Some advice for all new young probationer ministers and curates and pastors and whatever else such people are called….

Posted earlier in Facebook:


Tricks of the trade for Sundays for peopled out pastors.

1. Pick up a bunch of papers and walk around the church complex. Folk will think you are busy and are looking for someone and should not interrupt you. Drawback: if the church complex is small people will notice that you have come in and out the same room 16 times.

2: There is always the loo to hide in. Drawback: Pastoral sensitivity. You will soon become aware there are others whose need to sit where you are sitting is urgent.

3: Lock yourself in your church office if you have one, keep the lights off and stay very quiet indeed. Drawback: 96 people have convinced the Property Convener they have a legitimate need for a key to your office.


Tricks of the trade for pastoral visits may follow at some time, but for now, let me just say that when you end a visit with a prayer that God will bless “His child” it is a bit of a giveaway that for the life of you, you cannot remember the name of the person you have been visiting.

God Bless you on day 1. Only 39 years and 364 days to go….


Keep on keeping on…to quote a Facebook Friend

There are times when we have quite simply had enough of church! What do we do?

Well let me a share a thought fromPsalm 120 which I will be sharing  in some shape or form, God willing, when I preach this evening.


Psalm 120, the first of a group of songs of pilgrimage reminds us of what the journey together can be like: disillusionment with our fellow believers, justified hurt and anger, wishing we didn’t have to walk our journey with them but could live in solitude apart from the people of God: but nonetheless walking with them all the same in obedience to the good command of a good God. Somehow by the grace of God we get there. By Psalm 122 we sing together, “And now, here we are! Our feet are actually standing within your gates, O Jerusalem!” Hopefully in the journey we somehow get closer to the Lord and one another and come to a place of peace with the story of our journey. “To dwell above with saints we love, that will be glory: To live below with saints we know, can be a different story!”

You may well be in paid full time ministry, or doing life, even family life with someone who is.  That can be a blessed experience, but for many it can bring a depth of disillusionment with “church”  that few can understand, other than those who have walked the same road. If that is you, then God bless you, real good! May His help manifest itself to you and those you love  in a way that will bring solace and consolation. There is still time for God to redeem those difficult years.

Sheep bites hurt Shepherds… and at times, let’s admit it, it makes the Shepherd and/or those who care for the Shepherd  bite the sheep too…or want to never see another sheep again, unless now and then when they absolutely have to.

God bless




Every idol must fall

The dearest idol I have known

Whate’r that idol be

Help me to tear it from thy throne

To  worship only Thee!”

We need the help of God to pull down our idols. One of the most difficult for us to dislodge can be our belief in our own understanding of Scripture and the things of God, sometimes inherited from others in the circles in which we were born again.  However come down it must in order for us to hear what God would teach concerning Himself through His Word by His Spirit.

God bless


And now for something COMPLETELY different…did you know I was slightly eccentric?

Found myself quite fascinated by this. Just happened to stumble upon it. Can’t remember what on earth I was looking for in the first place. It is long but watch it for about five minutes at least. It is a good reminder that true interpretation is not as easy as one might think. It involves reverence for the original writer/composer, taking time to learn, to study and ultimately also involves intelligent and feeling steps of faith. True with regard to music as Leonard Bernstein (most popularly famous for “West Side Story” and a true genius in my estimation, possessed wth the arrogance that sometimes goes with it) demonstrates here with breathtaking brilliance while speaking about the composer Bach and his works. Strikes me though, this would be a good five minutes for every preacher or bible student to watch. There are lessons here that are transferrable to interpretation of Scripture… anyway, this won’t be everyone’s cup of tea, I realise that it may bore some of you to tears within seconds… but here it is anyway. Look at it for the above reason… and you may go on and enjoy it for many more reasons!


Click HERE

Am I still allowed to long for the old hymns while appreciating and enjoying the new?

God willing will preach on Psalm 120 tomorrow; it is the first song in a book of pilgrimage songs (120 – 134.) Hearing a sermon on Psalm 121 that touched my heart in many good ways sparked off my initial feeling of being drawn to it for this Sunday Evening. Interestingly after thinking it all through and  jotting down my thoughts a few days ago, my bible reading notes based  thoughts for today and indeed for the coming days as well on Psalm 120!  It is great when God gives that type of confirmation. I need it at this time more than you might understand or think worthy!


Not sure the hymn quoted below is sung much these days, but when it was, in my own experience, there always seemed to be a power that rested upon it’s very simple and almost naive sounding words and tune.  Sometimes I find I have to go back to older hymns to find a note of yearning that fits the cry of my heart. I don’t do so out of simple nostalgia. Rather, I have found that God honours such cries.


“Is this not a bit old fashioned to be quoting this type of hymn at this time of the day?” Perhaps. To be honest I don’t expect this post will set a new trend for singing it anywhere. It would not be considered a very suitable missional tool for sure! It is not in fashion in content or in melody and I would hate to see it suffer the fate of other great hymns which these days are lazily set to new tunes which destroy the original anointing – thinking we are making something better is really a pride that God cannot bless. Oh, ok, a bit extreme there! I will concede that such reworking works occasionally in an outstanding way – probably humility somewhere is the reason for that – but it is usually a disaster that people pretend to enjoy more than the version they are more used to singing. Anyway, as C.S. Lewis would probably say, “What on earth has the time of the day got to do with anything?”

I’m pressing on the upward way,
New heights I’m gaining every day;
Still praying as I onward bound,
“Lord, plant my feet on higher ground.”
Lord, lift me up, and let me stand
By faith on Canaan’s tableland;
A higher plane than I have found,
Lord, plant my feet on higher ground.
My heart has no desire to stay
Where doubts arise and fears dismay;
Though some may dwell where these abound,
My prayer, my aim, is higher ground.
I want to live above the world,
Though Satan’s darts at me are hurled;
For faith has caught the joyful sound,
The song of saints on higher ground.
I want to scale the utmost height
And catch a gleam of glory bright;
But still I’ll pray till rest I’ve found,
“Lord, lead me on to higher ground.”


Are our hearts set on pilgrimage from where you now are to where God’s Spirit within you beckons? “Happy are the people whose strength is in You, whose hearts are set on pilgrimage (Psalm 84 verse 5).”

God bless you and God bless His church with a fresh heart longing for Him!


Preaching this weekend?

Knowledge puffs up. Love builds up. “Yes, I believe that, but…” It’s what we say after the “but” that we really believe and live by.

Let’s not produce congregations and fellowships where members look down on other congregations and fellowships. “We,  only we are left” is a sign we really need to hear reality from the Lord: “I have yet thousands in the land who honour me that you know nothing about.”

God bless.

“Horror, as skilled surfer drowns”

In your life and your ministry are you under authority? It’s where Jesus lived. It is part of reverence for Him.

I feel a prophetic word lurking around:

“As more and more doors open to you, more and more you need to submit to wise human authority ordained by me for your blessing. Can you trust me enough to submit to others, to allow them a “yes” or “no” voice into your decisions? I know it is hard to hear this as you ride the crest of wave after wave of opportunity and invitation. It is a word that will save you and save others from the distress of seeing you drown.”

God bless



It amazes me the way that the bible describes what is going on in me better than words and thoughts I could string together. Have found some words in the Psalms that seem to sum up where I am at and where I am heading in this phase of my Father’s purposes. 

Not going to tell you the words! Why not find your own  Life Verses? Perhaps you will search for them like a merchant searching for pearls. Perhaps you will discover them accidentally like a person walking through a field stumbling upon treasure!

God bless