Psalm 3, a prayer when it seems everything is against you!

The heading in the version of the Bible I used to read this psalm says, it was written when David was running away from Jerusalem after his 3rd son Absalom had rebelled and proclaimed himself king.
To make matters worse Ahithophel, one of David’s closest advisors, joined the plot.

It’s not difficult to imagine what David must have felt like, and it’s no wonder that he prayed ‘So many people have turned against me’.
If you have ever been betrayed, undermined or abandoned by family, friends or colleagues, then this psalm probably reflects some of the Continue reading “Psalm 3, a prayer when it seems everything is against you!”

Psalm 2

The Reign of the Lord’s Anointed.

Psalm 2 is thought of as a poetic reflection on 2 Samuel 7 where King David is told by the prophet Nathan that his son Solomon would be the one who would build the temple.

Various places in the New Testament quote this psalm in relation to Jesus: Mark1:11 at his baptism; Mark 9:7 at the transfiguration, Paul preaching in Pisidian Antioch in Acts 13:33 and in Hebrews 1:5 & 5:5.

The psalm gives a strong sense that God is at work in Continue reading “Psalm 2”

Praying through the Psalms.

Some years ago I had the privilege of supporting a Christian leader through a private retreat and to help him as he sought to hear God speak both about his own future and also that of the organisation for which he was responsible. As I thought and prayed about how to structure our time away, I felt prompted to look at the Psalms of Ascent and to use those as the basis for our praying and thinking at the beginning of our sessions.

I have employed the approach of using a psalm as the basis of praying in many situations since, both in personal prayer and praying pastorally with others. Drawing on the scriptures in this way gives Continue reading “Praying through the Psalms.”

Leading the next phase!

Moses my servant is dead…” says God. In some ways it would seem a brutal opening; but the writer of the book of Joshua just states the fact.

Joshua was expecting the news, Moses had commissioned him as his successor and also prayed a long prayer of blessing over the nation1, but then Moses had gone mountain walking and had not come back. He had been a ‘super fit’ 120 year old man whose ‘vigour had not abated…’2

Leadership change is often not easy, but moving from the founder to the first successor can be especially Continue reading “Leading the next phase!”

Come Dine With Me

How would you cope with four strangers coming to your home, eating food you have spent hours preparing, only to publicly rate your efforts as a cook? What might you feel as the door bell rings, your first guest has arrived, but the sauce has burned and the lamb needs 30 minutes more than you had allowed for!

I confess to enjoying cooking, most of the time, and over recent years have hosted ‘mens meals’ for a dozen or so neighbours. It’s been an interesting experience getting to know neighbours better and to provide an environment for them to interact. There has been a sense of growing community and the wives and girlfriends have sometimes wondered Continue reading “Come Dine With Me”

Are we there yet?

If you have children, and travel by car, then ‘Are we there yet?’ may well be a very familiar cry. It is not easy to answer when you are maybe 30 minutes into a journey you know is going to take 4 hours. Finding things to keep ‘little people’ occupied and avoid the fractious “she hit me”, “no I didn’t”, “yes you did”, “well he hit me first”, scenario takes creativity, imagination and potentially frequent intervention.

So spare a thought for Moses. He ended up leading, not a family that could be counted on Continue reading “Are we there yet?”

Let the children come to me

If you have taken the challenge to read through the Bible in a year, and started on 1st January, it is possible that you have just finished reading Leviticus. Did you manage to read through all the rules and regulations? What about rules regarding skin diseases or what to do if a mouse falls in a water jug? With that sort of detail it may seem surprising that a Jewish website should say, “Though sometimes viewed as a collection of arcane laws of animal sacrifices and ritual purity, Leviticus is very much valued in Judaism. In fact, traditionally, the first Torah verses that children learn are from Leviticus. We read in the Midrash1, “[When] we start the children with the book of Vayikra2, G d says, ‘Let the pure ones come and involve themselves in the pure [laws], and I will consider it as if they brought a sacrifice before me.’”” 3

Why was Leviticus seen as so important and what can we learn from it? I want to offer just a few thoughts that I hope will Continue reading “Let the children come to me”

Expect trouble – cause trouble, but be a lighthouse!

It seems that there is no end in sight for the current amplified political discord in the USA. Just when one hoped the volume could not get much higher, accusations of ‘wire tapping’ came trumpeting over Twitter. And even in the 140 characters allowed in a tweet, the attack was seemingly against character and not just about actions.

In the UK, controversy over Britexit (is there really such a word?) rumbles on. The future of Europe, without Britain, seems unclear with a wide range of options being floated by Jean-Claud Junckers in a speech at the beginning of March.

So whether you live in the US, the UK or Europe there is a level of turmoil at the start of 2017 which probably could not have been predicted in early 2016. What then, could be (or maybe should be) the principles that influence your Continue reading “Expect trouble – cause trouble, but be a lighthouse!”

A tale of two worlds!

 

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of light, it was the season of darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair.”

How could it have happened? How is it that the foresight of the Simpsons in the year 2000 could have come to pass? The reality however is that Donald Trump is president of the USA, but this is NOT a political blog. What I want to do, is to look beyond the surface of the events that surround us be they global ones or personal ones and ask some questions about how the world works.

The world in which we live seems so confused that Continue reading “A tale of two worlds!”

How should saying that God is like Jesus affect the way I read and understand the bible?

As a Christian, a follower Jesus Christ, I have been amazed at how easily some of my fellow believers seem to understand the Bible as saying things that would mean, at times, that the character of God is almost the exact opposite of the revelation that we find of Jesus in the Gospels. After all, Jesus says, “If you have seen me you have seen the Father…” (John 14:9), so shouldn’t our understanding of the bible and our view of God’s character be congruent?

As a very imperfect disciple (but I hope I am continuing to learn) I have had two very personal Continue reading “How should saying that God is like Jesus affect the way I read and understand the bible?”