(May 07, 2023) Carol Round encourages us to bless others.

Meeting over lunch with a Christian friend, I wanted to encourage her during her time of uncertainty and need.

She’d lost her job and was now working at our church as the senior pastor’s administrative assistant. However, the pay was much less than her previous job.

1 Thessalonians 5:11ERV tells us to ‘… encourage each other and help each other grow stronger in faith, just as you are already doing.’

My faith grew through tough times
So, since I could relate, I shared stories of how God had provided for me after I retired almost 20 years ago. After taxes and health insurance, I could barely meet my needs.

I’d obeyed God’s leading when I left my 30-year teaching career to write full-time. But He provided not only for my needs but opened doors of opportunity. Those doors led to ways to supplement my retirement income.

As I continued to share the stories of God’s miraculous provision at just the right times in my life, my friend was amazed. I also knew, without a doubt, that my friend was in the right place, serving in our church. (And I’m also not the only church member who believes our friend is right where God wants her).



(April 22, 2023) Ross and Donna, Mandate Ministries, share from Chiang Mai, northern Thailand…

Hunger for God
Our team, which included Pastor Phil and Tracey McCourt, recently held a training program for Hmong pastors and workers in the mountains of a neighbouring province.

The theme of the sessions was Fire on the Mountain and the fire certainly did fall!

So honoured to minister to and with these beautiful people who have such a hunger for God.

Hilltribe Village Outreach
For over a year now, Donna and I have been visiting a village which is comprised of several different hilltribe groups, mainly Long-Neck Kayan, but also Akha, Lisu, Ka-ren,and Palaung.



(March 26, 2023) Maureen McQuillan brings great encouragement … 

It’s almost April and in a couple of weeks with joy and thanksgiving we’ll remember all that our Saviour Jesus did for us to assure our salvation.

April 2023 already!
And still the world is one of uncertainty for many! Crime increases, Ukraine is still suffering from Russian attacks, speculation about China’s intentions, covid is still here, scams, hacking, life savings losses, higher interest rates, more earthquakes… and other bad news that we hear about daily!

For many life has had its disappointments: even today some tragedy could befall even a Christian. It’s a time when so many people need encouragement, even a simple but meaningful thank you!

Are you perchance looking back with regrets? Wondering what’s next, or what to do about some issue? Today’s scripture was Hebrews 11:2 and good news – Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.

Now there’s a different way to spell faith! C-o-n-f-i-d-e-n-c-e! It’s the key to getting through each day, whatever comes along.

Shattered dreams
Currently Robert and I are re-watching that brilliantly produced Foyle’s War series set in England during the terrifying days of WW2. We were only babies quickly becoming children back then, but we can recall the sirens warning of German bombers, of being hurried by our parents to shelters. (Would you believe that my family’s hidey hole was the cupboard under the stairs! Not that that would have protected us!).



(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.’ 



(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


(October 17, 2022) Robert and Maureen McQuillan drop a hint…

In the midst of all that’s bad in our world or on the local scene, our everyday living, our seeking to achieve whatever we’re led to aim for – despite sicknesses, heartbreaks – or whatever is bugging us, hindering us, strife  that causes us to feel low, there’s one thing that always perks us up!

What, you wonder, could that be? Just three little words… so meaning and powerful – A kind word.

Such  encouragement may only be a simple thank you… which we were parent-taught to say when someone gave us something, or did something for us.

Acts of kindness and thankyous and encouragements are often missing today! For example, on purchasing a very inexpensive 2023 dairy this morning we said a meaningful thankyou at checkout. The young clerk had been smiling but stopped in surprise. ‘Too many customers forget to say that’ he nodded sheepishly.



(September 4, 2022) Brian Bell reflects on Barnabas’example…

‘Son of encouragement’ is a tremendous accolade for anyone to receive from their contemporaries. Not that it means a person is without imperfections, but it says something special about how other people find them to be in the general demeanour of their character and daily living.

As with other biblical characters, the life and witness of Barnabas has profitable lessons for us all to consider, and I share with you those which have spoken to me.

The disciple
We are introduced to Barnabas by Luke the writer of Acts, who tells us that the early believers were of one heart and mind. They freely shared their material possessions not considering what they each owned to be their own! Some even sold land or houses and gave the proceeds to the apostles to give to others in need (Acts 2:44-45).

Among those who sold land was a disciple named Joseph nicknamed Barnabas which means the Son of Encouragement (Acts 4:36-37). Luke also tells us Barnabas was a Jew from the tribe of Levi and came from Cyprus. Clearly the Holy Spirit had done a wonderful work in the life of Barnabas since he had come to faith whether it was before or even among one of those 3,000 who responded to Peter’s message (Acts 2:41).



(July 26, 2022) Dr Jim McClure, noted theologian, challenges every Christian to be a role model…

One of the great world leaders many decades ago was Winston Churchill. Recently I came across a statement he made which made me stop and think. He said, ‘Failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.’  

1. Present experience
One of the things that has encouraged me in my ministry has been the courage of the prophets. One of their principle roles was to remind the people to live faithfully for God and to reject any ‘moral’ standard that opposed what He had revealed. Often the prophets were vigorously opposed as they declared what God had revealed. They were prepared to confront the ruling powers that were leading people away from God and they challenged the people to be faithful to God’s revealed truth.

They never preached compromise!

  • Isaiah didn’t mince his words when he declared,  ‘Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter’ (Isaiah 5:20).
  • Amos was told by the leading priest in Israel told Amos, ‘Get out, you seer! Go back to the land of Judah. Earn your bread there and do your prophesying there’ (Amos 7:12).
  • Jeremiah, during his 40 years of ministry was physically attacked, insulted, imprisoned in a hole in the ground, and put on trial for the things he preached were not what the people wanted to hear. The king even destroyed the scroll containing God’s word that Jeremiah had written, but God told Jeremiah to rewrite it.

All those men were threatened and abused because their preaching did not agree with moral and religious values of their day.



(June 17, 2022) Robert McQuillan encourages a Pentecost enquirer…

Dear Dr Robert

Thanks for sharing last month about Pentecost Sunday. Please tell me about what’s called either ‘a word of prophecy’ or ‘a prophetic word.’ Jonno.

Dear Jonno

Either term is acceptable. In brief, prophesying means boldly speaking an encouraging, timely word from God to bless people –
a) One on one, not just face-to-face but via phone/email/Skype.
b) To your church on Sundays (as was generally expected years ago!), or at other church meetings even business ones.

As one of the Holy Spirit’s nine supernatural manifestation gifts (1 Corinthians 12) it can operate anywhere, anytime. Like the accompanying gifts word of wisdom and word of knowledge, it’s spoken in faith (itself one of those nine ‘operational gifts’).

This means that you must know the Holy Spirit personally eg through an intimate relationship of prayer, reading God’s word, trust and experience, whereby you just know that know that you know it is the Holy Spirit taking over and using you to bless, encourage, challenge some individual, or your church in general.



(May 07, 2022) Brian Bell challenges us to be a worthy servant like ‘a man named Ezra’ …

With these four almost inconspicuous words contained in chapter 7 of the book of Ezra, we are introduced to the character of Ezra.

The book of Ezra tells us about the return of Jewish exiles from Babylon, beginning with those who returned with Zerubbabel and at a later time with Ezra. Ezra and the other exiles who returned to Jerusalem with him, got there about 13 years before the return of Nehemiah and other exiles, described in the book of Nehemiah.

The primary action carried out by the returning exiles as described in Ezra, was the reconstruction of the temple led by Zerubbabel, Ezra’s role is what I would describe as leading ‘spiritual renewal’ or ‘revival’ while the focus of Nehemiah was the rebuilding of Jerusalem’s walls which is replete with spiritual applications.

I believe both Ezra and Nehemiah could be said to be men who were ‘directed’ by the Holy Spirit, while those words are not specifically used when speaking of them, I believe it is borne out in the scriptural descriptions given of them. In this meditation I will share only some thoughts about Ezra.