looking forward to emails

The church I have been called to serve is blessing us in abundance. Lots of people have spoken to us and made us feel really welcome; the teams I have joined are people of faith and joy; and I am getting lots of emails.

Any of you who are ministers will wonder what’s so amazing about getting lots of emails. Well, someone in the church had the idea of getting a different person to send us a welcoming email each day. Some include a verse from the Bible to encourage us, most include places that the senders love visiting in the area, and all of them are a delight to receive. It looks like these emails could continue for several months!

So each day I look forward to opening my emails, wondering who will have sent something and what it will contain.

And that got me thinking. Wouldn’t it be amazing if everyone had the same experience as us? What if each day we each send someone in our contacts list, social media friends or phone an email, message or text with a word of encouragement? What difference might that make? How much joy would be spread?

Many times I have experienced a prompting to send a message, make a phone call or even visit someone that has turned out to be exactly what that person needed. It’s not because I have any special ability, I put it down to God’s Spirit giving me a nudge.

So, from tomorrow, I am going to see if I can put my closing sentence into practice in this way and send a daily message of encouragement to someone – I am being blessed, so I can be a blessing. Who knows, you might be the recipient one day!

Be blessed, be a blessing.

spam, spam, spam, spam

computer crash

One way to deal with spam emails

The first time I got one of those emails it was quite exciting. I was being offered the opportunity to make a life-changing amount of money simply by helping a poor war widow from Africa to gain access to her late husband’s estate. All they needed was to use my bank account for a few transactions.

I felt privileged that they had selected me, and they were being so generous. The amount of money they were going to give me was life-changing. All I had to do was give them my bank details.

Something didn’t seem right, though. I couldn’t help wondering how they had got hold of my contact details and why they had selected me. So I didn’t reply immediately.

I’m glad I waited because the next day I got another email. It seems that I had won the Spanish Lottery – 49 million Euros! All I had to do to claim my prize was confirm my identity by sending them my bank details.

I was about to send an email in reply when I stopped. ‘Hold on,’ I thought, ‘I didn’t enter the Spanish Lottery.’

So I didn’t reply to that one either.

Two days later I had an email from a lady called ‘Gloria’ who was interested in getting to know me better. She was currently living overseas and looking to move to the UK, and wondered whether I might be interested in helping her out by marrying her to make it possible for her to get a visa. She said she would be VERY grateful and had money to give me which would make it worth my while.

I was less interested this time. Partly because I was not sure that my wife would be very understanding about it.

So I didn’t reply.

I started getting a lot more emails after that. I was offered lots of opportunities to buy shares in companies because the person had some inside knowledge, more opportunities to launder money, lots of women who wanted to be my friends, and I won more times than I can count on the Spanish Lottery.

I ignored them all.

Instead I installed a spam filter in my email inbox and I don’t get bothered by them anymore.


In what ways is the same way that we treat the spam email scammers similar to the ways that church outreach is treated by people who don’t go to church? Why do you think that is?

Do people install a ‘church filter’? How can we better communicate the truth that following Jesus is first and foremost about receiving God’s grace rather than what you can give or do?

Be blessed, be a blessing.

diminutive accounting

I’m back. (Sorry about that). I have enjoyed a good break and been blessed by being on the receiving end of Easter for a change. And this morning I returned to a relative avalanche of emails.

I like to keep a tidy inbox. I like to have dealt with most emails on the day on which they have arrived (or as soon after as possible). I think it is courteous, it avoids forgetting to deal with them and it feels good to have an empty (or relatively empty) inbox. The only problem is that if I have replied to someone that reply may generate a response from them which means that my inbox is no longer empty.

AbacusWhen I am preparing a couple for marriage (and often in the wedding service as well) I advise a couple to kiss each other goodnight each night. This is not just a sweet and romantic thing to do, it also means that you need to have dealt with anything that is between you before you go to sleep. It’s difficult to kiss someone you are in a huff with, or whom you have upset. Keep short accounts.

I wonder if this is why Paul advised the Christians in Rome to “greet one another with a holy kiss”: if you can’t greet someone like that sort out the problem. (It’s a challenge for those of us who are non-huggy, non-kissy people!)

How different would our world be if we all did that? How different would our churches be? What if we kept short accounts with one another, like my inbox: dealing with things as they arise rather than leaving them to fester? And what if we kept similarly short accounts with God?

Be blessed, be a blessing

sent too soon

Blue Website Buttons 2 4How often do we do it? We write an email and intend to attach something to it, but before we have had a chance to attach the attachment some primeval urge* within us moves the mouse pointer to hit ‘send’ and it’s gone. Without the attachment. So then we have to send a second email with an ‘oops’ message attaching the attachment this time. It’s really embarrassing if the primeval urge takes over again at that point and the second one goes without the attachment too.

I have made a decision today, which may or may not make ‘sent too soon’ a thing of the past. Often in my emails I sign them off with ‘bless you’ or something similar. As I sent an email a little earlier it struck me that saying or writing ‘bless you’ is not enough. So I have resolved that before I hit ‘send’ in response to my primeval urge I will pray a quick prayer of blessing for the recipient(s) of that email.

It may not prevent me from ‘sending without attaching’ face plants, but I hope I will at least be sending with a blessing.

Be blessed, be a blessing.

(And yes I have just prayed for you!)

*I am not sure what primeval urge would cause us to click – perhaps it comes from a drumming instinct or a previously undiscovered benefit from tapping small rodents on the head?

>dabbling in dark arts

>I have been dabbling in the dark arts this week.

No, not those dark arts. I have been trying to understand the vagaries and mysteries of email. I have been setting up the email system on our new computer at church and thought I had won, until I had a phone call from the office this morning to say that some expected emails had not arrived. We tried resending them and still they did not arrive. One of the emails that is currently lost in the ether was from me, so I tried resending it in configurations. Whatever I did I could not get an email through with an attachment which normally would cause no problems. Grrr.

Later I sent another email with an attachment and that went through without a problem.



No way!

I have tried to understand but have decided that email configuration is definitely a dark art and it is not something I will ever fully understand. I expect that next week the emails in question will go flooding into the office email inbox.

The good news is that every prayer we offer gets through to God every time. Nothing we offer him is rejected or undeliverable. We can tell him whatever we want, and my understanding is that he would rather we were honest with him than pretend, No need for fancy words or stock phrases. Just tell it like it is.

“I’m sorry, again.”
“Thank you, I don’t feel like I deserve it.”
“Please help me to understand.”
“Give me your grace, please, because I can’t cope.”
“I’m tired and grumpy.”

And so on…

So what would you say to God right now? What’s on your mind? Say it!