The prayer of an exhausted man!

Psalm 6

How many times have you heard a church leader say, from the pulpit, “I’m really struggling?”

It seems that Christian leaders feel they cannot ‘let the side down’. They need to be strong and not show any weakness. They tell themselves there are good ‘rational reasons’ for such thinking!

The truth, however, from the point of view of scripture, is that as leaders, we are still part of ‘the body’ and the body of Christ builds itself up from Continue reading “The prayer of an exhausted man!”

Psalm 5 – change the band!

The music has changed! Psalm 4 was ‘with stringed instruments’ and now we have a psalm, depending on the translation, with ‘pipes’,’flutes’ or ‘on wind instruments’! But even if we have a ‘new band’, the message is very similar. David wants God to listen and restates his confidence and expectation.

David is also very ‘open’ he does not want to hide anything from Continue reading “Psalm 5 – change the band!”

Psalm 4 – Prayer – shopping list or conversation?

There is a rather trite saying that I have heard when people talk about how God answers prayer, or indeed if God answers prayer. They say “God answers with, yes, no or wait a while!” The idea of prayer presented in this framework is a shopping list that needs approval!

I have found this very unsatisfactory. It is not the picture of prayer that Jesus presents to his disciples in the Lord’s prayer nor what he demonstrates when he is heard praying in the Continue reading “Psalm 4 – Prayer – shopping list or conversation?”

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”