Friday, 28 September 2018

Today’s the feast of Saint Francis of Assisi which reminds us how one person can change an era.

Almighty God when the world was growing cold, to the inflaming of our hearts by the fire of your love you raised up blessed Francis we pray in celebration today and we do so in an era of spiritual coldness to rival the thirteenth century. Francis gained approval for a group of monks known as friars to bring the good news of God’s love outside church walls to the poor. At one point he received stigmata or wounds in his hands, feet and side that established him as a Christ-like figure. He brought the memory of Jesus alive in his age, demonstrated in healings, miracles and a work of reconciliation reaching into the Muslim world.

Francis brought the 13th century Church alive - how much we need similar figures raised up by God to bless the 21st century with what Paul calls the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. (2 Corinthians 4:6)

It's hard to challenge apathy and unbelief. Francis did it using imagination and humour. To him we owe the invention of the Christmas Crib, Christian ministry to animals and a sense of the splendour of God in creation.  Chesterton wrote of St. Francis ‘The sense of humour salts all his escapades’. On his feast day we ask God to inspire all marked like him by Christ with an engaging humility and humour gifted to warm the spiritual coldness of our own day.

Friday, 24 August 2018

It's a big day for me.

Today’s St Bartholomew’s day and we’re keeping our patronal Feast at the Church I’m helping out at in Brighton whilst it lacks a parish priest. It’s a high Church in more sense than one, the tallest parish Church in England with a great choir and worship tradition.

As we worship this weekend we’ll be doing so before the towering altar with angels ascending on immense mosaics behind the holy table illustrating today’s Gospel from St John’s Gospel Chapter 1 verse 51 where Jesus says to Nathanael known as Bartholomew: Very truly, I tell you, you will see heaven opened and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man.

We know little about apostle Bartholomew save this promise Our Lord gave us through him that we would see his glory. As Jacob in the Old Testament saw heaven open and angels ascending and descending on a ladder Christians are promised a taste of heaven as they worship in Jesus Christ, God’s provision for access to himself.

O saving Victim opening wide the gate of heaven to man below we sing to Christ in a favourite hymn at St Bartholomew’s. With angels and archangels and all the company of heaven we laud and magnify thy holy name evermore praising thee and singing: Holy, holy, holy, Lord God of hosts, heaven and earth are full of thy glory. Glory be to thee O Lord most high!
Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord. Hosanna in the highest!

So be it - with St Bartholomew and all the Saints - glory to God!

Thought of the Day broadcast Friday 24th August 2018 on Premier Christian Radio

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!