Sunday, 13 August 2023

Telephones and A Devotion

At Christmas time last year The Most Charming Grandson#1 and I happened to chance by a telephone booth while we were out and about. He willingly posed so that I could take a photo, but he had no concept of what it was or why it would even be necessary. At only three years of age, telephones to him were small devices that slip into a back pocket, or, when you visit Nana and Grandpa, strange handsets on a shelf in the hallway. Phone booths were and are totally foreign to his world.

When Charles Spurgeon wrote the words of the following devotion for August 13 in Faith's Checkbook, telephones were still new contraptions. However, he obviously grasped their significance in the world of communication. Telephones have changed dramatically in ways Spurgeon could never have imagined since these words were penned, but his devotion on prayer is still very much applicable to our day and age.

Before and During the Call

"It shall come to pass, that before they call, I will answer; and while they are yet speaking, I will hear" (Isaiah 65:24).

Quick work this! The LORD hears us before we call and often answers us in the same speedy manner. Foreseeing our needs and our prayers, He so arranges providence that before the need actually arises He has supplied it, before the trial assails us He has armed us against it. This is the promptitude of omniscience, and we have often seen it exercised. Before we dreamed of the affliction which was coming, the strong consolation which was to sustain us under it had arrived. What a prayer-answering God we have!

The second clause suggests the telephone. Though God be in heaven and we upon earth, yet He makes our word, like His own word, to travel very swiftly. When we pray aright we speak into the ear of God. Our gracious Mediator presents our petitions at once, and the great Father hears them and smiles upon them. Grand praying this! Who would not be much in prayer when he knows that he has the ear of the King of kings? This day I will pray in faith, not only believing that I shall be heard, but that I am heard; not only that I shall be answered, but that I have the answer already. Holy Spirit, help me in this!

Faith's Checkbook can be found online for free here or, as I've recently discovered, is available on the YouDevotion app. (I especially love the app because I can have Faith's Checkbook and Daily Light on the Daily Path all in the one place and in a font size I can read.)

Saturday, 15 July 2023


This Devotion for July 14 from Faith's Checkbook by Charles Spurgeon was oh so appropriate after farewelling Son#5, DIL#5 and The Most Adorable Granddaughter#8 after what was a too-short visit (it would never be long enough for me!). The older I get the more I appreciate the words of renowned Christians such as Spurgeon. Daily Devotions from this book can be found here for free.

Burdens Cast on Him

"Cast thy burden upon the LORD, and He shall sustain thee; He shall never suffer the righteous to be moved" (Psalm 55:22).

It is a heavy burden; roll it on Omnipotence. It is thy burden now, and it crushes thee: but when the Lord takes it, he will make nothing of it. If thou art called still to bear, "he will sustain thee." It will be on Him and not on thee. Thou wilt be so upheld under it that the burden will be a blessing. Bring the LORD into the matter, and thou wilt stand upright under that which in itself would bow thee down.

Our worst fear is lest our trial should drive us from the path of duty; but this the LORD will never suffer. If we are righteous before Him, He will not endure that our affliction should move us from our standing. In Jesus He accepts us as righteous, and in Jesus He will keep us so.

What about the present moment? Art thou going forth to this day's trial alone? Are they poor shoulders again to be galled with the oppressive load? Be not so foolish. Tell the LORD all about thy grief and leave it with Him. Don't cast your burden down and then take it up again; but roll it on the LORD and leave it there. Then shalt thou walk at large, a joyful and unburdened believer, singing the praises of thy great Burden-bearer.

Charles Spurgeon knew what it was to have burdens. He suffered ill health (his and his wife's), controversies and tragedies, and, like me, had a son living overseas (one son served in New Zealand for eight years). I suspect he and his wife Susannah missed their son at least as much as I miss mine (and that was at a time before phone calls and internet made keeping in touch so much easier - although I wouldn't mind the long letters but perhaps not the slow post-by-sea service)!

When Son#5 and DIL#5 first moved overseas I felt that our family had been shattered. I have recently found a group online called Scattered Families which better explains our experience. It's amazing what a difference one letter can make. Yes, my heart was breaking when they left, and yes, I miss them terribly, and yes, it's even harder now that there's a grandchild and I've met her and fallen in love with her. But they have to live their lives and go where they believe the Lord is leading them.

DH and I did a similar thing when we moved from Australia to New Zealand to be closer to his family. I experienced loneliness and a sense of misplacement (I had grown up in an area where my ancestors had settled in the 1800's) and I missed my friends and family. But at the time I had no idea of how difficult it must have been for those I left behind.

For my family, where there was only my sister and I, the loss of one daughter must have been so much harder for my parents to bear. Not that we don't miss Son#5 and DIL#5 and The Most Adorable Granddaughter#8 - we do and very much so - but we still have four other sons and daughters-in-law and a bevy of wonderful grandchildren to add joy to our lives here. Yet, we are only too well aware that one part of our family is absent.

When - and if - DH and I imagined the future, we envisioned ourselves growing old with all our family around us. Travelling the length or breadth of New Zealand to visit was the most that we thought we would have to accommodate. There was always the unspoken assumption (on our part - the family might not have shared in it) that for family events everyone would gather together: Christmas, significant birthdays, other celebrations. They still occur but there are often empty seats at the table (figuratively since with so many every available physical seat is taken up) and most definitely in my heart, but God brings comfort in other ways and for that I am truly grateful.

Meanwhile I treasure the moments I have with Son#5 and his family, just as I treasure each and every moment with every other member of the family ... from the early morning wake up calls ... to the over-long phone calls (I suspect one Son sees it as a way of getting some peace at home by giving the phone to the children) ... to the video chats that bring them closer and yet emphasise the distance ... to the car trips to visit (even though I hate travelling) ... even down to the sticky finger marks on the windows.

And, while my house may have returned to normal and the way I like it after the departure of all the family, I definitely look forward to the next time when it will be overrun with little people and Lego, and alarm clocks will not be needed because there will be at least one early riser capable of stirring a whole household!

Sunday, 7 May 2023

Bleary Eyed


Although a little bleary eyed this morning we managed to make it to church on time. Last night we stayed up to watch the Coronation of King Charles III and his wife, Camilla. I'm still trying to process the event and my reactions.

It was unlike any previous royal ceremony that has been televised during my lifetime. As a child, not fully understanding what was happening or its significance, I watched the wedding of Princess Anne to Captain Mark Phillips. As a teen and early twenty-something, there was the fairy-tale wedding of Prince Charles to Lady Diana Spencer, followed a number of years later by the wedding of Prince Andrew to Sarah Ferguson. More recently we have been afforded the opportunity to watch the next generation of weddings: Prince William to Catherine Middleton, and Prince Harry to Meghan Markle, to name a few.

There have also been some less joyous occasions: Princess Diana's funeral (who will ever forget the sight of those two young boys courageously walking behind their mother's coffin), Prince Philip's funeral (and the sad sight of Queen Elizabeth II sitting alone in an almost empty sanctuary due to COVID and lockdown restrictions), and, only last year, the funeral of the beloved Queen Elizabeth II with all its pageantry and symbolism.

These two elements - pageantry and symbolism - were present in the Coronation Service, and yet, for me, there was something about it that felt off. I have my own opinions as to whether King Charles III will be a good king. Certainly, Great Britain, and the Commonwealth, have known their share of good and bad monarchs, just as any country that has, or has had, a royal family (and just as Israel and Judah did in the Bible). There have certainly been some notable rulers, and some unworthy ones. In my view, the late Queen was one of the former. Her example is going to be a hard one to follow.

The Coronation Service drew on a lot of traditions from the Church of England. Hymns, choral pieces, Bible readings, all had particular significance, and even though the service is different to what I'm accustomed to (probably having more in common with the nonconformists), I could appreciate some of these elements. Despite Britain (and the majority of Commonwealth countries such as New Zealand) no longer considered Christian, it was, to all intents and purposes, a deeply religious service that reflected the beliefs and practices and drew on the traditions (including prayer and the reading of the Word of God) of Christianity. 

And therein lies my disquiet. Not with the differences in worship but in the marrying of these elements and what they stand for with other faiths. King Charles III, as the reigning monarch, pledged to be "committed to the true profession of the Gospel" during his reign and in the countries and territories over which he reigns. He did so, while at the same time, pledging to "foster an environment in which people of all faiths and beliefs may live freely" and praying that God would grant that he "may be a blessing to all thy children, of every faith and belief, that together we may discover the ways of gentleness and be led into the paths of peace; through Jesus Christ our Lord." [Refer Order of Service.]

I felt troubled when I first heard these words. Now as I read them, I am even more troubled. I am reminded of how Jesus threw the moneychangers out of the synagogue because they were making a House of Prayer into a den of thieves. I believe that there were those present at the Coronation service, and many more who were watching, who have been deceived. Deliberately or otherwise.

The Bible tells us that there is only one way to God, and that is through Christ Jesus. Not through my faiths or beliefs or convictions, or by living a good life, or through gentleness or being at peace with my neighbour. No, the only way to God is through His Son, Jesus Christ, who died for us. Who paid the price for our sins on the cross and then rose again. That is the Gospel.

Nor are we all God's children if we are not saved by faith. Regardless of whatever good deeds we may clothe ourselves with, they are as filthy rags before a holy and righteous God if we have not believed on the name of His Son, our Lord Jesus Christ.

The Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Reverent Justin Welby, may believe that there was "nothing that offends against Christian worship" in the inclusion of peoples of different faiths, or in the pledge or prayer that King Charles made or were made on his behalf, but I have to respectfully disagree.

As Christians we should be offended when a false gospel is preached. As Christians, we should be offended when other religions are presented as an equal way to God. As Christians, we should be offended when all we know to be true is watered down to please the non-believer or make them feel comfortable.

Yes, we all desire peace, and should pray to that end. But peace shouldn't come at the cost of someone's soul. Letting people believe that there are many ways to God, is not showing love. The truth may offend but should not be sacrificed on the altar of niceness or not wanting to upset the apple cart.

King Charles III may feel "bound to respect those who follow other spiritual paths, as well as those who seek to live their lives in accordance with secular ideals", and we acknowledge that people have a right to choose what they will or will not believe, and whether they will or will not accept Christ, but a deeply religious ceremony, such as the Coronation was, should not reinforce the idea that all faiths lead to God. They don't.

Sadly, this has become all too common in Christianity today. Charles III and The Archbishop of Canterbury are not alone in this. Too often churches compromise with the world so that people are not offended. It's become a pandemic in the modern church.

So what can we do?

Pray. God is still God and He still answers prayers. And if there's ever a time when people need to hear the Gospel without apology, it's now.

Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. Philippians 2:9-11, NKJV.

Sunday, 9 April 2023

Resurrection Sunday

Streaks of pink and mauve in the sky slowly fading ... the sound of birdsong and a donkey braying in the distance ... a chill in the air for the sun's rays had not yet warmed the earth. They'd been waiting for the dawn for ages, their grief preventing restful sleep. Now, as the women made their way to the tomb, there was no need for words. Grief bound them together. They'd already talked over the events - again and again over previous days - and still they could make no sense of what had happened. Comfort was elusive. All they could do was this last act of love for their beloved Teacher and Friend: anoint His body which had been hastily buried before the Sabbath.

Their hands cradling the precious spices, they remembered the stone. They had seen where they had laid His body. They knew about the stone that sealed the tomb. But driven as they were by their grief and desire to do one last service to Him Whom they loved, they had not considered how they would remove the stone. 

And then the confusion. The stone had already been rolled away. Who had been here before them? What had happened to His body? Why would someone steal His body?

The revelation. The wonderful, incredible, mind-boggling revelation. Their eyes opened to the truth. Their minds opened.

He is alive! He is risen! Just as He had said would happen.

It all makes sense now. The rush to tell others: to share the Good News and to turn their tears to joy.

Jesus lives! Oh happy Resurrection Sunday.

On the first day of the week, very early in the morning, they, and certain other women with them, came to the tomb bringing the spices which they had prepared. But they found the stone rolled away from the tomb. Then they went in and did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. And it happened, as they were greatly perplexed about this, that behold, two men stood by them in shining garments. Then, as they were afraid and bowed their faces to the earth, they said to them, “Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here, but is risen! Remember how He spoke to you when He was still in Galilee, saying, ‘The Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again.’ 

And they remembered His words. Then they returned from the tomb and told all these things to the eleven and to all the rest.

Luke 24:1-9, NKJV

He is not here, but is risen! Hallelujah!

Christ, the Lord, is risen today,
Sonds of men and angels say,
Raise your joys and triumphs high,
Sing ye heavens and earth reply

Love's redeeming work is done,
Fought the fight, the battle won, 
Death in vain forbids His rise,
Christ hath opened paradise.,

Lives again our glorious King,
Where, O death, is now thy sting?
Dying once He now doth save,
Where thy victory, O grave?

Soar we now where Christ hath led,
Following our exalted Head,
Made like Him, like Him we rise,
Ours the cross, the grave, the skies,

Hail, the Lord of earth and Heaven,
Praise to Thee by both be given,
Thee we greet triumphant now,
Hail, the resurrection, thou,

lyrics by Charles Wesley, 1739

Saturday, 8 April 2023

The Day Between


Now the next day, that followed the day of the preparation, the chief priests and Pharisees came together unto Pilate, saying, Sir, we remember that that deceiver said, while He was yet alive, After three days I will rise again.

Command therefore that the sepulchre be made sure until the third day, lest his disciples come by night, and steal him away, and say unto the people, He is risen from the dead: so the last error shall be worse than the first.

Pilate said unto them, Ye have a watch; go your way, make it as sure as ye can.

So they went, and made the sepulchre sure, sealing the stone, and setting a watch.

Matthew 27:62-66

I am no Bible scholar, but are the chief priests not the same ones who condemned Jesus for healing on the Sabbath? Are they not the same ones who were critical of the disciples helping themselves to corn on the Sabbath when they were hungry? Are they not the same ones who threatened to put anyone out of the synagogue if they did work on the Sabbath?

How is it then that they are prepared - willing and eager - to go to Pilate and not only ask a favour of him (their enemy since he stood for Rome), but then to carry out the work required on the Sabbath? Would not sealing the tomb involve some form of labour - labour that was not permitted on the Sabbath according to their own rules?

Oh, the hypocrisy of the chief priests, and of us all, when we are faced with our own sin.

Had the chief priests not witnessed the supernatural happenings that occurred at the time of Jesus' death? They were blinded to Who they had crucified, but were they so totally unaware of the veil of the temple being rent in two (after all, the temple was supposedly their province), of the saints that had come out of their graves and into the city and appeared to many (Matthew 27:51-53)? Surely some whisper of these happenings must have reached their ears. Surely their own senses and minds would have told them that this was unusual, not an everyday occurrence, not even a before-in-history occurrence?

Oh, how true is the old adage that there are none so blind as those who refuse to see.

Even the centurion, who had witnessed the events of the previous hours, when he "and they that were with him, watching Jesus, saw the earthquake, and those things that were done, they feared greatly, saying, Truly this was the Son of God" (Matthew 27:54).

Yet the religious leaders chose to be blind ... to be ignorant of all that had happened ... to refuse to acknowledge what had taken place ... and, instead, broke their own laws to ensure that their power and ambitions and hatred would not be challenged. These leaders were there ... present at the Crucifixion, but unlike the African-American spiritual that suggests we should consider the crucifixion and resurrection with reverence and fear, the chief priests did not tremble. They may have acted in fear, because they could see the little kingdoms they had made themselves in danger of toppling, particularly if the people were to follow and believe this Jesus, but tremble for what they had done they did not do.

The crucifixion happened two thousand years ago. None of us were there. And yet, Christ suffered for our sins as if we were there. This song gives us pause to reflect on not just the events of that first Easter weekend, but the significance of those events for each one of us.

Were you there when they crucified my Lord? Were you there when they crucified my Lord? O sometimes it causes me to tremble! tremble! tremble! Were you there when they crucified my Lord?

Were you there when they nail'd him to the cross? Were you there when they nail'd him to the cross? O sometimes it causes me to tremble! tremble! tremble! Were you there when they nail'd him to the cross?

Were you there when they pierced him in the side? Were you there when they pierced him in the side? O sometimes it causes me to tremble! tremble! tremble! Were you there when they pierced him in the side?

Were you there when the sun refused to shine? Were you there when the sun refused to shine? O sometimes it causes me to tremble! tremble! tremble! Were you there when the sun refused to shine?

In recent years, other stanzas have since been added which include:

Were you there when they laid him in the tomb? Were you there when they laid him in the tomb? O sometimes it causes me to tremble! tremble! tremble! Were you there when they laid him in the tomb?

Were you there when the stone was rolled away? Were you there when the stone was rolled away? O sometimes it causes me to tremble! tremble! tremble! Were you there when the stone was rolled away?

O sometimes it causes me to tremble! tremble! tremble! 

Thursday, 30 March 2023


Today is Day 10 since I first began showing signs of COVID. In those ten days I have run the gamut of symptoms typically associated with the virus and still I'm not recovered. I had fully expected to be back at work by now, but after yesterday, where I was so exhausted I spent most of the day in bed, and still not being able to eat without gastro symptoms, I made the call to have at least another day or so at home. 

Usually, I would enjoy additional time at home but I am so over being sick and not being able to do anything. Yesterday I read a teen book that I probably haven't read since I was, well, in my teens (or at least twenties). I then looked at virtually every book in my collection, and not one appealed to me. Not one. 

Nor does reading an eBook. Or doing anything really. As I said, I am so over being sick.

In despair this morning, I was reminded of a devotional I read a few days ago. I opened up Spurgeon's Faith's Checkbook for March 25, and this is what I read ...

" 'When thou liest down, thou shalt not be afraid; yea, thou shalt lie down, and thy sleep shall be sweet' Prov. 3:24. 

IS the reader likely to be confined for a while to the bed by sickness? let him go upstairs without distress with this promise upon his heart - "When thou liest down, thou shalt not be afraid." ... If with our laying down there is a laying down of all cares and ambitions, we shall get refreshment out of our beds such as the anxious and covetous never find in theirs. ... To have sweet sleep we must have sweet lives, sweet tempers, sweet mediations, and sweet love."

Spurgeon was no stranger to illness and despair. This was not simply an intellectual exercise. He knew intimately the cares and woes and concerns of ill health - experienced it both in his own body and in the long-term ill-health of his beloved wife. 

And then this morning I opened the devotional again to read these words ...

" 'Be careful for nothing; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus' Phil. 4:6,7

NO care, but all prayer. No anxiety, but much joyful communion with God. Carry your desires to the Lord of your life, the guardian of your soul. Go to Him with two portions of prayer, and one of fragrant praise. Do not pray doubtfully, but thankfully. Consider that you have your petitions, and therefore thank God for His grace. ... Hide nothing. ...Run not to man. Go only to your God, the Father of Jesus, who loves you in Him.

This shall bring you God's own peace, you shall not be able to understand the peace which you shall enjoy. It shall enfold you in its infinite embrace. ...

Yes, Lord, I do believe thee; but I beseech thee, help mine unbelief."

Sunday, 22 January 2023

Free Offer

For the next three days only, When This Day Comes is available for free as an eBook on Amazon. Follow the link to download:

When This Day Comes Free Offer.