Monthly Message Sep 2019

Has this country faced such a major crisis as we face now since the Second World War?  Then, of course, we knew what (and whom) we were facing, but today it is very complex.  Trust is at a premium, and it seems that the future has never been more uncertain.  I feel inadequate to comment on our present national situation, yet it would surely be wrong, at this precise time, to ignore it for a lesser topic.

Permit me, therefore, to share with you a few Scriptures which I pray will bring us all some encouragement.

How appropriate is this year’s Bible Focus theme – “Who is Jesus?”  He alone has, and he alone is, the answer to every human need.  “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight”.  (Proverbs 3:5,6).  Impossible though it may seem, we need to pray that the nation will once again acknowledge the Lord.

We are not an insignificant minority wanting to foist our religious viewpoint on others; rather we have come to know, by grace, the One who is King of kings and Lord of lords.  He is the great Ruler before whom every other ruler must, sooner or later, bow.  Why do the nations conspire and the peoples plot in vain? The kings of the earth rise up and the rulers band together against the Lord and against his anointed, saying, “Let us break their chains and throw off their shackles . The One enthroned in heaven laughs; the Lord scoffs at them. He rebukes them in his anger and terrifies them in his wrath, saying, “I have installed my king on Zion, my holy mountain.”  (Psalm 2:1-6)

 King Jehoshaphat of Judah found himself up against a vast enemy army (II Chron 20).  “The people of Judah came together to seek help from the Lord; indeed they came from every town in Judah to seek him”. (v4).  Then Jehoshaphat led them in prayer, concluding with: “O our God…We do not know what to do, but our eyes are upon you” (v12).  Britain needs political leadership, but we also need spiritual leadership.  And we also need a unity that overrides difference of opinion.  None of that appears to be on the horizon at the moment, but I am convinced it is far from simplistic to pray with the humility and faith with which Jehoshaphat prayed: “We do not know what do, but our eyes are upon you.”

 “Who is Jesus?”  He is the Alpha and Omega, the Beginning and the End.  Our destiny, security, hope and wisdom is in Him and Him alone.  Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

I really look forward to seeing many of you at Bible Focus on September 21st, at to being strengthened and encouraged and focused afresh on our reigning Lord and Saviour. “He is the true God and eternal life.”  (I John 5:20).


Monthly Message Aug 2019

Last month’s message was to have sufficed for both July and August, but one of our team members, Sandie, has kindly offered the following piece which I am very pleased to pass on to you.  I’ll be back in September!  Tony

I wonder how many words bombard us every day? Whether it’s the chatter of the family around the breakfast table, news headlines on the media, the voice of a loved one via phone or the words of a song in your headphones, we are surrounded by a cacophony of words each and every day.

But whom we choose to listen to amongst this noise, is really important.

The Psalmist writes, “The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork. Day to day pours out speech and night to night reveals knowledge.” The very world around us speaks of our majestic Creator.

And at our next Saffron Walden Bible Focus  we will see from Hebrews that God has spoken to us by His son, Jesus Christ. How utterly extraordinary that the God who made the whole world, who stretched out the heavens and placed the stars, should deign to speak to us!

And what words Jesus speaks. “Come to me, all who labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” (Matt 11:28-29)

I love singing and two old hymns spring to mind. The first by Horatio Bonar , born just after the death of Newton who wrote “How sweet the sound”


I heard the voice of Jesus say,

‘Come unto Me and rest;

lay down, thou weary one, lay down

thy head upon My breast’:

I came to Jesus as I was,

weary, and worn, and sad;

I found in Him a resting-place,

and He has made me glad.


I heard the voice of Jesus say,

‘Behold, I freely give

the living water; thirsty one,

stoop down and drink, and live’:

I came to Jesus, and I drank

of that life-giving stream;

my thirst was quenched, my soul revived,

and now I live in Him.


I heard the voice of Jesus say,

‘I am this dark world’s light;

look unto Me, thy morn shall rise,

and all thy day be bright’:

I looked to Jesus and I found

in Him my star, my sun;

and in that light of life I’ll walk

till travelling days are done.


How sweet the name of Jesus sounds

in a believer’s ear!

It soothes his sorrows, heals his wounds,

and drives away his fear.


It makes the wounded spirit whole,

and calms the troubled breast;

’tis manna to the hungry soul,

and to the weary rest.


Dear name! the rock on which I build,

my shield and hiding-place,

my never-failing treasury, filled

with boundless stores of grace.


Jesus! my shepherd, brother, friend,

my Prophet, Priest and King;

my Lord, my life, my way, my end,

accept the praise I bring.


Weak is the effort of my heart,

and cold my warmest thought;

but when I see Thee as Thou art,

I’ll praise Thee as I ought.


Till then I would Thy love proclaim

with every fleeting breath;

and may the music of Thy name

refresh my soul in death!


I spent a happy time at the Keswick Convention this summer, listening to God’s Word in the company of His people and in His magnificent creation. Arriving heavy laden in many ways, I left refreshed and rested.

I hope to see many of you at this year’s Saffron Walden Bible Focus where we will hear and sing God’s Word together. Until then my prayer is that this summer we will find time to listen to and dwell richly in the Word of our good, good Father.



Monthly Message Jul 2019

A further reflection from SWBF Chairman, Tony Mason

[First of all, let me correct a mistake I made in last month’s Message. There I said that God “delivered Daniel from the mouths of lions and the flames of a furnace”. But of course, it was not Daniel but his friends who were thrown into the fiery furnace. My apologies!]

Have you found yourself caught up in any of the dissatisfaction that seems to have been so prevalent of late? Does the mention of Brexit make you groan with boredom, or climate change groan with anxiety, or reports of suffering groan with compassion, or the spiritual state of our nation groan with despair?

Groaning can be very negative, unproductive, even destructive. But, rightly directed, groaning can be focused, fruitful and encouraging. In Romans 8:22-27 we have three very positive groanings.

Firstly (v22), “the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time.” There have always been changes in the climate, and earthquakes and floods and droughts, and so on. The groanings of creation are like birth-pangs – painful but leading to a wonderful outcome! One day there will be a new heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness (II Peter 3:13).

Secondly (v23), “we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.” I have just got back from the doctor’s. My blood pressure and cholesterol levels are good; my blood-glucose and kidney-function are not so good. So, I groan inwardly, longing for the redemption of my body! The indwelling Holy Spirit assures the Christian that one day the mortal will be clothed with immortality (I Cor 15:53).

Thirdly (v26), the Spirit – yes, even the Holy Spirit – groans! But he does so on our behalf. “the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express”. Faced with all that troubles us in our world and in our personal lives, how true it is that “we do not know what we ought to pray”(v26). But the Holy Spirit intercedes for us, literally, “wordlessly”. As John Stott put it “the Holy Spirit identifies with our groans, with the pain of the world and the church, and shares in the longing for the final freedom of both. We and he groan together”. (‘The Message of Romans’, IVF, p245).

So it’s OK to groan, provided the groaning is directed towards the sure and certain “hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God” (v21).

See you on the 21st September at the third Saffron Walden Bible Focus – and bring your friends!

Every blessing,