Monthly Archives: August 2011

Interview with Claire Musters (part two)

How did you juggle supporting your husband and being involved in ministry while you raised such a large family? What were the biggest challenges?

Very early in our marriage, Terry and I redefined what we meant by “ministry”. Everything in our lives was to be seen as under the umbrella of serving God; there was no distinction between …

To read the rest of part two of the interview follow the link to Claire’s blog; clairemusters.com

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Sisters

I am the eldest of four sisters.  My father and mother had been married for just 6 weeks when he sailed with the Welch Regiment toIndia.  He returned in 1945 and I was born in 1946, in Kingston on Thames. Soon 3 others were born, and we spent most of our childhood in Maidstone Kent.

Looking back, I can see now that post war England was bleak and austere in comparison with today. But we didn’t know that, and we were happy.

In those days, Maidstone was a small rural town, surrounded by hop fields and apple orchards and the North Downs.  We had a long garden in which my father grew most of our vegetables and we kept chickens and ducks, which afforded us a lot of amusement as well as a steady supply of eggs. Behind the house, the ground sloped away over allotments down toward the river Medway. On the opposite side was a church with a tall spire and often on a summer evening we could hear the sound of bells floating over the valley. However, we came from Brethren stock and walked the mile or so down the hill, over the bridge and round by the high walls of the prison to the plain little meeting hall, designed by my father. It’s still there, but now called an Evangelical Free church. Being Christian was central to our family identity.

When we get together now, my sisters and I recall those far off days with a mixture of nostalgic affection and amazement at our quite narrow and naïve upbringing; but also with huge thankfulness. Our parents were quite strict but we always knew we were loved. We had little in the way of material possessions; my clothes were hand me downs from my cousins, and by the time they reached my sisters were fairly worn out! My mother was a gifted woman in lots of ways, but needle work was not one of them and I think she was often at her wit’s end to know how to keep us adequately clothed. Consequently we had not the vaguest clue about dress sense. But as we lived in jeans most of the time, it didn’t matter. We lived on roller skates and bikes, mucked out the chicken house, and got roped in by Dad to help when he wanted to change the wheels on the car. I also helped him build a garage. Femininity? I don’t think I encountered the word until I was about 14!

But we were always laughing. Yes, we did a fair bit of crying too I suppose. A houseful of girls is never going to be a place devoid of emotion! We had huge arguments and fights, and competed noisily and energetically, as we made up games, and slipped into being different persona for hours. We could be horrible to each other, but then if someone outside dared to criticise or hurt one of us we would close ranks and vigorously defend each other.

When I left home to go to college in London, I missed my sisters like crazy. One by one we left, went on to further training, got married and had children.  We had had our rebellious moments, but we all married Christians and have all stayed with our husbands. Nearly all of us have reached our 40th anniversary!

Now we are all grandma’s.. When I turned sixty, we got together for a weekend and enjoyed it so much we have been doing it ever since.  We love meeting, exchanging news about our families, books, and sometimes shoes and clothes and jewellery. We shop, go for walks, eat too much, drink loads of tea and coffee, watch DVD’s and drink champagne! This last weekend, we were at Sue’s house in Ashford, and we went to France on a day trip. It was raining, but when has that ever been a problem for 4 women in a shopping mall? I can highly recommend Le Citie Europe inCalais. Also the retail outlet in Ashford is awesome!

As the news broke last week about the riots and looting in some of our major cities, I was so thankful for parents who loved God, loved each other, and loved their daughters. We were given boundaries and yet had freedom; we were poor yet rich by today’s moral standards; we were smacked when naughty but knew we were loved. Now we are all parents, and grandparents, but our families have all been raised with similar values, and much prayer.

God invented family; “he is the Father from whom every family on earth derives its name” Ephesians 3v14. I think it pleases him a lot when our families love each other and perpetuate that love from one generation to another. Strong Christian families are the glue which can hold society together, and the sad state of our nation has a lot to do with the fragmentation of family life.

Don’t under estimate the power of a loving, God fearing family.

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Interview with Claire Musters

Here’s a little snippet from an interview I did recently with writer, Claire Musters.

I believe you met Terry at Bible college, and both had a strong desire to follow after God with all your hearts – did you ever imagine to what extent He would use your giftings?

At London Bible College, (now London School of Theology) Terry received a call from God that originated in 1 Chronicles to “build a house for God”. Recently baptised in the Spirit, he observed …

 

To read the rest of the interview,  follow the link to Claire’s blog; http://clairemusters.com/

 

 

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Choosing how to wait

We are often tested and find ourselves unexpectedly waiting for something which is delayed. The way you wait affects the way you pray: and vice versa! “In the morning I will order my prayer to you and eagerly watch.” (Psalm 5 v3, NASB)

Terry and I thought we would have sold our house and moved to Kingston long ago! We put it on the market in February, and I thought, somewhat naively, that we would be settled by Easter. After all, God had spoken to us! He knew our busy schedule, the dates when it would be most convenient to pack up and go; that we had ‘Together on a Mission’ to think about, family coming and going….

He certainly did; and I am grateful that he kept us in our house for the conference, it worked out just fine. But then surely everything would fall into place? Well, things began to happen, but there have been frustrations and complications.

What can you do? Watch and pray.

We have to face that we run into the same problems and delays and frustrations as anyone else in this uncertain world with its economic perils and disasters. Sometimes we just have to wait. But there are ways of waiting; we can fume and seethe with annoyance, we can wait angrily, we can try to manoeuvre things, we can be negative and gloomy: “This is never going to happen, or if it does, it will be the worst possible time…”

We can lie awake at night worrying; we can be tense and uptight, living on the edge of panic: “Suppose we got it wrong? What’s going to happen? How will we cope?” etc, etc.

For those with no hope in a merciful God who is a loving father who plans the best for us, waiting is fraught with fear, anxiety and tension. But our Father tells us, “I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not harm you, plans to give you a future and a hope.”

It honours him when we wait in faith and hope. He is the one who gives peace which is not dependent on everything going our way. He is the prince of peace!

So we can choose how we wait. I rather like David’s way in Psalm 27v14, “Wait—(eagerly long for)–for the Lord, be strong and take heart and wait—(confidently)– for the Lord.” I also identify with Jehoshaphat when he was in a tight spot, surrounded by hostile forces. He prayed, “Lord, we don’t know what to do, but our eyes are upon you.” The answer came back, “Stand firm and see the salvation of the Lord” (2 Chron 20). Good place to be!

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Ways of waiting

Psalm 130 is all about waiting eagerly, in hope; “I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in his word I put my hope. My soul waits for the Lord more than watchmen wait for the morning”.

The word translated ‘wait’ here is ‘qawal’ and the root of it is ‘to long for’; the sense is to wait for something you know will happen. David says he is putting his trust in God’s word which He will not go back on. So David can confidently wait for God’s intervention.

There are several Hebrew and Greek words in Biblical texts which are all translated by the same English word ‘wait’.

(By the way, it is worth getting a good concordance which lists words alphabetically like a dictionary. Alongside each one is a number, and at the back of the book you will find the corresponding Hebrew or Greek word, its root meaning, and other usages.)

A slightly sinister word is ‘tsedah’, the root meaning of which is to do with hunting, and it is used when someone is lying in wait. Another, ‘arab’ has a similar meaning, used to describe someone lurking, waiting in ambush. There is a word, ‘shamar’ which carries in it a sense of waiting watchfully, cautiously, to see what will happen. ‘Yachal’ means to wait in hope, as does ‘shabar’. This is used in psalm 104 v27 “These all look to you to give them their food…”, a sense of creation waiting in dependence upon God to sustain and nurture it.

Then there is a word, ‘duwmam’, which has at its root to be dumb, in other words to wait silently, as in Lamentations 3 v26: “It is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord.” Another very vivid one is ‘chakar’, which has in its roots the idea of adhering, sticking to, and is used in Habakkuk 2v3, “Though the vision lingers, wait for it; it will certainly come!” Isn’t that graphic imagery?

Don’t give up on the promises of God: stick to them like glue, they will be fulfilled!

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Waiting

I don’t like waiting. If I have to wait 5 minutes for a bus, I’d rather walk. My mother was the same. She was energetic up to the day of her death, preferring to walk rapidly, even run everywhere in spite of her 84 years. So perhaps it’s in the genes.

But of course, waiting is part of life and cannot always be avoided. We have to wait for exam results, dental appointments, Christmas, a baby’s birth; and mostly, these things cannot be hurried. Some we wait for with dread, others with eager anticipation.

We can wait anxiously for the results of a blood test; resignedly for the notice of a speeding ticket to arrive; impatiently in the queue at Tesco; eagerly for your wedding day; with longing for a holiday in the warm Mediterranean sun…or grumpily for a wet camping holiday to be over!

So what does the Bible tell us about waiting? What different ways of waiting are there? And how should we wait?

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One happy woman

A Winchester Break
It sounds like the advertisement for Kitkat, but everyone needs a break! Strolling hand in hand by the river Itchen last weekend with my husband, I was so glad that he had arranged one for us. Terry is not famous for being spontaneous, but a few weeks earlier when the card advertising the half price break at a hotel near Winchester dropped on our doormat, he surprised me by saying, “Let’s do that!”

The last Together on a Mission week had been wonderful but surprisingly demanding, emotionally and physically (there is a lot of walking and standing about, not to mention many conversations, and the actual speaking that we both did). Added to that, we had many house guests, and the continual roller-coaster of trying to sell our house. (We have a buyer…but there are complications, lots of phone calls with agents and solicitors….keep praying…). So we were ready for a break!

It was great to head off west and take the pretty route, stopping when we felt like it. Saturday morning came with the promise of a beautiful day! Invigorated by an early morning swim (yes, Terry as well) we found our way to the beautiful historic centre of Winchester. A great statue of King Alfred stands at the foot of the main street which is lined with ancient buildings, and the massive cathedral looms nearby surrounded by colourful gardens. Incidentally, Jane Austen is buried there; and currently there is an exhibition celebrating 400 years of the King James Bible.
We wandered happily in the sunshine through the many market stalls along with crowds of shoppers buying cheeses, pies and vegetables…and other slightly odd things like pillows and duvets.

We found a nice pub for lunch slightly out of town. The girl who took our order said, “I’ll bring it out to you in the garden. I know who you are!” It turned out she belongs to the Newfrontiers church there. (This happens to us quite often.) She suggested a walk by the river, so in the afternoon we found the water meadows through which runs the river Itchen. By now the sun was hot and it was very refreshing to watch the cool clear water rushing by, and ducks floating along with their young ones paddling madly to keep up. There is a lovely, gentle feel about an English historic town in summer, the cathedral tower not far off, grey stone city walls that have stood for centuries, and the sound of bells floating across the water meadows, as people stroll about in shorts and summer dresses with icecreams, and kids in sunhats. I like it.

We were a tad late for church the next day, not having appreciated that the car park would be used by a street market. But we parked in a multi storey under a mall, and made it in, only to be placed by a friendly steward right next to John Groves the (former) pastor, and his wife Marion. No hiding then! We felt instantly at home and enjoyed the worship and John’s excellent preach.

After another lovely sunny afternoon mostly by the water’s edge, I remarked to Terry that perhaps we had better be moving as it was 5 o’clock and we didn’t know when the car park closed. It was quite a long way back and took nearly half an hour at a fairly quick pace. Panting, we arrived at the car park which was ominously quiet, and down the end of the ramp I could see a metal gate barring the entrance. Slightly panicking, we rushed to the mall entrance, relieved that it was open. We ran in and found the stairs down to the car park. An attendant swinging a bunch of keys was also going down so I asked him when the car park closed. “At 5.30”, he said. I looked at my watch. 5.25 Phew! That could have been very awkward indeed!

Congratulating ourselves on a timely escape we drove to Stockbridge, a spectacularly pretty village with a trout stream running through it, and plenty of pubs to choose from for a good meal. This is beginning to sound far too much like a travel brochure; I am not being paid by Hampshire county council. But I just want to express how pleasing it is when a few comparatively simple things come together to produce such an enjoyable and enriching experience: warm sunny weather, an old city full of ancient beauty, the bustle and colour of market stalls, clear running water, worshipping with the family of God, appetising meals in pub gardens, and enjoying it all with the one I most love.
I am a happy woman.

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