Category Archives: life

Apprentice interlude

APPRENTICE Interlude

So much has happened in the world since those days

Just as so much happened in the world before those days

Standing outside the central library on the steps

Leaning against the pillar and watching the world go by

As the odd gust of wind lifted dust and old cigarette packets

That wafted their obnoxious mix across one’s squinting eyes

While the journeyman who stood there beside me said little

And seemed to never hear when spoken to

Long monologues I would exhale to his ears that seemed to swivel his head from side to side as he too observed the passers by

And then frustratingly he would – after my well-crafted theories were expounded – grunt a question mark in response

As though he hadn’t heard a word

Time was up – back to the stone – the chase – the form

Back to his instruction – for now he came alive

Indentured-I-was to this fair trade as it was then

With licence to carry a sword by ancient decree

I carried a lunch box instead

The library (rarely entered) covered us with it’s canopy it’s baroque archway of an entrance providing shelter

So that even on rainy days we could watch that

changing world go by

Lunchtime break – a welcomed device for quenching

the smell of ink and wash-up

Menial tasks thrust into one’s path – do this – do that – scenarios

Except for the efforts of the non-answering journeyman

under whose wing

I began to learn the trade – Stanley – with slightly crossed eyes

I never did hear of his life again or of his demise

Put away…

PUT AWAY

Much as I could do

 – I won’t complain

If I was to complain that would be 

 – getting into the blame game

Much as I obviously disagree

 – it makes no difference

 – ‘Tween you and me

Oh by the way

 – I like your ashtray

It’s the first time in my life

 – to like an ashtray

It’s all that goes with it

 – that sends me away

 – Into a spiral of disgust

                  …

I’ve never liked that poison

Since I had to breath it in

                  …

Parenthetically –

[During the shifting sands

The sinking sands

Of popular opinion

Versus what the experts did say

Until one day

The world woke up and

put the cigarettes away…]

…Dillinger

Did they get Dillinger…? by Ken Riddles

Did they get Dillinger?

The story behind this painting:

I held an exhibition when I finished with my day to day job as a typesetter.

The exhibition sold well.

Amongst my guests on the opening night was my elder brother.

There was eight years between us.

He suffered from a heart condition and passed in 2015.

We used to meet up once a month for lunch, and these were enjoyable times, with banter about whose turn it was to pay etc.

When we were young, he was always kind to his little brother, especially at Christmas, when I waited with anticipation to see what present he had bought me. He never disappointed (e.g. when I was 8 y.o. – he was 16).

I had two ‘not for sale’ drawings in the show. And he liked these because they were depictions of the street of our childhood upbringing.

As I would have explained – not topographical depictions. A drawing of a memory, not a drawing from memory. (Some of you might ‘get’ the difference).

But I wouldn’t let these go. So his eyes lit upon the painting above, and just before someone else wanted to buy it, he was able to stake his claim and it ended up on the living room wall of his home.

He too, like me, was ‘weaned’ on the old black and white gangster movies seen on TV.

He had three of my paintings in his home and joked about how when I was gone – they would be worth so much more. With reference to the old adage about an artist not being worth much until he was dead.

These paintings have been inherited by his son and daughter.

Be great to have my brother back – I would paint him as many ‘Dillingers’ as he wished (RIP).

All darkness…

ALL DARKNESS 2021

Dramas today

Carry the stench of having gone astray

Negative emotions to the fore

Feel-good factors immobilised

Only dark situations portrayed

Dark times

Obnoxious rhymes

Dramas all black and sombre

Violence perpetrated and perpetuated

Scripts full of swear words

Of the worst kind

Addressing fellow citizens to trash them

Drug abuse and obtuse – philosophies

Abused women

And refused men

Conceited bosses lusting for power

Greed and weed

Hurt and pain

Serious crime with nothing to gain

Misery and sorrow in their wake

Dog eat dog – all on the take

Robbery and sloth

Indolent gain

Swooning around in delusional narcotics

Chaotic…

Hierarchy’s in gluttonous consumption

Iron-fisted dictators dictating to losers

And abusers

Writers won’t stop for a moment

To even ask why?

All uplifting stories gone below

To the place of disappearance

And they don’t even notice it

Characters swiftly running

to calamitous ruin

Plots of confusion for monetary gain

Dramas written

Not a wholesome word in sight

The drama pens look for material

Penning us to believe

this is the world you are living in

So they think to write the same

Make it real is the excuse

Delusional meditation offerings

Is the result

as we

Try to stay the course

In hope of a noble plot

Or something sane

So we can hope in life again

But it’s not to be found

As the rut has set in

The rut of negativity and pain

Everything wrapped in

A suicidal chain

Come on

You normal playwright minds

Give us a drama to affirm life

Let us rise with optimistic

Reprise and cheer again!

Everything’s important

EVERYTHING’S IMPORTANT

Everything is important

Even your first bit of toast

                       …

You bend your knuckles

doing finger press-ups on your hand

                       …

A twitch of the mouth sideways

Will you remember this in years to come?

                       …

Because everything’s important

Even when you go for a run

                       …

Do you remember that on the ‘fourteenth

Of the eighth – nineteen-fifty-eight’

You crossed the road of the big avenue?

                       …

You bought a bag of crisps

but pulled it all apart

You didn’t open it – you destroyed it –

Fifty per-cent of crisps eaten

The rest dirtied on the floor

That was important at the time

                       …

And the night you couldn’t get warm in bed

You didn’t sleep – sore head

That night passed – exhausted the next day

Do you remember that event?

A night ill-spent

                       …

What was the matter with you anyway?

That was an important night

You were sick for a few hours

And didn’t make a note of it

                      …

I can still hear the voices

echoing across the lake

That was an important holiday

I bonded even more with my son

                      …

It may not seem important to you

But remember how you made a decision

with heads-you-win – tails-you-lose?

That was a Friday…

                       …

You sat bored and kept swinging

your bunch of keys

When was that?

You didn’t get up for an hour

Where was that?

It was important to express

your boredom in that way

In fact will you ever express

boredom in that key-way again?

                      …

It’s important to note the dates

When things transpire

Momentous – one-off experiences

                      …

You laughed and laughed

‘Cause you got the funny -bug

On Penny Lane with your friend

You couldn’t stop laughing

‘cause – everything was a teenage joke

                     …

Not enough sleep again – occasion two

What was that important date?

                     …

See – you’ve forgotten…

You can’t pin it down – 1990-what?

So another important event

slips by into unimportance

When it was important at the time

                     …

Everything is important

You will come to this again

Innumerable instances of importance

                     …

Little and large things transpire

You made no note of them

They didn’t seem important

It’s almost sin – that they passed you by

                     …

You stood for too long – that night

Your legs were sore

The comfort you felt when you sat down

Emotionally overwhelmed

With a sense of wellbeing and rest

But you’ve forgotten that important date

                    …

The chewing-gum-paper

You folded it and folded it

Until you couldn’t fold it anymore

See? – important…

Never again would you do that

to a chewing gum wrapper

Because you don’t eat chewing gum

anymore – it gives you wind

                    …

There you go – see?

An unrecorded moment of

‘immense’ unique importance

The demise of the bubble gum wrapper

                    …

You lifted three shirts that day

You put two back on the rack

You wanted one of them

But not more – than the one you bought

But that was one day in the lifetime of

many shopping sprees with your

Hard earned cash

                    …

It’s important that you know –

When you bought that sweater

– When that sweater gets holes

You can look back and say:

Sweaters – lasted – intact –

from November ’82 to December 2000

When – they developed holes

                    …

Do you see your own importance?

You are important –

with a big head or with humility

                    …

It’s an important date – when you were there

Born from your mamma’s womb

She remembers that important day

You cannot – but make a note of it anyway

                     …

Flicking through the magazine in the dentists

You read an article – you’ve forgotten

As though it wasn’t important anyway

It was important to the writer

and still is today

                   …

The Importance of being Earnest

Oscar Wilde did say

While the stewardess

told you to fasten your seatbelt

It was important in preparation

for the aeroplane’s sway

                    …

Everything is important in it’s own way

Your debit card number

Remember it?

What day did it arrive on?

“Not so important?” you say

                    …

Important or not important?

Important wins hands down

“Everything is important

in it’s own way”

                     …

As we say – in cliche

Dreamed Life

DREAMED LIFE 2020

Like a concertina screen

Unfolding before your inner eyes

Scenes of the decade’s demise

All must reflect on the fact

That time stands still for no man

                  ….

Call up your recent days

And see if you remember –

or is it a haze?

You will find the distant past

Comes rumbling over the hill

from long ago

As you relive your memory

in various dreams

                   ….

Dream-memories are

not what they seem

Vivid though they be

They scramble what has been

into another life-lived

A might-have-been scenario

Pick out what you like

And leave the rest of the meal 

Happiness?

HAPPINESS?

I was thinking of the word – Happiness.

Happiness – where do I stand in the ‘happiness’ stakes?

My dictionary gives us this for happy:

  • feeling or showing pleasure or contentment:

Happiness – hmmm.?

Paul the apostle tells us that (I Timothy 6) / Now godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out.

I do have a deep abiding peace in my spirit.

In fact – a peace I can’t explain – one that passes my ability to figure it out.

Philippians 4/

and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

However I like the old sayng that made it’s journey around the church years ago:

I’m satisfied with a dissatisfied satisfaction.

In my own nature and personality I’m a discontented kind of a guy.

When we find a negative tendency in our personality – (and we are all so different) – we need to feed ourselves, as Christians, with God’s antidote: – the Word of God.

This both counteracts our negative tendencies and also brings change.

God is in the changing business. He, as a faithful Heavenly Father takes time to raise His family correctly.

Raising us in the nurture and admonition of His Word (see also Ephesians 6/4)

Reminding ourselves of all the wonderful promises He has given us, through the New Testament and Old Testament writers, is giving God the opportunity to work in us.

He uses His Word to accomplish the changing and maturing of the Christian’s heart.

I Thessalonians 2/13

…the word of God, which also effectively works in you who believe.

This brings greater wholeness in our lives – and consequently greater contentment.

So role out your own definition of happiness, if you wish. But perhaps, godly contentment may not be what you have in mind?

Godliness brings contentment – whereas the pleasure of sin is only for a season.

Contentment starts deep within – growing from the assurance that Christ has made me acceptable, through no merits of my own.

I drift from the contentment He provides – and get restless, but when that happens it’s time to get back into the power-house of contentment, through prayer and Bible meditation.

Passivity and contentment are not the same thing. How easy it is to become passive, especially in this present lockdown situation.

But, nevertheless, I need to be reminding myself that my contentment is in Christ.

Complete by Grace bringing contentment:-

Colossians 2/

For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily; 10 and you are complete in Him, who is the head of all principality and power. 

Secretly

SECRETLY

John 19/

38 And after this Joseph of Arimathaea, being a disciple of Jesus, but secretly for fear of the Jews, besought Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus: and Pilate gave him leave. He came therefore, and took the body of Jesus.

I feel very reluctant to come to a conclusion about this man Joseph.

Perhaps there are two schools of thought. 1) There should be no secret disciples or 2) It is perfectly acceptable to be so.

Joseph of Arimathaea, being a disciple of Jesus, but secretly for fear… 

It would seem to me there is no ‘one rule covers all’ application to be made here.

We know that The Lord calls his disciples, to confess Him before men – or we will miss out on Jesus confessing us before the angels…

Luke 12:

Also I say unto you, Whosoever shall confess me before men, him shall the Son of man also confess before the angels of God: But he that denieth me before men shall be denied before the angels of God.

But in Joseph’s case we have a man who is convinced of the fact that he must take care of the body of Jesus, and that He believes that Jesus was/is The Son of God – otherwise he would not be designated as a disciple.

But he was also having to deal with fear. Fear is an emotion, so apparent in our lives at times, that it can cause a faithful disciple like Peter to deny his Lord and Master.

The lesson learnt from it, in Peter’s case, meant such denial was never to be repeated.

Did Joseph go from being a secret disciple to a manifest one? Well if it became known what his good deed consisted of – then he certainly would have been suspected of being a follower of Christ.

What about you – are you a secret disciple? Perhaps a member of another religion – but secretly a believer on Christ as Lord? Perhaps you are in a workplace where you would receive ridicule and banter for being such a disciple? Perhaps you are secretly trying to live the Christian life – with limited knowledge as to what it is really all about? You just want to be a good person?

Jesus spoke of someone in this manner: Mark 12/ 34 Now when Jesus saw that he answered wisely, He said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.”

Perhaps in your secret discipleship, you are doing the best you can?

Seems to me that you are not far from the fulness of what God has for you.

Next should follow advice as to how to proceed.

But I’m stopping short of this and offering to talk to you off-line.(ken.riddles@btinternet.com)

Some day you will need to confess Him before men. But meantime:

Jeremiah 29/12 Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. 13 And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart. 14 I will be found by you, says the Lord, 

Dry Bread?

DRY BREAD?

‘Dry bread’ – can be a metaphorical description of something that is not appetising.

We read a blog, a book, an email, a news item, and it seems dry to us – consequently we remain ‘unfed’.

But then in favour of the communicator –  ‘you can please some of the people some of the time but not all etc…’

Dry bread for one person however, can be a happy meal for another.

And that’s why pleasing: ‘all of the people all of the time…’ is an impossibility. Because the meal/message  will be ‘dry bread’ to some.

In the Old Testament the people of God, collected fresh manna (food) each day.

But to them it became stale, even though it wasn’t.

And so staleness can be in the people – not in the food.

Stale people spiritually – do not respond to fresh spiritual bread. It doesn’t appeal. It isn’t appetising because their palette is not sympathetic to it.

Their palette is corrupted. It’s like salt …’but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men’.

(To slightly arrest the scripture) To those who have no taste for it, the food has lost it’s savour.

But the food has not lost it’s flavour/savour – instead the palette of those who are offered the food, can be non-appreciative.

[We see this in Numbers 11/4-6]

This is an illustration of the truth we find in…

I Corinthians 2/14

…the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.

To be able to get the natural man who has no taste for the things of Jesus Christ, – to stop, listen, learn, and respond is impossible. Unless – unless – God touches their heart and mind.

For those who want God to touch them. They must deny their natural appetite (as in earthly thinking) and put themselves in a place where God has their time and attention. It is called prayer and bible meditation.

In that place – low and behold – spiritual food becomes an acquired taste.

In which place, He (God), will eventually serve-up a spiritual meal.

Such folks entering into real prayer will suddenly find the things of God extremely appetising – and such a meal, will change their whole life.

It may not happen straight away – but with patience it will happen. (See also Luke 5/39).

Oh, TASTE AND SEE that the Lord is good; Blessed is the man who trusts in Him!

(Psalm 34)

Neutral zone?

Neutral zone?

This lockdown experience can ‘slow-torture’ our lives into neutral zone.

Neutral zone as in shelving all our endeavours into ‘suspended animation’.

That could sound slightly peppered with the idea of despair. (?)

If we take our example from one of the fathers of the faith it’s a case of – far from it!

Paul the apostle gives us insight into his humanity, but also his triumphal experience as a born again Christian, coming as it does through faith.

But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us. 8 We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair;Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed; 10 Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body.

He tells us of trouble and perplexity but without despair.

So a 24/7 joyous trouble-less high is not what being a Christian entails.

It does of course firstly entail matters of life or death before it is a whole pile of other things.

‘Where and how shall I spend eternity?’ Is usually a foundational question when examining the Christian faith.

No despair, Paul the apostle indicates in the above verses.

Reason? Because we are never forsaken. 

It is the unforsaken-ness that gives the Christian the strength and sustaining solace they need regardless of the situation, they might find themselves in. God is with us (Emmanuel) always, even to the end and further.

However I must admit to a certain neutral dwelling zone that I can drift in and out of. What about you? 

I examine this – in order to come to fresh conclusions.

Conclusions that will spur me on to lay hold, more firmly, upon eternal life again.

I Timothy 6/12

Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life…

Disillusionment knocks at the door, in light of the chaos abroad.

With no immediate change, or with prolonged sameness, can come disillusionment.

But there is no disillusionment when it comes to the things of God, they are constant.

As the old hymn says: “All may change but Jesus never – Glory to His name!”

Shaking off disillusionment, like Paul did – with the serpent into the fire. (Acts 28/4-6)

Nevertheless I must admit to missing, gathering with, God’s people and lifting the roof in praise. And I mean really lifting the roof!

As far as I am concerned all the clever-most technology will never substitute for human beings – being together ‘in the flesh’, but the great thing and advantage Christians have is being together ‘in the Spirit’.

If that was not the case, being in the flesh as in gathering physically together, would be of little consequence.

What a blessing to be both together in each others company and to worship in ‘spirit and truth’ at the same time.

Meantime, we’ve been doing Zoom. We edify and exhort one another. I’m sure you too are tapping into some online expression of church life?

Depending on the changing shifts of covid-safe rules, we can gather together as church, in a limited way.

In all of this invisible attack (virus), on our world – the question that is exchanged between non-Christian and Christian persons alike, is: ‘What is this achieving – why is it happening – what’s the cause, what’s the point etc.?’ Or something similarly expressed.

What ‘it’ (the pandemic) is supposed to do – as with all trials and tribulations we encounter as human beings – is to cause us to fall on God.

Luke 20/

18 Everyone who falls on that stone will be broken and shattered in pieces; and on whomever it falls, it will crush him.”

There is a brokenness that accompanies humility where the failures of our own efforts and the empathetic hand of God meet, as we fall at His feet in prayer. Falling ON the Rock Christ Jesus. There is coming a terrible day when the Rock Christ Jesus will fall ON all ungodliness.

But many do not recognise The Rock upon which we must fall.

Romans 9/33

As it is written and forever remains written, “Behold I am laying in Zion a Stone of stumbling and a Rock of offence; And he who believes in Him [whoever adheres to, trusts in, and relies on Him] will not be disappointed [in his expectations].”

One of the ways the God of the Bible is a stumbling stone to many is – expressed in the old chestnut: “Why does God allow these things?” (Pandemics)

So they stumble in unbelief (through skewed reasoning).

Whereas whoever trusts in Christ will not be disappointed now and in the long term, especially in the long term.

The way of Christ is in total contradistinction to the other spirit that dominates human beings. He hates anything to do with Christ. He is the antichrist spirit.

Christ is a rock of offence to him, and to those opposed to the gospel.

But he who believes in Jesus Christ the Son of God, will not be disappointed with Him.

Like everyone else I am disappointed in how things are in this world at the moment. An understatement don’t you think?

But I am not disappointed with Christ.

But here is my abrupt end to this post – Christian out there, what is God saying to us? 

How does He want us to respond to this pandemic and the state of affairs we find ourselves in?

One thing is for sure our God-dependancy increases with the weakening effect and lack of answers this pandemic has produced.

Who out there will turn to Christ in acknowledgement of how inadequate we still are in the 21st century?

Does this virus not clearly expose the weakness of mankind, and knock him off any self-satisfied or ‘smugness perch’?

Our need of God is self-evident, brought home by things such as this pandemic.

Nevertheless mankind will continue to look for answers through his own ingenuity – until the next humbling event hits the earth.

Give me ingenuity for vaccine finding – but with the big big plus – of welcoming individually, the Presence and Person of Christ in this lost and dying world.

Tendencies

TENDENCIES

I recently found myself agreeing with a Christian Radio host when he said that some believers in Christ tend towards the emotional and some towards the cerebral.

How true – and usually we look next, for some label to differentiate the two.

* The obvious one that comes to mind are the labels Pentecostal or charismatic and evangelical/theological or liberal.

Much as I like the one label for all (Christian), – in reality we are all influenced by these labels*, in forming a ‘picture’ of what different Christian folks are like and what they believe or major on.

This labelling of course is in flux – as everyone searches for a name to crystallise what they believe in, or stand for. So new ones emerge through time.

Spiritual experiences – as in experiencing the Holy Spirit – is not synonymous with emotionalism.

Deep theological thought is not synonymous with no experience of The Holy Spirit.

Someone has put it this way – (speaking metaphorically) too much emphasis on the power of God and we blow up. Too much emphasis on The Word of God and we dry up – but the Spirit and the Word and we grow up.

Paul the apostle had great intellectual ability, but he was first to admit how limited and insufficient this was when it came to spiritual matters.

Philippians 3:

though I also might have confidence in the flesh. If anyone else thinks he may have confidence in the flesh, I more so:

I Corinthians 2/11

…Even so no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God.

Galatians 1/

12 For I neither received it from man, nor was I taught it, but it came through the revelation of Jesus Christ.

Spiritual discernment is not emotionalism. Nevertheless when God moves in power you can be sure your emotions will give great response.

As we refrain from leaning on our own understanding and ask God for His enabling Holy Spirit – let’s not limit what He can do, by knowledge uninspired by God Himself.

Don’t allow or use theological knowledge to limit or direct God to fit into our understanding about what He must and must not do.

Conversely when God meets with us in a powerful way – don’t drift into trying to reproduce such a wonderful experience by soulish imitation.

The narrow way leads to life.

Lord help us.

Most joy…

Most Joy

If I could write something that would make a powerful difference to your life. Something you would be so grateful for, that you couldn’t contain yourself and the thankfulness you would overwhelm me with. I wonder what that ‘something’ would be?

I think of those undercover boss episodes, where the boss eventually ‘reveals’ him/herself – and shares all they will do for their employee with specific needs. You have seen the employee’s emotional response of excitement and joy – when they are helped out – usually in some financial burden-lifting way.

I remember the joy I felt when (second attempt) I passed my driving test – quite a few years ago now. Just a comparatively small thing – yet big to me at the time.

So the word verbalised and written was: “I’m glad to inform you that you have passed your test”.

Then there’s the joy of your partner’s response when she says one simple word – to your marriage proposal: “Yes!” What joy! (I’m still of the opinion that the man should propose). As the comic Dame Edna would say: “Call me old fashioned…”

I finish this very short post with the question: “What would you like me to tell you about leaving this life? What will give you the most joy?”

(John 8/32)