Who Would Have Thought?

What an assault upon human wisdom is the story of Esther! Was meant to read chapter 2 today according to my bible reading plan but could not stop there. Were it not for a beauty queen, a snooping listener to palace gossip and government leaks, and the insomnia of an emperor who effectively thought himself to be a god… no Jews, no Messiah, no salvation.

Furthermore, the story of rescue and salvation we read of in this short book happened among Jews who had shown no desire for the Lord’s city and the Lord’s temple. They could have gone back to the Promised Land to fulfil the sacred task of rebuilding, but no, they were quite happy to stay where they were. There is no mention of The LORD in the book by name. It would have been easy for those who bore the heat of the day in the rebuilding works in Jerusalem to think the likes of Mordecai and Esther were spiritually suspect and therefore did not deserve a place in the covenants of God: nominal, secular believers, like many in modern day Israel. For many in Susa that verdict may well have held some water, perhaps even concerning Esther and Mordecai. Yet, thank God there were those who did not return!

Remember today the Lord is Sovereign over all things, all places, all times, all people, all generations, all races. He can do what He chooses. Don’t try and look and work out “where” or through “who” your help will come from! Look beyond the “where” and the “who.” God is not limited to what we can calculate or think possible. Recently, I needed help of a particular sort for a looming problem I could see no solution to. Help came from a direction my mind would never have even though to look in. It came from within the problem itself! Look to the One who sits above the sphere of the earth and does whatsoever He pleases to fulfil all His promises to His broken reeds and His smouldering wicks.

God bless


Would you have put this “first”?

Writing under a regime in which it was legal to break the backs of newly born baby girls and fling them on the rubbish heap, Paul says this as a first instruction for the life of the Church:

“First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercession, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way.”

When I was newly converted hearing this done in church Sunday by Sunday used to bore me silly. As we follow the Lord longer, by His grace we see His wisdom is better than ours in terms of getting first things first and that zeal and passion are often misguided, dismissing the power that lies in what can seem routine or mundane.

I guess if we are not doing what Paul says we can’t claim to be biblical Christians or a biblical church.

It is amazing how differently we think and speak after we have prayed for someone. It is a proof we are new creations in Christ, according to Paul, that we no longer look at people from a human point of view. Have you not found this miracle that happens in prayer? We start to see things that our own eyes have been blind to because of a whole variety of factors at play. We may see good we have not seen, or need, or faults, or unrighteousness that we have been unwilling to see. We are often blinded by our own insight or prejudices from a fuller picture. We rise from prayer changed. The person or situation we have just prayed about in the way Paul describes may not have changed but we have changed in a way that allows us to become channels of God’s purposes rather than our own.

Another interesting verse that was in my Bible a reading today, quoted in the context of being what seems like an apology from Paul as to how he had spoken to a godless former High Priest (whom he had not recognised due to trouble with his sight): “You shall not speak evil of a ruler of your people.”

How inconvenient, how ruffling the Word of God can be to the feathers of our pride.

Believe me, I am preaching to myself here. As I do, I am remembering what R.T.Kendall says about a sign of growing spirituality: closing the time gap between God speaking and my obedience.

God bless


“Are you joking? Me?”

The first time we learn a lesson stays in our minds for ad long as memory continues to be fairly sound. The first time I saw a demon leave a person will always stick in my mind. I had no clue what to do when it was obvious there was a demon to be dealt with. Then a sentence was dropped into my thoughts which sounded a bit odd but which I knew I was to speak out in the Name of Jesus, not to the demon, but to the afflicted person. “You are the gift of God to life.” All hell broke loose and departed. The person, who was already a Christian, was free.

Satan takes delight in destroying a person’s self esteem and worth. If we really are full of God, people around us will be lifted up, aspiration of the right sort will be restored or ignited.

Perhaps today you will get the opportunity to say to someone in the Name of Jesus, “You are the gift of God to life.” Perhaps the person who needs to hear that is you? Let God be your glory and the lifter of your head.

Oh yes, another thought: Church/Congregations/preaching/teaching/ministry/mission etc. are meant to have an atmosphere of aspiration about them. Some ceilings perhaps need to be shattered quite deliberately and intentionally. Insecure leadership often tramples on aspiration and calls it sinful pride. Religion likes to keep folk in their place: under the domination of others. That sinful spirit of domination often dresses itself up deceitfully as the biblical doctrines of leadership, submission etc., but is the devil’s perversion of the life giving truth of God.

Thanks to the young black, female, American Poet Laureate, Amanda Gorman, for sparking off these thoughts…

God bless


A precious “grace.”

At 18 years old I submitted a sense of call to parish ministry for testing by assessors appointed by the Church. I knew by the end of the residential assessment over the course of 2 days and nights that I had made a few blunders but I was accepted. Before going to the Selection School, some people out of kindness had said I was very young and not to be disappointed if it was a “no” or “wait” verdict. I am glad that a grace which looked at potential, as well as testing the sense of call, prevailed.

Perhaps today you will meet someone, speak with someone, to whom God is wanting you to show the grace of seeing and encouraging “potential.” I tried to remember the grace of potential I had been shown when in the course of time I became an assessor, for a few years. It is a rich and life giving gift to offer to people. Offer it today if you are afforded the opportunity so to do.

The story of Onesimus comes to mind…someone carrying the verdict “useless “ over their life may need you to help them and others see concerning them, that they have the potential to be a “useful” and fruitful contributor to the purposes of God.

God bless


“Donald Trump”: my thoughts as a pastor, if anyone is interested…

I tend to look at things as a pastor which admittedly means I dont always see things from other perspectives quite as clearly. When I look and listen to Donald Trump’s statement saying there will be an orderly transition of power I feel I am listening to what I have often encountered as a pastor over 40 years: how hugely difficult it is for a person to see an alternative narrative to the one they believe. That is not easy for anyone, but It is particularly hard if there is some degree of latent or active narcissism. A person in whom this is a strong tendency may never ever consider the possibility they have read the story wrong. They may never be willing to face that possibility. They may for the rest of their lives continue to tell their narrative at every opportunity, almost forcing everyone to believe it, and will often show “violent” outbursts in which they vilify even erstwhile friends or family who give the merest hint of questioning the familiar story. They will not allow themselves to move on or others to move on. Their narrative becomes their life long obsession. Agree with them without questioning and you will be rewarded with their friendship and glowing commendation.

It does make me wonder what on earth the President’s spiritual advisors have been doing. Perhaps if they had given more time to pastoring a human being than prophesying a victory they could have made a difference: perhaps not, for narcissism is hugely resistant to challenge and even to genuine care and love. It is I believe, something only God can break.

All of this I believe still stands regardless of the truth or otherwise of illegal votes. This is not a pro or anti Trump post. It is my thoughts as a pastor about what looks like a very familiar pastoral story.

God bless