Archive of previous articles

A list of previous articles from "Thought for the week"  2009 - 2012

1.  Psalm 103 v 15 - 17

How much wisdom there is in the Bible!  How much hope for us.

2. The gift of the Spirit for understanding the Bible.  

When I need a chemist in Italy I look for a green cross among all other  luminous signs along the road.  When I need stamp, my eye looks for the large “T” and when I need cash I search for the “bancomat’ sign.  In other words, I look for what I want to see. It’s so easy for our reading of the Bible to be like this!

4. “No one born of God keeps on committing sin . . . ” 1 John 3:9

It was just after 5:30 p.m. when the last two hot-air-balloons lifted into the air to float south-east, over the main railway line which runs from Bologna to Padova, on towards Poggio Renatico.  We had already seen about ten of these huge “balloons” lift into the air, 

5. “. . . but the Pharisees and experts

in the law rejected God’s purpose for themselves because they had not been baptised by John.”

Luca 730b  These words in Luke’s Gospel are painful to read. They mean that well-educated, religious people, refused Christ.   

6. “The Gospel of Leviticus”

What an unusual title for the third Book of the Bible! In fact, when I asked  the church to find it in their Bibles they  just looked at me amazed.  They’d never heard of the Gospel of Leviticus in the Old Testament.  There was only the book called “ Leviticus”.  Yet reading and studying it  I am increasingly convinced that it isn’t a title which distorts the significance or betrays the Word of God. On the contrary –  it reveals aspects we never would have thought of.........!

 7. “The extraordinary gift of freedom from sin’s addictions”

 One of the most unforgettable moments for every believer is the freedom from sin when he confesses his sin to the Lord. All the weight of secret sins and addictions is lifted!

8. 3 keys of freedom! “Nothing to hide – nothing to prove – nothing to fear.  The person who formulated these 3 keys was born in the slums of London. As a lad, recently emigrated from Ireland to London, Patrick  was shuffled from one orphanage to another.  

9. “ For this is the will of my father,  

 that everyone who sees the Son and believes in him should have eternal life: and I will raise him up at the last day.”  Gospel of John 6 40 We had just flown urgently back into Italy from the United States.  My wife was discovered to have an internal haemorrhage....

10. “…and so they died before the Lord ” – Leviticus 102

Although it might seem strange,  there is nothing that can sweeten the reality of death more than the last 3 words of this verse; “before the Lord”.   Death, whenever it strikes, is always brutal and heartbreaking.

11. The writer behind the Christmas Carol . ...

“O little town of Bethlehem  At the age of thirty,  Philips Brooks, already a well known and gifted preacher,  visited Bethlehem...

12. Our wish for everyone for 2010  'The Old Russian Shoemaker'

It was Christmas Eve.  In a small Russian village excited children were playing in the streets.  Down the street shuffled an old shoemaker......

13. Disastrous earthquake hits Haiti  –

immediate needs are for “Search and Rescue” teams  As the first televised reports of the massive earthquake which shook Haitiflashed across the screen, so too the various news reporters summed up the immediate need,,,

14. The tragedy of the earthquake in Haiti constitutes a warning to all of us!

I’ve never allowed myself to see someone suffer with a sense of personal self-satisfaction for the pain which I thought was merited.  As a child my parents were glad when I was hurt because, as they often said;   “You wanted to do it, so now you must pay the price of the consequences.”....

15. Is the earthquake in Haiti a traffic light which is red?

I have to admit that I just don’t like traffic lights when they are red. Especially when you stop and there’s no car or pedestrian in sight!..

16. “……we would prefer to be….. with the Lord ”   

a phrase which transforms death from a tragedy into a triumph!  When the evening sports news opens with a quiet music, no words, just an image with a few words indicating special human qualities, 


 17. “Yeast”  and  Tiger Woods

The public confession made by Tiger Woods was a rare moment of public authenticity. That it was done for secondary reasons, as many have already speculated, we shall see in the next few weeks. But for a sportsman,


18. Two newspaper articles which make us think

 The first: “Drunken driving, the  ‘popess’ in deep trouble” The second: “The Protestant ethic: he who makes a mistake (or steals) will not be forgiven”

19.  “My Way” by Frank Sinatra

I can’t say anything else – this song by Frank Sinatra is as moving as it is magnificent!  The voice, the melody, the performance just captures my attention every time I hear it. It’s fantastic!  And yet  there’s something that bothers me deeply.

20.  Is God a tyrant, despot, or dictator like this appalling teacher?

 These 3 words came to mind this week as I read a letter which had been published in our local newspaper the “Resto del Carlino”. It was the title that first grabbed my attention: “Severe teachers. For my part it was only humiliati.

21. Two stories of patience which was rewarded!

 I don’t know why but my mind went back to two very similar episodes concerning two brothers with similar situations but totally different reactions!

22.  Why does the Evangelical Church talk about 'Scripture Alone' ? By using the word “alone” it becomes obvious that the Scriptures are in themselves sufficient to let mankind know just who God is, what is His will, and what are the needs of men.

23.  What do we mean when we say 'Christ Alone'?

These two words, often expressed in latin ‘solus Christus’ sound so religious, pompous and distant. And yet these were the words that in the 1500’s captured the minds and hearts of the Reformers giving a new hope and a new joy.

24.“Sola Grazia  Grace alone” is really “Amazing Grace”

This well-known hymn, which never wears out, captures so well what the Reformers were discovering in the middle-ag 

25. What do the Reformation words: “By faith alone” really mean?

Even today, when someone says they have faith, they are made fun of. They are called “wierdos” or some other objectionable word!  But if you really think about it, who actually does live without a faith?

 26. The fifth thesis from the Protestant Reformation is written in Latin:

“Soli Deo Gloria”

In our world which is normally shaped by efforts to carve out our own happiness, this is probably the thesis which seems the least relevant. And yet, when we look into the Bible we see that man’s entire existence is to be found in God’s glory alone. 

27.  Heidi's challenging but true story

Heidi is about 50 years old with a contagious smile. She tells her story on a sweltering Sunday afternoon as we sit in the shade of a large oak tree in the local park. “I was born in Hungary when Communism reigned – an atheistic

28. A hymn by Horatius Bonar

This great hymn expresses a beautiful prayer which although not easy to pray, is the highest any one of us can ever pray. It’s what Jesus Himself prayed in the garden.

May God help us to make it ours for there’s no greater place of security or joy!

29. “The Lord is my Shepherd”

There are few people who know the first time God gave to a man the privilege of calling him “my” God.

30. The Lord is my Shepherd “I shall lack nothing”

Quite recently there was a major insert in our town’s leading newspaper reporting the prosperity of mankind across the last 10 years. With a series of articles it described how our world, although still plagued with various difficulties ‘had never been better’.

31.  He makes me lie down in green pastures

The 3 phrases of Psalm 23: 2 – How beautiful but how difficult!

 “He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters,he restores my soul”

32. He guides me in paths of righteousness

Is there anybody who doesn’t crave security? Don’t we all cherish a sense of well-being and protection?

33. Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death 

Undern eath the wonderful comfort of this biblical text, is a truth we don’t often see.

33a “a thought about Christmas”

“It’s quite natural and normal to meet with our regular friends, but it’s extraordinary to discover new ones with whom we can share our pain, joy, and the hope of the Promise which will be fulfilled."

34. “You prepare a table for me... 

The total surprise in this phrase lies in the fact that God doesn’t take the enemy away!

35. You annoint my head with oil... 

David, the powerful king of Israel and writer of this Psalm, was very familiar with the use of oil in his day.

36. “. . . my cup overflows. . .”

Even though I can’t exactly remember the name of the lovely park near Verona where I made the discovery, I’ll never forget the first time I ever saw a natural fountain!

37.  “Surely goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life . . . ”

This penultimate phrase of Psalm 23, even as translated, here is very reassuring! To think that every day of my life will be lived under the tender gaze of my loving heavenly Father is a wonderful source of consolation.

38.   “. . .and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever ”

 This last phrase of Psalm 23 is really the cherry on top of the cake! Just imagine – here’s a reassurance not just for our lives here and now but for eternity! Could anyone want for anything more?

39. “Oh, Happy Day, Oh Happy Day Gospel Music – is for every season in life!

I was completely taken aback when I heard this beautiful melody circling around the central hub of the Shopping Mall!

40. “He’s got the whole world in His hands . . . “

American Slave Music is just what we need now – March 2011

Here in Italy we were all mortified by the terrifying scenes which flashed across our television screens when on Friday 11th March 2011

41. The American “Spirituals” of the slaves are so “right” for today, 

Easter 2011, too!

“Where you there when they crucified my Lord”

 Not only Good Friday . . . but also Easter Sunday

42. “The most beautiful story of my life”

As told by Dalide on Sunday, 10th April 2011

For a long while I wondered if my acceptance of Christ was an authentic experience or just something which I was inventing in my mind

43.Born on the wrong side of the tracks”

 The first time I heard this phrase was when it was used by a very successful Pastor. He was a known and respected leader in the town where his church had grown to large numbers and every Sunday the morning service was televised live. And yet he began to tell us his life story using this phrase: “born on the wrong side of the tracks”.

44. If I only had 2 minutes bere I died...

what would I say to you?

45.  My Father rediscovered.

A sublime prayer which doesn't need commenting just embracing.

46. My Father..

A very good friend once told me: “Paul, many people don’t believe in God just because He’s called “Father” – and all they got from their father were beatings!”

47. Welcome! 

 We all know the kind of thoughts that can come into our heads when we here the words  'Evangelical Church'  especially when we here them for the first time.

48. This is Eternal life...

Doctor James Sheen has now retired but even though more than 40 years have passed I still recall vividly his warning to us.

49. "I am the way, the truth and the life...

It was C.S. Lewis who pointed out that the real reason anyone can believe in Christ is not for the benefit of what he thinks he might get out of his faith, but because what He says is true.

50. How can I believe in God? 

I believe in God the same way I believe in the sun : not because I can see it, but because by it I can see everything else. ” C.S. Lewis

51Steve Jobs (1955-2011)

Le notizia della mancanza di questo uomo brillante e capace hanno rimbalzato dall’occidente ad oriente come un fulmine.

52. Psalmo 130

 When we don’t just “say-a-prayer” but instead “cry-out-to-God”

53. What actually is Christmas?

When I ask my English language students this question the words I write on the blackboard are quite familiar:

54.  An irresistible offer!

  Worms for feathers” – the devil’s bargain..One day long ago, over the hot sands of a middle-Eastern country, a white skylark flew in joyous loops about the sky.

55. News that shocked everybody 

In 48 hours Gary Speed, Welsh football manager, & Lucio Magri, journalist and member of parliament,both take their lives.

56.  Our choices are SO important!

The other morning, in quite an unusual way, I had the idea of weave Psalm1 and Psalm 23 together. And just look what happened. . . isn’t it super!

57.  The unthinkable happened!   

As we constantly see on our television scenes the shipwrecked cruise liner Concordia lying on its side on the Isle of Giglio the question continues to haunt us:

58.  “Some of the reason which make evolution far less credible than what we are told to believe”

 The helpful distinction between micro and macro evolution

One of the central tenets of our guest speaker’s presentations on evolution was the fact that there has been introduced into the word itself a subtle confusion.

59. “We’re all going to die – but we’re not all living”

 These words, put in the mouth of William Wallace in the film “Braveheart”, describe his courageous choice when he constantly risked his life ....

60. “ If there is a God, then why doesn’t he show up?”

This cynical accusation, bitterly hurled against Richard Dawkin’s interviewer, was intended to totally destroy any possible remnants of the theory of the possible existence of God.

61.  “The hyphen between the dates”

 Napoleon’s tombstone is huge. Churchill’s is simple. The eternal flame burns over the grave of President John Kennedy. Very different lives, very different markers.

62. Today, is it possible to live and not be depressed?

 This isn’t just a rhetorical question. For me, it’s real and daily!

As I look around me, there are so many reasons to be depressed. . . so many. Here’s just a beginning list:

63. 3 pearls, all starting with the letter “A” (in Italian!)

A- scolta” = Hear + “A - bbia Pietà” = Be merciful + “A - iuto” = Help I call these 3 Italian words “pearls” because there’s absolutely no reason why God should ever listen to me – have mercy on me – help me. He doesn’t need me.

64.  Salvation? To the human mind, an unthinkable gift of grace! What do you have to do to establish a personal relationship with God. Is it possible? We can’t really escape it, whether we want it or not God and the Church seems to be quite

important in our lives.

65. Just how much is your soul worth? 

Whoever even thinks about it? Well, Billy Graham, in this message of his, obviously did and his points are worth taking very seriously. Here they are:

66. What does “Dwelling in the Scriptures” actually mean?

 A letter to the town’s major newspaper “ il Giornale di Vicenza” published on the front page Sunday 1st June 20

67.Some challenges of a second marriage are hidden.

A second marriage isn’t easy. That’s not because you love your second wife less. 

68.The church of Jesus Christ is a deformed tree?

 “Rooted in the shadow of an old abandoned house, the young tree began to grow in a spontaneous and natural way.

69. Christmas inside a Bible verse

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son. . .”

                    (Gospel of John 3:16)

70. A love letter from the Father   My son / my daughter

You may not know me, but I know everything about you. Psalm 139:1

71. The incredible “Forgettery” of God

How can a God who knows everything, all the time, ever forget anything? If He, being all powerful, all present, eternally all knowing possibly “forget” something that happens in time?

72. 3 very good reasons to read the Bible (From the CERBI Calendar 2013)The first: for your own pleasure

73. Just who (and how) is “God”

Reading the Bible we discover two categories of qualities in God.

74. Easter is far more than an egg!

From a short list of comforts on a Calendar there emerges a wonderful   unexpected hope:  “Christ is in everything.

75. Easter lasts forever ……..if you want it to!

From the television news bulletins, newspapers, films and internet, it seems that human life can be summed up with 8 “d”s . . .  

76.  What you probably didn’t know about the Bible!

 The Bible is primarily about God’s relationship of himself to mankind and His relationship with people.

77.  The choice is yours. . . it really is!

I have given you life . . . but I can’t live in your place

I’ve given you love . . . but I can’t force it on yo78.

78.  Our guilty conscience . . . freed by the power of God!

Toplady was obviously very aware of the immensity of his sin. But he, too, like Moses, wanted to know God more intimately....

79. Just a Second”

Seconds fly by without our noticing. However, second eventually add up to a lifetime, and then, in a second, life is over.

80.  God alone is enough!


My souls finds rest in God alone; my salvation comes from  him.

81. God alone is our Refuge.


God is our refuge and strength, an ever present help in trouble

82. December 2013 - Nelson Mandela’s death is remembered  o celebrated? For 10 days now the world news has been dominated by Nelson Mandela’s death

83. A new way of thinking about suffering!  When we hear the word “suffering” almost automatically a series of unconscious responses flood our minds. John Piper’s observations...

84.The Bible? Out of date? Never! 

Blessed is the man who doesn’t walk in the counsel of the wicked  

85. The heart of the Protestant Reformation

The first: “Scripture alone” is the first one because it picks up the entire question of the authority 

86. The time of the Reformation is often called “time when the Bible was rediscovered “Sola Scrittura” 

87.  Also was the truth that Christ alone saves “Solus Christus”

88. By grace alone. One of the major consequences of man’s rebellion against God is his own blind trust in himself and his own abilities. 

89. By faith alone. Even though today someone with faith is thought to be ‘out of date’,  isn’t it still true that everyone has some kind of faith?

90. To God alone be the glory. The Scriptures teach us that life’s meaning is to be found in “glorifying  God Himself alone”.




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La Chiesa Evangelica di Ferrara 2009