Welcome to the Goldmine



Hello! My name is Phil and welcome to my little corner of cyberspace.

A little bit about this website

I’ve called this website ‘the goldmine’ because I hope it is a bit of a goldmine – insofar as there might be some golden nuggets on it (although that doesn’t mean you won’t have to wade through a load of rubbish to get to them).

I mainly blog about faith and life. I am a follower of Jesus, his life and teachings have a profound impact on the way that I see the world. I hope that if you already know Jesus, you might come across something on this site that may make you think ‘oh I hadn’t thought of it like that before.’  I also hope that if you don’t know Jesus yet this site might challenge you to think about who Jesus is and if he is saying anything about your life. Either way please feel free to comment in my posts, I’m happy to discuss and debate.

A little bit about me

As well as being a Christian I am a rugby fan, I support Wales and the Newport Gwent Dragons, (possibly making me a masochist). I am also a bit of a Geek, with a particular interest in Doctor Who. I’m married to my long suffering wife, Esther, who is fabulous! We have two beautiful daughters – Amelia Joy (Millie) and Magdalena Rose (Lena)

I am currently an ordinand in the Church of England, which means that i am studying at Ridley Hall, Cambridge to become a vicar.


The best laid plans


In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee,  to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary.  The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favoured! The Lord is with you.”

 Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be.  But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God.  You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus.  He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David,  and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.”

 “How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?”

The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God.  Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be unable to conceive is in her sixth month.  For no word from God will ever fail.”

“I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May your word to me be fulfilled.” Then the angel left her. (Luke 1:26-3)

It was either John Jacques Rossow or Hannibal from the A-team who famously said ‘I love it when a plan comes together’. Whoever said it, I think that it is a sentiment that Mary would have been able to subscribe to. Because I think that Mary was a lady with a plan.

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Places you didn’t expect to find God

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From there he set out and went away to the region of Tyre. He entered a house and did not want anyone to know he was there. Yet he could not escape notice, but a woman whose little daughter had an unclean spirit immediately heard about him, and she came and bowed down at his feet. 26 Now the woman was a Gentile, of Syrophoenician origin. She begged him to cast the demon out of her daughter.  He said to her, “Let the children be fed first, for it is not fair to take the children’s food and throw it to the dogs.”  But she answered him, “Sir, even the dogs under the table eat the children’s crumbs.”  Then he said to her, “For saying that, you may go—the demon has left your daughter.” So she went home, found the child lying on the bed, and the demon gone. (Mark 7:24-20)

I recorded Exodus: Gods and Kings when it was on Film 4 a few months ago and to be honest I’ve been putting off watching it because I am slightly terrified of what Hollywood might have done to the story of Exodus. I think it is good and right and proper to be skeptical of Hollywood, but our passage from Mark is one that I would really like to see an accurate film depiction of.  Because think to be able to hear the tone of Jesus’ voice in the passage would really help us to work out what it going on.

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Flakey Friday

When they were approaching Jerusalem, at Bethphage and Bethany, near the Mount of Olives, he sent two of his disciples  and said to them, “Go into the village ahead of you, and immediately as you enter it, you will find tied there a colt that has never been ridden; untie it and bring it.  If anyone says to you, ‘Why are you doing this?’ just say this, ‘The Lord needs it and will send it back here immediately.’” They went away and found a colt tied near a door, outside in the street. As they were untying it,  some of the bystanders said to them, “What are you doing, untying the colt?”  They told them what Jesus had said; and they allowed them to take it.  Then they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their cloaks on it; and he sat on it.  Many people spread their cloaks on the road, and others spread leafy branches that they had cut in the fields. Then those who went ahead and those who followed were shouting,

Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord!
Blessed is the coming kingdom of our ancestor David!
Hosanna in the highest heaven!”

Then he entered Jerusalem and went into the temple; and when he had looked around at everything, as it was already late, he went out to Bethany with the twelve. (Mark 1-11)

I used to have a 2 hour commute to work and during  those many hours in the car, my mind came up with some pretty weird ways of entertaining itself as I crawled along the M1. One of the weirdest ways was probably mentally writing sermons about songs that came up on the radio. – That probably tells you more about my mind than anything else, but the upshot is that most of what I have written here is the result of a Haribo fueled moment of delirium a few miles outside the Newport Pagnell services.

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Musings on Vocations

This article is based on a sermon that I preached on ‘Vocations Sunday’ last year  at All Saints Milton. It feels like a long time ago, but has taken on additional significance for me in view of my impending ordination. You can hear the talk here (Warning! this is a long one!)

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Image (C) blairwang

Meaningless, meaningless, utterly meaningless, everything is meaningless. (Ecclesiastes 1:2)

I love Ecclesiastes – it’s so gloomy. It’s not preached on that often, which is a shame because I think reading the Bible without Ecclesiastes is like reading Winne the Pooh without Eeyore or the Hitchhikers guide to the galaxy without Marvin the Paranoid Android. Talking about Marvin the paranoid android here is a quote from him:

Here I am, brain the size of a planet, and they ask me to take you to the bridge. Call that job satisfaction, ’cause I don’t. (Douglas Adams, The Hitch Hikers Guide to the Galaxy)

This quote wasn’t intended to be a summary of the book of Ecclesiastics, but I think that it does get right to the heart of the book, at least for our purposes. I want to look at Ecclesiastics as a whole and draw out some things that it has to say to us about the way that we approach our understanding of vocation. Continue reading

On loan


This is an article that I wrote a number of years ago, but as the realization comes that in the not too distant future I will be ordained, it has gathered a renewed importance for me.

Jesus then began to speak to them in parables: “A man planted a vineyard. He put a wall around it, dug a pit for the winepress and built a watchtower. Then he rented the vineyard to some farmers and moved to another place. At harvest time he sent a servant to the tenants to collect from them some of the fruit of the vineyard. But they seized him, beat him and sent him away empty-handed. Then he sent another servant to them; they struck this man on the head and treated him shamefully. He sent still another, and that one they killed. He sent many others; some of them they beat, others they killed.

He had one left to send, a son, whom he loved. He sent him last of all,saying, ‘They will respect my son.’

But the tenants said to one another, ‘This is the heir. Come, let’s kill him, and the inheritance will be ours.’ So they took him and killed him, and threw him out of the vineyard.

“What then will the owner of the vineyard do? He will come and kill those tenants and give the vineyard to others.  Haven’t you read this passage of Scripture:

“‘The stone the builders rejected
    has become the cornerstone;
the Lord has done this,
    and it is marvelous in our eyes’[a]?”

 Then the chief priests, the teachers of the law and the elders looked for a way to arrest him because they knew he had spoken the parable against them. But they were afraid of the crowd; so they left him and went away.

Mark 12:1-12

I stood in the queue at the check in desk of the library. Tucked under my arm was a little envelope. Inside that envelope was 30% of a CD of Pam Ayers Poetry. The Other 70% of the CD was in a variety of other places, mainly somewhere inside my CD player.

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