Blog April 12th “Genna”

Bathe Me In Your Light featuring Lucy Stimpson- Maynard from the album I Look Up To The Heavens recorded and produced by John Hodgkinson

Our gorgeous Labrador “Genna” is now 8 months old. My gorgeous wife Caroline had today’s featured video of Genna recorded in order to show her brother and sister in law, who now have a lovely 3 month old Lab called Bella.

Genna loves “training” with Caroline and it really is wonderful to see the increased bond between the two that comes from them spending time together.  The “training” is of course in no way a means by which Caroline tries to master or dominate Genna – letting her know whose Boss. No, Caroline knows that a lot of the commands she teaches Genna such as “wait” and “leave” will potentially keep Genna free from harm.  Genna may not realise that something she thinks will taste nice could in fact be poisonous or that a nasty car could hit her if she does not wait but rushes at something of interest on the other side of the road. Furthermore Genna loves being stimulated by learning new things and she loves pleasing Caroline. In turn Caroline loves spending time with Genna, seeing her become more obedient and more capable and as a result of the increased bonding their love for each other grows.

As I watched the two of them so obviously enjoying the “training” and the subsequent bonding I could not help but think that here was a bit of an analogy with God and our relationship with Him. Now of course I do not want to be in any way blasphemous and make comparisons which are in appropriate, however God does teach, guide and lead us to follow His commands and His ways – we are dependent on Him for everything – He does discipline us for our own good- He does know what is best for us – does tell us when to wait, when to come and when to leave. By responding to His voice we draw closer to Him, we bond with Him more and our  love for Him grows and grows..

Sometimes the simplest things in creation can teach us so much.

Quote of the week:

Jesus had to be man in order to die but God in order to save.

The Word for Today

Blog April 4th Risen! The Musical With Subtitles in English

Risen! The Musical with subtitles in English

Fresh off the press- Risen! The Musical with subtitles in English!

This has only been available for a few hours so readers of this blog should be the  first to have the opportunity to view!

My good friend Alex-Emanuel Şerban who works for Credo TV in Romania had already created subtitles for Risen! The Musical in Mandarin, Spanish and Romanian. They can be viewed together with the original English version, without subtitles via www.risenthemusical.com.

Alex created the subtitles in English because a number of people suggested that it could help those who are hard of hearing,  those for whom English is not  their first language and  those who simply find it easier with subtitles to follow the storyline  and appreciate the lyrics.

So many thanks Alex for all your hard work.

And friends please have a listen – I do hope that you enjoy it.

 Quote of the week:

He feels for us because He had felt like us

Every Day With Jesus

Blog March 28th “Acts The Musical Part One – Fire”


The London Touring Cast after recording Acts The Musical – Part One “Fire”


We’ve been travelling – Give Us Your Heart Lord featuring the Original Cast from the album Risen!The Musical recorded and produced by Joffy Girling

First and most important – every good wish to our webmaster PJ for a speedy recovery – he will be posting this blog from his hospital bed. Get well soon my friend!

Had a great time in Ealing last weekend.  I had booked an Airbnb with a fantastic host called Alex – he had converted his loft into a brilliant apartment with kitchen, bathroom, bedroom and a great living space. So from Friday to Sunday lunchtime Joffy recorded a stream of alumni from the London College of Music -members of the London Touring Cast who performed Risen! The Musical so wonderfully  well;  the New Theatre Royal performance having been filmed and now available on You Tube with subtitles in Mandarin, Spanish and Romanian- check out please www.risenthemusical.com

We were recording Mustard Seed Songs’ latest project which is a musical based on the Acts of the Apostles and that  has a working title of Acts- The Musical Part One “Fire,”

So a big thank you to Benny, Casey, David, Katie, Johnny, Max, Andrew and Jamie who all did such great jobs recording the parts of Simon the Sorcerer, Stephen the first martyr, Saul/Paul, Philip the Evangelist, the Ethiopian Eunuch and the crippled man who was healed at the Temple  gate called “Beautiful.” In addition to solo pieces they also sang ensemble parts – which sound awesome.

Joffy is working on the edit right now. When that is complete the next stage will be to record the lead role of Peter which is being performed by Paul Clements (Judas from the Risen! The Musical CD.) We also desperately hope and pray that James Townend (Thomas from Risen! The Musical CD) will recover from a nasty illness and so will be able to record the part of the disciple John. .

We will then have the complete show recorded with piano accompaniment for people to have a listen and then, depending on the response, we will decide whether or not to go for a full orchestrated accompaniment.

Exciting !!

Quote of the week:

Silence can never be misquoted

The Word for Today

Blog March 21st “Charlotte’s Story”


 

I Sing This Song Of Love For You featuring Lucy Stimpson – Maynard from the album ” I Look Up To The Heavens” recorded and produced by John Hodgkinson

So on Saturday I had the pleasure of attending the wedding of Sarah and Richard at Holy Rood church.  Sarah and Richard had attended an Alpha course https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alpha_course that I had helped with.

Understandably there were many guests there that I did know including a couple right in front of me with their lovely young daughter.  I noticed that the young woman was singing along to all the worship songs and so at a convenient moment I asked her how she knew them.  She told me her name was Charlotte and that she had been a Christian for two years and that she went to Testwood Baptist Church. She and her husband work with Sarah and Richard and it was they who had invited them to take part in an Alpha course.  There was no course available at the time at Testwood Baptist and so Sarah and Richard came to Holy Rood instead.

As we were chatting (actually it was during the signing of the register) another Holy Rood member reached out to Charlotte saying how much she had enjoyed her testimony.  This prompted me ask “What testimony”?  Charlotte then gave me the link. Of course I reciprocated by giving her this one http://risenthemusical.com/

When I opened the Testwood Baptist church link I was so impressed with  Charlotte’ Story and the way that it was presented  that I just had to share it. I am not sure if it is classed as poetry or spoken word but whatever it is, it is brilliant. Please have a listen.

Quote of the week:

Keep your fears to yourself but share your courage with others.

Robert Louis Stevenson

 

Blog March 14th “Ordinary Days”


Cast of “Ordinary Days” Max Panks, Kathryn Kitchener, David Murray and Katie Forge.

“What More Could You Do Lord?” featuring Lucy Stimpson-Maynard from the album “Where Would I Be Without You?” recorded and produced by Ross Gill

So last Friday I drove to Raynes Park – left my car – walked to the train station -caught a train (which now seems to be called an “Overground” ) to Clapham Junction – changed to catch another “Overground” to Clapham High Street- walked up Clapham High Street past endless bars (all pretty empty at 7.00 pm but all packed solid at 10.00 pm) ) turned right and came to the Bread and Roses pub and theatre. Why? Well because three of the cast of Risen! The Musical – Max Panks (Jesus) David Murray (Thomas) and Katie Forge (Joanna) were playing there in the musical “Ordinary Days” written by American composer Adam Gwon. The pub was great – everyone so very friendly- the theatre was intimate with a fantastic atmosphere and the show was fabulous.

If you have not heard of “Ordinary Days” here is a little synopsis:
Set in New York City, the musical follows four characters, Claire, Jason, Warren and Deb, exploring how their ordinary lives connect in the most amazing ways. The show includes 21 songs which tell the story of these two men and two women.
Claire is in her 30’s and is embarking on a new stage of her life with boyfriend Jason. The decision to share an apartment is the catalyst for Claire to face her past.
Jason is in his 30’s and is the boyfriend of Claire. A romantic at heart, he spends the bulk of the musical attempting to further his relationship, at first by moving in (“The Spaces Between”) and then by proposing. Claire consistently resists his attempts leading to the central conflict of their story arc (“Fine”).
In her mid- twenties, Deb is a cynical and defensive grad student who is struggling to find focus in her life. She meets struggling artist Warren when he finds her thesis notes in the street.

The cheerful and sometimes annoyingly optimistic Warren sees beauty in the simple things in life, delivering the musical’s message and final number (“Beautiful”).
Wikipedia states:
London based company Curious Tales Theatre announced they were staging an amateur revival of “Ordinary Days” at The Bread and Roses Theatre for 5th-16th March 2019. Under the direction of Phoebe Rhodes and musical direction of Adam Parrish, the performance will feature live painting by artists and performers Max Panks (Jason) and Kathryn Kitchener (Claire).

So if you happen to be in London tonight, tomorrow or Saturday then I can wholeheartedly recommend you take a trip to the Bread and Roses theatre- you will be wonderfully entertained.

Quote of the week:
People need loving the most when they deserve it the least
The Word for Today

Blog March 7th “Ash Wednesday”

There’s More Than One Way Of Saying I Love You featuring Lucy Stimpson- Maynard and the Mustard Seed Soul Band from the album “Uplifted” recorded and produced by Bob Ross

So yesterday was “Ash Wednesday” and Tuesday was “Shrove Tuesday,” often known as “Pancake Day”. I made some pancakes myself and they were pretty much a disaster being too thick, sticking to the pan and only tasting passable when smothered in sugar and lemon juice.

But what is the history of these two events and also Lent of which Ash Wednesday is the first day?

The expression Shrove Tuesday comes from the word shrive, meaning “absolve“.  It is the day in February or March immediately preceding  Ash Wednesday” which is the first day of Lent.
Shrove Tuesday is celebrated in some countries by consuming pancakes. In others, especially those where it is called Mardi Gras it is a carnival day.  Pancakes are associated with the day preceding Lent, because they are a way to use up rich foods such as eggs, milk, and sugar, before the fasting season of the 40 days of Lent. The liturgical fasting emphasizes eating simpler food, and refraining from food that would give undue pleasure: in many cultures, this means no meat, dairy products, or eggs.

Ash Wednesday derives its name from the placing of repentance ashes on the foreheads of participants to utter  the words “Repent, and believe in the Gospel” or “Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return”. The ashes may be prepared by burning palm leaves from the previous year’s Palm Sunday celebrations. Because it is the first day of Lent, many Christians, on Ash Wednesday often begin abstaining from a luxury that they will not partake of until Easter Sunday arrives.

Lent is traditionally described as lasting for 40 days, in commemoration of the 40 days Jesus spent fasting in the desert and, during which he endured temptation by Satan before beginning his public ministry, The history and beginnings of the observance of Lent aren’t clear. According to Britannica.com, Lent has likely been observed: “since apostolic times, though the practice was not formalized until the First Council of Nicaea in 325 CE.” Christian scholars note that Lent became more regularised after the legalization of Christianity in A.D. 313. St. Irenaeus, Pope St. Victor I, and St. Athanasius all seem to have written about Lent during their ministries. Most agree that by the end of the fourth century, the 40-day period of Easter preparation known as Lent existed, and that prayer and fasting constituted its primary spiritual exercises.

So there you have it – and so for me no more chocolate until April 21st!

Quote of the week:

Enjoy where you are on the way to where you are going

The Word for Today

Blog February 21st “Doubts – Part Five”


Bathe Me In Your Light featuring Lucy Stimpson- Maynard from the album “I Look Up To The Heavens” recorded and produced by John Hodgkinson

So here is the fifth and last extract from Selwyn Hughes’ “Every Day With Jesus” – and from the edition -“Strong at the Broken Places.”

Selwyn is referring to the passage in the Book of Acts, Chapter 1: 1-11- “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses.”

We spend one last day exploring some of the insights which enable us to overcome doubt and develop our faith.  The final principle is this: recognise that if you did not doubt, you could not believe. So don’t be intimidated by your doubts. The Christian writer Robert Brown said this: “You call for faith; I show you doubt, to prove that faith exists. The more of doubt, the stronger of faith, I say if faith overcomes doubt.” Those who doubt most and yet strive to overcome their doubts become some of Jesus’ most remarkable followers.

We began this section by looking at Thomas the doubter and we end by looking at Thomas the doer. One commentator says that Thomas being a twin (his name Didymus means twin, John 11;16) must have developed an early independence of judgment that made it possible to break with his twin and follow Jesus. This is an assumption but I think it is a valid one.  Perhaps it was the independence that led him to reject the testimony of the other disciples when they said “We have seen the Lord!” (John 20:25)  When Jesus said to him “Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.” (John 20:27) his doubts vanished and he responded “My Lord and my God! (John 25: 28)

Until then no one had called Jesus “God”. They had called him “Messiah”, “Son of God”,” Son of the living God”- but not “God”. Here Thomas the doubter leapt beyond the others and was the first to confess Jesus as God. And Thomas’ faith did not stop there. As we said earlier, he almost certainly took the Gospel to India. The doubter became a doer!

Quote of the week:

“If you’re not making mistakes, then you’re not doing anything. I’m positive that a doer makes mistakes.”

John Wooden

Blog February 21st “Doubts -Part Four ”


Glorious In His Humility featuring Lucy Stimpson- Maynard from the album Love is the Way recorded and produced by John Hodgkinson

So here is the forth extract from Selwyn Hughes’ “Every Day With Jesus” – and from the edition -“Strong at the Broken Places.”

Selwyn is referring to the passage in the letter of James, Chapter 1: 5-8 “But when he asks he must believe and not doubt.”

When dealing with honest doubts another principle to apply is this: make a conscious decision to doubt your doubts and believe your beliefs. One of the key issues of the Christian life, as we have been seeing, depends on how prepared we are to exercise our wills in favour of God and His Word. To do this of course requires faith- faith in the fact that God has revealed Himself in His Son and through the Scriptures.

As a teenager I had many doubts about the Scriptures. But one night I made a conscious effort to accept them as the eternal and inerrant Word of God. Please notice I said “a conscious decision.” In other words I decided by an action of my will to doubt my doubts and believe my beliefs. Then I discovered an astonishing thing. Both doubt and faith are like muscles – the more you flex them the stronger they become.  Up until that time I had been using the muscles of doubt to a great degree, but unfortunately I had failed to exercise the muscles of faith. When I made up my mind to accept the truth of God’s Word by faith,  muscles I never thought I had began to function. Now many decades later those muscles have developed to such a degree that I find it easier to believe God than to doubt Him. I trace the beginnings of my spiritual development to that day, long ago when I decided to take what one theologian terms “the leap of faith.”

Quote of the week:

If it were not for hope the heart would break

Dr Thomas Fuller in The Word for Today

 

Blog 14th February “Doubts -Part Three”

“He’s Never Lied” featuring Lucy Jane Rutherford, Jim Rogers and Mike Backhouse from the album “The Season of Singing” recorded and produced by Ross Gill

So here is another extract from Selwyn Hughes’ “Every Day With Jesus” – and from the edition -“Strong at the Broken Places.”

Selwyn is referring to the passage in Matthew’s Gospel Chapter 11:3 “Are you the one who is to come or should we expect someone else.”

An important thing to remember when considering the issue of doubt is that although God would prefer us to believe, He is exceedingly loving and gracious towards those who struggle with genuine doubts. Did you notice that when we were looking at Thomas two days ago that Jesus did not denounce his attitude of doubt, nor did He refuse his request for physical evidence that He truly was the Christ? Instead Jesus said to him “Put your finger here; see my hands. Roach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe (John 20:27)

The passage before us today tells of another occasion when a person closely associated with Jesus become obsessed with doubt. John the Baptist was in prison and probably suffering great discomfort and disillusionment. From prison he sent some messengers to Jesus to ask if He really was the Messiah or if they should be looking for somebody else. John, you remember had baptised Jesus and had introduced Him to the world with these words “Look, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world (John 1; 29)

Does it not seem strange that John who had witnessed the descent of the Holy Spirit upon Jesus at His baptism, should have developed doubts about who He was and the validity of His mission? How did Jesus respond to this situation? With tenderness and sensitivity. He said “Go back and tell John what you hear and see. The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cured, the deaf hear. (vv 4-5) Jesus could have rebuked John, His doubting cousin, with strong words of reproof, but He didn’t. Although Jesus is concerned when we have problems, He is more concerned about people.

Quote of the week:

Do not let what you cannot do interfere with what you can do.

John Wooden

 

Blog January 31st “Doubts -Part Two”


Caption “How Great Are His Signs”  from Risen! The Musical featuring the London Touring Cast at the New Theatre Royal, Portsmouth


“It’s Now One Week” followed by “How Great Are His Signs” from the album Risen! The Musical featuring the “Original Cast”

So last week I started to consider the issue of having doubt in one’s Christian faith. I talked about how in Risen! The Musical we portrayed the unfairly named “Doubting Thomas” in his true light – a loyal friend and follower of Jesus. Selwyn Hughes also refers to Thomas later in this extract from an “Every Day With Jesus” edition -“Strong at the Broken Places.”

I once met someone like this: She was a scientist and had serious doubts about certain parts of the Scriptures. “I’m afraid that one day I’ll wake up” she said “and discover that science has disproved large chunks of the Bible.” I could sympathise with her but in reality her doubts were quite unfounded. Science- real science that is – will never disprove the Bible. Half – baked science may appear to discredit the truth of God’s word but real science only ever validates it.

The classic example of a person who doubted is the disciple Thomas. We call him “doubting Thomas” but that is largely an unfair label. How said it is that often we pick out a negative trait in a person and label them according to one thing. Thomas had his moment of doubt, but he became strong at the broken place. How strong? Let history judge. A well authenticated tradition has it that Thomas went to India and founded a strong church there. Even today there are Christians in India who call themselves by his name – the St Thomas Christians. They are some of the finest Christians I have ever met. Thomas had his doubts allayed in one glorious moment of illumination- and then he went places. So can you!

Quote of the week:

Things turn out best for the people who make the best of the way things turn out.

John Wooden