Super Power

From being a small child, I seemed to be aware that I was being watched over and guided by God. I developed a deep conscience from being very young and put this down to some sort of Super Power which guided me throughout my life. I find it absolutely mind-blowing that God, who came to earth in the form of a human being, is omnipotent (all-powerful); omnipresent (present in all places at the same time) and is omniscient (has unlimited knowledge). The Bible tells us God knows everything about everyone – even to knowing every single hair on our heads! It is very difficult to relate the Jesus who came to live among us with such a magnificent Being. How can God know everything we say, do and think?

Rev Graham replies:

Thank you Carol for that very challenging question. I think we can all agree that as we look up on a clear night and see all the wonder of the stars in the universe we cannot comprehend how all creation has come about and how it maintains and sustains itself year upon year.

In the New Testament we read the words from John chapter 1: “In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with Go, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God; all things were made through him and without him was not anything made that was made.”

In the formation of the world and universe God and his Word are intricately linked. Theology gives us an idea of who made and sustains the earth. Science tries to give an answer as to how it has been formed and is maintained. 

In the Old Testament the prophet Jerimiah cries out in prayer and worship to God acknowledging his creative power throughout the world and beyond. (32: 17) Listen later on to the beautiful worship song Ah Lord God by Don Moem based on Jerimiah’s words.

In Psalm 139 we find that David touches on God as omnipotent (all-powerful); omnipresent (present in all places at the same time) and omniscient (has unlimited knowledge).

Verses 1-6 acknowledge God as all-knowing, and Is aware of our thoughts and intentions and such thoughts of God are so high that we cannot attain them

Verses 7 – 12 bears out that God’s presence is in and over all the earth and universe. We cannot flee from God’s knowing presence.

Verse 13 – 16 reminds us that God is in the midst of creation right from a tiny seed of a plant to the formation of a precious baby. We are fearfully and wonderfully made. God knows us from conception to birth and earthly life.

Verses 17 – 24 it concludes that in God’s knowledge, presence and power he is aware of who we are and what needs we have even on a daily basis. He protects the faithful against those who would harm them. We ask God to search us continually so that we may confess our sins and enjoy the best relationship possible with an all knowing, powerful and present God.

As mentioned for the Christian the bible offers up theological answers to the mysteries of faith. This is where we have to differentiate between scientific theories that may complement or firmly disagree with a more faith based view of the past, present and future world to come.

Whatever faith or scientific position we take nothing can change the fact that this world we live in is powerful, sustained and knowledgeable. It is Omni present for all to enjoy, look after and leave for successive generations as we move on to the other mystery world of everlasting life

There are different ways to look at the power of God. All powerful in which no human can ever comprehend. Without any power and any concept of a powerful God is only a human construct to use power in their own way.

From the Heart – NHS Appreciation

Carol says:

I have a confession to make! I’m in love…..with the NHS. Yes, I know it’s arguably an inanimate object but it’s one of the best institutions we have in this country…..and possibly in the world! It’s so easy to take organisations for granted and even to complain vociferously about them when things go badly wrong – which they do, dreadfully, for some people – but on the whole I think it is a national treasure and one which we should value much more than we do.

We all came to realise exactly how precious the NHS is during 2020 when Covid struck our shores. Who can forget those wonderful nurses and doctors who put their lives on the line for us, looked shattered after working long, hard days, often going without food and breaks and the shops being almost empty for them to purchase goods at the end of their shifts.

Many of the staff didn’t know which way to turn or how best to treat the myriad number of people needing finite resources during the peak of the crisis when the Government was trying to purchase supplies of PPE and other vital equipment, in competition with the rest of the world, and before the vaccination programme was introduced. But, because of the resilience and dedication of those wonderful people, we got over the worst of the crisis, even though there are now long waiting lists for treatment and people still living in fear.

Not only are the medical staff absolute angels for what they endure – not helped with the current staff shortages – but there are a whole host of administrative, clerical and ancillary staff and numerous associated services without which the NHS couldn’t function. Thousands and thousands of people who you don’t see but know are there. And, not only that, but have you ever thought about where else the money goes into to keep this conglomerate going?

Just off the top of my head I’m thinking of all the many thousands of buildings and their associated running costs; hundreds of thousands of pieces of staff uniform; the millions of drugs used in hospitals and at the thousands of GP’s surgeries throughout the country; every piece of medical equipment and instrument used in hospitals and in the community; the research and development which goes into cures and science; the expenditure involved in running GPs surgeries as well as dental and optical practices and pharmacies; the cost of running the ambulance service; counselling, community and psychiatric provision and the massive amount of other expenditure that goes into running this public service. And much, much more.

But the NHS funding programme isn’t a bottomless pit and I think it is the duty of all of us to value and protect what we have – money definitely doesn’t grow on trees. I know some people argue that the Government don’t put enough into it but, no matter how much extra finding they provide, it will never be enough. With an ever-increasing and ageing population, the demands will continue to rise.

It’s estimated that the cost of running the NHS in England alone is in the region of £212 BILLION for the year 2020/21. Like many public services, there is probably a fair amount of unnecessary spending and wastage in the system and maybe even financial mismanagement to a certain extent, but it’s still a very serious amount of money.

I think there is so much more we could be doing as a nation to protect the NHS and take personal responsibility for our own health. Much of the NHS money goes towards the cost of self-inflicted illnesses caused by smoking, obesity, drugs, alcohol, various addictions, etc. I think this money would be far better spent on diseases which are not self-inflicted. I appreciate that many people resort to these things because of pressures in their lives, poor mental health and loneliness, bad life experiences especially from childhood in many cases and a huge array of other causes.

If more of the NHS resources could be diverted to preventive measures such as early-stage counselling – prevention is better than cure as the saying goes – this would free-up vital money and other resources to improve or eradicate life-threatening illnesses, themselves often being caused by poor lifestyle choices. I believe the NHS already tries its very best to divert people away from addictive behaviour but, again, it’s up to each and everyone of us to do our best to cut back on things where we know it could lead to poor health outcomes.

I like a glass of wine as much as anyone, and I know I eat too much on occasions, but I want to lead a long and healthy life without pain so I try my best to temper it and be sensible most of the time. It’s not always easy but, when I look round and see middle-aged people suffering from physical impairments which might have been caused by activities which could have been avoided, it really does break my heart. We all need to think about the long-term consequences of our actions and especially of the reduced life-span which some of these activities could entail.

The NHS is precious. The resources which go into it are precious. Life itself is very precious. Let’s not abuse any of them by squandering them – it just needs us all to take a bit more responsibility for our own health wherever possible. The NHS is a national treasure – let’s not waste it.

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Carol’s Challenging Question – How Would God View Outside Intervention?

Many people followed the tragic case of 12-year-old Archie Battersbee whose mother battled fiercely through the courts to stop the hospital and doctors turning off his life support machine.  There have been many others who have also gone through the same horrendous experience of fighting for the right of their loved ones to be kept alive by mechanical means.  Many such cases never reach the courts or news headlines and turning off life support equipment probably happens many more times than we realise.

I completely understand why people would fight for the right of someone to live, especially in the case of a young person.  It demonstrates the power of human love and the extremes people will go to, to safeguard life.  It’s very hard to let go of a loved one even when it’s their natural time to die.  But one of the dilemmas I have with the whole situation is trying to find what the Christian viewpoint would, or should, be in these situations?

Another aspect which I find concerning is the recent change in English law which presumes a person has given their permission for their organs to be used after death unless they have expressly stated they do not wish for this to happen. 

As Christians, we believe that God decides what happens in everyone’s lives.  We also believe that God allows advances in medicine, science and technology to be able to improve and extend people’s lives in so many different ways – in past times these would have been described as “miracles”.

Photo: Anna Shvets –

So, Graham, could it be deemed morally unethical or against Christianity for operations like organ donation or turning off life support equipment to be allowed if it’s God’s will to end the lives of the people involved?  As a Christian Minister but being aware that God plans our lives, would you ask the medical profession to intervene in the case of one of your loved ones possibly being taken off life support?  It’s a hard one to answer, I know, and I wouldn’t ever like to be in the position where a major life decision such as this has to be made. 

Rev Graham replies:

Thanks, Carol, for another very challenging question which often raises more questions than answers. My initial thought goes to the words in Genesis where, after all God’s hard work in producing his Creation, on the sixth day He looked around and concluded that all was good and I’m sure perfect! We often question God’s design and plans, especially as we look in the mirror and see each other, alongside the unique designs of animals and creatures and the different physical environments found throughout the world.

Also in Genesis we read of the fall in Creation where Adam, Eve and all of Noah’s descendants became imperfect and experienced a new norm of confusion in devotion, action, language, work and relationships. As well as confusion we have experienced changes in regards to health and we have to navigate a journey that leads to a physical death and, one day, an eternal existence.

As we think about life from the Ice and Iron ages, throughout the Dark, Enlightened and Victorian ages, there have been countless improvements in the quality of life right up to the wonders of our modern world today!

At this point I have found myself concluding that such progress has been due, in part, to many human interventions which we have received as a gift or an imposition that society has to evaluate and assume are under the control or disapproval of God Almighty. Thanks Rifqi for the photo

In considering your question, Carol, there will be people who conclude that certain gains in life are morally unethical and against the teaching of the bible. For some, any form of intervention and progress is only bad news and for others the progressions in life can only be a good thing! Progress is good and sustainable but there will always be another side that brings foreseen or unexpected complications which is central to your question and the challenge includes where God is in all the progress and how, as Christians, can we discern what is good or bad!


As a Minister, on the Wirral, I worked with a family whose child was in need of some medical intervention to save her life or her life would become very restrictive and it was a shock to all in the church and community. The day of the child’s operation was one of the longest and hardest the family experienced as they choose to fight and pray for her healing whilst recognising and accepting that they may have to lose her or support her in a different way. Medical intervention helped to keep Archie Battersbee alive for a period of time after his accident and the ethical dilemmas came in regards to any decisions being made as to what was best to sustain his life or naturally allow it to end.

There are many cases where people for religious, ethical or just personal beliefs, choose not to accept blood transfusion, even if it incurs a death. Other people are happy to accept medical help that will prolong an individual’s life. In many incidences family members have specified that, in the event of medical complications when facing death, they do not want to be resuscitated which for some is massive and others quite acceptable.

In whatever life events that come our way, expected or not, in the context of our faith as a Christian we may be able to pray and seek to discern the will and mind of the Lord for the needs of the family and trust God to grant healing and comfort if a loved is to die. In the life story of Job and many others “the Lord gave and the Lord has taken away.” The challenge is that, in whatever outcome we may experience, we continue to “praise the name of the Lord.”

Medical Interventions

There have been numerous medical interventions which have radically improved human health as outlined below. The point here is that, without such interventions, many levels of health care would be compromised and the choices of patients minimised which in itself would reduce the dilemmas contained within your question, Carol.

Vaccines have been created for people to use before and during particular infections which protect and heal, as recently experienced with the Coronavirus (Covid 19). Maternal and neonatal. The health and well-being of a mother before, during and after pregnancy has improved beyond measure in respect to areas such as family planning, infectious diseases, improved deliveries and post-natal understanding.   

Educational and behaviour change.It is a fact that, as human behaviour changes, then it can improve our overall health as exampled with the reduction of smoking, drinking, breastfeeding, diet and sexual habits.

Environmental changes. When we are asked to change how we use the environment we live in, it can improve and control infectious diseases such as cholera which are transmitted through water. Different ways of construction in supplying clean water, its storage and sewage, has improved our heath which can also be applied to air pollution. Thanks Nataliya for the photo

Pest control. In some countries certain pests and hosts help to transmit diseases. In controlling the pests, such as mosquitoes and tsetse flies, a reduction in disease does take place. Understanding the environment of the pest is vital to finding solutions.

Drugs for the prevention of disease. When we get infections we are able to benefit from certain drugs such as penicillin that protects, cures and prevents particular diseases.  

Therapeutic interventions are those that treat, mitigate or postpone the effects of disease when it is active and, as a result, reduces fatalities, disabilities and morbidity.

The treatment of Infectious Diseases. It is out of field trials that a drug application will emerge. Many drugs are used to kill off or restrict the transmission of certain diseases. Diseases have to be detected, a treatment found to restrict them and, where necessary, help people to live with them.

Diagnostics to Guide Therapy. Most diseases and treatments have to be diagnosed from simple symptoms and signs which are not always an easy process. Clinical trials are required before procedures are approved, recommended and used. As a result of various actions and results, the effectiveness or otherwise of drug trials will be determined in the gathering of results from their usage.

Control of Chronic Diseases. Many chronic diseases, once diagnosed, may not be curable but they can be controlled through various interventional changes in behaviour and uses of prescribed drugs and treatments. There are other interventions which require an enforcement of law to change use and behaviour that brings about environment and personal changes and improvements such as anti-pollution laws, food labelling, public health, tobacco and alcohol pricing.


During the past month, two of my friends have faced the need for specific medical intervention, one via intensive drugs and the other a major heart operation. In the will of God, one sadly lost his life and the other successfully came through the operation and is recovering nicely. During the trauma that the family faced with their daughter they received lots of love, prayers and support and, as a result of major surgery and ongoing medical support, she has gone on to live a vibrant and full life and has children of her own.

With the advances gained in medicine and its application to wider social living, there is the case that more ethical choices are raised which can be confusing for individuals and communities to agree over. I believe that any gains are allowed by God and have to be used for the benefit of all. But because we live in a fallen world, the gains we have can also be turned into losses that are not for the overall benefit within society. Many people in the Western World are rejecting an ultra-modern lifestyle and seek to go back to a simpler one. Many in poorer third world countries know that many interventions make a great difference to everyone living and are grateful for them.

In all situations, as a Christian it is important to give thanks for the life we have available to us each and every day. To live that life to the full with family, friends and community and in whatever ethical, moral and spiritual dilemmas we face; seek the will and peace of God that passes both understanding and misunderstanding and gives us healing as from the Lord who “gives and takes away.”

Thanks Brandy

As we know, Archie Battersbee died on 6 August 2022, a 12 year-old boy from Essex who loved martial arts and gymnastics. May his family continue to mourn his loss with thanksgiving and know a special portion of God’s comfort and love alongside human kindness and love. 


Thanks for references from the NCBI National library of Medicines Types of intervention


NHS Organ Donation – Tel: 0300 123 23 23/ – for further information and opt-out details.

Marie Curie – Tel: 0800 716146 or 0800 0902309.

Previous Questions


Asylum Seeker/Refugees



Crime and Punishment



How can God forgive Terrorist?

Child Abuse


New Year, New Renewal

Carol’s Spiritual Question – Whose Life Is It Anyway?

Graham – in this month’s challenging spiritual question we will refer to the ‘for’ and ‘against’ regarding people wanting to take their own life and the myriad of complex aspects governing this very emotive subject.

As a child, I was brought up very firmly to believe that God makes the plans and decisions for our lives, which are sometimes in contravention to what we might want for ourselves.  I still pretty much go along with that belief but, fortunately so far, I haven’t ever been put to the test of being so ill or in pain that I might want to decide to call it a day.

Thanks Tima

As with all issues where theological debate and human identity and suffering intersect, this is not a topic that can be discussed in the abstract. People are living with terminal illness; people are facing death with courage and with fear; people are bereaved or about to be bereaved. Christians will reach different conclusions on whether or not they wish to support assisted dying legislation but the Christian gospel of God’s love transcends all such discussions. As Paul said to the church in Rome, who were no strangers to suffering and death:

‘For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all Creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.’ (Romans 8.38-39)

Is it not possible, Graham, that God gave us free will to decide our own fate, particularly during times of deep anguish, loss, sadness, hopelessness and the wide range of other emotional and mental pains that the human spirit can experience?  For those people facing a terminal illness, surely a loving God would be forgiving if they took their own life, with or without assistance from other people?  And, for those who don’t have any sort of faith, is it not their own decision what they do with their own life?  Over to you Graham!

Rev Graham replies:

Thanks, Carol, for this timely and highly-controversial question that centres on the subject of assisted suicide which is being discussed and argued for and against in many countries throughout the world. I want to consider the subject in three simple parts which hopefully enables us to make our own conclusions in an area that is complex yet quite straight-forward depending on your own point of view. Compassion and Dignity. Competing Philosophies and Outcomes.

Compassion and Dignity

A person who is compassionate seeks to walk in the shoes of another and, in so doing, has empathy and a willingness to accommodate their needs and requirements. It is very easy to judge and dismiss another person’s opinion and choices if they do not fit into our own philosophy and outcomes.

Thanks Shvets

At this point it might be helpful to think about how we perceive God; as one full of compassion who understands our human frailties and one who wants us to hold true to the dignity and sanctity of life.

From a humanistic and atheist point of view, people are very compassionate and do not want a person to linger in agony and so are happy to offer a choice for a person to end their own life with assistance and dignity.  Both viewpoints would relate to a person who feels that they no longer want to live because of their illness and want to be ‘put out of their misery’. May we consider some bible verses which bring out the importance of being compassionate.

God of Compassion

But you, Lord, are a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness (Psalm 86:15). As Christians, we believe in a loving and compassionate God which, compared with many, with or without faith, believe that God is not compassionate if he condemns the taking or assisting of a person’s life.

Jesus Was Loving and Compassionate

When Jesus heard what had happened, he withdrew by boat privately to a solitary place. Hearing of this, the crowds followed him on foot from the towns. When Jesus landed and saw a great crowd, he had compassion for them and healed their sick (Matthew14:13 – 14). Jesus exercised a loving and compassionate ministry of healing available for all in whatever circumstances they found themselves. He also referred to the Ten Commandments and spoke his Sermon on the Mount

Compassionate People

Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and clearly loved, clothe yourself with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience (Colossians 3:12). In the context of our faith, it is important to be reminded that we are required to reflect the character and compassion of God to all we live and work with.

Philosophy – Arguments for and against

Central to the debate around assisted suicide is the argument as to whom we are accountable in regards to decisions and consequences we take in life. If we believe God governs the world, then any human activity has to come under his jurisdiction. Conversely, if we feel there is no God or super-being controlling us and we are not accountable to, then we have the freedom to live, amend and end our own lives subject only to the legal and civil laws of the land we live in.

In defining euthanasia there are four aspects to it that are: Active; Indirect; Passive and Assisted Suicide. Each one may include some help from a third party, such as a doctor providing lethal drugs, for a person who has a terminal and incurable illness or condition.

In a very brief manner, the following points seek to summarise arguments for and against Assisted Suicide. Patrick Stuart, Patron of Dignity in Dying, says: “We have no control over how we arrive in the world but, at the end of life, we should have control over how we leave it.”

  • The ‘compassionate argument’. It is felt that, in allowing people to ‘die with dignity’, it is kinder than forcing them to continue ‘living with suffering’.
  • The ‘autonomy argument’. People believe that every patient has a ‘right to choose when to die’. 
  • The ‘public policy argument’. Proponents believe that assisted suicide can be safely regulated by government legislation.

René Girard, Philosopher, says:  “The exper­i­ence of death is going to get more and more pain­ful, con­trary to what many people believe. The forth­com­ing Euthanas­ia Bill will make it more rather than less pain­ful because it will put the emphas­is on per­son­al decision in a way which was bliss­fully ali­en to the whole prob­lem of dying in former times. It will make death even more sub­ject­ively intol­er­able for people will feel respons­ible for their own deaths and mor­ally oblig­ated to rid their rel­at­ives of their unwanted pres­ence. Euthanas­ia will fur­ther intensi­fy all the prob­lems its advoc­ates think it will solve.”

  • Alternative treatments are available for those living with suffering, such as palliative and hospice care. It is not necessary to kill the patient’s life to kill the symptoms! The hospice movement is full of compassion and dignity and offers to all at the point of need help and support when facing ultimately the prospect of death. Jesus died that we may experience a life filled with God’s spirit right up to our last physical breath.
  • We do not have a ‘right to be killed’. In allowing the opening of a gate for voluntary euthanasia and assisted suicide it will lead to more non-voluntary and involuntary euthanasia by giving doctors the power to decide when a patient’s ‘life is not worth living’ .
  • There are cases where assisted suicide and physician-assisted suicide takes place but doctors have not always reported them. It will be impossible for any government to safely and fully regulate its legislation whatever its intention.
  • Where patients feel that they have a right to die, it will become more burdensome on doctors to monitor it and will find that they have a duty to kill patients. A ‘right to die’ for some people may by implication mean that others have a ‘duty to die’ which applies to those individuals who are vulnerable and dependant on others.

Further questions to consider: Who loses and gains from assisted suicide? It is important to maintain love and support for vulnerable individuals. Assisted suicide promotes the idea that some people’s lives are not worth preserving and helping and, as such, devalues their worth especially if we believe they have been made in the image of God.


At the centre of the Christian faith is the symbol of the cross on which Christ died. Death came into the world as a result of disobedience to God’s instructions and we are not designed for it; that’s why it hurts so much. Yet one day there will be an end to death. Those who are pro-assisted suicide see death as a friend that relieves people from unwelcomed pain and suffering which is a result of the fall in Eden. We do not know why suffering exists but God does and we can learn and gain from it. 

Thanks Vasily

Christians believe that we are made in the image of God and, in whatever context life brings to each one, it’s important to maintain a person’s dignity and self-worth. People without faith often conclude that we are just atoms joined together and therefore our value is determined by thoughts, actions and experiences.

Therefore the unborn child and a person wanting to end their own life have little value and worth physically. If our value is based on us being created in the image of God, then dignity and value is high for every unborn and living person. There is a strong case for assisted dying but there should be a stronger case for assisted living in all its forms.

Big ethical questions have no easy answers! In considering your question Carol, whose life is it anyway, we have to navigate through various views and opinions and be willing to express our own thoughts with love and compassion whilst respecting others who have a different viewpoint. Suicide and assisted dying will and does affect the wider family and community. The testimony of the hospice movement’s love and dignity in caring for the dying is immense and we can learn so much about the value of life and seeking to preserve it, as opposed to ending it and seeing life as disposable and dependant on the individual.  

Try to keep up to date with the progress of the Assisted Dying Bill which is being considered at this present time and, in your own way, express your view to strengthen society as a whole.

For further reading check out Carol’s previous question on Suicide and Graham’s blog on Compassion Fatigue.

Thanks for references for the notes and Christian Concern.Com


Previous Questions

Super Power

Is the Bible trustworthy?

Care for the Planet

The Return of Christ



Which is the Real God

Is Satan Still Around?

Is being Good Enough?

Is God relevant to our life and modern times?

Why bother going to Church?

How do we get into Heaven?

Carol’s Challenging Question – New Year, New Renewal.



Photo: Brett Gordon –

Carol Says:

We’ve all seen the adverts. New resolutions. New diet. New exercise regime. New outlook on life. New husband/wife/partner? Well, most of us don’t go that far – but you get the drift!!

What we don’t often hear about is New You in religious terms. When we’re baptized, our parents or carers are aiming to ensure that the child or person involved is being welcomed into God’s spiritual world on earth. This is often followed-up a few years later by the Confirmation when the person agrees to accept the church’s doctrines by trying to live a Christian life.

John the Baptist was one of the earliest religious leaders who tried to cleanse and renew the souls of some of his contemporaries in the name of God. Throughout the ages, Christians have believed there has been a battle between good and evil. When we look at what’s going on around the world, and particularly in our own country, we can wonder whether evil has triumphed although, as Christians, we have faith that God will overcome the world’s ills.

Mo – What do you think we should do to be renewed in our faith? Does the bible say anything about spiritual renewal?

Mo’s Response:

Thank you, Carol, for these questions. As a retreat leader and spiritual companion, this is something I teach through ‘Be Still With God’ (

I have been going to church all my life and have always believed in God. I would attend church every Sunday and had books of children’s prayers. My Confirmation was a very memorable occasion even at the age of 11. But in those days there was no further nurture and, although I still believed and called myself a Christian, it was very much just a compartment of my life. Then in 1981 I began to question this ‘relationship’ with God. I prayed, quite simply, to know Him more. From that time on it was as if God was no longer distant or on the side-lines but became a real part of my life. It made me question at first what had happened at my Baptism and Confirmation but it was as if I was starting over again. A friend told me that this was called being ‘Born Again’ and another said I was now ‘Filled with the Spirit’. Both of these are scriptural. (John 3, Acts 2, Acts 19:1-7)

If I had known beforehand that it was called being Born Again I probably would have been concerned because the words made me think of religious zealots but in reality it was as if it opened my eyes to a new understanding of who God is and, in particular, what He had done for me through Jesus. Bible readings and sermons came alive and I was hungry to know more. I could not understand why I had been in the church so long and didn’t know I could have a very personal relationship with God.

So I began asking questions as you do here. At first I resisted bible study groups thinking, wrongly, that they were only for people who knew the bible. But gradually I did join and it has been an adventure of discovery ever since. I find that the more I learn about God the more there is to learn.

God longs for us to have this relationship with Him. He searches us out. Jesus has opened the way for us to have this relationship with the amazing God of love. It is sheer delight to learn how to connect with Him in prayer. This is what is learnt on retreats and quiet days – how to pray the scriptures – how to integrate prayer and everyday life – how to know in the centre of our being that we are loved unconditionally.

As we spend intentional time in God’s presence each day and on retreat, we find that He grows His fruit within us, transforming our lives. As we grow in the knowledge and love of God, we will want to share this with others and to love others as He has loved us. The gratitude we feel towards God should spill over into our service to others. This can be like ripples flowing outward from a pebble dropped in water and Christians can be a real force for good in a sad world by bringing hope and love. Christians do not have a monopoly on goodness. There are many good people who are not Christians. But many of the institutions for positive change have been started by Christians, including the hospice movement, the abolition of slavery and work with the homeless and disadvantaged. It is the outworking of the truth within us of the God who cares so much that He entered our world.

It all starts with the renewal of our hearts by the love of Jesus.

Today there are many ways for us to grow spiritually. Daily bible reading notes from United Christian Broadcasters or the Our Daily Bread booklets. House groups held by local churches. Groups for those with questions about faith such as Alpha or Discovering Christianity. Whatever helps you to connect with the Living God. Carol has put some other suggestions below.

I pray for everyone reading this that you may be renewed in faith and love and indeed grow in the knowledge and love of God in 2023


To help yourself feel spiritually refreshed and renewed on a daily basis, why not try some or all of the following:

1. Go on a retreat.

2. Be of service.

3. Immerse yourself in nature.

4. Start a new morning ritual.

5. Observe a Sabbath.

6. Read a daily spiritual text.

7. Find a teacher/mentor.

8. Eat a clean diet and refrain or cut down on drinking alcohol.

9. Take a new class.

10.Journal your gratitude.

Previous Questions


Asylum Seeker/Refugees



Crime and Punishment



How can God forgive Terrorist?

Child Abuse


Insight from 2 Peter 1

In the next three insights I will be considering the New Testament book of 2 Peter as a follow on from the recent insights from 1 Peter. The Apostle reminds us about the importance of holding onto our Christian faith in the face of many beliefs and teachings that may cause us to lose our faith and not retain a holy and disciplined lifestyle.  


It has been argued amongst some biblical scholars that this second letter is not written by Peter but had been published by his followers using his name after his death. Some aspects of the letter are very similar to Jude 4 – 18 and as a whole the letter took a long time to be accepted as part of the canonical New Testament.

Peter refers to the Apostle Paul’s writings and its date of authorship may be from 60 – 150 AD but certainly before his death. It is argued that 1 Peter was written from Rome so on that basis we may assume that this second letter was also written in Rome!

The purpose of the letter is to address the Christian church scattered throughout Asia Minor that included both Jews and Gentiles who were being influenced by Gnostic teaching. Peter calls his readers to resist false doctrines and be consistent in holy living and actions especially in the light of the Lord’s return. Thanks Dim Hou

Read 2 Peter Chapter 1

Greetings (verses 1 – 2)

Peter confirms his spiritual calling and credentials as a Servant and Apostle of Jesus Christ of whom he personally knew and lived alongside. He writes to all who treasure the same faith in Jesus Christ as himself and encourages each one to grow “more and more” in God’s grace and peace which will result in knowing Jesus “more and more” personally.

Question: For a moment think about how you greet people that are known or unknown to you? Do you bring a sense of foreboding and sadness or share in a measure, the grace and peace of God that naturally flows from you because of you faith in Jesus?

A call to Spiritual Growth (verses 3 – 11)

Peter confirms that God promises spiritual gifts that will be sufficient for daily Christian living and devotion to all who respond to the call of being a disciple of Jesus. It is only through God’s divine power and promises that we are able to “escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires”.

There are certain qualities that Peter wants his readers to embrace that will help them to resist evil and give them power to live a godly life such as: self-control that leads to greater self-understanding which produces increased patience and results in boundless kindness, and love. 

As we grow and mature spiritually the Lord wants us to share them freely to everyone we meet on a daily basis without fear or favour. Peter emphasises that without God’s gifts and qualities we would be like a blind and short sighted person who is in a fog and has forgotten that their sins have been forgiven and washed away.

Peter’s main point here is that as a Christian we have repented of our short comings before God and it is only through Jesus that we have been called and chosen to serve in whatever way he asks us.

In maintaining the Christian faith it will bring its own personal rewards that helps believers to be strong and not to fall away like so many have done. In being faithful to the Lord we may fulfil the promise of entering into the eternal kingdom of our Lord Jesus Christ.                        

Thanks to Annie Spratt

Question: Pause for a moment and think about the promises that the Lord has in store for each one of us? Are you taking advantage of them or neglecting them and in so doing realising that you are not growing spiritually?

The Apostolic Witness (verses 12 – 18)

It is often said that we need to be reminded of truths that we already know but perhaps haven’t fully applied to daily living. This compares to new teachings that have to be tried and tested to see if they are from the Lord and will be a benefit for us in our quest for holy living.

Peter had been made aware that his days on earth were numbered. He felt that it was his duty and responsibility to remind his readers that the life and teachings of Jesus are different from “cleverly invented stories” which are not to be followed. As we know the living presence of Jesus, we all have a responsibility to share about his saving grace and love until we take our own last breath.

Peter refers to the blessing and approval of God the Father, upon Jesus the Son of God at his baptism and also during the shared experience of the Transfiguration of Jesus that Peter personally witnessed. (Matthew 17: 1 – 8, Mark 9: 2 – 8, Luke 9: 28 – 36)

Question: In life we are often looking for new truths and experiences that we think are better than the ‘old ways’.  For a moment consider if you might have to go back to ‘old truths’ that you have known in the past and maybe disregarded in this present time?

The Value of Prophecy (verses 19 – 21)

When we are reminded of certain truths that have existed in world history we trust that it is a source of wisdom that will prevent us from making similar mistakes and short comings in the present. Peter is stressing here the importance of Christian prophecy that should not be forgotten and acts like a ‘light shining in a dark place’ until the dawn rises and the morning star is revealed.

Peter affirms that all prophecy from the Old and New Testaments are important and no individuals can suddenly declare that it should be seen in a different light which may cause people to turn away from their Christian faith.

True prophecy is from the inspiration and personal word of God who speaks to his people through creation, the Holy Spirits presence and the written word as found in scripture. God’s word acts like a two edged sword and lives forever and does not get lost in the fog and mists of life.

Thanks to Ravi Sharma

Question: How confident are you in the value and power of God’s word? Can you remember when God’s word spoke out to you very clearly and how did you respond? Think about how you are responding to God’s word speaking to you today?  

Selah (Pause to carefully consider what you have just read)


From the Heart – Dr Michelle Byrne


New Year is celebrated by most.  Many gather together in number to party during the preceding evening up to the moment when Big Ben chimes twelve times to mark the end of one year and start of the next.  It is at this time that celebrations reach the pinnacle.  Fireworks are lit, ‘Auld Lang Syne’ is sung and, often with a glass of special alcoholic beverage, much dancing takes place.

New Year marks an end to the merriment of the festive period, with most returning to work and education shortly after. Mindful of the exuberances and indulgences associated with the Christmas celebrations, many make resolutions. These are typically aimed to address their problems in finances, health and well-being caused through the celebrations over the recent festive period.  The resolutions are intended to commence on the first day of the new year.  It is hoped that they will soon become integral in day-to-day life and bring improvements.  However, such intentions are typically short-lived,as life resumes the regime it had prior to the commencement of the festive period.  Ultimately, then there are the feelings of failure adding to the issues the resolutions were to address, plus the misconception that another year will have to pass before there is opportunity to make amends again.

I view New Year through a different perspective. I am a Christian. To me New Year is just another day.  I feel that the media and entertainment industry portray it to be a special occasion in a ploy to promote parties and celebrations that boost income to them.  In reality, every day is special, for every day is made by God and so should be rejoiced over.  In acknowledgement of this, we should always have a spring in our step and joy in our heart.  How wonderful to think that the celebrations of New Year’s Day should be with us always and not just on one of the 365 days of each year!

New Year resolutions are borne through a recognition, by oneself, that behaviour and practices of life are not ideal. The resolutions are thus created as a response to the recognition of sins having been done and the necessity to make changes to cease such behaviour in the future. We all do wrong things, think wrong thoughts, or fail to do right things, as it is part of human nature.  This mean that Christians and non-Christians sin.  Understanding that fact, Christians frequently accept that their behaviour is not ideal and apologise to God for their shortfalls in prayer and partaking in communion. Through these Christians know that God forgives them.  Indeed, God also continues to love them, despite them repeatedly sinning.  Having accepted this truth, behaviour is automatically changed to become better, through Christians refocusing on their desire not to sin and to become more like Jesus.  God is always available to approach in prayer.  He likes interaction with us, for it demonstrates our need and love for him.  Therefore, changes to inadequacies in our behaviour and lifestyles can be addressed and improved at any time during the year, not just at new year……HOW LIBERATING!

In conclusion, New Year provides a nice way to spend time with friends and family.  However,  many of the associations of the time are false.  Through following the Christian faith, a much more steadfast means of making a new life-changing way of living can be made.

Recent from the Heart Carol

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Recent from the Heart Mo

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The Power of Prayer

Recent from the Heart Debra Part 1

Recent from the Heart Debra Part 2

Recent from the Heart Dr Michelle Byrne

Recent from the Heart The Joy of Christmas

Carol’s Spiritual Question – How do we get into Heaven?

Photo – Clement Percheron –

Many of us still have child-like dreams of what Heaven and Hell are about. As children, we cannot always differentiate between what is true and what are lies – even white ones! I have a secret feeling that teaching children about God and the Devil can almost be construed as methods of control so that they behave properly – a bit like threatening them that Santa won’t turn up if they’re naughty!

As we get older – and particularly when we become elderly – some people start to look at their own mortality and reflect upon their life so far as well as wondering how long they have left to live. Many of us, including me, look for a more spiritual balance in life and go back to church.

Many of us try to do good throughout our lives, whether we’re Christian or not, and maybe we hope that that will give us a free pass into Heaven or whatever the hereafter means to people of the various religious denominations. I now know that there’s far more to it than just being virtuous and living a good life.

Mo – Having studied theology and being a Minister for many years, you’ll know what Jesus and God have said about getting into the Kingdom of Heaven. To err is to be human, as they say, and how many of us can claim we’ve lived a sinless existence? I strongly believe that it’s one of the most difficult things in life to be a Christian, especially if we try to live by example. Can you give us some pointers from your studies about how we should lead our lives? Are there any guarantees?

What would the Lord be looking for?

Mo’s response:

These are such good questions and I have come across them many times as a hospital chaplain. In fact they touch on what is at the very heart of the Christian Good News (which is what the word ‘Gospel’ means). Over the centuries and in many religions there is a great common desire for an after-life. A desire that this life is not all there is.

Increasingly today there is a belief that there is nothing afterwards. So many live life just for today. They believe that loved ones only live on in memory or in the love that goes on. I find this deeply unsatisfying because it is all dependent on self

In all this there is a rejection or a denial of God. A Being at the centre and therefore Lord of own life. Sounds plausible at first but, in the end, it is hollow and hopeless and very dependent on ‘luck’ or circumstances

The Gospel is Good News for ALL who will receive it – no matter their circumstances in life.

Jesus speaks of the Kingdom of God (or Heaven) being very near to everyone. Really there are two parts to it – the Kingdom that we can experience now and the eternal part that we experience after we die. The Good News bit is that it does not depend on our goodness. I love your statement that to err is to be human and that we cannot claim to live a sinless existence no matter how hard we try. Sometimes I feel as if I am a walking civil war!

St Paul writes in his letter to the Romans Chapter 7 (The Message Version)

17-20 But I need something more! For if I know the law but still can’t keep it, and if the power of sin within me keeps sabotaging my best intentions, I obviously need help! I realize that I don’t have what it takes. I can will it, but I can’t do it. I decide to do good, but I don’t really do it; I decide not to do bad, but then I do it anyway. My decisions, such as they are, don’t result in actions. Something has gone wrong deep within me and gets the better of me every time.

21-23 It happens so regularly that it’s predictable. The moment I decide to do good, sin is there to trip me up. I truly delight in God’s commands but it’s pretty obvious that not all of me joins in that delight. Parts of me covertly rebel and, just when I least expect it, they take charge.

24 I’ve tried everything and nothing helps. I’m at the end of my rope. Is there no one who can do anything for me? Isn’t that the real question?

25 The answer, thank God, is that Jesus Christ can and does. He acted to set things right in this life of contradictions where I want to serve God with all my heart and mind, but am pulled by the influence of sin to do something totally different.

Also in that letter he writes in Chapter 3

23  all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.

This is the starting point for us all. That we acknowledge our desire to know God and our inability to make it on our own; to be perfect.

None of us can earn our way into Heaven. God does not owe us anything. We often try to bargain with Him, eg: God, if I go to church so many times, will you bless me! Or treat Him like a heavenly Santa Claus.

But God is God! The Bible tells us He IS love and knows us so well. He cares about our fallen nature and so He sent Jesus, not just as an example because that would show up even more our inability, but to be our Saviour.

That is a very religious term so what does it mean? We have realised that we are not able to be our own Saviour and we are in need of help. This goes against the grain of most of culture today which says we can be anything that we want to be if we try hard enough. We teach it to our children. I see it often written outside schools – believe, achieve. This is all well and good up to a point but it can often make us self-centred and, perhaps I might add, our own Saviour. Our achievements become our own gods and we fall into the trap of comparison. Either we are better than others who are less fortunate or not good enough when we see others who are more ‘successful’.

If we look again at that quotation from Chapter 3, we see we have ALL sinned and fall short of the glory (the character) of God. Comparison gets us nowhere. We are ALL guilty

God is also a God of Justice and hates sin. Some folk think that if there is a Heaven only the nice people will get in. Or, if God is love, then He would not turn anyone away. But how can a holy God overlook our sinfulness? This is where Jesus comes in. He came in person not only to tell us about Father God’s love for us. He lived a sinless life, not just as an example but so that He, who was without sin, could pay the price for our sin

What does this mean? Someone once said it is like a judge who discovered a dear friend in the dock before him. The accused was indeed guilty and the judge had no choice but to give him the strictest sentence which was a large fine. Then the judge removed his wig and robes and went to meet his friend and to pay the fine himself. That is gift. What the bible calls grace – an unmerited, undeserved gift.

On my first trip to the Holy Land in 2012, I was overwhelmed as we said a prayer on the Mount of Olives looking down the road that led into Jerusalem. It is believed to be the way that Jesus took to go into the city where He was to be killed.

The prayer was one we often use here in our churches. It says ‘Father of all, we give You thanks and praise, that when we were still far off You met us in Your Son and brought us home.’ I was aware that centuries ago and so far away from the country I was born, Jesus walked down that road for me!

That prayer is based on Romans 5

You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Remember, I said that the Kingdom of heaven is both here and yet to come. When we realise for ourselves the magnitude of what Jesus has done for us then we begin to live in response to His love and grace. He also comes to live within us by His Spirit. It is freeing, comforting and hopeful to live in that knowledge. In that sense the Kingdom of Heaven is here and now

But also we have a promise of life to come. An eternity with God forever.

This amazing God loves and values us not just for a limited existence but for eternity. Jesus has paid for our frailty and waywardness and inability and opened the way for us. And that eternal living in the presence of God can start NOW! No-one is worthy or good enough BUT the God of love accepts us as we are and works in us to change us by His Spirit

A Christian funeral is so different because there is hope which has begun in THIS time now.

Do I believe in heaven? A definite yes because Jesus said so.

John 11:25-26

Jesus said…., ‘I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; 26 and whoever lives by believing in me will never die.

Will I go to heaven? Yes! Not because I am better than anyone else but because I believe in the One who made it possible.

What will it be like? – that’s another question! – but Jesus tells me it will be in the presence of Himself and Father (and perfect love) for ever. The pressure is off. There is freedom and hope.

Here is a prayer that you can pray if you have not known Jesus as Saviour.

Dear Lord Jesus, I acknowledge that I am not perfect and often fail in many ways. I am so glad for Your offer of new life. I accept the gift of grace that You gave from the cross where You died for me. I ask that You come and live within me by faith and I look forward to Heaven, not just after I die, but the eternal life that can start now. Amen.

Previous Questions

Super Power

Is the Bible trustworthy?

Care for the Planet

The Return of Christ



Which is the Real God

Is Satan Still Around?

Is being Good Enough?

Is God relevant to our life and modern times?

Why bother going to Church?

Carol’s Challenging Question – Alcoholism

Christmas is coming – the geese are getting fat, or so the rhyme tells us.  But, apart from the “eat, drink and be merry” petition, some people who are hooked on booze really don’t need any more encouragement to drink to excess, even if it is the festive season and a time for jollity and celebration.

Alcoholism is a disease – there’s no two ways about it.  It might start as just social drinking but, before long, it can really take hold if the person doesn’t get a grip.  It can become an addiction just like drugs, tobacco, food obesity, gambling, sex and the myriad of other ills which people can become dependent upon. No-one has an issue with sensible drinking and keeping it within moderation but it’s when it gets out of hand that the problems start. Sadly, I’ve heard that older people are drinking more now, whether through loneliness, boredom, habit or because they have nothing else to do! Thanks for the photo Dan

There are many causes of alcoholism including family history, drinking from an early age, mental health disorders, stress and trauma, peer pressure, etc. and just the simple fact that, for many people, it tastes nice and can lift their mood or make them relax.

Sadly, though, it can soon take hold. While some people can tolerate relatively large amounts of alcohol seemingly without obvious health problems, the long-term prognosis is mostly bad. Once a person becomes dependent upon alcohol and cannot control their use of it, it can cause them very serious physical, emotional and mental suffering. That’s apart from the possible side-effects of broken relationships, divorce, job loss, money troubles and much more.

Apart from reduced life expectancy, alcoholism can lead to many cancers including breast, mouth, throat, oesophagus, voice box, liver, colon and rectum in addition to high blood pressure, heart and liver disease, stroke and digestive problems.

Alcohol is such a part of people’s lives these days. I’ve heard it said that, if it was invented now, it would be banned as it’s such a danger to good health! We all know what happened during the time of Prohibition and the government have tried to limit the purchase of it by increasing the tax on alcohol. Some people turn to cheap alcohol – or even meths – once they are addicted.

So, Graham, does the bible have anything to say on alcoholism and what do you think the Christian stance on it should be?

Rev Graham replies:

Thanks, Carol, for the question and outlining some of the benefits of taking a drink and lots of problems which may occur from excessive drinking (when I refer to drink it will mean an alcoholic beverage).

Recently I was in discussion with an ex Bible College student who reminded me of the humorous comment Mr Hawker, one of our tutors, shared in the context of drinking alcohol as found in Acts 28: 11 -16: the brothers gathered at the Three Taverns and the Apostle Paul thanked God for them and took courage (aka a drink!!).

Thanks Pixabay

The Bible outlines that it is can be good to drink from the fruit of the vine, in the context of moderation and not to get drunk from it. Wine, beer and other drinks may be alcoholic or non-alcoholic and can be enjoyed accordingly.

In assessing the value, cause and effect of alcoholism it can fall into a number of categories such as: 1) Religious thought and teaching. 2) Morally assessed as a Vice. 3) At times characterised as a criminal activity, as in the case of drinking while driving. 4) In the light of recent medical evidence it is classed as a disease.  

There are further categories which relate to the levels of consuming alcohol from: 1) Abstinence – choosing not to drink any alcoholic substance; 2) Moderation – choosing to drink or not drink on certain occasions or regularly consuming small amounts of alcohol; 3) Excessive the use of alcohol socially and on a daily basis or used as a form of self-medication.

At this point it might be helpful to look at a number of bible verses; there are up to 100 which encourage or discourage various levels of drinking.

Advice To Drink

Deuteronomy 14: 26:  You may spend your money on lots of things including wine and beer. Isaiah 55:1: All who are thirsty, buy so as to eat and drink. Ecclesiastes 9: 7:  Go eat and drink with gladness and a joyful heart approved by God.

Psalm 104: 14 – 15: God grows the fruit of the vine that makes wine to gladden the heart. John 2: 3 – 11: Jesus changed water into a better wine for guests at a wedding.

1 Corinthians 10: 23 -24:  We have a right to eat and drink whatever way we choose but everything is not beneficial or edifying in seeking our own way. 1 Corinthians 9: 19 – 23: Paul is free from constraints so that he may be a servant to all. 1 Timothy 5: 23: Stop drinking water and take a little wine to act as medicine for your illnesses.

Advice Not To Drink

Leviticus 10: 9: In entering the sacred tent, you must never drink beer or wine. Judges 13: 7: Samson’s mother was not to drink strong wine or beer for he will become a Nazirite. Numbers 6: 3: Separate from wine and strong drinks.

Habakkuk 2: 15: Don’t choose to get a person inebriated. Hosea 4: 11: Often immoral practises and heavy drinking go hand in hand. Isaiah 5: 11: Do not rise up early and drink late into the evening and become inflamed. Isaiah 28: 7: Priests and prophets have fallen because of strong drink and so lacked vision and judgement.

Proverbs 20: 1: Wine is described as a mocker and drink a brawler and those led astray by it are not wise. Proverbs 23: 31: Do not gaze at wine when it is red, sparkles and pleasantly consumed for it bites and poisons like a snake. Proverbs 31: 4 – 5: It is not good for kings and leaders to drink too much wine and beer less they forget their laws.

Romans 13: 13: It’s important to behave decently, not in carousing and drunkenness. Romans 14: 15 – 21: It is wrong to act in a way that causes our neighbour to stumble and fall, so it might be better not to eat and drink at all.

Galatians 5: 19 – 21: The fruits of a sinful nature include drunkenness. Ephesians 5: 18: Do not get drunk on wine which leads to debauchery; instead be filled by the Spirit of God. 1 Peter 4: 3: A pagan’s lifestyle will include excessive drinking.

As outlined, alcoholism has for centuries been a problem for religion, morality and law and defined as a sin, vice or crime depending on what structures a society is built upon and the values attached to it. In the later part of the 18th century and in the light of medical research, alcoholism had been categorised as a form of disease. During the 19th century, following the growth of the Temperance Movement in America, asylums were established as places for the specific care and treatment of those suffering from alcoholism.

In the 20th century, efforts were taken to move away from a religious and ethical disapproval of excessive drinking and re-evaluated it as a sickness which has been used as a ‘sick role’. However, if alcoholism is perceived as a disease, then judgement will continue in a different form with people being assessed as ill and not individually capable. Also it will not be acknowledged in physiological and psychological norms. So changing any understanding of alcoholism to a new value setting will not mean that it is deemed as value neutral!

The medicalization of alcoholism and other addictions is not without its critics and can undermine the responsibility of the individual.  Any change in language related to religious, moral, criminal and medical understandings also has its problems for many treatments retain a moral and religious character as exampled in Alcoholics Anonymous. For those attending an AA group they will be encouraged to share their story and seek to co-operate with a Higher Power to bring about change and experience a measure of healing.

The effects of alcoholism for individuals, families and communities is complex and multi-faceted and any cure or change depends on the type of help received and what levels of individual responsibility are taken. Thanks Pixabay

In my time working as a Project Worker for Adullam Homes in Bury, Greater Manchester, we welcomed many individuals who had lived with, for many years, the complicated effects of excessive drinking. For some, abstinence was their choice while others felt they were able to continue to drink in moderation and, for a few individuals, they continued to live in astate of being inebriated.   

The greatest lesson I learnt during that time was that there was always a reason why people found themselves affected by various addictions and difficulties. It is very easy to judge a person, especially when they are totally drunk and not behaving well. The back-story of any person is vital in understanding where they have come from and it helps in working with them as how best to move forward in trying to find an appropriate pathway for their healing and support.


So, Carol, in trying to answer your question, there is within the Christian faith an encouragement to see individuals take more self-responsibility for their actions so as to avoid their lifestyle being seen solely as a sin, crime, disease and vice of gluttony.

Within criminal law there has been a demand for harsher laws that will seek to contain the increased effects of excessive drinking which is strongly associated with criminal activity.

Medical Models based on various psychological and therapeutic approaches have increased and given more weight in support of alcoholism but they have had only a limited measure of success. Over time there had been the hope that medical treatments would act as a cure which would eliminate any religious, moral and criminal labels.

In a Christian sense it is important to find a balanced moderation or abstinence in thinking, lifestyle and example that relates to drinking alcohol. There is an acceptability to enjoy the fruit of the vine that God provides to some reasonable level. However, there are consequences, in the short and long term, to excessive drinking and there is plenty of advice from the bible as how best to handle the joys and temptations alcoholic beverages bring.  


Premier – 03001110101

Betel UK – recovery from addictions Tel – 0121 594 0650

UK Christian Rehabs  Tel – 02038 115 619

Addiction Services Salvation Army  Tel – 020 7367 4500

Alcohol Change UK – Tel: 020 3907 8480 email –

Alcoholics Anonymous – Tel: 0800 9177650 (National helpline) or

Drinkline – Tel: 0300 1231110.

Eclipse – Alcohol Addiction Support – Tel: 0161 839 2054.

Turning Point – Smithfield Detox Unit – Tel: 0161 827 8570.

Manchester Integrated Drugs and Alcohol Service – Tel: 0161 823 6306.

Achieve – Trafford – Tel: 0161 358 0991.

Thomas – Salford – Tel: (Men) 0161 792 5982 (Women) 01254 660 861.

Mosaic – Support for Families and Friends – Tel: 0161 218 1100.

Pathfinder – Tel: 0161 716 4000.

The Counselling & Family Centre – Tel: 0161 941 7754

Previous questions


Asylum Seeker/Refugees



Crime and Punishment



How can God forgive Terrorist?

Child Abuse


Carol’s Spiritual Question – Why bother going to Church?

With the declining attendance of people going to traditional Sunday morning church services, I wonder whether these will fade out completely in time. Many of those who do still go tend to be of an older age group. So few children are taught Christianity in schools these days and even fewer parents teach them about Jesus and God at home.

In Victorian times and before, church attendance was of the utmost importance but, over the past 50 years, and certainly since the influx of so many immigrants from different parts of the world into the UK, we are a much more mixed society with many people having their own religious faith and practices which are not necessarily Christian. Thanks Pavel for the photo

Many people these days are having to work longer hours to make economic ends meet; they have family commitments which leave them little or no spare time for going to church; they prefer to have a lie-in on a Sunday morning; there are many more Sunday morning activities for children to attend; they have no interest or belief in Christianity or any other faith. It’s hard for the church to compete against Netflix or Sky TV!

I do go to church regularly on a Sunday and mostly find the experience a joyful and uplifting one. By sharing our common thoughts and values, it reinforces our spiritual beliefs and teaches us how to lead a better life following Jesus’ example. Christianity gives us the hope of life after death and offers us a structure by which to live our lives in a good way. We can also feel part of a community where we help and support each other; undertake philanthropic work at home and abroad; make charitable donations to people less well off than ourselves and enjoy a social life together.

Graham – I know that a church is just a building and it’s the people inside that make it work but why do you think it’s important for people to attend?  Jesus never insisted that people should go to the synagogues – in fact he was disparaging about the practices in some of them! The attendance at evangelical and gospel churches does seem to have bucked the trend and increased in number – I’m told that it’s not unusual to have over 200 people attending on a Sunday morning. Similarly, attendance at Roman Catholic churches is still relatively high compared with the Church of England churches. Do you have any ideas what could attract people back again or has that ship sailed now?

Rev Graham replies:

As you have indicated, Carol, there are a number of reasons why people attend or don’t attend church services. Being attached to a place of worship is important for any person who has a particular faith so that it is nurtured and strengthened. The church is not a building; it is a gathering of people from three to 200 and more who worship God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit in a variety of forms. 

Do Not Give In Or Give Up! 

Thanks Ingo for the photo

In Hebrews 10 we have an outline of God’s continual gift of forgiveness through the ministry of Jesus Christ and in that context we are encouraged not to forsake meeting together as some Christian believers have done. We should continue to meet so as to spur each other on in acts of service and the study of God’s word which will ensure spiritual growth and maturity. 

For many it can be easy to fall into a habit of casually attending and associating to particular places of worship which may lack real conviction and a deeper experience of God’s presence and saving grace. This can be compared with a person regularly visiting a greenhouse with the hope that eventually they will become like one of their favourite vegetables that live within it. If we attend church or dwell in a greenhouse it is not automatic that we become a Christian or a vegetable!! 

When you mentioned the concern you have, Carol, about the numbers who attend church, I feel that, in one way, it is irrelevant because the strength or weakness of a church is not dependent upon the numbers that attend. There could be over two hundred people attending a church service when in reality there may be only a few classed as true believers. The remainder may have at best a nominal faith while others are seekers of truth, agnostic or even without any faith and belief.

So the level of maintaining or losing one’s faith is not dependent on attending, or not attending, church. A seed of God’s spirit can germinate within a person’s heart and mind at any time which may lead them to become dedicated disciples of Jesus. The place and worth of a church is when it offers people the opportunity to be spiritually fed and nurtured so as to flourish and embrace the fruits and gifts of the Holy Spirit which are made available to us.

Trying To Give Up!

In the Western Church, attendances have certainly declined which contrasts, when questioned, to many people who still express a belief in God, Jesus and the importance of church life! Comparisons can be made with church attendances in Africa, Asia, Latin America and other places within the world where the Christian church is growing and is very vibrant. 

When I attended Emmanuel Bible College and Manchester University, I majored in church history. The term history was often referred to as God’s (His-Story) that has, and does, influence world history which contrasts with forces opposing God’s (His-Story). The Western world in its current state has neglected, and seeks to give up where possible, the teachings and lifestyles of Jesus as expressed in the church. However, in its new-found wisdom and enlightenment, it struggles to replace God’s order and lacks wisdom, depth and healing.

Taking up His Cross!

Jesus entered a chaotic world under the governorship of the Roman Empire, dominated by the Jewish faith and surrounded by a strong Greco secular world which worshiped idols and human philosophies. In the midst of such chaos and confusion, Jesus and his disciples established the Christian faith which developed from altars to an ‘unknown god’ and the synagogues.

After the death and resurrection of Jesus, the disciples would have felt confused and fearful but, as we read in Acts 2, they received the gift of the Holy Spirit to empower them to sustain new church communities and buildings. This is exampled in the history of the church as seen in the established Eastern Orthodox, Roman Catholic, Church of England and non-conformist churches. Those within the early church suffered persecution for their faith, Celtic missionaries shared the gospel throughout the Middle Ages and many leaders were raised up during the Reformation, Enlightenment, Revival and Renewal periods often when it seemed that the church would no longer exist!

Given Up!

Carol – you touched on the fact that it is difficult to determine exactly why people do not want to attend church. In the Old Testament, many prophets and priests acted in an unholy manner and neglectful of their responsibilities as Good Shepherds and teachers over their flocks. They succumbed to worshipping foreign gods and embraced ungodly teachings which compromised their faith, lifestyle and example to their congregations.

As sin (defined in a biblical context) increases in human society, it will affect political, philosophical, religious and social views and actions. World and spiritual leaders without the Spirit of God to guide and inspire them will only offer human wisdom that in itself is limited and will fail to deliver real peace, love and harmony. God allows people to wallow in their misdeeds for a season but, as Galatians 6: 7 points out, God is not mocked and whatever a person sows they will reap accordingly. God in various ways moves mountains and obstacles to unsettle those who seek to live without Him and offers renewal and restoration to all those who turn to Him in repentance and faith.

Going Up!

World history from a Christian viewpoint can and does repeat itself in periods when the church is healthy and when in decline. The church is not moving towards oblivion but rather to a time when God will change the whole world order back to its original intent as found in the Garden of Eden.

We do not know how or when that will take place but, in faith and belief, we do not have to worry about how the church is or isn’t at any one point in time. God wants all of His creation to embrace personal faith in Jesus as their Saviour and Lord and will enable people to live a life of holy discipleship which acts as salt and light in an unsavoury and dark world.

A few years ago when returning from a Men for Missions trip in Albania, we had an extended stay at Ataturk Airport in Istanbul. As I walked around the vast airport, I witnessed people from all walks of life, from different cultures and backgrounds, and I had an amazing sense that each and every person in that airport represented the diverse wonders of God’s creation in colour, creed and thought.

Thanks for the photo Oleksanr Pexels,com

There are no boundaries or constraints upon God’s timing and workings within world history; He raises kings, prophets and priests. He puts down nations, leaders and movements. God is in control of the environment and has the capacity, even with the neglect of humans, to renew and refresh His world.  

Take Up!

When we attend a worship service in church or walk around the cathedral of God’s earthly creation, it is secondary to wonder as to whether or not we are in a period of decline, health or increase. In John 17: 25-26, Jesus prays for himself, the disciples and for the future church. “Though the world does not know you, I know you and they know you have sent me. I have made you known to them and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me be in them and that I myself may be in them.”

In following God personally we may experience His peace, forgiveness and healing alongside His almighty protection, provision and wonderful presence and, just like all the saints and those persecuted for their faith, God gives strength to the weak and an assurance that all is well in His hands.



Ps As you listen to this amazing hymn ‘The Day thou Gavest Lord has ended,’ sung in a capacity Salisbury Cathedral, the last verse tells us that God’s kingdom stands, and grows forever. Amen to that.

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