Photo credits

The Embalse de Riano in northern Spain. The picture was taken by .... me!

Monday, July 31

Bad and good....

The bad is that for yet another month, my wife is being put through the roller coaster of emotion. She feels pregnant, has all the symptomns of morning sickness etc, but no blood spots on the day of expected implantation. She tries to get used to the idea of not being pregnant but the feelings continue to increase until the day of her period, when of course she does get a small flow. But then the flow stops and the preganancy feelings increase, until she plucks up the corage to tell me that maybe it was one of these cases where you do get a small period early in the pregnancy. But as soon as she tells me, the full flow starts.

If she knew from the start that she was not pregannt, it would be OK, but she is always teased by these sensations.

We think that what is happening is that fertilisation is taking place, but that the embryos are not implanting -and that makes her worry that she is just not up to it any more. I reminded her about Abraham's wife Sarah, who was promised a child but had to wait till her eighties. THis was intended as encouragement, but missed the mark!

We do believe it will happen, but in God's time, not ours.

On the good side - reading again the small print of the tax credit guidance notes, we are entitled to include the losses from fostering in the assessment of income regardless of what they told me on the phone, and have sent off the forms accordingly. We shall wait and see what happens.

Saturday, July 29

Decisions decisions

On a more positive note than the last post........

Bumped into an ex employee of my company this week. He now works ona contract basis, and wonders why he had never doen it before. Reckons he gets 30% - 40% more for doing the same work only with greater flexibility.

I wonder if he has done his sums right and accounted for holidays, pensions, etc. But it has set me thinking. Also - he may have been underpaid before, wheras I secretly suspect that I get paid quite well compared to others doing my job, and so if I went on contract I might even get paid less!

I had a chat with the guy who sits next to me - also a contractor -and he reckons that in the long runs it evens itslef out. BUt all the other contractors in the office, when the heard me muttering about this, chorused "DO IT!"

30% to 40% is very significant. But is it real?

So its something to think about and pray about during the holiday.

They have to grind you down

Found out today that the massive loss incurred in fostering last year will not be considered in assesseing income for child tax credit his year. Thus they penalise you for trying to contribute (albeit unsuccesfully) to society. You try to help vulnerable kids, you try to reduce your own dependancy on tax credits, and his is what they do to you.

Moan moan complain complain!

{ I feel better now that I have got that off my chest }

Friday, July 28


All quiet today. A sort of anticlimax after the panic of recent weeks, and now that the blog is up to date -having squeezed moths into each of my last posts - I feel I have little to write.

Definately no pregnancy this month, judging by the force of PMT last night. I do love her, honest!

Need to tie up loose ends at work as I am holiday next week.

Encouraged by people reading this blog, and even saying it is interesting!

A new question is looming in life at present. I have been working as part of the staff of my company for four years, and for a local authority for 15 years before that. Now the idea of working on a contract basis has become more attractive, following a conversation with a former colleague who has gone that way. Some say it is much more lucractive and free to work as a contrator, others say you have to weigh up the disadvantages of security and not always having work close to home or at convenient hours. Plus in some ways I need a steady income, if small, rather han a bigger but more peaky and unpredictable income.

The picture is just to remind you that I am a civil engineer specialising in hydraulic modelling of wastewater infrastructure.

Personally I don't mind which I do, but I would like to know if this idea has come about by God prompting me, or if it just a wild idea.

Thursday, July 27


My son can do Manga pictures. Good eh? Might put it in my profile instead of my photo.

Thanks! (I mean it)

My thanks to all who prayed for me for assistance in my Anabaptists project. I delivered the final presentation last night, in the context of our house group. My wife and eldest son came for support, and there was a good number there even though most of the church is away at camp this week. We had some healthy debate without coming to blows, we had a good laugh, and every body went home feeling uplifted. Not least me, since the feedback was all positive.

So, thanks everyone!

Execution of Jean de Leye,
leader of the Münster Anabaptists,
in 1536German engraving
Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris

This means that i have finished the academic part of my course. In September I start a three month placement at an Anglcian Chruch of a different tradition to my own. I have chosen a local 'Oxford Movement' church, which will be very challenging for me. Apparently they use the liturgy properly there - at my own church we rarely get it off the bookshelf. Then I will have a couple more year group meetings before my licensing ceremony in march next year.

At least the hard part of gruelling study is passed and I can say hello to my wife and children again.

Thanks again for your prayer and support.

Sunday, July 23

God's humour

As part of my training in th Church of England I have had to do a study on the Anabaptists. My roots in the Brethren and charismatic house churches owe their heritage to the anabaptists. They were a group of Reformers at the time of Luther and Zwingli, who wanted the church to be separate form the state and to baptise only believers (well, they HAD read the Bible!). Unfortunately some of them got a bit carried away, took over a few cities and set off the Peasants war and preached communism and polygamy and discredited the whole movement. But my heritage is with the more moderate ones who simply followed the Bible despite being burnt at the stake by the Catholics, the Lutherans, and by Zwingli's reformed church.

The comical thing is that in our moderate days, with that heritage and strongly holding views against infant baptism and state control, God has put me into the Church of England - controlled by the state and practicing infant baptism. Its not what I would have planned at all. the final irony is that when I finish the course I will be licenced by a magistrate- complete with wig! This is so bizarre I can't get my head round it.

But God is laughing loud!!!

Still down

Well, no blood spots yet, so very down. There is still two days but then we will be out of the window of opportunity.

The trouble is, each mnth she gets the sensations that would indicate fertilisation has taken place, but these feelings drop off suddenly at the time it should imlplant. So we think that eggs are being fertilised, but just not attaching themselves.

This is unhappy in two ways: -

Firstly, she gets all the excitement of thinking this is it, and then it isn't - a constant roller coaster of emotion which we could do without. We will now have to go on holiday and cope with the family in a small caravan while she is feeling upset and irritable.

Secondly, it implies that her body is indeed showing signs of age, and this measn that even if she does concieve properly she will be anxious about it right to the day of the birth.

A lady at church did have a 'word of knowledge' that God's plans for us would be fulfilled in his time, and that is encourageing, but we can't hang too much on it because it might have referred to all sorts of stuff apart from our desre for a pregnancy, and any way its easy to come up with a general sort of word like that, and the proof will be in the evidence.

I'm sure we are not alone in all these problems, but I od find it cathartic to be able to blog anonymously about it.

Roll on, the day when we can announce a pregnancy publically!

Friday, July 21

SShhhhh!.... Don't tell anyone our secret!

So I’ve got it made.

Fantastic wife.

Four fantastic sons.

Two Fantastic daughters

Big House

A car and a minibus

Excellent church

Good job – secure, reasonable money, enjoyable.

It’s great!! ……… for me.

My wife languishes a bit. While I have been doing well, she has felt rejected by employers, didn’t hit it off with the church’s children’s work, and failed at fostering.

The return of the mid-life crisis.

But on her birthday – just as we were recovering from our (hopefully last) post-fostering row – she seemed strangely content. Her face was glowing - her smile more deep and genuine than I had seen for years.

She was feeling strange things in her belly, and sick in the mornings.

She felt pregnant!

She felt like this for a while, not telling me till she was ready. Then she took a test – negative. Big downer.

She took me out for a walk and poured out her heart to me as we walked. And I – even thick old me - understood at last.

But she still felt pregnant, even though all other signs were negative. We decided that the tests must have been wrong. We took another test – negative, and this time the feelings started to pass. She must have just had a prolonged tummy bug.

Yet the seed had been sown in her mind. Another baby!

I should point out at this stage that I had had a vasectomy after our 6th child when she was up to her eyeballs in rheumatoid arthritis and its medicines. Now, through the grace of God she was off medication and living a relatively normal life. But I was still officially infertile. We had decided on the vasectomy because we knew that it could fail and that if God so wished he could give us another child – hence our belief when she seemed pregnant.

But now we prayed earnestly – was it God giving us the idea of a pregnancy, and telling me to get the vasectomy reversed? If it went through smoothly we would see God in it, but if we had to push for it, we were probably pushing against God. I went to the doctor. When he had finished laughing loudly, he told me all of the risks and ethical issues involved in vasectomy reversal and pregnancy in ‘older’ women. But he still referred me to the consultant. This was to be done privately – the National Health Service would not cover it. The consultant was much more optimistic [optimism is great when you are being paid for it] and booked me in in a fortnight. I had a little trouble getting the time off work, but it was OK.

I went into hospital, and came out a new man (having had my bits handled by more people than I care to mention). Managed to stop the kids from jumping on my delicate bits. It was all rather gory. The stitches felt like I had a giant bull-clip attached to my bits for a month. It still feels tight!

Had to wait an agonising month before we could test the new toy.

And here we are, four months later – and I hope that when I go home tonight she will tell me she has had blood spots (sign of implantation).

It is hard each month when it comes out negative. The Lord is using these months to give us a hint of how people must feel when they are unable to have kids at all, and it makes us grateful for the six we already have. We are also sharing experiences with a friend of similar age who is trying for a baby after her previous 5 year old child died from a harrowing congenital illness.

This is a story that God has not finished. Watch this blog to see what comes of it! Our friend deserves to get pregnant first. Pray for us all!

(PS to avoid any ambiguity – our friend has a husband of her own – she is not relying in any way on MY vasectomy reversal!!)

Thursday, July 20

Training to Serve

In Changing Churches (3) – the Anglican Church I hinted that his move had worked out well for me, and in Victory over Sin I talked about how this had taken place while preparing a sermon on Repentance.

While I was at the Charismatic House church I learned a lot about living in the spirit, and I was content there, if rather inactive and overlooked, but I was too busy domestically to be worried – I couldn’t have taken on more responsibility. My wife on the other hand, having known only that church, was keen to move on. As described, we went to the Anglican Church.

I can remember the Vicar coming to our house to discuss our role in the church, and uttering the immortal words “Tea, Vicar?” From my background it was hilarious to hear me say those words, but I’m not sure he understood why I was laughing.

Anyway, he asked what my gifting was, and I said that people seemed to appreciate my preaching. He arranged for me to preach a few months later. Bear in mind that people told me that if I moved to an Anglican church I would have no opportunity to exercise my ministry!

My first sermon was a nightmare though. He had given me a subject, but with to much free-church influence I ‘sought the Lord’ and came up with a very different sermon. On the morning of the day I was due to preach in the evening, he asked how it was going. I said fine and outlined my sermon. His face would have been comical of it hadn’t been so serious. He did not like the fact that I had changed my sermon topic. So I sent the day re-writing it, in a total panic. As the evening service approached, he asked for another outline. He still didn’t like it and needed another serious redrafting.

By the time I stood in the pulpit I was a total wreck. I actually spoke quite well – because it is my gifting – but I came down from the pulpit still feeling absolutely terrible. I could not face a line of parishioners saying ‘well done’ and so I ran home as soon as the service ended without speaking to anyone.

But the Vicar actually liked what I said in the end, and arranged another date for me. He also asked me to assist as a deputy warden in the church – taking my turn to open and lock the church and keep opportunist thieves at bay during Sunday services. To occupy this role I would also be elected (one party one candidate!) onto the Parish Church Council.

So I went from being just a shadow in the corner of the Charismatic Church to a senior role in the Anglican Church within 12 months!

Also, to capitalise on my preaching gift was well as to meet church rules, I have been put onto a Reader Training course, and am just at the end of the second year. This course has been really fantastic. The first year was spent going through the Bible which I thought I knew, but had my eyes opened to vast areas of knowledge and debate that I had been ignorant of. The second year has been church history – again a massive eye-opener. My preaching can now be from a position of having actually studied these things, and will be more effective as a result. Next year I have to complete a placement at an Anglican church from a different tradition to my own, and will be going to a church where the Oxford Movement is the model. I will find out about how the liturgy is supposed to work (because we barely look at it in our own church), and will no doubt come into contact with more Universalist doctrines and stuff that will cause a lot of soul searching to find where the truth lies.

So this post is primarily to show how the move to this church was a call from God to start my ministry.

In the meantime my wife has languished in many areas – as described in other posts below. She feels that God has rewarded me for graciously accepting her desire to move, but has put her in backing her place for thinking the grass is greener on the other side.

I trust that she will now come through this phase, and that her time to shine will come.

And his brings me to the present, and my next post will start up-to date blogging in the real sense.


Tuesday, July 18


Fostering. A darker episode in our lives. Most of my posts talk about how good god has been. We are still struggling to find God’s goodness in this – perhaps the story is not yet finished.

I said my wife was having a mid-life crisis. Youngest at school, attempted to get involved in secular employment and church work, but nothing worked. Then we saw an advert for foster carers. We had room in our house, time on our hands (well my wife’s anyway), it fitted with our ethics an was a way to serve God in and with our own home, and was in line with my wife’s aspirations to work with children. Also, the payments would include a reward element – ie it was going to be her job.

We signed up for the assessment process, and as described in my previous post it was a very hard and very gruelling process, but one which we passed with flying colours. The only near sticking point was when the panel started to quiz me about my views on gay bishops. I pointed out that few of our foster children would be applying to bishops while in our care, and that whilst people who wish to run a club should abide by its principles, I was not about to impose strict religious observances on traumatised children. The training was an eye opener, in terms of the huge number of paedophiles out there, the damage done to children by neglect, and the dangers faced by people who try to care for them.

Also we had to prepare the house for foster children, improving the electrics to get a safety certificate, buying a suitable vehicle, etc – and incurred about £5000 costs.

Do not go into fostering unless you are emotionally very strong!!

We passed with flying colours. We had chosen to go to a private agency rather than the local authority. This was because the local authority had a reputation for deceiving its foster carers, and also because we wanted to care for sibling groups rather than individuals, who were more likely to come through the agency.

The phone rang and we were asked if we would take on a pair of 30 month old twins – a boy and a girl, for a short term. This seemed exactly what we were looking for – having them for two weeks would help us financially for our up-coming holiday. We were led to believe they were being removed from the natural mother that day.

After they arrived, we were told that they were coming to stay for at least six months, and that they had previously been in foster care but the placement broke down when the carers were approaching a divorce!

We had to cancel our holiday. I still took time off work to help. We had a constant stream of visitors – child psychologists, child solicitors, our social worker, the council social worker and assistant, the court’s child guardian and so on, plus contact visits with the natural mother three times a week.

When the twins came to us they were very disruptive, throwing heavy toys at your face if you tried to control them, biting, climbing over the safety gates, and so on. The boy always wanted to play the girls games, and the girl always wanted to play the boys games, but having joined in was not really interested and spoiled it. The work was full time for the whole time that the toddlers were awake – from 7am to 8:30pm – solid stressful work all day.

During this time we neglected our own children.

During this time we lost patience with each other and started to argue about money, about an anniversary card bought the day before the anniversary, about labour distribution, and everything. Our relationship started to break down. We ended up sleeping back to back for three weeks, and only talking when necessary to co-ordinate activity or to pretend to our children that we were OK. We cold not perform the tasks properly while not together as a couple, and we couldn’t sort out our relationship issues in such a stressful environment.

Because of our contract, we could not just send the children away – we had to give a month’s notice. My wife felt we would not survive that long. In the end, she phoned up and asked for them to be removed because her rheumatoid arthritis had flared up – which was true – but perhaps overstated, and also resigned from the job altogether. The twins were taken away within a week.

We found out later that the foster carers they moved too also suffered a marriage breakdown, but more encouragingly the next carers seem to be coping with them very well.

But this all left us in total disarray. After some time I took my wife to a restaurant and we made peace. And then had another row about whose fault it all was and whose turn it was to apologise first. But we did get back together more or less properly until another row six months later which was till really dealing with issues from this period

I am happy to report that we are now fully together, and properly and deeply in love again.

We still can’t understand what it was all for. We have been left with emotional scars, £2000 outstanding debt, and guilt for sending the vulnerable twins away. People keep asking us “How’s the fostering going?” and we can’t admit that we failed so we say we are changing agency and will look into it again next year (owing to a contract clause). Perhaps most importantly it has left us doubting our ability to read God’s plans for our life.

It has helped us to provide support and counselling for a family whose adoption broke down, but not much else.

My wife’s mid life crisis continues, and has cost us more, and there is currently a very exciting big plan in action, which I will write about in due course, but we worry that we have misread God’s plans again.

But we are really still waiting for the happy ending that God has enabled me to put at the end of all my other posts.

Telling the wife.......

I promised in the “Victory over Sin” post that I would talk about telling my wife about my former addiction to pornography.

I have in the past tried telling her things of this nature, albeit less extreme, and it usually seems to be a mistake. My desire has been to always be absolutely honest with her. But in the storm after one relatively minor incident, she said “why are you telling me this?” I took this to mean that she would prefer it if I didn’t tell her.

So my secrecy about the main addiction was not all down to shame and guilt, it was partly to protect her as well. I saw it as MY problem, and MY responsibility to sort it out. I did still feel very guilty coming home after a session, not telling her, but I simply didn’t have the guts. She would say “why are you late” and I would reply “I got engrossed on something on the computer and didn’t notice the time”. True – but not the whole truth. Just the part of the truth that I felt she could handle – or perhaps the part that I could handle.

Anyway, I don’t want to repeat the previous post. The nearest I came to telling her was when we had a new computer installed at home. I sat my wife down and showed her all the Google safe-search facilities, and all the ways she could access my history lists, cookies etc, to check that I had not been looking at anything unsuitable. She said “I only want you to look at me”. Here in print it doesn’t sound strong, but it was accompanied by hurt and determined voice and facial expressions that warned me that she was not at that time in a place where she could understand my problems and help me through them – she would only see the offence against her.

Some time after all of this, my wife was going through a sort of mid-life crisis. Her youngest child had gone to school. She had tried unsuccessfully to enter into the church’s children’s work. She had tried to get secular employment but having been a housewife for 10 years could not get a suitable person to be a referee.

But then we heard about fostering, and felt that the lord was calling us to this work. This will be the subject of another post. I mention it here because the training for fostering is extremely intense and soul searching. As part of this, because there is so much secrecy in cases of child abuse, we were required to draw up a “no-secrets” policy for our household. I asked my wife if this was what she really wanted, since some secrets can be hurtful if they come out. This raised her curiosity, and she realised there was something that I was keeping from her. Time to let it all out!

Initially she reacted very well, perhaps because it took time to absorb what I was saying. I said that she had my permission to speak to counsellors at the church if she felt the need. But by evening she was very hurt and resentful woman, and I was sent to the spare bedroom for the foreseeable future. She objected to the pornography, but more to the fact that I had not told her about it. I have always made a point of openness and honesty, telling her off for white lies. Now she saw me as the biggest hypocrite of all. And she felt very deceived. She did not at all accept that I had not told an actual lie but just avoided parts of the truth.

Over the next few days and weeks the relationship deteriorated. Seeing her pain I bought her flowers, but she thought I was trying to buy her love. She started to shout at me for even little things. Life was becoming impossible. The thought crossed my mind that I should start looking at adverts for small apartments to rent, just in case I needed one in a hurry.

Then in one morning’s ranting at me she said something about “when you come home”, and I replied “at the rate we are going I won’t be coming home”. This was not intended as a threat, it was an observation of the direction in which our relationship was heading. I simply didn’t feel wanted in the house anymore.

That day at work, I had to go to the kitchen, out of the way, as tears welled in my eyes. I called a colleague from my workplace Christian fellowship, and asked him to go on a prayer walk with him at lunch. Emotionally I told him the story in detail from start to finish, and that I thought my marriage was falling apart, and we started to pray. We had barely started when my mobile phone rang. It was my wife. But she was a different woman – like a cloudless day after a hurricane. She said she had been to the church and had prayed with her friend and cell group leader - the alpha course leader. She promised me that there would be no more storms. And we told each other that we loved each other.

I was simply amazed that I hadn’t even finished the prayer when the answer came!

That night I did go home, and we kissed, and shared a bed. But it would be wrong for me to suggest that all was instantly OK between us. She had been deeply hurt, and her confidence in her own attractiveness had been battered. She felt she had to prove herself to me and went to the opposite extreme. It took her a long time to feel good about herself.
Also we had more rows about fostering – another post – but we are together again, and more deeply committed to each other because of the hard times. And we know that God was in it and restored our marriage, because he answered prayer

Thursday, July 13

Bubbles in the sky

Just because I put a picture of our cat 'Bubbles' in my last post - she died!

My son went to do his paper round and rushed back all flustered becasue he had found her at the side of the road, bleeding. We rushed out with the cat basket and some blankets to get her to the vet, but when I picked her up she was already stiff. we think she was hit by a car, but being in the town centre it could have been a drunkard or a common thug.

She was my daughter's cat, and when we woke her up and told her she was devastated, bursting inot tears instantly. we had to keep her off school becasue she couldn't cope with telling her friends.

I left work early and made a nice box for her (the cat) lined with a cat blanket and with her water bowl an some toys in it. This may sound pagan but was part of the process of grieving and saying goodbye - despite the title of this post I'm not a believer in afterlife for cats. We buried Bubbles in a flower bed in the garden, and that too helped.

Now we have to decide whether to replace her - we obviously want to but have to consider how suitable the area is for a cat.

More pictures:

Thursday, July 6


Let's take a breather and continue the Saga with the next post.

While we rest, tell me how to make this blog better:




More pictures of our cat?

Tuesday, July 4

Victory over Sin

Right - this post is in many ways the main reason for me setting up a blog in the first place, but it has taken some courage for me to get round to writing it. It is very personal and confidential, and so it seems bizarre to put it up on the internet for everyone to see! That is why, apart from my photo and first name, I have not given too many clues to my identity. First it's embarrassing for me, and second it's not fair on my wife and kids for it to be known amongst friends. So if by any chance you do come to know me - keep this information strictly to yourself!

Victory over sin.

Theologically, Christ has won the victory over sin by his holy life and substitutionary death and resurrection.

In practice, having become Christians, there is an ongoing process of sanctification - becoming more Christ like - as sin in our lives is put to a stop.

I have never been tempted to buy, sell, or use drugs.

I have never been tempted to gamble - yes I have bought a few lottery tickets "Just to give God an opportunity to bless me", but when he didn't use that route it what not difficult for me to see how stupid this was and not buy any more tickets.

I have never been tempted to drink excessive alcohol. It just makes me feel ill and unsociable.

I have never had any serious urge to steal.

But the one area where I have always been weak is with pornography. At boarding school, when I was about 11, it was easy to come by, and it became a habit. But I had this more or less under control by the time I got married, and then, apart from unsuitable TV programmes, it was never really an issue.

Then the internet was invented and invaded the workplace. I was aware that pornography was available on it, but presumed that company firewalls would keep it out was therefore never tempted to go looking for it. Until one day, when a colleague sent me an unsolicited "humorous" image of a topless woman, whose nipple would follow the cursor around the screen. I told him off for not knowing better than to send it to me, since I was well known as "the office Christian". I also asked how he got it past the firewall, and he explained that - well I won't go into details, but there was no problem with it.

This spiked my curiosity, and I started to test it, "just to see".

I quickly discovered how easy it is to see extreme pornography on the internet. Also how hard it is to close down quickly when the cleaner is coming past your desk! I went home feeling extraordinarily guilty that night. I didn't dare tell me wife. "Why are you late?" "I got engrossed on something on the computer and didn't notice the time". True. But not true. Guilt about the deception as well. I stayed away from it for a while, but after a month my curiosity came back, and I experimented with new search ideas and came up with wide ranges of images. More guilt. More deception. More failed attempts at self control. Massive arguments with God about what classes as true repentance. Every six weeks or so I would have a bout of three or four days in which I would indulge the habit before regaining some control. It came to the stage where during work hours, with colleagues around me, I would be viewing pornography in a small window on the screen, shielded by my shoulders. Clearly, I well down the road of self destruction.

Meanwhile, my alter ego, the Saint Simon, was being trained as a preacher in the church. More guilt, more deception. More shame.

I contacted the Samaritans, who were helpful in the sense that I was able to let my feelings out in a non-destructive way, but they are so into non-directional counselling that they didn't really solve the issue.

Something had to change.

The change came while preparing a sermon which included a section on repentance. How could I preach this in my current state? I sat at my desk to write the sermon, and played Christian music in the background, and prayed. And the song that was on was by Matt Redman - I don't have the words to hand but will try to edit this post to add them later. It was all about how "Nothing but the blood of Jesus" can take away sin. And as those words washed over me, the floods of tears came and the emotion washed through me, and I gave myself again to Jesus and asked his forgiveness again - this time from the heart rather than from the head. This time it was His work in me, rather than my self effort or self discipline. True repentance at last! Freedom from guilt at last!

I went on to preach the sermon very well. I preached it sincerely, from experience.

The pattern of sin was broken.

My wife is now aware of what I did and went through - that is a big story and merits a post in its own right.

I can't say that I am not still tempted - once you know how to do it you can't lose that knowledge and it does call me. But I know what it will do to me. Where I do act foolishly is to paddle at the edge of sin - not swimming in it but going to the waters edge and seeing how close I can go to the waves without being splashed. Pray for me that I will stop doing this foolish thing too. But I am basically free from pornography from that day, and have even been less prone to unsuitable TV as well.

People can mock the Christian faith, but it does actually work and make a practical difference in my life.

Thanks be to God who gives us the Victory through our Lord Jesus Christ!!!!

Monday, July 3

Changing Churches (3) - Anglican Church

When you have lived your entire life in non-conformist churches, the thing you are most unlikely to foresee is a move to the Anglican Church. They practice infant baptism. They have an authoritarian hierarchy. Worse, appointments within that hierarchy are based on the candidates training and qualifications rather than a spiritual call from God. And they have a liturgy, so every Sunday is the same, quenching the spirit. And the ministry is entirely in the hands of the Vicar, so members of the congregation cannot exercise their gifts.

How wrong can you be? That paragraph may be true of many Anglican Churches. But God’s ways are not our ways and he is not pre-disposed to me telling him which church I think is right.

And so God called us to move. There were a number of things at the house church that were winding us up. Some doctrinal issues, and some practical issues. Tithing, head coverings. Being told off for pinning Sunday School pictures to the wall. But none of these things warrant breaking faith with the church that has been your spiritual home and root. It is really stupid to leave a church for the sake of these things, because you will only find similar problems at your new church and wander forever unsatisfied. A bit like moving house because of bad neighbours and damp – these problems turn up wherever you go. But for us these things were part of God nudging us to move. I have to be honest – I personally did not want to move at all, but moved for the sake of my wife, who had become very restless.

We looked around a couple of churches, mainly the Elim Pentecostal church where our children had attended the playgroup and we had lots of contacts.

We also visited this Anglican Church. It used to run a children’s holiday club, which was very good and many Evangelicals in the town would send their children to it. So we already had some links there. The very first time we visited, we sat down about half way up the central aisle just as the service was starting, and immediately our youngest son at about 18 months who was sitting on my knee vomited copiously all over me and the carpeted aisle. It was a terrible stench! We rushed out to clean him and ourselves up, and left the warden’s to deal with the carpet as we disappeared. I thought we would never dare to show our faces there again, and even suggested this was divine guidance!

But we kept on visiting places without success. In the meantime, at the school gate, my wife was talking to mothers from the Anglican Church, and found that it was not at all the staid place we might have thought. It was clearly soundly evangelical, had signs that the Holy Spirit was trying to work there, and there were proposals to build an immersion baptism pool.

Encouraged, we visited again. No one mentioned vomiting toddlers! The service had barely any liturgical element. Singing was led by a contemporary band and people were raising their arms in worship. It was barely distinguishable from the Charismatic House Church!

We decided to stay for a three month trial, and during that time felt so much at home that we decided to stay.

We attended one of the regular ‘Newcomer’s Meals’, and sat next to the curate. I spent the whole time hitting him with difficult theological questions – I don’t remember what they were exactly, but his responses satisfied me that even though I couldn’t agree to many Anglican Doctrines, this was a people of God. And if God accepted them despite their short comings, then how could I reject them? Rather than looking for a perfect church, I was joining a church which was getting on with the business of the Christian faith as best it could and making God its priority.

And so we joined the Anglican Church.

We met with the elders of the Charismatic House Church to talk to them about the move, because we don’t believe in just drifting form church to church. We had a mixed reaction. One blessed us and sent us on our way, trusting our judgement. Others condemned our move, refusing to accept it as a planting of their influence in the new church because ‘you can’t put new wine into old wineskins’. Well, as far as we can tell God didn’t see that verse applied in this case.

We, well I at least, have flourished in the new church. But that is for another post. Also, there have been difficulties in the new church, but that is for another post.

Changing Churches (2) - Charismatic House Church

While at College, I heard via my brother that the charismatics within the brethren church I went to at the first school had all become too frustrated within the church. There was no sign of the elders listening to their perspective on the gifts of the Holy Spirit. The charismatic youth leader had been removed. The new guy was really nice and a sound Christian believer, but lacking the further work of the Holy Spirit. The Charismatics left the church – and left it much smaller and subject to further divisions. They established a new church, and invited men with apostolic gifts to provide leadership. These appointed my former school teachers and youth leaders to be the elders of the new church. It started with 12 people, but grew rapidly.

Whenever I visited my brother – the 13th member of the church – I visited the church too. I was still unable to handle the doctrines, but could not deny that God was present in this company of people. Souls were saved. Christian fellowship ensued. The worship was outstanding. I was simultaneously sure it was right and sure it was wrong.

But of course, dutifully attending the Brethren church in London, I found that key members there were also baptised in the Holy Spirit.
My job in London came to an end. (actually I was sacked for crashing the company car too often!) My new job was back near my old school and the new church. I stayed with my brother until I had my own flat. On Sunday’s I went to the new church with him in the morning, and tried other churches in the neighbourhood in the evening. The first was my old school church. No one there welcomed me as a visitor or talked to me, except one woman who had been the matron at the boarding school and was just visiting herself! I have not been in there since. Why did they waste that opportunity? It confirmed to me that the Holy Spirit had moved on (I don’t mean he abandoned them, they were still ticking over, but his focus had moved on). I tried several other places, some of which were quite good. But I soon realised that deep down inside, I wanted to join the new church, despite my massive misgivings about the charismatic doctrines.

In the evenings I wrestled with these issues as I read the church’s ‘Belonging to an Anointed Body’ booklet to see if I could join. I took up swathes of my brother’s time arguing with him. In my heart I knew the Charismatic doctrines were right but I could not reconcile them with my intellectual understanding of the bible as taught by my Brethren upbringing. But my brother was equally committed to the scriptures as me, shared my upbringing, and based his charismatic doctrines on those same scriptures. I don’t recall what happened next. I think my convictions were way ahead of my head. But eventually I came to a position where I was satisfied that God had called me to join the church.

And so I did – member 121. My school experience was deemed to have been a legitimate baptism in the Holy Spirit, even though it was not in any way spectacular.

Next Sunday, I thought “well, if I’m going to be a member I’d better start pulling my weight”. So I started welcoming people I thought were new. It turned out that one of these was a young lady who had already been at the church for a long time. Within weeks we were ‘an item’, and convinced God had brought us together. I felt this was further conformation from God that this was indeed the church for me at that time.

Condensing 15 years of happy church life into 1 paragraph, we married, had kids, etc, led cell groups, preached occasionally, and did a lot of Sunday school Work.

This church was basically Brethren plus:

Baptism in the Holy Spirit

The gifts of the Holy Spirit

Apostolic vision, in relationship with, rather than in power over, the local church

Freedom in Worship

A positive vision of an end-time revival

A sense of community. (in the Brethren church we would pray formally for issues, standing to pray while hearers sat bowed in the shampoo position. Now as well as corporate prayer, we would pray for one another in small groups after the meeting, praying over personal issues, praying for healing, and so on)

Changing Churches (1) - Brethren Beginnings

This series of posts is about how God has brought me to a good place, but not at all one which I would have expected. It’s a long one, but very important and worth a read.


I think I have described in earlier posts how my parents were missionaries. They were with the Brethren churches, sometimes known as The Assemblies, but not to be confused with the pentecostal Assemblies of God.

The distinguishing features of the Brethren are:

Evangelical (ie justification is by faith in the substitutionary death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ)

The supreme authority of the scriptures in all matters.

There is no overall structure. Each local church is autonomous.

There is no clergy. There are no ‘Reverends’. The principle is the universal priesthood of all believers.

Each local church is governed by a group of Elders, supported by Deacons. The group invites suitable persons to join them as Elders from time to time.

There is no order of service. Meetings are lead by the Holy Spirit.

People are baptised when having been born again they ask for baptism as a sign of their faith. This obviously excludes infants.

The gifts of the spirit were for the Apostolic era and ceased when the canon of scripture was complete.


Mostly Calvinist with regard to election.

I grew up in this environment very happily. My parent’s faith was real and dynamic, and was substantiated by the daily miracle of their non-salaried existence and heir holy lives. I owe an incalculable debt to my parents for introducing me to the Christian faith and providing such an excellent example. I was born again at the age of 5, and baptised as soon as they would let me at 13.

Meanwhile, since they lived abroad but wanted their children to have a Christian education, we were sent to a Christian boarding school. This offered reduced fees for missionaries. Most of the staff were either Brethren or linked to them.

At the school there was a strong Charismatic influence. On Sundays pupils could choose to attend the village Catholic church, an Anglican church in town, or the Brethren assembly in town. Most chose the latter. Those of us who were Christians also attended the youth fellowship there.

Now key staff members, who were members of this church, and also the leaders of the youth fellowship, believed in the charismatic idea of a filling with the Holy Spirit. Clearly, you are filled with the spirit the moment you are born again, by definition. But this related to an opening of the sluice gates, an flooding of the life with the dynamic Holy Spirit in power. Thus one is not so much a metaphorical glass full of the Holy Spirit, more a river channel full of the Holy Spirit flowing through and beyond to bless those around you as well. Part of this included the use of the gifts of the Holy Spirit.

At this stage I was an observer only of these things. I was more taken by the style of worship. In the church meetings it was the usual hymn-prayer-hymn-notices-hymn-sermon-hymn-closing-prayer-this-is-not-a-liturgy-it-is-led-by-the-Holy-Spirit-but-if-you-do-anything-different-from-last-week-boy-are-you-in-trouble. On the other hand the youth fellowship and the school Christian fellowship were full of something new to me. Not hymns about God, but worship to him. Not starchy heaviness, but freedom to communicate as you wished with your maker. People were raising their hands to God. People found that singing a song once wasn’t enough – you had let the words out of your mouth and they were gone before you had been able to meditate on them. So the songs were sung until fully appreciated, and then we would move on.

At this stage I could not handle the charismatic doctrines, but I knew that the worship style was right.

After this I moved on to another boarding school – state run. I have described this in previous posts. I was the only Christian boarder there, and there were only about 4 others amongst the day pupils and they were dubious. During this time I attended another small Brethren Church. My brother was at college and joined the Charismatic movement. He leant me a book called “The Holy Spirit and You” by Dennis and Rita (?) Bennett. I disagreed with much of it, but followed its instructions for baptism in the spirit, on my own in a depressing study room. There was no noticeable effect – except that I prayed for a record 15 minutes. Disillusioned, I steered away from charismatic things.

I moved on – left school, went to college, got my first job, and settled in London. Went to the local Brethren Church.