Saturday, 22 March 2014

The tale of Captain Dread

This is a tale of a pirate who sailed the seven seas. His name was Captain Dread (No relation to the Judge). The reason he was called Captain Dread was not because people were filled with horror and dread at the thought of his very name as you might think, no, it was because he himself dreaded failure. He lived in fear of the dread of failing.  He was scared windless, to use a sailing term, of failing.

Now, fortunately for him he had a friend. A good friend. A good Christian friend who also happened to be a Pirate. I know being a Pirate and a Christian would seem to be a contradiction in terms, what with all the pillaging and maiming and killing they do – Pirates not Christians – but this one seemed to make it work, mainly by not doing any of those things I just mentioned but rather by sailing the high seas, wearing the outfit and owning a parrot. His name was Captain Bob. Not a scary pirate name I know, which sort of sits well with him, because being a Christian pirate he wasn’t particularly scary. The reason he got his name was because he never attacked another ship or raided a port and therefore his ship tended to just bob around in the ocean. Anyway, more about Captain Bob later, lets get on with the story of Captain Dread.

This tale starts on a Tuesday, about 3 o’clock in the morning, and Captain Dread was in his favourite pub – The Long John inn, which was named after the pirate not the underwear. He was sat in the corner considering how he might pull off a particularly difficult and daring raid on a ship named Fear.

“Could this ships name be a coincidence” he asked himself as he sat planning the attack. He had started to realise it was much more difficult job than anything he had done before. The more he thought about it the more he came to think that this could be the one he would fail at.

 “Shiver me timbers” he exclaimed, “Ow be I going to steal the treasure from this ship named Fear? Ow can it be done. I am scared I am going to fail. Fail, FAIL! Aharrgghh” He decided he needed another tot of rum. He stood and took one step towards the bar, but his legs gave way with the fear and he fell to his knees. 

“Arrgghhh, now me knees be shivering loike timbers”.

Suddenly a hand reached out and he felt two strong arms lift him back onto his bench. “Thank ee Captain Bob” said Captain Dread.

“Always happy to help” said Captian Bob in his clear crisp and it has to be said stand outish posh voice.

“You are elpful” replied Captian Dread. It should be pointed out that one of the reasons Captain Bob was tolerated by the other pirates was because he was helpful. He would often be found carrying drunken sailors back to their ships earli in the morning.

“Can I get you another tot of Rum my old sea dog?” Bob asked. Another reason he was tolerated was that he could always be relied on to buy a round.

“Argghh you can that me hearty” said Dread and Captain Bob went to the bar to get a drink.

He came back with a bottle of the stuff and poured Dread a grogg into his glass. Captain Bob sat down at the table and asked “What seems to be the problem Dread?”

“It’s the Fear” he exclaimed “I don’t know how to defeat it?”

Captain Bob had been waiting for a moment like this for a long time. Here was a pirate confessing that he was scared, and asking for advice and help, “Fear you say. Well there’s one sure way to conquer fear,” Captain Bob explained.

“Ow be that” shouted Dread in disbelief that Bob would know how to conquer a ship of any kind.

“With Love” said Bob enthusiastically.

“Yo ho ho, Yo ho hohohohoho” laughed Dread and then spluttered “You don’t understand, I want...”

“Oh but I do understand” interrupted Bob who was keen to get the pirate to open up to his feelings. He decided to try to explain things in terms the poor ignorant pirate would understand “I do understand. Look it at this way. To conquer Fear you need love. Use love to shoot down the masts of fear with the cannons of positive thinking. Take out it’s captain with the pistol of kindness and fight your way to the treasure with the sword of peace.” Captain Bob was quite pleased with the symbolism in these words and decided to allow himself a smug smile.

Captain Dread sat there with his mouth open “I ave no idea what you be on about” he said.

Bob was a little deflated. “Do you want to conquer Fear?”

“Yes I wanna conquer the ship named Fear”.

“There’s a ship named fear?” questioned Bob

“Yes and I want to conquer it, but I am scared I will fail!” silence fell. Dread realised what he had just said and blurted out “oh, err, I’m not scared.”

“You just said you were”

“No I didn’t”

“Yes you did”

“No I didn’t” This went on for a time until suddenly Captain Dread caved in and broke down and cried out “oh alright I am scared. Scared of failing. What will people say about me if I fail. I will lose everything. I am a pirate and I am so very scared” Captain Dread sat there with obvious panic all over his face.

Captain Bob paused and then looked long and hard into the eyes of Dread and said “God loves you. He is with you. He loves you no matter what happens. Perfect love like that can drive out the fear in your heart”.
Dread stared back at Captain Bob. He slowly lowered his glass back down on to the table “God loves me?”

“Yes he does” replied Bob

“God loves me no matter what” Said Dread

“Absolutely” confirmed Bob

“I’ve no need to be afraid” said Dread.

“No reason whatsoever” said Bob.

There was a short silence and then “Thank ee, matey” and Dread walked out the bar.

Bob sat back in his chair allowing the smug smile to return on his face. Then it dawned on him and again the smile disappeared. Bob had helped Dread meet with God and he had helped encourage him to have no more fear of failure. The bad news was now Dread had no fear whatsoever and he could attack and pillage and steal and murder with nothing to hold him back. What had he done! Bob jumped up and ran out of the pub looking for Captain Dread. He was gone.

As it turned out there was nothing for Bob to fear. Captain Dread had conquered his fear of failure but he failed nonetheless to conquer the ship named Fear as it was 3 times the size of his frigate. He was sunk within seconds of engaging in combat. Dread somehow survived and managed to swim to a remote island where he lived out his days in peace with the natives.

So the moral of this tale is. Well actually there are several tenuous ones you could clutch on to…

Firstly, it is better to love your enemies than attack them - especially if they are 3 times the size of you.

Know this, that no matter what happens - God is in charge.

Next, when you help someone meet with God don’t leave the job half done, don’t sit back, take them under your wing and help them some more.

And most of all, know fear can be conquered by the knowledge of the love of God.

Monday, 17 March 2014

Children's prayer of intercession

It can be hard to be inclusive in a church service when you want to offer up prayers of intercession but you also still have young children in with you. To help I've written a prayer that is easy for children to listen to and for all to say amen to... 

Thank you Lord for this day,
Thank you Lord that we can stay
Here in church to worship you
And give thanks for all you do.

Thank you Lord that we give money
To help others, to feel sunny.
Help us know where to spend it,
Help us know where to send it

And now we want to intercede
For those we know who are in need,
Lift them up Lord, show them love,
Help them Lord to look above…
all the problems and hurts they’re feeling
may they feel the touch of your healing

In the world, Lord please bring peace
Where there is fighting may it cease.
Where there is hunger, please bring food
Where there is weakness, strength renewed.

If someone nearby is in need
If they’re captive and need to be freed
Show us how we can help them,
Lead us in ways that will support them.

And hold our families in your hands,
As we follow Your commands.
Lord, show us the things we need to do,
Things that make You shout YAHOOO

Thank you  for helping us with the above
Most of all, thank you for Your love.


Saturday, 8 March 2014


I've been to some awe inspiring meetings, ones where the speaker and everything about the event lifts your spirit, motivates and encourages you to do whatever needs to be done. This short poem is not about one of those meetings...

This is dull,
this is boring.
Much more of it
and I’ll be snoring

Save me, save me
from this meeting.
I can take no more
of his constant bleating

Take me, take me
away from all this.
Anywhere but here
would be such bliss.

Thursday, 6 March 2014

Once there was a chicken

Here is the story of a chicken...

Once upon a time there was a chicken. An ordinary chicken. It was so ordinary it wasn’t even brown it was beige. It did ordinary things like all the other ordinary chickens. It ate ordinary seed. It laid ordinary eggs. It made ordinary chickeny noises. Cluck! It was an ordinary chicken.

Then one day the chicken did an unusual thing. It wasn’t an extraordinary thing to do but it was an unusual thing. Unusual for a chicken anyway. What did it do I hear you ask. It decided to cross the road. No one is entirely certain why it should do this. Some say it did it just to get to the other side. Others say it was deeper than that. It had to do with a deep yearning to experience life as it’s meant to be experienced and to take hold of its life by the er, the erm, the claw, because chickens don’t have hands and you can’t grab hold of anything using wings. Sorry I digress. To take hold of life by the claw and fly off into the sunset. The whole idea falls down there really as chickens can’t fly very far. Anyway, this ordinary chicken crossed the road and no one can be certain why. What we do know is it shouldn’t have bothered because on the way over it was mugged by a flock of ducks. They just flew in and stole all of the ordinary seed it was carrying and gave the chicken lots of rather nasty pecks. It is a terrible situation when an ordinary chicken can’t even cross a road without ducks beaking you up. It’s crazy, some would say it was quackers.  

As the ordinary chicken lay there, battered and bruised, unable to move and wondering why it had even bothered to try and cross the road. It saw a cow with lots of milk walking towards it. The chicken thought “It’s my clucky day. A cow has come to save me, although it does look a little cold”. In fact the cow was a little chilly. We know this because it was a fresian (freezing). It could have put a jersey on but jersey cows aren’t very good at balancing.

The cow saw the chicken. It stopped and cocked her eye at the chicken and the chicken lay there and cocked her eye at the cow and there they were cock eyed. The cow got a bit nervous. It ruminated over the situation. What if the mugging ducks were still around. What if they were waiting for another poor innocent to walk in. “Oh no” thought the cow “I’m Moooooving over. I’m not going near the chicken. I have far to much milk on me and won’t be able to fight them off”  And so the cow walked on the udder side of the road and left the poor ordinary chicken to suffer and possibly die. That cow was not kind. That cow was not helpful. That cow was not a good neighbour.

Next came along a sheep. It was a religious sheep. Possibly a Baptist although we have no evidence of this. The only reason we believe it to be a Baptist was because it insisted on being dipped. Anyway, it was a religious sheep and the chicken saw it. It looked over at the sheep and feeling unwell it rolled it’s eyes. The sheep bent down and picked up the eyes and rolled them back, but he wouldn’t go near the chicken. The sheep considered the ramifications of its actions. The chicken was baaaaring it’s way – Oh come on ewe knew another baaaad joke was coming!. The sheep didn’t want to get fleeced by the mugging ducks. Like the cow before it wasn’t going to get the wool pulled over its eyes and he thought “This is all a bit suspicious. The ducks could still be around waiting to get me. Besides I’m busy on sheep business and I’ll be late for my next dipping”. And so the sheep walked on the other side and left the poor ordinary chicken to suffer and possibly die on the side of the road. That sheep was not kind. That sheep was not helpful. That sheep was not a good neighbour.

Finally, and it was starting to get dark now, a wolf came into view. “Oh no” thought the chicken “A wolf” Then a moment of hope. The chicken thought “maybe it’s the sheep come back to help me and it is a sheep dressed in wolf’s clothing”

“Hello” said the wolf.

“Bother” said the chicken “you’re a wolf”

“Can I help you” said the wolf.

The chicken whimpered, which is odd because wolves normally make that noise. Anyway it turns out the wolf, so often the big bad guy in these stories, was a goodie. He picked him up. He licked the wounds clean, even though he was hungry himself. Howl he did that was amazing. He even took him back to his pack who cared for him and helped the ordinary chicken get back on his ordinary claws again. And so, thanks to the wolf, the chicken feels like a chicken tonight!

We come to the end of this little tale, or in the chickens case the end of the tail feathers, and all that is left to say is this:

Don’t be a cow and have lots, but give nothing.

Don’t be a sheep and be so busy being religious you have no time to be helpful.

Do be like the wolf who was kind. Be like the wolf who was helpful. Be like the wolf who was a good neighbour, and go and be like the wolf nowoooooooo.