 12599 from which you will gather it is one of the most deprived in the country. The church had been modernised in 2007 and was beginning to look quite "lived in" because it was lived in - very much so. People seemed to be delighted with what they've got and it seemed to achieve a good mix of church and secular. Food, cafe, etc is a significant component of their ministry and I was personally blessed to see that the church had its own on-site allottment producing vegetables - which is something you don't see at church very often. 21 July 2016 StanH

Having attended the Service of Welcome for the Licencing of Liz Strafford as Assistant Curate at Wadworth, Loversall and Balby today, 24 Jul 2016, I was then delighted to discover a really god website for those parishes:

The service also included the Commissioning of the Crossways Mission Partnership by the Bishop of Doncaster, Rt Revd Peter Burrows. The last 12 months have seen growing links with St.James, Doncaster, St.Francis, Bessacarr and the combined parishes of Wadworth, Loversall and Balby which has led to the formation of the Crossways Mission Partnership which sees its fulfillment today. 24 July 2016 StanH

I was talking today to a bloke who was a true multi-tasker which could be a bit embarrassing for us mere mortals who are not women. Ephesians 4v11 talks about apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers - but what about pastor/treasurers ? Thats what he was. In theory I guess there could be VICAR/TREASURERS ? 25 July 2016 StanH

Something very important happened 50 years ago today. We won the World Cup - England v Germany - on 30 July 1966. We've not done it since and I believe, though I know nothing about football, that we will never do it again; just as we will never win the Eurovision Song Contest ever again. Why can I be so emphatic - well its because the world has irreversibly changed forever. Unfortunately this fact seems to have passed most of us Brits by - though the same can be said of other nations like the USA; whoever would have thought that Hilary Clinton or Donald Trump could ever be the President of the greatest nation on the planet - but that is whats in prospect. In 2016 such things are possible. Unthinkable ! The BBC Football Commentator, Kenneth Wolstenholme, made a very profound remark just after Geoff Hurst put the winning shot in the back of the net fifty years ago today... "They think is all over, it is now!"    30 July 2016 StanH. ​

I am reminded of another event that took place after a long time; though emminently more important than football. I'm 70 years old this year in September so I've now got a good idea what 70 years feels like. It is literally a life-time for many people of my generation and in that time whatever was important then is no longer important now because the world has changed irreversibly. I'm thinking of the Babylonian Exile of 70 years whereby God punished Judah because of their rebellious ways. The book of Jeremiah marks the start of this time like this "The words of Jeremiah son of Hilkiah, one of the priests at Anathoth in the territory of Benjamin. The word of the Lord came to him in the thirteenth year of the reign of Josiah king of Judah, down to the fifth month of the eleventh year of Zedekiah son of Josiah king of Judah, when the people of Jerusalem went into exile". It was actually more than 70 years before anyone remembered that their time was up (by then 70years and 359 days had elapsed when Nehemiah started to rebuild Jerusalem) - they had become so settled in their new life and I even suspect many never returned home. Seventy years earlier they had sat by the rivers of Babylon and wept with remorse as they remembered zion - or so the song goes - but seventy years later they had forgotten the pain of earlier years in captivity. It was Daniel who realised that their time of exile had come to an end and it was the likes of him (Daniel, Nehemiah and others) who began to bring their requests before God on behalf of the people in exile and especially on behalf of God's Holy City, Jerusalem which had been left desolate even by the Jews who still lived in Judah. Daniel wrote.."In the first year of Darius son of Xerxes (a Mede by descent) who was made ruler over the Babylonian kingdom - in the first year of his reign, I, Daniel, understood [perhaps meaning realised??] from the Scriptures, according to the word of the Lord given Jeremiah the prophet, that the desolation of Jerusalem would last seventy years. So I turned to the Lord God and pleaded with him in prayer...".        31 July 2016 StanH

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