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Thirsty for change? Jan 4th

Why do we love the story of Elijah so much? Is it the contest? the confrontation? the challenge? the choice? The conquest? the fire! Everyone loves fire!  Is it because it reminds us of our faith victories? Our early boldness in faith? Our power encounters with the Lord? Those days when our love for the Lord could even be described as a consuming fire? 

But what happens – the conquest is over, the choice is made, the fire dwindles and everyone goes home and carries on as normal – still trying to survive a drought, still living in a land where there is no water – in many ways like us, like our Christian life turns out.

But not Elijah! He is not satisfied with conversions, choices and fire he wants lasting, transformational, life giving, culture altering change. He wants the rain! He wants revival. So what does he do! He promises rain (1 Kings 18 v41) and then he climbs to the top of the mountain and prays for rain (v42) and ask his servant to look to the horizon for rain – not once, not a few times but seven times (v43) and then he sees a cloud the size of a mans hand and declares a tropical storm! 
What about you? Are you living on past conquest, choices and a dwindling fire or are you finding an isolated place to watch and pray for the spiritual rains of blessing promised in the scripture for you,  the church and our society.  Are you still believing and praying although you have done so many times before – don’t give up. Keep watching and praying. Run to te secret place again and again. Keep looking for the signs, the tiny clouds of hope and answered prayer – keeping asking and believing. How did Elijah have such tenanicity – surely it was that he knew the promises of God (see yesterdays blog) and not only knew them believed in them so that he could petition the Lord for them.

Jesus knew the secret place of the desert after his voice from heaven and Spirit descending as for 40 days he was led into the dessert. The apostle Paul new three of years in the secret place before he was released into a world changing ministry. 

How about you? Find your mountain top, your desert, your secret place and watch and pray. For how ever long it takes to see a tiny cloud of hope, of answered prayer, of rains coming. The fire is not sufficient, the secret place is needed. Run to the your secret place and pray and watch again. Just because you haven’t seen the the rains of the Lord’s blessing before – speak in faith, pray in faith and watch in faith.

What’s stopping you?


Thirsty for change? Jan 3rd

This week from the story of Elijah we have seen what we should start doing and then yesterday what we should stop doing but today as we enter 2018 what is the thing we should keep doing? Pray!

I don’t know about you but I don’t feel much like Elijah – he was fed by ravens, brought the son of a widow back to life and prayed and fire fell from heaven and he also started and stopped a drought. WOW but the source of all these things was a life of prayer. So in 2018 let us keep praying and see what the Lord can do in and through us.  

So the next principle to see God’s power released in and through your life is simply – ASK GOD 

As another verse in James (incidentally whose nick name was camel knees as he spent so much time on his knees praying so also knew a thing or two about prayer) summarises

‘You do not have because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.’ James 4:8

But what can we learn from Elijah’s prayers in 1 Kings 18

1. Just ask –  v 37 compare the way the prophets of Baal prayed.

2. Ask in the name of Jesus – v32 the Lord answers prayers when we pray as he commands and for us that is in the name of Jesus. Jesus is the tabernacle (the cross the altar,  the sacrifice made) that when we pray in and through the name of Jesus, God answers with fire. So let us pray in his name.

3. Ask for God to turn hearts –  v37 God looks at our hearts and he will use our prayers to turn our hearts and others back to him which may mean the prayers for our selfish motives may not be answered as we wish.

4. Persevere – v42-44 – keep praying. If we give up we either do not believe in what we are praying for or we do not believe in the God as revealed In Jesus.

But perhaps the most important principle to learn from Elijah’s prayer is

5. Pray the word – v36 Elijah knew his prayer would be answered as he was doing what God had said. Also he knew that there would be a drought because he knew and and prayed Deuteronomy 11:16-17. He then knew how the drought would end as he prayed 2 Chronicles 7:14. So if we want effective prayer we need to pray the Word – use the prayers in scripture, pray its promises, let is give you specific words to pray your situation. So make the bible part of your prayers and it will change the way and effectiveness of your prayers. 

To emphasise the importantce of this I will end with a quote from George Muller a famous and effective Christian in Bristol who the Lord used in amazing ways and who felt a significant change to his prayer life changed when he began to pray the Word. So keep praying in 2018 and try and pray the Word.

“I went accordingly to my room, and locked my door, and putting the Bible on a chair, I went down on my knees at the chair. There I remained for several hours in prayer and meditation over the word of God; and I can tell you that I learned more in those three hours which I spent in this way, than I had learned for many months previously.”

‘Before this time my practice had been, at least for ten years previously, as an habitual thing, to give myself to prayer, after having dressed the morning. Now I saw, that the most important thing I had to do was to give myself to the reading of the Word of God and to meditation on it, that thus my heart might be comforted, encouraged, warned, reproved, instructed; and that thus, whilst meditation, my heart might be brought into experimental, communion with the Lord. I began therefore, to meditate on the New Testament, from the beginning, early in the morning.
The first thing I did, after having asked in a few words the Lord’s blessing upon His precious Word, was to begin to meditate on the Word of God; searching, as it were, into every verse, to get blessing out of it; not for the sake of the public ministry of the Word; not for the sake of preaching on what I had meditated upon; but for the sake of obtaining food for my own soul. The result I have found to be almost invariably this, that after a very few minutes my soul has been led to confession, or to thanksgiving, or to intercession, or to supplication; so that though I did not, as it were, give to prayer but to meditation, yet it turned almost immediately more or less to prayer’ ~ George Muller

Thirsty for Change? January 2nd

What will you stop doing in 2018?

In New Year Resolutions we often make resolutions to stop doing things? Stop wasting so much time on social media, to stop alcohol or chocolate or..

If we are to see the power of God released in our lives, families, church and community the bible says we need to stop doing certain things – the bible word for this is repentance. 

So the principle today is ‘remove the worship of other gods from our lives.’ We see in our story of Elijah from 1 Kings 18 that the people in choosing the Lord needed to stop choosing other gods – the baals (1 Kings 18:18) which being plural suggests that there was not just one god – Baal but various representations of him.  We know he was associated with the sun, lightening, fertility & sex, power and agriculture (incidentally an ideal god you would have thought for starting a fire – and for us what non Christians run after today as of first importance also seems to make sense) The people in choosing to worship the Lord needed to turn away from worshipping these other gods. The Lord is a jealous God and can not share his worship with other so call gods. When we do this it is called synchretism. 

In many ways we see this idol worship clearly in a second century BC culture as in 1 Kings 18 with high places, statues and images. But the people themselves didn’t get it. In many ways they thought they were worshiping the Lord and what did it matter if they worshipped other gods to get what they thought they needed. Perhaps in the same way we are blind to the other gods that have crept into our lives. These other gods of today seem to parallel the Baals – power, sex, possessions. Just as the Israelites in Elijah’s day ran to the altars of other gods to gain power, sexual satisfaction, family, possessions so we run to the altars of our work places, our screens, our homes, our social spaces and shopping malls believing that there we can get our happiness through our fix of power, sex, money and ultimately happiness and thriving. It is interesting that the New Testament identifies idolatry with greed – wanting more and more of what we already have enough of to live.

Not that there is anything sinful about any of these things and they can all be good things but when we make them into a god thing we become enslaved to them – and addictions, destructive behaviours are born. Tim Keller in his introduction to his book ‘Counterfeit gods’ put it like this 

‘“[An idol] is anything more important to you than God, anything that absorbs your heart and imagination more than God, anything you seek to give you what only God can give.”

“A counterfeit god is anything so central and essential to your life that, should you lose it, your life would feel hardly worth living. An idol has such a controlling position in your heart that you can spend most of your passion and energy, your emotional and financial resources, on it without a second thought. It can be family and children, or career and making money, or achievement and critical acclaim, or saving ‘face’ and social standing. It can be a romantic relationship, peer approval, competence and skill, secure and comfortable circumstances, your beauty or your brains, a great political or social cause, your morality and virtue, or even success in the Christian ministry.”

“When your meaning in life is to fix someone else’s life, we may call it ‘codependency’ but it is really idolatry. An idol is whatever you look at and say, in your heart of hearts, ‘If I have that, then I’ll feel my life has meaning, then I’ll know I have value, then I’ll feel significant and secure.’ There are many ways to describe that kind of relationship to something, but perhaps the best one is worship.”

So who or what do you need stop worshipping this year? Sometimes as in the case of 1 Kings 18 radical surgery is needed. Jesus demanded this sort of surgery in the sermon on the mount (Matt 5:29) and to the rich young ruler to sell all his possessions and give it all away (Mark 10:17-27). So are there things you need to put a stop to today? Begin by ‘repenting’ and then being accountable to someone. Some of these things are enslaving you and you may need to talk to someone – debt, addictions, workaholic, dependency….

In other cases we just need to balance the temptation to turn things into gods by the spiritual disciplines of giving, fasting, volunteering, keeping sabbath. So consider giving generously so money does not become a god. What will you fast from to show that it is not a god? (Food, gadget, social media?) How will you use your time to help others rather than just work for yourself ? Will you keep Sunday special as a day of worship?

But the main choice is to follow the Lord and his commands as uttermost importance even when it seems countercultural or against the gods of our society.  As Jesus put it – seek first his kingdom and his righteousness and all these things will,be added to you – the things are those things that those with no faith pursue with all their might. So repent of greed, be content with what you have and worship the Lord.

Thirsty for Change? January 1st

What will you start doing in 2018?

Today is the day we make resolutions of things that we should start doing to improve our lives. Some of us will resolve to do exercise, others to change our diet. I don’t know about you but I need some added motivations and power to bring about significant changes in my life.

We are looking this week through the story of Elijah on Mount Carmel (1 Kings 17-20) of how to unleash the power of God to bring times of refreshing and significant, lasting change in our lives and community. The story I believe gives us some principles/guidelines to follow. So today the key principle is to do what Elijah started to do! Which was to repair the altar of the Lord that had come into disrepair. And if we are to unleash God’s power into our lives we need to do the same which for us is to believe and marvel in the power of the cross of Jesus.

Today’s principle is to boast in the cross of Jesus as the place the power of God is unleashed in our lives. It is not due to any thing in us –  not our goodness, reasoning, up bringing…- that God chooses to work his power in us but due to the death of Jesus on the cross. So we boast in that.

As Paul says in 1 Corinthians 1:18 ‘For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God’ and again in Galatians 6:14 ‘May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world’ and Peter declares 1 Peter 2:24 “He himself bore our sins” in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; “by his wounds you have been healed .” For “you were like sheep going astray ,” but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.’

In our time the message of the cross has fallen into disrepair and maybe in your life as well – today resolve to repair it and put your belief afresh in the cross of Christ to know forgiveness and the power of God to change you. Do you need new spiritual life and power – repair your belief in the power of the cross of Jesus. Does your family or community – repair your belief in the power of the cross of Jesus.

But how can we know it has power? What was the second thing Elijah did? He drowned the altar in water. Have you ever considered where the water came from in a drought? Perhaps they descended the mountain three times to go the Mediterranean to get some salt water or perhaps there was a spring on the mountain. But three times they repeated the action to show the true power of the miracle. That is how we know that the cross of Jesus has power because for three days Jesus laid in a grave – he had died – but on the third day he rose again. The cross of Jesus has power – the fire of the resurrection proves it. So boast in that.

If the people had given up precious supplies of water to know the power of the sacrifice it reveals the biblical principle of boasting in the cross is by giving up all our others rights and priviliges that get in the way.  Surrendering and trusting in the cross alone for the power and favour of God. As Paul says in Philippians 3 he has lost all things for the sake of Christ – but he considers them rubbish that he might gain Christ. Tomorrow we will reflect on some of those things that prevent us boasting in Christ that we may have to stop doing in 2018.

By the way – Happy New Year and what better way to celebrate the New Year by boasting in the cross as your source of hope for 2018.

I felt I should add some practical resolutions to show how we ‘boast in the cross’.

1. Give thanks for it – we do this every Sunday in worship and especially when we share communion together. Make this a priority.

2. Use it – how? We use the power of the cross whenever we pray ‘in the name of Jesus’ – so make prayer a first thought rather than an after thought.

3. Share it. When you have the opportunity tell others how the cross of Jesus brought the power of God into your life.

So today resolve this year to make Church a priority (especially communion), to pray in all situations and to tell someone each week about Jesus.

Thirsty for Change? 

 ‘How long will you waver between two opinions? If the Lord is God follow him.’ 1 Kings 18:21

At University I was nicknamed ‘worst case scenario man’ but as we enter 2018 I am really positive and believe we are living in really exciting times when the Lord is doing something across our nation.  I have had recently the opportunity to read about all the Lord is beginning to do through the prayer of his people. We have been living in a spiritual drought both individually and as a nation but I believe the rains of revival are coming.  Are you thirsty for change? Are you thirsty for a change in yourself, in your family, in your work place? Then read on and commit this first week of 2018 to learn and pray through the principles to bring the rains of refreshing into your life, our church communities and our nation.

How do we bring the rains of blessings from the Lord? What do we need to do? What do we need to start doing in 2018? What do we need to stop doing? What do we need to keep doing? As I have been praying about this the Lord has brought me to 1 Kings 17-20. The famous story of Elijah. I believe this story holds the clue for us to move from a spiritual drought to rains of revival. I believe this holds true for us individually, our families, our church, our town and our nation. And in this coming week! The first of 2018. I want to explore this story on my blog to lay out the principles of bringing this revival to each of these areas. So do look back each day from the 1st to 7th January 2018. Allow it to grow a thirst in you for change. Allow it to move you to prayer. And look for the rain clouds of answers to prayer in 2018 that it may increase your faith.

The first principle is taken from my verse for the year –

‘How long will you waver between two opinions. If the Lord is God follow him.’

The first principle to see change is ‘Choose the Lord vocally & exclusively’. It is interesting to note that when Elijah asked the people this question – the people went silent. They could or would not say (as they did later) “The Lord – he is God’. As you begin 2018 how would you answer this question? Will you choose to follow God above all else? Can you say ‘The Lord – He is God’. I will follow, obey and serve him in 2018 – whatever the cost? Or will you just remain silent? Are you thirsting for change – in 2018 make a fresh start and choose to believe in and follow Jesus.

In the context of this passage the people were following the apathy of their times. King Ahab had married Jezebel and Ahab compromised his worship of God and began to accept the worship of Baal (16:31-32). It is not that he rejected the Lord but was weak willed and tolerated and incorporated the worship of Baal into his life and the life of society. I am sure he just wanted the easy home life, he didn’t want to rock the boat. And the people just followed in his apathy and the consequence was a drought (Deut 11:16-17). Is this a picture of the church today? A picture of your life? Do you feel spiritually dry? The Hebrew for ‘waver’ is literally ‘to limp’ or ‘sink’. Is the church or are you ‘limping’, agonising over every step, alternating between truths, ‘sinking’ slowly in the mud mire of our culture?

It is time to stop limping, sinking and wavering but to make a vocal and exclusive decision to follow Jesus. 

Elijah’s – whose name literally means the Lord is God – challenge to the people of God in his day surely is the challenge to the/our church in our day. If the Lord is God follow him. Will you vocally declare that you are following Jesus? Will you follow Jesus exclusively? Will he have first hold and say in your life? This is the first step to being spiritually revived.

What is your answer to our verse of the year? Or will you to remain silent?

If yours answer is ‘The Lord is God – I will follow him’, some questions to think about

1. Have you become a Christian by declaring this with your mouth – see Romans 10:9-10. How about doing that now at the start of 2018 by praying to Jesus out loud ‘Jesus I believe you are Lord and God. I give myself to follow you. Forgive me when I have gone my own way but because Jesus, you died and rose again I believe you have forgiven me and now please come into my life and enable me to live for you. As I speak this I know I am a Christian and forever will follow you. Amen.’

2. Have you declared this publically by being baptised?

3. Have you joined with a church to live out what it means for us to follow Jesus in our culture and context? How about considering becoming a church member? Will you start committing weekly to following Jesus with this group of people? 

For those of us who are still undecided, unconvinced, remaining silent or are still uncertain whether the rains of revival can come to us, in my next blog I will be exploring how the silent people became a vocal and transformed people.


A Happy New Year to you all.




Sabbatical Reflections

The old riddle goes ‘What goes up but never comes down?’

Your age!

I have been thinking a lot about time! I am having a 6 week sabbatical presently and thinking about how to use my time. I have also celebrated my birthday and reflections on the time I have left. And so I have used the acronym of time to express a few thoughts.

Treasure it – time is most definitely a gift. It is a gift of God – Psalm 139v16. So do you treasure time? Do you thank God for the time he has given you in the places and with the people you spend time with – he has determined that (Acts 17:26-28). So treasure the present and the people you spend it with, it is God’s gift for you in this season of your life. Or do you abuse time? By not valuing it – overworking, wishing your life away, not honouring the people you share your life with today?

Intentionality – are you intentional with how you use the gift of time or do you let it just fly by? The book of Proverbs compares the unintentional slug to the intentional and driven Ant – Proverbs 6:6-11. Do you rely on others to determine how you use your time or do you think ahead and plan/dream for the future. Where do you want to be in 5 years time? What do you need to do today to get there? The bible tells us that God has already prepared good works for us to do with our time (Ephesians 2:10) – how intentional are you in discovering these? For us as Christians how intentional are you in living your time for the will of God (1 Peter 4:2) and progressing as a Christian?  (Heb 5:12). How intentional are you with your time with your spouse, children, family? 

Manage it – simply being intentional can be overwhelming. We all live busy lives and more often that not time controls us so we are not intentional. We need to learn to manage our time or as Colossians 4:5 says to make the most of every opportunity. We can only do that if we are not exhausted or distracted. So managing our time means getting sufficient rest, sleep, physical exercise, time to eat properly as well as prioritising and diarising! Take control, make decisions on how you will use your time, learn to say no so you can make the most of your yes’s! For us as Christian we make the most of every opportunity when we lean to devote ourselves to prayer (Colossians 4:2) so that we can fulfil verse 5 and make the most of every opportunity. Do you have set times of prayer & bible reading.

Eternity – we all know we have limited time but the bible also tells us that God has placed eternity in our hearts (Eccl 3:11) – and so treasuring time means preparing for eternity. How? 1. ensuring that we have been reconciled to Christ because ‘now is the time of God’s favour, today is the Day of salvation’ (2Cor 6:2). 2. By prioritising meeting together Sunday by Sunday to worship because eternity is coming (Heb 10:25) 3. By telling others that Jesus has made it possible to live for eternity – both the quality and quantity of forvever! Because today is the day they can choose a forever! Is Evangelism one of your intentional uses of time? If not you are not treasuring time nor preparing for eternity!

My prayer is that as you reflect on this, you will treasure time, live time and not just exist in time.

How should I vote on Thursday?

The answer is simple – prayerfully! 
‘If my people, who are called by name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land’

Although we need to be careful in applying this verse as a definite promise now to a specific modern nation, the principle of prayer changing a nation still holds. So let us use this referendum to pray for our nation. Our prayer should be for the Kingdom of God to come and if the Kingdom of God is ‘here’ & ‘among you’ we need to pray for the church and the gospel to bring revival to our nation. So set aside one hour this Thursday to pray!

As I think about how the Lord used the Greek empire and language and the Roman Empire(in many ways both ‘anti’ God empires) to be tools in his hands to allow the spread of the gospel, so I pray whatever decision this Thursday it will be a tool in the Lord’s hand to allow the further spread of the gospel.

However, that doesn’t help me as individual deciding how to use my vote. So I have been reflecting whether there are any Christian principles that I can prayerfully consider as I make my choice.

• 1 Timothy 2:1-4 – what outcome will allow me and all Christians to ‘live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.’ Will either outcome effect how I can live as a Christian? My conclusion is that in our secular society whatever decision, we will face challenges to living as Christians.

• 1 Timothy 2:4 – what outcome will allow more people to ‘be saved and come to a knowledge of the truth.’ What impact, if any, will this referendum have on the perception of and opportunity to share the gospel.

• Luke 10:29 – ‘who is my neighbour?’ What outcome will be the most loving and compassionate for ‘my neighbour’ and our neighbour is anyone in need, whoever they are or wherever they come from? One concern I have is that we may leave for the wrong reasons. One of our tendencies as an island nation is to be suspicious or fear the foreigner. Whatever decision how can we ensure we are loving and hospitable to our neighbours. How can we show greatest love to the migrant and refugee?

• Romans 13: 4-8 – authority to rule is given by God for our good(again Paul is referring to the ‘evil’ Roman Empire) . How will the outcome of Thursday enable wrong doing and practices to be best outlawed and enforced? And be careful to heed the command – whatever the outcome let us ensure we give respect and honour.

• Revelation 13 – although Romans 13 tells us rulers are given by God and should be given honour and respect, Revelation 13 warns that the same rulers/empires can become like gods to us, that we worship and can lead us away from acknowledging God. I believe this is true for both sides of the arguments I have heard – those wanting the good old days of being ‘British’ & better than others and those seeing the union as answer to peace and prosperity in our world. Whatever we decide and whatever outcome let us be careful to ensure the Lord always has our worship and allegiance.

• One final principle that I found on the website (which on an initial browse does seem to argue/biased in one direction but is worth a look) can be summarised with the following quote

“Instead of the centralised and top-down management characteristic of Egypt and Assyria, the Bible reflects the idea that decisions should be taken at the lowest, most local level possible – closest to those affected by them, by people who understand their context best, and who have the most interest in their outcome. A task is only passed up to a higher, more central authority if it cannot better be addressed at a lower one. This is explored in the idea of Subsidiarity found in Catholic Social Teaching. The biblical approach to government is therefore ‘as large as necessary, as small as possible’.” – See more at:

 I am not convinced this can be concluded as a biblical principle (as the nation of Israel was a theocracy and not a democracy – and this is not an option for us!!) but as common sense seems good – then the decision is to decide when is it better to work together and when apart and how can this be best worked out and implemented – whether in or out!

As I weigh up all these considerations I am challenged to do this seriously and prayerfully because the words of my teenage daughter are ringing in my ears ‘you will make the decision, we will have to live with consequences’. It is the next generation, a definite postmodern generation, who will have to live with what we decide – perhaps I will go with my daughters view and trust her as a Christian young person and her generation to relate with our European neighbours in the way they will negotiate.

I am not interested in political or personal views but if you have found other biblical principles that we should consider for Thursday I would be pleased to dialogue with you. But whatever your view, as a Christian our primary call is to pray and to ‘give a reason for the hope we have’ which lies outside any political outcome or decision.