Blog December 5th ACTS – The Musical


Alex Knox with Joffy Girling recording guide vocals for Acts- The Musical


Walking with the King of Kings featuring Lucy Stimpson – Maynard from the album “Precious” recorded and produced by Ross Gill

So last week I mentioned how Joffy Girling, our brilliant Musical Director was recording Alex Knox laying down guide vocals for Acts-The Musical. Last blog I also told how I had met Alex.
To explain Acts more fully – for the past four years Joffy and I have been working on the sequel to Risen! The Musical. It started with me singing the basic idea to Joffy and then Alex laid down the guide vocals for all the parts. The next stage was Oscar Batterham, who was at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama with Alex, singing the part of Theophilus. Theophilus was probably Luke’s patron and likely a Roman Official of some standing. Luke addressed his Gospel and the Acts of the Apostles to Theophilus. In our musical we have taken poetic licence with Theophilus being on a journey of faith during which Luke encourages him by describing how the Gospel has spread far and wide by apostles such as Peter and Paul.
Max Panks (Jesus in Risen! The Musical DVD ) was next to be recorded, playing the part of Saul/Paul. Then Katie Forge (Mary wife of Cleopas in Risen! DVD ) sang the part of Mary Magdalene, Nicola Poustie (Mary Magdalene in the Risen! CD) the role of Tabitha, James Townend (Thomas in the Risen! CD) the role of John. Gemma Terry, Chloe Brockenshire and Tim Prestige from Holy Rood church all added more parts before Joffy and I rented an airbnB apartment in Ealing for a weekend to record more members of the London Touring Cast- David Murray (Thomas in the Risen! DVD) sang Stephen the first martyr, Johnny Fitzharris (James in the Risen! DVD) sang Simon the Sorcerer, Andrew Dovaston (John in the Risen! DVD) sang Philip the Evangelist, Casey Lloyd (Cleopas’ friend in the Risen! DVD) sang the crippled man healed by Peter, Jamie Leeke (Simon the Zealot in the Risen! DVD) sang the Ethiopian and Benny Bright (Peter in the Risen! DVD) also added his talents.
The storyline of Part One ended before Paul’s began his missionary journeys. The reason for this was that I was concerned that Part Two would sound like a Paul “travel log.” However I hopefully solved the problem and last week Alex began recording the guide vocals to Part Two – Joffy and Alex are returning early in the New Year to complete the Show. The recording of Part One has been shared with the participating artists and we are hoping for an encouraging response.
The ultimate plan is to film Acts – The Musical as we did Risen! In the meantime it is exciting that Alex and Joffy were so impressed with what we have achieved so far that they suggested we put on a pilot stage production asap – so watch this space!!
Quote of the week
If God is your partner, make your plans BIG!
D.L. Moody

Blog November 28th ACTS Part One and Alex Knox


Alex Knox starring in the West End play “It’s Easy To Be Dead”


“So Now We Wait In Jerusalem” – “For God So Loved The World” – featuring Alex Knox and Lindsey Gardiner from the album “Risen! The Musical – recorded and produced by Joffy Girling

So tomorrow Joffy Girling, Mustard Seed Songs’ Musical Director and actor Alex Knox are at my house for two days recording the guide vocals to ACTS – The Musical.
So just to explain ACTS- The Musical is the sequel to Risen! The Musical. We have already recorded ACTS -Part One with Alex playing the part of Luke, Oscar Batterham, the part of Theophilus, with members of the London Touring Cast (who filmed Risen!The Musical) playing other parts together with long standing Mustard Seed artists such as Nicola Poustie and James Townend.
We are hoping to let people hear ACTS- Part One very soon but tomorrow and Saturday Alex and Joffy will be laying down the guide vocals for ACTS- Part Two which will then complete the whole musical. Our dream is to raise enough money to film ACTS- The Musical and make it available on YouTube as is, of course, Risen! The Musical.
Mustard Seed Songs are so fortunate to have the brilliant Joffy as our MD and to have Alex singing the guides is also wonderful. Both Alex and Joffy pick up the songs I sing to them (sooooo badly) really, really quickly – they are both so very talented (and also great people – Caroline, Genna and I have such fun when they come to stay)
Among many other acting credits Alex played lead in the West End production “It’s Easy to be Dead.” For those of you that have not yet heard me talk of Alex and how we met- here is some information taken from previous blogs.
When, at the age of nine I moved from Gillingham in Kent to Portsmouth I went to the Northern Parade Junior Boys School. I have to say I did not like it at all – the teachers used the cane- something that I had not come across at all in the delightful Forge Lane Mixed School I attended in Gillingham.
Anyway one classroom teacher, Mr Thorpe was keen on amateur dramatics and each year would produce a show, usually one which he had written himself based on a Gilbert and Sullivan classic. I particularly remember “The Pirates of Portsmouth” in which I played a pirate “Mizzen Mast Martin.” The star was a guy called Martin Connor who was in my class and who had been one of the few people who had been nice to me when I first went to Northern Parade.
In those ancient times we had to sit the 11 + exam to determine whether you went on to Grammar School or Secondary Modern. In Portsmouth there was also a “half -way house” – the Portsmouth Technical High School. Well to cut a long story short Martin and I found ourselves both at “The “halfway house”. We were also in the same form, the infamous 1B. Martin went on to become Head Boy – I did not.
I knew Martin had gone on from school to pursue a career in acting, but on leaving school I had lost contact with him. When I was looking to cast for the role of John I needed someone who could both act and sing. All of Risen! is sung and I particularly needed someone who was expert in recitative as this holds the storyline together. I decided to try to locate Martin to see if he was still in the world of acting so I googled his name and there he was Head of Acting at the Prestigious Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London. I knew it was the same Martin as there was a pic of him on the Guildhall’s website and he had not changed a bit (spit!)
I emailed him and we met up at the “Coach and Horses” pub which is right opposite our old school. We talked and laughed non -stop for hours, picking up on all the old Tech School life as if it were yesterday. Anyway yes Martin did have someone in mind to play the part of John – Alex Knox. Alex has a degree in Music from Manchester University – he also has a Masters in Singing from Guildhall and was now taking the Guildhall’s Masters Acting Degree- he would be perfect. So I took the train up to London to meet him at the Guildhall. I sang Alex the John parts in one of the Guildhall’s studios, so I suppose it could be said that I have sung at the Guildhall School of Music and Theatre! For a classical trained singer it would not have been normal to learn a part warbled by some PE teacher, but that is what happened and Alex has now played John brilliantly in three consecutive Risen! productions and has also sung that part in the Risen! The Musical CD.
Next week I’ll tell you how the recording went.
Quote of the week
Lord, grant me the strength to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference.
Reinhold Niebuhr

Blog November 21st Basketball


Some of the Crofton Basketball team at the Tube disco after winning the Cup


One in Million – featuring Lucy Stimpson Maynard – not published

My wife Caroline shared this great story which also reminded me of basketball at Crofton School. I wrote the following in my blog back in 2014:
I loved teaching PE at Crofton School. For most of my career OFSTED Inspections did not exist and there was no GCSE PE. So my performance as a teacher was assessed pretty much by the results of our school teams. Although for the first two years at Crofton we had no field (as it was full of flints – see blog Feb 20th) we still trained at Stubbington Recreation Ground, focusing on playing two- touch football, and eventually won the Gosport and Fareham Cup. About 15 years later we won the Hampshire Cup (not with the same team!) We also won the Hampshire Cricket Cup, which was a particularly amazing achievement as it is normally the province of private schools.
But it was in Basketball that we had our most successes. When I arrived at Crofton in 1975 the school had just opened on the Marks Road site. The staff consisted of Mr Boulton as Head with Mr Bradley and Mrs Hartley as Deputy Heads. Mr White was Head of Department for Maths, Mr Taylor, English, Miss Simmonds, RE (not Mr Mill believe it or not- he joined Crofton a few years later ) Mr Mitchell for Science, Mr Wickett for Technology and me for PE The First Year entry had been temporarily accommodated in 1974 at Crofton Hammond Junior School so when I joined, the school had only Year 7 and 8s (then called Year 1 and 2) Mrs Jan Davies had been in charge of PE while the school was at Hammond so it was, in fact her and not me who was the first PE teacher of Crofton School.
So to get myself established I felt I had to produce winning teams, but there was no field and only the indoor facility of a gymnasium. So what sport could we get good at with just a gym? Gymnastics was out of the question as my own personal performance was limited to a headstand, headstand, forward and backward roll and on a good day a neck spring- and once or twice in my life a hand spring – off the floor I hasten to add!
I was a wimp in Volleyball as it hurt my hands when “digging” so that was out -Badminton did not cater for enough pupils so it had to be Basketball. The problem was I had hardly played the game- I had always been told at school that I was not tall enough (see blog Feb 13th) However I was fortunate enough to know some American Basketball players (friends of friends) such as Jimmie Guymon, Paul Stimpson and Mark Saiers. From them I learnt how to coach the “USA way “and was able to teach our students techniques that only the Americans knew, such as the spin dribble.
The School Caretaker, Mr Ron Stevens would open the gym when he arrived at school at 6.30 am and players would arrive that early and practice most mornings for a couple of hours. I later discovered that at the weekends “break ins” would occur with some boys practicing all day and then even staying the night! As you can imagine they got really good but Hayling Island School always beat us. That is until the last game of the team’s final year at school when we met them in the S.E Hants Finals held on neutral ground at Warblington School. We took a coach load of supporters and the atmosphere was electric and yes we won, beating Hayling in our very last game. I brought the Cup home and later that night presented it to the team at the “Tube” Disco as in featured pic. That was a night I will never forget – after four years eventually beating our great rivals in our final game – brilliant. By the way to Hayling’s great credit they lost with good grace.
Martin Fuge who played in that game was on the edge of the England team and Paul Cummings played National League for Solent Stars but our first international player was Peter Wort who represented the England Basketball U15 team. So Basketball became a tradition at Crofton and we had many boys and girls playing for SE Hants and SE England. We won the prestigious Hampshire Cup twice and were usually around the top in the local leagues. We also travelled to places like Durham in the National Cup. Great times!
I have chosen a song recorded by Lucy Stimpson Maynard but one that is not on any Mustard Seed CD. It was written specifically for Jimmie Guymon – Jimmie was destined to play in the NBA, the greatest league in the world, but got struck down really ill with Jaundice (the yellow poison in the song) When he recovered he came to England and became what most believe to be the best player ever to play in this country. This song “One in a Million” is, I think, the only song that has been recorded that is not overtly Christian. It tells of Jimmie’s dream to play in the NBA and to be the one in a million who makes it. I adapted the lyrics from the words of a poem Jimmie wrote about his dream. Incidentally I enjoyed a Five Guys burger with Jimmie only last week.
Quote of the week
God will meet you where you are in order to take you where He wants you to go.”
Tony Evans
11

Blog November 14th Rugby Union World Cup Final Part Two

We Can Do Anything from the album Precious performed by Lucy Stimpson-Maynard, recorded and produced by Ross Gill

First, just to let you know that due to popular demand “The Pilgrims Progress” is being shown again at the Vue Cinema, Gun Wharf, Portsmouth at 12.00 noon on Saturday, November 16th.
Following on from my comments last week re the Rugby Union World Cup Final in which South Africa were victorious over England, here is an extract from an article written by England’s Matt Dawson, himself a World Cup winner in 2003. His sentiments reflect mine entirely.
There are millions of dejected England fans all over the world. Ordinarily, there would be no reason to reflect positively on that type of result.
But, looking at the larger picture that South Africa winning that game paints, I do not think any other final has a bigger political story to tell than this one.
You would have to not have any emotion in your body to look at the picture of Siya Kolisi – South Africa’s first black captain – lifting the trophy and not understand the power of what he and his team have done; what he has done as an individual to effectively change the view of millions of people within sport.
Very few leaders in the world get that opportunity and he has just done it by being him and playing rugby. So there are huge positives to the outcome.
The game of rugby means so much to a lot of people, but on reflection the game has much more of a profound effect on a nation like South Africa than it does anywhere else in the world.
Rugby has done an amazing job and that South Africa team will be quite rightly heralded as heroes for more reasons than just winning a rugby game.
It started when the Springboks won in 1995, shortly after apartheid ended, when Nelson Mandela presented Francois Pienaar with the trophy.
But now, 24 years after that breakthrough, we are still talking about the inequalities that South Africans are trying to fix.
Back in 1995 you might have thought maybe within eight or 12 years, could there be a black captain of South Africa challenging for the trophy? It has taken 24 years!
Quote of the week
If you can’t fly, then run, If you can’t run, then walk, If you can’t walk, then crawl, but whatever you do, you have to keep moving forward.
Martin Luther King Jr

Blog November 8th Rugby Union World Cup Part One


Put Your Hand In The Hand Of God featuring Lucy Stimpson- Maynard from the album “Precious” recorded and produced by Ross Gill

First just to say that I went to see The Pilgrim’s Progress animated film last week and it was brilliant. It is on this coming Saturday, November 9th at The Vue Cinema, Gun Wharf Quay, Portsmouth- there is only one viewing at 1.00 pm. See if you can make it – you will not be disappointed.
I was so very, very, very disappointed that England did not win the Rugby Union World Cup on Saturday but my disappointment was greatly reduced when I read this article by the South African captain -Siya Kolisi,
I grew up in the impoverished township of Zwide in South Africa, where I was raised by my grandmother because my mother and father were too young to look after me. Ever since I can remember, rugby has been a big part of my life. My dad and uncles played this sport, and as soon as I could, at the age of 8, I started playing too.
Living in the ghetto, we struggled to get by. We couldn’t afford to pay for my school and all the fees that went along with it, but I went to school every day because it was where I received my one meal for the day. In the evening, I would return to our two-bedroom home where seven of us lived, take the cushions off the couch and sleep on the floor for the night.
I always enjoyed rugby; I trained every single day for it. Rugby seemed to keep me away from a lot of the bad things going on around me. I lost a lot of friends because while I was focusing on being the best I could be in my sport, they were falling prey to the struggles and temptations of life in the hood. I was set on preparing myself for any opportunity I could, though I didn’t know what that may be.
When I was 12 years old, I went out on the field to play with my school team in our first game of the season. Facing a nearby school which had a great coach, we were defeated by 50 points. After the game, that opposing coach approached me and said he thought I had talent. He invited me to play for his school. From there, this coach took me under his wing, becoming more of a father figure to me than I had ever had. He knew how much this opportunity meant to me and I worked hard to take full use of it. He took me to my first provincial trial, where I played in boxers because I couldn’t afford rugby shorts. Soon, I found myself on the provincial team, heading to tournaments to play the game I loved more than anything.
When I was 19, I became a professional. In 2012, on the same weekend of my 21st birthday, I played my first game with the South African national team. Having the chance to play in the 2015 Rugby World Cup was a huge privilege, but I only played 30 minutes of it. Now, as a captain of the Springboks, I couldn’t be more honoured and excited to represent my country in the World Cup. I know I was chosen to be a captain of this team — the highest position one can achieve in this sport — for the person I am. Therefore, I try to remain true to who I am, not letting little things get into my head. I try to be a good example to others when I play.
God has been preparing me for such a time as this. While I grew up going to church with my grandmother, and went off and on the past few years, it wasn’t until a few months ago that I truly gave my life to Christ. While struggling with a lot of things personally — temptations, sins and lifestyle choices — I realized I wasn’t living according to what I was calling myself: a follower of Christ. I was getting by, but I hadn’t decided to fully commit myself to Jesus Christ and start living according to His way.
That is, until something I was struggling with in my personal life was exposed to the public. Up to that point, everything I was fighting against was hidden, but when my sin was exposed, I knew I either had to change my life, or lose everything. I decided to lose my life and find it in Christ.
Walking alongside a spiritual mentor, I’ve been able to discover the truth and saving power of Christ in a whole new way. This new life has given me a peace in my heart I’d never experienced before. Now that I have given everything to God, nothing else affects me. I now live and play with the freedom of knowing His plan will always happen, and at the end of the day, that’s all I care about!
I don’t have to understand everything in life, and there are so many things I don’t, but I know God is in control of it all. My job is to do the best I can and leave the rest in His hands. While I was really struggling in the midst of my sin, I read a verse in the book of Isaiah in the Bible that really stood out to me. Isaiah 43:2-3 says, “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Saviour.” I read it over and over, for days.
If God can come through for countless people throughout history who had their backs against the world, He can do the same for me.
Siya Kolisi,
Quote of the week
We represent something much bigger than we can imagine
Siya Lolisi

Blog October 31st First Meal on the Moon

A Time For Everything featuring Lucy Stimpson- Maynard from the album The Season of Singing recorded and produced by Ross Gill

I thought this was an interesting article written by David Scott that was worth sharing
Almost everyone knows Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin were the first people to stand on the moon. Almost everyone knows what Armstrong said: ‘That’s one small step for [a] man, one giant leap for mankind.’ But how many know what Buzz Aldrin did before they stepped out on to the moon’s surface?
Aldrin was a convinced Christian and an elder at Webster Presbyterian Church, Houston, Texas. Before the flight he had wondered about how to mark the landing. He wrote in an article for Guideposts magazine in 1970 that his pastor Dean Woodruff had told him ‘God reveals himself in the common elements of everyday life’ – like bread and wine. Woodruff gave him a silver chalice to take with him on the flight, and there was just enough gravity for him to be able to pour the wine from a plastic container.
He wrote in Guideposts: ‘In the one-sixth gravity of the moon the wine curled slowly and gracefully up the side of the cup. It was interesting to think that the very first liquid ever poured on the moon, and the first food eaten there, were communion elements.’
He also read from John 15.5: ‘I am the vine, you are the branches. Whoever remains in me, and I in him, will bear much fruit, for you can do nothing without me.’
Before he took communion, he radioed back to NASA: ‘I would like to request a few moments of silence. I would like to invite each person listening in, wherever and whomever he may be, to contemplate for a moment the events of the past few hours and to give thanks in his own individual way.’ NASA kept quiet about what he was actually doing, though. It was bruised by the activities of atheist campaigner Madalyn Murray O’Hair, who had fought a series of court battles – all of which she lost – against it because the crew of a previous mission, Apollo 8, had read out the creation story from Genesis during their orbit. She thought it violated the constitutional division between church and state.
The Bible and the moon have a lot more history besides all that, though. Three hundred microfilmed King James Versions were carried on the Apollo 14 mission at the instigation of the Apollo Prayer League, 100 of which went down to the moon in the lunar module with astronaut Edgar Mitchell.
There’s also a paper Bible still on the moon; it’s on the dashboard of an abandoned lunar rover and was left there by Apollo 15 astronaut
Quote of the week.
The important thing is to recognise that in all pain there is potential- the art is to admit the pain but focus on the potential
Every Day With Jesus

Blog October 24th The Pilgrims Progress – Animated Film


Oh Lord By Praise featuring Lucy Stimpson- Maynard from the album Love is the Way recorded and produced by John Hodgkinson

This week I am giving the soon to be released animated film of “The Pilgrims Progress” a plug because a) it is a wonderful story that has been re-created with great passion and skill and b) because the film’s distributors AO Vision are also distributing Risen! The Musical DVDs (so it is a form of thanks)
To summarise this is a story of an epic journey, faithfully adapted to modern-day. Christian faces distractions, challenges, and perils at every turn of the way, but ends victorious, with helpful guides, as he stays on the narrow path to the distant Celestial City.
The promotion states: In this inspiring feature-length allegory, travel with a pilgrim as he embarks on an epic journey. John Bunyan’s classic 1678 novel is faithfully adapted to modern-day using CGI animation. The story begins with a man named Christian. Overwhelmed with the struggles of life in his home City of Destruction, he carries his burden on his back as he sets off to reach the peace and security of the distant Celestial City. Christian’s journey is difficult. He faces distractions, challenges, and perils at every turn of the way, but finds victory, with helpful guides, as he stays on the narrow path.
One commentator says:
“Who would have dreamed that “The Pilgrim’s Progress” could have been more vividly portrayed than it is in reading the written page- perhaps this rendition has done just that. Through captivating graphics, Hollywood quality voice overs and beautiful orchestration we may just be witnessing”The Pilgrim’s Progress” for the next generation.” Featuring voices of: John Rhys-Davies (The Lord of the Rings, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade) Kristyn Getty (In Christ Alone,) Ben Price (Australia’s Got Talent)

Visit The Pilgrim’s Progress WEBSITE: http://www.Pilgrims.Movie
Like The Pilgrim’s Progress on FACEBOOK: https://www.facebook.com/PilgrimsProg…
Follow The Pilgrim’s Progress on TWITTER find your cinema and get tickets at http://www.Pilgrims.Movie https://www.twitter.com/Pilgrims_Movie
Quote of the week
You have not lived today until you have done something for someone who can never repay you.
John Bunyan

Blog October 17th Part Two Gemma Hillier and Hannah Haughton – Part Two


Team GB after beating Brazil 6- 5 in the World Cup Beach Soccer semi- final


Team GB with their silver medals as runners up to Spain in 2- 3 final

“Living It Up” featuring the Mustard Seed Soul Band from the album “Heart and Soul” recorded and produced by Ross Gill

First an apology for last week – it is Hannah Haughton and not Houghton and it is Beach Soccer not Beach football.
So Team GB were runners up to Spain losing 2-3 in the Women’s World Cup Beach Soccer Final in Qatar having the great honour of winning silver medals.
They first beat Paraguay, USA and Russia to then meet Brazil in the semi-final who they beat 6- 5. Team GB came back from being 3 goals down with a goal from Gemma Hillier leading the come -back. With two seconds left of the game, Brazil were awarded a free-kick but goalkeeper Hannah Haughton kept her composure and made a stunning save tipping the ball over the bar.
Team captain, Sarah Kempson added: “I am absolutely buzzing, we have learnt that no matter what happens, if you’re one goal down or three goals down you are still in the game. You’ve just got to keep your head and believe you can win.”
The World Beach Games was set up to give athletes the opportunity to profile their sport to younger audiences.
The Great Britain team, run by the British Olympic Association, sent 20 athletes to the Games.
The event is being run by the Association of National Olympic Committee as the Olympic movement continues to undergo a revamp in a bid to rejuvenate the Games.
It is hoped multi-sport events like the World Beach Games can provide athletes with the opportunity to profile their sport to global and younger audiences.
The sport is set to be included in the Olympic programme for the first time at the Paris 2024 Games.
Last blog I wrote of how chuffed my wife Caroline and I were to see two people that we had mentored/taught go on to such great things. I then likened this to how Jesus must have felt about the way His disciples carried on His message so devotedly. But of course the disciples had a great deal of help – but more of that next week.

Quote of the week.
Enjoy where you are on the way to where you are going
The Word for Today

Blog October 10th Gemma Hillier and Hannah Houghton


Gemma Hillier is centre holding the G with Hannah Houghton on her right


I Will Tell featuring Lucy Stimpson- Maynard from the album ” I Look Up To The Heavens” recorded and produced by Ross Gill

Well it’s been a busy week. The animated film of “Pilgrims Progress” is soon to be released. It is being promoted by “Hatikvah Films” – who are also going to distribute Risen! The Musical DVDs- but more of “Pilgrim’s Progress” next week.
Yesterday saw the launch of the “Just One” event which is to take place at the Portsmouth Guildhall on April 4th and 5th of next year. There will be music from Noel Robinson and the Portsmouth Gospel Choir together with a presentation from the wonderful Evangelist J.J. John. The launch was held in the Portsmouth Cathedral with Noel singing and J. John addressing a packed audience- but more of that later as today I wanted to feature the Team GB Women’s Beach Football Team which is taking part in the World Championships in Qatar with GB playing their first televised game tomorrow at 1.00 pm against Paraguay. They then play the USA on Sunday and Russia on Monday. So why am I featuring this event? Well my wife Caroline and I know two of the Team GB players really well. I taught Gemma Hillier at Crofton School (Gemma now teaches PE at Fareham Academy) and Caroline mentored Hannah Houghton who is now a full time sports coach at Cherbourg Primary.
It is so very rewarding when someone who you have taught goes on to do great things and it just made me think how proud Jesus must have been with what His disciples went on to do after He ascended to heaven. For three years they had listened to His every word, witnessed His miracles and had been amazed at His wisdom, His compassion for others and, of course ultimately the sacrificing of His own life.
Jesus entrusted His disciples to continue to proclaim His message of love and forgiveness and this, of course is what they did, usually at the cost of their own lives. The story of how they do this is in the Acts of the Apostles, which, as I have mentioned previously, is what the Mustard Seed Songs sequel to Risen! is based on. Joffy, our wonderful Musical Director is, at this very moment, putting the finishing touches to phase one of Acts- The Musical Part One – and more of that very soon.

Quote of the week

No matter how many mistakes you have made you can always start again
The Word for Today

Blog September 26th Les Misérables – Part Two


If I Say I Love You Jesus featuring Lucy Stimpson- Maynard from the album “Precious” recorded and produced by Ross Gill

So last week I finished my blog with the words of Rob Sumrall who when referring to Les Miserables said: What follows in Les Mis is the unfolding of Jean Valjean’s new story. After staring into the “whirlpool of his sin,” he emerges as a man touched by grace. He becomes a kind-hearted, upstanding citizen, albeit under an assumed name and on the run from the law. He spends his life caring for others and extending mercy.
What a message! A man encounters the grace of Jesus Christ expressed through the unconditional love of one of His servants and he is inexplicably and unalterably changed! He becomes a friend to the downcast, a father to the fatherless, a forgiver of his enemy, and a savior to the rebel. The criminal becomes the saint. That’s what redemption does!
I promised that I would conclude the article and here it is:
The Christian message is one of redemption. Ephesians 1:7 tells us, “In him [Jesus] we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace.” That sinners can experience redemption is good news indeed! God has given Jesus, a sinless model of perfection, to become sin on our behalf (2 Corinthians 5:21). Because of the work of Christ, dirty sinners like me can experience forgiveness and healing according to the riches of God’s unmerited grace.
There is a wrong idea that seems to plague mankind. That idea says that God’s hope, God’s redemption is for the good people of this world. The polished, decent, and religious people are viewed as somehow deserving of redemption. But woe be unto you if you find yourself among the dregs of society. The down-and-outs. The homeless. The harlots. The criminals. The sinners. They stand little chance of redemption, according to this way of thinking. This ideology is wrong! I can’t lend strong enough emphasis to this fact. First off, none of us are nearly as good as we might think. Secondly, redemption is extended to all those who would place their faith in Christ and repent of their sin. Valjean reminds us that even the hardened criminal is not beyond the reach of the Lord.
Les Miserables could give the impression that one is justified by doing all the good things that Jean Valjean did. One might think that Valjean is redeemed by his acts of kindness and mercy towards others. That conclusion is damning. Redemption does not come through good works; redemption is evidenced through good works. Valjean lived a life helping his fellow man because of his surrender to God in the first act.
Valjean’s life ends in fitting fashion. The man who encountered God’s grace wants to be home with the Lord. He faces death as a redeemed man, unafraid of what lies ahead. This too, is the hope of the believer – that one day we will be home with God. Only the redeemed can sing with Valjean:
God up high,
Hear my prayer
Take me now
To thy care
Where you are
Let me be
Take me now
Take me there
Bring me home
Bring me home
The heart cry of the redeemed is to be with the Lord. Death is not scary. It holds no frightening mysteries. Only the promise of the presence of God lies in wait for the miserable people who have been redeemed by Jesus!
This reminded me of Luke 5:31-32 – Jesus answered them “It is not the healthy that need a doctor but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance. “
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Quote of the week
It’s not what you have lost but what you have left that counts
The Word for Today