In Christ

In Christ

On a recent trip to Kent my family visited St. Martin’s Church, the oldest church building in the English speaking world, c. 597. Aside from the indebtedness felt to the Lord for Christianity coming to the English, we found another treasure on the Church grounds.

We love looking around old cemeteries. Call it creepy if you must but we love to learn of people’s stories, enjoy the peace and quiet, and perhaps most of all look over the Christian imagery on the stones, or in this case the grave itself. We came across this grave which had an iron rail around it, inscribed with “In Adam all die, in Christ shall all be made alive.” It is a reference to 1 Cor 15:22.

Far from teaching universalism (that because of Jesus all will be well for all), Paul is making an important argument in a famous chapter on the Resurrection. It is a great encouragement for the Christian and a wonderful invitation to trust in Jesus for the non-believer. Verse 21 says that sin and death entered the human experience because of one man’s sin, Adam. He is our figurehead. Likewise when we trust in Jesus He becomes our new figure head and we gain all His benefits, which in this case is a Resurrection like His! Whilst we are made alive the moment we believe in part (Jn 10:10) through the gift of the Spirit, still the Christian will know death. In God’s plan “the last enemy to be destroyed is death.” But when Christ returns and the dead are raised, the Christian—in their Resurrected and glorified body—they will be made alive forever more, to reign with Jesus in the New Heavens and the New Earth. What a glorious hope someone has when they are in Christ.

The Lord’s Sweetest Blessings,

Pastor Chris

Mirror, Mirror

22 But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. 23 For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. 24 For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. 25 But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing. (James 1:22–25)

Being doers and not only hearers is something often prayed for in Christian circles, but what does it mean? James likens hearing God’s word but not trusting and obeying it to a man who carefully glances at his face in a mirror[1] in passing, but then quickly going on his way forgets what he saw (even his own face!). (Quite unlike police who train extensively in the field of detail awareness and memorisation).

When we hear God’s word (read or spoken or preached) do we examine it contents like someone who looks intently at themselves in the mirror and then forgets what they saw, or do we dwell upon it so it comes to abide with us and change us from hearers into doers. God’s word is meant to be like a mirror, reflecting His truths upon our lives, identifying encouragements and blemishes to be celebrated or remedied. Its meant to ultimately point to action.

Do we hear about the call to salvation, but then walk away and never seek it?

Do we hear the call to believe that God designed us male and female, but then walk away believing the media instead?

Do we hear the call to comfort, but then not comfort someone in their grief?

The list could go on…

How shall we remedy this? We need to look not just giving an intent glance, but having a deep gaze. A depth to our looking that comes from a knowledge of what this book is, who it has come from and what it offers. Seeing all this as a treasure we look, we pour over it. The more we do this, the more we’ll remember and the more of God’s truth will be stored up in our heart (Ps 119:11) to effect a transforming work. It is when we look in this way that hearing will lead to doing. Yet there is more, we must persevere. We must continue to mull over what we have heard, to talk about it (Dt 6), to take practical steps to reinforce it throughout the week (memorise, sing, pray, etc), to revisit it, to keep in God’s word.

When we handle the word in this way, we will not easily forget, so when the moment comes for faithful action, we’ll remember God’s promise, act on it, and be blessed.

The Lord’s Sweetest Blessings,

Pastor Chris

[1] The earliest mirror was of course looking at ones reflection in water. Later mirrors, like those at the time James wrote, would have be polish stone, metal or rudimentary glass based mirrors. It was not until 1800s that the modern mirror making process was developed and mirrors made inexpensive for ordinary people.


Last week my son started doing something very cute. Mum had been teaching him baby sign-language, including the sign for “more.” He has since made this sign his own by modifying it slightly. He taps his index finger into the open palm of his opposite hand, whilst looking at you longingly. As dad is not always around he has taken to tapping his finger in his palm and asking for “more” whenever I enter of leave the room. Aside from being breathe takingly adorable, it immediately struck me that this is the heart attitude we should have towards our heavenly Father, to desire more.

The Psalmist wrote: As a deer pants for flowing streams, so pants my soul for you, O God. (Psalm 42:1)

To desire to know and share in fellowship with God the Father is what we were designed for.

Jesus Himself promised great happiness for the one who’d so seek for God and the goodness that can only come through faith in Him: Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied. (Mt 5:6).

May we sing the old song As the deer as a prayer today to know the Father more, through faith in the Son, and be assured of this by the promised gift and presence of the Spirit.

The Lord’s Sweetest Blessings,

Pastor Chris

Proverbs 25:2

It is the glory of God to conceal things,

But the glory of kings is to search things out.

(Proverbs 25:2)

As a practical means of discipleship it is useful to meditate on God’s word, especially passages which the Holy Spirit draw to our attention and really capture our interest. This proverb was one such verse for myself. It sounds so grand! It uses words such as “glory” and “conceal” and “search.” But what does it mean?

Firstly, it is the glory of God to conceal things. God’s glory is His marvellous character. Whilst He freely and openly shows us many things in His Word (His revealed will, c.f. Dt 29:29), He likewise “conceals” things. Perhaps this is buried treasure in His Word that needs to be mined out, or perhaps even His hidden, secret will that we can only come to know through much prayer, and sometimes not at all. Our God is a glorious God and this means He conceals wonderful things so that they will be all the more glorious to us once revealed (or remain a mystery showing Himself to be the sovereign Lord).

Secondly, but the glory of kings is to search things out. The glory, or character of kings, is to search out the deep things of God (1 Cor 2:10) and to delight in them. Kings had the time for such pursuits and were expected to be wise. We may not all be royalty but if we are Christians then we are a royal priesthood and we too are called (1 Pe 2:9) to act kingly by searching the Scriptures and being made wise unto salvation (2 Ti 3:15) and to grow in our knowledge of the Lord. So let’s not stand aloof from the Bible but search it out!

The Lord’s Sweetest Blessings,

Pastor Chris

The Whole Armour of God

Roman-Soldiers-1Roman soldiers were some of the best trained and equipped on the battle field of Paul’s day, enabling the Roman Army to be seemingly invincible on the battlefield.

As Ephesians ends Paul spiritualises this into a metaphor for the Christian’s daily life.

Firstly we’re told in v. 10, Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Self-reliance has no place in the life of a Christian; that is pride and sin. We are called to soldier like humility. We do not rely on ourselves but upon our Captain and, in faith, upon the tools He has given for His people’s protection.

The second thing we’re told comes in vv. 11–12 and answers the why of v. 10: Put on the whole armour of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil.  For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. We need to be strong in the Lord because we have a real and active enemy who hates us. He is always prowling around looking for someone to devour (1 Pet 5). Wake up and smell the coffee and let us not be spiritually naïve! We are at war, every day. (BTW- the list represents different orders or levels of demons. In Jewish thought at the time there were ranks of angels, both fallen and not [c.f. Col 1:16]).

We must be continually aware of these realities.

We must also diligently do something else on a daily basis, turning this instruction into a routine spiritual discipline, v. 13, Therefore take up the whole armour of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. We can stand firm because the Lord has not left us defenceless. (It is also worth noticing that this is defensive language. Whilst we pray “thy kingdom come” and engage in areas of offense [even at times exorcisms], it seems to me that this verse advises that the natural posture towards the enemy will be defensive, a readiness for when we are attacked, primarily leaving the offensive against these evil realms to the Lord).

How shall we stand? We shall stand by putting on every piece of our armour for each has a collective role to play in our spiritual protection:

  1. The belt of TRUTH (v. 14a)
  2. Breastplate of RIGHTEOUSNESS (v. 14b)
  3. Shoes of the GOSPEL of peace (v. 15)
  4. Shield of FAITH (v. 16)
  5. Helmet of SALVATION (v. 17a)
  6. Sword of the SPIRIT, which is the WORD OF GOD (v. 17b), which is the only offensive element of the armour listed.
  7. The invisible weapon of PRAYING in the SPIRIT (v. 18)

*The reader may benefit further from reflecting upon the necessity of each piece of armour, its purpose and also what it protects.

So today, and every day, may we stand firm, strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might, not forgetting to prayerfully clad ourselves with His armour.

The Lord’s Sweetest Blessings,

Pastor Chris


John Bunyan (1628–88), who spent 12 years in Bedford prison for preaching the riches of Christ to lost sinners,[1] once wrote:

“The poor man that loves Christ is richer than the greatest man in the world that hates Him.”

Whilst the world searches after great earthly treasures like the man & his barns in Lk 12:13–21, Jesus gave this wisdom, Lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. (Mt 6:20, ESV). Jesus warned such treasures are like “thorns” that choke the Gospel (the Parable of the Sower). What type of treasure are we seeking, investing in—an earthly one that does not last or one that is heavenly and true and that is eternal? Consider what riches the Bible says are available in Christ Jesus:

  • The riches of His grace, glory, kindness and patience, and wisdom (Eph 1:7; Ro 9:23, 2:4; Col 2:3);
  • The riches of full Gospel assurance (Col 2:2);
  • The riches of entry into the Kingdom of heaven (parable of the hidden treasure and precious pearl, Mt 13:44–6);
  • Treasure for the last days (James 5:3);
  • Not to mention the precious gifts of His Spirit, of prayer, of Scripture, fellowship in His Church, etc.

Jesus bestows, His riches on all who call on Him (Ro 10:12), and when we are in Him we can say, I count everything as rubbish compared to the surpassing worth of knowing Jesus Christ my Lord. (Phil 3:8).

Where is your treasure? There your heart will be also (Lk 12:34).

The Lord’s Sweetest Blessings,

Pastor Chris


[1] Here, he is very much like Joseph, c.f. Heb 11:26.

number your days…

Teach us to number our days and recognise how few they are, to that we may spend them as we ought. (Ps 90:12)

As humans we like to number things. Houses have numbers, registration plates have numbers, phones have numbers. We’ve also counted days for millennium. It’s what we do. We remember the years, we count the months, we tick off each day of the week. The older you get the quicker times seems to go too. Yet most live as if our days are endless, and try to suppress anything that might remind us that one day, perhaps today, or maybe in 50 years, we will physically die (see why- Ro 6:23), we will all die and then face judgement (Heb 9:27).

This verse reminds us of our need for humility, yes; our need to spend our days wisely, yes. But its greatest reminder is to measure our finitude in light of God’s greatness and our eternity. The “wisely” bit is a moral wisdom. In light of our limited days, have we used them to seek Jesus and find Him, to cultivate the greatest of all relationships with God the Father through faith in Jesus for the forgiveness of our sins? Or, do we keep plodding on, ignoring the Almighty?

Someone once compared the average lifespan to a clock, this is what they came up with:

If you are 15, the time is 10:25 A.M.

20, the time is 11:34 A.M.

25, the time is 12:42 P.M.

30, the time is 1:51 P.M.

35, the time is 3:00 P.M.

40, the time is 4:08 P.M.

45, the time is 5:15 P.M.

50, the time is 6:25 P.M.

55, the time is 7:34 P.M.

60, the time is 8:42 P.M.

65, the time is 9:51 P.M.

70, the time is 11:00 P.M.

Where does this put you? How have you spent your life? Have you spent it seeking the Kingdom of God? What about Jesus? Where would you spend eternity if you died today? Eternity is a long time to be wrong, so let’s be morally wise and seek Jesus whilst He may be found (Isa 55:6-7). Then when time as we know it ceases and we enter into eternity, it won’t be an eternity of regret but one of eternal life.

The Lord’s Sweetest Blessings,

Pastor Chris



Honour the Lord with your wealth and with the firstfruits of all your produce; then your barns will be filled with plenty, and your vats will be bursting with wine. (Proverbs 3:9–10)

September is here and so Harvest will soon be upon us, even though many crops we remember that the Lord has blessed us with have already been gathered in. Such was the case with my honey harvest, which is collected in early August and harvested soon after. Despite the drought, because bees like warm weather, one hive produced a whopping 170lbs! At Harvestime the ancient Israelites were commanded in Leviticus to bring the firstfruits of their crop (or wealth if a merchant)—the very best devoted to the LORD—as a sign of their thankfulness to God and in conjunction with their tithes and offerings, a recognition and sign of their dependence upon Him. Whilst our worship no longer operates in quite the same way under the New Covenant, the principle of firstfruits, and the wisdom of the proverb, is still worthy of our acceptance. Do we bring Him our best (a sign of God’s worth), the first (an act of faith and expression of His priority in our life) or anything at all (an act that worship’s God, or fails to, as the great provider). Bringing our firstfruits in time, giftings, service and monetary gifts is a very important spiritual discipline to cultivate. When we honour the Lord He will in turn honour us. We can give without loving, but we cannot love without giving.


The Lord’s Sweetest Blessings,

Pastor Chris



A Painful Preacher of the Truth

If you venture to beautiful Worcester and pay a visit to the cathedral there is a tomb with an epitaph on it that is well worth seeing on your visit. As you enter the cathedral from the north turn left down the side aisle. Just before the north transept you’ll find the tomb of Nicolas Bullingham (1511?–76).[1]

Remember your leaders, those who spoke to you the Word of God. Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith. (Heb 13:7).

Bullingham is worthy of remembrance, consideration and imitation for a number of 20180804_125714_Richtone(HDR)reasons. He was an early English Protestant Reformer. Appointed chaplain of Thomas Cranmer, Archbishop of Canterbury, he soon developed ministerial interests in Lincoln. During the reign of Roman Catholic Queen Mary, he sought refuge in exile on the continent, returning in 1559 to become Bishop of Lincoln. Here he continued his work of reform, appointed priests “well versed in the scripture” and also serving actively in the House of Lords. In 1570 he became Bishop of Worcester. His epitaph in the cathedral reads:

Here born, here bishop, buried here,

A Bullyngham by name and stock,

A man twise maried in Gode’s feare,

Chief pastor late of Lycolne flock,

Whom Oxford trained up in youthe,

Whom Cambridge doctor did create,

A painful preacher of the truthe,

He changed this life for happie state.

He was Bishop of Lincoln and then Worcester.

The third last line is what I was personally most interested in, “a painful preacher of the truth.” Here ‘painful’ should not be understood as boring or even excessive, but rather as earnest. He was earnest concerning the Truth (Jesus) and His truth (God’s Word). He no doubt laboured deeply for his listeners to hear and understand and believe the truth of God themselves and so be saved and changed. What that this would be a label applied to all preachers (and indeed Christians) today, that they’d be “earnest preachers of the truth,” not giving in to the world, rightly handling the word of truth and preaching, perhaps not entertainingly, but plainly with such pain over the souls under their care, striving to be a means used by the spirit to cause godly pain or grief in their hearers’ hearts (2 Cor 7:10). Ah, yes, that God would raise up Christians who would be on fire for the Lord Jesus and His Word (Jer 20:9b).

The Lord’s Sweetest Blessings,

Pastor Chris

[1] Julian Lock, “Nicholas Bullingham,” Oxford DNB <> (August 2018).


head in sandSelf- Inflicted-Nonsense, that is how the world views sin. Sin is an oppressive concept that stifles human freedom and flourishing. I am my own master. I will do what I desire. No one or government or religion can tell me what I can or cannot do. Why would you constrain your own freedom by nonsensical rules and traditions? The idea of sin is repulsive to the world today because it limits what I can do. It is a remnant of past authoritarian structures and legalistic religiosity. Cast them off has been the mantra of recent decades! Be free!

  • That one day in seven is different and special—sacred to the Lord, na- I’ll do what I want with my time!
  • Respect due to parents, no way—we are equals!
  • Sex before marriage, get with the times!
  • Marriage, what is that anyway…simply what I want it to be…cohabitation, heterosexual, homosexual, bi-sexual, polyamorous, etc, etc.
  • Gender constructs, completely socially fabricated!!!
  • That the government has the right to “bear the sword” of justice, how absolutely medieval that I might be held accountable for my actions.

The list goes on…self-inflicted nonsense! All a complete and utter load of nonsense!!!!!

Well let’s pause and look at an alternative. Recognising that many of today’s trends are an overreaction caused by past abuses of authority and nominal religion, might the idea of sin not be self-inflicted-nonsense but truth and a reality meant to spare us countless and needless dangers and harm? We’ve taken a huge leap from the notion of having some personal freedoms designed to ensure there was some civic freedom within parameters, to a culture of near total permissiveness.

Listen to this counter challenge from 1 John 1:8:

If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.

WOW! What a different way of looking at things. Sin is as real as this computer screen you are reading this blog on. If we deny its reality, then we are actually self-deceived, the ones believing the nonsensical idea that there are no moral absolutes. As this verse was initially addressed to Christians who denied they kept sinning, if that was the case the Truth (Holy Spirit) was not in them. Similarly, if you are a non-believer who denies the reality of sin, the truth is similarly not in you and you are a liar.

Sin leads to harm and destruction and death, but walking in God’s Law leads to life. In fact, the Bible says God’s ways were designed for our good (Deut 10:13). It is when we follow them we flourish! It is when we walk in them that we find perfect freedom (Ps 119:45).

But more than speak of sin, the Bible makes clear that bad fruit is not the ultimate issue but the root. It is not merely the symptom we need to address but the underlying disease. The Bible also uses sin to speak of a disease of the heart (Prov 4:23; Mt 15:18–20).

The Law of God is good and true, yes, but it cannot save us because we cannot obey it perfectly, because we are actually not free but our hearts are enslaved to sin (Ro 6:16). We may even come to believe in the truth of 1 John 1:8 but that is still not good enough because we’d still be enslaved to sin even if we acknowledge it is real. We need God to open our eyes to believe the Gospel, the good news of freedom from sin available through faith and forgiveness in Jesus Christ, and to receive the gift of the Holy Spirit who will help us live lives pleasing to God. Then the Law no longer is a threat of judgement but a promise, with God saying ‘I will get you there!’

As much as the world thinks it is free and sin does not exist, the reverse is true, sin does exist and the world is enslaved to it, which is why it loves it so much and will fight under any convenient banner or excuse to self-justify its own sinful actions (Ro 1:32). True freedom can only come in recognising sin is not self-inflicted-nonsense, but something that is real and that we need saving from. Only then will we be free and flourish as the Lord intended.

The Lord’s Sweetest Blessings,

Pastor Chris