Who's shirt are you wearing? (Newspaper article)

As of Saturday I’m now the proud owner of a Stranraer FC shirt with ‘Malcom 9’ on the back – the name and number of the second top scorer in the club’s history. The first game of the season was an opportunity to pick up the shirt of the player that I’d sponsored last season, which turned out to be Craig Malcolm’s last with the club.

Sadly however putting on his shirt won’t improve my football ability. If it was that easy I would go straight out and buy one that said ‘Ronaldo’ on the back! It will still be the old me inside it. Putting on a shirt with someone else’s name on it doesn’t give you their skills, identity, achievements or medals.

But amazingly, what isn’t true of a football shirt, is true of a Christian’s relationship with God. The Bible talks about ‘putting on Christ’. That means trusting in him to make us acceptable in God’s sight. The astounding truth of the Bible is that when we ‘put on Christ’ then immediately, in God’s sight, all Jesus’ achievements become ours.

As a minister I’ve found that the biggest misconception about Heaven is that people think they can earn the right to go there – by church attendance, living a good life, giving to charity etc. That leaves ‘good’ people feeling proud because they think they’ve done enough, and ‘bad’ people feeling hopeless because they know they haven’t. But the Bible makes it clear that earning a place in Heaven is way beyond out ability – it’s impossible. The only person who has ever deserved Heaven is Jesus Christ. And so when we stand before God, the question won’t be, ‘did your good deeds outweigh your bad ones?’ but ‘who’s shirt are you wearing?’. There is nothing to earn. Jesus has done it all. He has met God’s standards. All we have to ‘do’ is accept his free gift.

I was handed Malky’s shirt on Saturday because a year ago I’d paid a fee. But for us to be handed the achievements of Jesus, there is nothing to pay. The Bible describes Heaven as a wedding feast. Jesus warns that those who turn up without the right ‘clothes’ on will be thrown out. If we are hoping for our own efforts to cover us before God, they’ll let us down. We will only get in if we are clothed with the achievements of Jesus.

Published in Stranraer and Wigtownshire Free Press, 29th June 2017

Mission team wrap-up

- Encouraging first full day with Mission Team
- Mission Team: Monday and Tuesday

Having finished distributing leaflets to homes in Stranraer, the team did the villages of Castle Kennedy, Stoneykirk and Sandhead.

In the afternoon two of the team came with Stephen to the Cafe N-Spire recovery cafe he helps out with - sadly the weather meant we weren't able to go fishing as planned, but it was still a good opportunity to chat to those there - and experience some Scottish culture!

The rest of the team did practical work, such as getting the church hall ready for the first night of the mission and gardening. They then went to different peoples houses for dinner, before meeting back at the church hall in time for the first of our special services.

With the leaflets finished, the team had the opportunity to see some of the many sites around us associated with the Scottish Covenanters, the forerunners of the RP Church.

We were thankful to the Baptist church for the use of their minibus, which meant we could go to Anwoth (where Samuel Rutherford preached about Jesus in the early 1600s) and then Wigtown (where the two Margarets were martyred for Jesus in the late 1600s). Again, the team members were divided between two different homes for dinner before the second night of the Mission.

In the morning we practiced some songs that we were planning to sing at Belmont Care Home. On arrival however we found that because of illness to some residents, we wouldn't be able to perform. The weather meant we were unable to do any psalm singing in the town centre either, but it did give the team a chance to see round the Castle of St John in the middle of Stranraer. The Castle is also associated with the Covenanting era as government troops were stationed here during the 'Killing Times' in the 1680s.

In the afternoon, the team cleaned seats at Stair Park, where Stephen serves as chaplain to Stranraer FC, in preparation for the new season. After having dinner together in Kirkcolm, the team attended the final of our three special services. Audio of all the talks is available here on our website and on iTunes.

In the morning the team went to Galloway Forest Park and walked to the monument set up to mark the deaths of six Covenanter martyrs. The monument was originally set up by the Whithorn Reformed Presbyterian congregation during the ministry of Gavin Rowatt, who died at the young age of 30, six years after becoming a minister.

In the afternoon the team attended the baptism of Willow Steele, before heading back to base with those who had come down from Airdrie for the baptism. We're thankful for all the work the team members did and pray that God will use it. We're also thankful for the opportunity to renew friendships from last year, and make new ones. The team came from many different places and churches, but in Christ there is far more that unites us than divides us.

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Mission Team: Monday and Tuesday

Our last news update covered the RP Mission Team's arrival and first full day in Stranraer. Here's what they got up to on Monday and Tuesday.

Each week-day started off with the team spending time doing personal devotions, followed by team worship. With the Mission services starting on Wednesday evening, Monday was a full day of distributing invites to homes in Stranraer.

In between distribution, the team did their daily book study in the afternoon as they worked through Don Whitney's Spiritual Disciplines. In the evening they had dinner at Stranraer Tandoori to support a charity evening.

Distribution continued in the morning and early afternoon, and then the team put on a games afternoon for the young people of the congregation.


In the evening one of the congregation treated the team and a couple of others to a Chinese meal at Hong Kong City (just along from the church), after which we went back to Stephen and Carla's and enjoyed spending some more time together.


Encouraging first full day with Mission Team

This year's RP Mission Team arrived on Saturday evening. Their first task they was unpacking the new tables and chairs and setting up for the church lunch the following day.


After the Sunday morning service, the congregation and the mission team enjoyed the first ever church lunch in our refurbished church hall.

In the evening we held a Thanksgiving Service to commemorate the completion of the work to the hall, when were were joined by members of Stranraer Baptist Church, as well as other family and friends.

It was great to see the hall filled to capacity, and afterwards we enjoyed some refreshments and a chance to chat with each other.

On Monday and Tuesday the team will be spending most of their time distributing leaflets ahead of our special services on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday evenings.


Week of activities planned as RP Mission Team comes to Stranraer

On Saturday, the RP Mission team will be arriving in Stranraer. All 8 team members are from the United States, with Joey (team leader), Monica and Matthew having been here last year.

We have a varied week planned for them including leaflet distribution, practical work to Stair Park (home of Stranraer FC where Stephen serves as chaplain), nursing home visits, helping out at the Cafe N-Spire recovery cafe and a tour of local Covenanter sites.

After morning worship on Sunday we will have a chance to get to know the team as we have lunch together after church, and the team members share a little about themselves.

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On Sunday evening the team will join us for a thanksgiving service as we mark the completion of the work being done to refurbish our hall. We'll be joined by Stranraer Baptist Church who have cancelled their evening service so they can be part of it, and we've also invited the other local churches.

The leaflets the team will be giving out will be to advertise a series of three special services on Wednesday 14 - Friday 16 June on the theme 'Your Life Has a Purpose'.

If you're in Stranraer or the surrounding area, it would be great to have you come and be part of what's happening - you would be most welcome.