Monday, 4 November 2013

Of Eagles and Bling

The heat of Malaga airport hit us as we disembarked from the aircraft. We were in Andalucia to record interviews with Revelation Television and to fulfil a televised preaching engagement. The hot dry landscape of Spain spread out before us, a chequered carpet of vineyards and small farms. Gaunt mountains wrinkled by the sun stood snowless above the plains. This is the land of one of my favourite authors, Laurie Lee, who had written of this place years ago in his book 'As I Walked Out One Midsummer Morning'. He exchanged the enveloping green of a Gloucestershire England for the salty sea villages of southern Spain. 

A studio in a garage basement we were told. Some garage! It was a converted underground car park, with several studio sets rigged. We were most impressed with this professional set up and the opportunity it gave to raise the profile of the Company and its work. As well as the preaching session Jenny and I also had the opportunity to record two sessions in the 'In Conversation' series. We were able to talk not only about the musicals, but also about the work of the Bible School and other projects. This channel is doing a tremendous work, ranging from interviews, testimonies and services to profiling political and social issues with a spiritual perspective. Israel is strongly profiled. It is a unique station. We were so encouraged by the hospitality and kindness that we were shown. An added bonus was the use of a beautiful apartment that overlooked both the sea and the mountains.

We had opportunity for some down time. I can understand why Brits like to retire here. The beach was quiet. For two days we enjoyed the sea and sunshine as well as the numerous beach sellers with their hand-held cargoes of bright clothing, sun winking jewellery and bunches of watches, all guaranteed for life of course and accompanied by the comments 'bling bling, 'cheap cheap' and 'lovely jubbly’: Mediterranean Del Boys!

We also had opportunity to travel high into the mountains by cable car with the added bonus of being treated to a display of birds of prey, including two magnificent, majestic eagles and grand eagle owls with great round faces and deep staring eyes. This was followed by a display of Spanish horse riding with proud shining horses and gorgeous colours worn by the riders.

Back in wind-swept England we now look forward to the Mall Tour as we minister with the choir and tell the Christmas story through song and reading to spiritually hungry people in Bluewater and Beales. Next year we celebrate together 30 years of ministry with the choir. In the power of the Spirit our strength shall be renewed like the eagle's, those magnificent creatures that we saw gliding and diving in a clear, hard blue sky, catching the thermal winds. May we too, in the coming months of work for the Messiah, catch the wind of the Spirit.

Friday, 20 September 2013

That's An Awful Lot of Sheep!

Here we are, moving towards the end of September, having just celebrated the Feast of Tabernacles. We had as our special guest Bishop Mussa Magwela, from the diocese of Geita in Tanzania, an area near Lake Victoria. This giant of a man has 90 diocese and over 400 congregations to watch over, including 60 islands on Lake Victoria. That's a lot of sheep! It was a great privilege talking to this man of God. He told us about the plan to transport a ship from Mombasa to Lake Victoria - across land! I said that Noah had got there first. The project means sailing the ship to Mombasa, taking it apart and then transporting it across land to Lake Victoria, where it will be reassembled. This will cost £2 million pounds and they are well on the way to achieving the necessary funding. The ship will be a floating hospital, specialising in dentistry and eye treatment. The Bishop was so sad that this country appears to be losing its spiritual way; it's Africa and the South Americans who are seeing revival on an unprecedented scale.

This weekend Jenny and I will be flying to Spain to undertake an hour-long interview for Revelation Television. This will give us a wonderful opportunity to share with a world-wide audience the work of The Absolute Gospel Company and the plans we believe the Lord is leading us into. I will also have the opportunity to bring a 15-20 minute message, which again will allow me to share the prophetic message we believe we have been given as a Company.

The following week-end the choir will be travelling to The Park, Moggerhanger, near Bedford, to share in a week-end festival called 'Alight in the Park' where the theme will be the reconciliation of Jew and Gentile: One new man in Christ. Then, the following week, we shall be coming together for another Bible School session, when the theme will be 'Messianic prophecies in the book of Zephaniah'. We must work, as Jesus said, "whilst there is still light". We also have our first Christmas booking, an invitation to sing at Bluewater, a large shopping mall east of London.

We are also recording new music for a future musical based on the book of Job and a play about Dreyfus the Jew is also awaiting production. Busyness, though, is not necessarily spirituality. We, as a Company, need wisdom to what to say 'yes' and what to say 'no' to.

We need a Divine shepherd to keep the sheep in order and following Him, not wandering off doing their own thing, however green the grass looks. But, in faith, we work on, seeking to build the 'temple' that is the Lord's Kingdom.

Monday, 3 June 2013

If you're not the Queen are you a princess?

If you have the Queen in your car and a Union Jack flying from it, it's amazing how many people give way on the highway! Recently, as part of our publicity for our musical ‘Majesty’, we asked one of our choir members if she would mind impersonating the Queen and walking Tonbridge High Street, inviting shop managers and their staff to a performance. Hence the title of this blog: It was a remark made by a small girl walking with her mother on that Saturday morning.

Last night (1st June) was our first performance of ‘Majesty’. We were greatly encouraged by the large turn out of people and they all appeared to have really enjoyed the evening. The Mayor and Mayoress of Tonbridge were present, as was the Chairman of Tonbridge Council. All ages were represented and it was wonderful to hear the robust singing of the National Anthem at the end of the evening. We were greatly encouraged by the audience response and we look forward to two more performances in the next two weeks. Our three narrators consisted of a retired surgeon, a magazine editor and a retired J.P. The team of dancers exceeded themselves and the choir sang with fire and passion. It was a great evening, part of which had the audience guessing who certain individuals were on the screen: Characters who became famous during the Queen's reign. Our excellent technical team were kept busy and everything went smoothly - always a relief!

We shall be sending a copy of the script to Her Majesty together with a copy of the prayer that we prayed for her and the Royal Family. As the script says: “It is not the power she has, it’s the power she denies”.

It is a great shame that, in schools, our children are being denied the rich heritage of our nation and, particularly, the history of our unique monarchy. On a lighter note, I always remember a remark by George Harrison of the Beatles when asked who the female lead might be in their next film. He replied: “We're trying for the Queen: She sells!”.

I remember as a six year old pupil standing by the side of the A12 as the Queen's car sped through on its way to Harwich and the Hook of Holland. In a moment she was there and then gone. What a privilege it has been to help people honour this wonderful Christian lady. Long may she reign, not as a princess, but as the Queen!

Saturday, 9 March 2013

The Last Word

Recently, at a Christian conference, I had the tremendous privilege of standing behind an orthodox Jewish man and watch him worship, name the Name of Yeshua, applaud the speakers and enter into the joy of the Lord. In addition to our worshiping Jewish brother, we also had a collection of Spirit-filled speakers, unafraid to speak out boldly with care, compassion and focus. It was like being in a warm swiftly moving prophetic stream, with issues being presented that were relevant and vital. There we received what we felt was the commission for the Company: Preach and guard the everlasting the Gospel - the real Gospel - support Israel, celebrate the feasts of the Lord, take the choir out into the highways and byways and declare and share the faith. The day after was a down day: Religion and discouragement; wheat and tares; a spiritual blow from the blue. It has to be expected when you come down from the mountain.

But it's been a good week in many respects: For example, sitting down round the most enormous kitchen table, the stone smooth and cold as glass, sharing with a couple about the feasts of the Lord and finding that I was evangelising at the same time. How do you explain the feasts without sharing about Jesus? No, we are not Orthodox Jews; we're not bound by the strict requirements of the Law, such as the separation of meat and dairy items in the kitchen and such like. We're just following the command: 'Celebrate the feasts of the Lord'. They're His feasts, not exclusively those of the Jews. I was handed a most delicious sounding menu: Honey roasted tomato lamb tagine, followed by baked apples filled with dates and dipped in honey. Jewish people certainly know how to eat!

I'd also found myself in conversation with that Jewish friend sitting just in front of us at the conference. Sadly, he told me about the anti-Semitism he had experienced in England. I told him about the Dreyfus play that I am waiting to stage. His quick eye and sharp humour was a joy; we must have spoken for about half and hour. He was so self-effacing; he apologised for being intense and talkative but framed his self-analysis by saying: "You'd be intense if you had God after you all your life!" I remembered someone once saying that the existence of God could be proved in two words: 'the Jew.' And Jesus, the Jew will have the last word. 'Come blessed of my Father and inherit the Kingdom.' Jew and Gentile together, one new man.

Friday, 11 January 2013

You Can't Go Into Heaven Yet!

Well, here we are at the beginning of a new year, looking over our shoulder at a Christmas period that took the choir on the 'Mall Tour', which included Beales in Tonbridge, Royal Victoria Place in Tunbridge Wells and Bluewater in north Kent. It was a most rewarding time and yet again we found people very open to the Christmas message that we proclaimed through Bible readings and singing. The dreaded health and safety rules raised their head at one venue, but in the end we were able to proclaim the Gospel and build good relationships with the management teams. Our first Bible School of the year got off to a very encouraging start, with excellent teaching once again from Mike Moore. We look now at the end of February to start rehearsals for the musical 'Majesty', celebrating the 60th anniversary of the Queen's Coronation. Doors will open this year and doors will close. "That's life", as someone once wrote in a lyric.                                     

I remember an occasion when I took part in a service in Maidstone prison. I shall never forget the sound of heavy keys and the firm click of doors unlocking and being locked as we moved deeper into the prison. Perhaps that's one way of looking at our work: Unlocking doors - the doors of circumstance and, most importantly, the locks on people's hearts. Freedom. No prison walls of guilt or fear. Like stepping out of the main door of a prison into the sunshine of liberty. That's our Gospel. I like the words of Jesus when he said: "I have come to bring them life, life in all its fullness". Marvellous, affirming words. Words to bring life and hope.

I also remember going in to Rochester prison and meeting a large number of Eastern European people, held there because they had fled from the fighting in Bosnia and had tried to find a safe refuge in this country. They weren't criminals; many were professional people, but they had nothing. All had been left behind and now their only home was a state prison, because the system couldn't accommodate them anywhere else. I often wonder what became of them. "Fear not, I go to prepare a place for you" says Jesus "so that where I am, you may be also". That's the Gospel hope and it is still an honour and a privilege to share it.

One particular memory stays with me from Christmas. At Tonbridge Baptist Church we produced a Christmas musical called 'Angels', which involved a children's choir of some 30 angels seated in an area representing Heaven. Two angels were talking and one said: "I think I'll go and sit in the choir". The other rebuked her, saying: "You can't go into Heaven yet"!

That's our task: Getting people out of their personal prisons and into the Kingdom of Heaven. Instant membership: No locks; no doors.