Important Information.

STOP PRESS: The third book in my series - "Defending the Faith" - is now available, as a paperback, at
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4 Jun 2023

Home, sweet home!

There is a well-known English-language saying that "East, west, home's best!", and another that claims that "There's no place like home". I was reminded of both on Monday evening. My wife and I had just spent three days in the city of Poitiers (best-known, to some, as the home of "Futuroscope"), sharing in the celebrations for the 10th anniversary of a predominantly Malagas (from Madagascar) fellowship with which we have had contact for more than three years. 

We left our home, in Gardonne, on Friday afternoon, and didn't return until Monday evening. In between we had some wonderful times of worship; renewed friendships; made new friends; had a lot of fun; and a lot of food! On Saturday, we celebrated the anniversary of the fellowship, and on Sunday, the birthday anniversary of the pastor's daughter. We slept in two different homes, and I drove some 650 kms (about 400 miles). We are very grateful to our hosts, who showed the reality of the gift of hospitality, as they put themselves out for our comfort, and that of others.

However, in spite of all of that, it was good to be in the familiar surroundings of our own home, and we were glad to be in our own bed on Monday evening. "East, west, home's best!"; "There's no place like home."

As I lay in my bed, my mind went back to the old song, sung by the late Jim Reeves: "This world is not my home", and written by that prolific author and songwriter, A.N.Onymous!

"This world is not my home, I’m just a-passing through,
My treasures are laid up somewhere beyond the blue;
The angels beckon me from heaven’s open door,
And I can’t feel at home in this world anymore."

I also thought of the words of the Lord Jesus: "In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And when I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to Myself, that where I am, you may be also." (Jn.14:2-3) 

Now, I don't wish to press the analogy too far, but I realised that, for the disciple of Jesus, not only is this world not our real home, but that however wonderful life may be for us as individuals - or however difficult it may be! - "home", our real home, will be far, far better. Indeed, it will be so much better than anything that we can even begin to imagine with our finite, mortal minds. 

Beatle John Lennon wrote a song which was titled "Imagine". You can read the lyrics here:


It invited us to imagine a world that he, presumably, thought would be as close to perfect as is possible! However, because he was, himself, a finite mortal, he could not even begin to paint a word-picture of what the new heaven and the new earth will be like. Interestingly, for someone who appears to have adopted Hinduism, his vision had "no religion". Of course, what most mortals understand as "religion" is a far cry from a realistic relationship with the very Creator, and Lord, of life.

So try to imagine a world without sin; a world without sickness; a world without death. Try to imagine a world of perfect peace and harmony. Try to imagine a world that is so pure that Almighty God Himself will be able to walk with His redeemed people (see Rev. 21:3). Try to imagine a world in which all will be truly equal. Try to imagine the most wonderful, beautiful, delightful existence you can. After all of that imagining, you are not even beginning to touch what the reality will be.

For the disciple of Jesus, there is definitely no place like the true home to which (s)he is heading. It is best - by a trillion, trillion "country miles". Is that your destination? It can be!

21 May 2023

A whole new life!

As those who know me best may be aware, I have been a bit of a "dinosaur" in terms of my mobile 'phone handset! For many years, I have clung, steadfastly, to my little Nokia - that fits nicely into that little pocket in my jeans, that is "beside" the right-hand pocket! My little friend did all that I required of it - it enabled me to make calls, and receive calls; to send text messages, and receive text messages; to take photographs, and to display those photographs; and to even make video recordings, and play them back.

However, I had to confess that it was limited in certain areas - predominantly the use of "Apps"! You may have guessed - I couldn't use "WhatsApp"! This has now changed. My daughter was replacing her Android "smart phone", and donated this piece of high-technology to her dad. So, I am now the possessor of a Samsung model - and am having some difficulty getting used to it! It seems to be much more complex than my little Nokia (and it doesn't fit into the aforementioned pocket!), and things that I could do with my Nokia, I have not yet achieved with my Samsung!

I shared my new status with a dear cousin who is also a sister in the Lord. After a failed attempt to contact her on "WhatsApp", I finally managed to do so. Her response began: "Yay, we made contact - welcome to a whole new world." followed by some smiling faces.

"Welcome to a whole new world"! You will probably not be surprised to know that my mind went off at a tangent - and it had nothing to do with mobile 'phone handsets, or even with WhatsApp! I found myself thinking of life after one becomes a disciple of Jesus. It's a whole new life!

An old hymn sums it up well. Actually, as a new student at the Bible Training Institute in Glasgow, in 1966 I was, as were all of my fellow students, sent out on deputations. Interestingly, in the light of my later life, I would do anything - lead, read, pray, or sing - except preach! 

My first deputation, as a member of a team, was to a fellowship in the Anniesland district of Glasgow. True to my personally perceived gifting, I was the soloist - and this hymn was the song I sung. It gives, in a 'poetic' fashion, some of the differences between the life of the person who is not "in Christ Jesus" and the person who is.

When you know that you are His, and that He is yours - you experience a whole new life, a whole new world. But how may one enter that new world; that new life? Well, I have dealt with that in many earlier posts on this blog so, here, I shall just give a brief outline.

The first step is to recognise that you are a sinner (as am I!), and that you can never satisfy the righteous demands of the holy God Who created you. He has set down the requirements (basically, in the "Ten Words",. i.e. the Ten Commandments) and, if you have failed to keep just one of those commands, you are already guilty, and the judgement is eternal separation from your Creator.

The second step is repentance*. Now this is not just being sorry for my sins. If I commit a crime, and am caught, convicted, and sentenced, I will be sorry - but it may only be for the consequences of my sin, not for having committed the sin itself! True repentance involves a turning away from my sins. It's a radical transformation of thought, attitude, outlook, and direction. It's grief about, and hatred for, my sin, and a recognition that my sin is, first and foremost, against Almighty God Himself. 

The third step is to recognise that, although you are incapable of doing anything about your sinful state, that same righteous God loves you so much that He has done all that is necessary. In the Persona** of the Son - the Lord Jesus - He took upon Himself the very flesh that He had created; came to this earth as a helpless babe; lived a life of total obedience to the Father; showed us that love that is the very essence of God's Being; and then, hung on a cross, in the most excruciatingly agonising form of executing the death penalty that humanity has invented. Indeed, it was even worse for Him. Paul tells us that the Father made the Son to "be sin" for us (II Cor. 5:21). Let that sink in! Sin became the very essence of the Sinless One! I believe that it was at that moment in human time that the Son uttered what is often referred to as "the cry of dereliction": Eli, Eli, la′ma sabach-tha′ni?” that is, “My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken me?(Matt.27:46). And this was done - for you!

The next step is to be baptised, by full immersion, as a new believer - publicly testifying to the fact that you have accepted that salvation that was gained for you, at such great cost. Remember, it has nothing to do with any perceived goodness of your own. It is entirely a work of the grace of God in your life as you respond, positively, to His love for you. "For by grace you have been saved through faith; and this is not your own doing, it is the gift of God - not because of works, lest any man should boast." (Eph.2:8-9)

"Finally" (in quotes, because this life never ends!) find a fellowship of true disciples of Jesus, where you will be under sound, faithful, Biblical ministry and teaching. and where you will discover the area of service for which you were created, and saved. Paul continues those words to the Ephesian believers: "For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them." (v.10). We are not saved by works, but we are saved for works! It truly is "a whole new life"!

As ever, if I can be of any assistance, at a personal level, please feel free to contact me at the e-mail address at the top of the blog. May God bless you, and guide you in His ways.

* This word has a full chapter devoted to it in my first book: "Great Words of the Faith". See the link at the top. All royalties go directly to Release International in support of the persecuted church.

**This word is explained "Great Words of the Faith", in the chapter on "The Trinity". 

7 May 2023

Making time!

Selling a house some three years earlier than we had expected to be doing so, is something of a nightmare for a "deadline-motivated" person like me! So many little jobs, with so much time in which to complete them - and, suddenly, that time is reduced to a couple of months! Not a happy chappy - but seeking to meet the new deadlines!

I also enjoy watching news programmes - even in French! A week or so ago, I was painting some gate-pillars so that prospective buyers would have a good "first impression". My wife called out to me that it was almost time for my news. However, instead of downing paintbrush, I told her that I would have to miss my programme, as I was much too busy to sit down and watch. 

It was as I worked on that I found myself thinking on what I had just done. I had given up something that I enjoy, in order to do what had to be done. That was a real challenge to me. I recalled some words of the Lord Jesus: "We must work the works of Him Who sent Me, while it is day; night comes, when no one can work." (John 9:5). What the Lord is saying, basically, is that our work for God must take priority. Of course, this is not to say that we neglect our jobs, or our care for our families. However, it may be that we have to take a careful look at the time we spend in front of a screen - be it television or computer! - and compare that with the time we spend reading God's Word; it may be that we have to take stock of the difference between the time we spend in other leisure pursuits, and the time we spend in prayer; it may be that we have to consider how much of our "spare" cash is spent on personal luxuries, and how much is given to the extension of God's Kingdom, and to supporting those in the persecuted church!

It is a simple fact of life - and certainly of the life of the disciple of Jesus - that there are times when we must stop doing something we want to do, in order that we may do what Father God wants us to do! Now, of course, each individual's wants, and goals, are different, but that is what determines the discipline, and self-denial, that we need to accept. Indeed, as someone has pointed out, without a goal, discipline and self-denial are nothing other than punishment! However, if our goal is pleasing our heavenly Father, then any cost is seen as nothing in the light of the eternal reward that is promised to those who are, not necessarily "successful", bur "faithful"!

If I can give up my news programme in order to paint a wall, then I must take a hard look at myself, to check where my priorities lie in so many other areas of life. Will you join with me in doing just that?!

16 Apr 2023

Lost! Pt. 3

In Jesus' "Parable of the Lost", we come to the final part of the triptych - the lost son. The sheep, we have noted, was lost through its own foolishness; the coin was lost because of the woman's carelessness; but what about the son? May I suggest that he was lost because of his own wilfulness?

The first thing we may notice about this young man is the great start in life that he had. He was born, we might say, "with a silver spoon in his mouth"! Born into a land-owning family; a seemingly religious family, in which he would have received a good education in the Tanakh (the "Old Testament"), and the various rituals associated with orthodox Judaism; a loving family, in which he would have received all that he needed in life. Yes, he had a good start!

I suspect that many of those who are reading these words have also had a good start in life. Perhaps not in the same financial way, but certainly better than many in the "developing world! Sadly, just as was the case with this young, there are also sins that we have committed! In his case, the sin was one of rejection. It was, we read, sin against his father. He came to his father, and said: "Father, give me the share of property that falls to me." (Lk.15:12). He knew that, under Jewish law (and, I understand, modern French law!) his father wasn't free to leave his estate just as he wished - the family had a fixed claim. So this young man knew that a certain amount was his, by right, when his father died. But with what one commentator describes as "a certain heartless callousness", he said, in effect: "I can't be bothered waiting for you to die. Give me my inheritance now!" Such ingratitude! And he couldn't even claim that his father had driven him to such a situation.

How often you and I sin against those who love us most; those to whom we owe most. How ungrateful we show ourselves to be! But the son, as he later admitted, also sinned against God. Now, this is something that not everyone realises - that when we wrong another, we sin against God! Jesus has assured us that, when He "... comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him, then He will sit on His glorious throne." (Matt. 25:31). He will then judge the nations, and some will be told: "Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels;(v.41). On asking why they should be so treated, the King's reply is simple: "Truly, I say to you, as you did it not to one of the least of these, you did it not to me." (v.45; emphasis added). Jesus sees how we treat others as the way in which we treat Him!

Praise God, however, the parable doesn't end there, as we discover the salvation that this young man experienced. J.B.Phillips translates the words of Luke 15:17: "Then he came to his senses " The implication is clear - that when we are in a state of rebellion against God, we are not ourselves; we are acting in a way contrary to that which God intends for us. The young man (and, of course it can be a young woman!) suddenly realised what a fool he had been, and his reaction was immediate: " I will arise and go to my father, …" (v.18) and, we read on: "... he arose and came to his father.(v.20).  His action now led to a new relationship of love. We hear no more about him - the rest of the parable has more to do with the elder brother, but that is a different story, and lesson. But I can only see the younger son respond to the great love shown by his father with the deep love of his own heart. The amazing lesson for us is that when I throw myself on the mercy of Almighty God, I likewise find myself enveloped by His great love, fully and freely given to me by His grace. And, as I come to Him, I enter into a new relationship of love. 

Finally, for the son there was a new evaluation of life. Again, I confess that there is an element of conjecture here, but I cannot see this young man returning to his former way of life; accepting, again, his former values. And so it is with the re-born child of God. My sense of values changes as I walk with the Son. I see things, now, as God sees them. My priorities are changed. And all of that is the evidence that I have entered into a new life in Him. (Note v.2 of the song below!).

The lost son. I wonder if that part of the parable is speaking to you as you read! If is is, then come to the Father, Who is waiting and ready to receive you - in spite of your disobedience and rebellion - and welcome you into His family. 

2 Apr 2023

Lost! Pt.2

A couple of posts ago, we looked at the first part of what I referred to as "The parable of the Lost" (in Luke 15) - the part that deals with the lost sheep. That sheep was lost because of its inherent foolishness. The second part of the parable, however, deals with a different situation. It involves the loss of a coin - lost because of the carelessness of the woman to whom it belonged!

I suspect that the vast majority of those who are reading these words would not be too concerned about the loss of one coin. However, this coin would have been a silver drachma - the equivalent, roughly, of a day's wages for a skilled worker. In the UK, in contemporary terms, that would be approximately £90.00 - not an amount to be sneezed at! 

In addition to that, it is quite likely that this coin had more than a monetary value - it may also have had a sentimental value. At that time, in Israel, what signified that a woman was married was a headdress made of ten silver coins, linked together on a silver chain (so, approximately £1,000 worth in current values!). It was, in fact, the equivalent of a modern wedding ring. However, while when my (then) fiancée and I were preparing for our wedding day, it was I who purchased the wedding ring that she would receive during that service (and it didn't cost anything like the value of this headdress!), in this case the girl, herself, provided the sign of her marriage! She may have been saving for years in order to be able to provide it and, when she had it, it was considered to be so important, that it could not even be taken from her to pay a debt!

Certainly, whether that was the case, or whether she had simply lost a coin that was going to be used to purchase necessities for the home and family, we may well imagine the joy of the woman when, at last, she spotted the glint of the missing coin as even the dim light from her oil lamp was reflected by it. 

But, as already mentioned, it was not the fault of the coin that it was lost. Had she dropped it accidentally? Had it fallen through a hole in her clothing? Had the headdress chain been broken? We don't know - but the woman realised that it was her responsibility to find it.

My former minister, spiritual mentor, and personal friend, the Rev. George B. Duncan (who married me to my wife) sometimes pointed out that before we become too proud of the number of people we may have led to full salvation in Jesus, we should think of the number who have been put off by our witness - which is not always what we would want it to be! Is my carelessness the cause of another being lost in sin? That is a serious question!

The other point that I would wish to share concerns that joy that the woman experienced when she found the coin. It was the same joy that the shepherd experienced when he found the sheep that was lost. And it is such joy that, we are assured, that is shared by even the angelic beings that inhabit the heavens, when a lost sinner is saved, through repentance, and faith in the Lord Jesus, the Christ.: "... there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who [think that they] need no repentance." (v.7); "... there is joy before the angels of God over one sinner who repents." (v.10).

The sheep was lost because of its own foolishness; the coin because of the carelessness of another. But each one needed to be found! I wonder if the sheep was aware of its lost state? I wonder if anyone reading these words is aware of their lost state?! And I wonder how careful we are that others are not turned away from salvation because of our careless witness!