A Visit to St Paul’s, not that one….


 Peter Stack

St Paul’s is a small church fifteen minutes walk from my abode.  The area is mostly what we used to call ‘working class,’ but many of the one time Council houses are now owned by the one time tenants.  The area has its problems but it also had many good people working to make the most of where they dwell.  The church which once had around seventy members saw a falling away, due sadly to the failings of the vicar.  Recently he retired and was replaced by a young vicar who has immediately got the church up and running once again and the future now looks assured.

It is some time since I was last here but today I found the church warm and welcoming as it should be, with around sixty people there. Young and old, screaming kids and despairing parents, married folks singles and odds and sods also.  I was the sod by the way! Anglicans are strange people to me in many ways, especially as I come from a straight forward evangelical background and the use of a sheet to follow, including responses, I find somewhat difficult.  The singing of the ‘Grace’ at the end, accompanied by holding your neighbours hands caught me out somewhat to others mirth!

Two other factors were not as I would plan things, the sermon came from a woman called a ‘reader.’ whatever that is, and the thrusting young vicar was female!  Female, a woman!  Tsk!  Who would have thunk it?  The readers sermon was at least based on scripture, and this church is indeed a down to earth evangelical one, but not the kind of sermons I had become used to in days past. The vicar herself (also a woman!) did attempt to give some time to the kids but for me she talked like a, er woman, but did impress that Jesus sees us, not past us but looks right at us in love!  The kids then thundered up the steps into a hall to scream away from the rest of us.

My one thought was that services ought to begin with a couple of worship songs to fix the mind in the God that is to be worshipped, spreading them out as occurred here did not give the right effect I thought.  However that appeared to meet the needs of those attending as indeed did the vicars way of talking, she talked like a woman!  Indeed she spoke to them as she may talk to people in the street or to her friends, and that made people comfortable and she appeared approachable.  Her manner, the kids, the friendly people all made this a comfortable evangelical church rebuilding its congregation after a dry spell and in their own time bringing God into one small but needy area of the town.  This is what attracted me to the church many years ago, the people being my kind of folks, and the potential is great here.  I once delivered mail in the surrounding streets and always thought this church had a great position here.  The people need to know Jesus and now they appear to have someone able to lead the church in that duty.

All in all I was pleased overall with my morning even if the church does not quite provide what I was hoping for.  I can see me returning many times.



So here am I, relatively comfortable today, debts cleared, enough money on which to survive, and almost healthy.  Of course the nice little house and garden, by the sea, the car, the 23 year old brunette millionaire, and a nice wee cat would also be nice, but we cannot have everything I suppose.  

I feel ungrateful!  

The good Lord has granted me all this and I am doing nothing for him.  I fit in no church, certainly not those around here, and having left work only connect with the world through visits to Tesco and the museum.  The latter is of course the best medium, not just to discuss individuals history but to discover how easily I make a mess of things!  Is incompetence a gift I wonder, or just habit?  At least I can understand how older folks or those who cannot get around are forgotten by society or easily feel out of touch.  The TV is often their only lifeline to sanity!  

He has made me safe here to some extent, but I do nothing, see no way to do this, and cannot get answers from him.  I think he may be in a huff because I don’t spend enough time with him, maybe he doesn’t like football after all….?     

Who is in Charge Here?

The House of Lords last night pushed through the bill enabling ‘gay marriage,’ to pass.  This means the bill is now more or less law.  Many, Christian and non Christian, of faith or no faith, opposed this bill as it demeans marriage and certainly has no backing in Scripture.  So how should an individual react?

Well God has seen it all before.  he is well aware of the world and knows more than you or I just how corrupt it is.  Even so Jesus gave his life for us, knowing our corruption and what lies within every man.  So the answer is to live for Jesus, holding out the word of truth to those that receive it and leaving the others to the Lord himself.

There is no condemnation of others, we are just as bad as they, and whatever their lifestyles, whatever their predilections and sins we offer Jesus and his finished work.  

There is nothing else for it.

The passing of this law changes nothing, few will be affected, a few votes gained, a few happy pretending they are married, but mostly the world will continue as normal for most.

The real problem is getting those who have met the Lord Jesus to live for him, if we can live for him many more will meet him.  That is the difficult bit, putting Jesus first in our lives, rather than worrying about bad laws in the local society.



Irked I am.

You see this morning I read that big brown book again.  I read a wee bit, I forget which, that led me into cogitating about this and that.  God’s great love, his forgiveness in Jesus finished work, and as he can forgive a thousand times a day we ought to go and do likewise.

Goody I thought.

Then I was listening to the football.

Before the game began the wireless offered a debate on the situation of my club.  Clearly one or two were somewhat antagonistic and one or two supportive.  Then it happened.  Chick appeared.  His loud, needless, bombastic rant against my club was what we have come to expect from someone who supports that team that we need not mention, ensuring he never speaks out of turn about them as that would cost him his job.  His bias, his attitude and him just being him ensured a tirade of negative thoughts and words headed in his direction.  I was not the only one.

Later it crossed my mind that I was not very forgiving.  I quoted verses I mentioned earlier in the day to myself and thought ‘idiot!’  This time I was right.  God’s forgiveness was costly.  He forgave, and forgives, sin, and sin thrown in his face all too often.  Chick is a wee nyaff, an irritation, renown for his attitudes.  It costs to forgive him, but it costs less than Jesus paid to forgive me.   Forgiveness costs but it is a price worth paying, even if the irritation does not go away.  


So it all fell apart, again…

This evening I was whining loudly and long about the mess the day had become.  It was possible for me to know that it was my fault, but my mind was full of the thoughts that crashed in this morning and reduced me to the miserable wretch I became.  So instead of the day continuing as it began I wasted my time in self pity and failure.  How unusual is this? 

Tonight as I bleated about how this came about it came to mind something someone had given me a long time ago.  The ‘word’ the Lord had put in his mind sadly showed that it was really all my fault and no-one else’s.  Had I done what he wished then I would be a great deal better off today.

His love has not failed me, but I have resisted his love.  The tightness remains, and I am not sure how to lose it, but it remains my fault things go wrong, not his.

Who would have thunk it…..?



Soldiers of Christ

Listening to the radio this morning it crossed my mind that there were incidents and people with whom we have to do that I just could not cope with.  My mind allowed itself to be traumatised by the fear of those who cause anxiety in our daily existence.  We all meet them, difficult, and often violent types that cause fear and woe wherever they appear.  Society as a whole responds to this by keeping quiet.  Thugs and vandals that destroy our housing estates, city centres and mug our old folks, we keep well clear off in case trouble comes our way.  We all do it, and feel the shame.

Today I felt this way while listening to a programme on the radio.  I found myself cowering inside, being angry at the wrong I felt required fixing yet powerless to meet this wrong.  There are so many wrongs around us and so little ability to deal with them.  I felt very down about this.

However a few moments later, as is the way of things, I put this aside and moved on with life.  As I did so I realsied a song was in my head, this one:-

1. Soldiers of Christ arise,
and put your armor on,
strong in the strength which God supplies
thru his eternal Son;
strong in the Lord of Hosts,
and in his mighty power,
who in the strength of Jesus trusts
is more than conqueror.

2. Stand then in his great might,
with all his strength endued,
but take to arm you for the fight
the panoply of God;
that having all things done,
and all your conflicts passed,
ye may o’ercome thru Christ alone
and stand entire at last.

3. Pray without ceasing, pray,
(your Captain gives the word)
his summons cheerfully obey
and call upon the Lord;
to God your every want
in instant prayer display,
pray always, pray and never faint,
pray, without ceasing pray.

4. From strength to strength go on,
wrestle and fight and pray,
tread all the powers of darkness down
and win the well-fought day.
Still let the Spirit cry
in all his soldiers, “Come!”
till Christ the Lord, descends from high
and takes the conquerors home.

Charles Wesley, 1707-1788.


Psalm 146

Praise the Lord.[a]

Praise the Lord, my soul.

I will praise the Lord all my life; 
    I will sing praise to my God as long as I live. 
Do not put your trust in princes, 
    in human beings, who cannot save.
When their spirit departs, they return to the ground; 
    on that very day their plans come to nothing. 
Blessed are those whose help is the God of Jacob,
    whose hope is in the Lord their God.

He is the Maker of heaven and earth,
    the sea, and everything in them—
    he remains faithful forever.
He upholds the cause of the oppressed 
    and gives food to the hungry. 
The Lord sets prisoners free, 
    the Lord gives sight to the blind, 
the Lord lifts up those who are bowed down, 
    the Lord loves the righteous. 
The Lord watches over the foreigner 
    and sustains the fatherless and the widow, 
    but he frustrates the ways of the wicked.

10 The Lord reigns forever,
    your God, O Zion, for all generations.

Praise the Lord.



  1. Psalm 146:1 Hebrew Hallelu Yah; also in verse 10


Bible Gateway

Jehovah Giro!

In recent days money has become a problem.  Indeed I was becoming just a bit anxious as to how I was going to feed myself once the bills had been paid.  I had enough for a couple of weeks but not for a month it seemed to me.  Until now I had manged well, but a real anxiety cropped up and I was at a loss what to do.

Faith was stirred in recent days by several things and I was content in some ways, just slightly anxious about cash.  I mentioned this to my heavenly dad, possibly about four thousand times but I am not too sure, I wasn’t counting, and wondered what to do.  

On Wednesday I scraped five twenty pence pieces from the old cider jar that passes for an emergency fund, the other coins lay under dust at the bottom, and I wandered round to the market and bought a bag of satsumas to represent my vitamin C for a week.  As I left I had picked up the mail, one miserable looking piece of junk mail from an unusual address, which I dumped aside for later.  I carried the bag around town, head down looking for dropped coins, and sauntered back in between rain showers.  Once home i emptied the fruit into the bowl, dumped the jacket and cap carefully on the floor, and read my junk mail.

It was a Tax refund for £381’04p!

I stood awe struck and once again gave thanks to God.  His timing is perfect, as always, and the money covers the unexpected panic buys of the past few weeks, and gave enough to fill the fridge for a month!  Our god has shown me his love, me of all people, once again.  Just why he loves me, such as I am, I know not but I am happy to receive his love.  

I remember how in times past he has supplied my need, from unexpected sources, at just the right time. Never enough to consider myself rich, but always enough to cover costs.  On one occasion I had a tough year.  Work was available but I struggled with the running costs.  It was then as now, scraping every penny to get buy.  A few years later, that is how tax works especially in understaffed tax offices, I received a tax rebate of around £34.  I rejoiced!  The next day a letter covering the following years arrived also from the tax man, this time asking me to pay back just over a thousand pounds!  I worked out that the tax mistake had been made during my tough year, meaning that had i paid appropriate tax I may have gone under.  A kind of credit card from the taxman owing to someones incompetence.  My God has NEVER let me down!

During the televised Easter service this year the speaker, from Coventry cathedral, made the statement that “Jesus has never let me down in forty years of following him.”  That stuck in my mind and made me wish to follow him better, as I have been around for that length of time and he still wants me!  What a God!



Er, em….Let’s get this straight God….

it may appear that last night I was somewhat irritated.  

Let me put things in context.

The day had begun with my striving to get the new laptop to work at a speed similar to the PC that blew up, at a speed similar to it before it blew up that is.  It caused difficulties all day, although I managed, with considerable irritation and difficulty to see two important football matches.  However by evening, when attempting a vitally important post on my blog it, the laptop, went completely berserk!

Consider I had been roused at around 5 in the morning,  I had trundled around the country lanes for a couple of hours to ease my stiff muscles, and made them worse, and felt the need to communicate with the world, and my blog friends in particular.  Add to this the past few years, the mental state in which I now find myself, and my circumstances is it any surprise I reacted as I did when the laptop went haywire?  The post, almost complete just disappeared!  I was left with a link to a Google site (where?),  and even this disappeared, and reappeared!  The shortcuts on the dashboard shrunk in size, things moved around for no reason, an accidental brush with the Chrome shortcut left me with around FIFTEEN on the desktop, some of which would not delete!  Numerous other wrongs occurred, and I began to use that language that embarrassed sailors!  

It may appear at first site that I blamed you, Almighty God, Father, Lord of all, Son of God etc, for this.  I may have given the impression when I switched the laptop off, and very slowly did it obey at that, ( had restarted it before this to no effect), and berated you for treating me this way.  It is possible I may have indicated the failures in my life, enumerating the things I lack, have lacked, not possessed, and how unfair all this is to me, at some length.  I may have questioned how others have brains, talent, courage, energy, opportunities and laptops that do not act like spoilt five years old’s, while I suffer!  

You may well have formed an opinion that I wished to be left alone, with nothing other than a large Lottery win to keep me warm, well housed and far from such troubles.  You might have noticed I did consider the folks in North Korea has a great deal less than I while suffering considerably more, but while that was true this was unfair – on me!  if you did not wish me to use the laptop I might have been heard grumbling, just say so and indicate what i ought to do.  I may have added it was the only good thing left but if you insist

It appears that for a variety of reasons things got on top of me and I indicated my displeasure in a full and frank manner to you.  It is possible I used terms incompatible with conversing with the Lord Most High.  It is also, some might say, an indication of my selfish attitude in putting me before you – again, but we will leave this for the moment.  I was not happy, I just want the damn thing to work and something to go right for a change!  Why was I born an idiot?  Why could I not have something good for a change?  Oh look I am returning to this point I made last night, let is move on. 

This morning, again around five, I awoke to the idea of running the virus checker, the McAfee system that came with the PC.  When I eventually sallied forth i did this, and removed other extraneous items at the same time.  It also crossed my mind that possibly something in my own outlook might need amending, but that can wait….  I ran the checker but it asked me to ‘register.’  This it asks daily, and mentioned the word ‘subscription.’ Now we all know this means ‘money,’ and we all know this is not on!  So I decided to download ‘Avast!’  a virus checker I knew from before, and free to boot.  Although why i would wish to boot it remains unclear.  This I installed, ran, and removed McAfee from the laptop. Suddenly the laptop runs so much faster.  So far no real problems with the speed, although still not as fast as the PC was.  

Er, dear Lord, em, it appears there may have been a problem, not with you disrupting my life, but with the McAfee doing so.  Er, em, it might be, I am writing smaller now, it might be that I was wrong in what I said, (although some of it might stand actually) and I may have spoken somewhat out of turn. 


I, em, er I apologise. Sorry…….



but the other problems remain…..by the way….


Early this morning as I struggled to bring my inadequately rested brain into today I happened upon the story of Manasseh.  As you will recall this King of Judah went a bit off and worshiped lots of Baals and the like.  He ended up being removed to Babylon and there he repented.  Returning he cleaned up his act and all was well.

Some authorities claim that he became King at twelve years of age, when a Hebrew becomes a man, and co-reigned with his father for ten years until his father dies in his mid fifties.  The Chronicles account does not mention this. However we do know that Manasseh did allow the introduction of Baals and other non gods into Judah, indeed even into the Temple itself!  Assyrian records indicate that the land had peace during this time and that Manasseh subjected himself to Assyria and allowed trade to flourish and the land to prosper.

To me this morning I looked at this man falling down before other gods and wondered why he had done this.  Baals and Asherah poles give a clear indication of the presence of a god in the midst of the city and I wondered if he required a sense of a god’s presence where the god could be touched?  Yahweh cannot be seen nor touched and the responsibilities of kingship can be onerous indeed, especially with Assyria as overlords.  Did fear make the King seek other gods?  Was the priesthood so poor nobody objected, or were those who did removed? Isiah dies near Manasseh’s accession and we can ask whether these two occasions were connected?  Powerful Kings and forceful prophets do not always lead to a moral state.  No prophet that we know off spoke to Manasseh although Chronicles tells us Yahweh had told him to change his ways and he was ignored.  Life was short for many at that time and the majority of the population would have little memory I guess of the Lords previous work in Jerusalem.

Frightened tyrants often become paranoid and much blood is let loose.  A nation with no moral guidance loses the sense of conscience and although prosperous the nation appears to be in turmoil.  Did fear reign perhaps?  I have as yet to check this out sufficiently so I will move to the thought that grabbed my attention.  Manasseh surrounded himself with gods he could see and lived a life that appeared good to him.  However the real God, Yahweh, is not seen. No image is to represent him, no pole, no carved representation, and many Christians react like Manasseh when their God appears not to be answering.  The Christian God does not require statues, not even crosses, just a book, the library known as ‘The Bible.’   This is not a book to worship but the God who breathed into the writers his words he is to be worshiped, and he is always with his people.  I wonder if the King was seeking reassurance from his gods, divination and witchcraft?  His mighty neighbours made his position very dangerous and while trade made them prosper all kings worry about those around them.

Manasseh was led into a dangerous place in Babylon before he repented and was restore.  How many of us wander in desert places because we do not realise Jesus is with us, even though he says nothing and cannot be seen.  Faith, not blind faith but trust in what he has said is required.  Wherever we are with him he is always there.  Possibly Manasseh was never taught this, certainly he knew in the end, may we also realise God is always there.

A young lad was told by his atheist teacher to read out the phrase ‘God is nowhere.’  The lad stood up and read out ‘God is now here!’  Let’s not forget this.