Quiet Time Coaching: Episode 93. “Why Memory Lane Matters”

Attending two funerals in Kent gave me the opportunity to take a stroll down Ram Lane – a spot with special memories for me. But it served a larger purpose than simply a reminder of events linked with that lane.

Walking down that lane helped me reflect on many of the ways God has been with me over several decades of journeying to Him and with Him.

Take a walk with me to consider the significance of deliberately accessing places conducive to spiritual reflection.

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

Do you have a question about teaching the Bible? Is it theological, technical, practical? Send me your questions or suggestions. Here’s the email: malcolm@malcolmcox.org.

If you’d like a copy of my free eBook on spiritual disciplines, “How God grows His people”, sign up at my website: http://www.malcolmcox.org.

Please pass the link on, subscribe, leave a review.

God bless, Malcolm

PS: You might also be interested in my book: “An elephant’s swimming pool”, a devotional look at the Gospel of John

Quiet Time Coaching: Episode 92. “How to be enabled by God”

Today we explore the issue of how God enables us. How does he enable us to be all we can be for him? In what ways can we cooperate with him to enable him to bring us to maximum Christlikeness? What is the place for prayer in this challenge?

We look at insights from Acts 14 and Acts 4

“So Paul and Barnabas spent considerable time there, speaking boldly for the Lord, who confirmed the message of his grace by enabling them to perform signs and wonders.” (Acts 14:3 NIV11)

“Now, Lord, consider their threats and enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness. Stretch out your hand to heal and perform signs and wonders through the name of your holy servant Jesus.”     After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly.” (Acts 4:29–31 NIV11)

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

Do you have a question about teaching the Bible? Is it theological, technical, practical? Send me your questions or suggestions. Here’s the email: malcolm@malcolmcox.org.

If you’d like a copy of my free eBook on spiritual disciplines, “How God grows His people”, sign up at my website: http://www.malcolmcox.org.

Please pass the link on, subscribe, leave a review.

God bless, Malcolm

PS: You might also be interested in my book: “An elephant’s swimming pool”, a devotional look at the Gospel of John

Quiet Time Coaching: Episode 91. “How to set limits like Jesus”

We continue our series today based on the book, “Unloading the Overload: Stress management for Christians” by Chris Powell and Graham Barker.

Today we explore the issue of setting Did Jesus set limits? What is the place for prayer in this challenge?

Is it more virtuous to work ourselves into the ground? Was Jesus a workaholic? He does not appear to carry any neurotic guilt about his limitations. Did Jesus ever say no? I think we know the answer to that, but how did he handle it? There is something in his relationship with the Father which gives him discernment about healthy limits whilst avoiding self-indulgence.

To quote from the book: “For Jesus, central weight is given to the question: “What does my Father want to do here? That’s what I want to be obedient to.” Perhaps too often, in our need to meet others’ needs, we say yes to what the Father is not calling us to. And so we pay a price, breaking down under the overload. There is truth in the statement “God will not bless what he does not initiate!”.

Sometimes Jesus said “wait”. Are we comfortable with waiting? What does this mean for you and I? It means we have to learn how to say “no”. Yes, we must avoid laziness, but we must work at a pace which we can sustain for a lifetime. A helpful question posed in the book is this: “Ask: Is God the one who calls me to this, or is it my own ego or the pressure of other people’s demands?”

Scriptures referred to or you might find useful: Mark 1:14-15; Luke 5:15-16; Mark 3:20; 6:31; 7:24; Matthew 8:18; John 5; Acts 3; 4:22; Matthew 9:36; 15:23; 9:27-31; John 13:12-17; Galatians 5:1.

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

Do you have a question about teaching the Bible? Is it theological, technical, practical? Send me your questions or suggestions. Here’s the email: malcolm@malcolmcox.org.

If you’d like a copy of my free eBook on spiritual disciplines, “How God grows His people”, sign up at my website: http://www.malcolmcox.org.

Please pass the link on, subscribe, leave a review.

God bless, Malcolm

PS: You might also be interested in my book: “An elephant’s swimming pool”, a devotional look at the Gospel of John

The Sunday Sample: Episode 85. “Posture in Corporate Worship”

Part 3 – Praying with uplifted hands.

What is the usefulness and relevance of movement and posture in corporate worship? This is the third in a series on this topic inspired by a chapter in “Participating in Worship” by Craig Douglas Erickson.

Today we look at the issue of praying with uplifted hands. 

I’ll admit it, this one makes me uncomfortable. I occasionally lift my hands during private prayer – when I’m confident no one else can see me. I understand that it is a biblical posture for prayer. But the something about it which I find resistance. To which I find myself resisting. Why is this? Perhaps it is something to do with vulnerability. Nonetheless, let’s examine the relevance of uplifted hands in corporate worship.

First of all, the Biblical perspective:

  1. A gesture of invocation – Exodus 9:29
  2. A plea for God’s help – Psalm 27:2; 87:9; 142:6
  3. A blessing of the Lord’s name – Nehemiah 8:6; Psalm 62:4; 133:2.
  4. A blessing of others – Luke 24:50.
  5. Dedicating things into the Lord’s service – 1 Kings 8:22.
  6. Indicating the offering of one’s own self – Psalm 140:2.

The early church appears to have prayed in this way:
“Therefore I want the men everywhere to pray, lifting up holy hands without anger or disputing.” (1 Timothy 2:8 NIV11)

Tertullian (an early Christian writer) commented that such a posture recalled Christ on the cross: “Not only do we raise them (our hands), we even spread them out, and imitating the passion of our Lord, we confess Christ as we pray.”

To quote Eriksson again, “Through the uplifting of hands the body urges the opening of one’s spirit to God’s blessings. When the palms are directed forward, it expresses and evokes a reverence before the presence of God. With arms lifted high there is a suggestion of surrender, not as that of a vanquished person but of one who freely submits to the kingdom of God.”

These gestures are common in charismatic Christianity and some similar traditions. Not so much in my background or current practice. However, perhaps not only our congregations but I myself should consider the value of this posture in corporate prayer.

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

Do you have a question about teaching the Bible? Is it theological, technical, practical? Send me your questions or suggestions. Here’s the email: malcolm@malcolmcox.org.

If you’d like a copy of my free eBook on spiritual disciplines, “How God grows His people”, sign up at my website: http://www.malcolmcox.org.

Please pass the link on, subscribe, leave a review.

“Worship the LORD with gladness; come before him with joyful songs.” (Psalms 100:2 NIV11)

God bless, Malcolm

PS: You might also be interested in my book: “An elephant’s swimming pool”, a devotional look at the Gospel of John

Quiet Time Coaching: Episode 90. “How to handle praise and criticism”

How do we handle the twin pressures of praise and criticism? What is the healthy spiritual response? What inspiration can we derive from Jesus and the scriptures?

We delve into my teenage memories and an old appraisal……

“Jesus, knowing that they intended to come and make him king by force, withdrew again to a mountain by himself.” (John 6:15 NIV11)

More Scriptures referred to in this episode: Luke 4.1-11; John 2.25; Proverbs 27.6; Jeremiah 31.3; John 13.35; Revelation 3.9.

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

Do you have a question about teaching the Bible? Is it theological, technical, practical? Send me your questions or suggestions. Here’s the email: malcolm@malcolmcox.org.

If you’d like a copy of my free eBook on spiritual disciplines, “How God grows His people”, sign up at my website: http://www.malcolmcox.org.

Please pass the link on, subscribe, leave a review.

God bless, Malcolm

PS: You might also be interested in my book: “An elephant’s swimming pool”, a devotional look at the Gospel of John

Quiet Time Coaching: Episode 89. “Praying for what you don’t really want”

We continue a new series today based on the book, “Unloading the Overload: Stress management for Christians” by Chris Powell and Graham Barker. 

Today’s episode is not based on material in the book, but inspired by its theme.  Let’s explore the issue of praying for things we don’t really want. What is the place for prayer in this challenge?

Jesus spent time praying for God’s will to be done in his life, even when it was tough to do so. We see him doing so in Gethsemane. If he wrestled in praying for the strength to do the will of his Father, then so might we. Can we learn from his example?

I share my own realisation of ceasing to pray about assertiveness and diligence and why this is the case – that I don’t really want to grow in them! At least, not in my flesh. What part does vision play in this dynamic? Are you praying for things you don’t really want? If so, or not, how do you resolve the matter?

Scriptures referred to in this episode: Matthew 26.36ff; Hebrews 5.7; Galatians 5.22-23.

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

Do you have a question about teaching the Bible? Is it theological, technical, practical? Send me your questions or suggestions. Here’s the email: malcolm@malcolmcox.org.

If you’d like a copy of my free eBook on spiritual disciplines, “How God grows His people”, sign up at my website: http://www.malcolmcox.org.

Please pass the link on, subscribe, leave a review.

God bless, Malcolm

PS: You might also be interested in my book: “An elephant’s swimming pool”, a devotional look at the Gospel of John

Quiet Time Coaching: Episode 88. “Time: energy, faith and the character of Christ”

We continue a new series today based on the book, “Unloading the Overload: Stress management for Christians” by Chris Powell and Graham Barker. 

Today’s episode is not based on material in the book, but inspired by its theme.  Let’s explore the issue of time and the need for energy, faith and the character of Christ in making the best use of the time God has given us. What is the place for prayer in this challenge?

Jesus seemed to have enough time for the purposes of God in his life. His energy, faith and character were adequate to the tasks laid before him. Can we learn from his example?

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

Do you have a question about teaching the Bible? Is it theological, technical, practical? Send me your questions or suggestions. Here’s the email: malcolm@malcolmcox.org.

If you’d like a copy of my free eBook on spiritual disciplines, “How God grows His people”, sign up at my website: http://www.malcolmcox.org.

Please pass the link on, subscribe, leave a review.

God bless, Malcolm

PS: You might also be interested in my book: “An elephant’s swimming pool”, a devotional look at the Gospel of John

Quiet Time Coaching: Episode 87. “How to prioritise like Jesus”

We start a new series today based on the book, “Unloading the Overload: Stress management for Christians” by Chris Powell and Graham Barker.

Today we explore the issue of prioritising.

How did Jesus decide what to do with his time and energy? What is the place for prayer in this challenge?

Jesus had clarity about his long-range goals, day-to-day priorities and yet had the heart to be flexible.

Scriptures referred to: Matt 4; John 11.50; Mark 10.45; Mark 5.21-34; John 11.6; Mark 6.45; Mark 5.24; Mark 9.30-31; John 5.30; Mark 6.31-46; 2 Timothy 1.7.

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

Do you have a question about teaching the Bible? Is it theological, technical, practical? Send me your questions or suggestions. Here’s the email: malcolm@malcolmcox.org.

If you’d like a copy of my free eBook on spiritual disciplines, “How God grows His people”, sign up at my website: http://www.malcolmcox.org.

Please pass the link on, subscribe, leave a review.

God bless, Malcolm

PS: You might also be interested in my book: “An elephant’s swimming pool”, a devotional look at the Gospel of John

Quiet Time Coaching: Episode 86. “Sing when Flat”

Do you ever feel flat when you go out to pray?  This happened to me on Wednesday. Let me share with you what I did, and how it helped me.

Lyrics of the hymn I sing in the podcast: 
1. When I survey the wondrous cross
On which the Prince of glory died
My richest gain I count but loss
And pour contempt on all my pride.

2. Forbid it Lord, that I should boast
Save in the death of Christ my God
All the vain things that charm me most
I sacrifice them to His blood.

3. See, from His head, His hands, His feet
Sorrow and love flow mingled down
Did e'er such love and sorrow meet
Or thorns compose so rich a crown?

4. Were the whole realm of nature mine
That were a off'ring far too small
Love so amazing, so divine
Demands my soul, my life, my all.


Scriptures referred to in the podcast:

    “When they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.” (Matthew 26:30 NIV11)

    “About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them.” (Acts 16:25 NIV11)

What do you do when you’re flat? Please share what makes the difference.

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

Do you have a question about teaching the Bible? Is it theological, technical, practical? Send me your questions or suggestions. Here’s the email: malcolm@malcolmcox.org.

If you’d like a copy of my free eBook on spiritual disciplines, “How God grows His people”, sign up at my website: http://www.malcolmcox.org.

Please pass the link on, subscribe, leave a review.

God bless, Malcolm

PS: You might also be interested in my book: “An elephant’s swimming pool”, a devotional look at the Gospel of John

Quiet Time Coaching: Episode 85. “How to tell the difference between imperfect humility and perfect humility.”

Humility is a big deal. Biblically, one falls or rises depending on one’s possession of godly humility:

“All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because, “God opposes the proud but shows favour to the humble.” Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.” (1 Peter 5:5–6 NIV11)

It is, of course, possible to have a false humility as outlined by the apostle Paul: “Do not let anyone who delights in false humility and the worship of angels disqualify you.” (Colossians 2:18 NIV11). And it can be tricky to distinguish a Christ-like humility (Philippians 2:3ff) from a pharisaical humility (Luke 18:9-14).

Despite these challenges it is possible to grow in humility. How do we do this? Let me offer something that might be useful. 

I have been reading a book written in the Middle Ages by an unknown author (“The cloud of unknowing”). Part-way through his book about connecting with God, he describes two kinds of humility. Both helpful, but one superior to the other. Tell me what you think about his ideas. Here is the relevant quote:

“Humility in itself is nothing but a true knowledge and feeling of oneself as one is; for certainly anyone who could truly see and feel himself as he is would be truly humble. There are two reasons for humility, and they are as follows. One is humanity’s impurity, wretchedness and weakness, into which we have fallen by sin, and which we must always feel to some degree while we live on earth, however holy we may be. The second is the superabundant love and excellence of God in himself, at the sight of which all nature trembles, all scholars are fools, and all saints and angels are blind; so that, were it not that through the wisdom of his Godhead he made their vision proportionate to their capacity in nature and in grace, I tremble to say what would become of them. This second reason is perfect, because it will last eternally; the first reason is imperfect, not only because it will cease at the end of this life, but also because it may often happen that a soul in this mortal body will find its longing so heightened through the abundance of grace that, as often and as long as God deigns to bring it about, the soul will suddenly and completely lose and forget all knowledge and feeling of its existence, paying no attention to whether it has been holy or wretched; but whether this happens often or seldom to a soul in this state, I believe that it lasts only a very short time. During this time it is made perfectly humble, for it knows and feels no reason but the chief one; and whenever it knows and feels the other reason associated with it, even if God is the chief reason, it is imperfect humility. It is good all the same, and must always be had; and God forbid that you should understand it in any other way than I am saying.

The Cloud of Unknowing and Other Works (Penguin Classics) (Kindle Locations 1396-1408). Penguin Books Ltd. Kindle Edition.
  1. Imperfect humility. This is the humility brought to our attention by a consciousness of our own sinfulness.  Imperfect humility is useful, because it is a reality with which we need to reckon, and which can help us to understand our need for God.  It can be the creator of a helpful  soberness (Romans 12.3).  However, it is focused on ourselves rather than God.
  2. Perfect humility.  Such an humility is ours when we are focused on the holiness of God, his magnificence and glory.  Perfect humility is perfect because it is an humility engendered by a contemplation of perfection.  As such, it is superior to the imperfect humility.

It is my supposition that most of us have a preponderance of focus upon either imperfect humility or perfect humility. In other words, our humility is inspired by an awareness of our sinfulness, or an awareness of God’s righteousness.

Doubtless we find both useful from time to time, but perhaps due to our personality and experiences we might find that one predominates.

Which one is it for you? Do you have them in balance?

If your focus is imperfect humility, what could you do to develop “perfect” humility. If your focus is exclusively perfect humility are you missing anything by not contemplating the source of imperfect humility? Do we need both? Is one superior to the other? 

The next time you go out to pray, why not pray about both your wretchedness, and God’s righteousness?

Please report back and let us know the effect of praying about both kinds of humility has on your connection with God. Good or bad, helpful or unhelpful.

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

Do you have a question about teaching the Bible? Is it theological, technical, practical? Send me your questions or suggestions. Here’s the email: malcolm@malcolmcox.org.

If you’d like a copy of my free eBook on spiritual disciplines, “How God grows His people”, sign up at my website: http://www.malcolmcox.org.

Please pass the link on, subscribe, leave a review.

God bless, Malcolm

PS: You might also be interested in my book: “An elephant’s swimming pool”, a devotional look at the Gospel of John