Monthly Message Jul 2020

“ Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding”.  

Proverbs 3:5


Dear friends,

Here we are after four months of ‘lockdown’.  How has it been for you? Whilst we welcome the lifting of some restrictions giving a glimpse of normality, there is still the need for caution. We are not yet ‘out of the wood’ and a resurgence of the virus is still possible. What are we to do? May we, or may we not, do this or that? In II Chronicles 20 we read of King Jehoshaphat faced with a threat from the Moabites, Ammonites and some of the Meunites. He prayed, and concluded his prayer with words that I sometimes find myself using: “We do not know what to do, but our eyes are upon you” (v12).  That is how it must be with us.

The chapter tells us three ways in which Jehoshaphat exercised his leadership of Judah, ways in which we can see that his eyes were indeed upon the Lord.

Firstly, his trust in God (v20): “Early in the morning they left for the Desert of Tekoa. As they set out, Jehoshaphat stood and said, ‘Listen to me, Judah and people of Jerusalem! Have faith in the Lord your God and you will be upheld; have faith in his prophets and you will be successful.’”

“Have faith in the Lord your God” – now, as Christians, we know that – do we really? Are we ready to trust God with absolutely everything – even if it means surrendering to him our own wisdom and preferences?

Secondly, his diligence (v20): “Early in the morning they left for the Desert of Tekoa”.

I never used to procrastinate, that is until I retired.  There is always tomorrow. Moreover, nowadays I am less familiar with ‘early in the morning’.  But Jesus was!

As Christians we need to be diligent in serving the Master, eager to be available, eager to be blessed and to be a blessing.  The Israelites took 40 years to make a journey that could have been accomplished in a matter of weeks.  How many opportunities might the Church have missed through a lack of diligence?

Thirdly, we notice his weakness (v12): “we have no power to face this vast army”.  The world despises weakness; we must be successful, popular, macho; we must accomplish and achieve.  The apostle, Paul, had many fine attributes and abilities but he had to come to the point of learning that God’s grace was sufficient for him, for God’s power is made perfect (complete) in weakness (II Corinthians 12:9).  So, let us not despise or be ashamed of our weakness, but rather surrender it to the Lord so that he may accomplish in us so much more than we ever could on our own.

We do not know what to do, but our eyes are upon the Lord.  So let us move forward in trust, with diligence and, yes, even in weakness – and to God be all the glory!

In Christ,


Monthly Message Jun 2020

Beautiful bay

Keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace”.  

Ephesians 4:3

Dear friends,

“Odious and Soon-Touchy”

Thus has some wag sought to “translate” the names of two women to whom Paul refers in his letter to the Philippians – Euodia and Syntyche.  Somehow these two had fallen out with each other, and Paul is urging them “to agree in the Lord”.  Why was it important that they should do that?  Why is it important for Christians to agree?  Isn’t it inevitable that there will be disagreements between Christians on points of doctrine, liturgical practice, or due to personality and so forth?  Well yes, indeed, but notice what Paul is actually saying here (Phil 4:2): “agree with each other in the Lord”. Earlier in the letter (2:2) he writes about “being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose.”  Do you see the clue here to unity in disagreement?  We take our eyes off ourselves and turn them towards the Lord and his grace and his will and purpose.

So, is it possible for Christians to agree even when they disagree?  Imagine a family (you may not need to imagine it!) where there are three grown-up children: one votes Conservative, one votes Labour and the other votes LibDem.  Politically they are at odds with each other, but do they need to be at odds with each other as siblings?  What should hold them together in a bond of love – despite differences of politics – is their parentage!  They all have the same Mum and Dad, they are all of one blood.  They have each inherited their genes from the same pair.  Most of all (ideally!) they are each loved equally by the same two parents.

In Christ, believers are brothers and sisters of each other but also of Christ himself (Romans 8:29), and therefore of one heavenly Father.  Now, looking to him in times of conflict is sometimes our last resort, when it should be our first.  “Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith” (Hebrews 12:2).  By telling Euodia and Syntyche to “agree in the Lord” Paul is surely reminding them, and us, that that is where our true unity lies.  Instead of beginning our conflict resolution with accusations and allegations, how about starting with: “Look, both of us have been forgiven by God through the blood of Jesus.  Let’s acknowledge that we are both sinners, redeemed by grace, express our love in the Lord and then, and only then, sort out our differences”?

Of course we do, and shall, have our differences – some of them serious, perhaps.  But let’s keep reminding ourselves that our true unity is found when we, as it were, stand hand-in-hand at the foot of the cross, looking to Jesus.  What do you think?

Your brother in Christ,

 PS:  Last month I said I would give you an update on plans for this year’s Bible Focus event.  Due to Covid-19 we shall not be meeting together in person but, God willing, we intend to have a two-session Bible exposition via YouTube.  This will be launched on Saturday, September 12th at 3.00pm and the second session will follow at 4.30pm.  Thereafter the two sessions may be accessed at any time. We shall look at how God brings out his good purposes in spite of our disappointments and setbacks.  The first session takes us to consider some implications of Abraham burying his wife, Sarah, and the second session looks at how Paul and his companions arrived in Macedonia when their own plan had been to go somewhere else.  Coronavirus may have put a stop to some things and forced us to change plans – but God’s plans are always best!

Monthly Message May 2020

From the rising of the sun to the place where it sets, the name of the LORD is to be praised”.   Psalm 113:3


Dear friends,

As I write this, it is nine whole weeks since the Covid-19 lockdown began. It started with us having to cancel plans for my wife’s birthday celebrations and a holiday.  But it also started with great ideas of all those jobs, waiting to be tackled, that could now be done during the days of enforced confinement. The days have not been entirely idle, but many of those jobs…. Well you know what I was going to say!  Even when there’s plenty of time there still seems to be not quite enough of it, somehow.

In the New Testament there are two Greek words for ‘time’: ‘chronos’ and ‘kairos’.  The first, from which we derive the word ‘chronology’ etc., refers to measured time, “time, like an ever-rolling stream” (Isaac Watts).  II Timothy 1:9 says a wonderful thing about time – and about God’s grace: “This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time”!  As a Christian, not only can I be sure that God loves me (despite my unworthiness) but that he set his undeserved love upon me before time was.  What blessed assurance!

The second word, ‘kairos’, refers to opportune time, appropriate time, the right time to do something.  So, in Romans 5:6 we read: “You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly”.

Our sovereign God is Lord of both ‘chronos’ and ‘kairos’ and this period of lockdown is proving to be time in both senses.  There is time, and it is time, to do certain things.  Time to reassess our priorities and values, time to be more aware of our mortality, time to reflect on eternity, time to contact people, time to ‘do church’ (what an awful, unbiblical phrase!) differently, time to be still and be aware of God, time to listen to God, time to catch up on procrastinated tasks, time to relax and relieve the stress – and so the list might go on.

Have you been aware of any ‘kairos’ moment or moments during lockdown?

“Be very careful, then, how you live – not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity (kairos), because the days are evil.  Therefore, do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is”.  (Ephesians 5:15-17),

Your brother in Christ,


As we cannot hold a live event this year it is an enormous disappointment to all of us, but not least to our book supplier, 10ofthose.  A large part of their ministry is providing bookstalls at major Christian events such as the Keswick Convention, Word Alive etc.  Now with these, and smaller events, already cancelled they are facing serious cash-flow problems.  It is so important that such a vital ministry can continue even in these difficult times.

link to - Can you stand with us - 10 of those