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Sunday, 30 September 2012

The Shoe Man

This evening, at Wishaw Baptist Church, we were considering (among other things) whether the church is treated by us as a Social Club, or as a Community of believers.  In the former, the emphasis is on pleasing the members; in the latter, the emphasis is on pleasing the Lord.  In the discussion group in which I took part, we recognised the importance of being a welcoming people - something that, in my opinion and experience, that fellowship is.  I found it interesting, on my return home, to find this in my Inbox!

My alarm went off
It was Sunday again.
I was sleepy and tired
My one day to sleep in.
But the guilt I would feel
The rest of the day
Would have been too much;
So I'd go and I'd pray.

I showered and shaved,
I adjusted my tie.
I got there and sat
In a pew just in time.
Bowing my head in prayer
As I closed my eyes,
I saw the shoe of the man next to me
Touching my own. I sighed.
With plenty of room on either side
I thought, "Why must our soles touch?"
It bothered me, his shoe touching mine;
But it didn't bother him much.

A prayer began: "Our Father"...

I thought, "This man with the shoes
has no pride.
They're dusty, worn, and scratched
Even worse, there are holes on the side!"

"Thank You for blessings," the prayer went on.

The shoe man said
a quiet, "Amen."
I tried to focus on the prayer
But my thoughts were on his shoes again.
Aren't we supposed to look our best
When walking through that door?
"Well, this certainly isn't it," I thought,
Glancing toward the floor.

Then the prayer was ended
And the songs of praise began.
The shoe man was certainly loud,
Sounding proud as he sang.
His voice lifted the rafters,
His hands were raised high.
The Lord could surely hear
The shoe man's voice from the sky.

It was time for the offering
And what I threw in was steep.
I watched as the shoe man reached
Into his pockets so deep.
I saw what was pulled out,,,
What the shoe man put in.
Then I heard a soft "clink"
as when silver hits tin.

The sermon really bored me
To tears, and that's no lie;
It was the same for the shoe man
For tears fell from his eyes.
At the end of the service,
As is the custom here,
We must greet new visitors
And show them all good cheer.

But I felt moved somehow
And wanted to meet the shoe man
So, after the closing prayer,
I reached over and shook his hand.
He was old and his skin was dark
And his hair was truly a mess,
But I thanked him for coming,
For being our guest.

He said, "My name's Charlie;
I'm glad to meet you, my friend."
There were tears in his eyes
But he had a large, wide grin
"Let me explain," he said
Wiping tears from his eyes.
"I've been coming here for months
And you're the first to say 'Hi.'"

"I know that my appearance
Is not like all the rest
But I really do try
To always look my best.
I always clean and polish my shoes
Before my very long walk.
But by the time I get here
They're dirty and dusty, like chalk."

My heart filled with pain
and I swallowed to hide my tears,
As he continued to apologize
For daring to sit so near.
He said, "When I get here
I know I must look a sight.
But I thought if I could touch you
Then maybe our souls might unite."

I was silent for a moment
Knowing whatever was said
Would pale in comparison;
I spoke from my heart, not my head.

"Oh, you've touched me," I said,
And taught me, in part;
That the best of any man
Is what is found in his heart."

The rest, I thought,
This shoe man will never know.
Like just how thankful I really am
That his dirty old shoe touched my soul.

May all of us, who claim to be disciples of Jesus, be warm in our welcome to strangers and visitors.  Remember "Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares." (Heb 13:2; RSV).

That person whom you don't recognise, sitting in front of you, next Sunday, may be an angel!

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

In His Presence

A visitor to The White House once asked President Franklin D. Roosevelt, "Why, Mr President, do you keep that frail, sickly man, Harry Hopkins, constantly at your elbow?"  Without a moment's hesitation, the President replied, "Sir, through these doors flows an incessant stream of men and women who, almost invariably, want soemthing from me.  Harry Hopkins desires only to serve me.  To do that well, he must keep close by me!"

As disciples of Jesus, we need to live in intimate fellowship with the Lord if our service is to be fully effective.  The written Word of God makes it clear that we must constantly examine ourselves (see, e.g. I Cor.11:28) - not in order that we might go "down the tube" but that, by the grace of God, we might rid ourselves of "... the sin that so easily entangles ..." (Heb.12:1).  Writing to his young "son in the faith", Timothy, the great apostle Paul reminds us that it is only as we are sanctified (made more like Jesus) by the working of God the Holy Spirit in our lives, that we will be "... instrument[s] for noble purposes, made holy, useful to the Master, and prepared to do any good work." (II Tim.2:21).

Whilst certain qualifications are necessary if we are to be fruitful in the Lord's service, they do not need to include great learning, or outstanding talent and ability.  Indeed, He often chooses "... the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; ... the weak things of the world to shame the strong." (I Cor.1:27).  It is when we no longer put confidence in our own strength, but spend time in intimate fellowship with Jesus, that His power will begin to operate effectively through us.  It is by dwelling with the King, in holy fellowship, that we not only doscover His will, but also receive the strength to be obedient to it.

And a thought:  "Effective service results when I allow Jesus to live His life through me."

I Am a Christian

From my Inbox.

When I say ... "I am a Christian"
I'm not shouting, "I'm saved"
I'm whispering, "I get lost!"
"That is why I chose this way"

When I say ... "I am a Christian"
I don't speak of this with pride
I'm confessing that I stumble,
and need someone to be my guide

When I say ... "I am a Christian"
I'm not trying to be strong,
I'm professing that I'm weak,
and pray for strength to carry on

When I say ... "I am a Christian"
I'm not bragging of success,
I'm admitting that I've failed,
and cannot ever pay the debt

When I say ... "I am a Christian"
I'm not claiming to be perfect,
my flaws are way too visible
but God believes I'm worth it

When I say ... "I am a Christian"
I still feel the sting of pain
I have my share of heartaches
which is why I seek His Name

When I say ... "I am a Christian"
I do not wish to judge
I have no authority,
I only know I'm loved!

Monday, 24 September 2012

No excuse!

I have discovered that Kindle books may be read on a PC/Laptop!!

Go to

for a FREE App!!

Nobody, now, has any excuse for not purchasing the book - and supporting the persecuted church at the same time!  :-)

Saturday, 22 September 2012

I'm an author!!!

Today, I finally managed to publish my first Kindle book!  It's named "Great Words of the Christian Faith", and is intended to enable those who have not had the benefit of a formal theological education to understand, a little better, such words as "predestination", "propitiation", and "sanctification".  There are 24 words in all, with "Love" the word that is central to the Christian Faith, being given two chapters.

The plan, and hope, is that it will be the first in a series of books, under the general title of "Getting to know you".  I have already commenced the second volume that will, DV deal with "Foundations of the faith".  This, I hope, will cover The Apostles' Creed; The (erroneously-named!) Lord's Prayer; and, possibly, the Ten Commandments and/or The Sermon on the Mount.  I shall wait to see how much I write on the first two sections before deciding on the rest!

I have two websites from which the book may be purchased, and downloaded.  For those in the UK it is:

For the USofA, it is:
As I discover the URLs for other countries, I will make them known!
Because of my personal interest in the persecuted church, 30% of the Royalties will be going to Release International and Open Doors - two of the organisations that support brothers and sisters in Christ in those countries in which being one of His disciples is to invite discrimination, harrassment, persecution, imprisonment, and even death.
I trust that many will find the book to be both interesting and helpful; will purchase it; and will recommend it to others!

Tuesday, 18 September 2012


This week has had two specific items of news with the common theme of abortion.  One of them received a lot more publicity than the other.  The one that seems to have been largely ignored by the mainstream media concerned Andy Stepehenson and Kathryn Sloane.

Members of the campaign group Abort67, Andy and Kathryn were arrested in June 2011, whilst demonstrating silently in the vicinity of Wiston's Clinic, operated by leading abortion provider BPAS, in Brighton. As part of its public education project, the group, which has held peaceful protests outside the establishment for 5 years, displays images of aborted babies - but does so silently and without harassment.  This was reported in at least The Telegraph and The Daily Mail.

A District Judge, sitting at Brighton Magistrates' Court announced today that all charges were being dismissed against Andy. The case against Kathryn was dismissed on Thursday of last week (13 Sep) during the same trial.  I have not noticed this having been reported in any of the mainstream media outlets!

The other news item concerned Sarah Catt, a married mother who carried out a DIY abortion on her lover’s baby just days before she was due to give birth, and who has been jailed for eight years. The mother-of-two reportedly had an affair with a work colleague for seven years and believed the child to be his but waited until she was full-term before buying, online, a labour-inducing drug from the Indian black-market.

It is thought she concealed the pregnancy from both her lover and her engineer husband Stephen. Yesterday, at Leeds Crown Court, as she was jailed for administering poison with intent to procure a miscarriage, Mr Justice Cooke said it was worse than manslaughter and just “one step short of murder.”  He went on to say that: “What you did was end the life of a child that was capable of being born alive by inducing birth or miscarriage. If he had been born in the next few days and you had then killed him you would be charged with murder.“What you have done is rob an apparently healthy child, vulnerable and defenceless, of the life he was about to commence.”
Now, the question must surely be asked: "If Sarah Catt had had her unborn child aborted within the legal time limit, would that have been anything less than "... rob(bing) an apparently healthy child, vulnerable and defenceless, of the life he was about to commence.”?  This is one of the practical problems about abortion.  When is the unborn child not a human being?  The answer, to any sane and logical, person is that there is never a time when it can be anything else!  The more we learn, the more we see the truth of the claim that from the moment of conception, when that successful sperm penetrates the egg, and mitosis (the splitting of a cell) commences, there is an unique human being at the earliest stage of its development.  

This is all that Abort67 is trying to show.  What is removed from the females womb is NOT a mere conglomeration of cells, but an infant with all of the physical characteristics of a fully-grown child.  Murder is the deliberate taking of a human life.  Abortion is the deliberate taking of a human life.  Therefore, according to the rules of logic, abortion is murder - not "one step short"!  Mr Justice Cooke wasn't quite correct in his conclusion - regardless of the stage in the pregnancy at which the abortion takes place.

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

The evolution of language

Words change!  It's a simple fact.  Reading the Authorised (King James) Version of the Bible, or the works of Shakespeare, is more than enough to prove that point!

Even within my own lifetime, I have noticed changes.  Up until maybe ten years ago, those who were attending Primary and Secondary school were "pupils".  One only became a "student" when one entered tertiary education - in College or University.  Today, it would appear that anyone who is receiving an education is a "student"!  However, a student is one who studies; a pupil is one who is taught.  There is a difference.  Mind you, some of the reports that I hear concerning those seeking entrance to university degree courses, would suggest that the term "pupil" is the one that should now cover all!!

Staying with education, I am please to have been able to graduate, on more than one occasion.  To do so, I completed courses at universities that involved many hours of private study as well as attendance at lectures and seminars, with all of the necessary note-taking (and, later, deciphering!) that these involved.  Yet, over the past couple of years, I have seen newspaper photographs of children, resplendent in mortar boards and gowns, as they "graduate" from - Nursery School!

I was born on a Sunday.  As I grew up, I learned the little rhyme that ends "But the child who's born on the Sabbath Day is bonny and blithe, and good and gay."   Now, I won't go into the fallacious use of the term "Sabbath" to refer to Sunday (it is, of course, Friday sunset until Saturday sunset!), but I was happy to be described as a "gay" person - and, indeed, in that sense of the word, I believe myself to be so!   However, I don't go around telling folk that "I'm gay" - that has a whole different connotation now!

I could go on, with words such as "conversation", "prevent", "let", "comprehend", and many more - words that have substantially changed their meaning since the days of the A.V. and Shakespeare.  So why is it that, along with so many others, I object to the current attempts by the governments at Holyrood and Westminster to redefine the word "marriage"?  

The first reason is that marriage is not just a word.  It is a relational concept.  It defines a specific relationship that has been accepted by, to the best of my knowledge, every culture in the history of mankind.  True, there have been, and are, cultures in which a man may have more than one wife; and perhaps even some in which a woman may have more than one husband.  But in every culture, in every generation, marriage has been between male and female - only!

The second reason is even more important.  Marriage, as between one man and one woman, to the exclusion of all others, and for life, is ordained by God.  That is how it was from the beginning and, lest any doubt that it was so, Jesus makes direct reference to this when questioned by certain Pharisees with regard to divorce. (see Matt.19:3-12; Mk.10:2-12).

The redefining of some words may cause some confusion in conversation.  The redefining of marriage, if it is proceeded with, will bring confusion to society - as is already being experienced in those countries that have taken such a retrograde step.  Let those of us who support the traditional, God-ordained, concept of marriage remain faithful in prayer, and vocal in our support.

Sunday, 9 September 2012

The Name of God.

This morning, I was listening to a converted Muslim bring the message at the worship service.  Later, at the "cuppa and biscuits", he and I were talking.  I raised the subject of the name of God in Islam, as many people seem to think that it is "Allah".  He was able to confirm that "Allah" is, in fact, merely the Arabic word that is translated into the English language as "God".  It is not a name at all!

Islam does teach that there are "ninety-nine beautiful names" for Allah.  It is said that there are, in fact, one hundred names, but an old legend states that only the camel knows the one hundredth - and that that is why it walks around with its nose in the air!

My new friend smiled as I reminded him of that legend.  "There is a one hundredth name," he said.  "It's Love!"

That, of course is the message that is at the heart of the Gospel.  John, in his first letter to the early church at large, emphaises that fact by repeating it - "God is love" (I John 4:8,16) and, of course, in his account of the Gospel message, he was inspired to write one of the best-known texts in the whole of the Bible - often referred to as "the Gospel in a nutshell" - "For God loved the world so much that He gave His only-begotten Son; that whoever places their trust in Him should not perish, but have - here and now - eternal (i.e. God-like) life." (John 3:16).

That's the God Whom disciples of Jesus seek to share with others.  A God Who loves - and Who loves unconditionally!  You may think that you are not, and never could be, worthy of His love - and you would be absolutely correct!  But He loves you with an everlasting love, and shows that by His sacrificial death at Calvary - bearing the punishment that you (and I!) deserve, so that we may have His life within us.

Sadly, there are many who refuse to respond, positively, to that love but, as Albert Schweitzer (I believe!) once remarked, "God is a Gentleman, and will not force Himself on anyone."  But for those who do respond, in repentance, and faith, there is a life that is filled with His peace - regardless of situation or circumstances - and love.  Have you responded to Him in that way?  If not, why not?  It's the way to life - "life in all its fulness" (John 10:10).  I commend it to you.

"God is Love."  The heart of the Gospel - and a Name that, to the best of my knowledge, is given in no other belief-system in the world.

Tuesday, 4 September 2012

Celebration, and commiseration.

Today, my wife and I celebrate yet another wedding aniversary.  :-)  It was forty-two years ago that we stood, side-by-side, in front of the Rev. George B.Duncan, taking the vows that allowed him to pronounce us "husband and wife".  (I'll not bore readers with my standard comment about "10 years of happy marriage - the rest have been miserable."  Ooops, I just have!!). 

Seriously, I could not have wished for a better wife.  We've been through a lot, together - highs and lows; good times, and bad; sickness, and health; poorer by the standards of many in the affluent west - but much richer than many in the developing world.  We've been blessed with two wonderful daughters.  We may have lost something of that early "being in love" feeling (although not too much!), but we love each other more deeply now than ever before.  In a culture in which marriage is currently under attack, and in which so many marriages fail after a few years - or even a few months - we are grateful that we are still together, and happy with each other's company.

Forty-two years!  How different from the experience of Damaris Kioko, from Kenya.  At the end of April, this year, she was married to Pastor Jackson Kioko.  Pastor Jackson was planning to hold a joint mission, with another pastor, in Mombasa City, when a crowd gathered and accused them of being thieves.  This Muslim mob then set the two men on fire, burning them to death.  This was just one week after Jackson and Damaris had been pronounced husband and wife.

"That Monday (May 7th) was his first day back to work, after the wedding," Damaris told a worker from Open Doors (see my favourite links), "and, as usual, he set out on an evangelism mission.  We parted happily, and I did not imagine that I would never see him again."

As I celebrate, and appreciate, the forty-two years that I have spent with my wife; and as I look forward to many more (DV); I remember those who, like Damaris, have such a possibility cruelly dashed by those whose currency is damage, destruction, devastation, and death.  Please join with me in that remembrance.  If you would like to write to Damaris, in order to encourage her, you may do so by going to

Saturday, 1 September 2012

A Phone Call from Almighty God

I am unable to personally vouch for some of the stories that I share on this blog.  However, I have no reason to doubt their authenticity.  This one certainly has "the ring of truth" about it!

Rick volunteers with prison ministries and in his work he has become friends with a pastor of a store front church. The pastor's church is called Almighty God Tabernacle.

On a Saturday night several weeks ago, this pastor was working late, and decided to call his wife before he left for home. It was about 10:00 PM, but his wife didn't answer the phone. The pastor let it ring many times. He thought it was odd that she didn't answer, but decided to wrap up a few things and try again in a few minutes. When he tried again she answered right away. He asked her why she hadn't answered before, and she said that it hadn't rung at their house.

They brushed it off as a fluke and went on their merry ways. The following Monday, the pastor received a call at the church office, which was the phone that he'd used that Saturday night. The man that he spoke with wanted to know why he'd called on Saturday night.

The pastor couldn't figure out what the guy was talking about. Then the man said, "It rang and rang, but I didn't answer." The pastor remembered the mishap and apologized for disturbing him, explaining that he'd intended to call his wife. The man said, "That's OK. Let me tell you my story. You see, I was planning to commit suicide on Saturday night, but before I did, I prayed, 'God if You're there, and You don't want me to do this, give me a sign now.' At that point my phone started to ring. I looked at the caller ID, and it said, 'Almighty God'. I just got the courage today to call back.