Words for Life, November 2020

30 November 2020


I know someone who has had a strange career path. He started off as an accountant and ended up being a cooper travelling all over the world showing people the importance of having the right barrel for the right product. He doesn’t know why he wanted to become a cooper, he just knew it was for him so he chased his dreams. During the lockdown, he began researching his family history and discovered there were coopers in his family as far back as the 1740s. Seems like his destiny was planned for him centuries ago with the job he now has.


Yesterday I said that Advent starts with Mary and Elizabeth but of course it goes without saying that it was written long before that.


Christmas sees the opening chapter of Christ's conception and history walking on this earth but as Jesus prayed in John 17 :


“ Now, Father glorify me in your presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed”.  So we know he existed long before he walked on this earth and before the world existed.


And John's Gospel opens with, “In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him and without him was not anything made that was made”.


“And so everything was created through him, nothing, not one thing came into being without him. What came into existence was Life and the life was light to live by. The Life light blazed out of the darkness and the darkness couldn’t put it out. (Peterson)


So it all began thousands of years before John the Baptist prepared the way. It all began before Mary and Elizabeth met each other carrying their unborn boys. It all began in the beginning when He was the Word and the Word was with God. Today the Life-Light still blazes out of the darkness and the darkness can't put it out.  Amen




29 November 2020


Advent is upon us and in windows all over, Christmas Trees are going up, some clever people have finished their Christmas Shopping while others have still to start. So where do we start this advent?. Well, we start with two women Mary and Elizabeth.


I wonder if years later they sat over an open fire or with a cup of something warm, and reminisced about that first meeting. Elizabeth might have said  “Do you remember years ago how the baby leapt inside. Mary might remember the words of the Magnificat she sung reported in Luke :


I’m bursting with God-news;
    I’m dancing the song of my Saviour God.
God took one good look at me, and look what happened—
    I’m the most fortunate woman on earth!
What God has done for me will never be forgotten,
    the God whose very name is holy, set apart from all others.
His mercy flows in wave after wave
    on those who are in awe before him.
He bared his arm and showed his strength,
    scattered the bluffing braggarts.
He knocked tyrants off their high horses,
    pulled victims out of the mud.
The starving poor sat down to a banquet;
    the callous rich were left out in the cold.
He embraced his chosen child, Israel;
    he remembered and piled on the mercies, piled them high.
It’s exactly what he promised,
    beginning with Abraham and right up to now.


This “Song of Mary” forms the basis of The Magnificat that is sung all over the world, it is one of the earliest known hymns and while it is arguable that she actually sang it, the words reported by  Luke give some indication of how she felt about her future, her purpose and her God.


The birth of Christ was planned by God but it was unexpected by many. The song of Mary was perhaps sung by Mary but could be an anthem for all of us. On the first day of Advent, we are bursting with good news and as we think about the days that are to come we should think about what God has done for us. For all of us this might be an unexpected Christmas but for God, it's exactly what he promised.


Luke 1 tells us  “He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.” 



Blessings on us all this Advent 2020



Reading from Luke 1 verses 39 to 45 :

At that time Mary got ready and hurried to a town in the hill country of Judea, where she entered Zechariah’s home and greeted Elizabeth.  When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit.  In a loud voice, she exclaimed: ‘Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear! But why am I so favoured, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?  As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy.  Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfil his promises to her!’



28 November 2020


Advent begins tomorrow and today we end the mini series on parables. The reading this morning is from Matthew 13 starting off in verse 10. This is how it reads :


10 The disciples came to him and asked, “Why do you speak to the people in parables? He replied, “Because the knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of heaven has been given to you, but not to them.  Whoever has will be given more, and they will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them.  This is why I speak to them in parables:


“Though seeing, they do not see; though hearing, they do not hear or understand. In them is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah:


“‘You will be ever hearing but never understanding; you will be ever seeing but never perceiving. For this people’s heart has become calloused; they hardly hear with their ears, and they have closed their eyes. Otherwise, they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears,
    understand with their hearts and turn, and I would heal them.’


But blessed are your eyes because they see, and your ears because they hear.  For truly I tell you, many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see but did not see it, and to hear what you hear but did not hear it.


A few years ago someone in Dumbarton asked me “why do you tell a story at the beginning of your sermon? is that not a waste of time?”

I was flummoxed, to say the least, and mumbled out some excuse. The next time I tried hard to open my sermon a different way but then I thought, NO. There are lots of reasons for telling the story. It’s a way into the sermon, it can act as an illustration and can underline the message coming from the scriptures. It's not saying “I can do this better”, it's really saying, ”let me help make this easier”.


Jesus used the parables extensively in his three-year teaching ministry. He told the interesting stories about everyday life which caught the attention of many people. The crowds enabled Jesus to teach more freely for a short period of time because the leadership limited their restrictions to avoid uprisings.


Malcolm Muggeridge said of parables, “every happening great and small is a parable whereby God speaks to us, and the art of life is to get the message”.


Someone else once said, ”Jesus communicated parables to the secular people around him and he used stories that were very relevant to their lives. He was taking heaven's truth and packaging it an earthly context", ( wow read that again!).

But you know, stories are stories, they are just like seeds. Some seeds fall in the rough and don’t grow while others fall on the good ground and multiply tenfold and accomplish something beautiful.


I'd like to think I am a sower of seeds and I’ll continue to tell my stories.


 27 November 2020


I am reading a book at the moment about “old church life in Scotland”, it's mainly based on kirk session minutes of churches in the Mauchline Fenwick and Ayrshire region. It's amazing the things that you find out of yesteryear. For instance, while it was good to have the words of a Psalm in front of you to learn it, it was considered a sin to have the book open in front of you to sing it!


I remember around 1984 when we visited a church for an inspection of records, Elizabeth was asked to leave by the resident minister as he didn’t think females should be elders. As a young youth leader aged 21, a minister from Partick made me go round all the kids in the Sunday School and ask for the return of some stickers I had given out that Looked like Coca Cola Labels that said “Jesus Christ…the real thing”. I then had to present them to the minister who threw them in his fire in front of me.


Well, time has moved on and we are more ”modern”  these days in the church. While that is the good news there is some bad news because we seem to have gone the other way. Not necessarily in the church but in society we seem to have adopted an “anything goes” policy in some circles. Things that were banned years ago are now openly embraced. This came home to me the other day when I saw a film that was banned in Glasgow in the late 1970s was on Sky Movies at 11:30 in the morning!


Now before you go accusing me of being a boring old man, here is my point. Things change, things come and go, compromises are made on a weekly basis but Mark 13 reminds us that Jesus said that “ Heaven and earth will pass away but my words will never pass away”.


Yesterday I joked about the return of Jesus but there is a serious point to that happening. We don’t have the time to think  “manyana” (mañana) or even “que sera sera", whatever will be will be.  As the reading reminds us :

“But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. Be on guard! Be alert! You do not know when that time will come."


His words will never pass away and no one knows the hour so don’t our standards, don’t try and second guess just be ready.  Amen



Mark 13:28-33

Now learn this lesson from the fig tree: As soon as its twigs get tender and its leaves come out, you know that summer is near. Even so, when you see these things happening, you know that it is near, right at the door. Truly I tell you, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.

But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. Be on guard! Be alert! You do not know when that time will come.



26 November 2020


I suppose you’ve heard the story of the church that had a vacancy and the elders took it in turns to conduct the service. As people arrived the news was out that very soon they would be appointing a new pastor and the feeling that Sunday on the door was of great joy at the good news. It didn’t last long, however, when a homeless man arrived with his blanket under his arm. He asked a few questions about agencies in the area for the poor and distraught but nobody seemed to know. The tried to move the man on his way but he walked into the vestibule and then into the church. He was asked to move three times before settling himself in the back pew.


As usual, a senior spokesman stood up at the beginning of the service to deliver the intimations. This week it was Jim a likeable and jolly man. As he made the usual announcements, he cleared his throat and said: “ as you know we have appointed a new pastor”. People got a bit unsettled for the homeless man had got up and started walking down the centre aisle. Jim looked as though he might faint but carried on: "well I'd like to tell you that our pastor is called Dan Fletcher”. The congregation gasped as the homeless guy walked up the steps of the chancel and lifted the mike clean off from the lectern where Jim stood. In a loud and booming voice the man said “Good Morning people my name is Dan Fletcher, your new pastor, today's lesson will be from Matthew 7  verses 1 to 5. And without looking at a Bible he began :


Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.” Amen


Today there are a lot of people judging out there. Some people even make a living out of it on TV and Radio telling others about their failings and shortcomings.


Things in life at the moment are changing daily. People make decisions that affect our lives and our families. We are quick to condemn and even quicker to offer our own solutions.


I made the mistake of thinking about the plank in my eye, and as I thought more and more I realised that I possibly have more planks in there than the local sawmill. I have no right to judge and that is what the parable is all about. While I might not be happy about criticisms that are being made I am in no place to judge and if I am ever stuck for something to pray about all I have to do is think about the planks in my life.


There is a great verse in the Bible that I can call on. It's from the book of Isaiah chapter 43 :


Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you. For I am the Lord you God, the Holy One of Israel, your Saviour.



25 November 2020


Of course, we have all heard the hypothetical question “what would you do when Jesus comes back?”  The Presbyterian cynics amongst us would probably say “form a committee to discuss”.  We all must have the faith to believe that one day he will return, we know he will because the Bible tells us so.


There is a parable in the Bible called the “persistent widow”.  A widow repeatedly approaches a judge asking for protection, but he ignores her and her demands. But still, she keeps coming back. Eventually, he gives in.


Eugene Peterson translates the rest of the story.  “Do you hear what that judge, corrupt as he is, is saying? So what makes you think God won’t step in and work justice for his chosen people, who continue to cry out for help? Won’t he stick up for them? I assure you, he will. He will not drag his feet. But how much of that kind of persistent faith will the Son of Man find on the earth when he returns?”


So I guess the question has changed. It is no longer what would we do when Jesus comes back to walk this earth? It is how persistent will our faith be when the Son of Man returns.


As we approach Advent and we await the birth of Jesus, let our faith be persistent and our prayers be fervent and frequent. God works for those who are faithful to him so let's keep our minds and our hearts on him. Amen



The story of the persistent widow  (Luke 18)


Jesus told them a story showing that it was necessary for them to pray consistently and never quit. He said, “There was once a judge in some city who never gave God a thought and cared nothing for people. A widow in that city kept after him: ‘My rights are being violated. Protect me!’

4-5 “He never gave her the time of day. But after this went on and on he said to himself, ‘I care nothing what God thinks, even less what people think. But because this widow won’t quit badgering me, I’d better do something and see that she gets justice—otherwise, I’m going to end up beaten black-and-blue by her pounding.’”

6-8 Then the Master said, “Do you hear what that judge, corrupt as he is, is saying? So what makes you think God won’t step in and work justice for his chosen people, who continue to cry out for help? Won’t he stick up for them? I assure you, he will. He will not drag his feet. But how much of that kind of persistent faith will the Son of Man find on the earth when he returns?”











24 November 2020


This time, last year I was preaching in Baldernock church about the parable of the Yeast. To bring home my point I took a tiny Christmas tree still in its pot ( around 6 inches) and used it in the children's address. After the address, I presented it to a young boy called Alastair. It transpired that Alastair loved trees and assured me that he would take care of the tree and for the next few months I got regular updates about that Tree. I wonder if, a year later, the tree is still growing and did it make it through 2020.


The parable of the yeast is the shortest parable in the bible. One verse in Matthew 13 verse 33 “He told them still another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed into about sixty pounds of flour until it worked all through the dough.”


The point of the parable is that from little things there can be a result, a growth. In the parable, Jesus says that the housewife takes a small amount of starter, and hides it in three measure of flour — literally three pecks of flour — about 1½ bushels of flour.  It is said that Christ, Himself, represents the housewife, the small lump of yeast represents gospel and the flour represents the church.


Jesus teaches His disciples that a small bit of leaven leavens the whole lump – from such a small beginning the Kingdom of God will eventually have an extraordinary influence upon this world.


Because of the current restrictions, the numbers are small in the church sanctuary, is it worth it? That’s an arguable point when there are so many possibilities to hear the minister each Sunday, DVD and Youtube being two of them. I like to think that those who gather on a Sunday morning in the sanctuary are just like some yeast, keeping the dough going, keeping it alive waiting for the growth and the bake to make the most incredible bread you could taste. And the good thing is that all over the country there are wee pots of yeast in each household minding the dough watching the DVD's and tuning into FaceBook and Youtube.


From little things come a greater blessing, it won't be long. Be patient. Continue your prayers and tend the dough.










23 November 2020


 A handful of pearls


I am not a great fan of Antiques Roadshow but I’ve come across a few excerpts on YouTube of the American version. In one of the clips, a woman is showing an old painting that hung above her mother's bed throughout most of her life. After she died the painting was given to her daughter and she promptly put it in a cupboard. “It’s a fake,” she said, “someone was said it looked like a Monet”. Well, you have probably guessed right, it was no fake and it was a real Monet. The female in question tentatively asked the price of the painting. The expert looked at her and said: “it's impossible to value as the value is too great. This is a once in a lifetime find.”


There is a lesser known parable, the parable of the pearl in Matthew 13 verses 45-46 “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls. When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it.”


The merchant was able to source fine pearls and when he found one of exceptional value he was able to buy this at a great price having to sell everything he had.  You see there was a price to be paid in order to get the pearl and that involved selling all his belongings.


The lesson here is what is most valuable in life cannot be purchased at any price. In order to come into the kingdom of heaven, it is impossible to value it, as it is priceless. The price was paid on the nail, on a hill in Calvary by God's only son Jesus Christ.


The valuable pearl is the "deal of a lifetime" for the merchant in the story. However, those who do not believe in the kingdom of heaven enough to stake their whole future on it are unworthy of the kingdom.


This interpretation of the parable is the inspiration for a  hymn, “O That Pearl of Great Price!.


O that Pearl of great price! have you found it?
Is the Saviour supreme in your love?
O consider it well, ere you answer,
As you hope for a welcome above.
Have you given up all for this Treasure?
Have you counted past gains as but loss?
Has your trust in yourself and your merits
Come to naught before Christ and his cross.












22 November 2020


How heavy is your pot?


I was reading an old book by Willie Barclay and he was asked what was his favourite verse? He said it differed every other week but the one he mentioned was 1 Peter 5:7 Casting all your anxieties on him because he cares for you.


My favourite verse in the Bible is a strange one. It comes from John chapter 4 and the story of the woman at the well. We all know the story of this outcast who meets Jesus at the well and he offers her the water of life, which would prevent her ever being thirsty again. This woman who was notorious and burdened was convinced by Jesus who the messiah was. 


For me, the most important fact in this story is her reaction. You see, she could have said “thank you” and walked away. She might have hung about and chatted with the disciples learning more and more from them. But, for me, there are 12 words that defined this woman from Samaria in verse 28 “Then, leaving her water jar, the woman went back to the town”


She came to fetch water in her pot, perhaps the most important possession in her life that allowed her to cook, to drink and be hydrated. She cast it aside to run into the town.


She risked the midday sun to come to the well, as she wanted to stay away from prying eyes and gossip because of her past. All of that cast aside as she runs into the town.


I’m guessing this woman was secretive and ashamed and lived a life with a low profile but after she encounters Jesus, all of that was cast aside as she went back into the town and said to all the people that she met “Come, see a man who told me everything I’ve ever done. Could this be the Messiah?’ They came out of the town and made their way towards him.”


The woman at the well teaches me that no matter how heavy your “pot” is, in a life with Jesus you can leave it all behind. No matter what your past is all about not only will all of that be forgotten, but will be wiped clean. If you lack confidence because of all of the drama in your life God can bring about the peace that transcends all understanding. How heavy is your pot today?










21 November 2020



And so its time to think about getting in the Christmas gifts to put round the tree, to post out to family that we will not see and look online because we cannot go out and shop in most shops at the moment. Think for a minute. What would you buy Jesus for his Christmas? A Christmas gift as well as a birthday gift. What does he need? Do you know him well enough to know what he needs.?


Of course, all of this is hypothetical, we all know that Jesus is not looked upon as a human being but he was/is.


Arguably the most famous verse in the Bible apart from John 3v16 might be John 11 verse 35. “Jesus wept” the shortest verse in the Bible.


I’m always amazed by the comparisons that are in the Bible and I think they are there to make us recognise them and by doing so it “pulls us up” makes us think and understand them more.


Here we see the two natures of Jesus. The humanity of Christ where we see him openly weep for his friend who was dead (Lazarus) and the divinity of Christ where he then went on to raise him from the dead. It is this that brings us closer to the man and it underlines his amazing “saviour qualities” as the son of God.


In an instant we see that Jesus showed compassion, sympathy and sorrow and we know that is what he shows us even to this very day. For me to understand “the friend” that we have in Jesus, we have to appreciate the human qualities that he has. This means that when we sit down and have a chat with him, the approach is easier, the language flows easier too and the bond is recognizable. Of course, there is the comparison too that our Lord and Saviour has the ability to save the world, the ability to provide a love that guarantees eternal life.


But when he walked among us, he was one of us. Our master and our friend.


John 11 verses 32 to 37


32 When Mary reached the place where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet and said, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.”

33 When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled. 34 “Where have you laid him?” he asked.

“Come and see, Lord,” they replied.

35 Jesus wept.

36 Then the Jews said, “See how he loved him!”

37 But some of them said, “Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man have kept this man from dying?”










20 November 2020


I was genuinely surprised the other day when I read that forgiveness is one of the main struggles with the majority of people. Recent studies on forgiveness prove that practising forgiveness can improve our mental and physical health and wellbeing. But how do we practice forgiveness and experience the peace that it brings?


Forgiveness can be a struggle for most. In life, people behave in ways that can offend us. Holding a grudge might feel natural, but the Bible encourages us to forgive. But for me? I can't help but think that holding a grudge is like holding onto sin, an indelible ink mark on our hearts that we carry each day. So it's important to forgive ourselves first before forgiving others.


The Bible especially the new testament has so much to offer by way of advice on the matter.

Matthew 6/15 “But if you do not forgive neither will your Father forgive."

Matthew 18/21 “Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy times seven.”


Colossians 3/13 “Bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.”


But for me, James 5/16 hammers this home when he says “confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.”



Someone said the other day “ if we prayed about it as much as we talked about it then the problem would be fixed” and that’s advice to take to heart. While it's important these days to talk about things there can be no better advice than to talk to God in prayer. If there is a problem talk to him about it. And as we know in full confidence that we can get forgiveness from him surely we can expect to forgive others and receive their forgiveness. Amen










19 November 2020



I said I would never use the “Covid” word again on these pages but at the time I didn’t see another lockdown on the horizon. The other day I was talking to someone and heard myself say “we are not locked up at home, we are staying safe at home”.  Easy for me to say when I have a wife at home 24/7 AND we enjoy each others company. But I know there are others who don’t feel that way and maybe feel alone and slightly vulnerable these days.


Lamentations 3 verse 23-26 reminds us :


Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed,
    for his compassions never fail.
They are new every morning;
    great is your faithfulness.

 I say to myself, ‘The Lord is my portion;
    therefore I will wait for him.’

The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him,
    to the one who seeks him;
 it is good to wait quietly
    for the salvation of the Lord.


However dark our circumstances and days may seem we are told the steadfast love of God never ceases. NO matter how bleak it appears out there and dangerous the circumstances of life are, we are told that the steadfast love of God never ceases towards us. We have God's unfailing reassurance that His mercies and compassion are new every morning. How great is the faithfulness of our gracious God.


It is inevitable that sometimes we may suffer from “unbelief” when we see the wars raging about us and the daily statistics that are fed to us like a doomsday warning.


It is said, a life of faith cannot be founded on the shifting sands of doubt and disappointment but needs to be secured to the faithfulness of Jesus Christ for his steadfast love is the same yesterday, today and forever. AND never ceases.


His mercies never come to an end. His gracious compassion is new every morning - how great is the faithfulness of our gracious God.


Our Thursday Prayer 

Our Heavenly Father, thank you for your presence with us again this week and for the knowledge we have that whatever is going on in our world that you are aware of all that happens and you are ultimately in control of all world events.  In times like these, it is good for us to meditate on your word and take note of how your servants of old showed that, through major disasters and times of great uncertainty, they always fell back on you and your word.   We are reminded of the prophet Jeremiah who lived through some dark days and was known as the weeping prophet, yet he penned these words from 

Lamentations 3 : 22-23  – Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail.   They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.  

What a wonderful testament these words are to this man and what a legacy he has given us today.   We sometimes sing a chorus with these words and it is good for us to sing when we feel that we are becoming overwhelmed or anxious.   Thank you also to the people who have taken some wonderful verses from scripture and committed them to song.   We are indeed a privileged people who have easy access to your word as well as music – and they bless and enrich our lives so much.   May we never take them for granted but let them nourish and feed our minds and hearts – Amen. 











18 November 2020


As the deer pants for the water


We are lucky to live with a woodland area just outside our back windows where we see deer virtually any day of the week. They feast on ivy and a certain shrub.  After they have done that they venture round to the front where they can munch on the beautiful and colourful plants that have been planted there (while they last). 


Psalm 42 verses 1 -5 tells us :

As the deer pants for water, so I long for you, O God. I thirst for God, the living God. Where can I find him to come and stand before him? Day and night I weep for his help, and all the while my enemies taunt me. “Where is this God of yours?” they scoff.

4-5 Take courage, my soul! Do you remember those times (but how could you ever forget them!) when you led a great procession to the Temple on festival days, singing with joy, praising the Lord? Why then be downcast? Why be discouraged and sad? Hope in God! I shall yet praise him again. Yes, I shall again praise him for his help.



If you think about it for a moment, the Bible can give you a very clear and thought provoking picture. In Psalm 42 the deer is aching with thirst. We don’t know why it has this thirst perhaps from a drought or from a heated pursuit. Either way, the deer longed for and needed the water, not only to survive but to replenish the energy lost and the nutrients that have disappeared. 


The psalmist is in need of God, not water. His enemies taunt him but just like the water replenished the deer, God can replenish the psalmist as well as you and me with the nutrients and the motivation to fight against what troubles us. Not only that, God gives us so much more. He brings us Joy and Hope and through faith, He brings an eternal life.


A timely reminder to praise God for all that he gives us and however thirsty we may be, the water of life is there for the taking. 


Eugene Peterson ends this psalm translating the words with “Fix my eyes on God - soon I’ll be praising again. He puts a smile on my face He’s my God.”












17 November 2020


Parcels of Love


I have a playlist on my device that’s called, “Alex’s desert island discs". Well, I guess the first thing is, “how sad is that"  and the second thing is, “me? On a desert island? No thanks.”


But I came upon this playlist the other day and was surprised to see that so many of my favourite tunes have the word “Love” in them. In fact, out of 100 tracks, 38 of the tracks have “love” in the title. Titles that range from The Glory of Love, The Power of Love, I want to know what Love is?, even I’m not in Love.


Ephesians 3 16-19 jumps out to me :

 “I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge - that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.”


Paul responds to the glory of God in these words and it is said that Paul repeatedly focuses the reader back to God and the power of his love. Eugene Peterson talks of a God who “parcels” out of heaven and earth suggesting to me that these are gifts given to us profusely.


In these words, Paul is asking God for a deep spiritual strength through the Holy Spirit for the Christians in Ephesus but these words alone could be a prayer from you and me, because its through prayer that we can ask for these “parcels” of strength and the love.


Peterson translates this verse as: “My response is to get down on my knees before the Father, this magnificent Father who parcels out all heaven and earth. I ask him to strengthen you by his Spirit—not a brute strength but a glorious inner strength—that Christ will live in you as you open the door and invite him in. And I ask him that with both feet planted firmly on love, you’ll be able to take in with all followers of Jesus the extravagant dimensions of Christ’s love. Reach out and experience the breadth! Test its length! Plumb the depths! Rise to the heights! Live full lives, full in the fullness of God.”


And so as we look forward to next month and the parcels that we should start thinking about wrapping and delivering. We pray that God continues to send us parcels of strength, peace and of course Love.










16 November 2020


When I was a young boy barely in my teens and in the Boys Brigade, the officer would shout, “tallest on the right and shortest on the left in single rank. Size”.  While everybody shuffled around fitting themselves in beside the others, I would diligently walk right to the end of the line.  I knew my place cause I was small. Nothing wrong in this you might think but I was the fourth oldest boy in the company and here I was down among the “wee ones”.


Matthew 10 verse 29 tells us,  “Are not sparrows sold for very little? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God. The very hairs on your head have been counted. Fear not. You are worth more than a flock of sparrows.”


I think it's safe to say that God should bring out the best in us when we give him the best in us. 


When we look at this verse we see that despite how worthless or small we are we will never be forgotten. And why is that? Well because He knows us so well that he knows the very hairs on our head. And if we feel afraid of how small we are and of the value we bring to the party, look at the last nine words of this verse “you are worth more than a flock of sparrows”.


Ask yourself something “do I know any other sparrows?”  Right now there might be someone that you know that is not being nourished by the words of God. Someone might feel small because they are not getting around as much as they used to, maybe they are not being held up by the friends and family that they used to see.


God brings the best out in us when we give him the best in us. Share that blessing today if only with the one person, the one sparrow that has slipped through the net.










15 November 2020



Will your anchor hold?


Yes, Advent starts on the 29th of November and before you know it? Bang! Its Christmas day! The feelings towards Christmas this year are almost palpable. “Oh No! it won't be the same”, “It's all been lost thanks to the Politicians”.  “It's going to be a terrible time!”.


Now while I agree that it's going to be tough let's consider the words from Hebrews 10 verses 24 and 25 -  “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”


I have said this before many many times before but The Bible does speak to us every day and for me, this is a verse I will hold onto for the time being. 


OK so maybe we can't get to church. But don’t give up! God's message to us throughout the Bible is to hold fast and look forward. Eugene Peterson tells us to keep a firm grip on the promises that keep us going. God always keeps his word. Let’s see how inventive we can be in encouraging love and helping out, not avoiding worshipping together as some do but spurring each other on. We may not be able to worship in our favourite Church but we can use the internet to source a service and open a Bible and say a prayer. Worship can be where ever you and with whatever tools that you have. Again words that I never tire of but we have an anchor that keeps the soul steadfast and sure while the billows roll. Soon we will expect and welcome the newborn King. Mary did not give up on Joseph, Joseph never gave up on finding shelter for the expectant mother and God will not give up on you.


When the strong tides lift, and the cables strain,

Will your anchor drift or firm remain?










14 November 2020


Choirs all over the country were put on hold over the past few months but where there is a will there is a way and with the power of youtube more and more choirs were able to put something out online to satisfy not only the choir but the listener too. Praise Gathering used to be a yearly event in Glasgow and the gathering of so many men and women on stage praising Gods name was a joy to behold.


Yesterday I came across their latest offering which was a song, I believe, called “ There is no other name”


Fast forward to Acts 4 verses 11 and 12 and we read :

11 Jesus is“‘the stone you builders rejected,
which has become the cornerstone.’

12 Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.”


The early Church had heard Christ's teaching, witnessed His miracles, watched as He was nailed to the Cross, and rejoiced three days later, when He rose from the dead. They knew that Jesus was the Messiah, the Son of the living God and that in Him were the words of eternal life, and light, and truth, and love. They knew that Jesus alone was their hope and so they proclaimed the good news far and wide - with great boldness.

Peter did not tell of one way to be saved. He declared the ONLY way. Salvation is only found in Christ alone. Many experts in the “new churches” have words and theories of the meaning of life, but they are just clanging symbols and empty clouds. No use to anyone The word of God tells us there is no other way for us to receive salvation and there is no other name under heaven by which we must be saved.


Enjoy the music of Praise Gathering

Your singing moves and shakes the ground
Your beckon brings the rain in drought
Your glory spins the earth around
Your whisper makes Your fire fall down

There's no other name
The Name that stands through the ages

There's no other name
There's no other name like Yours
Jesus, like Yours Jesus
There's no other name
There's no other name like Yours
Jesus, like Yours Jesus

Your word commands the wind and waves
Your touch revives the sick and lame
Your power wakes the dead again
Your love destroys the grip of sin, Amen
Your love destroys the grip of sin

There's no other name
There's no other name like Yours
Jesus, like Yours Jesus
There's no other name
There's no other name like Yours
Jesus, like Yours Jesus
There's no other name
There's no other name like Yours
















13 November 2020



He will cover you with his feathers


Word came through the other day of a vaccine for this latest crisis that has hit the world. I read a sign that said “global solution for global problem”. I thought if only it was that easy. I turned on my computer screen and my reading for the day immediately came up. Psalm 91.


I have said on here before that these days the Bible readings that I come across seem to be the arrow that hits the bullseye, the honey that soothes the inflamed. 


One part of this reading jumps out in verse 4 

He will cover you with his feathers,
    and under his wings you will find refuge;
    his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.
You will not fear the terror of night,
    nor the arrow that flies by day,
nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness,
    nor the plague that destroys at midday


And so again the words of God that remain forever, even today has a clear message for those who are anxious, for those who are afraid of the darkness and for those who feel they are too old for a decent set of armour. The image of a swan immediately comes to mind and how the mother protects her cygnets and swaddles them amongst her downy feathers as she glides along the water.


Verse 11 

For he will command his angels concerning you
    to guard you in all your ways;
they will lift you up in their hands,
    so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.
You will tread on the lion and the cobra;
    you will trample the great lion and the serpent.

“Because he loves me,” says the Lord


Things change so fast in this ever-moving world but Jesus Christ is the same yesterday today and forever. Yesterday I said the word of God will never pass away and we heard a vaccine is just around the corner. The word of God is here for us today for peace for comfort for all of us.




Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High
    will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.[a]
I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress,
    my God, in whom I trust.”

Surely he will save you
    from the fowler’s snare
    and from the deadly pestilence.
He will cover you with his feathers,
    and under his wings you will find refuge;
    his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.
You will not fear the terror of night,
    nor the arrow that flies by day,
nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness,
    nor the plague that destroys at midday.
A thousand may fall at your side,
    ten thousand at your right hand,
    but it will not come near you.
You will only observe with your eyes
    and see the punishment of the wicked.

If you say, “The Lord is my refuge,”
    and you make the Most High your dwelling,
10 no harm will overtake you,
    no disaster will come near your tent.
11 For he will command his angels concerning you
    to guard you in all your ways;
12 they will lift you up in their hands,
    so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.
13 You will tread on the lion and the cobra;
    you will trample the great lion and the serpent.

14 “Because he loves me,” says the Lord, “I will rescue him;
    I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name.
15 He will call on me, and I will answer him;
    I will be with him in trouble,
    I will deliver him and honour him.
16 With long life I will satisfy him
    and show him my salvation.”











12 November 2020








My eyes fell onto a picture in a website about a church in Africa. 


The pastor there was asked what had been going on in the church during the current restrictions.


He admitted that at the moment, they were still trying hard to identify people traffickers, and their home farming projects were in full bloom as everyone was able to pay extra attention to their crops and recently they had a collection for the widows and widowers of the community. And still, this pastor went on and on at what they had done and what they were continuing to do. The interviewer said, “so you will be hoping to get back to normal then?”. “No!” the pastor exclaimed “not normal, we failed in normal and we had so much work to do. We have learned we will not be a normal church . We will be a new church. He then said “Heaven and earth will pass away but the words of God will never pass away”. And with a big smile He said “Matthew 23 verse 35”.


The pastor then said he was going sing a protest song from South Africa that was written and sung by those protesting against apartheid and it was a call to freedom and commitment to the light, the power and the love of God.


The journalist was awestruck as this song the man sang in Africa was a frequent favourite hymn in the church that he went to back home in Kent.


We are marching in the light of God,
We are marching in the light of God.
We are marching, marching,
We are marching, marching,
We are marching in the light of God.


God does not stand still and neither should we or the church. We live in a world of shifting sand and things that were, are no longer. 


Everything has changed but our building still stands tall and The Good News reassures us that the word of God will never pass away.



A prayer for Thursday :


Our Heavenly Father – as we come to you again this morning in prayer, we are reminded of the words of the Psalmist who says ‘Find rest, O my soul, in God alone; my hope comes from him.  He alone is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will not be shaken.’  Father, we have seen from the news this week that the big news story is the progress being made with the creation of a Vaccine in the fight against the Coronavirus.  For the first time in a long while, people are feeling optimistic – dare we say it ‘hopeful’ that this is the one!   This taught us that we all need ‘hope’ – we all need to know that things will get better and that the restrictions which we have been living under will be a thing of the past.  In your Word, we read of ordinary men and women whose hope alone was in God as they endured many things, often in the service of God, and they realised that, regardless of their physical safety and wellbeing, there was a hope far higher and we are glad that they point us heavenward today.   Whilst we are glad for the progress which is being made in the search for a vaccine, let us remember that our ‘hope’ is in our Heavenly Father not only for our physical and mental wellbeing but more importantly for our eternal life which was purchased for us by the Lord Jesus – who gave everything for us that we might enjoy Him forever – Amen.











11 November 2020







I was struck by this image of a young girl. It is said that she doesn’t realise that this is a statue of Christ carrying his cross and her natural reaction is to help him carry it. A brilliant image and one that could lead to many a sermon or children's address in the church.


Galatians 6 verse 2 tells us that to Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfil the law of Christ.”


When the load that others are hauling around becomes too heavy others should step in to help that person get through it. I read somewhere that a “Life in Christ by the power of God's spirit is not meant to be lived alone.”  (I would read that again! To get it to sink in).


But how do we carry each other's burdens these days when we are confined to houses, streets and postcodes. Well, we can pray and we can talk. We pick up the phone or send a card or letter. Relieve the burden of isolation or loneliness by simply picking up the phone and asking, "how are you ?”  Send a note that says, "was thinking bout you today."


When we hear about our brothers and sisters who are struggling we should pray for them first and then share their burden by getting in touch.


We can carry each other's burdens today by simply letting someone know you are there. Even if it's only on the other side of a phone, you are there. I was struck the other week when I was on a Zoom call and one person apologised for their croaky voice as they had not been using it for days. Loneliness can be a burden, an empty day can be a burden, a day without the usual routine can be a burden.


A Japanese martial arts expert said :

“If you were all alone in the universe with no one to talk to, no one with which to share the beauty of the stars, to laugh with, to touch, what would be your purpose in life? It is life; it is love, which gives your life meaning. This is harmony. We must discover the joy of each other, the joy of challenge, the joy of growth.” 


“Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfil the law of Christ.”










10 November 2020


Compare the meerkat?



Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh.  Luke 6 verse 21


Sometimes we look at a strapline in an advertisement and we get the point immediately, then there are others that just confuse you completely, or even irritate you and my mind immediately goes to “compare the meerkats.”


Luke 6 verse 21 is a great strapline for anyone that is struggling at the moment.


I read somewhere that if you want to achieve spiritual happiness its imperative that you take your spiritual work seriously. Many of us seek Jesus when we are in situations of need, which is fine. But think of this for a minute. A relationship based on what we could give back to God and not what we can take from him is a great place to be. It’s a profound relationship to have.


Spiritual growth can be painful. We suffer a lot of pain through learning but at the other side think of the lasting joy that we will be given. We may weep now under the pressures of life and mourn for others but we can be filled with spiritual joy and pleasure and be comforted by our Father in heaven.


We end this verse with the words of Eugene Peterson and how he translates this part of

Luke 21 :


You’re blessed when you’ve lost it all.
God’s kingdom is there for the finding.
You’re blessed when you’re ravenously hungry.
Then you’re ready for the Messianic meal.
You’re blessed when the tears flow freely.
Joy comes with the morning.










09 November 2020


“If a blind person is leading a blind person, both will end up in a ditch.”


Americans wake up today to a new president-elect. Was it what they wanted? Will it make a difference? Will it bring healing? Was the result brought about by the power of prayer?


This verse from Luke chapter 6 has taught me so much and more so when I am looking at life from the ditch.


Jesus also said, “Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it and it will be yours.” (Matthew 11:24). 


As Christians, we know that prayer is a key part of our relationship with God but it isn’t always a part of our regular practice. Many Christians struggle with making adequate time for God, through prayer and communication. We live in a fast-paced world and while many Christians say Jesus is most important their life, many struggle with fitting God into their daily agendas. 


 But a Jesus follower always has time for God because their lives centre on Him. 


If we stand tall with that negative person we too become that negative person. If we mix with the people who cut corners we will find a way soon enough to cut corners. If we accept the actions of a bully we are encouraging behaviour that is difficult to manage and create a difficult world to live in.


If we Follow Christ and cherish those that follow Him too. If we pray for the things in life that worry us and make any time His time, then we will be able to see with our eyes open and avoid that ditch.  Amen












08 November 2020


In the grounds of Rosslyn Chapel there is a St. Clair family gravestone that has a memorable verse on the stone :

When you go home, tell them of us and say
For your tomorrow, we gave our today.


This was authored by the poet John Maxwell Edmunds who composed poems for graves and memorials. One of his famous ones was a theme for a war movie ”Went the day well?”


Went the day well?
We died and never knew.
But, well or ill,
Freedom, we died for you.


That epitaph was regularly quoted when The Times notified deaths of those who fell during the First World War and was also regularly used during the Second World War. It appeared on many village and town war memorials.


Today should have been a normal “Remembrance Sunday” but of course there will be nothing normal about it except, “we will remember them”. We will also remember 2020 for the remainder of our lives.


Remembrance Sunday is important because what happened in the past affects all our lives. Soldiers in the past and family, have done so much and have given so much that we need to remember them with thankfulness and humility.



A very memorable verse from the Bible is 1 Corinthians 11 : 23-26

23 For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you: The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, 24 and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, “This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.” 25 In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.” 26 For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.



Today as we look at the poppy we should also look at the cross. It's important too for us to remember how Jesus died and in doing so took on all the suffering and the wrongs of this world. The cross reminds us that Jesus gave up his life for us and how we live for God and for others.


We praise God this day from whom all blessings flow and pray for the lives lost in the  battles over the years. 










07 November 2020


The gift of Mint Imperials


I remember preaching one Sunday about the gifts and talents that we have. Just as the sermon was about to start a lady in the third row started giving out imperial mints to all those around her. She smiled up at me and I almost went down for a share of the mints too.


At the end of the service, over coffee, I saw her striding towards me. She told me she thought my “words” were good but thought I could have reassured those who didn’t have any gifts at all, she confessed she had no gifts at all. She told me that she thought “I was doing well” coming to the church in Dumbarton and on a Sunday after lunch she would visit her neighbour next door and tell her what was said in church, who was there and what the home baking was like. As my mother would have said, “she never stopped for a breath”.


I was able to tell Agnes (that was her name) that since coming to the church this morning I had seen her generosity in giving out her mints. She was able to share them and her thoughts to me about my time in the church and that was very reassuring. Going into her neighbours every Sunday made her caring and neighbourly. Giving me feedback (feedback is a gift) made me feel a bit more confident in what I was doing and that is a gift too, being able to talk and reassure folk.



Matthew 13 verse 44 

The kingdom of God is like treasure buried in a field. The man who found it buried it again. Delighted, he went and sold everything he had and bought the field. 


As Christians, we are called to develop the talents and gifts God has given us to build up his kingdom here on earth. Paul told Timothy to :

“Fan into the flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands. For the Spirit of God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.”      (2 Timothy 1:6-7). 



Our work as Christians has to be an integral part of our relationship with Christ but the work and the talents that we share can be anything from handing out mints to our pew pals or it could be being the CEO of a Christian charity. Big or small we are all called to do different things and as long as we are doing them for the right reasons our Kingdom pursuits must be our highest aim in life.



Brother, sister let me serve you. Let me be as Christ to you; 

pray that I may have the grace to let you be my servant too. 


We are pilgrims on a journey, and companions on the road; 

we are here to help each other walk the mile and bear the load. 


I will hold the Christ-light for you in the night-time of your fear; 

I will hold my hand out to you, speak the peace you long to hear. 


I will weep when you are weeping; when you laugh I'll laugh with you; 

I will share your joy and sorrow till we've seen this journey through. 


When we sing to God in heaven we shall find such harmony, 

born of all we've known together of Christ's love and agony. 


Brother, sister let me serve you. Let me be as Christ to you; 

pray that I may have the grace to let you be my servant too. 










06 November 2020


You could call this confession time, this might even shock you.  But when I read Luke 6 verses 27 to  29  I have a major issue with it.


“When someone hits you on the cheek offer the other as well. When someone takes your coat let him have your shirt too.”


When someone holds a grudge or says something I don’t like, in practice, I turn the other cheek. But then I have to go and have a word with myself and inevitably I am asking myself “Alex how many times do I have to do this?”  “What happens when I run out of cheeks. Then again I might run to a friend for yet another moan."


So yesterday I decided to research the problem. The first thing I did was to consult Eugene Peterson. A different translation can put a good slant on things and the first 13 words hit me like a sledgehammer.  He says :


27-30 Love your enemies. Let them bring out the best in you, not the worst. 


And when you think about it that’s the problem. Someone says something or does something and our immediate reaction brings out the worst in us. Things are thought and worse still, things are said.


Peterson goes on to say :


“When someone gives you a hard time, respond with the energies of prayer for that person. If someone slaps you in the face, stand there and take it. If someone grabs your shirt, gift wrap your best coat and make a present of it. If someone takes unfair advantage of you, use the occasion to practice the servant life. No more tit-for-tat stuff. Live generously.


Of course all of this is built on a foundation of hope. Yesterday I read :


Building a foundation of hope will help carry you through any storms you may face. First, submit yourself to Jesus in prayer. He is the source of our hope. When we come to Him in humility, He restores us. Next, strengthen your faith. Allow God’s previously fulfilled promises to renew your hope. God has given us a written record of countless ways He has provided hope for believers in centuries in the past. If we lower ourselves, God will lift you up. Trust Him.


As the song says “ today is a new day and a new dawn” and everyday is a school day and I have something new to try today or when needed. 


Trust Him and He will lift you. Amen




Do you remember the words to this hymn? 


When we walk with the Lord in the light of His Word,
What a glory He sheds on our way!
While we do His good will, He abides with us still,
And with all who will trust and obey.

Trust and obey, for there's no other way
To be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.

Not a shadow can rise, not a cloud in the skies,
But His smile quickly drives it away;
Not a doubt or a fear, not a sigh or a tear,
Can abide while we trust and obey.

Trust and obey, for there's no other way
To be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.

Then in fellowship sweet we will sit at His feet.
Or we'll walk by His side in the way.
What He says we will do, where He sends we will go;
Never fear, only trust and obey.

Trust and obey, for there's no other way
To be happy in Jesus, but to trust…











05 November 2020


Ask and it will be given. Seek and you will find. Knock and the door will be opened for you. –Luke 11:9


One of our favourite programmes has just come to the end of its current run on TV. “Who do you think you are” delves into the lives of celebrities, sometimes exposing surprises from their past. I think a programme like this helps the celebrity not only find out about their past but what it is that has brought them to the life that they lead today. What exactly is in their DNA.


I wonder how this would translate to our own lives, how God has influenced us and made us the person that we are.?


God knows each and every one of us even by the hairs on our head but the flip side of that is there is no way we can follow God's purpose and receive blessings in our life if we don’t know who we are in Christ. For that, we need to ensure that the Holy Spirit dwells in us and draws us closer to Jesus.


The Bible tells us that we will receive the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Jesus and the eyes of understanding will be enlightened (Ephesians 1:17-18). God reveals a calling only to those who accept Jesus as Saviour. Knowing Him intimately will change you. God is ready to bless you. All we have to do is ask.   Amen



Father, thank you again this morning, for this new day – but most of all we thank you that, whatever it brings, we are aware of your presence with us.    This is so reassuring for us when we think of these past few months and the changes to our routine we have had to adopt and get used to.   We think too of the new phrases and habits we are required to adhere to – ‘social distancing’, hand sanitizing, wearing masks when out and about, not socialising with family and friends like we were used to, not bumping into folk in the street etc., being careful in shops.  And for some, Father, this has been a difficult and confusing time and we pray for one another and ask that you will be a help and comfort those who are struggling and anxious.   We remember the people of our world and especially the people in Austria who are grieving the loss of loved ones in the terrorist attack, the people of Turkey in the aftermath of the earthquake when over 100 people died and many are still missing and many have lost their homes and everything they hold dear.   We remember, too, the presidential elections in America and the implications which may arise from it.  Sometimes we feel overwhelmed with all that is going on, but we hold on to the truth of your word which reminds us that You are sovereign – You are in control – and that ultimately, nothing happens which is outwith Your plan and will.   We pray that we will be given the grace and the peace that we need during these days – Amen.









04 November 2020



Honest to God


A few days ago I heard two people talking about how busy a coffee shop was. One person had said, “I didn’t think it would be that busy” and then the other person said, “Honest to God it was mobbed!”. Don’t ask me why this phrase jumped out at me but as I sat there thinking ”why did she say that?”.  “Does she really think that underlines her honesty?”  “Will the other person, on hearing that, think, “Wow she must be telling the truth because God's involved now?”


So I went to the manual ( the Bible) and had a wee look.


34 But I tell you, do not swear an oath at all: either by heaven, for it is God’s throne or by the earth, for it is his footstool; or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the Great King. And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make even one hair white or black. 37 All you need to say is simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’, anything beyond this comes from the evil one.



I think what we are being told here is simple. “Don’t say anything you don’t mean”. We are only making things worse when we start using pious language. Eugene Peterson tells us it's just the same as when we say to someone “I’ll pray about it” and then doing nothing or saying “God be with you” and you don’t really mean it. It’s impossible to make words any more true by embellishing them with any kind of religious trimmings. This verse ends with the warning “when you manipulate words to get your own way it’s definitely the wrong way.”


There will be many times on our own journey that we will take a detour from God but despite the frequency of these “away days”, God is waiting for us. I know I use this a lot, but if you think of the dad in the prodigal son looking out over the horizon. He’s not only waiting but he will run towards you and welcome you back into the fold.


Willie Barclay tells us that “If you don’t feel as close to Him as you once did, it isn’t God that has moved, but you that has moved. 


Sometimes we use the word God to impress others. Just don’t.









03 November 2020


Someone told me the other day they had to go to Applecross as part of their job. Had I been? Yes I had.  “They tell me there are two ways to go to Applecross?”  There are at least two ways. One is over the spectacular pass and the other way is round a much lower, but equally picturesque way.


I had a wee smile to myself, just after that I happened to see a meme on Facebook with the following verse :


I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man comes to the Father, but by me. John 14:6


Of course, there is no choice in this road to the Father. Jesus is the only way to salvation. He is not a simple way, as in one of many, He is the way, as in the one and only. There is not one person that can come to God the Father except through Jesus. There are believers that think that they can find their way to God through achievement, knowledge, reputation or personal holiness but God tells us that the only way is by being saved, which is deliverance or redemption from sin and its consequences. I read somewhere else (and putting it more bluntly), “You absolutely cannot go to heaven unless you ask him for salvation. He died to blot out our sins with his blameless, spotless blood. Without it covering our sins, we still bear them.”


Everyone today is looking for that "other way”. How to circumnavigate the system. How to find the easier way. Where is the best short cut? With God there is one way and that’s the only way.



Michael Perry wrote a great hymn

In Christ there is no East or West,
in Christ no South or North;
but only those by God possessed
throughout the whole wide earth.


For God in Christ has made us one
from every land and race,
has reconciled us through the Son
and made us whole by grace.


So brothers, sisters, praise his name
who died to set us free
from sin, division, hate and shame,
from spite and enmity!


In Christ now meet both East and West,
in Christ meet South and North
one joyful people God has blessed
throughout the whole wide earth.










02 November 2020



I learned something yesterday. (I already knew it I guess), but it was hammered home while sitting in the pew of our church.


Philippians 4  (4-7) “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”


Arriving at church was a normal thing.  Checking into the booking system was a bit different but stress free and then you found where you could sit. I was lucky I got to sit in the same pew as I do every week.


As I sat there all I could think of was “the peace”. We were back, OK no singing but we were back. If you wanted to you could come up with a lot of negatives but all I could think of was the positives. And of course, the peace that surpasses all understanding. But what does this verse really tell us?


Eugene Peterson translates this as :

 Celebrate God all day. Make it as clear as you can to all you meet that you’re on their side, working with them and not against them. Help them see that the Master is about to arrive. He could show up any minute! Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the centre of your life.      Amen










01 November 2020


No singing in the sanctuary? But we can certainly praise his name.


All my life I have had a great love of music. I can remember my mother only had 5 single records. 2 Neil Sedaka and 3 Cliff Richard singles. Then I went to school camp at Helmsdale and heard a record by Blue Minx called “ Banner man” and the rest was history. Time has moved on and I have sold all my vinyl and then got rid of most of my CD’s and everything is now digitally downloaded.


Frederic Neitzche once said, “without music, life would be a mistake.” 


I’m not too sure if that’s true but I believe that music is a gift from God and we should praise God for such a gift especially as its adds so much to worship on a Sunday. But we should never forget that although Music has a big place on a Sunday Morning, we can worship God through prayer and giving thanks for everything that we have.



In our reading this morning Ephesians 5 19-20 we read that “speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, 20 always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”



Music makes us sad and it can make us happy and it certainly helps in praising our Heavenly Father and so as we start with the “new norm” of no singing in the sanctuary think of the words of Colossians 3.



Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts.



And remember God created us to be instruments with the ability to sing and make music, but each one of us has “more than one string to our bow” and we can still praise His name and be thankful for having Jesus in our lives. 





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