Our Father who art in HD

I’d say ‘Disgusted, of Tunbridge Wells’ is apoplectic at this stage.

Remember ‘Disgusted, of Tunbridge Wells’? He/She was one of BBC Points of View’s, “Why, oh why…” crowd.

I hear, lots of peeps were offended by the ad  with The Lord’s Prayer in it.

Did nobody learn anything from the Go Compare Man?, the Crazy Frog? or The Christmas Shoes song ? The more you try to stop something, the more popular and talked about it is! The video has gone viral!

So, do you want to know what offends me????

No of course you don’t. :)

2253549517_67bb97e646Actually, there are things I don’t like and don’t agree with; but I’m actually offended by very little.

I thought it was very interesting that Richard Dawkins spoke up about the issue. He told the Guardian: “My immediate response was to tweet that it was a violation of freedom of speech. But I deleted it when respondents convinced me that it was a matter of commercial judgment on the part of the cinemas, not so much a free speech issue. I still strongly object to suppressing the ads on the grounds that they might ‘offend’ people. If anybody is ‘offended’ by something so trivial as a prayer, they deserve to be offended.”
source: www.theguardian.com

On this one point… I agree with him. I think lots of people get offended way, way, WAY too easily. Be they people of faith or not. I find that some people are ‘eager’ to be offended. If they hear that something offended their friend, they will seek it out to see if it offends them, and then they’ll talk about how offended they are.

There was a time where debate and discussion were positive things. Most of the time nobody’s opinion is changed by a good wrangle with an issue, but hearing the other side is worthwhile. It’s an important thing, thrashing out the issues of the day.

Sadly, the bulk of it gets played out in the cesspool of insult and innuendo – or Twitter as it’s more commonly known.

You know the King James version of the Bible, Matt 5:29 says, “And if thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out.” The more modern language translations say, “If your right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out.” How many things do we watch and hear that ‘offend’ us, and we don’t even realise. All sorts of sex, violence, bad language goes zooming across our screens. Now I’m not the TV police, people have the right to watch whatever they want. But the ol’ heckles being raised fast and furious over a two thousand year old prayer…?

One thing I do know, Christianity has been trod on, vilified, hated and persecuted since the Man who started it all was nailed to a Cross! I’ve no doubt it’ll survive a bit of censorship.

Hope that doesn’t offend anybody ;)

photo credit: turn it off! – _MG_9816 via photopin (license)

U is for…

Welcome my guest poster – my own beloved, Richard Miles. Keeping to the AtoZ theme (yes, it’s still going :) ) he’s is going to fill you in some more on our new adventure :)

U is for Unbelievable!

I am using the word ‘unbelievable’ in the sense of being above, or beyond belief, rather than against belief.

Paul in Ephesians writes:
Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen. Eph 3:20-21

Rich MREC croppedThese words sum up the sense that I have as I write this blog post. Over the past 12 months, no, over the past 18 months, actually, over the past 8 years, although it’s really over the past 17 years… God has done immeasurably more for us than we could ask or imagine.

It was during the Summer of 2008 that the Lord began to call me to ministry, and I spent the next three years at the Irish Bible Institute in Dublin, training to serve him. At the time, I believed that he would lead me into work in Ireland, as that is where I was when he called me and I went to an Irish Bible College!

It was a real privilege to have the opportunity to preach many times during our 7 years in Ireland. But, that was not the place where God was calling us.

After Annmarie was made redundant, our circumstances became more of a challenge. Nothing seemed to be working out, and one by one, doors began to close in Ireland. We knew that our long term future wasn’t there. Then in August 2014, it became clear to us that we should move back to Newport, my home city. It was the easiest decision we’d ever made; with an almost tangible assurance that it was the right thing to do.

amo and rich

Photograph courtesy of Brian Byrne http://www.kilcullenbridge.blogspot.co.uk

We moved mid December. We knew that the Lord was bringing us back for a purpose. I was still convinced that he wanted me to go into ministry, so decided to look for opportunities to preach. I had the full backing of my home church, Malpas Road Evangelical Church, which is where I was born and grew up. My intention was that I would take as many opportunities as came to me, to preach in other churches when needed. Maybe one of them would be looking for a Pastor, and decide to call me.

As it turned out, I didn’t get to preach at many churches at all. I visited two churches, both in the Pontypool area. One of them was Upper Trosnant Baptist Church.
From our very first visit, we felt the warmth of the welcome and fellowship there. I preached on a number of occasions over the next few month; I knew that God was with me as I shared his Word.

However, when Richard Harrison, one of the church elders, phoned me to ask if I would allow my name go forward to be considered as Pastor of the church, it was a complete surprise. Although… I knew it was right.

It was something I had been praying for. I believed this was the opportunity. After lots of prayer and discussion with Annmare, and some very positive meetings with the leadership of the church, the recommendation went to the church that I should be appointed Pastor.
The next few months seemed to be very long, as I waited for the church to make their decision. There was lots of ‘if and when’ talk, but we had to wait. It was a great exercise in patience for us both.

When the church came to make their decision it was a unanimous one, that I should be called to be Pastor.

It is just so amazing the way everything came together. My prayers were answered, God showed his purpose for us to be back in Wales and it’s an extra blessing that we have the opportunity to serve the Lord not too far away from our family and our Malpas Road family!
It’s wonderful to know that the prayers of the church were answered as well; and amazing to think that Annmarie and I would be the answer to anyone’s prayers.

Even the practical issues around the move seemed to just sort themselves out. The flat above the church had long-term tenants, who recently decided to move on. Annmarie’s full time job in Cardiff took up most of her time and energy and she was concerned that she would not have much time during the week to be involved in church life. She applied for a part-time job, local to the church, and got it. Just like that!


God really has done far more than we can ask or imagine. U is indeed for unbelievable. We’ve also thought of words recently like ‘undeserving’, ‘unprepared’, ‘unreal’, ‘uttermost’ and of course, our new home… Upper Trosnant.

We continue to look to God to do unbelievable things as we seek to serve Him, our new family and our new community.

T is for Thankful

I’ll finish this AtoZ Challenge, if it’s the last thing I do! :)

I know i’ve been a bit hit and miss lately and it is frustrating, but rather than go on and on about how busy I am, I want to just stop and take some time to be thankful.

11105483096_d61fc93bff_nMy job is wrecking my head, but I’m grateful for it – it’s a source of provision that I haven’t had for a few years. To be able to pay the basic bills without worrying every month, is such a blessing after the last few years of living week to week for most of the time – thank you God for my job.

We have some issues with our flat AND  our landlord – but I’m grateful for this little haven. It’s a gorgeous little flat. Near to everyone we love and near enough to everywhere we need to be. We’ve been able to host a few fun evenings and dinners here. It’s perfect for us.

I did say I wouldn’t go on about how busy I am. but I AM busy! Lots of the things I have to do are great though. I love my writing, though I’m constantly playing catch up. Meself and himself have attended/taken some meetings at another church which has meant we’ve been going to two churches at the same time really. Will be able to give you the whys and wherefores of that soon, but it’s the best reason in the world to be busy. And though I miss Spirit Radio I still am able to give them a hand with some stuff, from across the water. I thank God for all the interesting things I have to do, as well as my full-time job – see #1 :)

I seem to be ‘well’ at the moment. Only a short-term cold a few weeks ago, none of the autumn/winter lurgy that usually floors me this time of year. Emotionally, I feel positive, hopeful and excited about the future… as I said… more anon. It’s so nice to love Ireland but not be sad and pining for it; which I did a lot of when I lived here in Wales the last time. I feel really settled and happy to be living here.

Myself and himself, though a lot of our 15 years together have been difficult, we’re happier than we’ve ever been. I don’t shove that in anyone’s face, or feel any sense of superiority about it. I know lots of people who didn’t come out the other side of difficulties as we have; and I don’t take it for granted. But I am thankful.

I’m so grateful to you aswell. I’ve been a most unfaithful blogger, but you readers seem to be very supportive. I don’t have a big audience, but I do have a faithful one, so thanks for that. And thanks for reading my ramblings. I mean it! Thank you

There are some new things coming my way and they may even change the ‘theme’ of this blog – not that it ever had a theme. Not sure what will happen really. But right here and right now, I’m thankful to God for all I have and hoping in Him for all that is to come.

Can’t ask for much more than that really :) x

photo credit: Sign via photopin (license)

Motorway Meltdown!

So today is World Mental Health Day.

I’m writing this after a really difficult week. I’ve been very stressed and emotional this week, due to work and personal stuff that’s going on. It culminated in a total meltdown while driving on Thursday. I came off the motorway on to a multi-junction roundabout, took the wrong exit and ended up on the motorway again, going back the way I came. And I lost it – TOTALLY lost it. I was stuck in the traffic, crawling up the motorway, crying hysterically, shouting at God.

It wasn’t pretty.

On calmer reflection, I know that I had a massive over reaction to taking the wrong exit on a roundabout. By that stage I had moved into straw and camel’s backs territory, and I think that is because I didn’t manage the stress as it built. I was out or busy every night this past week. I’d left some writing deadlines to the last minute (plus 48 hours in one case), and I hadn’t had enough sleep. There were other things during the week that I had no control over, but I hadn’t handled the things I could control.

I’m not beating myself up, I’m just trying to analyse the week in a productive way, so I can avoid the future risk of a charge of ‘driving without due care and attention’.

What concerned me as I thought about it after, is how easy it was to pass the tipping point. How quickly I found that there was nothing left; nothing spare that I could harness to deal with my angst. So, I came home from work last night and decided not to go to an event I’d planned to. I had already decided not to go to to a meeting today – even though I REALLY wanted to go.

I know I need to look after myself better; last week was a clear sign of that. And I think I got the answer to all the, “why, why, why” I gave to God as I drove up the road. It’s because I was so tired and brain-addled that I couldn’t even think straight to negotiate a roundabout! That needs sorting.

So, as I am doing, I would just encourage you to think about your day and your week. Take today – to think about your mental health. Make a list of the week ahead and see if there is anything that can be crossed off. Reach out if you need help with the stuff that can’t be changed. If you’ve ever been tempted to pray to God, then do it; prayer is powerful and restful.

And take good care of yourself – especially if I’m on the roads!

A x

S is for Syria, Sadness and Solomon

I’ve been desperately trying to avoid writing this one. But really – what else could ‘S’ be for but Syria.

My avoidance has not been apathy, it’s been helplessness. What can I say that has not already been said? And even if I did come up with something new, what would it be worth in the great scheme of what is happening across the Middle East and Europe?

The statues in the image below are part of the Irish Famine Memorial; a haunting depiction of the helpless, hopeless Irish people who had no option but to emigrate or die of starvation. The gaunt faces remind me of images of Live Aid in 1985. To think that hunger and death was once so close to home is still shocking to me.  It’s said that through death and emigration, Ireland lost about 4 million people.

irish famine syrian


I’m not sure who first made and posted the ‘photoshopped’ image above. I’ve seen it a few times on social media and grabbed this copy from the Irish Times website. But I have to say, it stopped me in my tracks when I saw it. I was all for helping Syrian refugees, “Let them in by all means – and fast. But hang on… what about the numbers, and what about the ones who are going to make trouble and what if there isn’t enough room for us all (to live undisturbed I mean…)?”

Then I saw that merged photo and I was moved to tears; because I knew, if they were Irish people I wouldn’t be asking any questions other than – ‘what are you going to do to help?”

I remember that scene in the Titanic movie, when they wouldn’t let more people on the lifeboats for fear they would buckle or topple over. Fear, grief and more than a little self-preservation put a limit on who could be rescued. I’m not judging, I’d have been the same, I’m sure.

So what is to be done? What is the answer? I believe the wisdom of Solomon is needed for this crisis. A whole nation of displaced, terrified, people are on the move looking for a chance to raise their families in peace and safety. Who am I to say they should be denied that? And as for the talk of those whose intentions are not for peace, but for getting their terrorist agenda in under the radar…? Well I doubt every Irish person who emigrated had the purist of intentions; but America and Australia and the other countries they fled to still stand.

Who decides who is worthy of a chance to live anyway – good or bad? It isn’t me. The instructions I read in my Bible are clear about mercy and love, about welcoming the alien and feeding the poor – it doesn’t say… “but only the nice ones.”

And still I confess there is a nagging feeling in my gut. One that scares me about a massive influx of displaced people – into my place. What will my world be like when the dust settles and the unsettled have settled?

You see…? I told you my words would not be worth much!

R is for Rampart

15488800365_a96b029ab1_nThis is a word that is easy to pass by in the Bible. It’s only mentioned a few times. Rampart.
Definition of Rampart on dictionary.com says this:
1. Fortification.
a broad elevation or mound of earth raised as a fortification around a place and usually capped with a stone or earth parapet. 2. anything serving as a bulwark or defense.

One of the few uses of this word in the NIV is found in the Book of Habakkuk. Habakkuk, one of the ‘minor’ prophets, has complained to God and received God’s response. God’s answer to Habakkuk’s first complaint is not a pleasant one. He declares the people of Israel will be defeated in battle and taken into captivity by the Babylonians, ‘that ruthless and impetuous people, who sweep across the whole earth to seize dwellings not their own.’ Habakkuk goes on to make a second complaint and says, “I will stand at my watch and station myself on the ramparts; I will look to see what he will say to me, and what answer I am to give to this complaint.”

Ramparts were used as a watch tower, a place to see what enemy might be coming. Habakkuk declares he will wait for God’s second answer on the very place that would stop, or at least warn of, an invasion. Here the rampart may or may not be a construction, where Habakkuk intends to actually stand and wait. Whether there is a tangible rampart or not, there is definitely a figurative significance.

The rebel in me wonders if Habakkuk was getting all ‘whateverrrrr’ with God. Was he off to the ramparts to stand there all, “Eh like hello? look where I’m standing, a rampart! DUH!”  OK, so maybe the ‘whatever’ thing hadn’t arrived in Israel at that stage, but it’s clear that Habakkuk is not happy with God’s first answer and, with a bit of attitude, demands a second one.

The problems experienced by God’s people came from the fact that they constantly disobeyed God. In chapter 1 v 4, Habakkuk says ‘the law is paralyzed, and justice never prevails. The wicked hem in the righteous, so that justice is perverted.’

Despite Habakkuk’s complaining, the invasion did come; no rampart could stop God’s plan from coming to pass.

I suppose it’s a lesson in making sure that we don’t rely on our old faithful defences. I’m alright cos I pray, I’m alright cos I read my Bible, I’m alright cos I go to church, I’m alright cos I give. These are things we should be doing – but they are a response to the relationship we have with God – not things we do to earn his favour. Using our prayer life or church attendance as a rampart just won’t do. Our only rampart is Jesus.

You want to stop the wrath of God from coming crashing down on your life – then stand on the Rampart, the Rock, that is Jesus Christ.

photo credit: Wall @ Qila Rohtas (Rohtas Fort) via photopin (license)

Q is for Quickening

My dad was a big fan of westerns. He was an avid watcher of The High Chaparral and Bonanza. He talked about Little Joe and Hoss, like they were mates he drank with in his local. He’d watch all the films too, from The Dirty Dozen and The Outlaw Josey Wales to more fun musicals like Seven Brides for Seven Brothers and Calamity Jane.

I spotted a ‘modern’ western in the TV Guide one time and suggested he watch it. “The Quick and the Dead, Da” I said. “Not sure what that means, but it’s supposed to be a good one.”

“It means you’re either dead or alive,” he replied, without even looking up from his newspaper.

“So to be quick means to be alive? How’s that?”

“Well, when them fellas point their guns at you, you better move quick or you’ll be dead!” 15672703048_23e89a5a14_n

That conversation is the only reason I understood that line from the epic hymn ‘And Can it Be’

I love those old hymns, with big tunes and deep theology. The language is not always accessible and lines like – ‘Thine eye diffused a quickening ray…’ can, at first, mean little to the hearer. I knew what it meant tho, cos my da told me that to be quick is to be alive. :)

Even though the meaning is the same, the context is a bit different from the movie to the hymn. To be quick is to live, but to me quickened, is to be made alive. pastorhistorian.com has a whole blog post devoted to the hymn and says, ‘The language of quickening or “making alive” is present in the Authorized Version of Ephesians 2:1 and 4. “And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins; . . . Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ.”  The quickening of the sinner resulted in a dungeon now inflamed with light, chains being broken, and a free heart.”

Being quickened is not just living – it’s living free, living full, living fast – but not loose! ;)

photo credit: Stetson On The Rocks via photopin (license)