Once a year we get the opportunity of writing the Christian Viewpoint column for the local newspaper. Below is the editorial for July 2021
July 22nd 2021
They say that God is the God of the unexpected! Certainly when you read through the Bible, there were a number of times when God moved in unexpected ways; parting the Red Sea, filling the disciples with the Holy Spirit, raising Jesus from the dead! From Genesis to Revelation, we witness God moving in unexpected, spectacular ways to fulfil His plan for humanity! But what about the daily humdrum of life; does God move unexpectedly in these moments? Very often we hope for the spectacular and yet miss the quiet, almost unseen moments when God moves unexpectedly in our lives.
During the crisis of the last 16 months, we have seen the unexpected hand of God working through the lives of everyday people: acts of kindness, words of encouragement, people willing to go the extra mile to help others, an offer of a lift to the hospital, a shoulder to lean on during moments of loneliness. God continues to move unexpectedly in our lives, if only we could have the eyes to see! Rejoice that God has, on occasions, unexpectedly blessed you through the kindness of others and go and be an unexpected blessing to those He places in your path.
July 15th 2021
I’m writing this article the day after that moment of football sporting history when England beat Germany by 2 goals to nil! It’s taken 55 years! But to see the joy on the faces of the English players and the rejoicing of England fans all over the country, it was well worth the wait!
It is good to rejoice! It brings a smile, laughter, exhilaration, hope and a sense that everything may be alright after all! The English football team won more than an historic match. Their victory caused spirits to soar and a “pandemic weary” people found a reason to smile, clap and sing once again.
But what happens when Euro 2020 is but a distant memory? Or the long awaited summer holiday is now over? Can we still find things to rejoice in as we go about our everyday lives?
“Rejoice in the Lord always!”Our Lord is ever present, offering love, support and encouragement, no matter how low the valley we may traverse. Put your hope in the Lord! Rejoice in His everlasting love! In Christ, the future Glory is yet to come and for all those who will enter it, “Everlasting joy will be upon their heads!”
July 8th 2021
There is a well known lyric from the Beatles song Eleanor Rigby that speaks volumes into our current situation: “All the lonely people, where do they all come from?”
There has been a very high price to pay for the national lockdowns we have been through. Many people, both young and old, have experienced a loneliness the likes of which they have never experienced before. We were never made to live as islands. Our security is found in deep personal friendships and relationships with others where mutual support can carry us through the hardest of times. A telephone call is alright. Face to face human contact is so much better for as the Word says, “It is not good for man to be alone!”
As we come out of the current lockdown each of us has the opportunity of befriending those around us who we recognise as being blighted by the pain of loneliness. Let us choose to be a shoulder to cry on, a hand to help lift up, an ear that willingly listens and a heart that responds to the needs of others. Go and be a friend to the lonely! You too can make a difference.
July 1st 2021
When I last wrote for the Ludlow Advertiser, the lockdown was coming to an end. That was in July 2020! Yet here we are again with an “irreversible” unlocking planned for the 19th July 2021. Am I feeling a sense of “deja vu?”
Perhaps not! Millions all over the UK have received vaccines that offer exceptional protection from the various covid variants and it does look as though the 19th July really is Freedom Day for us!
I was told off by a fellow believer a few months ago for suggesting that the vaccine rollout was a miracle! And yet I believe the speed at which the vaccines were developed, with all safety measures in place, WAS a miracle!
Our God is the One who loves, who cares, who wants what is best for us. He has promised never to “leave nor forsake us.” Do you believe in the God of miracles, enabling our scientists to “find a way where there seemed to be no way?” Whatever you believe, let us give thanks for all that has been achieved and pray that one day soon, the whole world can be protected, and be able to move on.
July 23rd 2020
Lock down is over, for the time being anyway! In March we were told, “you must stay at home.” Now we are being told to “go back to work!” What an extraordinary turn of events.
Noah and his family faced a lock down of their own, spending many days and nights in a floating zoo, weathering the storm and waiting for the waters to recede. In the end they did and Noah and the ark’s occupants were able to leave lockdown, step onto dry land and begin again. It was a familiar world, and yet so different to the one they had left. Likewise for us, as we leave our lock down the world we walk into is familiar, yet different.
But God hasn’t changed! His command to “go into all the world” holds as true now as it did then! Keeping God’s instruction, even in pandemic Britain, will give us clarity and vision. We may have to do things differently, but the lost will always need saving, pandemic or not! Let us walk safely, yet confidently, into the “undiscovered country” that lies ahead with God by our side. There is much work to do. Let’s set to it.
July 16th 2020
Many are held in the grip of fear: fear of death, fear of life, fear of leaving the house, fear of remaining in the house, fear of mixing in public, fear of remaining isolated, fear of breathing, fear of catching the corona virus. Many medical people acknowledge this simple truth - fear can kill.
Yet time after time in the Bible the Lord encourages His people not to be fearful! “Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”
This is the hope for the Christian believer! Fear can seize us and render us totally ineffective yet a quiet trust in God can calm all our fears and release us to be the person He has created us to be.
During this time of crisis it is understandable that many are afraid. What an opportunity for Christians to move amongst the fearful with the gospel message, “God is with us, do not be afraid!”
Let us continue to remain vigilant, safe and socially distanced but never allow the spirit of fear to grip us. Instead, may His peace wash over us and as it does, may those who can, go out amongst the people and make a difference.
9th July 2020
During the current pandemic, thousands have died, thousands have been bereaved and for thousands, lives will never be the same. We should not be surprised if we hear the question “Where is God in all this?”
Yet when we take a closer a look, the evidence is there that God has indeed been working amongst us, in ways we could not have predicted.
We read in the New Testament that a key characteristic of the early church was a community of people who looked after each other: “They gave to anyone as he had need.” Haven’t we seen this community spirit rising up all over the world? Day after day on our television screens we have witnessed great acts of kindness and generosity. Shopping has been done for the shielded, phone calls have been made to the lonely, and people have lined the streets, applauding funeral processions as they have passed – a demonstration of love, kindness, mercy and solidarity.
A sense of community is a work of God’s Spirit and we have seen it in full flow right across the globe.
Take heart dear friends. In the midst of crisis, God is at work amongst us, through ordinary people doing extraordinary things.
2nd July 2020
In 1650, Thomas Fuller, an English theologian wrote a proverb that seems to have great relevance for all of us living in today’s corona virus world: “It’s always darkest before the dawn.” The proverb is one of great hope: “do not give up during the hard times because when things are at their hardest, they are about to get better!”
I recently spoke to someone who was a girl during the Second World War and, speaking of the current lock down and pandemic situation, she said, “This is even harder than during the war!”
The Covid 19 pandemic has wreaked havoc with our national health, morale and economy. Many are living in fear, afraid to leave their own home for fear of infection. The government finds itself in a wrestle with a terrifying health crisis and a collapsing economy. When will it end? The answer is no one knows. But God does. He has promised never to leave nor forsake us and gives us the comforting reassurance that, in time, “the rough ground will become smooth.” Put your trust in the Lord during this time of crisis. He is with us and will cause the dawn to rise on our darkest hour.