Wednesday, 20 June 2018

Premier Radio Thought on Jordan Peterson

This week we’ve been looking at hard sayings of Jesus and today’s probably the hardest.

Be perfect! It’s from the Sermon on the Mount, Matthew’s Gospel Chapter  5 verse 48 ‘Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect’.

I’ve just finished reading Jordan Peterson’s 12 Rules for Life. Peterson’s a Canadian psychologist of traditional belief who’s been doing the rounds of UK media recently. An interview with him on Channel 4’s gone viral on YouTube. He’s getting a lot of criticism for holding a line many Christians would subscribe to on the differentiation of the sexes.

I read his new book which appeals again and again to the Sermon on the Mount. ‘Aim high… start to stop doing what you know to be wrong. Start stopping today. Don’t waste time questioning how you know what you’re doing is wrong, if you are certain that it is’. In other words strive for perfection. Reading a 21st century writer capable of presenting afresh the shocking teaching of Jesus was good therapy and I hope I’ll be the better for it!

Aiming to be perfect is the opposite of festering in self-loathing. Its standing tall, reaching towards the stature of Christ in belief that’s our destiny. However it's impossible by our own efforts, which is why Christ’s teaching gave way to his death, resurrection and the gift of the Spirit who alone can make us holy.

Come, Holy Spirit, empty us of self-deceit and fill us with transforming grace so we can grow ‘to the measure of the full stature of Christ’ (Ephesians 4:13)

Wednesday, 2 May 2018

Premier Radio Thought on seeking the Holy Spirit

The Spirit of God is poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Saviour so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life. Paul writes in Titus 3:6

I’ve come to understand that pouring as something ongoing and not once for all.

Some years back I’d a crisis of faith. God seemed a long way off. I went to talk to a Mirfield monk. ‘Maybe God’s not gone but your vision of him’ was the advice. ‘Seek the Holy Spirit for a vision more to God’s dimensions and less to your own’. I did seek and I did experience the ‘Spirit poured out on (me) richly through Jesus Christ (my) Saviour’. Those personal pronouns are a reminder how bible verses can come alive in our experience.

When we call on the Spirit to refresh our flagging faith we call on the whole of God, especially the work of Jesus Christ our Saviour. Easter and Pentecost are inseparable - the Father sends his Son to die and rise so the Holy Spirit can be poured out. That we are justified by his grace - put into right relation with God - links to both the historical work of Christ and our calling here and now for the gift of the Spirit who makes us heirs according to the hope of eternal life.

How do you see the Holy Spirit? As the shadowy ‘Holy Ghost’, or as a living reality who impacts your life through word, sacrament and prayer building up the assurance and hope spoken of in this passage?

Listen again on Premier Christian Radio’s inspirational breakfast show at

Thursday, 8 March 2018

Premier Radio Thought on cutting slack in our lives

A friend’s wife has broken her ankle. I mention it because my friend’s been busy undoing a lot of commitments so as to be her carer. They’ll get through but it made me resolve to cut a bit more slack in my life.

Many of us live with schedules so rigid they can only get broken when ‘something happens’. It’s one great advantage of retirement that you can be more choosy about commitments, with an eye to fitting in things you like to do, and space that’s there when family calls upon you.

Retired or not its basic wisdom to leave enough slack in your diary to cope with the unforeseen. What’s unforeseen includes the Lord’s openings to share his love. It’s not a good witness to someone needy who comes our way when we can’t be promptly available to share God’s love in their hour of need.

Time pressure is on us all but Christians live with an eye to eternity, to things that aren’t so much urgent as important. Things we have to attend to in our lives need spacing out so things God has for us to attend to don’t get missed, not that things we plan aren’t godly, just that they need limiting.

Cutting slack in our lives is a sign we don’t exist to do stuff so much as to serve the right stuff, God’s stuff.

Lord of our lives lead us into more spacious living so we can be available to deal with the unforeseen and, most of all, the things you have up your sleeve for us. Amen

Listen again on Premier Christian Radio’s inspirational breakfast show at

Saturday, 3 March 2018

Premier Radio Thought on Billy Graham

Billy Graham was once asked, “Where is Heaven?” He replied, “Heaven is where Jesus is and I am going to Him soon!” 

Now the great Evangelist has passed to Jesus.

His words about Heaven remind me how the person of Jesus Christ continues to intrigue people, drawing them from earthbound pursuits towards what’s ultimate and eternal. Although he taught and healed in the days of his flesh what’s distinctive about Christ is the transformation of his flesh at the resurrection. Jesus is bigger than death and he invites us to expand our own lives through death into his resurrection.

Reflecting on Billy Graham’s death last month Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby wrote: ‘He was one who met presidents and preachers, monarchs and musicians, the poor and the rich, the young and the old, face to face. Yet now he is face to face with Jesus Christ, his saviour and ours. It is the meeting he has been looking forward to for the whole of his life.’

How do you see Jesus? How do you see Heaven? In Jesus Christ we see by faith one who points us beyond the grave to ‘the fulfillment of all desires, the joy that knows no ending, gladness unalloyed and perfect bliss’. 

Such is Christian faith - and faith will one day vanish into sight, the sight of Jesus face to face! As John writes in his first letter: Beloved, we are God’s children now; what we will be has not yet been revealed. What we do know is this: when Christ is revealed, we will be like him, for we will see him as he is. 

Listen again on Premier Christian Radio’s inspirational breakfast show at

Monday, 8 January 2018

Premier Radio Thought of the Day Mon 8 Jan 2017 on Listening

‘Robin listened’ they wrote on his gravestone.

Christian psychotherapist Robin Daniels died 5 year ago. They said when you talked with him he made you feel you were the star player. His practical wisdom is distilled into 200 pages of a book just published called Listening - hearing the heart.

It’s a great witness to the transformative power of listening. Reading it made me feel if I could engage with just a couple of his many insights I’d significantly counter my failures as a listener.

Daniels quotes Metropolitan Anthony Bloom: ‘Every meeting is a judgement, is crisis, is a situation in which we are called either to receive Christ, or to be Christ’s messenger to the other person [or both]. If only we realised that the whole of life has this intensity of meaning’.

If only we realised - indeed! People yearn to be listened to, and Christians so often fail to be Christ to their neighbour in this way. Among the qualities of a skilled listener is ‘a lack of mental chatter and a temporary detachment from one’s own concerns’ which can be seen as the self-emptying work of the Holy Spirit. Being comfortable with silence is another gift and the book has much wisdom about how we defy the assault on silence in the noisy, distracting world we inhabit.

To quote Robin Daniels, inner ‘silence brings harmony, and from harmony comes a new sense of proportion, more self-knowing, as well as more awareness of the deeper aspects of other people’.

Lord, lead us into such depths. Make us better listeners - starting today!

Sunday, 7 January 2018

Premier Radio Thought on Joy

The more you want God, the more he comes real to you.

Abide in me as I abide in you Jesus says in John 15 so that my joy may be in you.

I find there’s a battle for attention inside of me between myself and Jesus Christ - and when I’m looking away from myself to the Lord it’s a joy. Elsewhere in the Bible it says ‘in the Lord’s presence there is fullness of joy’.

There’s no greater aid to evangelism than joy: quiet, infectious joy, expressed in a smile.

God is beyond words. In Jesus Christ God comes to live in us by his Spirit. Reading his word, receiving Holy Communion, engaging with fellow believers - all these reinforce what Paul calls in Colossians 1:27 Christ in me, the hope of glory. 

The Saints are famous for their smiles - I remember Mother Teresa’s infectious smile on TV to this day - smiles that are an overflowing from the heart where Christ is dwelling.

I want to be a Saint - don’t you? I mean, there’ll be nothing sadder ultimately than to miss the mark when it comes to unending friendship with God!

It's not what we have been or are that matters so much as what we would be.

Would you be a friend of God? The more you want God, the more he’ll make himself real to you.

Abide in me as I abide in you Jesus says so that my joy may be in you.

So be it, Lord Jesus - your joy be my strength this day!

Thursday, 12 October 2017

Premier Radio Thought on peace of mind

It may be you lack peace of mind.

Perhaps it’s due to an illness giving grief to your body that disturbs your whole being.

Or an upset in relationships, a concern about something you have to account for, or a thing ahead you’re just getting your head around.

Lack of peace is a tell tale sign we need to interpret because God desires we live in his peace even if that goes beyond our understanding.

I find when my peace is disturbed over a number of days it challenges me as to how surrendered my life is to God. 

Very often lack of peace links to anger about the way things are, inability to change those things and most significant of all, lack of submission to God.

I don’t know about you but I begin each day submitting it overall to God so it's given to be God’s day lived through me. Like any resolve it needs sticking at. Giving your life to God is something that needs repeating. It's also something basic to Christian worship where, at the eucharist, we regularly offer ourselves to God with Christ.

Inner turmoil when it comes is an invitation to seek attention for body, mind or spirit. Sometimes that attention is as simple as an act of faith in God as God of your life through rough and smooth. 

Take, Lord, and receive all that I am: my liberty, my memory, my understanding, my entire life. Dispose of me according to your will. All I need is your love and your grace. That is enough for me. Amen.