Scrabble game in final stages
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I`ve just enjoyed an evening of total dishonesty and cheating AND I don`t feel guilty about it at all !

As long as we have been married Alison has complained that I regularly win at Scrabble. Scrabble is a game I learnt from  my Mum (although I suspect now that some of her tactics were dubious !) and have enjoyed throughout my life; whilst not a Scrabble champion I am reasonably good at it and even enjoy playing it by myself. Consequently, although she wins sometimes, Alison is usually on the losing end of a game.

For my birthday last week she bought me a variation on the game, whereby players can legitimately cheat !  She declared that this would even the playing field and she would stand a chance of winning. Tonight was the first time we sat down and played Scrabble Trickster………………………………

It was great fun and I thoroughly enjoyed myself, although I did feel guilty on the times I cheated; especially when I `stole` Alisons score of 49 for myself ! However, I didn`t feel guilty for too long.

In many ways the concept of cheating turns the Christian principles upside down and goes against all that Scripture teaches us. Scripture says that we should always seek the best for the other person, put them first before ourselves; we shouldn`t deceive in order to gain an advantage and we shouldn`t gloat in our victories. And yet here is a game (and I can remember a similar card game called `cheat`) in which we`re actively encouraged to do exactly that: decieve the other person in order to win.

Thankfully this is just a game but in life there are many who practise cheating and twisting the truth in order to gain an advantage which will put them ahead of their field or make them more money etc. In football we have seen the rise of the cheating mentality whereby players think nothing of diving or falling too easily in order to gain a free kick or penalty. In business it’s considered normal to use underhand tactics. Just today in politics David Cameron’s media guru, Andy Coulson, has resigned because of ongoing allegations about phone tapping from his time in the News of the World paper (which he has strenuously denied knowing anything about). Phone tapping, leaks, diving, financial irregularities are all too common in the world today and Jesus calls on his followers to rise above it all; to treat others fairly, to be responsible towards them, to take care of orphans and widows, heal the sick, look after the oppressed, be the voice for those who have no voice and so on. Christians are called to think differently to the world. Romans chapter 12 verse 2 challenges us not to conform to this world but to be transformed in our thinking; transformed by the Holy Spirit so that our lives are lived in a fitting way bringing glory to Jesus Christ our Lord and Saviour.

I hope and pray that my life does precisely that.

p.s. I beat Alison by 333 points to 102 !!

Size doesn`t matter !

A soccer/football ball.
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To football supporters this is a big weekend with two major local derby matches; I say, forget the big derby games, as I`1ve just visited the hot bed of football, the majestic BLACKWELL MINERS WELFARE club against Hinckley !!!!

I`ve always believed that local people and especially the local Minister should support the local football team, hence my following over the years of Consett, Eastwood Town, Oldham Athletic and my visits to Alfreton Town and Mansfield Town. Alongside this my dalliance with Derby County and Nottingham Forest. Some of these have been big clubs in the Premiership and others much smaller. Well, I think I`ve found the smallest………….about 20 people in attendance. There seemed to be more Hinckley Town staff than the total number of supporters.

And yet I have to say that I thoroughly enjoyed it. I cannot say I`ve seen the most skilful, nor the most passionate; neither can I say that the ground was spectacular (unique, certainly !) and I cannot say that the pitch was like a bowling green. However, what I can say is that those in the crowd were friendly, the chap in the refreshment cabin was welcoming and I thoroughly enjoyed myself, as did Dad and Rebecca. (By the way the 20 people included us……….)

 It makes me wonder if it’s the same with Church………….. So often we assume success is about numbers and so we look at small clubs like Blackwell and take it for granted that they`re a failure instead of realising that in a small village like this the club is probably playing to its full potential. Many churches, especially in small villages, will only have a limited number of people they can reach and will naturally remain small. It doesn`t mean they`ve failed; if anything it may mean they`re more succesful than the big mega churches we read about.

The important thing is people realising the purpose of church. This afternoon the purpose was to enjoy a game of football, hopefully win, but largely to try ones hardest. Blackwell Miners Welfare is never going to be in the Premiership but their purpose in life is to produce football and this they did. The purpose of church is twofold; firstly it is to produce disciples who will commit their lives to following Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour. A part of this involves Bible Study, Worship, Fellowship and a commitment to regular prayer. In this way we get to know Jesus better and what he expects of us. Secondly, it is to reach out beyond the church walls to other people so that they may see something of Christ in us and desire to become disciples also. In my present circuit (Borders Mission Circuit) our mission statement is quite simple:- To know Christ and to make Christ known.

It sums up the reason for our existence as Christians and as Church. We exist in order to know Christ better and to make him known to others, and this purpose does not depend on size for I`ve known huge churches who have become so preoccupied with their worldly status that they`ve relegated Christ to second place and I`ve known small churches for whom money and maintenance has become their god. At the same time I`ve known many churches who truly have placed Christ first and he is invited into every one of their meetings and he is allowed to guide their thoughts and actions. THAT is success as far as I`m concerned.

Will I go back to see Blackwell Miners Welfare again ? The answer is YES, because they made me welcome and because I believe the Church should be in the community and this is one of doing it. They succeeded in their aim, and may God help my churches to do the same.

Who am I ?

I had a funeral visit this morning; now, I find that such visits fall into three categories        a) those that are incredibly difficult because either the person wasn`t popular or the person I`m visiting is too upset to say much, or because of tragedy, or even on some occasions because they simply don`t want you there !      b) and those that are incredibly enjoyable because the family have good memories and want to share and laugh with you.  c) the third category are those you have known to be Christian and you can be certain of eternal life for them. These are hugely celebratory occasions despite the grief and the tears.

Well, this morning certainly fell into category b and we spent an enjoyable hour and a half laughing at some of the things that the deceased got up to, his enjoyment of a flutter on the horses, his love of his family, his protectiveness towards them and so on. The family gathered to share all these memories of Dad and it was a real privilege to be there.

However it set me thinking………….. What will people say about me when my family gather to share info in readiness for my funeral ? What will my friends say about me to each other ? What will my churches say when they hear about my death ? Will it be “well, he was a man who tried his hardest.” “he loved his family” or will it be simply a list of dates and not a lot else ?

We all say that we don`t care what others think of us but in reality we do care, and that is why many Christians don`t speak more openly about their faith. In a meeting the other night someone asked why don`t we fill our churches and then answered his own question by pointing out that churches are often not filled with people living christian lives ! He was spot on. If more of us would yearn after holiness, righteousness and the mind of Christ (without being pious and `holier-than-thou`) then our lives would be attractive to others and our faith would be shown more clearly.

What do I want people to say after I`ve gone ? A Newcastle supporter, a Coronation Street fanatic, a pantomime clown in loud waistcoats, or someone with the `hots` for Tina Turner ? 

International cover
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No, I want them to speak of how much I love my children and how I have always done the best I could for them, of how I love my wife with everything I`ve got and my immense pride in my whole family. I hope that they`re able to speak of my desire to be helpful to all people, approachable, someone who laughed loud and long and usually at himself, someone who enjoyed the silly side of life because he didn`t take himself too seriously. These are the things I hope people can say with honesty, BUT the greatest thing I hope they can say is that here was a man of Christ, a disciple, a follower, a proclaimer of the gospel and someone who desired righteousness and holiness despite his own faults for that’s what I try to be like.

Often get it wrong and that’s why I give thanks for a Saviour who loves me enough to offer me total forgiveness and because He has died on the cross for me I want to be His for ever in all I do and all I say.

p.s.  I`m not planning on going just yet !

Romania, urgent

Please pray for my Romanian friends; I recieved a distressing e~mail this morning. I print it out below…………….

Today we had a visit from the police with 2 neighbours.  They are saying that the dogs got out and killed some animals at 6am this morning resulting in approx £350 damage.  Alex and Ali were outside at 7am this morning and both dogs were there and Nero is too old to actually get out.  Neither of the dogs have any blood or marks on them and we have spend today trying to sort the problem out.  We are willing to pay the money, as we have no way of proving that it was not our dogs and the neighbours say that they have witnesses.  Once the neighbours left the policeman actually said to us that it is because we are foreigners and they assume we have loads of money.  In fact one of the neighbours complaining today,tried this a year or so ago but we were able to prove that it was not our dogs.  

What we are asking is that you pray with us that this situation is resolved in total.  One of the dogs has gone already but we need to keep one tied up until we can sort something else out as we need protection for the property here.  Alex has to go to the police station tomorrow morning at 8am (6am UK time) with proof that he has paid the people.  We don’t know if the police will take it further………. we hope not!!  Please pray that there will be no more repercussions in the village with this and that no one else will jump on the ‘band wagon’.  One of the witnesses is in fact the owner of the dog who actually killed the animal from the previous year.
Also yesterday Heather suddenly took a ‘turn’.  For no aparent reason her face started to swell and go very, very red and then went to her feet.  Thankfully this has improved and the only problem today has been a slight sore throat and a bit of feeling sick.  This same things happened once before over 20 years ago and she was in hospital for several days because her throat started to close.  Then, as now, there seems to be no reason it happened. 
This week we launched the plan for the year which is going to be a ‘Year of Action’ in Poiana… basically someone doesn’t like it.  We are not ‘down’ about all of this but really need your prayer support more than usual at the moment, especially for tomorrow at the police station.  There are other things that happened recently to hinder us and the work here, as in try to pull us down and drain rescources, but we won’t bore you wil them , just please pray.
Thank you for your support and we will keep you posted,

I would appreciate it very much if you could hold this precious family and their vital work in your prayers.

2010 in review

Thank~you to all who took the time and trouble to read my blog over the last year; it continues to amaze me how many of you take the time to look at my musings (I know of at least one person  checks my blog and facebook to see what mood I`m in !). I take the fact that you `look in` on me as a sign that for most of you it is about friendship and caring and a way of supporting me in prayer. Thanks again.

I received the following e~mail from WordPress who host my blog and I thought you might be interested……………………………..

The stats helper monkeys at mulled over how this blog did in 2010, and here’s a high level summary of its overall blog health:

Healthy blog!

The Blog-Health-o-Meter™ reads Fresher than ever.

Crunchy numbers

Featured image

A Boeing 747-400 passenger jet can hold 416 passengers. This blog was viewed about 2,200 times in 2010. That’s about 5 full 747s.

In 2010, there were 81 new posts, growing the total archive of this blog to 327 posts. There were 54 pictures uploaded, taking up a total of 97mb. That’s about 1 pictures per week.

The busiest day of the year was July 7th with 67 views. The most popular post that day was alisons-ordination-17.

Where did they come from?

The top referring sites in 2010 were,,,, and

Some visitors came searching, mostly for borders mission circuit, newcastle united, west ashfield rotary club, radio salistune, and radio selistune.

Attractions in 2010

These are the posts and pages that got the most views in 2010.


Borders Mission Methodist Circuit April 2010


Cafe Church June 2010


Borders Mission gets off to a flying start June 2010


Manse July 2010