“How to talk meaningfully about the communion: Part 5”

Tuesday Teaching Tips: Episode 111

How can we avoid dull repetition or creative confusion when talking about the Lord’s supper?

This is the fifth in a series looking at different views of the atonement as a way of broadening and deepening our appreciation for the cross.

Today we study Paul’s teaching on the Lord’s Supper in 1 Corinthians 11 to help us understand the meaning of the communion.

We explore some tips on how meaningful communions are constructed and on what they are best focussed.


What are your thoughts on how we can make the communion talks biblical and relevant? How we do it and what we emphasise?
Please add your comments on this week’s topic. We learn best when we learn in community.
Next week: an interview with Simon Dinning of “prepared to answer” podcast – look it up.
God bless, Malcolm
  • Christus Victor saves by conquering evil
  • Penal substitution saves by satisfying the wrath of God
  • Healing view saves by curing and restoring
A. What is it’s purpose? 1 Cor 11.23-26
  • Remembrance
  • Community function
  • Strengthen faith, hearts, community
B. What are we to proclaim?
  • Christ’s death
  • Solidarity together in this (shared meal)
C. What are we to practice?
Many debatable elements – all have our preferences
  • Cups: 1 / many cups
  • Liquids: Grape juice / wine
  • Prayers: one / two
  • Participants: adults / children; Christians / non-Christians
Core issues
  • Centre: Christ – not the personal sharing/story/illustration
  • Word: scripture relating to the cross and its purpose
  • God: what He has done – not what we are to do
  • Because: remind why taking bread and wine. Confirm at end of talk or during prayer.
  • One scripture
  • One story
  • One idea

“Jealous or Curious” – Acts 5, Sermon, 17th June 2018

Are you jealous or curious? Guilty or curious? Is anything stopping you from living life with curiosity? What gets in the way of being curious about spiritual matters? We explore this topic with the help of an incident recorded in Acts chapter 5.

You can find more videos on my YouTube channel.

Please add your comments on this week’s topic. We learn best when we learn in community.

Do you have a question about the Bible or the Christian faith? Is it theological, technical, practical? Send me your questions or suggestions.

Thanks again for watching. Have a super day.

God bless,


Guest Post: “Senior Wellness Through the Spouse-Loss Journey”

Hazel Bridges reached out to me and sent this article about dealing with the loss of a spouse. I thought her suggestions and observations might be helpful to my audience.  If you’ve been through this experience you will know what it is like. Even if you haven’t, you probably know somebody who has.  Reading this article will give you a better understanding of the challenges faced by those who have lost a spouse.

Hazel Bridges is the creator of AgingWellness.org, a website that aims to provide health and wellness resources for ageing seniors. She’s a breast cancer survivor. She challenges herself to live life to the fullest and inspire others to do so as well.

Senior Wellness Through the Spouse-Loss Journey

Has your spouse recently been diagnosed with a terminal illness? This is one of the hardest things in the world a senior can go through — the idea of going through life without their spouse. Understand that when your spouse passes, you’re going to go through a long grieving process that may bring up various emotions you’re not used to feeling. Know that this is normal, and you’re going to be OK. We’re here to help you get through the spouse-loss journey.

Creating a peaceful home environment

If your spouse has recently found out that they’re suffering from a terminal illness, like cancer, it’s important to create a peaceful home environment for them to spend their final months. This can bring them a kind of comfort that they’ll appreciate in the final stages of their life. Focus on making your house more of a home than a hospital. It can be challenging to make your home feel cozy when there is medical equipment everywhere, but you can make it look and feel a little more homey if you:

  • Keep the bedside toilet hidden behind a screen.
  • Use familiar bedding and decorative pillows on their adjustable bed.
  • Store small pieces of medical equipment in a decorative basket that will look more appealing and organized. 

Be patient with yourself

Once your spouse passes, remember that there is no set time that you’re going to grieve. It’s different for everyone and you just have to give yourself time to feel their loss. During the grieving period, different types of emotions may come up that you’re not used to. You may also find it difficult to make decisions, and if you have loved ones looking after you, let them know this. Beware of triggers that may set off your grief, such as wedding anniversaries, birthdays or first date spots. If you feel guilt over activities you participate in due to your spouse no longer being with you, know that this is normal. Acceptance will finally follow shock, anger and denial if you give yourself time to heal.

Reach out for help

If you have loved ones that can assist you through your grieving period, it’s best to reach out to them. You don’t have to do this alone. You can also sign up for some online courses to help you get through this difficult period in your life. There are online courses out there specifically designed to help seniors get through the spouse-loss journey. Reading stories about others who have gone through something similar may help you get through this a little easier. There are also support groups in your community that can help you understand the emotions you’re feeling and how to overcome them.

Move forward with your life

When some seniors experience the loss of their spouse, they decide to move out of their home and into a senior living community. This can help you move forward with your life because your home may bring up too many difficult memories. If you don’t want to move, just start examining your life and how you can live in it without your spouse. Be open to meeting new people and new experiences you can enjoy. Whether that means participating in new social activities or regularly scheduled phone calls with old friends. Remember that you’re not forgetting your loved one, you’re simply getting yourself to a point where you can remember them in a way that’s not holding you back on living your life.

Photo: Pixabay

I’ll be speaking at the annual Thames Valley churches of Christ outdoor service and barbecue.

It’s always a very special and fun-filled event.

I hope you can make it. Message me if you would like more details.

God bless, Malcolm

Date: 1st July 2018
Time: 11:00 a.m.
Event: Wellington Country Park church service and barbecue
Venue: Wellington Country Park
Location: Wellington Country Park, Odiham Road
Risley RG7 1SP
Public: Public

“How to help everyone participate in corporate worship”, part 3

The Sunday Sample: Episode 37

We want full participation – what to do when we don’t get it?

This is the third episode in a mini-series looking at some suggestions. This week: What’s wrong with ritual?

Please leave a comment and pass the link on.
God bless,
“Worship the LORD with gladness; come before him with joyful songs.” (Psalms 100:2 NIV11)

“How and why to pray the prayer of penthos”

Quiet Time Coaching: Episode 40

Is there a place for tears in prayer? Is crying a sign of indisciplined emotions? Or is it a sign of spiritual health?
I bring you a fifth look at the book by Richard Foster, “Prayer: finding the heart’s true home”. In the most recent chapter I’ve been reading, Richard talks about the significance of the “Prayer of tears”, or, ‘Penthos’.
Last week we look to biblical examples of penthos. Old Testament characters, Jesus, and the apostle Paul. All found the ‘prayer of tears’ to be spiritually beneficial. This week we will explore the spiritual benefits of Penthos.

1. A source of joy

It might sound unlikely. Certainly, it is paradoxical. But, tears lead to joy. The Psalmist understood this: “Those who sow with tears will reap with songs of joy.” (Psalms 126:5 NIV11) Some years ago the church I loved was virtually destroyed by a combination of our own sin, and the disciplining hand of God. I was not the only one who cried at the state of the church. And I was not the only one who despaired for a positive future. 

However, I took some time to go away, climb a Welsh mountain, and open my heart to God. I confessed my sins. I confessed our sins. I admitted my fears about the future. My heart broke and I wept. After some time, I felt a deep sense of assurance. I realised that my heart was in sync with the heart of God. I knew for a certainty that he felt as I did. And, joy of joys, it dawned on me that he had not given up on me or the church. Therefore, there was hope. This hope burst upon me with deep joy. 

I went up the mountain heavy laden. I came down the mountain with a light heart.

2. A source of inner growth

Parts of who I am remain hidden to me. The undergrowth of my soul is too thick for ordinary prayers to penetrate. Developing the emotional side of my relationship with God reveals more of who I am. As Foster says in his book,
“..unless the emotive centre of our lives is touched, it is as if a fuse remains unlit.”
In the prayer of penthos we allow God, we invite God to part the tall grass and reveal what is beyond our sight. Sometimes what comes into view are aspects of our character. At other times it is our sinfulness. How do we discover the truth? Let me lay out the steps suggested by Foster:
  • Ask: Request that God help you to have a soft heart. Trust what David knew, that God will not despise, “a broken and contrite heart.” (Psalms 51:17 NIV11)
  • Confess: Open up to God about the sin of which you are clear. As C.S. Lewis said, ‘The true Christian’s nostril is to be continually attentive to the inner cesspool.’
  • Receive: Trust that God, “will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9 NIV11) Do not give in to the Devil’s lie that you are unworthy. Of course you are unworthy! That’s why Jesus went to the cross. But now, because of his victory, and your adoption, you are made worthy.
  • Obey: Where it is within your power, do right to the people you have wronged. Change your behaviour in areas where you have damaged your relationship with God.
Developing the emotional side of my relationship with God reveals more of who I am Click To Tweet


The prayer of penthos may not come naturally to you. That’s OK. We have a lifetime to develop all these different aspects of our relationship with God. Be patient with yourself. Be kind to yourself. God is.


Why not try the four-step process above? If you do, let me know how it goes. Do you feel any hesitation in asking God to help you with the prayer of penthos? Can you identify what it is that is holding you back?
Please leave a comment here so that we can all learn from one another. We learn best when we learn in community.
I hope you have a wonderful week of fulfilling quiet times.
God bless, Malcolm

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I’ll be speaking on the topic, “Jealous or curious?” for the Watford church of Christ this Sunday.

The text is Acts 5.

I hope you can make it. Message me if you would like more details.

God bless, Malcolm

Date: 17th June 2018
Time: 10:30 a.m.
Event: "Jealous or Curious?"
Topic: "Jealous or Curious?"
Venue: Laurance Haines School
Location: Vicarage Road
Watford WD18 0DD
Public: Public

“How to talk meaningfully about the communion: Part 4”

Tuesday Teaching Tips: Episode 110

I have a passion to do my best to make sure that our congregation’s members can take a meaningful communion every week. I believe we can avoid dull repetition and boredom. And the opposite problem of going off-topic in such of creativity. The answer, as usual, is to go deeper. I have taught on the atonement a few times, and found this to be tremendously helpful in my thinking about the communion.

I share today about one of the models of the atonement – that called, “Healing”.

Let me know what you think of this model. In what way is it helpful? How could this view of atonement be brought to life in a communion talk?  What scriptures, images, stories would give people sense of being healed, as they take bread and wine, that they are restored, reconciled, adopted into God’s family?

Please leave a comment in the comment box below. We learn best when we learn in community.

Please pass the link to this recording on to one other person so that they may benefit.

Click like, and subscribe you haven’t already done so. If you have time, leave a review which will help us gain greater visibility for these recordings.

Thanks so much for watching and listening. I hope you have a terrific Tuesday and a wonderful week.

God bless, Malcolm

Scriptures referenced or alluded to in this recording:

“The atonement means that the relationship between humans and God is restored (healed). The central piece in this restoration is that God, through the Servant who personally takes on all our iniquities, grants forgiveness of sins….The punishment for our sins, which was often meted out in terms of suffering, sickness and calamity, has also been taken on by that Servant. His absorption of both the sin and its punishment is the means to our healing and restoration, by grace bringing us shalom or well-being in all its richness.” The Nature of the Atonement”, p130

“How to help everyone participate in corporate worship”, part 2

The Sunday Sample: Episode 36

We want full participation – what to do when we don’t get it?
Here is the second of our mini-series looking at some suggestions. This week: “Who’s who?”

Please leave a comment and pass the link on.
God bless,
“Worship the LORD with gladness; come before him with joyful songs.” (Psalms 100:2 NIV11)

“The place of penthos in prayer”

Quiet Time Coaching: Episode 39

Is there a place for tears in prayer? Is crying a sign of indisciplined emotions? Or is it a sign of spiritual health? 

I bring you a fourth look at the book by Richard Foster, “Prayer: finding the heart’s true home”. Richard talks about the significance of the “Prayer of tears”, or, ‘Penthos’.

What is ‘penthos’?

According to the Mounce’s Expository Dictionary, it means,

“to mourn, grieve, bewail. This word is used in contexts of mourning over disasters or grieving the loss of someone. Mourning is often associated with weeping. While in classical Greek usage, penthos was a passion that a wise person must intentionally avoid, in the NT mourning is encouraged in contexts of sorrow over grievous sin and is acceptable and appropriate in cases of overwhelming disasters.” Mounce, William D., D. Matthew Smith, and Miles V. Van Pelt, eds. MED. Accordance electronic edition, version 1.3. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2006.

Not being the most emotionally demonstrative person, I question the appropriateness of tears in prayer. We will take a couple of weeks looking at this, but today let’s survey some biblical examples.

1. Old Testament

Some classic Old Testament crying personalities include Isaiah, “I drench you with my tears O Heshbon and Elealeh.” Isaiah 16:9. Jeremiah, of course, is often called the “weeping prophet” – “O that my head were a spring of water, and my eyes a fountain of tears, so that I might weep day and night for the slain of my poor people!” Jeremiah 9:1.

Several Psalmists spent time crying, “Every night I flood my bed with tears; I drench my couch with my weeping.” Psalm 6:6. “Put my tears in your bottle. Are they not on your record?” Psalm 56:8. “My tears have been my food day and night.” Psalm 43:3

2. Jesus

Was Jesus a crying person? The writer to the Hebrews tells us he, “offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears” Hebrews 5:7.

He wept at the tomb of Lazarus, John 11:35.

He taught, “blessed are those who mourn”, Matthew 5:4. He was kind to Mary when she washed his feet with her tears, Luke 7:36-50.

3. Paul

Paul a tough guy. Was he someone who cried? 

He came to Asia “serving the Lord with all humility and with tears”, Acts 20:19. He warned “everyone with tears” Acts 20:31, and when he wrote to the church in Corinth he did so, “out of much distress and anguish of heart and with many tears”. He rejoiced that they had godly sorrow which led to repentance, 2 Corinthians 7:7-11.


If the Old Testament Prophets and Psalmists, if Jesus and the Apostle Paul were all people who cried in a healthy way, who are we to resist it?

Next time we will go on to look at the potential spiritual benefits to us of praying this “prayer of tears”. 

Between now and then, why not have a look at some of the other examples of spiritual men and women shedding tears. What do you learn about their relationship with God? 


Do you shy away from crying in your prayers? If so, why might that be? What do you think could be a spiritual benefit to you being more in tune emotionally with your sin, the broken heart of God and the sins of this world?

Please leave a comment here so that we can all learn from one another. We learn best when we learn in community.

I hope you have a wonderful week of fulfilling quiet times.

God bless, Malcolm


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