Saturday 26 November 2022

The Return of Eric and Ernie

The baby in the manger who left the riches of heaven for poverty on earth

In spring 2020 I wrote an article in the Coleshill Post about the notorious pair of donkeys at Southfields Farm – Eric and Ernie. The article was intended for publication just before Easter, to highlight the dramatic role that the donkeys play in the Palm Sunday parade in Coleshill. But, Covid kept the donkeys in their paddock. The lockdown meant that it was early summer when the Coleshill Post was delivered. 

Now as we go into December 2022, preparations are being made at Southfields Farm for a schools event, ‘Journey to the Stable’. Guess who will be part of ‘the journey’?! Over the course of 2 days, 7th and 8th December, 12 classes of year 2 pupils from local schools will experience the Christmas Story. A large team of volunteers, mainly grandparents, will be helping to create an atmosphere of exploration and adventure. The costumes have progressed over the years; it’s a lot more than just a tea-towel around the head! 

Having a real baby with its mother in the ‘Stable’, is always the icing on the cake; the children’s faces light up as they finally reach their destination. This year there will be another special baby and his mother, sharing the space with an assortment of 4 legged animals in a draughty barn. It probably won’t be as cold as the first year that Coleshill churches arranged ‘Journey to the Stable (J2S)’. In 2010, December 8th, the temperatures barely rose above zero during the day and the shepherds were looking for their frozen sheep on a white churchyard.

Now some of the readers will know that the bible narrative of the birth of Jesus does not mention a donkey, let alone two. Stories that get passed down the generations are often embellished, especially when translated into different languages and cultures over the course of 2000 years. Much of what we know regarding the birth of Jesus is found in the gospel of Luke, with further details in Matthew. Luke specifically mentions in his introduction that he has based his account on records from eye-witnesses. This is of vital, critical importance. I will illustrate this point: While writing this piece, I was trying to recall the details of the first time that I helped with J2S, I was convinced it must have been in the year 2008. However I contacted the lady who took the role of Mary and verified the current age of ‘baby Jesus’ and realised that I was 2 years amiss. Then I managed to check local weather records to verify what I thought had been an exceptionally cold day with day temperatures at -7, to discover that although very cold, it wasn’t that bad! Yes, our memories can quickly deceive us older ones!

But returning to Eric and Ernie, even if they weren’t in the original story, what would they make of it? Well, centuries before the birth of Jesus, there is an account in the bible of a donkey being given a voice to speak to his master! It was a stern rebuke to a foolish man who had acted against his better judgement in order to earn more money. So intent was he on his mission, that he had thrice beat his faithful donkey. (The whole saga is found in the book of Numbers 22-25).  What a contrast to the baby in the manger who left the riches of heaven for poverty on earth. So, Eric and Ernie, who would you rather have for your master?

Carols at the Stable December 11th 4pm at Southfields Farm, Packington Lane Coleshill B46 3EJ

Author: Richard Windridge

May God bless and enrich your life

Please feel free to share this article and other articles on this site with friends, family and other

Sunday 20 November 2022

The valley of Achor

His purpose it to teach us that when all other hope is gone that the Lord Himself is the hope of our lives
Recently John wrote a blog based on the book of Hosea reminding us of what the Lord said to His people through the prophet Hosea, and what He is saying to us today. The blog was a blessing in many ways, but for me it was a stirring up of an old promise that the Lord made very real to me many years ago while I was going through a tough time in my life both mentally and spiritually. That the Valley of Achor (trouble) would become a door of hope.  

When I was 18 years old, I experienced a period of extreme anxiety which lasted for 2 years. This incapacitated me in many ways causing me to lose time from work and feel emotionally and spiritually drained, useless, full of doubt and fear and totally exhausted most of the time. There were many days during this experience I thought I would never be able to feel peace and fearless, and close to the Lord ever again. But as the Lord always does, he never left me but instead gave me many precious promises, including this one from Hosea. 

`But then I will win her back again (allure her) and will lead her into the desert (or wilderness) and speak tenderly to her there. I will return her vineyards to her and transform the valley of trouble (Achor) into a gateway of hope. She will give herself to me there as she did long ago when she was young, when I freed her from her captivity in Egypt` (Hosea 2:14-15 NLT)

The verse assured me that sometimes the Lord leads us into desert times to both get our attention and to speak tenderly to us. At the time it can seem harsh to us and the desert (wilderness) is a place we don’t want to be, we fight it, we try and escape it and we complain to God about it, we certainly don’t welcome it! But through the words of Hosea (who understood periods of wilderness experiences for himself, and periods of seeing the restoration of the Lord through the experience of his wife Gomer), we learn that the wilderness is a place of transformation. God alone can make the valley of trouble (Achor) into a gateway of hope. And His purpose it to teach us that when all other hope is gone that the Lord Himself is the hope of our lives. It is a living, transforming, joy filled hope, that makes us not ashamed or disappointed, because it is based in Him and His eternal and fathomless love for us, and not on circumstance and situation. 

Sometimes it is only being led into a wilderness time and space, and experiencing again the loving, transforming hope of the Lord, that we have the time and the space to again give ourselves totally to the Lord as we did when we first knew Him. The time when we realised, we had been freed from our sinful life and captivity. When the very awareness of who we were and what He did for us; dying on the cross to free us from sin and death; created such a desire to live so close to God and to listen for His every breath in our lives. 

Reading and remembering this verse again was such a blessing and like meeting an old friend again. I recall how the Lord has taught me such a lot during this period of wilderness experiences in my life. But then there was a greater blessing still to come.
During our recent day of prayer, the Lord led me to read Isaiah chapter 65. Its very challenging but all of sudden in verse 10 I found an old friend with an extra blessing attached. 

`The plains of Sharon will again be filled with flocks for my people who have searched for me, and the Valley of Achor will be a place to pasture herds`.(NLT)

I was so thrilled by this verse I do not ever remember reading before. The Lord's promise to Israel and to us is that the valley of Achor (trouble) is not only a door of hope but through the goodness of God, and what we learn from being in the wilderness it will become a place to pasture herds. This spoke to me of the overwhelming love of God. That He would take the troubles and difficult experiences we go through both to give us hope and strengthen our faith and walk with the Lord, so that we can then share that hope and faith to pasture (feed and nurture) others. To show them in their valley of Achor (trouble) that God can both bring them through and be used mightily to feed and nurture others.

We know this is God's plan for us because Jesus confirms it in his encouraging and challenging words to Peter at the last supper.

`Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift each of you like wheat. But I have prayed for you Simon that your faith should not fail. So when you have repented and turned to me again strengthen your bothers` (Luke 22:31-32 NLT

They were all going to be sifted (we all go through difficult times and challenging experiences) but He said to Simon when you have repented and retuned to me and been restored (discovered that the valley of trouble is the door of hope) strengthen your brothers. In other words, feed my sheep, pasture my herds with what you have learned and experienced.  

God never wastes anything, any experience we go through. Any time spent in the valley of Achor (trouble), being led into wilderness experiences, to grow closer to and become more dependent on the Lord is to be used to nurture and feed others. If we don’t, if we keep what we have learned to ourselves, if we are afraid to reach out to others and share our experiences, we do not fulfil all the Lord has ordained for us. Paul encourages us to do this in 1 Corinthians 1:3-5

`All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is our merciful Father and the source of all comfort. He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us. For the more we suffer for Christ the more God will shower us with this comfort through Christ` (NLT

I am so grateful today that the Lord reminded me again in these difficult days we are going through that the Valley of Trouble (Achor) is truly a door of Hope and that Hope is then a gift we have to share with others going through Valleys of Trouble (Achor) The Lord's provision is truly eternal for each of our lives. Thank you Lord.

Author: Jan Pearson

May God bless and enrich your life

Please feel free to share this article and other articles on this site with friends, family and other

Saturday 12 November 2022

Run the Race

The Holy Spirit that lives in us can give us the endurance we lack in ourselves
When I was at school, I was never any good at running fast. I had plenty of stamina but no speed. Cross country running on a Wednesday afternoon was never a favourite of mine or in fact of many of my friends. We would walk much of the way and then make a run for it through the gates back to school. After being a teacher for many years I have no doubt that our sports teacher was never fooled by this but was just glad that we had had the required fresh air and exercise for the day. As far as I can remember, we all finished the race, some earlier than others and in different ways, but we all got there in the end. The winner was not important in those sports lessons, just the ability to finish.

Our walk with the Lord is often likened to a race in the scriptures and, as in my illustration, the important thing is to set our eyes on the goal and finish the race. Everyone that perseveres to the end is a winner but even though there will be many winners we have to run in such a way to get the prize.

Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 9:24-27 Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. Therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air. No, I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.

The race, of course, starts with actually getting going. I, for one, made many false starts over the years before I actually got on my way. There is no point just staying in or around the starting blocks. We have to get moving and then remain on course. 

Then, of course, we have to run the race in such a way as to reach the goal. We have to perservere right to the end. The race is not over until we cross the finish line. Paul tells us that we need to go into strict training ‘to get a crown that will last’. We all need to spend time in the word, in prayer and worship to equip us to be fit enough to reach our goal.

Our goal is eternity with Jesus. We need to keep our mind set on Jesus and what he wants us to do. On our way along the road, we have to be active in the work of the Kingdom, helping to bring others to the starting blocks of the race and beyond.

Paul tells us not to run aimlessly, we have to run with direction and purpose. Purpose helps us to move forward with enthusiasm and energy.
In Hebrews 12:1-3 it says: Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

To make our race easier we need to throw off all our hindrances. Apparently, the Greek here means ‘heavy things’. These may not necessarily be bad in themselves but are slowing us down. This race is not a sprint it is a marathon and anything that slows us down needs to be thrown off along with the sin that ensnares us. This is often a difficult thing to do. As Paul tells us in Ephesians, it is hard to get rid of our old self and the enemy doesn’t help as he is happy for us not to finish the race. There will be struggles along the way but we have to ‘run with perseverence’ ‘fixing our eyes on Jesus’. I don’t know about you, but endurance is not always easy for me but the Holy Spirit that lives in us can give us the endurance we lack in ourselves. We must remember when we get disheartened with ourselves that God wants us to finish this race. He will give us all the help we need if we put our trust in him. We have to fix our eyes on Jesus, not ourselves. Scripture tells us that God’s power flows in our weakness. So, if we feel weak and unable to keep going, that is a good thing because we can step out of the way and let Jesus be our strength. We just have to admit that we can’t do it in our own strength and God will say: ‘My power is made perfect in your weakness.’ That is so encouraging!! With his power we can finish the race. God can use us and help us to do it. 

In Philippians 3:14 Paul says: I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

And that is what we must do, trusting in Jesus, who is ‘the pioneer and perfecter of faith’. He will help us finish this race. Paul says in Philippians 1:6 being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.

So I invite you to pray this with me. ‘You have started this work Lord and I am confident you will help me to cross the finishing line. Amen’

Author: Thelma Cameron

May God bless and enrich your life

Please feel free to share this article and other articles on this site with friends, family and other

Saturday 5 November 2022

Let the Trumpet Sound

God is requiring believers to stand in the gap in repentance, to intercede for His mercy. To bring in a great harvest of souls from “All Nations”.
Blow the trumpet in Zion, and sound the alarm in My holy mountain! Let all the inhabitants of the land tremble, for the day of the Lord is coming, for it is at hand. Joel 2:1

Understanding the times

Biblical, prophetic history is being fulfilled rapidly in these days. It suggests we are rapidly heading towards a coming judgement upon the world. God is requiring us as individuals and the corporate church of Jesus Christ to rise up in a new measure of victory, power and authority.

To demonstrate that in the face of all satan will attempt to do, God through His people is able to do much more than we could ever think or ask. When it seems that things have gone too far, suddenly the Spirit of the Lord, will come and “raise up the standard.”

Not on man-made meetings or programmes, but on the in-gathering of true believers from all denominations who are standing on the prophetic truth of God’s word,

“not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as in the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much more as you see the Day approaching.” Hebrews 10:25

What God requires

Now therefore says the Lord, turn to Me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning. So rend your heart, and not your garments; return to the Lord your God, for He is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and He relents from doing harm. Joel 2:12

Many churches are in slumber, unaware of the urgent days we are living in, turning over in their sleep. Yet there is an urgency for the “Clarion Call” to go forth in these significant times.

God is requiring believers to stand in the gap in repentance, to intercede for His mercy. To bring in a great harvest of souls from “All Nations”.

Here in the UK, unrighteous laws have broken all the ten commandments, giving access to demonic influences, through sin and ungodliness, allowing the spiritual gates of our cities and towns to be torn down.

Our responsibility to Israel

God is also desiring the church to fulfil this responsibility to Israel. The covenant He made with Abraham, has never been revoked, and as Gentiles we have been grafted in.

They were pleased to do it, and indeed they owe it to them. For if the Gentiles have shared in the Jews’ spiritual blessings, they owe it to the Jews to share with them their material blessings. Romans 15:27

As we have shared in their spiritual inheritance, we are indebted to minister to them also in material things. 

A sobering thought.

For the nation and kingdom which will not serve you shall perish, and these nations shall be utterly ruined. Isaiah 60:12.

Our Response

Elijah took on his shoulders the prophetic responsibility for His people and His nation (James 5:17-18). Likewise the “Clarion Call” is calling us to adopt the Elijah spirit akin to His heart in these last days. To pray with God’s wisdom and prophetic understanding.

As darkness increases, and it surely will, God’s light will illuminate the darkness, pouring out His love, His blessing and His provision upon Israel, His chosen people and the Church.


God declares in Psalm 2:6, 'Yet I have set My King (Jesus) on My Holy hill of Zion.' Jesus is the Victor and all nations will come and worship at His feet.

And behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to give to every one according to his work. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End, the First and the Last. Blessed are those who do His commandments that they may have the right to the tree of life and may enter through the gates into the city. Rev.22:12-14

Amen and Amen!

Author: John Yates

May God bless and enrich your life

Please feel free to share this article and other articles on this site with friends, family and other