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Thursday, 3 September 2015

Prayer - in time, and eternity!

This afternoon, I took the back off a clock that no longer kept good time.  However, it also had two dials in addition to the main clock-face - a thermometer, and a hygrometer.  The body of the clock I consider to be quite attractive so, rather than throw out the whole piece, I removed the back; disconnected the hands; took out the clock mechanism; and was left with a hole in the middle of the dial!  That didn't look too good.  What should I do?  In a flash of inspiration, I went to where I knew I had some "Praying Hands" stickers - black on a gold background - and stuck one of them across the centre.

I do hope that some folk, when visiting me in my (still to be organised!) study, will look at the object on the wall, and ask why there are no hands for the clock, but Praying Hands in the centre!  The answer, of course, will be that it is always time to pray!

Prayer is of great importance to the disciple of Jesus.  When I was invited, earlier in the year, to bring the message to L'Église Évangélique Libre de Bergerac (The Bergerac Free Evangelical Church), I did not know if I would be invited again, this year.  The message that I brought was on "The Cost of Prayer".  Shortly afterwards, I was asked to bring the message again.  This time, I spoke on "The Importance of Prayer".  I am due to speak on Sept.13th.  The message will be based on "The Prayer of Jabez".  So, without any prior planning, I will have brought a brief series on Prayer!  [By the way, if anyone wishes to listen to any/all of those messages, recordings may be found at].

Then, in yesterday's regular 'Cultural Commentary' from Dr Jim Denison (which I only got around to opening today!) he states, having referred to two passage in the Book of the Revelation given to John: "Think about it: God turns your momentary prayers into eternal incense that rises before him in heaven. That means your prayers today can affect events yesterday, since God knew yesterday you would pray today."   

Dr Denison continues by quoting from C.S.Lewis: "We can at noon become part causes of an event occurring at ten a.m. . . . My free act [of praying] contributes to the cosmic shape. That contribution is made in eternity or 'before all worlds'; but my consciousness of contributing reaches me at a particular point in the time-series."

He (Lewis) explained: "We must not picture destiny as a film unrolling for the most part on its own, but in which our prayers are sometimes allowed to insert additional items. On the contrary, what the film displays to us as it unrolls already contains the results of our prayers and of all our other acts.

"There is no question whether an event has happened because of your prayer. When the event you prayed for occurs your prayer has always contributed to it. When the opposite event occurs your prayer has never been ignored; it has been considered and refused, for your ultimate good and the good of the whole universe."  [You may see the full article at] 

So prayer is not only important, and effective, within the time/space continuum in which we live and move and have our being.  It may also be seen as being important from an eternal perspective!  I wonder if that is behind the old 'jingle' - "Satan flees, when he sees the weakest Christian on his knees"!

Do you pray?  How much of your time do you invest in prayer?  Is prayer merely an "Emergency" button; or is it regular, intimate, communion with the Sovereign Lord of all that is?

"Let us pray" may be a useful way in which to introduce corporate prayer at a church worship service.  However, for the individual disciple of Jesus, prayer should be as normal as breathing - and it is, in fact, more important!

Tuesday, 1 September 2015

Dordogne Haiku!

As we drive around the south-west of France, where we now live, my wife and I are often surrounded by vine-yards - field after field of vines, now heavily-laden with grapes that will soon be harvested and, eventually, become fine wines.  The rows are perfectly straight.  The vines are kept well-trimmed - the same height and width all along each row.

It was some weeks ago that my 'poetic' mind came up with a brief "three-liner":

Regimented rows of vines;
Standing tall and straight
Like Guardsmen on parade. 

Vineyard in Gardonne.
However, as I continued to reflect on those words, I remembered the Japanese poetic form of the 'haiku'.  This is composed of just seventeen syllables, in three groups - five, seven, and five.  In the English language the groups are usually presented as three lines.  So, having made some changes to my original verse, I present my Haiku to the Dordogne.  The picture, by the way, is the field of vines directly opposite our new home.  Beyond the trees is the river Dordogne, from which the Département takes its name.

Haiku to the Dordogne.

Regimented rows,
Like Grenadiers on parade.
Vines in the Dordogne.

Saturday, 29 August 2015

The fourth anchor!

In Acts 27:29, we read these words: "... fearing that we might run on the rocks, they let out four anchors from the stern, and prayed for day to come."
Over the past few posts, I have been suggesting that certain 'anchors' are essential if we are to survive the storms that life so often sends our way.   So far, I have suggested hope - hope that is in the Lord Jesus, the Christ; duty - duty that is steadfastly carried out; and prayer - prayer that is fervent and believing.

In this post,  want to suggest that the fourth 'anchor' which is so very necessary if we are to voyage safely, should be love.  I wonder, is there any anchor in the world that is quite like it?  Of course, I am not referring to the sentimental 'love' of the Mills & Boon novel; or the natural love of, e.g., a parent for a child; and certainly not the 'love' that is actually no more than lust.  What I am thinking about is the love that is described in the Greek language word: agape.  This is the love that has been described as "the minimum of emotion, and the maximum of evaluation." (Rev George B Duncan).

It was this love - extended towards you and me - that brought the Lord Jesus to this sinful Earth.  It was this love - extended towards you and me - that took Him to Calvary, there to suffer what has been described as the most cruel form of the execution of the death penalty that the twisted mind of man had yet devised. 

And those of us who claim to be His disciples are bidden to love in like manner.  We are called to love one another: "By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love (agape) for one another." (John 13:35).  Indeed, we are called to go much further than even that!  We are called to love our enemies - those who hate us!  "...  Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, ..." (Matt 5:44).

The anchor of Hope - hope that is founded in a living relationship with the Lord Jesus, the Christ;
The anchor of Duty - duty that is faithfully, and steadfastly, carried out;
The anchor of Prayer - prayer that is fervent and believing;
The anchor of Love - 'agape' love, that is modelled on the infinite love of God.

Four anchors.  Do you have them on board as you travel through on that voyage that we call life?  May none of us find, when the storms of life are raging, that our anchors have grown rusty with neglect or, even worse, that we are at sea with no anchors aboard!

Friday, 28 August 2015


The third of our four anchors should be, I would suggest, prayer.  Some might even suggest that it should be first - but, like the best competition results announcements, I am working in 'reverse order'!!

There is little hope for the ship that leaves for the open seas of life without this anchor aboard!  So many do - and many, who once possessed it, have long since cast it away.  It is sad, but true, that there are a lot of people - including some who would make the claim to be Christians - who seldom, if ever, pray except when in a tight corner.  One wit has commented that the most sincere prayer ever uttered is "God help me!"  I would dispute that conclusion - but I can understand it being made.

But how can God possibly be real to such people?  Even the Lord Jesus, as we read often in the Gospel narratives, "... continued all night in prayer to God." (Luke 6:12; KJV).  And if He, God the Son, the Second Persona (see the chap on the 'Trinity' in "Great Words of the Faith") of the Godhead, had need to pray - and to spend much time in prayer - how much more do we need to pray?!

It is, surely, much more than mere coincidence that great times of spiritual awakening have times when men and women have fervently sought God's face in believing prayer!  Someone has written that, "To neglect prayer is to play around with one's very soul.  Without it, we cannot commune with out Maker."

 James, the half-brother of the Lord Jesus, wrote: "The prayer of a righteous man has great power in its effects.  Elijah was a man of like nature with ourselves and he prayed fervently that it might not rain, and for three years and six months it did not rain on the earth.  Then he prayed again and the heaven gave rain, and the earth brought forth its fruit." (James 5:16-18).

But "None is righteous, no, not one;" writes Paul (Rom 3:10), referring to Psalm 14.  So where does that leave us?  Praise God, He has not left us helpless.  The same Paul writes to the early believers in Philippi: "... whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For His sake I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as refuse, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own, based on law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith;" ( Phil 3:7-9; emphasis added).

Be certain that you have that righteousness - that you may effectively make use of the anchor of prayer!

Hope - in the Lord Jesus, the Christ; Duty - steadfastly carried out; Prayer - that is fervent and believing.

Thursday, 27 August 2015


This post is part of a brief series based on some words from the Acts of the Apostles: "... fearing that we might run on the rocks, they let out four anchors from the stern, and prayed for day to come." (Acts 27:29).  I have suggested that, in the Christian life, we need to have four anchors to keep us steady in the storms that life throws up against us.  In the last post, I suggested the necessity of Hope.  This time, I would suggest Duty.

Sometimes, we are inclined to rebel against our daily duty.  Yet duty is a sheet anchor (old salts will understand!).  There is little like it to make men and women of us.  We may chafe under it; we may sigh for leisure; we my wish to freed from bondage to set hours, appointments, rules and regulations, the apparently 'treadmill' round.  Yet this is, so often, part of God's schooling for us.

In Luke's account of the Gospel record, we find these words of Jesus to His disciples: "So you also, when you have done all that is commanded you, say, 'We are unworthy servants; we have only done what was our duty.'" (Luke 17:10).  It is surely worth noting that the duty was done!

There are, I believe, ships - the lives of men and women - sailing the seas of life today, that would have been smashed on the rocks long ago, but for the anchor of duty.

Are you faithfully doing your duty today - to God; and to your fellow-man?