Darkness to Light – Colossians 1:13

My first dance with John Wilson (when I met him at my cousin John Jeffers’ wedding on 10th January 1987) was to “New York, New York”.

On September 11th 1999 my mother died.

On September 10th 2001 (my wedding anniversary) I was at a church catering committee meeting at the Lincoln home of Paul and Mary Reet (when I married in Kingston upon Thames in 1988 I had become Jacqui Wilson and was told that Jackie Wilson had sung a song called “Reet Petit”) .

As I entered Paul and Mary’s living room I saw a book on the coffee table about the North American Indians (whom the Pilgrim Fathers met when they arrived in the Americas I believe). We had the catering meeting and, as we were leaving, someone noticed an American calendar on the Reet’s hallway wall. The photograph for September 2001 was a night-time photograph of New York.

Mary Reet (who is quite petite) then flipped over the pages and showed us a photograph of St Lucia (a Caribbean island where Dawn, my Guildford landlady of 2008-2010, grew up). I now know that in Sweden St Lucia/St Lucy is celebrated and they have a Festival of Light on 13 December each year. The story is that St Lucy lost her eyesight and God miraculously healed her.

The following day, September 11th 2001, I had the day off from my job to await the delivery from Wickes (interesting how even here God is speaking of light – as in wicks of candles) of the parts to make a built in wardrobe. These arrived at 10:10 a.m (it was around this time on September 11th in 1999 that I had been informed by staff at East Surrey Hospital that my mother had died, as I was driving to collect my sister, Suzanne, to go to the hospital to visit our mother). Remember John 10:10.

With me in Lincoln on September 11th in 2001 was Martin Joy (who was born on St Botolph’s Day) and a young lady called Samantha (who had moved in to lodge with me on the previous day – my wedding anniversary). At precisely 1:50 p.m. Samantha’s mother (who “happens” to be Swedish) arrived and I was led to read Psalm 150 from my Bible. This would have been at the time between each of the two planes hitting the Twin Towers in New York, and before we were aware of anything happening in New York. The planes had taken off from Boston Mass, the name of which comes from Boston in Lincolnshire UK. The name Boston comes from St Botolph’s Stone.

Using the photographs on the Reet’s American Calendar – it was as if God was saying that light would come out of darkness, as indeed it did when I became born again as a result of John leaving me in June 1994 – Colossians 1:13. Using the planes hitting the Twin Towers – it was as if the Twin Towers were John and myself and that our marriage fell as a result of an enemy attack from the devil using human beings, just as those Twin Towers fell as a result of an enemy attack from the devil using human beings, but that the most important thing is “eternal life” rather than this life we lead on earth and that the end of the story is and will be “Let Everything that has Breath Praise the Lord” (Psalm 150).

My life has been so “rich” spiritually since 1994. It has not been without challenges, since bearing the name Christian means that the devil is out to get you even more, but to know Almighty Father God, who sent His son Jesus to die on the cross to bring reconciliation and who then left the Holy Spirit as our Comforter and Counsellor, is amazing.

Colossians 1:9-14

9…….. We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives,  10 so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, 11 being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, 12 and giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of his holy people in the kingdom of light. 13 For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.”

 

 

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The Writing is on the Wall

1 Kings 8.27, 1 Corinthians 6.19

The Cross is in the Field

In November 2004 I was living in Leatherhead and signed on with Adecco agency in Leatherhead as a temp (my temp controller was Tristan Hope, a Christian who attended a church that met in a school in Wallington). Tristan’s name reminded me that I needed to “Trust and Hope” in God for employment.

On 6 December (St Nicholas – from whom comes Santa Claus – Day) 2004, my usual temp agency (Recruit in Dorking) sent me to work as a temporary administrator at Priory Healthcare at the “Coach House” (what in biblical days would perhaps have been called a “stable”?) in Salfords, Redhill. Coach House was a rehabilitation place for people recovering from drug and alcohol addiction. Interestingly, there were around 11 residents, one of whom was called “Wes” and another “Lee”.

John “Wesley” started the Methodist movement; he was born on St Botolph’s Day (17 June) 1703 and his last public…

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I Was a Wandering Sheep

In 1994 I was born again and the Holy Spirit led me to this hymn in the book of common prayer my dad gave me 30 years earlier at my confirmation. It tells my story:

Live Life! God's way

Today’s Hymn (#105) from The Believers’ Hymn Book is entitled “I Was A Wandering Sheep.”

I was a wandering sheep, I did not love the fold;
I did not love my Shepherd’s voice, I would not be controlled.
I was a wayward child, I did not love my home;
I did not love my Father’s voice, I loved afar to roam.

The Shepherd sought His sheep, The Father sought His child;
They followed me o’er vale and hill, O’er deserts waste and wild;
They found me nigh to death, Famished and faint and lone;
They bound me with the bands of love, They saved the wand’ring one.

They spoke in tender love, They raised my drooping head,
They gently closed my bleeding wounds, My fainting soul they fed;
They washed my filth away, They made me clean and fair;
They brought me to my home in peace, The long sought…

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What a Friend we have in Jesus

Today in our prayer time at the beginning of our working day at Compassion UK, Charlotte led and told us she had recently sung “What a Friend we have in Jesus” at her local Methodist Church. She told us the story of the writer of “What a Friend we have in Jesus”, Joseph Scriven, that his two fiancees had died just before he was due to marry them and how he came to write the poem.

This reminded me of a testimony I have from five years ago:

I was feeling a bit low on Wednesday (28 July 2010). I drove into Chesterfield (Derbyshire, UK) and sat by a Funfair in the town centre eating my lunch when, all of a sudden, I heard the Organ on the Carousel playing the tune to “What A Friend We Have in Jesus”. I then walked to the Oxfam shop where I was starting working that afternoon. I put a CD of South African Gospel music onto the CD player in the shop. What a lovely surprise to hear the first song on the CD (in a South African local dialect) was “What a Friend We Have in Jesus”. Praise God.

On the Friday (30 July 2010) as I was at home filling in an application form for a job, I heard Cliff Richard singing “What a Friend we have in Jesus” on UCB Inspirational Radio. I thought about how “connected” God has made me to this song. The Cliff Richard book “You, Me and Jesus” led me to God in 1985 and another Cliff Richard book led me to Pioneer church in 1994.

“What a Friend we have in Jesus” was written by Joseph Scriven. My best friend at college was Sue Aldridge. I was a bridesmaid to her when she became Sue Scriven.

Sue and Graham Scriven’s two daughters were then my bridesmaids when I married John Wilson in 1988. On our honeymoon in Harrogate we were surprised to find a nearby village was called Scriven. And it was in Chesterfield (where I was comforted by hearing the song twice on Wednesday, 28 July 2010) that I was divorced on 21 July 1997.

I also remember that I went to Rhodes for my 50th birthday on a Master Sun Christian holiday and we sang “What a Friend We Have in Jesus” on that holiday.

Later on 30 July 2010 I looked up “Scriven” on “Rightmove” (a UK “property for sale” website) and found that the “Old Smithy” in Scriven was for sale. How amusing, since Smith is my maiden name!!!!

On Thursday, 5 August 2010, I looked up Joseph Scriven – Writer of “What a Friend We Have in Jesus” and found that I married on the anniversary of his birth/christening (10 September 1819) and my sister was born on the anniversary of his death (10 August 1886).

I also discovered I was born and my sister was christened on the anniversary of the death of the man who set Joseph Scriven’s poem to music (Charles Crozat Converse who died on 18 October 1918). What an amazing number of God-incidences to link me, my sister and my wedding party to Joseph Scriven and the words of his poem. I became a Christian when my husband left me in 1994 and I have experienced, and indeed experience on a daily basis, the friendship of Jesus.

What a Friend We Have in Jesus

What a Friend we have in Jesus, all our sins and griefs to bear!
What a privilege to carry everything to God in prayer!
O what peace we often forfeit, O what needless pain we bear,
All because we do not carry everything to God in prayer.

Have we trials and temptations? Is there trouble anywhere?
We should never be discouraged; take it to the Lord in prayer.
Can we find a friend so faithful who will all our sorrows share?
Jesus knows our every weakness; take it to the Lord in prayer.

Are we weak and heavy laden, cumbered with a load of care?
Precious Saviour, still our refuge, take it to the Lord in prayer.
Do your friends despise, forsake you? Take it to the Lord in prayer!
In His arms He’ll take and shield you; you will find a solace there.

Blessed Saviour, Thou hast promised Thou wilt all our burdens bear
May we ever, Lord, be bringing all to Thee in earnest prayer.
Soon in glory bright unclouded there will be no need for prayer
Rapture, praise and endless worship will be our sweet portion there.

 

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Plymouth

I was originally led to Plymouth in July 2009. There were several things that attracted me there:

  1. The Pilgrim Fathers left from there aboard The Mayflower on 16 September 1620:

I originally met my friend James, in Lincoln on St Botolph’s Day in 2005 (he had been born in St John’s psychiatric hospital on 16 September 1983, on the anniversary of the Pilgrim Fathers setting sail from Plymouth) I remember one of the first things James did was sing to me the song by Casting Crowns “Who Am I”?

Some of the Pilgrim Fathers were imprisoned in Boston (the name of which came from St Botolph’s Stone) in Lincolnshire before they set sail for the Americas. Before I went to Boston in 1995, soon after I was born again, and saw where they were imprisoned, I was only aware of them having set sail from Plymouth.

  1. I had found that a road number (374) linked Weybridge with Plymouth:

I first met my husband, John, at a wedding whilst I was working for British Aerospace on the B374 in Weybridge in 1987. And currently work for Compassion UK in Weybridge. In 2009, when planning to go on pilgrimage to Plymouth, I found that the A374 runs through Plymouth. Psalm 37:4 says “Delight yourself in the LORD and He will give you the desires of your heart”.

I found it interesting that when God led me to Plymouth in July of 2009 a play about Charles Darwin the evolutionist was on at a local theatre in Plymouth, as it was the 200th anniversary of Darwin’s birth. I went to see it and it was very good, but wrong.

I then found the amazing truth that Plymouth’s motto is Turris fortissima est nomen Jehovah – “the name of Jehovah is the strongest tower”. This is taken from Proverbs 18, which says “The name of Jehovah is a strong tower; The righteous runneth into it, and is safe”, and that made Plymouth even more special to me.

Plymouth Guildhall

Just a week or so ago, from 19-21 May 2015, I was given the opportunity to go back to Plymouth for a GOD TV Celebration in Plymouth Guildhall (over the door to which is the motto:  Turris fortissima est nomen Jehovah – “the name of Jehovah is the strongest tower”).

Since my visit in 2009, God TV (which had its humble beginnings in Hinchley Wood – near where I was living in Kingston upon Thames – in 1995) had bought a former nightclub building in 2013 on the A374 in Plymouth to turn into a Revival Prayer Centre. It seemed to me like just the right place, since I am reminded of Psalm 37:4 “Delight yourself in the LORD and He will give you the desires of your heart” and prayer is about delighting yourself in the LORD.

http://www.god.tv/the-god-tv-team/video/god-tv-updates/revival-prayer-centre-vision

Revival Prayer Centre Plymouth

Whilst in Plymouth I had a look at the outside of this very run-down building in an area of Plymouth dedicated to debauchery, and was reminded that God had restored me from a decadent lifestyle. I believe He will help God TV restore this building and that it will be a place of refuge for those who come to recognise that “sex and drugs and rock and roll” is destroying them.

Smeaton's Tower

I stayed in the same guest house where I had stayed in 2009, across the road from The Hoe. Last year (2014) I had met Rebecca Smeaton when I worked at DDC in Worksop and on The Hoe stands “Smeaton’s Tower”

Plymouth 014

 

On the Magistrates Court I found a mosaic version of the Plymouth coat of arms and motto:

 

 

Plymouth 009After the final evening of the God TV Celebration in the Guildhall, where Andrew Wommack had spoken a good deal about Faith, I wandered along to the waterfront and noticed a boat with that very word on it

 

And, as I was looking at that boat I heard a young man on an “open mike” at a pub across the water singing “Hallelujah”

On returning home from Plymouth, I remembered that one of the ushers I met at the God TV Celebration in Plymouth had said she was part of Riverside or River Church and that one of my colleagues at Compassion is part of a Riverside Church in Devon.

So I looked this up and came across River Church in Plymouth and found it is led by Faye and Scott Gould. I had met Faye and her mother, Sue, on Rhodes in October 2002, when I went on my own on a Master Sun Christian holiday to celebrate my 50th birthday, believing that God would put together a special party of people He wanted to celebrate with me.

I then found that River Church meet in the Guildhall in Plymouth. WOW, that is amazing.

This morning, 31 May, I was looking into the origins of the Plymouth motto and found the following from the Western Morning News:

“Bracken discusses the history of the English Civil War in Plymouth and the issues around Sir Richard Grenville (also known as ‘Skellum’ Grenville) when he changed his allegiance from supporting Parliament to supporting the King. As a Parliamentarian, Grenville was given a commission in the Army and was therefore in a position to access Parliamentarian intelligence. With this knowledge he marched to Oxford and joined the Royalist troops stationed there. Grenville’s actions were seen as an act of treachery by people in Plymouth. This is because Plymouth was held for Parliament against the forces of King Charles I during the whole of the war. After changing allegiances, Grenville wrote a letter to Colonel Gould, commander of the Parliamentarian forces in Plymouth, giving his reasons for ‘his change of front, stating that he was convinced Plymouth was a lost town and without hope of relief’. Gould’s sarcastic letter in reply to Grenville included the line, “The same God is still our rock and refuge”. Hence it is said that the motto was added to the Plymouth town arms shortly after this event to commemorate Gould’s words.

I wonder if God pointed that out to Faye and Scott Gould when He showed them that they should hold church in The Guildhall.

 

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Homeless

This week I picked out “blind”, from a bag of topics, the topic Homelessness with which to lead prayers at work. Interesting, because God knows that it is a subject I learnt something about when I became a Christian in 1994.

Last weekend my sister was moved to Redhill and I was reminded that this was somewhere I had lived at the end of 1994, during a time when I was “homeless” between having to sell my home in Kingston upon Thames in the September of 1994 and buying a new home in Lincolnshire in March 1995.

I visited my sister last Sunday afternoon in Redhill and in the evening I went to a Lou Fellingham concert in Woking. I was reminded that when I was living at a friend’s home in Redhill in December 1994, as a newly born again Christian, I was invited to share Christmas lunch with Lou and her family. It was my first Christmas as a Christian and I shared it with a family of born again Christians. Perfect.

On Monday of this week it was my friend Sue Scriven’s 41st wedding anniversary.  I had been one of her bridesmaids, and it was through Sue that I had met Lou and her family and came to share that Christmas with them in 1994, because Lou’s mum was my friend Sue’s cousin.

I wanted to share a You Tube video as part of our prayer time on Monday of this week at work and we went into a meeting room to do that. The first thing was that the meeting room was very cold (I think God was reminding us that being homeless on the streets of England is very cold). The next thing was that we couldn’t get the sound on the video to work when we plugged the laptop into the video screen or the tv, so we had to watch it directly from the laptop (and of course we were reminded that there is no electricity available on the streets).

On Tuesday I was reminded of another “homeless” story to share. I had married John Wilson in Kingston upon Thames in 1988 (at which my friend Sue Scriven’s two daughters were my bridesmaids) and I became Jacqui Wilson. At that time I was told that Jackie Wilson was an American singer who had a hit with a song called “Reet Petite”. On our wedding day John chose the song “The Power of Love” by Jennifer Rush for our first dance as husband and wife.

John then left me in 1994 and that is how I became “homeless” and was squatting in a flat for 3 months. The residents of the other flats there were addicted to drugs. I then moved from there to live with my friend in Redhill and from there to Lincolnshire, where I owned my own home again.

St Swithin's Vestry Hall

In 1997 I was working in Lincoln and, because I had lived with the homeless in 1994, I wondered whether God wanted me to work with the homeless in Lincoln. I had met a man in church named Paul Reet and his wife was quite petite ! Paul volunteered in the Nomad cafe (a drop in for dropouts) and I said to God that if when I passed the Nomad cafe that lunchtime I saw Paul working in the cafe then I would know that God wanted me to offer to work there with the ”homeless”. I looked through the doorway and Paul was indeed there, so I walked in and was amazed that the song being played there at that moment was “The Power of Love” by Jennifer Rush!

St Botolph, Bargate, Lincoln

On Halloween night 1997 I did a sponsored sleep out in St Botolph’s graveyard in Lincoln, in order to raise money for Nomad and later heard that my husband had re-married on that day – that brings an ironic twist to “Until Death Do Us Part”.

So, who really is homeless – in a sense John is “homeless” as he doesn’t know Jesus and I found my home in 1994 when I was physically made “homeless” but spiritually found “home”, because home is not a place it is a person – Jesus.

The Bible says in Hebrews 13:14 (New Living Translation) “For this world is not our permanent home; we are looking forward to a home yet to come”

and in 1 Peter 2:11-12 (The Message) “Friends, this world is not your home, so don’t make yourselves cozy in it. Don’t indulge your ego at the expense of your soul. Live an exemplary life among the natives so that your actions will refute their prejudices. Then they’ll be won over to God’s side and be there to join in the celebration when he arrives.”

 

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I am a friend of God

Yesterday at the River of Life meeting in Jacobs Well our speaker was talking on the subject of Intercession and of how God wants to have an intimate relationship with us. Wikipedia defines Emotional Intimacy as “a psychological event that happens when trust levels and communication between two people are such that it fosters the mutual sharing of one another’s deepest selves.”

It is so amazing and wonderful that God, who created the whole universe and everything in it, would want to communicate with us on that level, but He does. He wants to have a deep relationship with us, not just a high days and holidays or when we can/must fit Him into our daily lives, but a DEEP relationship, deeper than we have with any human being.

I was reminded of my visit to Southport in 2001, where God told me I needed to have an intimate relationship with Him so that I wouldn’t be intimidated. But it is more than that, it is about sharing my thoughts with God and Him sharing His thoughts with me, in a way that only close friends will do.

Our speaker talked about Abraham being a Friend of God and about our being a “Friend of God” and I was reminded of attending the Kampala Pentecostal Church (now Watoto Church), Uganda one Sunday in September 2008 and how the first song we sang was “I am a Friend of God” and how I felt that God wanted me to KNOW that I was a friend of His. I then thought about how God had led me to being in that Church on that Sunday and about how God had spoken to me through his prophets in Leatherhead on 15th September (Battle of Britain Day) 2003:

“He is building in you a new level of understanding in the way He communicates. That, just as you are a networker and a communicator, so you will even network and communicate with Him, between Him and other people and you will bring people to Him through that networking and communicating gift.  And He says, work with the flow of my Spirit, come to me and learn of me, how I teach you to flow with my Spirit, come closer, come closer, for it is time to come into a deeper relationship with me.”

I’m not there yet, but I want to be and I need to be.

And how He also spoke to me through his prophets in Leatherhead on 15th September 2003 the following:

“And, as He stretches you and as He makes connections, I see you connected with Africa and I believe you are gonna go to Africa and God’s gonna bring you into a Compassion ministry in Africa and you’re going to be feeding the hungry and your gonna be feeding them physical food and spiritual food and it’s gonna be a ministry where you need to look to Him for miracles, for actual miracles and He is going to, He is going to multiply, He’s gonna multiply physically the food that you have.”

And how on 15th August 2005 I started working for Compassion UK and met Anne Nantale, a Ugandan girl working in the office, who said “When I marry you must come to my wedding”. And how that resulted in my landing at Entebbe, Uganda on 15th September 2008 to attend her wedding and to attend the Kampala Pentecostal Church on 21st September 2008 to be told by God that “I am a friend of God”.

I am not yet seeing the miracles that God promised on 15th September 2003, but I want to and we need to.

Particularly, I want to see miracles in my sister’s life. I went to visit her after the River of Life meeting yesterday and I know that it is only through an intimate relationship with God that she can be free from all that holds her back. She was OK, but she is not leading the “full life” that Jesus promised in John 10:10. I was a bit disappointed to have to leave her, but as I turned the engine on in my car, Premier Christian radio started up and Marilyn Skinner, the woman who with her husband Gary started Kampala Pentecostal Church and Watoto, was speaking. Now, I have to tell you that she is what I would call a Friend of God !

 

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