Newsletter 15 November 2020

The competency of leadership is a prominent theme at the moment. Not only it’s competency, but it’s less defineable qualities. The election in the United States, the handling of the COVID–19 crisis in the UK, and many other topics have highlighted leadership as a conversation thread.

At the risk of oversimplifying, it seems to me we tend to empathise either with leaders who lean more to kindness and compassion, or decisiveness and strength. I suspect much has to do with which strength makes us feel more secure.

It’s often noted that Jesus came, “full of grace and truth.” (John 1:14 NRSV). He was not a grace person, nor a truth person. He was a fully grace and fully truth person. He did not so much have a balance, as a perfect blend of the fullness of both. And yet, what about the God of the Old Testament? It’s common for to think of the old covenant God as being primarily truth, and only secondarily, if at all, grace.

My devotional times this week have been taken from Psalm 91. I’ve been struck there by the blend of both kindness andstrength. Here it is in full:

“Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.    
I will say of the LORD, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.”     
Surely he will save you from the fowler’s snare and from the deadly pestilence.    
He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.     
You will not fear the terror of night, nor the arrow that flies by day, nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness, nor the plague that destroys at midday.     
A thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand, but it will not come near you.     
You will only observe with your eyes and see the punishment of the wicked.    
If you say, “The LORD is my refuge,” and you make the Most High your dwelling, no harm will overtake you, no disaster will come near your tent.     
For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways; they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.    
You will tread on the lion and the cobra; you will trample the great lion and the serpent.    
“Because he loves me,” says the LORD, “I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name.     
He will call on me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honour him.    
With long life I will satisfy him and show him my salvation.””

(Psalm 91:1–16 NIV11)

Can you see the references to kindness and strength? 

Here’s an idea…read through the Psalm meditatively noting the words and phrases which connects with the kindness, compassion and gentleness of God, then, the words and phrases which connect with the strength and truth of God. 

Look at the list you come up with and what it tells you about the nature of God. You will see that when Jesus came on the scene full of grace and truth it was not something new. It was just that it was enfleshed in a way that had never been seen physically before.

I hope and pray for myself and for you that we may fully embrace the kindness and strength of God this week.

The week ahead

If you’d like to pray for me I’d be very grateful. Here are some of my plans that you could include.

  • A sermon for the Watford and Dublin Churches on Sunday 22nd November. We’re having a joint online service.
  • A fifth Tuesday teaching tip in the current series – “Remember the 95% Rule”.
  • The next “What we are reading episode” 
  • The eighth quiet time coaching episode from the series based on Pete Greig’s book, “How to pray”. We will be looking at contemplative prayer.
  • Working on a teaching series for January and February 2021 on the character of Abraham and those connected with him in the Scriptures. 
  • Developing the Christmas services for the Watford and Thames Valley congregations

Until the next time, 

God bless, Malcolm