Blog February 28th I became a Christian 27 years ago


If I Say I Love You Jesus featuring Lucy Stimpson- Maynard from the album Precious recorded and produced by Ross Gill

My dear friends Merilyn and Michael Christian-Edwards rang a week ago to congratulate me on my “birthday” for it was 27 years ago that day that I became a Christian. I first told the story back in 2014 and I share it again here:
After taking part in an Alpha Course , I began to think that I wanted to become a Christian – I felt reassured by the words in John’s Gospel, Chapter 3 verse 16 “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life” Eternal Life – that is what I needed to take away my fear of death. Not something to be earned but something to be accepted as a gift. Perfect – apart from two problems 1) did I have enough faith to accept Jesus” gift” with any degree of sincerity? 2) If I did ask Jesus into my life what would my mates say- how much ridicule would I have to endure? Let me have a look at problem no 2 first.
Three of my very special friends are Barry Stares, Dave Conchie and Ian Beacham . Barry I have known since Junior School and Dave and Ian since PE College. We regularly meet for a drink and something to eat (yes curry) At one curry Ian said “You will never guess what’s happened to Mick” He was referring to another ex-PE College friend, Mick Mellows who played football for Pompey and who is now a Director of the charity Faith and Football www.faithandfootball.org.ukk . I thought Ian meant that Mick had been struck down with some horrible illness but no that is not what he meant at all. He continued “He’s only gone and become a Christian!” To which Dave replied “No – and he was such a good bloke!”
Could I face that sort of comment if I “admitted” to becoming a Christian? I really doubted it.
As for problem no 1 re did I have enough faith? – Well thankfully someone told me I only had to have faith as small as a mustard seed (the smallest of all seeds in Biblical times.) I simply had to focus on what I believed not on what I did not – simply had to trust – simply had to take a “leap of faith”
During the Alpha course I had been given a little red book entitled “Why Jesus?” (as featured in pic) At the end of the book there is a prayer so I knew an opportunity was coming up for me to take that leap of faith and to say this prayer asking Jesus to come into my life. I felt it really difficult to sleep with my two “problems” constantly churning around inside my head. The weekend came when I knew I had to make a decision – as part of the Alpha Course I was at the Holy Rood Vicarage with the Vicar, Michael Christian- Edwards and his lovely wife Merlyn. When the others in my group were having a coffee break I escaped into the village to go through in my head what I was going to do. On my return sure enough Michael gave everyone the opportunity to say a prayer asking Jesus to forgive us for all the things we had done wrong – to ask Him to come into our lives- and for us to be filled with His Holy Spirit. I remember asking Michael if I could say the prayer twice. He seemed surprised but said that was fine and so that lunchtime on Saturday, February 22nd 1997 I asked Jesus into my life and became a Christian.
Why did I want to say the prayer twice? Well there was Mr Mill and his dad that I also wanted to be there on such a momentous occasion. So that evening in Mr Mil’s apartment in Titchfield I sat between the two of them confessing out loud all the things I had done wrong and again asking Jesus into my life. Some of the things I had done wrong were pretty big – one had been a real burden for many years but after I had confessed it the burden lifted- I know that sounds amazing and too good to be true but amazing is what it was and too good not to be true!
So I thought “micky taking” here you come, but I decided to be pro-active and tell people before they found out through the grapevine. First off was Barry who I had known the longest -he was surprisingly supportive – so too was Ian – but I could not tell Dave, it was Dave who had made the comment about Mick Mellows – he was sure to let me have it with both barrels. A couple of months later Barry and Ian told me that Dave was really upset with me for not telling him. So I took Dave out for a curry (of course) and felt pretty emotional when Dave told me that he loved me (in a bloke way!!) and that he would always support me in anything I did and that he was upset because it seemed that I did not believe I could trust him. So big apology from me and really all the worries about people “taking the mick” turned out to be groundless- mind you I think my two sons James and Chris took a bit of stick at school.
So did my fears of dying die (sorry) If I am honest not entirely – but I did have God’s promise to hold on to and you can’t have much more than that. In fact later I wrote a song called “It’s From the Lord” which is on our CD “Heart and Soul” – the last verse of which is “When your time on earth is ending and you look up to Him on high and your see His promises sparkling spelt out in stars across the sky and open arms reach to embrace you to welcome you home then you know, yes you know it is the Lord.”
I also wrote a song which was a sort of autobiography of me becoming a Christian and being worried about what people would think – this one is on the CD “Precious” and is called “If I Say I Love You Jesus.” I did actually once sing it live myself at a Mustard Seed Concert but here it is sung by the fantastic Lucy Stimpson-Maynard.

Quote for the week.

Blog February 22nd Risen! The Musical – The Arden Theatre Saga – Part Two


In Times of Trouble featuring Lucy Stimpson from the album I Look Up To The Heavens recorded and produced by John Hodgkinson

As I explained three weeks ago Mustard Seed Songs’ proposed production in May 2024 of Risen! The Musical was cancelled, in the main because Fareham Borough Council placed an injunction on the Titchfield Festival Theatre not allowing them to put on shows at their Arden Theatre after February 2024.
Can I please remind you of the Fareham Borough Council’s position as described in the Portsmouth News?
Concerns were raised with the Council earlier this year about a lack of parking provision at a new theatre under construction at the rear of the existing Titchfield Festival Theatre venue on St Margaret’s Lane which has approximately 35 on-site parking spaces.
Officers visited the site and met with representatives of the theatre company who explained that work was underway to create a new 450-seat theatre.
The council officers were shown around the development which includes a newly excavated underground orchestra pit beneath the stage and a complex of backstage changing rooms and rehearsal areas.
The new theatre has been created in a space which had previously been granted planning

permission by the council for use as storage.
The officers warned the company that, without planning permission being obtained, the new venue was at risk of enforcement action being taken – and the company has since put on numerous public performances which have been advertised on the website.
The performances are advised to run through December and into the new year, despite the lack of planning permission.
Councillor Nick Walker, Chairman of the Planning Committee, said: “Titchfield Festival Theatre has left the Council with no option but to pursue this formal planning enforcement action. It beggars belief that anyone would build a new 450-seat theatre without first securing planning permission.”
In 2019, Titchfield Festival Theatre Limited applied for planning permission for a 567-seat theatre at this location which is behind their existing smaller theatre premises.
The application was refused by the Council as the site is in an unsustainable and poorly accessible location outside the urban area, has inadequate levels of parking spaces provided, and the new theatre would lead to a significant increase in noise affecting neighbours.
A second application submitted later in 2019 was also refused planning permission.
No planning permission has been granted to date for a new theatre.
The Enforcement Notice requires the theatre to cease use by February 29, 2024 unless an appeal is lodged. Titchfield Festival Theatre Limited has the right to appeal to the Secretary of State by December 29, 2023.
By Sophie Lewis
The response of Titchfield Festival Theatre is best shown via this video.
SAVE TFT! (youtube.com)

Quote of the week

Blog February 15th Shrove Tuesday, Ash Wednesday and Valentine’s Day

Choristers from Winchester Cathedral in the annual Shrove Tuesday Pancake d race in the Cathedral grounds with money raised going to local charities. (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

Love is Patient, Love is Kind featuring Lucy Stimpson-Maynard from the album “Love is the Way” recorded and produced by John Hodgkinson

Yesterday when Ash Wednesday and Valentine’s Day fell on the same day was the first time since 1923 and 1934.
What are the histories of these two occasions and what about the day before “Shrove Tuesday” or “Pancake Day?”
The expression Shrove Tuesday comes from the word shrive, meaning “absolve“. It is the day in February or March immediately preceding Ash Wednesday” which is the first day of Lent.

Shrove Tuesday is celebrated in some countries by consuming pancakes. In others, especially those where it is called Mardi Gras it is a carnival day. Pancakes are associated with the day preceding Lent, because they are a way to use up rich foods such as eggs, milk, and sugar, before the fasting season of the 40 days of Lent. The liturgical fasting emphasizes eating simpler food, and refraining from food that would give undue pleasure: in many cultures, this means no meat, dairy products, or eggs.
Ash Wednesday derives its name from the placing of repentance ashes on the foreheads of participants to utter the words “Repent, and believe in the Gospel” or “Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return”. The ashes may be prepared by burning palm leaves from the previous year’s Palm Sunday celebrations. Because it is the first day of Lent, many Christians, on Ash Wednesday often begin abstaining from a luxury that they will not partake of until Easter Sunday arrives.
There are a number of traditions associated with Valentine’s Day. The devotional “Every Day With Jesus” (now available as a free app) states:
The tradition of sending Valentine’s cards to loved ones probably comes from St Valentine of Rome, who defied the emperor who had forbidden soldiers to marry. Valentine would marry soldiers in secret. When discovered, he was sentenced to death and his prayer is believed to have restored the sight of the jailer’s daughter. His final letter to her on 14th February was signed “your valentine” and the tradition of card giving developed in the 18th century.
Next week more on the Arden Theatre (Titchfield Festival Theatre) v Fareham Borough Council saga.

Quote of the week

Blog February 8th “Ten Years Of This Blog”

This week I was due to continue sharing the situation of the Arden Theatre (Titchfield Festival Theatre) and how we had to cancel our proposed production of Risen! The Musical.  However, I am going to postpone that as I have just realised that this week is the 10th anniversary of this blog!  I thought it would, therefore be nice to share my original post.

Of course, a lot has happened in the last ten years including the filming of Risen! The Musical at the New Theatre Royal, Portsmouth and very sadly the passing of my school friend, Ray Shulman who was a member of “Simon Dupree’s Big Sound” and then “Gentle Giant.”

Blog February 6th 2014.

People often ask me what I am doing now that I’ve retired from teaching PE at Crofton. Well I have to say life is really great (it was really great teaching as well – most of the time!) I love life with my wife Caroline, I am playing lots of golf (and getting a bit better I think- have to as I have only Bowls left! I play a pretty active part in the life of Holy Rood Church, I mentor students at Crofton and I still have a job for the County monitoring lessons delivered by Coaches in Primary Schools. However, my greatest passion (apart from life with Caroline of course) is writing music. I know that may come as surprise to some and even more of a shock when I say it is Christian music! And no I can’t sing (although I do a pretty good “Living on a prayer” in the shower) or play a musical instrument but music, together with sport has always been a true love of mine.
I’m Director and Trustee of a charity that Mr Mill and I formed – Mustard Seed Songs- www.mustardseedsongs.org.uk which features the songs I have written. We have produced 10 CDs and some of our songs featured on a mini CD attached to the 40th anniversary edition of a Christian publication -Every Day with Jesus of which 80, 000 copies were distributed worldwide. In addition, I wrote a musical called His Story www.Hisstory.org.uk which played at venues such as the Kings Theatre, Southsea, Ferneham Hall, Fareham; and Central Hall, Westminster, London. Proceeds from these events funded young people who have taken time off from their studies to work in the Third World.
I’ve now written a second musical called “Risen!” www.Risen.org.uk the double CD of which is near completion. On Easter Sunday 2013 we staged a pilot production at Holy Rood Church, Stubbington and on Easter Sunday, April 20th 2014 we will be producing a Risen! concert – again at Holy Rood.
I had written songs before but it all really took off when I became a Christian on February 22nd 1999. Anyway, I thought that you might like to share my adventure and so here is the first episode.

Musical Instruments
I was in Year 7- Year 1 it was called in those days at The Portsmouth Technical High School – now City Boys opposite the Coach and Horses pub in Hilsea. A cool guy called Ray Shulman was in my class – he played violin which did not impress me but he also played bass guitar which very much did. In fact Ray and his brothers Phil and Derek formed a band called The Roadrunners – who later became Simon Dupree and the Big Sound with a top ten hit called “Kites ” They then became a prog rock band that were really big in America “Gentle Giant” One of my claims to fame ( the others being Donald Duck impersonations and the well hard character “Ken the Ren”) is that when I was 15 years old the Police caught me on my Lambretta Li 150 scooter with Ray on the back when I had not passed my driving test. We were stopped near his house in Eastney Road opposite a club- “The Birdcage” -www.michaelcooper.org.uk/C/birdcage.htm‎. We got away with it – won’t tell you how as it was highly illegal- but having a rock superstar on the back of my scooter put my street cred rating up massively- and it certainly needed it – but again that’s another story but suffice to say Pompey Tech School was boys only and although I was pretty good at sport – I did not have a clue about girls- I was seriously shy.
So Ray inspired me to take up guitar – actually no he didn’t- I just mentioned him to name drop! I took up my first musical instrument (there have been two!) because I was asked to by the music teacher at school – Mr Wassell. Yes I played the Dolmetsch Descant Recorder (which I have just found in my loft -see attached pic) and I went to after -school lessons and nearly mastered that well known patriotic tune “The British Grenadiers.” The problem was that because I was seriously shy I needed something cool to make me successful with the fair sex. But even a fantastic rendering of this great tune on recorder could not, by any stretch, be regarded as cool – no I needed an instrument that was cool personified and so my guitar was bought. It was reddy, brown and acoustic although it looked a bit like a Gibson – in fact it could have been the original Gibson Les Paul! So, I got cracking with my Bert Weedon “How to play Guitar” book and was doing rather nicely, having almost got “Good King Wenceslas” sussed. But then all of a sudden “Good King Wenceslas” didn’t sound so “good” My Gibson was out of tune! So off to the music shop in North End to buy something with which to tune it. Now in those days tuners were not the clever technological gizmos available now – no this was more like a miniature Peruvian Pan Pipe. So, the idea was that you blew into one of the pipes and then tuned your guitar to that sound- what! – no way!! How can a sound like that associated with a shipping vessel in fog relate to the ping of a guitar string?? So progress in guitar finished right there and then; although if pressed I can still manage a fair to middling rendition of the first eight notes of “Good King Wenceslas”
Oh you may have wondered if I ever asked Ray Shulman if he would guest on a CD for me – no I never did – not because I thought he would regard himself as too “big a star” to be interested or because he was still cross with me for the scooter incident- no I simply didn’t think he would be interested in Christian music- you see Ray is Jewish!
So how have I managed to write something like 200 songs? Next blog on Thursday 13th I’ll start to tell you how it all began.

Quote of the week

Blog February 1st Risen! The Musical – The Arden Theatre Saga – Part One

Regular readers of this blog will recognise this week’s featured promo video from November 2023 advertising Mustard Seed Songs’ proposed May 2024 Risen! The Musical. Some may be asking when tickets will be on sale, but unfortunately, they won’t be.

The project was plagued with problems including the challenge of obtaining a quality amateur cast- many potential performers were already committed to their own music society’s productions, while others did not wish to be involved with “the Jesus story.”

However, the main problem was that Fareham Borough Council put an injunction on the Titchfield Festival Theatre not allowing them to put on shows at their Arden Theatre after February 2024.

This article taken from the Portsmouth News gives the story from the perspective of the Fareham Borough Council.

Fareham Borough Council is taking action against Titchfield Festival Theatre after a 450-seat theatre was built without planning permission.

By Sophie Lewis

Published 30th Nov 2023, 12:58 GMT

Updated 30th Nov 2023, 13:00 GMT

Concerns were raised with the Council earlier this year about a lack of parking provision at a new theatre under construction at the rear of the existing Titchfield Festival Theatre venue on St Margaret’s Lane which has approximately 35 on-site parking spaces.

Officers visited the site and met with representatives of the theatre company who explained that work was underway to create a new 450-seat theatre.

The council officers were shown around the development which includes a newly excavated underground orchestra pit beneath the stage and a complex of backstage changing rooms and rehearsal areas.

The new theatre has been created in a space which had previously been granted planning

 

permission by the council for use as storage.

The officers warned the company that, without planning permission being obtained, the new venue was at risk of enforcement action being taken – and the company has since put on numerous public performances which have been advertised on the website.

The performances are advised to run through December and into the new year, despite the lack of planning permission.

Councillor Nick Walker, Chairman of the Planning Committee, said: “Titchfield Festival Theatre has left the Council with no option but to pursue this formal planning enforcement action. It beggars belief that anyone would build a new 450-seat theatre without first securing planning permission.”

In 2019, Titchfield Festival Theatre Limited applied for planning permission for a 567-seat theatre at this location which is behind their existing smaller theatre premises.

The application was refused by the Council as the site is in an unsustainable and poorly accessible location outside the urban area, has inadequate levels of parking spaces provided, and the new theatre would lead to a significant increase in noise affecting neighbours.

A second application submitted later in 2019 was also refused planning permission.

No planning permission has been granted to date for a new theatre.

The Enforcement Notice requires the theatre to cease use by February 29, 2024 unless an appeal is lodged. Titchfield Festival Theatre Limited has the right to appeal to the Secretary of State by December 29, 2023.

I will share the response of Titchfield Festival Theatre next blog

Quote of the week

Blog January 18th Mustard Seed Songs – Looking back on 2023 Part Two.

Last blog I thought it would be nice to look back over the last two years and remember some of the things Mustard Seed Songs achieved.
So, to continue on from last week, which featured story board recordings of Theophilus -The Musical, we have Act One of the staged concert that took place at Bay House School and 6th Form May, 2022,
Next week I will share Act Two of the staged concert.

Quote for the week

Blog January 4th Mustard Seed Songs – Looking back on 2023.

I thought it would be nice to look back over the last year (and some of the year before that) and remember some of the things Mustard Seed Songs did.

The sequel to “Risen! The Musical”, “Theophilus -The Musical”, began with a story board of recordings and this week I want to share four clips featuring two top West End performers (hence “unlisted” and not “public” on YouTube)

Theophilus -The Musical “You are the Shepherd of my Soul” performed by Peter (youtube.com)

Theophilus -The Musical ” I Was Sleeping In A Prison Cell” performed by Peter (youtube.com)

Theophilus The Musical “He is the Image of the Invisible God” – performed by Paul (youtube.com)

Theophilus The Musical “Nothing Can Separate Us From Christ’s Love” Performed by Paul (youtube.com)

Next week I will share the Theophilus- The Musical Staged Concert

Quote for the week

Blog January 4th You are a Wonder.


The Fire of Sacrifice featuring Lucy Stimpson- Maynard from the album Precious recorded and produced by Ross Gill

I thought it would be nice to start the new year with a positive thought and I am, therefore sharing something I recently read in “Word for Today.”
Despite your aches and pains, you are a living, breathing, walking, talking wonder. The psalmist said, ‘You created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made’ (vv. 13-14 NIV).
One author explains: ‘Most of us take our eyesight for granted, but even the simplest of processes is divinely complex. The retina, for example, conducts close to ten billion calculations every second, and that is before an image even travels through the optic nerve to the visual cortex. The human nose can detect one-millionth of one milligram of garlic floating in the air and distinguish among ten thousand distinct odours. The hairs blanketing your body magnify the sensation of touch so that you can discern a thousandth of an ounce of pressure on the tip of a half-inch hair. Amazing, isn’t it?’
Trillions of chemical reactions are taking place in every cell of your body every second. You are inhaling oxygen, metabolising energy, digesting food, maintaining equilibrium, purifying toxins, producing hormones, exhaling carbon dioxide, repairing tissues, and circulating blood. As you read this, millions of electrical impulses are firing across billions of synaptic pathways, and you don’t even think about it.
But you should, and you should praise God for the gift of life and the multitude of His blessings you enjoy. And you should do one more all-important thing: discover your life’s purpose and dedicate yourself to fulfilling it. It has been said the two most important days in a person’s life are the day they’re born and the day they discover why they were born. Think about it!

Quote for the week

Wishing you all a most blessed 2024
Mustard Seed Songs

Blog December 28th The Little Drummer Boy

 

I have been sending e- cards this Christmas. They have featured the Bath Abbey Choir singing “The Little Drummer Boy”. One reason why I chose this song is because the Rev. Stephen Girling is a Minister at Bath Abbey and he was formerly the Vicar at Holy Rood Church, Stubbington where he conducted the wedding of Caroline and myself. Stephen is also the father of Joffy, the Mustard Seed Songs’ Musical Director.

One of my favourite versions of the song is by Pentatonix which so far has had 294 million YouTube views:

(190) [Official Video] Little Drummer Boy – Pentatonix – YouTube

Back in 2020 I also shared this heart- warming version by a group called “Gentri” which has 167 million views.

“Little Drummer Boy” (Official Music Video) | GENTRI (youtube.com)

And then recently I found this version by King and Country with 1.5 million views which is especially brilliant if you love drumming!

for KING & COUNTRY Little Drummer Boy Live from CMA Country Christmas (youtube.com)

Listening also reminded me of the song’s history. In the lyrics, the singer relates how, as a poor young boy, he was summoned by the Magi to the Nativity of Jesus. Without a gift for the Infant, the little drummer boy played his drum with approval from Jesus’s mother, Mary, recalling, “I played my best for him” and “He smiled at me”.

I discovered the “Little Drummer Boy” was originally titled “Carol of the Drums” because of the repeating line “pa rum pum pum pum,” which imitates the sound of a drum. The song lyrics are said to be based on an old Czech carol.

It’s not certain who wrote the song although most believe it to be Katherine K. Davis in 1941. However, according to some reports, Henry Onorati and Harry Simeone penned the lyrics to the song. It was recorded for Decca as “Carol of the Drum” by the Trapp Family Singers in 1951 and credited to Davis.

The song has been covered over 220 times and in 7 different languages. Artists who have recorded it include Johnny Cash, Johnny Mathis, David Bowie and Bing Crosby, The Supremes, Stevie Wonder, Jimi Hendrix, The Temptations, The Jackson 5, Ringo Starr, Bob Dylan, Whitney Houston, Ray Charles, Black Eyed Peas, Justin Beiber and Susan Boyle.

Quote for the week