THE TORCH - ISSUE 4 2011

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From:-
TORCH TRUST, Torch House, Torch Way, Market Harborough, Leicestershire, LE16 9HL, U.K.
Telephone: +44(0)1858 438260, Fax: +44(0)1858 438275, email: info@torchtrust.org
The Torch Trust for the Blind, registered charity number 1095904.

Contents

Greetings!

All the team at Torch House greet you in the name of Jesus.

In this edition Michael Stafford tells us about the famous Old Testament character Moses. As the story unfolds we see how God created Moses to serve him and how he took him through life experiences that prepared him for the extraordinary job of leading the Children of Israel out of Egypt and across the wilderness towards the Promised Land. God equipped him with the gifts he needed for the heavy responsibility that he had for him.

Psalm 139, part of which is included in this magazine, gives us David's inspired insights about God's knowledge of each of us. We are wonderfully made by God, who has a plan for us even before we are born. God knows everything about my life, even what I think.

We can react to this in one of two ways. We can celebrate it, as David does - or we can fear it. Ildi Kalla, who coordinates Torch's library borrower service team writes about fear. Sometimes we fear the wrong things, or become fearful when there is nothing to fear.

For me the most amazing thing is not that God knows everything - I sort of expect that of God - but that he actually takes an interest in my life - that he not only knows about me, but that he cares about me.

David finds only reassurance in God's intimate knowledge of his life. Like us, David had moments he would have liked to have kept hidden from God but he actually welcomes God's complete knowledge of him. The best relationships have no secrets. The Scripture invites us to confess our sins because "he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness" (1 John 1:9).

The realisation that God knows all about us - sees even inside our heads - can and should bring us great comfort - especially in the darker times of life, as Linda Turner tells us about in her story, or in the times we face great challenges, as Moses did. Nothing that befalls us comes as a surprise to God. He is our shield and defender.

You hem me in, behind and before; you have laid your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me. (Psalm 139:5-6)

What is more, he has given us the gifts and abilities we need to live and work for him - and has been taking us through a training programme throughout our lives. I wonder what God has planned for you.

I pray that you will be encouraged, challenged and blessed as you read on.

Gordon Temple

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Set your minds on things above

by Ildi Kalla

"Where you look is where you go"

We all know it is best to look where you're going, and go where you're looking.

So what about our inner eyes ... our spiritual eyes ... the eyes of our heart?

A story

Nick was a tough guy with a bad outlook. He worked on the railways. One night after all his fellow workers had gone home he accidentally locked himself in a refrigerated carriage. Worried that the temperature was below freezing, he yelled for help, but to no avail. The more he thought about his situation the colder he felt, until eventually he started shivering uncontrollably. Convinced he was dying, he wrote a letter to his family outlining what had happened. The next morning they found Nick's body. An autopsy revealed that he had indeed frozen to death. But the investigators discovered something puzzling. The carriage in which Nick was trapped was out of order and had been disconnected. The night he froze to death the temperature in the boxcar was 16.1 degrees, just below room temperature.

Fear is a strong emotion, and fear affects our inner vision.

As we can see from this story fear can have very serious consequences. When fear grips the mind it's almost like the bite of a venomous snake ejecting its venom into the bloodstream, starting from just one point but then spreading and eventually paralysing the whole body with the possibility of killing it. "Fear - as Frank Herbert puts it in his book Dune - is the mind killer."

Fear is a powerful emotion and there doesn't even have to be any real danger or threat for us to experience it. In fact, most of the time there isn't any. And yet, fear can be intense, debilitating; it can distort reality - or our perception of it - and make it seem much worse than it is.

A German proverb says, "Fear makes the wolf bigger than he is".

Whatever the situation, fear will only make it worse.

There are numerous types of fear, but according to a survey some of the most common fears are of ghosts, cockroaches, spiders, heights, water, enclosed spaces, tunnels and bridges, needles, examinations and public speaking.

We can be afraid of just about anything. There is fear of the unknown, fear of failure, fear of rejection, fear of starvation, fear of bankruptcy, fear of death and fear of life itself! Whatever it is, fear can make our lives miserable.

What can we do about it?

The worldwide web gives numerous ideas for overcoming fear, most based on different meditation or relaxation techniques. While these techniques might be able to give some short term relief, they will never be able to give true peace of mind - the kind of peace that God alone can give. Remember what Jesus said to His disciples?

"I am leaving you with a gift - peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don't be troubled or afraid." (John 14:27) "It is peace that surpasses all understanding" (Philippians 4:4).

So when fear comes near, the best we can do is turn to him who gives us this peace and not only for a certain period of time; it's not a loan, it's ours forever. It's a gift from God and he wants us to accept it.

But let's not only turn to him in emergencies when there's nowhere else to go and we've run out of options. Let's turn to him always with our sorrows, with our joys, with our problems and with thanksgiving. Let's spend more time with him, read his word and learn from him, listen to him. And we'll find that things like fear will not be able to control us any more.

Let's turn our eyes and our thoughts towards heaven more often. As Paul says in Colossians 3:

Set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.

Sometimes the question is asked: can we become so heavenly minded that we are of no earthly good? I don't think so. In fact, it looks like the more heavenly minded we are the more inspired we'll be to be of earthly good. In the same letter to the Colossians Paul goes on to say: "... clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience."

What we set our hearts and minds on will shape our thoughts, our actions, our character, our lives. And our lives will have an effect on the lives of others. And their lives will have an effect on us. It's all connected.

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable - if anything is excellent or praiseworthy - think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me - put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you. (Philippians 4)

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My Story

by Linda Turner

[Linda works part time in the Logistics area of Torch House, Market Harborough.]

Bill and I met when I was 16 as we were both in an amateur dramatics group. We became great friends and enjoyed acting in plays together. Six years later we decided to get married and had a son Jonathan and a daughter Alice who are now in their twenties. We also have a gorgeous five-year old grandson called Daniel.

Bill and I first visited Torch House at the opening evening of the fantastic new Torch building in Market Harborough in 2004. I was a Science teacher at the time in a large secondary school in Leicester and not enjoying it. In fact I was very ill and had several months off sick with anxiety and depression, but it was during that terrible time in my life that God found me. He told me to knock and so I knocked on the rectory door in my home village near Market Harborough, and asked the rector for help.

I started going to church with my daughter and it was a wonderful experience - everyone was so friendly and loving and it wasn't long before I felt well enough to attend an alpha course. What a difference it made. Bill soon wanted to do the course as he wanted what I had - a joy in knowing Jesus.

Well, on visiting Torch House for the open evening, we were greeted by such lovely people and I felt totally at ease. This is very unusual for me as I experience anxiety in new places but I felt God's presence and peace and he told me I would be working there. I was so excited when I got home and immediately emailed friends about my experience.

I have now been working at Torch for seven years and am blessed to be given the opportunity to work in a caring environment which is so different from my experience of working as a teacher.

For three mornings a week I send books out to people all over the world. My greatest love is music and singing, and I particularly enjoy my role with the singers as we visit Torch fellowship groups at weekends. It is so good to belong to the Torch family.

Bill has also been made very welcome and has done some voluntary work, fitting in with his employed work as a garden centre assistant; he really enjoys helping on the holidays. We have met many new friends and enjoyed new experiences with them in England, Ireland and France. Although there to help the guests we always come back feeling we have gained more than we have given. This year I have already helped at the Wales houseparty and look forward to doing more holiday work in September.

I have so much to thank God for. He has been - and I know will be - faithful in loving me and surrounding me with his loving kindness.

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Let the Scriptures speak

Psalm 139:1-16 (New International Version)

O Lord, you have searched me and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue you know it completely, O Lord.

You hem me in, behind and before; you have laid your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain.

Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast.

If I say, "Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me," even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you.

For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.

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Wise Words (6)

Friends

Nzinini ikukala njikuyanda (Tonga language). This proverb means: The fly that sits on you is the one that loves you.

Wisdom

We need people - at different levels of our living. We need those with whom we share our work and activity. We need neighbours and the people we meet socially. These relationships are important. The passing kind, encouraging word or smile, the sharing and the companionship enrich our lives. But we need friends - people with whom we can be ourselves, with whom we can share our feelings, experiences, interests, thoughts. Friends, as the Tonga proverb colourfully says, are the people we like to have close to us. But friendship needs nourishing and calls for effort on both sides. Effort is required too in our friendship with God.

Scripture

I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you. (John 15:15).

Have you ever thought of God as your friend? Friendship arises when two or more people discover that they have in common some insight, taste or interest. Sharing of vision is when friendship is born.

Jesus Christ calls us friends because he shares with us the vision which he has of his Father and his plans for us. He is a friend who is totally involved in the life of each one of us. He wants to share with us the best there is - his company and his eternal happiness. Jesus Christ wants us to enjoy his presence as we enjoy the company of a special friend.

Our response must be a continual effort to grow closer to him in regular prayer, reading, being thoughtful and considerate. He said that if we love him we will keep his commandments. He knows how each of us struggles, makes mistakes, becomes discouraged, needs forgiveness, comfort and strength. To help us grow in spirit, he is with us always - a friend even to the end of the world.

Prayer

Lord, you love us with constancy and generosity. May we reflect that love in the way that we love others, and may our love for you grow richer and deeper every day.

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Old Testament Characters

by Michael Stafford

9. Moses

1. The Making of a Leader

The Israelites in Egypt prospered and were greatly favoured during the time of Joseph, and for some years after his death, but times changed and they encountered suffering and hardship under a new king who knew nothing about Joseph. He saw them only as a threat to him and his nation.

God had said to Abraham "Know for certain that your descendants will be strangers in a country not their own, and they will be enslaved and ill-treated four hundred years" (Genesis 15:13). But God also promised that there would be a deliverance for the Israelite nation. He was to raise up a leader to take the people out of Egypt to a land God would give them.

Moses was an unlikely leader, but God chose him despite his weaknesses. We are told in the New Testament that God chooses the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; and the weak things of the world to shame the strong. (1 Corinthians 1:27). As a baby, Moses was extremely vulnerable, as Pharaoh decreed that all the Israelite male babies should be killed. Only by a miracle did Moses survive, and was then brought up in the palace as the adopted son of Pharaoh's daughter. As he grew up, Moses would have learnt all about government and the administering of a nation. This was preparation for his leadership role later in life.

2. The Training of a Leader

But before God could use Moses he had to be trained and disciplined. He made a serious mistake when, in his indignation at the way his people were treated by the Egyptians, he killed an Egyptian slave master who was beating an Israelite. He thought no-one had seen him, but in fact the matter became known, even to Pharaoh, and Moses had to flee for his life. In several instances in the Bible, God takes potential leaders into the desert to train them. This happened to Jesus himself, and also to Paul the apostle. Moses was to spend 40 years in the desert, during which time he married and had children. From being like a prince in the palace he became a nomadic herdsman, living a Spartan life-style.

3. The Calling of a Leader

At the end of 40 years he was ready for God's call, which came out of a burning bush. This bush caught Moses' attention when he realised that, though burning, it was not being consumed. We see an important aspect of God's nature in what he said to Moses from the bush: in short he said - I have seen my people's misery; I have heard their crying; I am concerned about them; I have come down to rescue them (Exodus 3:7,8). This is God's way with all His people - he sees, hears, has compassion, takes action.

Moses immediately protests his own inadequacy for the task of leading this vast crowd of people through the desert to the land God promised to give them. He wanted to know God's name to present to the elders of Israel, who were ignorant of who the God of their fathers was. God's answer seems a strange one: "I am who I am" (Exodus 3:14). This is the Name which we now pronounce as Jehovah, or more correctly Yahweh. It indicates that God is the ever present one, not "I was who I was" or "I will be what I will be". He is still today the same God who spoke to Moses: the God of the NOW who is with us in the same way that he promised to be with Moses.

4. The Empowering of a Leader

Moses feared that the Pharaoh would not believe that God had spoken to him. God said to him "What is that in your hand?" It was a simple shepherd's staff, but God used it to perform a miracle to convince the Egyptians that God really had spoken to him. The staff turned into a snake, and then, when Moses grabbed it, it turned back into a staff. When God calls us to do something for him, we are prone to make excuses that we are inadequate. In effect God then may say to us "What is that in your hand?" He has given all of us a gift to use in his service - what is your gift? The miracle of the staff was not, however, sufficient to persuade Pharaoh to let the Israelites leave his land - he did not want to lose all that slave labour! Moses didn't feel confident to speak to Pharaoh on behalf of Yahweh and his people, so God graciously sent Aaron to assist him. But God knew Moses was equipped for the job he had given him and it wasn't long before Moses was doing the talking. God enabled Moses to carry out many more miracles before Pharaoh reluctantly let them go.

The Egyptians endured ten plagues, the last of which was to be God's master-stroke. All the first-born sons of the Egyptians would die, but the Israelites would be protected by following the instructions God gave to Moses: that they should smear the blood of a lamb on the doorposts and lintels of their houses after having prepared for their long journey. Then they were to eat the sacrificial lamb. God promised that he would pass over their houses and not bring destruction upon them. This "Passover" was instituted as an annual remembrance of God's deliverance, and is still carried out by orthodox Jews today. Christians celebrate and remember God's personal deliverance through the sacrifice of the Lamb of God and the shedding of his blood, whenever taking part in a communion service.

This final plague was the last straw for Pharaoh and the Egyptians, who let the Israelites go. However, after they had left, Pharaoh had a change of heart and pursued them with his army, driving them into a corner, with the Red Sea in front of them and the mountains on either side. They were in an impossible situation - what could Moses do now ...? We will see in another edition of The Torch.

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Penfriends bulletin

Here is someone who would like to correspond with others. You may like to braille a letter to this person. Introduce yourself by giving your name, your correct postal address, your age, and some information about yourself, your family and your country.

Anybody reading this who would like us to include their name and information in our next bulletin, send in your full name, postal address, age, and tell us about the things you enjoy doing. The aim of having a penfriend is to develop a friendship and exchange information and ideas.

EVANCE NYANGA MOYI, Mago Market, PO Box 12, Mago, Wodanga Vihiga, Kenya. Evance is 38 years old, a Kenyan citizen and a Christian. He would like to correspond with people from different parts of the world, to exchange information and ideas. His hobbies are drawing and painting, carpentry, masonry, electrical technician, watching gospel music on television, reading newspapers, listening to radio news etc.

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