Blog December 17th The First Gift

There’s More Than One Way featuring Lucy Stimpson-Mayard from the album “Uplifted” recorded and produced by Bob Ross.

I was sent the “First Gift” video this week and enjoyed it so much that I thought I would share it with you today.
Quote of the week The greatest glory in living lies not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall. Nelson Mandela.

Blog December 10th Advent

Love is the Way featuring Lucy Stimpson- Maynard from the album Love is the Way recorded and produced by Bob Ross.

Advent began 12 days ago but what is it? Again, I have done some research, the results of which are below:
For many, there may be some confusion surrounding the meaning of the Advent season. Some people may know that the Advent season focuses on expectation and think that it serves as an anticipation of Christ’s birth in the season leading up to Christmas. This is part of the story, but there’s more to Advent.
The word “Advent” is derived from the Latin word adventus, meaning “coming,” which is a translation of the Greek word parousia. Scholars believe that during the 4th and 5th centuries in Spain and Gaul, Advent was a season of preparation for the baptism of new Christians at the January feast of Epiphany, the celebration of God’s incarnation represented by the visit of the Magi to the baby Jesus (Matthew 2:1), his baptism in the Jordan River by John the Baptist (John 1:29), and his first miracle at Cana (John 2:1). During this season of preparation, Christians would spend 40 days in penance, prayer, and fasting to prepare for this celebration; originally, there was little connection between Advent and Christmas.
By the 6th century, however, Roman Christians had tied Advent to the coming of Christ. But the “coming” they had in mind was not Christ’s first coming in the manger in Bethlehem, but his second coming in the clouds as the judge of the world. It was not until the Middle Ages that the Advent season was explicitly linked to Christ’s first coming at Christmas.
Most Advent calendars start on December 1. But the actual first day of the Advent season changes every year. In 2020, that day is November 29. In 2021, it will be November 28. The final day is the same every year: December 24, Christmas Eve — though many calendars run through Christmas Day.
The reason for the shifting start date is somewhat straightforward. As celebrated by Christian churches in the Western tradition (as opposed to Eastern Orthodox churches, which keep a different calendar), the season of Advent begins on the fourth Sunday before Christmas and is celebrated on each successive Sunday leading up to Christmas.
There are always four Sundays during Advent prior to Christmas, but Christmas could be any day of the week — which means the distance between the fourth Sunday of Advent and Christmas Day varies. So, the length of the season shifts from year to year: In 2016, Christmas fell on a Sunday, which means the season stretched over a total of 28 days. Last year, it was 24 days long. This year, it’s 26 days long.
Quote of the week
Perfect love drives out fear
I John 1:18

Blog December 3rd “When a Child is Born”

Last week I shared a video of the Little Drummer Boy”- which I believe is regarded as not just a Christmas song, but as a Christmas carol. Apparently, the difference is that Christmas carols have Christian lyrics, while Christmas songs are secular.

I remember Crofton School Carol Services being held at Holy Rood and a favourite carol being “When a Child is Born.”

Here is some more information about this beautiful song which I hope you enjoy listening to via the video clip.

The original melody of “When a Child is Born” is “Soleado“, a tune from 1974 by Ciro Dammicco (alias Zacar), composer for Italy’s Daniel Sentacruz Ensemble, and Dario Baldan Bembo. The tune was based on Damicco’s earlier tune “Le rose blu” published in 1972. The English language lyrics were written a few years later by Fred Jay (Friedrich Alex Jacobson  who wrote many hits for Boney M, such as Rasputin and Ma Baker). Fred Jay’s lyrics have been sung by many artists, most successfully by Johnny Mathis in 1976, whose version was the Christmas number one in the UK.

Just out of interest you might like to know that Johnny Mathis is still alive aged 85 and that he was a star athlete at George Washington High School in San Francisco. He was a high jumper and hurdler, and he played on the basketball team. In 1954, he enrolled at San Francisco State College on an athletic scholarship, intending to become an English teacher and a physical education teacher. While there, Mathis set a high-jump record of 6′-5 1/2″ [1.97 m]. This is still one of the college’s top jump heights and was only 7 cm [two inches] short of the 1952 Olympic record of 2.04 m at the time.

Quote for the week

Whoever loves money never has money enough

Ecclesiastes 5:10

Steven Furtick

Blog November 26th “Little Drummer Boy”


The other day I received a message with a video of the Little Drummer Boy” which was pretty appropriate as we now come into the Season of Advent with Christmas carols and Nativity scenes.  The video is below and is by a group called “Gentri” and although it is now two years old, it just warmed my heart and I thought I would share it with you.  Previously my favourite version (which I also share below) had been by the group “Pentatonix” and which was a Billboard no one hit.

Listening also made me interested in the song’s history as it does not refer, as do most carols, to Shepherds and Wise Men. In the lyrics, the singer relates how, as a poor young boy, he was summoned by the Magi to the Nativity of Jesus. Without a gift for the Infant, the little drummer boy played his drum with approval from Jesus’s mother, Mary, recalling, “I played my best for him” and “He smiled at me”.

I discovered the “Little Drummer Boy” was originally titled “Carol of the Drums” because of the repeating line “pa rum pum pum pum,” which imitates the sound of a drum. The song lyrics are said to be based on an old Czech carol.

It’s not certain who wrote the song although most believe it to be Katherine K. Davis in 1941. However, according to some reports, Henry Onorati and Harry Simeone penned the lyrics to the song. It was recorded for Decca as “Carol of the Drum” by the Trapp Family Singers in 1951 and credited to Davis.

The song has been covered over 220 times and in 7 different languages. Artists who have recorded it include Johnny Cash, Johnny Mathis, David Bowie and Bing Crosby, The Supremes, Stevie Wonder, Jimi Hendrix, The Temptations, The Jackson 5, Ringo Starr, Bob Dylan, Whitney Houston, Ray Charles, Black Eyed Peas, Justin Beiber and Susan Boyle.

I hope you have time to listen both the “Gentri” and “Pentatonix” versions – they are both great.

Quote for the week

Faith is believing before what will only make sense after.

Steven Furtick

Blog November 19th Every Day with Jesus Extract

Walking with Jesus featuring the Mustard Seed Soul Band from the album Heart and Soul recorded and produced by Ross Gill

I have been reading “Every Day with Jesus” since I first became a Christian in 1997. On a number of occasions, I had the pleasure of meeting its author, Selwyn Hughes and his words have inspired many Mustard Seed Songs.
Even though Selwyn died in 2006 his “Every Day with Jesus” daily devotions have continued to be published, albeit with some small revisions. Apart from still inspiring song lyrics, I find its pages encouraging and full of wisdom. Here is an extract from Monday’s devotion:
Yesterday we said in the Christian life, hope and resilience are not apart from, but in all things. Living the Jesus way does not bear things in the way of stoicism; nor make you indifferent to things; nor deny the reality of things; nor buckle under things; nor expect to escape from things by trying to earn God’s favour through a performance- based religion; nor become immersed in things as in materialism. Rather, it offers us the possibility of using everything that comes – good, bad or indifferent, as we say – and making the most of it.
We are not blinkered by things or blinded by them. In walking with Jesus there is no escapist mentality, no playing tricks on the universe, no side stepping of any issues. Our spirituality can be shown to be in relationship to things. Those who try to be spiritual by ignoring the real issues of life possibly end up with a pseudo- spirituality. They are so heavenly minded that they are no earthly good.
Quote of the week
Faith does not eliminate questions. But faith knows where to take them
Elisabeth Elliot

Blog November 12th Joe Biden

Father Let Your Spirit Fall Upon Me featuring Lucy Stimpson Maynard from the album I Look Up To The Heavens recorded and produced by John Hodgkinson

Referring to the vastly different views expressed for the Democrat and Republican candidates for the USA Presidential Election, a friend wisely said “Beautiful Christian hearts abide on both sides of the aisle, but equally, each can be blind to its own biases.” So, I am not wishing here to discuss the merits or de merits of either side but just to take some extracts from what I have read re Joe Biden’s faith.
President Elect, Joe Biden is a practicing Roman Catholic and will be the second Catholic President of the United States. The first was President John F. Kennedy,
Biden was raised in an Irish-Catholic family and has said that his faith helped get him through tragedies, such as losing his son, Beau Biden, to brain cancer in 2015. He said the Catholic rituals gave him an enormous sense of solace.
He also says “My faith implores me to embrace a preferential option for the poor and, as President, I will do everything in my power to fight poverty and build a future that moves us closer to our highest ideals—not only that all women and men are created equal in the eyes of God, but that they are treated equally by their fellow man. Jesus Christ is the human embodiment of what God wanted us to do. Everything Jesus did was sort of consistent with what generically we were supposed to do: treat people with dignity.
However, in 2012 he admitted that he struggled with anger at God after his first wife and his daughter were killed in a car wreck in 1972, He said he would get angry at God and think there was just no way that God could possibly be good. He said that he understood why some people turned to suicide, not because they were crazy, but because “they had been to the top of the mountain, and they just knew in their heart they would never get there again.”
Following Beau Biden’s death at 46, Biden’s wife, Jill also struggled with her faith, writing in her memoir: “Where I once felt that peace that surpasses understanding, I now feel hollow silence. One day, I hope I can salvage my faith.” She later said that she did find her faith again. She said a woman came up to her in South Carolina at church when she and Biden were campaigning and asked to be her prayer partner. She said that woman helped give her back her faith.
Biden says that his faith has kept him grounded “and humbled in times of triumph and joy.” He said his faith provided him comfort and taught him to love his neighbours. “My faith teaches me to care for the least among us.”
When Biden was young, he briefly considered becoming a priest. He was a student at Holy Rosary parochial school and Archmere Academy. Biden usually attends Mass at St. Joseph on the Brandywine Church or St. Patrick’s Church in the Diocese of Wilmington. He is known to carry rosary beads in his pocket on the campaign trail.

Quote of the week
God will meet you where you are in order to take you where He wants you to go.
Tony Evans

Blog November 5th Animals and Heaven

Genna with her friend Scout ( Edward Baker- Duly’s Red Fox Labrador)

I’m A Believer (Diamond) featuring the Mustard Seed Soul Band from the album “Heart and Soul” recorded and produced by Ross Gill

My daughter’s dog died recently and she is heartbroken. Will we see our pets again in heaven?
We often hear these sorts of questions asked by children, but it’s just as important for many adults who regard pets as part of the family. (as do Caroline and I !)
I was interested to read what Tom Wright has to say on the matter. Tom is an English New Testament scholar and Anglican bishop. He was the Bishop of Durham from 2003 to 2010. He writes in “Premier Christian Media”

First, we need to establish what we mean by ‘heaven’. There’s a Far Side cartoon that pictures a man sitting on a cloud in heaven, looking bored and thinking: “I wish I’d brought a magazine.” Fortunately, many people are starting to rethink that traditional view. The whole narrative of the Bible reveals that the God who made the world wants to bring heaven and earth together, and to come and live with us in that new creation. That’s not boring!
The point is not to leave this world and go somewhere called heaven. With Jesus, and through his Spirit, heaven has come to earth and we are called to join in the heaven-on-earth project now. But we also look forward to a future resurrection in the ultimate new creation, which is a heaven-and-earth combination, a total transformation of everything.
Then there’s the question of whether animals have souls. The idea of the ‘soul’ as an immaterial ‘me’ that is separate to the body is a Platonic concept that you don’t find in the New Testament, so none of us has a ‘soul’ in that sense. When the Bible talks about ‘the soul’, it refers to the Hebrew word nephesh, which is more like what we would mean by a person or a personality – the real me.
So, will we see animals and pets in that new creation? The Bible doesn’t have much to say on this, but I think we can carefully respond: “Yes.” When a human being loves and cares for an animal, and when that animal responds to that love and care, there is a bond between them, which is part of who that human being is. Just as when somebody loves God, there is a bond between them and God, which we call the Holy Spirit, and the Holy Spirit looks after that person until the resurrection. I don’t see any reason at all why looking after that person shouldn’t include, by a kind of overflow of grace, looking after all of the animals, birds and whatever that person has loved and brought joy to in this life.
You could start the question from the other end and say: “If God the creator made a world that included giraffes and whales and grasshoppers, and all the other weird and wonderful creatures, is it likely that the new creation would be boring and flat and wouldn’t have any creatures like that in it?” It seems to be far more likely that there will be an abundance of all sorts of creatures being gloriously themselves and sharing in all kinds of relationships with God’s human creatures.
And in the middle of that, perhaps there will be an older woman who will recognise among the plethora of delighted creatures a dog to whom, as a little girl, she once gave love and companionship and who returned that favour. I don’t see why that shouldn’t be so.
I would query some of what Tom Wright asking “What happens if the animal(s) in question are not loved”? However, I would love to think that Tom has got it spot on!

Quote of the week
A wise person is someone who thinks twice before saying nothing
Edward Heath

Blog October 30th “A Thought -Provoking Story- The 10th Apple Effect”

“Don’t Be Ashamed of Jesus” featuring the Mustard Seed Soul Band from the album “His Story” recorded and produced by Ross Gill

I am sure that during lock down you will have received many messages via social media – some intending to be humorous, some informative, some challenging and some inspirational.
Here is a video I received – which I hope you will watch, but if not the essence of the concluding part is this story which I felt to be thought provoking.
An old man in Italy had just recovered from Co- Vid and the doctors asked him if he would pay 5000 Euros for the cost of one days use of the ventilator he had been on. When the old man started crying the Doctors reassured him that he did not have to pay the money if he could not afford it. However, the man told the Doctors that he was not crying because he could not pay the money – the money was not a problem. What he then said made all the Doctors cry –the man said “ I am crying because all my life I have been breathing God’s air for free and I have never paid for it and now it costs 5000 Euros to use a ventilator for one day –I owe God so very much and I have never thanked Him for it.
Quote of the week
When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change
Wisdom Shots

Blog October 23rd “The Risen Christ Central Chapel” – An Update”


We Can Do Anything – featuring Lucy Stimpson- Maynard from the album “Precious” recorded and produced by Ross Gill

If you have been following this blog for any length of time you will know that a major Mustard Seed Songs’ project has been the construction of The Risen Christ Central Chapel, (R.C.C.C) in Cross River State, Southern Nigeria.
Just to explain again the background to the project:
On the death of his Grandfather (his father had already died) Patrick Oki was about to become Chief of his village in Nigeria. However, the elders wanted him to denounce his Christian faith and return to the native religion which had been practiced before his Grandfather was Chief – this included human sacrifice. When he refused his life was in danger and so he sought asylum in England. It was in Haslar Detention Centre, Gosport that I first met Patrick some twelve years ago. Unfortunately, his asylum claim was rejected and he was deported to Nigeria where he had to re locate a long way from his village to stay safe.

Patrick tells me that when he returned from England, he was ill for two years, not being able to walk or even stand; having been rejected and abandoned by his family and friends- he was left to die, with no one to care for him except his son Emmanuel. Sometimes they had no food to eat, and he even prayed for God to take his life- all this because he had denounced the religious tradition of his people to follow Jesus. Patrick says “I made a vow that if the Lord healed me, I would serve him all the rest of my life and one day the Lord sent a servant – Evangelist Lady Lizbeth who prayerfully joined hands with me and the Lord set me free. Praise the Lord I became born again to the glory of God.”
Patrick is now indeed serving God and is an unpaid Pastor in Cross River State, Southern Nigeria. His congregation, which includes a number of orphans, had been worshiping in a hired hall but Mustard Seed Songs have been fundraising for a number of years and the result is the completed R.C.C.C. (as seen in featured photo)
We have also recently been able to purchase a small minivan to help transport the elderly and infirm to and from from their village to the R.C.C.C. (see featured photo)
The third photograph shows members of the congregation (with Pastor Patrick and his wife seated in the right of middle) with signs thanking those who had sponsored the purchase of the minibus.
Next an electric generator is needed and then a bore hole for water!
Quote of the week
Not all of us can do great things but we can do small things with great love
Mother Teresa

Blog October 15th “Christians in Sport”

“Jesus You Are Everthing” featuring Lucy Stimpson- Maynard from the album ” I Look Up To The Heavens” recorded and produced by John Hodgkinson

Blog October 15th “Christians in Sport”
Two weeks ago, I shared some information on the new US Open Golf Champion – Bryson DeChambeau. Part of that was Bryson’s Christian testimony. This reminded me of when my very dear friend Bob Milliken – then Head of RE at Crofton Secondary School – kept putting in my pigeon hole ( I was Head of PE at the time) leaflets on Christians who were top sports persons. I remember at the time feeling somewhat surprised to hear that the golfer Bernhard Langer was a committed Christian.
Since writing this blog I have pointed out a lot of currently famous sports persons who are Christians- recently, the golfer Zach Richardson, the rugby player Maro Itoje, the Liverpool Football Manger Jurgen Klopp and the footballer Romulu Lukaku.
I googled who else in sport was a Christian and here is a list of some that I knew – I wonder if you are as surprised as I was with some of the names on the list?
1) Usain Bolt
2) Christine Ohuruogu
3) Danny Surridge
4) Bubba Watson
5) Lewis Hamilton
6) David Luis
7) Thiago Silva
8) Rhaeem Sterli
9) Edison Gavani
10) Neymar
11) Andres Iniesta
12) David Silva
13) Philippe Coutinho
14) Jose Mourinho
15) Marcelo Bielsa
16) Christiano Ronaldo
17) Lionel Messi
Quote of the week
One person cannot change the world
but we can change the world for one person

Project Dengke