Wednesday, 31 December 2014

2015 - Don't Be Like Lot's Wife

Remember what happened to Lot's wife – Luke 17:32

As I come to the end of 2014 there is a tendency to stop and take a look back over the highs and lows of the past twelve months. This time last year I posted my highlights of 2013 and over the past few days I have been enlightened on Facebook with a kaleidoscope of some of my friend’s 2014.

Thinking about 2014, one verse from Luke keeps coming back into my mind, “Remember what happened to Lot's wife.”  Most of us know the story, God told Lot and his family not to look back at the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, but Lots wife unfortunately did glance back and she was reduced to a pile of salt. The temptation not to look back proved too great, because in reality the desire of her heart was still with the burning cities. If she would have kept her eyes focussed on the future, on the road ahead, she would carried on walking into all God had for her.

We too have a choice we can look back on our failures and fears, on the times of regret and missed opportunities and be captive to another year of the past in our lives or we can recognise the bad times, cast them into the ocean of God’s mercy and move on into all God has for us in 2015.

The enemy would try to hold us captive to the past, the enemy comes to steal, kill and destroy. He wants to scare us and distract us away from all we have in Christ.

So as we come to end 2014 and start 2015 let us:-

  • 1.       Remember the victories and meditate on God’s faithfulness
  • 2.       Forget and destroy the memories of failures, God does not remember or recall them neither should you.
  • 3.       Remove the focus from the past
  • 4.       Remove the distractions of the world and listen to the whisper of his voice
  • 5.       Delight in the lord with all your heart

Let our focus and eyes be on God and the finished work on Christ because all the promises of God are yes and Amen In Christ and:-

  • 1.       He is faithful to His word
  • 2.       He is patient, not impulsive or hasty
  • 3.       His voice will always leave us with hope, not discouragement or depression
  • 4.       His voice instils confidence,  not fear or intimidation
  • 5.       He will never leave us, he is with us every moment, every second of every day.

He has promised to do exceedingly abundantly above all we can ask or think, according to the power that works in us, and let 2015 be an ever increasing opportunity to experience the grace of God overflowing in our lives.

So here is my 5 little heart exercises to mediate on as I start the New Year: -

  • 1.       Enjoy and abide in the presence of God
  • 2.       Keep a “YES” in your spirit to God at all times
  • 3.       Get rid of “Never” from your vocabulary with God
  • 4.       God trusts you, act like He spoke to you.
  • 5.       Keep your eyes on Jesus, Keep your heart open to people and keep your focus off yourself.

Tuesday, 30 December 2014

Listen My Beloved

Listen! My beloved!
    Look! Here he comes,
leaping across the mountains,
    bounding over the hills.

My beloved is like a gazelle or a young stag.
    Look! There he stands behind our wall,
gazing through the windows,
    peering through the lattice.

 My beloved spoke and said to me,
    “Arise, my darling,
    my beautiful one, come with me.

Song of Songs 2 : 8-10

Listen 2015

Monday, 15 December 2014

Christmas 1914 - Miss Violetta Thurston In Russia

Miss Violetta Thurston, was an English nurse who went to Belgium with a 'Flying Column' early in the war and was subsequently ordered by the Germans to leave Brussels when it fell. She was sent across Germany, having a tedious and uncomfortable journey, and when at Copenhagen she offered her services to the Russian Red Cross. Her offer was accepted, and she went to Lodz, where she was posted to a hospital in what was once a girls’ day school.

Her book 'Field Hospital and Flying Column, Being the Journal of an English Nursing Sister in Belgium & Russia' is available on line at Project Gutenberg. It is a fascinating and informative narrative of her part in the war. This extract describes her experience of Christmas 1914 in Russia, with a Christmas Day meal of roast horse and boiled potatoes: -

"We had left Zyradow rather quiet, but when we came back we found the cannon going hard, both from the Radzivilow and the Goosof direction. It would have taken much more than cannon to keep us awake, however, and we lay down most gratefully on our stretchers in the empty room at the Red Cross Bureau and slept. A forty-eight hours' spell is rather long for the staff, though probably there would have been great difficulty in changing the Columns more often.

I woke up in the evening to hear the church bells ringing, and remembered that it was Christmas Eve and that they were ringing for the Midnight Mass, so I got up quickly. The large church was packed with people, every one of the little side chapels was full and people were even sitting on the altar steps. There must have been three or four thousand people there, most of them of course the people of the place, but also soldiers, Red Cross workers and many refugees mostly from Lowice. Poor people, it was a sad Christmas for them—having lost so much already and not knowing from day to day if they would lose all, as at that time it was a question whether or not the Russian authorities would decide for strategic reasons to fall back once more.
And then twelve o'clock struck and the Mass began.

Soon a young priest got up into the pulpit and gave them a little sermon. It was in Polish, but though I could not understand the words, I could tell from the people's faces what it was about. When he spoke of the horrors of war, the losses and the deaths and the suffering that had come to so many of them, one woman put her apron to her face and sobbed aloud in the tense silence. And in a moment the whole congregation began sobbing and moaning and swaying themselves to and fro. The young priest stopped and left them alone a moment or two, and then began to speak in a low persuasive voice. I do not know what he said, but he gradually soothed them and made them happy. And then the organ began pealing out triumphantly, and while the guns crashed and thundered outside, the choir within sang of peace and goodwill to all men.

Christmas Day was a very mournful one for us, as we heard of the loss of our new and best automobile, which had just been given as a present to the Column. One of the boys was taking it to Warsaw from Skiernevice with some wounded officers, and it had broken down just outside the village. The mud was awful, and with the very greatest difficulty they managed to get it towed as far as Rawa, but had to finally abandon it to the Germans, though fortunately they got off safely themselves. It was a great blow to the Column, as it was impossible to replace it, these big ambulance cars costing something like 8000 roubles.

So our Christmas dinner eaten at our usual dirty little restaurant could not be called a success.
Food was very scarce at that time in Zyradow; there was hardly any meat or sugar, and no milk or eggs or white bread. One of us had brought a cake for Christmas from Warsaw weeks before, and it was partaken of on this melancholy occasion without enthusiasm. Even the punch made out of a teaspoonful of brandy from the bottom of Princess's flask mixed with about a pint of water and two lumps of sugar failed to move us to any hilarity. Our menu did not vary in any particular from that usually provided at the restaurant, though we did feel we might have had a clean cloth for once.

Menu - Christmas 1914

Gravy Soup
Roast Horse, Boiled Potatoes
Currant Cake
Tea Punch

We were very glad to go up to Radzivilow once more. Our former dressing-station had been abandoned as too dangerous for staff and patients, and the dressing- and operating-room was now in a train about five versts down the line from Radzivilow station. Our train was a permanency on the line, and we lived and worked in it, while twice a day an ambulance train came up, our wounded were transferred to it and taken away, and we filled up once more. We found things fairly quiet this time when we went up. The Germans had been making some very fierce attacks, trying to cross the river Rawka, and therefore their losses must have been very heavy, but the Russians were merely holding their ground, and so there were comparatively few wounded on our side. This time we were able to divide up into shifts for the work—a luxury we were very seldom able to indulge in.

We had previously made great friends with a Siberian captain, and we found to our delight that he was living in a little hut close to our train. He asked me one day if I would like to go up to the positions with him and take some Christmas presents round to the men. Of course I was more than delighted, and as he was going up that night and I was not on duty, the general very kindly gave permission for me to go up too. In the end Colonel S. and one of the Russian Sisters accompanied us as well. The captain got a rough cart and horse to take us part of the way, and he and another man rode on horseback beside us. We started off about ten o'clock, a very bright moonlight night—so bright that we had to take off our brassards and anything that could have shown up white against the dark background of the woods. We drove as far as the pine-woods in which the Russian positions were, and left the cart and horses in charge of a Cossack while we were away. The general had intended that we should see the reserve trenches, but we had seen plenty of them before, and our captain meant that we should see all the fun that was going, so he took us right up to the front positions. We went through the wood silently in single file, taking care that if possible not even a twig should crackle under our feet, till we came to the very front trenches at the edge of the wood. We crouched down and watched for some time. Everything was brilliantly illuminated by the moonlight, and we had to be very careful not to show ourselves. A very fierce German attack was going on, and the bullets were pattering like hail on the trees all round us. We could see nothing for some time but the smoke of the rifles.

The Germans were only about a hundred yards away from us at this time, and we could see the river Rawka glittering below in the moonlight. What an absurd little river to have so much fighting about. That night it looked as if we could easily wade across it. The captain made a sign, and we crept with him along the edge of the wood, till we got to a Siberian officer's dug-out. At first we could not see anything, then we saw a hole between two bushes, and after slithering backwards down the hole, we got into a sort of cave that had been roofed in with poles and branches, and was absolutely invisible a few steps away. It was fearfully hot and frowzy—a little stove in the corner threw out a great heat, and the men all began to smoke, which made it worse.

We stayed a while talking, and then crawled along to visit one of the men's dug-outs, a German bullet just missing us as we passed, and burying itself in a tree. There were six men already in the dug-out, so we did not attempt to get in, but gave them tobacco and matches, for which they were very grateful. These men had an "ikon" or sacred picture hanging up inside their cave; the Russian soldiers on active service carry a regimental ikon, and many carry them in their pockets too. One man had his life saved by his ikon. He showed it to us; the bullet had gone just between the Mother and the Child, and was embedded in the wood.

It was all intensely interesting, and we left the positions with great reluctance, to return through the moonlit pine-woods till we reached our cart. We had indeed made a night of it, for it was five o'clock in the morning when we got back to the train once more, and both the doctor and I were on duty again at eight. But it was well worth losing a night's sleep to go up to the positions during a violent German attack. I wonder what the general would have said if he had known!
We finished our forty-eight hours' duty and returned once more to Zyradow. I was always loth to leave Radzivilow. The work there was splendid, and there more than anywhere else I have been to one feels the war as a High Adventure.

War would be the most glorious game in the world if it were not for the killing and wounding. In it one tastes the joy of comradeship to the full, the taking and giving, and helping and being helped in a way that would be impossible to conceive in the ordinary world. At Radzivilow, too, one could see the poetry of war, the zest of the frosty mornings, and the delight of the camp-fire at night, the warm, clean smell of the horses tethered everywhere, the keen hunger, the rough food sweetened by the sauce of danger, the riding out in high hope in the morning; even the returning wounded in the evening did not seem altogether such a bad thing out there. One has to die some time, and the Russian peasants esteem it a high honour to die for their "little Mother" as they call their country. The vision of the High Adventure is not often vouchsafed to one, but it is a good thing to have had it—it carries one through many a night at the shambles.
Radzivilow is the only place it came to me. In Belgium one's heart was wrung by the poignancy of it all, its littleness and defencelessness; in Lodz one could see nothing for the squalor and "frightfulness"; in other places the ruined villages, the flight of the dazed, terrified peasants show one of the darkest sides of war."

(Miss Violetta Thurston was born Anna Violet Thurstan in Hastings in 1879, the daughter of Dr. Edward Paget Thurstan. She trained as a nurse at The London Hospital, and The Children’s Hospital, Shadwell, at that time using the name Violet Thurstan.

Educated in France and Germany she spoke these languages fluently. Before the war she was prominent in her profession as an administrator, organiser and lecturer, and was highly respected by both the nursing and medical professions. She became the one of the most ‘high profile’ of all nurses who served in the Great War and from the early days her name was rarely out of the nursing press, and she wrote long letters, which were published week by week).

Friday, 5 December 2014

Grace Nuggets - God's Mercy

God’s mercy is forever flowing toward us. His mercy stops God giving me the judgement I deserve. His mercy puts my judgement, my condemnation, my guilt upon Christ and Christ died in my place.

I can live free from condemnation and guilt and my body has been healed all through the mercy of God.

Grace inspires God to freely bestow and give me what I don’t deserve but gives me what Jesus deserves.

Because Jesus died on my behalf and in my place and as me.

Every day of my life God’s desire is to pour out to me all the goodness of heaven.

I receive all the riches of heaven that Jesus deserves and my old sin nature that deserves judgement is dead.

It has nothing to do with me and my ability; it is all freely given and has everything to do with Christ.

Every moment I live God wants to overwhelm me with his grace and mercy.


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