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They that sow in tears shall reap in joy

Psalm 126 From slavery to freedom, from the wilderness to ‘the land of milk and honey’, from darkness to light, from the cross to the resurrection – the Christian life is an experience of redemption.  The LORD is always defined as One who “brings up” His people – from Egypt to Canaan, from exile to […]

A thorn in my flesh

Difficult people, chronic illness, vocal opposition, disability, bureaucrats in your way – all sorts of long-term problems might be called “a thorn in your flesh.” Ever since the curse was pronounced in Eden, thorns have tormented us: “Cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of […]

Suffer fools gladly

“He didn’t suffer fools gladly” reads the obituary… “Cantankerous old grouch” we imagine…  Or at least I do.  I might be wrong in the particulars, but that’s how I read the phrase in general. No-one ever does suffer fools gladly.  We are only told when someone definitely does not.  And since, generally, no-one seems to […]

O wretched man that I am!

It was Jesus who coined the phrase “the Spirit is willing, the flesh is weak.”  It was Paul who explored the idea in chapter after chapter. According to the Apostle Paul there are three tenses of salvation.  There is the past tense: “According to God’s mercy He saved us.”  (Titus 3:5) There is the present […]

Hail, King of the Jews!

When you think of a martyr’s death, you might picture dignified suffering, noble sacrifice, perhaps a reluctantly admiring crowd, some final, well chosen words of grace and wisdom.  We often imagine a certain glory to martyrdom.  But that only goes to show we don’t know what we’re talking about. Richard Wurmbrand wrote “Tortured for Christ”, […]

Crown of thorns

What does it mean for Jesus to be Redeemer? What does it mean that He is Saviour of the world? You see many people have a gospel that depicts the Son of God swooping down to snatch a lucky few from damnation.  Souls are saved and saved out of the world into another realm.  The […]


If we have been paying attention to Jesus’ teaching in Matthew chapters 16 and 17 we will expect a radical cross-shaped quality to those concepts.  And that’s exactly what the Transfiguration reveals. In Matthew 16, Peter has just declared Jesus to be “the Son of the living God” and Jesus responds by declaring Himself to be […]

Wise as serpents, harmless as doves

Matthew 10:16 is a veritable menagerie of biblical imagery: “Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.” Not since the ark have so many animals been crammed into so short a Scriptural space.  Yet Jesus thinks we will be well prepared […]

Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves

In Matthew 7 Jesus calls false prophets “wolves in sheep’s clothing.”  Now in Matthew 10,  He sends out some true prophets – the 12 disciples – and they will be “sheep in the midst of wolves.”  (Matthew 10:16) When worldly prophets infiltrate the church it’s deadly.  And when the church’s prophets infiltrate the world it’s […]

Be of good cheer

It sounds like the sort of saying we should use at Christmas.  It has that ye olde yuletide ring to it: “Be of good cheer!”  But when Jesus used this phrase there was nothing cheery about the circumstances.  There was no earthly reason to ‘cheer up.’  Yet that didn’t stop Jesus from saying it. One […]