Friday, December 31, 2021

Happy New Year

For some of you 2022 has started, for some it’s still a couple of hours until the old year passes and the new arrives. Whichever camp you are in Happy New Year to you. 

May you know the blessing of God in 2022, Kind regards, Stephen

Tuesday, December 28, 2021

Facing decisions - Crossroads

Pictures used by permission of Unsplash 

The classic World War II movie ‘The Longest Day’ portrays one of the clever military strategies of the German army. After the Allies had taken the beaches of Normandy on D-Day, their orders were to assemble in the town of St. Mere-Eglise in France. When they saw the sign for St. Mere-Eglise, naturally they proceeded in that direction. There was only one problem: The Germans had turned the sign to point in the opposite direction.

Unknowingly, the Allied forces confidently followed the sign and started marching toward the German trap. The hero of the Allied forces, played by John Wayne, showed up just in time to rescue them from certain destruction. One glance at his compass told him they were heading for disaster. “Hey, where’s everybody going?” he shouted. “Am I the only one here with a compass? It’s east; it’s east. Somebody moved the sign!”

Friday, December 24, 2021

What is the real reason for the season?

All photos courtesy of Unsplash

Well, here we are. Christmas is just around the corner! How have your preparations gone? I hope you achieved what you set out to do. I'm nearly there.

It's always a rush at this time of the year. Whether it's getting as up to date as possible with your job, buying presents, or getting the food ready for Christmas (not that I do much to get the food prepared for Christmas - my skills are more in the washing up department), it gets hectic. In addition, there are a host of events to attend - the school nativity, Carol Services, and lots of other Christmas-related events.

Do you ever ask yourself why we go to all the bother?


Saturday, December 18, 2021

O holy night - Carol Lyrics

O holy night! 
The stars are brightly shining 
It is the night of the dear Savior's birth! 
Long lay the world in sin and error pining 
Till he appeared and the soul felt its worth. 
A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices 
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn! 

Fall on your knees 
O hear the angel voices 
O night divine 
O night when Christ was born 
O night divine 
O night, O night divine

Led by the light of Faith serenely beaming 
With glowing hearts by His cradle we stand 
So led by light of a star sweetly gleaming 
Here come the wise men from Orient land 
The King of kings lay thus in lowly manger 
In all our trials born to be our friend. 


Truly He taught us to love one another 
His law is love and His gospel is peace 
Chains shall He break for the slave is our brother 
And in His name all oppression shall cease 
Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we, 
Let all within us praise His holy name.


I was walking through Belfast International Airport, entering   W H Smith’s when I caught the words of this Carol being played over the airwaves. For a Christian, it is great to hear the message of Christ being played in public places. At this time of the year, amidst the mixed messages of the fairytale Christmas, the message of the birth of Christ and its true meaning still gets a fair hearing. 

As I read the lyrics of this Carol and pondered them I was struck again by the clarity of the message the writer injected into the words.


Thursday, December 16, 2021

No room for Jesus

I wonder if you have ever thought about how unpopular Jesus was in his day. The impression we get at times is that he was loved by everyone right up until his rejection by the Jewish authorities, his prosecution by the Roman authorities and his ultimate death of crucifixion.

From the early days of his time on earth the Lord Jesus was excluded and rejected. 

There is quite a considerable period (from age 12-30) where we have very little information about the behaviour and activities of the Lord Jesus but we do have the commentary of God, the Father, when he publicly spoke from heaven (which was a very unusual thing to do) and said the he was delighted with His Son. 

Friday, December 10, 2021

A most unusual arrival of a baby

All photographs courtesy of Unsplash

‘Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel,’ Isaiah 7:14

This Bible verse reminds us that the birth of the Messiah (Christ) by a virgin girl was not unexpected. God had promised from the very arrival of evil into the world that the solution would be in the form of a child born of a woman without the aid of a man i.e. the birth of a child through a virgin girl.


Monday, November 29, 2021

What if living in an advanced society is not enough?

All photos courtesy of Unsplash

The ongoing development of technology is revolutionising every dimension of the human experience. Advances in genetics are helping doctors diagnose, treat, and prevent disease on an unprecedented scale. Retailers are developing ways to deliver their products to our homes via drones. Mobile devices allow people to work remotely more easily than ever. Autonomous vehicles may eventually enable people to commute to the office while working in their cars (if people go to an office at all). As a result, suburbs will extend farther from city centres than ever before. It’s hard to identify a dimension of our daily lives that is unaffected by the amazing advances of technology. Those with the skill and discipline to create and market such remarkable inventions deserve the gratitude of those of us who benefit from their expertise daily. And yet, despite all our astounding scientific progress our world is still in trouble. For instance:

Saturday, November 27, 2021

What if your loneliness disappeared for ever?

All photos courtesy of Unsplash

One of the most undesirable experiences that we can have is loneliness. Some folks look back to childhood days when they were surrounded by family members. However, eventually the great enemy, death, gate-crashed the family circle and, one by one, loved ones were taken and loneliness ensued. Others feel the emptiness that comes with loneliness especially when their spouse is taken away after many years of marriage. How hard it is, not least in the long winter evenings, to be alone in the house that formerly was alive with conversation.


Monday, November 15, 2021

Anti-bullying Week - 15-19th November 2021


This week is anti-bullying week. It's an annual event since the problem never goes away. Different bullies, different victims, same old story each time…

Saturday, November 13, 2021

Reasons why you can trust the Bible.

All photos courtesy of Unsplash

I spoke to a man a few days ago who said that he was not sure that we could trust the Bible. It was an interesting point of view. I wondered what it was that made him have that point of view. I asked him the ultimate question, ‘Have you read it much?’ He suddenly looked very embarrassed and changed his tone completely. He admitted to me that he had never read it and, in fact, knew little about it apart from some of the more famous Bible stories. I was intrigued. What would make you comment in a derogatory way about something that you knew next to nothing about? If someone asked me my opinion on a topic that I knew nothing about, I would have to say that I could not comment. We had a lengthy conversation, and as a result, the gentleman now is at least slightly better informed. 


Thursday, November 11, 2021

Armistice Day

Photos courtesy of Unsplash 
The Armistice of 11 November 1918, signed at Le Francport near Compiègne, ended fighting on land, sea and air in World War I between the Allies and their last remaining opponent, Germany. It came into force at 11:00 a.m. Paris time on 11 November 1918 and marked a victory for the Allies and a defeat for Germany, although not formally a surrender. Sadly 2,738 men died on the last day of the war. 

In November 2014, when I was in London with my wife and daughter (who incidentally celebrates her birthday today), we visited the major art installation "Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red" at the Tower of London. We viewed in the early evening when the floodlit display of poppies was at its eeriest. It marked one hundred years since the first full day of Britain's involvement in the First World War. Created by ceramic artist Paul Cummins, with stage designer Tom Piper, 888,246 ceramic poppies had progressively filled the Tower's famous moat over that summer. Each poppy represented a British military fatality during the war. The poppies encircled the iconic landmark, creating a spectacular display visible from all around the Tower and a location for personal reflection. 

Monday, November 08, 2021

One Event - Two Reactions

All photos courtesy of Unsplash

In April 2018, on the anniversary of the recommencement of the State of Israel, the Jerusalem Post reported that ‘While Israeli Jews mark Independence Day with fireworks and barbecues, the flags that sprout everywhere in Jewish areas will be absent from Arab towns, and the thoughts of many there will turn to what they term the “Nakba” (catastrophe) that they associate with Israel’s birth. 

The same date and occasion produced two different reactions from two diverse groups of people - gladness or grief, delight or dread, pleasure, or pain.


Saturday, November 06, 2021

Debating in Athens

All photos courtesy of Unsplash

The apostle Paul, who wrote nearly half of the New Testament, had sensibly travelled far south to Athens following hostility to his preaching in northern Greece. While waiting for his friends Silas and Timothy to catch up, Paul, like any other tourist today, looked around the city and viewed the Acropolis. Athens was then the cultural centre of the Roman Empire. It had been the cradle of democracy and was the centre of learning in just about every field of human interest: philosophy, music, theatre, religion, mathematics and science.  Indeed, the Bible says, the whole city seemed to be given over to the full-time pursuit of novelty; ‘hearing and telling some new thing’.

Monday, November 01, 2021

In a nutshell - Part 2 - The Old Testament in a nutshell


                                                            All photos courtesy of Unsplash

In my previous post, I talked about the expression ‘in a nutshell’. It’s quite quaint and quirky, but it gets the message across. I was interested to discover that the expression originated in Greece and alludes to the Roman writer Pliny's description of Homer's Iliad being copied in so tiny a hand that it could fit in a nutshell. It has come to mean that you get all the key information you need in a precise statement.

The Lord Jesus used this idea in Matthew chapter 7 when He talked about how to treat other people. Jesus said, ‘do unto others as you want them to do to you’. We often call this the golden rule. He ended this lesson by saying, ‘this is the law and the prophets’ - in a nutshell.

Again Matthew records Jesus teaching in chapter 22 of his gospel. He taught that the law and the prophets hang on two statements.

  1. Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and;
  2. Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.

Saturday, October 30, 2021

In a nutshell - Part 1 - The Gospel in a nutshell


All photos courtesy of Unsplash

When I was a boy I always heard preachers say that a verse they quoted described the gospel in a nutshell. It was intriguing. What did they mean?

One dictionary definition says this about the phrase: ‘This hyperbolic expression alludes to the Roman writer Pliny's description of Homer's Iliad being copied in so tiny a hand that it could fit in a nutshell,’ Another source ( says that ‘In a nutshell is an idiom with its roots in Greece, nearly two thousand years ago. ... The phrase, in a nutshell, describes something that is brief or to the point. The expression, in a nutshell, may refer to an explanation that is given in a concise and precise manner, without referring to extraneous details’.

The statement from the Bible that was described as the gospel, in a nutshell, was this - ‘For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son that whosever believes in him should not perish but have everlasting life,’ John 3:16.


Wednesday, October 20, 2021

What if you had two birthdays?

All photographs are used by permission of Unsplash 

For many, birthdays are a reason for a party and a time of celebration. These occasions are anticipated eagerly and children especially, await the day with glee, hoping that lots of cards will pour through the letterbox and many presents will be received. They proudly wear a badge displaying their age and are keen to remind family and friends weeks beforehand of the imminence of the all-important date.


Saturday, October 16, 2021

Two instructions you had better obey?

Photos courtesy of Storyblocks

Fulfilling the two great commandments (Matthew 22.36-40)

(this is truth for Christians) 

Love for God? 

We express this by our devotion to Him and His interests. We can do that as individuals and in local churches as is our norm. But now is not normal, so our individual devotion matters even more. When not able to meet together, our commitment to God must not waver!


Love for our neighbour

The best expression these days may be in selflessly protecting others from infection, isolating ourselves and saving our country’s resources from being stretched to breaking point.
Affirm your faith in Christ and your love for others by praying and continuing to serve your brothers and sisters in every way that you can. Firmly grasp His 'full assurance of hope,' Hebrews 6.11, as the storm rages around you. Hope is the spiritual anchor of every believer, and God will brighten our hope and comfort us the more as our burdens grow heavier. Remember that God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind, 2 Timothy 1. 7.
In this time of distress, reach out to your heavenly Father in prayer. It is especially important that we make intercession for countries, governments, church leaders, communities, healthcare and other key workers, our families and neighbours, and our Christian brothers and sisters near us and in every land.
May we keep faithful and helpful, loving the Lord and loving each other.
“This is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us
and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.  (1 John 4.10)

Used by kind permission of Bert Cargill, Scotland

Tuesday, October 12, 2021

Choices have consequences

All photos courtesy of Unsplash

We all face choices every day, from the trivial things of what to wear and what to eat, to the choices that are life changing that come along from time to time. Some people find these choices relatively easy while others agonise over these choices for an exceptionally long time.

When I was about 10 years old, I faced a choice that sticks in my mind. Earlier that day my mother had told me that I had to be home by 8 o’clock – without fail. As I say the words, they ring in my ears some 37 years later.
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