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I’m reminded of the Minister giving a talk to the youngsters at the Children’s Address part of the Sunday Service.

He asked them, “what’s small and furry, climbs trees, and stores nuts in his cheeks?”

A small hand was raised.

“Yes, Johnny?”

“It’s Jesus; it’s always Jesus!”


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Mid Week Homily (Dumfries Northwest Church – 26/02/2015)

(using the Gospel Reading for Lent 1, Year B)


There are many folk  in whatever walk of life – who start off promisingly; then peter out.

 My late wife had a close friend at secondary school. She was bright, vivacious, intelligent – destined to go far.  Not only did she gain a good degree in sociology, but then went on to study genetics, graduating with a second degree.

Then things went wrong.  She got in with a bad crowd, married an abusive husband, took drugs, worked at odd jobs, and lived in a bed-sit with hardly any furniture.

 And this lasted many years, until, through the help and support of her brother who has his own business, she got a kind of low grade job, but she worked at it, and advanced through his organisation, going on to be a successful businesswoman with real responsibilities

 She grabbed the opportunity with both hands, and made a wonderful success of it – changing her miserable existence into fulfilling life and living.

 While some sink; others, through  pain or difficulty, learn

 And those who are able to learn from it generally are able to go on and make something of their life, for after the pain, the work begins.


Let’s now listen for God’s Word, as contained in Scripture: 

READING:  Mark 1 verses 9 to 15

In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. 10 And just as he was coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens torn apart and the Spirit descending like a dove on him. 11 And a voice came from heaven, “You are my Son, the Belovedwith you I am well pleased.”

12 And the Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness.

13 He was in the wilderness forty days, tempted by Satan; and he was with the wild beasts; and the angels waited on him.

14 Now after John was arrested, Jesus came to Galilee, proclaiming the good news     15 and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come nearrepent, and believe in the good news.”


 Jesus had a very special and exciting time when he was baptised by John in the river Jordan.

 But immediately that same Spirit of God, who had descended upon him at his baptism, drove him out into the wilderness.



Rubens: “Temptation of Christ”


The wilderness can bring a real clarity of thought.  Things which were confused and muddled before tend to suddenly drop into place, for in the wilderness priorities change.  Things are seen for what they really are, and their degree of importance shifts accordingly.  And this tends to happen whether we are thrust into the wilderness by horrifying events in life, or whether we deliberately seek out the wilderness for ourselves.

When he emerged from the wilderness, Jesus knew what his life’s work was to be.  He knew that he would spend his life in ministry, working in a very specific way for the Father.

Clouds so very often follow sunshine, and when this happens in real life, it seems such a harsh experience.  Something wonderful happens and we feel excited and thrilled and happy, but this is so very often followed by a plunge into the depths of despair for some reason or another.

 But perhaps the experience of Jesus shows that for Christians everything, all of life both good and bad, is in God’s hands. 

Perhaps the pattern should be that the thrills, followed by the depths, are a prelude to the real work we are invited to undertake for God.



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A missionary was walking down a road through the jungles of Africa when a group of cannibals come across him.

The cannibals tie him up and drag him off into the jungle. They take him to their camp on put him in a pot of boiling water (of course).

After awhile the water begins to get really hot, and the missionary starts pleading for his life. The cheif cannibal dude comes out and says he will spare the young mans life, but he has to pass a test (like as in most jokes…). The missionary gladly accepts, not even caring about what the test might be.

OK, says the cheif, first you must guzzle down a gallon of vodka in 15 seconds, then you must pull a tiger’s sore tooth out, and after all that, you must deflower a virgin maiden

They take the missionary and sit him down in front of the vodka. He guzzles it down in 13.58 seconds. Next they push him over to the tigers den. The young man drunkly stumbles his way into the den. They hear sounds of roaring and growling for the longest time; then finally the missionary comes out, his clothes  tattered and cuts and bruises all over him, and drunkly says “now, where’s that maiden with the sore tooth?”


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Test Everything

tet everything

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August 3, 2013 · 10:02

The test of a good religion

The test of a good religion

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June 11, 2013 · 09:55