Christianity

A Christian response to Coronavirus

The news about coronavirus is all over the media and is heard in almost every conversation. This is a very unusual situation and we can choose to respond in one of two ways; with fear or with faith.

It is very interesting to see how people around the world are reacting differently. Some people are reacting by panic buying (and emptying the shelves) while others seem to be almost indifferent. For me, the question is, how should we, as believers, respond?

First of all, our thoughts and prayers are with everyone affected by this sickness; individuals, families, health services and communities as well as national leaders and governments. How they all need God’s wisdom and guidance as they deal with this situation. And for us as a nation, where do we find healing when every day, the news seems to grow even more serious?

Well, for me personally, my only advice is to stand firmly upon God’s Word, for that is where I find my comfort and strength. God’s Word has been the anchor for my own family in very desperate times and it is the one thing that we can ALWAYS rely on. God’s Word never changes and it contains all we need for hope, comfort, healing, wisdom and guidance.

If you are fearful, grieving or broken today, let the truth of God’s Word sink into your heart.

But you may say, ‘what if we can’t stop this virus?’ What if it becomes widespread in the United Kingdom or wherever I live, as some experts predict?

Well let’s stand firm upon his Word! Psalm 112:6-8 is a great encouraging reminder as to what our response should be. It says, “For the righteous will never be moved, he will be remembered forever, he is not afraid of bad news, his heart is firm, trusting in the Lord, his heart is steady, he will not be afraid”.

We all have to face bad news at some point in our life. If it’s not the virus, it will be something else. Let’s remind ourselves that we live in a fallen and broken world where suffering and even death are inevitable. To deny this truth would be lying to ourselves, but we as Christians do not need to fear bad news. It is important to not be in denial and as a nation, we should take all sensible precautions, but we do not need to be crippled by the fear of what ‘might happen’. The psalmist demonstrates that it is possible to look bad news right in the face and say, “You will NOT rule my heart.” Our emotions may sway, but we will not be blown off course.

You might think that is easy for me to write, but practically, how can we rise above the circumstances when we are surrounded by fear?

Well, here are some practical responses;

Prayer

Pray in FAITH. Remember faith is not denying fear but mastering it. What you fear the most, reveals where you trust God the least. Therefore put your faith in God and watch as He starts to eradicate your fears. “Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer… believe that you have received it… and it will be yours.” Mark 11:24

Prepare

Prepare WISELY. Don’t deny the facts but plan wisely and let’s be aware of Paul’s words in Ephesians 6:12, KJV: “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities,against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” And the preceding verse tells us to be well prepared to “Put on the whole armour of God that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.”

Proclaim

Proclaim HOPE. In this world of uncertainty, we can have great confidence as we hold on to the hope that lies before us. This hope is a strong and trustworthy anchor for our souls. And it enables us to ‘Rejoice in hope…be patient in tribulation… continue steadfastly in prayer’ (Romans 12).

I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit. Romans 15:13

Christian Media, Christian Radio, Christianity, Devotional, Faith

Don’t live in bitterness

I have been thinking this week about the subject of bitterness and how much it can impact lives (yes, even the lives of Christians).

In Exodus 15, the Israelites (led by Moses) had seen a tremendous victory and they were celebrating and thanking God for their deliverance. They were singing, ‘I will sing to the Lord, for He is highly exalted…the Lord reigns for ever and ever’.

But just three days later, they were in the desert and their water supplies had run out. They came to the waters of Marah but they couldn’t drink from it, as the water was so bitter. The same people who had been praising God just a short time ago were now grumbling and complaining. Moses cried out to God and the Lord showed him a piece of wood, which he was able to throw into the water and verse 23 says, ‘the water became fit to drink’. Later, God led the people to Elim, which had ‘12 springs and 70 palm trees’ and they camped there near the water.

In our lives, many of us face difficulties, which could leave us feeling bitter. When faced with tragedy or hard times, we have a choice to walk through the situation (with God’s help) and get better, or we can stay in that situation and camp out in our bitterness. The story in Exodus paints a clear picture of how I believe God wants us to respond, when faced with life’s hardships.

Don’t camp at Marah

The word ‘Marah’ (the place of the bitter springs) actually means ‘bitter’ and it is interesting that in the Exodus story, although Moses led the people there, God did not command them to camp and stay there. It was just a passing through on their journey.

Later when they arrived at Elim (which means ‘roots’ and also means ‘a place of refreshing’) they were able to stop and set up camp. We all go through times of feeling bitter but I believe it is important to not camp in that place and instead view it as an experience, a place we have to walk through, with God’s help.

We already have the answer

When Moses cried out to God for an answer, the Lord provided him with a tree branch which would make the water drinkable. Trees take decades to grow and long before Moses and the people encountered this problem, God had already provided a way out, a growing tree which would be used to solve the problem.

We see this again later in the story of Zaccheus in Luke 19. Zaccheus was the chief tax collector and was not well-liked. Luke says he was a man of small stature and because of the great crowds (and his height) he was not able to get through the crowds to see Jesus. Zaccheus climbed a nearby sycamore tree in order to see Jesus and later, met with Jesus personally. We do not know how long it took, but it is likely that tree had been growing there for a long time. I like to imagine that maybe God even sent an angel to protect that tree, knowing that one day it would be used as an important tool in allowing a man to hear the life-changing words of Jesus. It reminds us though, whatever we are going through, God has already provided the answer.

Believe the promise

In our world today (maybe you are going through this yourself), many people have become stuck in a place of bitterness. Bitterness can be like a spiritual cancer and if we allow it to, it can overtake our thinking and lives.

If you are experiencing that today and wondering how you can break free, can I encourage you to go back to the promises of God. Whatever you are going through, I believe that God has already provided the answer (even if you cannot see it) and that if you walk diligently, God will eventually lead you to ‘Elim’, to a place of rest and security.

The tree in the stories of Moses and Zacheus are also a symbol of the cross. If you look to the cross and look to the promises of God, he will lead you through.

It may not be easy, but living a life free of bitterness, is living life to the full. And this is how I believe God wants us to live.

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Christian Media, Christian Radio, Devotional, Faith, Hope, Miracles

Pick your team wisely

This week, UCB’s Board of Trustees met together to review UCB’s activities and accounts for the year so far. It has been a busy few days with our Board travelling in from different areas of the UK, but I am so thankful for each of our Trustees, for their wisdom and ability. 

In any leadership position, it is important to have a GOOD team around you. We are blessed at UCB to have a Board and Executive Team made up of Godly, skilled men and women who have the right balance of professional skills and a heart for ministry. When we look to appoint new people to our team, we are above all, looking for people of integrity with a heart for UCB’s vision, who can help and support UCB to stay focused on the big picture and keep us accountable in all things.

Our Board meetings are a mixture of time spent together with God (this is a non-negotiable) and time spent going over the business and operational side of UCB. 

This meeting was no exception and we began by looking to God’s Word. Although we are governed by a great Board, ultimately God is our chairman and we always start with worship and devotions. This time, one particular area of scripture stood out for me; 1 Samuel 15.  

The prophet Samuel gave Saul an assignment from God. He was to destroy the Amalekites and all their possessions, because they were a people who had dishonoured God. Saul accepted the challenge and defeated the Amalekites but he preserved the life of king Agag and saved the best of the cattle. Knowing that Saul had been disobedient, Samuel went to confront him. Saul declared that he had ‘carried out the command of the Lord’ but (perhaps with a hint of humour), the prophet Samuel said, ‘what then is the bleating of sheep I can hear?’  

Saul had been disobedient but he argued that all these fine lambs would make an even bigger and better sacrifice to the Lord. Samuel reminded him, ‘to obey is better than sacrifice’.

This story reminded us all of the need to be obedient. It is easy sometimes to be focused on matters of business and governance but it is important, first and foremost to fear God. This is not a kind of terrified fear, but a reverent fear which ensures we stay close to Him and when He tells us to do something, we do it!  

That is why, for me, it is important to be surrounded by Godly, discerning people such as our Board, as they bring an ‘outside’ perspective and help to keep us on track. In all areas of life, we each need a ‘team’, a team of people who will support us in the good and bad times and also, if needed, provide a voice of correction. Do not be tempted to surround yourself with ‘yes men’. Find a Samuel.

Our trustees have now gone home but we will be meeting again soon for prayer and updates. 

Can I ask you to join us in prayer for a few issues? For wisdom and discernment for our Board and Executive team? And also for a breakthrough in UCB’s finances. We continue to experience many challenges with UCB’s income stream, but we are looking to the future with faith (not fear). 

Please could you stand with us and believe for a breakthrough?

Christian Media, Christian Radio, Christianity, Devotional, Hope

How to deal with conflict

There is a story in Philippians 4 about two women called Euodia and Syntyche, who it seems were quarrelling.   Paul was so concerned about this lack of unity, that he wrote a letter to the wider church in which he pleaded with them to ‘be of the same mind in the Lord’.   Paul wanted to nip it in the bud.

In our lives, conflict is inevitable.  I think sometimes we are afraid of conflict and perhaps we think that as Christians, we shouldn’t ever experience disagreements?   I believe that disagreements are normal and are to be expected – we are all imperfect human beings with our own struggles and agendas.

However, while disagreements and differences of opinion may happen, we must always fight against division.  I believe this is what Paul was trying to deal with in his letter to the church.    Jesus spoke too on the issue of division.  In Mark 3 he warned that ‘if a house is divided against itself, that house cannot stand.’   We must always guard our hearts, ministries and organisations against the poison of division.  It is one of my biggest challenges as a leader, to ensure that disagreements don’t lead to a lack of unity.

If you are dealing with conflict as a leader, or in your ordinary working life, here are a few ways to deal with it.

Are you listening? 

If you are mediating between two people, it is important to listen.  Take time to hear both sides of the story and prayerfully ask God for His wisdom and His solutions.  It can be easy to get caught up in the emotions and forget to listen to what is being said.  When I was a young man, I was very zealous and sometimes I made mistakes in how I communicated. The message of what I was trying to say may have been right, but the way I said it was wrong.   Sometimes I look back now and think, ‘what a wally!’   But thank God, I had wise people around me who made allowances for my youth.  Listening is an incredibly important skill.

Be decisive

If we have to make tough choices or challenge bad behaviour, it is important to be decisive and clear.  In his letter to the church, Paul dealt with the issue publicly and decisively.   It may not  be wise to deal with a matter publicly, but we can be intentional in our decision-making.  If we say we are going to find a solution, we must make sure we follow through and do not dodge the issues.

Ask for help

We have all met people who seem to enjoy disagreements and arguments.  It is true to say that even with the best intentions in the world, God will not override the will of a person who does not want to change.  If the will is there, true reconciliation is always possible, but you might need outside help.  Do not be afraid to ask for help, by calling in a trusted advisor or mediator.  Sometimes a person on the outside can bring clarity and a new perspective to the situation.

Show love

Love is the key thing.  I believe we can deal with almost any situation, if we choose to deal with it in love. This is not always easy – I understand, as I have been there.   But, Christ’s love is the glue which brings true healing and reconciliation in relationships, marriages, churches and organisations.   My role as a leader is to drive the desire for unity.  But I need the Prince of Peace first of all in my life to make sure that I am operating from His agenda, not my own.  When I choose to deal with issues in love, I can still challenge behaviour, but I can do it with grace.

It does not matter how bad the situation is, if there is the will to change and be reconciled, I believe that any issue can be turned around.  With the Holy Spirit in the mix, there is always hope for healing and for unity to be restored.

If you are facing a situation that needs God’s restoration and would like our team to pray for you, please email us at davidlh@ucb.co.uk    We would love to pray for you, so that unity can be restored.

Christian Media, Christianity, Devotional, Healing, Hope

Failure is not the end…

On Saturday, I spoke at a We are Men event on the subject of ‘Accountability’. The danger of speaking on a topic like this, is that it can sound like a ‘telling off’, but I wanted to make sure that the men who attended, felt encouraged and understood what the real meaning of accountability is.   Accountability is based in relationship and ensures that as leaders and believers, we do what we say we will do.

We live in an age where the media frequently reports leadership scandals, from extra marital affairs, to embezzlement and abuse.  As Christians, surrounded by temptations and lies from the enemy, we need accountability in our lives.  We need people and processes around us, to help us have integrity.

How can we be accountable?  Is there a way forward for people who get it wrong?

We are servants

Sometimes in churches (or in any organisation), there can be a culture at the top where the person in charge acts as though they are ‘lord and master’.  As leaders, we must always remember that we are primarily servants.  We are there to serve the vision of the organisation we work for.  Our leadership style needs to be based on the life of Jesus as it is written in God’s Word, not on a version we have created for ourselves.

We need relationships

To be truly accountable, it is good to have people in our lives who can be direct and honest with us at any time.    Although I have lived in the UK for many years, I am not a native English speaker and sometimes friends will correct a word I have used in the wrong way. I would always prefer that people gave me the right word, than laugh at my use of the wrong one.   It is the same with accountability, we need people who will gently and lovingly speak correction when it is needed.  If this correction comes from a person who is trusted and who has our best interests at heart, they will never use this to hurt us, they will say these things in order to help and restore us.

Processes are important

In every leadership position, it is important to have processes in place, to prevent abuse of systems.  For example, at UCB, we have procedures in place to help keep us financially accountable.  If we have to buy expensive items (such as new equipment), the forms will need more than just one signature.  It doesn’t mean that we don’t trust our team, but it means that important financial decisions are not in the hands of just one person.   That helps to keep us accountable to each other and to the people who support the ministry.

We can all fail

As the saying goes, no one plans to fail, but some can fail to plan.  To me, this means that we must plan ahead and be aware of our own weaknesses and vulnerabilities.  We must never assume that we are above temptation or incapable of falling.   By putting true accountability, processes and relationships in our lives, we are reducing our capacity for failing.   We spend a great deal of time mopping up messes, when it would be much better to spend time preventing spills in the first place.

However, what if you (or someone you know) has failed?  Is there a way to be restored?

In the Bible, we have many examples of leaders who have failed but the two examples of David and Saul stand out to me, because of their different responses.  When Saul was confronted by the prophet Samuel in 1 Samuel 13 about his disobedience before God, Saul’s response was to blame others and make excuses.  He was not able to take responsibility for his actions.

In 2 Samuel 12, when Nathan confronted David over his affair with Bathsheba, David immediately said, ‘I have sinned against the Lord’.

If you have messed up, then it is important to find someone you trust, who can help to restore you and help to make you accountable.  This process may mean that you have to confess to others, there may be legal repercussions, you may even need to resign from your position, but in the process of vulnerability and humility, God’s power is still at work.

I have seen friends and key leaders who have fallen, who are later restored in a wonderful way, with their marriages and lives intact.   Your response in the early days is important. Will you deny or seek to blame others?  Or will you be vulnerable and use it as a time to get right with God?

Proverbs 24:16 says, ‘for though the righteous fall seven times, they rise again, but the wicked stumble when calamity strikes’.

This is true for anyone who stumbles, whether they are a leader or not.  God is so good, He is a God of restitution, of healing and restoration.  God’s heart is for everyone to be restored and in a right relationship with Him.

Even if you have messed up, because of God’s goodness, there is still hope.

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Christian Media, Christian Radio, Christianity, Devotional, Evangelism, Faith, Healing, Hope, Miracles

Look to the future – what do you see?

Over the last few weeks, I have been spending some time with God, seeking the way forward for UCB as a ministry.  I have been rejoicing about the past and those who have gone before us, but also rejoicing about the many lives which have been changed and transformed by the power of God’s Word.

I recently met with a group of UCB supporters and shared what I see for the future.  I want to share the same message with you and give you a glimpse of what I am seeing today. It is a glimpse that came from the challenge Jesus gave to his disciples when He said to them, ‘Lift up your eyes, and look at the fields and see how white and ready they are for the harvest’. (John 4:35).

Instead of looking at the gloom and despondency and the brokenness that is in our world today, God wants us to see what He sees today.

Here is what I see.

I see God turning the hearts of a godless society back to Himself.

I see a church living and operating in the power of the Gospel.

I see our Government, our laws, our society being reshaped by the truth of God’s Word.

I see family units coming together into the knowledge and the transformation of God’s power, from the toughest parts of the cities to the most rural parts of our country.

I see every generation, should it be young or old, knowing their worth and experiencing value and a purpose for their lives.

I see people standing for what it is true and becoming intolerant for all the right reasons – intolerant of wrongdoing, intolerant of injustice.

I see people getting ready to answer God’s call, like they have never done before.  I see people standing together totally united for their cities and not afraid to say, ‘We are the Church’.

I see the Church mobilised to take the Gospel to the towns, villages and the cities, making disciples and being totally committed to what God has called them to do.

I see changing statistics; relationships being restored, addictions broken.   I see miracles to be the order of the day in the life of our society, because the Church is acting like true light and salt, like never before.

I see an army of young people having visions and I see older people, instead of being put ‘on the shelf,’ having dreams like they have never had before,  supporting and standing with the younger generation.

I truly believe and see a day is coming when God will pour His Spirit upon all flesh.   I see the young and the old, the children and the grandparents lifting the banner of victory, looking at their society and truly believing that God has a message of hope, and using every means possible to lift up that message of truth.

You might say, ‘Dave, you’re living in cuckoo land, you’re dreaming!’

But I am seeing only what Jesus spoke of to his disciples and I am saying that it is time that we lift up your eyes from the negative, from the oppressive, from the depressive and recognise that the fields are white for harvest.

And therefore it is time, I believe that we as a ministry and you as partners and supporters, that we actually start to switch on and see what God wants us to see.

And let’s believe that the enemy will not have the upper hand.  He may think that he has the best strategy, to steal, to kill, to destroy,  but the verse does not stop there, because Jesus says even to us today, through His Word that He came that we might have life, not just life,  but life to the full. (John 10:10).

I strongly believe we are moving into an unprecedented hour and that we as a ministry need to be ready like never before.  We need to be ready for people to be resourced and helped in their faith.  And we need to be ready to resource the church, as I believe they will not be able to cope with the amount of people who will be coming in.   They need to have reliable content.

There is a saying in Media that ‘content is king’.  This means that all our strategies are of no use, if our content, if what we write or share on air is not good.   I believe today though that God is turning that around and saying, ‘The KING is the content’.

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