Vine Words

Vine Words (25)

The value we place on blood

Having sat waiting for the best part of an hour it would have been easy to have given up and gone home without donating but I had waited this long and anyway, this was my sixty-seventh donation so waiting a little longer wouldn’t hurt. I’ve been a blood donor since a few days after my eighteenth birthday. Originally going just to find out my blood group, I was soon going every few months. Although I have always been aware that the blood donated goes on to help others, the NHS Blood and Transplant Service (as it is now known) and its predecessors have always done a great job of educating the public of the value of blood, but to be honest to me it is background information to what has become a routine or habit.

Greenshot 2018 02 17 10.27.55Eventually, I was called forward the staff were apologetic for the delay and professional as ever. I signed the necessary forms and felt the stab of the ‘finger prick’ test. All good, not anaemic, so all ready to donate. I sat on a chair as the donor assistant prepared the bags and tubes that would receive my donation. As she stuck on the various hi-tech barcoded stickers, she also started to tie on a paper parcel tag, “An extra label for you”, she noted. I looked quizzically, intrigued by the comment and the antiquated paper label being tied to the sterile equipment. “Your blood is going to a neonatal unit for babies, look it says ‘neo’ on your donation form”. A warm feeling spread across me as the value of my blood suddenly became more real than any donation I had given before. Having briefly visited a neonatal Intensive care unit when my son was born I was struck by the potential this donation had to change the lives of young and old and to bring hope to those in despair.

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Going to the edge

Have you seen the Structures on the Edge on the Lincolnshire coast?  Dave and I have only recently come across them, and we were fascinated.  Because they are very unusual works of art/architecture, they will trigger some strong opinions – as you stand on our shoreline seeing their rather weird outlines against the seascape, you’ll probably be quite excited about them, or maybe you’ll hate them.  They are meant to help us take a whole fresh look at our coastline, and “see” it in a new way, stopping to gaze on its natural beauty.

theedge

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Sheep and no Shepherd...

As I started writing this article I was unaware that I was about to be confronted by the sad news that my brother had taken his own life. I continue to write this a little over twelve hours later and the words of probably the most famous Psalm in the bible becomes particularly focused to me.  Most people will have heard of Psalm 23, " The Lord is my shepherd,  I will not want, he gives me rest in green pastures...".   It is often read at funerals or printed in cards given to people in loss or at times of need.  For me, knowing Jesus, the giver of peace the words of this Psalm are truth that brings comfort.  Psalm 23 also highlights what I may be feeling if I did not have that relationship with Jesus.  If you take God out of the Psalm the vision of peace and security the words portray is turned on its head.  

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Ethnicity in the Bible - A closer look at Jesus' world

History is strewn with examples of ethnic groups being disregarded, persecuted, or treated as less than human.

I have had the privilage of writing an article for the American Bible Society read how, isolated verses from the Bible have been used to justify such atrocities as the slave trade or anti-Semitism. But throughout the Bible we see God's intention to reach all races and nations with salvation (Genesis 12:2-3, Revelation 7:9). We see this the most clearly in the life of Jesus, who embodied God's love for all people, including the diverse ethnic groups right around him. As we take a closer look into Jesus's cultural milieu we can begin to understand the deep significance of his radical inclusion.

An Article in the American Bible Society by Veronica.

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Veronica

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Destinations

I am just about to set off again to America, to see one of my sons and his family. I’m feeling apprehensive because this time it’s going to be a different kind of journey.  depboardNormally it’s just one hop, no transfers, no lay-overs, no complications.  But this time we are taking a bargain flight involving three separate planes and two airlines, both on the outward and homeward flight.  And as I pack my suitcase I’m wondering, will I ever be reunited with it again, or will it be lost somewhere on that journey from Lincolnshire via Amsterdam then Detroit, then Philadelphia?   I’ve already rung the first airline seeking reassurance, “Will you transfer our luggage for us, making sure it gets to the next plane, especially since one transfer time is only 35 MINUTES ?” The answer was not very helpful – “Just make sure when you get to the first airport you tell them you want everything to go to your final destination.”

So it’s all down to us, we must make sure we do that or risk everything getting lost in a limbo somewhere.   I kept going with my questions, “And that short transfer time – how will we know where to go when we land in the confusion of yet another airport?”

The answer was concise – “Don’t wait till you land, talk to the crew on the way, and they can talk to the tower as you come in to land – the tower can give you priority – you’ll be brought straight in to the right place to go onward.”

You can see where I’m going with this, can’t you? This complicated journey we’re going on is similar to all our lives – so many sections, so many things that could go wrong, and you can end up stuck, without things you’ve relied on, never getting where you assumed you’d get to.  And the answers the airline gave me, “Make sure you’re labelled for your final destination, not just the bit immediately in front of you.” 

This life, like any long haul journey, has a destination of one sort or another, and we need to be sure that our final destination is God himself. We need to be ‘labelled’, not just assume we’ll end up there.  To make sure, we need to talk to the tower – there’s someone there who’s able to control the air traffic, and send us help to bring us in to the right place at the right time. In my life I have no doubt who’s in the tower, watching over my journey – Jesus, the Counsellor, Friend, Redeemer.

  Veronica                                                  

Revd Veronica Podbury, Pastor of The Vine Community Church

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Climbing Volcanoes

If I say the words “holiday break”, what image comes to mind?  Lying on a beach?  Reading a book on a sun lounger? Clinging on to the side of a volcano? Strangely, it was the third of these which describes what my husband and I ended up doing recently.  It wasn’t in the plan at all – we’d booked a brief dose of winter sun, really for health reasons, anticipating some relaxation in the Canary Islands for a few days.  But as we strolled around the holiday resort, what caught our attention was the skyline – the dark jagged shapes of volcanoes rising up into the sky all around us. We were surrounded by them, and we just had to try climbing them.  

We set off cheerfully from the resort, bottles of water in a rucksack and hats to keep off the sun.  As we neared the steep slopes we saw what you couldn’t see from a distance – they were completely covered with a loose layer of rocks.  As we started to climb, our feet constantly slipped, and as you went higher you felt at every moment you were about to slide down, hurtling down the rock-strewn sides, unable to stop, the sharp volcanic rock cutting into your unprotected skin as you descended (shorts and teeshirt remember!)

Did I pray as I struggled up the rockface? (I’ve noticed how prayer is often forgotten when we  need it most!) You bet!  I prayed quite desperately, including all the scriptures about our feet not slipping, and angels being sent to look after us.  I “reminded” myself and God (I bet he loves that!) about these as my knees trembled and I grabbed hold of any rock which looked like it might actually be attached to the side of the volcano.  It’s at scary times like this that your faith gets a reality check, and you realise your belief that God is with you in your struggle is all you have to hang on to.

I inched my way upward, not daring to look down, until at last Dave announced we’d reached the top.  The wind was gusting powerfully from the Atlantic (my hat had long ago been removed). I sat down quickly, frightened that I may be blown off.  Be careful! I shouted to Dave as he stood taking photographs. Then something embarrassing happened; an old man and his wife arrived on the top.  He was at least eighty years old, white hair, spindly legs etc, and she wasn’t much younger.  Each had a long walking stick and seemed unperturbed by what they’d just done, standing confidently on the summit. They gazed across to the high narrow ridge that connected this volcano to another one.  The wind continued to howl around us.  I think we’ll try that too, the old man murmured. I was horrified – surely, they’d be blown straight off, but then I watched as they dug their tall walking sticks in.  Words from the Good Shepherd psalm Thy rod and staff comfort me...no evil will I fear crossed my mind.  Leaning on their staff, they could go safely where others couldn’t.  A picture of faith in God, the Shepherd who goes with us wherever we go.                                        

   

Veronica       

"Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the temple of the God of Jacob. He will teach us his ways, so that we may walk in his paths." Isaiah 2:3    

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Suffering from January Blues?

Suffering from January Blues?  Some timely advice about it from God’s Word

1. Switch your focus.

At the beginning of another year of work and responsibility, when the festive season is long gone, the bright lights packed away, we tend to concentrate on all the hard stuff that lies in front of us – months of it stretching out into the year ahead. We may be deeply concerned at the world around us, and some of the trends we see.

But God’s Word says, focus on a whole different set of things – “... whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy  – think about such things.”  Philippians 4:8 NIV

So instead of looking of all the grind, and the possible disappointments (and disappointing people!)  we should look towards the things and people showing themselves to be pure, noble, standing for what is right... and it will change our way of thinking.

 

2.  No need to be fearful about the future.

In January we can look ahead at possible difficulties which may occur in the year – health problems for us or someone close to us, job insecurity or family problems.  We can see ourselves as vulnerable, even alone, with problems too big for us to cope with.

But the Bible assures us the reality is different – “The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you: he will never leave you or forsake you.  Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.”  Deut 31:8 NIV

We’re not on our own facing things that are about to come at us – our Lord is going in front of us and he’s not going to go away and leave us on own – doesn’t that make you feel better?

 

3.  God has a new song for you, and he will lift you up again.

Singing may be the last thing on your mind if you’re feeling low, but there’s a powerful prescription in God’s Word to change the chemicals in your body and lift you up again – it’s praise.

In Psalm 40 we read about God turning to us in response to our cry – and what does he do next?

The psalmist answers that question, “He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire, he set my feet upon a rock and gave me a firm place to stand.  He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God.” Psalm 40:2-3 NIV

We think about praise as something we give to God, but actually we find especially if we praise him even when we don’t feel like it, we actually begin to feel better.  It’s not God’s will for us to be down and depressed – he wants to lift us up again.  He’ll even give us a new song to sing.

 

Veronica  Podbury

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Telling Stories

I spend a lot of time telling stories.  As you may know, I’m a writer, and I love to go into schools to read to young people from my books, then draw out of them their ideas, encouraging them to love words and stories and the truths about life hidden within them.

Of course most of my time is devoted to the church, but in a way it’s more of the same thing, but this time telling stories with a single central theme – about how God breathed life into us, how our lives are destined to be interweaved with his greater eternal purposes, that each life is a journey  with a hidden goal of finding our way back to God. It’s a wonderful story of life extending eternally, not ending in death, but with God reaching out to us in Jesus Christ, to overcome the limits of time and the troubles of this present world.

This Christmastime, I’ll be at my usual business of stories.  You’ll find me in the library session in the Vine Centre near the shops on Saturday 10th  December from 10.30am with a team of readers, telling Christmas stories of many types and from many places.  It’s principally aimed at children, but as we know, a good story is for everyone who has ears to listen.

Story Telling

 

Also on Saturday the 10th at 3:00pm, come and join us for carols and mince pies

 

singalong carols

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Keep it Simple Stupid

KISS is an acronym for "Keep it simple stupid" as a design principle noted by the U.S. Navy in 1960. The KISS principle states that most things work best if they are kept simple rather than made complicated; therefore, simplicity should be a key goal and unnecessary complexity should be avoided.

We live in an increasingly complex world, where we are bombarded by information, are constantly multi-tasking and required to ‘spin plates’ in terms of managing all the things we need to remember and do.Simple

We seem to extend this complexity to the relationships we have with the people around us.  Some are fiends, some colleagues, some acquaintances, some live near us, some are our peers, some are poor or disadvantaged, some locals and others foreigners.  We form options and treat them all differently.

When I read Matthew 22: 37-40, I wonder if Jesus had the KISS principal in mind when he was asked what the greatest commandment was. Rather than picking from the tens of thousands of words in the Old testament law or arguing over keeping all ten of the ‘Ten Commandments’.  Jesus kept it simple, replying,

‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’ 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.

Condensing the rules for life down to two tenants, that are as applicable to harmonious life today as they were then, Jesus brought simplicity to how our relationships with God and our fellow humans should be. 

How about taking a 24 hour Kiss Challenge? 

For 24 hours - Love God with all you heart, mind and soul AND love the people around you as yourself, no matter who they are, what their background, race, or any other characteristic is. 

You never know this may change the world. After all, things work best if they are kept simple.

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Fear or Love - you choose.

This weekend is Halloween.  Halloween means Holy evening, the day before all Saints day.  Whatever the background and thoughts on its place in modern society, it is and always has been a day that people focus on all that is scary. Did you know that there are hundreds of things to be afraid of?  For example, some people have what is called Acerophobia, which is the fear of foods being sour.  – slice of lemon, anyone?

Still others are afraid of chopsticks, numbers, and certain fabrics.  These may sound like silly fears to us, but to some people, these fears are real!

Others have Catoptrophobia, which is not the fear of cats, but the fear of mirrors.  To be fair sometimes when I look in the mirror first thing in the morning, it is scary!

 

Last week we went away for a few days.  We went to Northumberland.  We had a fantastic time as we visited, the Angel of the North, Hardrian’s Wall, the Northumbrian coast with it’s castle ruins and seaweed munching cows. 

It was all lovely and relaxing, that is until we decided to go to “Go Ape”. always stay attached sm

If you have not heard of ‘Go Ape’, It entails climbing up and walking between trees by moving along wire bridges, tarzan swings, hanging ropes and Zip Wires.  All the time you are clipped in with a climbing harness. We went around with huge smiles on our faces. We had a great time fuelled by adrenalin and secure that we were safe. That is until I stepped off a platform some fifty feet above the ground.  Just at that moment I had a flickering doubt, I did clip onto the safety wire, didn’t I?

The fact I am typing this suggests that I did, although the feeling of my stomach knotting and the photos of my panic stricken face reveal that this was a genuine fear.  My fear was real as I lost trust in the equipment provided to save me.

 

Some psychologists suggest that the human brain expresses only two fundamental emotions,  love and fear and from these two, all other emotions are experienced. 

As Christians we are called to live in God's love and not to live in fear.  When we live in fear we react to it, instead of acting against our fear.

When we live with love we have excitement, generosity, trust and courage.

Love strengthens and empowers, whereas fear weakens and disables.  God’s love is a perfect love and we are told that perfect love, like a light dispelling darkness, casts out all fear.  We read in the bible,

“Fear not for I am with you, do not be dismayed for I am your God I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand"

For me ‘Go Ape’ -  was hard work, it was scary but also exhilarating and the rewards were great, but you have to trust in your equipment. 

Life with God is similar, it can be hard work, it can be scary but it is exhilarating and the rewards are great, but you have to trust in God, a God who is for us and desperate to step in and catch us should we fall.

Mark Twain wrote. 

With courage you will dare to take risks, have the strength to be compassionate, and wisdom to be humble. Courage is the foundation of integrity. 

If this is true, what more do we have, what greater things can we achieve when this courage is provided because of God’s love.

So which will you choose to live by?  Fear or love? 

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