(April 02, 2023) Richard Winter reflects…

It’s often said that in the olden days things were different. Some will remember in those olden days that we had a garden at the back of our home… we grew most of our vegetables, some flowers and some fruit trees.

Everybody loves a garden. Whether you like to work in a garden, whether you plant it, or just like walking through one that somebody else has done all the work in, there is beauty in a garden.

The Holy Bible has a lot to say about either gardening or planting, or sowing and harvesting. Gardens feature in scripture from the beginning of Genesis to the last chapter of Revelation. All of them are important to God’s plan… three on this earth, one not.

The three earthly ones were places of sadness, although the third became a place to rejoice over! And the fourth? Well let’s look at these four pivotal biblical places that have changed the way God’s people live… and can live.

The first garden was creation…



(March 20, 2023) Dr Jim McClure explains about God’s glory… 

Christians often use the word ‘glory’ but usually do not have much idea of what it means! The Hebrew word for glory, kabod, is found 200 times in the Old Testament and its development is interesting.

The root of kabod actually means ‘heavy’ and is associated with the liver (Exodus 29:13) which is the heaviest of the internal organs. The use of the word as ‘heavy’ is seen in a number of Old Testament passages such as Psalm 38:4, ‘For mine iniquities are gone over mine head: as a heavy burden they are too heavy for me’(KJV).

Glory developed into the concept of splendour.It referred to material wealth, that is, being ‘heavy with riches.’  Note Isaiah 10:3, ‘To whom will you flee for help, and where will you leave your wealth?’  Here ‘wealth’ is ‘kabod.’ 

The word continued to develop to mean honour. In Malachi 1:6 God asks, ‘A son honours (kabod) his father, and a servant his master. If I am a father, where is the honour (kabod) due to me?’ 

Glory also came to be recognised as a characteristic of God’s splendour — ‘The heavens declare the glory of God’ (Psalm 19:1).

Regarding the word ‘Shekinah’, although some people use this when referring to God’s glory, it does not refer to a special dimension of divine glory.  In fact this Hebrew word is not found in the Bible. It literally means ‘presence’ but doesn’t add anything to the concept that God’s glory reveals His presence.



(March 13, 2023) Richard Winter shares on something badly needed in church circles today…

I love stories so let me begin by telling you one that I heard many, many years ago and has stayed ever fresh in my mind.

Once upon a time… (original story opening, eh)… it was announced that the devil was going out of business and would sell all his evil equipment to those who were willing to pay the price.

On the big day of the sale, all his tools were attractively displayed… Envy, Jealousy, Hatred, Malice, Deceit, Sensuality, Pride, Idolatry and other implements of destruction, each price tagged marked.

Over in the corner by itself was a harmless-looking, wedge-shaped tool very much worn down, but with a higher price than any of the others. Someone asked Satan what it was, and he answered, ‘Discouragement.’ 



(March 09, 2023) Dr Jim McClure shares… 

We are very familiar with the festivals of Christmas, Good Friday and Easter that are commemorated each year.  In fact they are so popular that the secular and commercial world has largely taken over Christmas and Easter as holidays rather than ‘holy days.’

Even so, as Christians, we do try to focus on the profound spiritual significance and meaning of those events. 

We are in the midst of festival of ‘Lent’ that is celebrated each year by millions of Christians throughout the world. It is a 6-week event that began this year on Wednesday, February 22, and will end on Saturday April 8, 2023 – the day before Easter Day. While many churches worldwide observe Lent, some denominations – and Christians – pay little attention to it.

What is Lent and why did it become part of Christian practice?  Almost 1900 years ago one of the leaders of the church, Irenaeus, mentioned a time of prayer and fasting for 40 days before Easter.    A couple of hundred years later it was generally practised by Christians worldwide. Its purpose was focusing on God, developing a closer relationship with Him and reflecting on the wonderful fact that Jesus Christ rose triumphantly from the tomb.

I am not suggesting that Lent should become part of the  calendar of every church and every Christian.  I wholly agree with the comment, ‘You could observe 1,000 Lents and it won’t ever accomplish in your life what the cross of Jesus has.’ That is absolutely true. 

Nevertheless, I believe that that our relationship with God can be greatly deepened and strengthened whenever we seriously set aside time in prayer and think deeply about what it truly means to be a Christian.



(February 10, 2023) Dr Jim McClure challenges us to make the right choice… 

Joshua was Moses’ ‘right-hand-man’ during the 40 years Israel spent in the wilderness, then he became Israel’s leader when Moses died, led the people into the Promised Land and served them faithfully as their leader for some decades after that until his death at the age of 110.

When the days of his leadership had come to an end, he gathered the people of Israel together and gave them his final charge which was reflective, challenging and called for a response.

His charge is still relevant to us today!

1. Circumstances (Joshua 24:1)
Joshua assembled all the tribes of Israel at Shechem.’ He chose Shechem as the gathering place for this momentous event as it was a place of promise, challenge and commitment from the time of Abraham.

Then he reminded the Israelites that God had enabled them to accomplish amazing things and they had now secured a foothold in the Promised Land. 

They had arrived at a time when a new era was about to begin.

2. History (Joshua 24:2-13)
In these verses we read Joshua’s brief historical summary of the people of Israel from the days of Abraham to their entry into and settlement in the Promised Land.  

He gave this review to demonstrate how gracious and powerful God was and to affirm how critical it was to have Him in their lives and to faithfully follow His directions.



(February 01, 2023) Richard Winter begins a series on Mark’s gospel…

In you had children in the 1990s, you may remember they were glued to the TV when Power Rangers were on – that group of ordinary teens who when faced with evil changed into a super group to fight the foe.

They taught that –  

  • Everyone is a hero in his or her own way.
  • You can unleash your secret power!
  • Taking a step back is not a problem.
  • Focusing on the mission is vital!
  • Evil forces are out there trying to take over the earth.

The series captured the hearts of a generation and many who go to Comic Con today dress as a Power Ranger.

  • The story is rather universal.
  • Good versus evil and good wins.
  • There are losses.
  • But you stay together as a team and don’t give up.
  • When you face an enemy you power up, or as they would stay Morph Up.

It’s almost as if the Power Rangers’ theme and storyline was stolen from the Bible! What do I mean by that?

Evil needs to be fought!
The Bible is about universal sin and evil fighting against God! And His sons and daughters fight evil, and He has equipped us by giving His Holy Spirit and power, enabling us to ‘morph up’ and live life as ‘Power Ranger Christians.’



(January 19, 2023) A. Richard Samuel challenges ‘new year resolutions’…

Whenever we enter a New Year we think of resolutions. But, someone once jokingly said, ‘New Year resolutions are made to be broken.’ In effect, we must realise that we can do nothing without God’s help.

Jesus pointed out that ‘apart from me you can do nothing’ (John 15:5). So as we travel further into 2023, let’s look to Him and seek His help! But note…

Hindering baggage
Many would have seen signboards like the one below in railway stations and in major bus stands.

In our life journey, this statement makes sense. Any unnecessary load is cumbersome and burdensome.

In Ephesians 4:31-32, Paul detailed six pieces of unwanted luggage that hinders our travel… Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice.’

Paul also suggested that we carry only necessary luggage that will make our travel comfortable and pleasant – as well as our co-travellers… Kindness, compassion and a forgiving nature.



(January 15, 2023) Richard Winter ‘cuts to the chase’!

Many people like to get straight to the chase… I’m sure you have heard the following:

  • ‘Just give me the facts.’
  • ‘Don’t waffle around.’
  • ‘Just give it to me straight.’
  • ‘Don’t beat around the bush.’

Talk about cutting to the chase. Well here’s another one that does just that – somewhat longer, and of all things a prayer, a very dangerous prayer! It’s a fact… and there’s no waffling, no beating around the bush. I’m giving it to you straight!

It’s my personal prayer – and it could become yours. Goes like this…

‘Heavenly Father, as hard as this is for me, I am asking you to search asking you to search me. Search me, God, and know my heart. God, test my motives. Reveal to me my anxious thoughts. Show me anything in me that offends you. God, I want to see in me what you see in me, so I can become more like Jesus. God, I ask you to search me.’

A dangerous prayer
In fact, if you ask my opinion, most people’s prayers are way too safe!



(January 12, 2023) Dr Jim McClure shares a personal experience, encouraging us to move ahead in God … 

When God called me to serve Him in the ministry, my initial response was, ‘No!’

For various reasons I considered the call unwelcome, unacceptable, impractical and untimely… so initially I pushed back! My response was in some ways similar to that of Jeremiah who, when God called him, expressed absolutely no enthusiasm for the task.  He replied to God, ‘Ah, I do not know how to speak; I am only a child’  (Jeremiah 1:6).  

The word translated ‘Ah’ is pronounced in exactly the same way in Hebrew!  It is actually more a sigh of distress and reluctance than a word.  Jeremiah really did not want to be a prophet and so he made his rather weak excuse.  But, however reluctantly, he agreed to submit to God’s call.

And so did I! I went to a theological college in Manchester for five years.

Brief testimony
However, about a year before I started my college course,  I preached my first sermon.

That was 61 years ago in my home church, Abbots Cross Congregational Church in Northern Ireland, and the sermon was based on Psalm 73.  I remember it well.  As I stood in the pulpit that Sunday morning and looked at the congregation, I was terrified! 

With shaking legs and trembling voice I raced through the sermon I had prepared. And it was terrible!  In fact, it was so bad that someone left me an anonymous note advising me never to preach again! But now, more than six decades later I am still preaching regularly.  (In case you are wondering – No, I never did discover who wrote that note).

My point is this – whether or not I personally wanted to be a pastor and preacher was irrelevant. As a young Christian, I had placed myself into God’s hands and so agreed (with some reluctance) to agree with His call on my life.  Do I regret the decision I made?  Not at all!  At times it has not been easy for many reasons but the journey has been amazing.  I could never have anticipated the things I have done, the congregations to which I have preached God’s Word, the students I have taught, the people I have met, the countries I have visited and in which I have taught, the friends I have made and so on.

And God has blessed me abundantly by giving me a loving, encouraging and supportive wife, Jean, to be by my side through all the hard times and the good.  How rich my life has been because I said, ‘Yes’ to God – however reluctantly.

God does not promise prosperity and success
In truth, when we follow God’s plan for our lives, prosperity and success in all we attempt is not guaranteed. Indeed God may lead us into difficult, uncomfortable and painful situations to further His purposes.  There are many examples in the Bible to support this statement. For example, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego would have been greatly concerned when they were sentenced to a fiery death (Daniel 3).

My point here is – when God calls us to do something, it is better to say, ‘Yes,’ even with reluctance! It is so much better to place our lives into God’s hands than to live outside His will.

King David wisely declared to God, ‘My times are in your hands’ (Psalm 31:15). The old hymn simply and magnificently proclaims –

‘My times are in your hand;
my God, I wish them there!
My life, my friends, my soul,
‘My times are in your hand;
my God, I wish them there!
My life, my friends, my soul,
I leave entirely to your care.’

Beware of discouragements! 
(i) Beware of discouraging others
You don’t know the full picture and are in no position to pontificate to others! Discouragement  can have unanticipated consequences for a person’s development and it may even hinder God’s plans for a person’s life.

I have noted during the years that, while churches should be places of encouragement, the spirit of discouragement is often all too active!

(ii) Beware of allowing discouragement to shape us
It can crush our spirit and damage our relationship with God.

Had I listened to and been crushed by the discouraging words of my anonymous critic all those decades ago, not only would God’s plans for my life have been unfulfilled but my life and that of my family would have been so impoverished.

(iii) Beware of surrendering to self-discouragement
Throughout his 40 years ministry Jeremiah experienced one discouragement after another as the people of Judah mocked him and the religious leaders rejected his messages from God.

He wrote about the people, ‘If you do not listen, I will weep in secret because of your pride; my eyes will weep bitterly, overflowing with tears, because the Lord’s flock will be taken captive’  (Jeremiah 13:17). 

But he remained committed to his calling, declaring, ‘If I say, “I will not mention Him or speak any more in His name,” His word is in my heart like a fire, a fire shut up in my bones. I am weary of holding it in; indeed, I cannot’ (Jeremiah 20:9). 

Final thoughts
As we move on into 2023 and God is calling you, may you respond to that call – even somewhat reluctantly. May His word, His fire, so burn in your heart that you will achieve all He has planned for you – whatever that may be.

Don’t yield to discouragement, rather yield to encouragement!


Dr Jim McClure has authored several books and Bible studies. Offered free in electronic version in EPUB, Kindle and PDF formats Looking for Answers in a Confusing World, is highly recommended.

Questions seeking enlightenment on biblical perspectives are welcomed. Link: OnlinerConnect@gmail.com


(December 21, 2022) Dr Jim McClure reminds us that Christians have triumphant hope above the storms, sufferings and sadnesses of today’s dark times… 

‘Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord rises upon you’ declared the prophet over 2700 years ago.

In chapter 59 he painted a picture of corruption that primarily referred to a time of national distress for Israel, a time when people were blindly groping in the darkness of sin, a time of hopelessness and fear, a time when encroaching despair threatened to extinguish all confidence for the future. 

But Isaiah’s message contained a further dimension. It was not only relevant to the collapse of society at that time but also pointed into a future time when that crushing darkness would be banished in the glorious light of God’s intervention and presence. 

Crushing darkness in our time 
We are living in perilous times! 

Not only do we continue to learn of increased crime, such as the murder of two young police officers, football crowd rampage, continuing covid cases and deaths, Russia still warring against Ukraine, financial uneasiness, teenagers in trouble, troubled minds… but, moving at an unprecedented pace, the overthrow of sound moral principles that have stood the test of time and the welcoming of perverse values in which good is called evil and evil is called good.