Monday, 21 April 2014

Pray - Lord, show us how we can make a difference…

Lord God. You are great, you are merciful. We love you. We thank you for the grace you show us and the many blessings you give us. We come to you in humbleness. As we pray we ask you to show us what we can do, if not today then in the future. Lord we come to you now with these prayers...

Nearly half of the world’s population — more than 3 billion people — live on less than £2 a day. More than 1.3 billion live in extreme poverty (less than £1 a day). And yet we spend around £500 million on Easter eggs. Lord, show us how we can make a difference.

More than 1 billion people lack adequate access to clean drinking water and an estimated 400 million of these are children. And yet engineers can make oil travel in pipes across thousands of miles to us in the west. Lord, show us how we can make a difference.
Hunger is the number one cause of death in the world. 870 million people worldwide do not have enough food to eat. And yet we throw away 7milllion tonnes of food and drink from our homes in the UK alone every year. Lord, show us how we can make a difference.
19 million children worldwide remain unvaccinated. And yet there are diseases that could be wiped out from the earth if everyone had vaccines available. Lord show us how we can make a difference.
A quarter of all humans live without electricity — approximately 1.6 billion people. And yet billions of £’s are spent sending machines to Mars. Lord, show us how we can make a difference.
Thank you Lord Jesus for hearing our prayers. We trust you will guide us and show us what to do. Please give us the strength to obey. And now in obedience, Lord Jesus we offer this prayer written by John and Charles Wesley…
I am no longer my own but yours, 
Put me to what you will 
Put me to doing, put me to suffering. 
Let me be employed for you or laid aside for you. 
Let me be full, let me be empty. 
Let me have all things, let me have nothing. 
I freely and wholeheartedly yield all things to Your pleasure and disposal 
And now glorious and blessed God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, 
You are mine and I am yours. So be it. 
And this covenant now made on earth, let it be satisfied in heaven.

Thursday, 17 April 2014

What is the size of your faith?

This is a story best read out load in your best pirate voice. It is a tale of two pirates discussing faith. They are Christian pirates so they have names that don’t really drive fear into anyone, which makes being a pirate quite hard.  Anyway, I digress, what we have here in the opening of the tale is two pirates in a pub, one who is named Pirate Dave is sat with his head in his hands the other called Pirate Steve (I warned you about the names) is walking up to him right about now…

“Ahoy there me hearty” says Pirate Steve greeting his friend with a big beardy smile.

Pirate Dave, as already has been mentioned has his head in hands – he is sad.  All he can muster is a rather feeble ”Ah haarrrggghhh”.

“Shiver me timbers matey, what be your problem?” Asks Pirate Steve in a concerned way. Him and Dave have been shipmates for years, swashing and buckling and drinking rum across the seven seas.

Pirate Dave shakes his head but doesn’t look up “I can’t do it. I just can’t do it. Whoa is me. Ah haaarrrrrgggghhhhh. Ah haaarrrgggghhh”

“Can’t do what? I know you’re doing a good job swashing and buckling and drinking rum everywhere we go.”

Pirate Dave just ignores him and puts his head back in hands “Oh arrrggghh. I just can’t do it”

“OK, I’m sorry me old shipmate” Steve sits down and tries again “What can’t you do?”

“I can’t do what I believe I need to do?” says Dave desperately.

It’s obvious to Pirate Steve that Pirate Dave doesn’t want to confess what it is he can’t do and decides to try a different tack, to use a nautical term.

“Alrioight then Dave, why can you not do what you believe you needs to do?”

“Me problem be, that I just don’t be havin the faith” Dave says looking up at Steve at last.

“Well, tell me this then you old land lubber” A little insult from Steve often helps to get Pirate Dave blabbing “Exactly how much faith do you be havin?”

“Not enough faith do I be havin” Says Dave grumpily.

“But you do be havin some faith?” replies Pirate Steve

“Obviously I do be havin some faith. I believe in God.” Says Pirate Dave matter of factly.

“So you do be havin some faith, but you’ve not be havin enough faith for what you’ve got to do, which requires more faith then the faith you be havin roight now?” Steve responds trying to tie Dave down a bit, not literally of course.

Pirate Dave smiles a little “Yarrggh. Exactly. You be starting to understand I”

“So then me old how sea dog, how much faith have ee got?” asks Pirate Steve.

“I’ve told ee. Not enough!”

“Do ee be havin this much faith?” Pirate Steve asks and spreads arms as wide as possible to show how much faith he could have.

“Avast! No, obviously not that much.” Pirate Dave was aghast and so he said avast.
Pirate Steve tries again “How about this much?” His arms are not so wide this time.

“Yo ho ho me swashbucklin scallywag” chuckles Pirate Dave “You make I laff, ha harrgghh. No. No, I don’t have that much.”

Pirate Steve tries again “Ow about this much?” His hands are about a foot wide now.

“Noooo, Far too big that be” responds Pirate Dave.

“This much?” Steve’s uses one hand with thumb and forefinger as wide apart as possible.

“No” Pirate Dave quickly replies.

“This much?” Pirate Steve’s thumb and forefinger are closer, and from now on each time PirateSteve asks the question they get closer together, the fingers not the Pirates.

“No” Replies Pirate Dave getting tetchy.

“This much?”


“This much?”

“NO” he says louder.

“This much?”

“NO” louder.”


“NO” Pirate Dave is shouting now.

Pirate Steve pauses and then quietly asks “This much?” His thumb and forefinger are the closest together they can actually be without touching.

Pirate Dave stops and looks “That be really small?” He stops and looks again, and then he says again “That be really small. That be the size of me faith. Really small”

Pirate Steve smiles. He has got him as he says “Yarh it be really small. It be about the size of a mustard seed.” Pirate Steve walks off with the smuggest smile a beardy Pirate can wear.

Pirate Dave sits and looks into space, then he smiles and says to himself “Yarh…That should just about be doin it then.”

Pirate Dave smiled and said this because he knew his Bible…

Jesus said “Because you have so little faith. I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.” 

Saturday, 5 April 2014


There once was a man. A man who wanted to know the presence of God. He desperately wanted the presence of God to be with him as he had an important task to do. He had felt the presence quite a few times before and had known God near to him on all sorts of different occasions.  The problem was today he just couldn’t sense God’s presence and so he was fed up. He was really fed up, he had something important to do and he was fed up of not feeling God’s presence. He wanted to know why he couldn’t sense anything.

He decided to go for a walk through the town in which he lived. He walked by a gift shop and thought maybe I could ask the person in the shop if they could help me. He had to walk back a few yards, because as I said he had walked by the gift shop. He walked in. Ding-a-ling - the bell on the door rang and a young female shop assistant appeared from behind a curtain.

“Hello sir, how can I help you” she was very polite, good customer service don’t you think?

“Good morning” replied the man, suddenly feeling a bit awkward and realising he hadn’t really thought this through. He decided to just dive straight in and tell her what he wanted “I would like to feel the presence of God” he blurted out.

There was a slight pause whilst the shop assistant took in the question. Her sales training kicked in and she decided to clarify the request “You want to FEEL the presence of God?”

Relieved that she understood he simply said “Yes.”

“Well, my mum always told me not to feel presents. Like at Christmas time or on my birthday, I would see the presents and would want to feel them. I did this once. I felt the presents and I guessed what it was and told all my friends what I thought I had felt but it turns out what I felt was wrong and I hadn’t got what I thought I had felt and I ended up feeling embarrassed.”

“No, sorry, you misunderstand me” said the man slightly frustrated now “I don’t want presents…”  

“Then why are you in a gift shop?” she interjected.

At this point the man decided to cut his losses and thought this was not the place for him to find the presence of God. So he politely made his excuses and left.

Feeling a little more fed up after that experience he noticed a workman in a luminous jacket digging up the road. Typically, the workman wasn’t actually digging the hole, he was stood still leaning on his shovel next to a hole in the ground, it was unlikely to be any other kind of hole, and he was proudly surveying the extraordinarily large number of cones he had put out that very morning. The cones, incidentally, were causing a lot more people to be fed up than the man we are following in the story. The motorists stuck in the traffic jams caused by the cones should have been seeking the presence of God and then maybe the scenario would have been a little calmer, but I digress, the man approached the workman and decided to ask the question but with a slight difference.

“Excuse me sir, can you help me, I’m trying to find the presence of God”.

The workman, who liked the fact he had been called sir, which frankly was much more polite than most things he had been called by the motorists that morning, decided to try and help him. He paused and thought about it and then said “Have you got a map?”

This was a good question and it made the man think. Whilst he did so the workman said “When I’m looking for something I always use a map. It’s useless trying to find anything without a map. Take this morning for example. I left home without a map and I’m not sure this is the right road I should be digging up. I knew I had to dig something somewhere, it’s my calling you know, and besides the council pay me to dig, so because I couldn’t find where I was meant to be I decided to put my cones out and dig a hole here.”

The man was not really listening to the workman, which was probably just as well, but he was taken up with the question he had just been asked about having a map. The man simply said calmly “Thank you. You’ve been very helpful” and then walked on his way thoughtfully. The workman looked on as the man went on his way, and was left feeling slightly pleased that he had helped someone although a bit confused about exactly how he had helped.

The man continued thinking about the idea of a map. His thought process was like this. “I need a map to find God. The Bible has maps in it. Normally at the back. Maybe one of them could help. I don’t have a Bible on me, where can I get one. Ooh look there’s a church. They will have one. Hold on a minute, a church, of course, that’ll have the presence of God in it. A Bible and a Church, surely this combination will work.”

He opened the door and stepped in to the Church. He saw a cleaner at the front by the alter cleaning the floor with a mop. The man sat down in one of the pews and found an old, well thumbed, Bible to peruse. The cleaner was singing loudly and out of tune, probably due to the earphones they had firmly plugged in, although it could have been they were simply a bad singer. The quality of the singing is not important, however what is important is firstly the cleaner is completely oblivious to the man entering the Church and secondly they are singing so loudly the man himself cannot settle and seek the presence of God. He decides he needs to ask the cleaner to be quiet so he walks up behind the cleaner and taps them on the shoulder. Before he can say the words ‘excuse me’ the tap on the shoulder causes the cleaner to jump out of their skin, scream like a demented banshee and all in one fluid motion turn violently, mop in hand, and clout the man soundly on the side of the head with the wet end.

The mop attack provides the man with half a damp head, what could be the remains of alter dust and communion crumbs in his ear, stinging eyes and new a lemony bleachy perfume from the cleaning fluid. The man staggers out of the Church and finds a seat to sit on outside in the high street. Still feeling fed up as well as a little demoralised that his genius idea of going in to a Church and reading a Bible did not help him, he sat and stared into space.

As he sat there a little child in a push chair looked and pointed at him. The man looked back with a sad face. Then the child did the unexpected and smiled at the man and then waved. “Hello man” said the child.

The man, mildly but pleasantly surprised, smiled and waved back. He felt a little better for that.

He looked up and he saw an enormous tree. It was spring and blossom was bursting out of every branch and stem. It was beauty among the beast of concrete and brick that surrounded it. He could hear the birds in the tree. He felt calm.

There was a cooling breeze blowing through his lemony scented hair. He remembered God often spoke in a gentle wind. He closed his eyes and listened. He heard a voice, it said “Are you looking for something”

“Yes Lord” Said the man.

“Pardon” said the voice.

The man opened his eyes. The cleaner was stood in front of him, still holding his mop. “Are you looking for something?” He repeated. The man went slightly red.

“I’m sorry about hitting you with my mop.” Said the cleaner “You startled me and I lashed out. Anyway you were in the Church and I wondered if you wanted something. Can I help you at all?”

The man said “probably not but…” and he went on to explain about his search for the presence of God.

The cleaner took it all in and then said “The shop assistant was right in a way. Trusting in what you are feeling isn’t always the right thing to do. You can end up guessing  and getting it wrong. The workman was right as well, you do need a map, and your idea of the Bible was a good one, but not necessarily the maps at the back try reading the books inside. Also your idea of going to Church was good as well, as there will be someone there who has been on the journey before and can point you in the right direction. Most of all though, after seeing me you sat out here and saw all the life around you – that was the most important part and it simply proves that it doesn’t matter how you feel, the fact is God is always there and that fact is what gives people strength” The cleaner stopped talking and looked up at the tree and the man followed his gaze.

The man saw the child again and waved at him. The child smiled again. He suddenly realised the cleaner had gone. He looked around. The cleaner was no where to be seen.
The man sat back and thought about what the cleaner had said and this thought went through his head. The cleaner was right it’s not the sense of God’s presence but the fact of God’s presence that gives you strength.