“Sing a song with God”

Quiet Time Coaching, Episode 58

Do you sing in your times with God?  Is it part of your relationship with him?  In today’s podcast and video I reflect on an experience I had last night and connected with something that happened a little while ago in my local woods.

Thank you for listening and watching to this recording.
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.
Thanks again for listening.
God bless,
Malcolm
PS: If you would like some coaching in spiritual disciplines, look me up here.

“How to make nerves your friend”, Part 2

Tuesday Teaching Tips, Episode 128

Nerves are the secret sauce in public speaking. They can be your friend, not your enemy. In this second of four episodes on the topic we look at how to handle nerves in the pre-speaking phase.

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: If you would like some coaching in spiritual disciplines, look me up on www.coach.me.

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

“The connection between the kingdom, peace and joy”

Quiet Time Coaching: Episode 57

What is the connection between the kingdom of the heavens, peace and joy?

I’m teaching a three-part series on the kingdom for the Thames Valley churches of Christ.  There’s no way I will do it justice, but I do hope to make it more relevant to myself and the congregation.  One of the kingdom verses which has given me the most pause to think and pray is Romans 14:17-18.

Here is Tom Wright’s translation:

“God’s kingdom, you see, isn’t about food and drink, but about justice, peace, and joy in the holy spirit. Anyone who serves the Messiah like this pleases God and deserves respect from other people.” (Romans 14:17–18)

Compare that translation with the NIV:

“For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit, because anyone who serves Christ in this way is pleasing to God and receives human approval.” (Romans 14:17–18 NIV11)

Finally, take a look at this translation by Dallas Willard:

“The kingdom of God is not eating and drinking [whether you do it in one way or in another] but is inner rightness and peace and joy sustained by the Holy Spirit. For those serving Christ in this way are well-pleasing to God and approved by men.”

The key phrase here for me, is “inner rightness”.  Far be it from me to criticise the NIV or Tom Wright, and I’m sure the translations are correct, but the Willard version emphasises the personal connection with Jesus. It is this personal connection which ensures our ability to experience the peace and joy of the Messiah.  It is he who gives us peace (John 14:27) and joy (John 15:11).  Why are we confident of this personal connection? Because Jesus promised, “I will be with you” Matthew 28:20.  Since we have the spirit of Christ, we can enjoy the fruits of that spirit (Rom 8.9; Gal 5.22).

As Willard says, “..the kingdom of the heavens, from the practical point of view in which we all must live, is simply our experience of Jesus’s continual interaction with us in history and throughout the days, hours, and moments of our earthly existence.” (The Divine Conspiracy)

Would you like more joy and peace?  Practice becoming more aware of the presence of Jesus. That is why we pray, and engage with spiritual disciplines. Not to make us “better”, but to make us more aware and thus more connected with the source of peace and joy. And the benefit? Why do we need to question the benefits of more peace and joy! But, we should also be aware that the fuller our experience of the peace and joy of the spirit, the more it will set us apart in this world as people who have something others need. Those with spiritual hunger will sit up and take notice.

The kingdom has many facets. But perhaps, practically, the most fundamental is the opportunity to avail ourselves of a supernatural peace and joy for which we were always designed.

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.

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

God bless, Malcolm

PS: If you would like some coaching in spiritual disciplines, look me up here.
PPS: You might also be interested in my book: “An elephant’s swimming pool“, a devotional look at the Gospel of John

“Return to be refreshed”

Quiet Time Coaching: Episode 56

If you are watching the video you will notice that I am not my usual place to record today’s quiet time coaching episode. That’s because I felt called, drawn even, to go back to a place where I prayed regularly five years ago. I have just finished my prayer time there and wanted to share the experience with you.

Where did I go? I went to a viewpoint overlooking the Harrow area of north-west London. You can see all of North West and West London from this place. It’s a wonderful view. I used to come up here regularly to pray. Sometimes early in the morning, sometimes late at night when the lights were shining and the stars were twinkling.

Behind the car park for the viewpoint are some woods. The area is called Grimsdyke. I came here to pray 3, 4 or five times a week between 2000 and 2013. It became the most important prayer place for me during that time. I came up here with my dog in the sunshine, the rain, snow and whatever else the weather threw at us and we walked, and I prayed.

It’s five years since I was last here. It was so helpful today to reflect on all the lessons God has taught me the last five years. To realise that his disciplining hand has always been for my good. To celebrate his grace to me. My soul is refreshed.

Is there somewhere significant to you, that you could go back to and pray? Somewhere you haven’t been for a while. Perhaps a place where you used to worship, the location of your baptism into Christ, a regular former prayer spot or something similar?

I’m so glad I came here today. I am refreshed and ready for my Monday (I’m recording this on a Monday) and my week.

Have you returned to be refreshed? I would love to know your experiences.

Please leave a comment wherever you read or see or hear these recordings. Please leave it publicly because we learn best when the learn in community.

If you know someone who might benefit from these thoughts, please pass the link on to them.

If you’re listening to the podcast, please leave us a review. If you’re watching the video, please hit the like button and the subscribe button and then you will be notified when new recordings go online.

I pray that between now and the next time we see each other you will find great refreshment from being reminded what God has done in the last year, or five or ten of your life.

God bless, Malcolm

PS: If you would like some coaching in spiritual disciplines, look me up here.

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

“How to re-use, repurpose, or recycle a lesson”

Tuesday Teaching Tips: Episode 126

How to revise a sermon or lesson to be used on another occasion. Is it even legitimate to do this?

Stage One – reflection
  1. Will it meet genuine needs?
  2. Do you still believe it? Still living it?
  3. What would make it better?
Stage Two – rewriting
  1. Check introduction
  2. Relevant illustrations / applications
  3. Check slides

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: If you would like some coaching in spiritual disciplines, look me up here.

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

“An arrow prayer for every day of the week”

Quiet Time Coaching: Episode 55

We lead busy lives. Sometimes we forget God’s presence, and we do not have opportunity for lengthy prayer. What to do?

Arrow prayers, pp319-323:
  • These can be a simple word, or a short phrase that is repeated throughout the day bringing remembrance to us that God is with us in all circumstances.
  • “Speak them inwardly and they will speak back to you all through the day’s changing circumstances. Because the words are so few and so simple, they help us to soar beyond language into the mystery of silence.
  • “One single grateful thought, raised to heaven, is a perfect prayer.“ Lessing, Minna Von Barnhelm, ii, 7.
  • “The simpler the prayer style, the easier it will be to bring the spirit of prayer into daily life.”
“And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words.” (Matthew 6:7 NIV11)
I’ve come up with a different arrow prayer for each day of the week.
  • Monday: “Marvellous are your deeds, Lord” (Revelation 15:3 NIV11)
  • Tuesday: “I choose you, Lord”
  • Wednesday: “I worship you, Lord”
  • Thursday: “Thank you, Lord”
  • Friday: “Feed me, Lord”
  • Saturday: “Save me, Lord”
  • Sunday: “Sustain me, Lord”
Why not make up your own?
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: If you would like some coaching in spiritual disciplines, look me up here
PPS: You might also be interested in my book: “An elephant’s swimming pool”, a devotional look at the Gospel of John

“Three tips for training the next generation of teachers”

Tuesday teaching tips: Episode 125

My friend Katie asked me a question about mentoring the next generation of teachers and preachers. She asked if it was hard for me to let go? In truth, it is. Is it for you too?
“The bride belongs to the bridegroom. The friend who attends the bridegroom waits and listens for him, and is full of joy when he hears the bridegroom’s voice. That joy is mine, and it is now complete. He must become greater; I must become less.”” (John 3:29–30 NIV11)
Keep an eye on the future by:
  1. Are you willing to work with people for  the long-term? “Get Mark and bring him with you, because he is helpful to me in my ministry.” (2 Timothy 4:11 NIV11)
  2. Are you taking risks? “The reason I left you in Crete was that you might put in order what was left unfinished and appoint elders in every town, as I directed you.” (Titus 1:5 NIV11)
  3. Do you have a bond? “For this reason I have sent to you Timothy, my son whom I love, who is faithful in the Lord. He will remind you of my way of life in Christ Jesus, which agrees with what I teach everywhere in every church.” (1 Corinthians 4:17 NIV11)
Who are you mentoring?
Please leave a comment, pass the link on, and subscribe to the podcast.
God bless,
Malcolm

“A meditation on the Lord’s prayer” by Balthasar Hubmaier

Quiet Time Coaching: Episode 54

Balthasar Hubmaier was an Anabaptist leader who wrote this short meditation in 1526. Soon afterwards he was arrested, tortured and executed for his faith.

Our Father. Gracious Father, I am not worthy to be called a child of yours or that I should be able to call you my Father. I have not always done your will. I have often done the will of the Father of Lies. Forgive me, merciful Father, and make me a child of yours in the faith.

Who Art In Heaven. Father of goodness, look upon us, we who live in this miserable state of woe. We know that children cannot find a better condition than to be with their loving father, who feeds them, gives them drink, clothes them, protects them and shields them from all needs. Gracious Father, take us, your miserable children, to be with you in heaven.

Holy Is Your Name. Merciful Father, we know that we are guilty of continually dishonoring your name with our words and actions. The suffering of Christ, which for us is medicament for eternal life, we make into an eternal reproach by our cursing and rebuking. Forgive us, Father, and give us grace so that your name will never come from our mouths unprofitably. Help us to cease all blasphemy and swearing so that your holy name will eternally be glorified, enhanced and praised.

Your Kingdom Come. Gracious Father, we know that we are captives to sin, the devil, hell and eternal death. But Father, we cry out and call to you as our loving Father to come quickly with your kingdom of grace, peace, joy and eternal salvation. Come to our aid, gracious Father, for without you we are totally miserable, afflicted and lost.

Your Will Be Done On Earth As In Heaven. Good Father, we confess publicly that your fatherly will does not suit us earthly people. Our will is completely and totally hostile to your divine will. We ask you to send your Holy Spirit to work in us authentic faith, steadfast hope and ardent love, so that our will is conformed to your divine will in all things.

Give Us Today Our Daily Bread. Compassionate Father, we live not by bread alone, but by every word that comes from your holy mouth. Therefore, we humbly pray that you will feed us with the bread of your holy word. This is the bread of heaven, and whoever eats it will be eternally filled. Make it a living presence in our souls. Make it grow and bring forth fruits of eternal life. Give us diligent Christian workers who will spread this bread among us in pure, clear and untarnished manner so that your Fatherly will, which is known only from your word, will be fulfilled.

Forgive Us Our Debts As We Forgive Our Debtors. Kind Father, we know that we are guilty of having sinned in words, deeds and evil thoughts. We do not even know the number, portion or extent of our sins. Father, forgive us and give us power to better our way of living, even as we forgive those who have caused our suffering. Father, forgive them too, for they do not know what they are doing. Enlighten all those who misunderstand your holy word, who abuse and persecute us, so that they might come to the true way that leads to eternal life.

Lead Us Not Into Temptation. Heavenly Father! Look on the fear, barrenness, misery, persecution and hardship which we must endure here on earth, and ponder also our human weakness. For this reason, sweet Father, we ask of you, through your Fatherly love, that you do not forsake us in our anguish and suffering, that we not be defeated nor fall away from your holy word. Do not allow us to be tempted beyond that which we can endure. We are weak and frail, while our enemies are strong, powerful and heartless. You know these things, merciful Father.

Deliver Us From Evil. Deliver us from evil, from sin, from the devil, from our own lust, which is our greatest enemy. Deliver us from all that keeps us far from you. Moreover, give us all that brings us closer to you. For dominion, power and glory are yours forever in eternity.

Eternal Father, as we have prayed to you here, bring it to fulfilment according to your Fatherly good will. These things we pray through your mercy and through your gracious promises which you have given to us consistently through Moses, the prophets and the apostles. But we pray this especially, pleading with you, through your most beloved son, our Lord Jesus Christ. He has surely promised us, and proved it through his bitter death, that whatever we pray for in your name you will give us. Father, we place our bodies, lives, honour, possessions, soul and spirit into your hands. All that we have received from you we offer back to you, for you give and you take away. Praise be to your name. Amen and amen.

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: If you would like some coaching in spiritual disciplines, look me up here.
PPS: You might also be interested in my book: “An elephant’s swimming pool”, a devotional look at the Gospel of John

“How to conduct a healthy preaching post-mortem”

Tuesday Teaching Tip: Episode 124

If you are a preacher, you know the scene all-too-well. It’s Sunday afternoon/evening, or Monday morning, and you’re thinking about how your sermon went. Perhaps it was a cracker, or perhaps it was simply cracked!

My most recent one went too long! We need to process our frustrations, but how do we do this in a healthy way?

  1. Accept. Your weakness is God’s opportunity to demonstrate his glory through a cracked vessel. If you preached perfectly, no one would dare aspire to be a preacher.
  2. Analyse. Do at least one of two things. Either listen to a recording of your lesson, or go through your notes. Be as objective as possible, and make it a point to remember the things you did well, as well as the things that could have been better. Write down up to only three things which could have been improved. Then, decide to forgive yourself for all three (God does, after all), and to settle on the one which, if improved, would make the biggest impact on the effectiveness of your next message.
  3. Act. Now that you have picked one lesson to learn, decide how to implement it in your next sermon. Don’t try and change everything at once.

What helps you to conduct a healthy post-mortem of your most recent lesson? How do you handle your frustrations, or even, sometimes, your shame? What do you do when you receive less than kind feedback? Or, perhaps even worse, none at all?

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

Thank you for listening to this recording. You can find more teaching tips here and on the on the YouTube teaching tips playlist. Pass the link to anyone who might benefit.

Subscribe to the podcast so as not to miss a beat, and leave a review if you could.

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

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

Thanks again for listening. Have a terrific Tuesday, and a wonderful week.

God bless,

Malcolm

The connection between courage and joy, Acts 8.1-8

I’m preaching soon on Acts 8.1-8, and noticing a connection between courage and joy. Could you help me in my sermon preparation by sending me your reflections on the connection between courage and joy? I’d be very grateful.

“And Saul approved of their killing him. On that day a great persecution broke out against the church in Jerusalem, and all except the apostles were scattered throughout Judea and Samaria. Godly men buried Stephen and mourned deeply for him. But Saul began to destroy the church. Going from house to house, he dragged off both men and women and put them in prison. Those who had been scattered preached the word wherever they went. Philip went down to a city in Samaria and proclaimed the Messiah there. When the crowds heard Philip and saw the signs he performed, they all paid close attention to what he said. For with shrieks, impure spirits came out of many, and many who were paralysed or lame were healed. So there was great joy in that city.” (Acts 8:1–8 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: If you would like some coaching in spiritual disciplines, look me up here

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