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Midweek Musings – Are You Using The Right Name?

Neil’s Reflections

What’s your name?

Let me start with a question and an ear-worm.

First the question: Are you happy with your name?

And the earworm? A Salford group sang this some time ago:

The phrase that gets in your brain is: ‘That’s not my name’ as the singer tries to say who she actually is.

Back to your name. You were given it, you didn’t really get a choice about it. In fact, it might have been chosen for you long before you were born. You just grew into it. How does it feel? You could change it, but most of us don’t. We just fill the name out with our own personality.

What about your nickname? You might be far too mature to have one – they are much more often given in school. I had friends with limited quick-wittedness, so mine were ‘Huddy’ or ‘Nelly’ – you can see their line of thinking.

But I remember a girl whose surname was Moorhouse. She ended up being called ‘Cheesy’. The convoluted explanation was that Moorhouse was a brand of Lemon Cheese spread. Once you know that, it’s an obvious connection.

In Acts 13, the man whose movements we have begun to follow, who we knew as Saul starts to use an alternative name, Paul. Luke tells us this in a chapter packed with names. Barnabas, whose real name was Joseph (Acts 4:36). There’s Simeon called Niger – a Jewish name linked with either a Roman one, or a nickname linked to the fact that he might have been black. And Lucius of Cyrene (Libya) – so you go ‘oh that one…’.

They meet a Jewish sorcerer with two names: Bar-Jesus who was known as Elymas (the magician) who worked for the local governor, Sergius Paulus – as Roman as you can get.

So why does Saul, named after a Jewish king, begin to be known as Paul, his Roman name? Almost certainly because he knew that his world was going ‘to become his parish’. His horizons were getting wider, he was going to be mixing with Gentiles more than Jews. He needed to use as many bridges as he had to build these relationships.

His world was getting bigger.

What about you? You might not want to change your name, but the way you have been known up to now may need to change. Up to now you might have been known as timid, insecure, careless, or insenstitive. It may be time for a name change. Or it might be that it’s time to build new bridges with people outside your natural circle. Time to change the way you are seen.

It’s time to be who He says you are. As another song says:

I am chosen
Not forsaken
I am who You say I am

And just to finish this string of very different musical themes, this is always worth a listen:

For the clarity of his challenge:

You may call me Terry, you may call me Timmy
You may call me Bobby, you may call me Zimmy
You may call me R.J., you may call me Ray
You may call me anything but no matter what you say

Still, you’re gonna have to serve somebody, yes

It’s time to use your full name!


We begin our interviews again this week. This month, they are arranged around the loose theme of family life. We begin with a remarkable story of Erin’s miracle births. This is a great example of the stories that are in our congregation that you never would have guessed at.


1. Our Gatherings

Sunday gathering  

The link to this Sunday’s Gathering is here:
Meeting ID: 836 810 848 

Or join us live on YouTube.

2. Prayer Ministry on Sundays

Over the past few months we have trialled a virtual prayer room via Zoom every Wednesday with the aim of offering a space for people to be prayed with. 

We have decided to try moving it to Sundays to coincide with our services on Zoom. There will be a few of the prayer team available in breakout rooms immediately after each service to pray with anyone who has need, just as we would do if we were meeting in the church building. 

You can either let Ian know in advance or just wait around after the service. 

If you have prayer requests but don’t want to be prayed with, you can also let Ian know and the prayer team will use that time to pray on your behalf.  

3. Stay Connected: ‘Virtual Coffee Morning’ – Wednesday 10.30-11.30am

A Wednesday morning is the ideal time to catch up with people, have a brew, even involve yourself with a quiz. So, whilst it’s not as good as being together in person, there’s an opportunity to do it all online.

Meeting link:

4. House Groups on Thursday 7.45-9.00

If you haven’t been part of them yet, now’s a great time to join in.

The link:

On Friday 10.30-12.00 in a non-Zoom meeting! Using Whatsapp, contact Corinne Baines or Gill Oldham or Neil and they’ll make sure you are able to connect.

If in doubt

All the links to the meetings are in ChurchSuite and on the ‘Calendar’ section of our church website:

5. You’re not alone

If you need help and don’t know where to turn, you are always welcome to contact Neil on 07771 558058

6. Coming Up

Speaking in Public

Before lockdown we did some sessions on public speaking – especially in a church context. There will be another session on this which will pick up where we were but will also offer a chance for people to ‘have a go’ and get some feedback. If you came to those session, it’d be great if you come along to this.

The session will be on Wednesday 16 September at 7.30.

Meeting ID: 869 6981 8407

Men Walking Together

There’s a chance for any of the guys connected with the church to go for an appropriately socially distanced Saturday morning walk together on Saturday 19 September. This won’t be mountainous, and we will be back for lunchtime so it won’t be all day. If you’re interested in coming along – we will give you the specific details next week. In the meantime let Paul King (07902 908608) or Neil know that you’ll be with us.

Links and Resources

1. Kids Resources

Here’s this week’s Kids Resources from Morag, with a variety of videos, crafts and other useful to help your child/ren read and learn from this week’s Bible passage.

2. For those of you who learn from podcasts

I know some of you learn best from listening in to podcasts. Here’s a recommended list of 8 of the best and most popular Christian podcasts available at the moment.

3. Recent books

If you want advice about new Christian books or want someone to order them for you then our very own Julian Gittings is your man. He works for SPCK, one of the few Christian publishers still in existence. He’s a great source if you want some ideas.

If you want advice about new Christian books or want someone to order them for you then our very own Julian Gittings is your man. He works for SPCK, one of the few Christian publishers still in existence. He’s a great source if you want some ideas.

A couple of books he got me recently are worth knowing about.

The Story Retold by G.K. Beale & B.L. Gadd is an introduction to each of the books of the New Testament. It’s a really nicely laid out book, with great coloured pictures that give you a sense of place and time. Each chapter gives you a sense of what the NT book is about, the lines of the argument that run through it and an overview of the main sections. They are not very long – the chapter on Acts for example is just 27 pages so you can get a quick overview without getting lost in too much detail.

The book is keen to help you see how the NT books rest and build on the OT scriptures. So you get a sense of how the whole Bible fits together. It uses straightforward language, you don’t need to have done any theology study beforehand to get the best out of the book.

It would be of help to anyone who is trying to get to grips with the NT for the first time or someone who has read the Bible for a whole but is quite sure how it all connects together. This book gives you a good overview of what is happening. It’s 538 pages and in a large format (not quite coffee table size, but it has that sort of feel to it).

It would make a great gift to someone. Its full price is around £40, but I see it can be bought on some sites for around £30. Or you can borrow Neil’s!

While thinking about the NT, another doorstopper of a book is Tom Wright and Michael Bird’s The New Testament in its World.

This does a similar job to The Story Retold but has more detail about what the culture of the day was like. If you’ve read anything by Tom Wright before, you will see some of his themes coming through, and actually gives a good introduction to his theology.

Again it has loads of colour pictures, is written in a very accessible style with occasional flashes of humour. It also has an accompanying study course if you want to follow that.

It’s around 1000 pages long so you need strong wrists – or the kindle version. It’s list price is £40 but you can get it cheaper in different places (you can get it for around £25 on Amazon or £10 in kindle version).

Sometimes it’s good to get commentaries on single books of the Bible. This gives you the chance to go into much more detail as you read the Bible. It will help you see why things are written in the way they are, as well as wrestling with the bits that are hard to understand.

For years a great set of basic commentaries were The Tyndale Commentaries on the OT and NT. These are all being updated. Julian got me the new one by Philips Long on 1 & 2 Samuel and it’s great. Really easy to read, each chapter is covered in around 10 pages each. I’ll be looking out for these as they are published.

And then, if you read on Kindle watch out for the Two Horizons Commentaries on OT and NT books. They are listed at full price at the moment but over recent months I have collected them paying around £2 for each of them. Incredibly good value and really helpful.

Finally this e-book is free at the moment from IVP:

Books don’t get better than being free!

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