The suffix ‘ship’ is from the Old English ‘scipe’ which is connected with ‘shape.’  Thus, fellowship, is a state of ‘friendship that has a certain profile as different groups of people attend in harmony. It means a group who has something in common, hence scholarship or craftsmanship.  In the French language it is ‘camaraderie,’ which is a good fellowship or the intimacy of friendship, and from the Latin ‘sodality’ or comrade.

It also means a community in which condolence or sympathy can be offered, hence a congregation of people who impart encouragement to each other. A ‘fellow’ is someone who has something in common with one – one’s peer or equal in a specified way.  In Middle English it is felawe, which from Old Norse felagi, is a ‘partner in goods,’ the common goods we have in the church is the gift of New Life and the gifts of the Holy Spirit. This union results in services described as ‘Holy Communion;’ people in concord holding a corporate vision and victory.

Someone asked me when I was the senior minister of HICC when I was going to mentor him, to which I replied: “we have a men’s meeting in HICC, and if you want to attend that, you’re welcome.” We sit around and talk about issues, asking pertinent questions and seeking answers. We fraternise as an association of brothers in friendly fellowship. It’s one of the benefits of church life; it’s one of the strengths of HICC – its fellowship at its highest.

One of the four[1] ‘ships’ of partnership in HICC is ‘fellowship.’  We don’t have laws, but we do have suggestions that will make life easier all round. Under God as a multinational church, it has achieved great unity, and as the Bible says where there is unity “God commands the blessing” (Psalm 133). It is something to be striven for, protected and enjoyed. To achieve such a great blessing, there are obviously some ground rules – more of a list of shopping points to be saved for special discounts on harmony!

Fortunately and essentially our main personal fellowship is vertical, “. . . And truly our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ,” (1 John 1:3) which then flows out horizontally with local church membership. If our upward relationship is pure, it will enhance our outreach at a human level. If we concentrate at living in the divine fellowship, and not forsake it, as Adam did in the garden, we’ll find it helps towards membership agreement. If congregations have the “Living Bread,” they’ll not “bite and devour one another “(Galatians 5:15) because they are satisfied, and such people are happy, but not stultified as some may mistakenly think.

Eugene Peterson aptly translates Romans – “Eventually, we’re all going to end up kneeling side by side in the place of judgement, facing God. Your critical and condescending ways aren’t going to improve your position there one bit. Read it for yourself in scripture . . . So tend to your knitting. You’ve got your hands full just taking care of your own life.” (The Message 14: 10 -13). In other words get on your pins and with your pins and forget controversial personalities; they only exist to catch attention.  Keeping ourselves right with God is about what most of us can do, and it’s only that fellowship that will contribute to “peace one earth, goodwill to man.”

We are not to confuse weakness with wickedness, for many Christians are not deliberately contentious, they are just human. If Adam and Eve, the perfect man and woman, couldn’t get their act together, what hope have we? Christian divorce is almost at the same level as the secular world, and with that the trend, there will, symptomatically, be the usual effect in our assemblies, because many divorcees marry a second comparable partner, with similar results!

Usually it is morally neutral issues that cause the problems in church life. In the New Testament the quarrel was about food and drink, and in modern churches, it could be the colour of the sanctuary walls! Insignificant issues that delay the outreach to the unsaved. People have nothing better to think about, so they play the minor and miss the major.

Fellowship in HICC is an exciting test as 40 nations assemble weekly to worship God, with different cultures; opinions and many are from different denominations, but underlying all this we have Sonship – which is salvation, and that makes God our common Father in an uncommon way. We also have oneness, which supersedes unity and soars into divine realms. Jesus said “I and my Father are one”[2] To be one we do not have to agree, but we do need to ride above differences, amicably.

[1] Sonship, worship, fellowship and stewardship.

2 John 10:30





The Glory – Part 4

I have said that God’s glory is seen in the person of Christ, and it is saving faith that makes that new life more appreciate the Lord.   Peter puts it like this, “Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see Him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of GLORY” 1 Peter 1 v 8. “Yet believing”; what a challenging phrase! When all things go against us, we rejoice with full glory. Why?   We are growing in the knowledge of him that brings all things to perfection. The sure word to us is “But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our lord and Saviour Jesus Christ”…. [1 Peter 3 v 18]. As we grow we shall find glory the companion of our way.

The Scriptures are given for this precise purpose. “Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature.”   “For if these things be in you and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ”, and that knowledge will bring glory, “But we all with open face, beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord” [2 Corinthians 3 v 18].


But you are still uncertain of the glory and find that you have so little of it in your life, then consider that it may not be the right Lord you behold, or you may not use the right eye to behold Him, or the right glass to behold him in.  That mirror is no less than the scripture, for it is seen in the face of the Lord and our image is clear to read.   Look often in that reflection and let the spirit of God work the transformation, “Be ye transformed”, says the Book.  Simple believing faith can do what nothing else can. It can make us to be like Christ. “He must increase and I must decrease”, and it can only happen as you are aware of his rightful authority.   The Bible gives us that.   Paul gives us the secret in Romans 15 v 13. “Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope through the power of the Holy Ghost”.

Abundant knowledge will lead to right reckoning of Christ’s glory.   I emphasise this point to bring you to this place of full clarity.   We need to put Christ’s glory before any other thing in heaven and earth.   To do this we must see right and strive to ensure that what we see is of God, ascribing to Him the eternal measure that is due.

Only by faith can we do this and faith is freely given of God. “And that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God” to all those who long for right relationship, and have sincere motive in seeking. The use of this act will serve to convince you that you are saved.   For the more you see of God and find out by revelation about His glory in Christ, the more you realise that you are, in fact, saved.   Those who have a strong and unshakeable faith are those who have seen much of the glory. It is only by the divine operation that we see Him at all.  The greater degree of knowledge about Him that we possess the more fully we must consider that there is a supernatural Spirit that is guiding us into all truth.  The seeking of this glory then also serves to strengthen us in the safety of our souls. This is not a belief for belief’s sake, but true and open insight into God’s remedy against sin.

The Glory – Part 3

We walk by faith, not by sight, and therefore we leave the physical form unknown and concentrate on the matchless glory of His work and the regal outworking of His person.  All we need to know is that Jesus died for us and that by faith we secure His affection and eternal forgiveness.   If you turn to Isaiah you read “He has no form or comeliness, and when we shall see Him, there is no beauty that we should desire Him.  He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; and we hid as it were our faces from Him”.   Hardly a picture of envy.   Enlarge the eye of faith and let this be your whole task; to see Him clearly in ascended power.   Let not images of human creation detract from that noble and glorious Saviour.   It is His glory that should enwrap us with wonder, and by diligent seeking through the pages of scripture we find out the greatness of His person.


It is needful therefore to look for this glory.   Read 2 Cor. 3 v 8, “But we all with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the spirit of the Lord”.   The quality is rare because it is eternal.   The things that are eternal are unseen, and if this glory is oftentimes outside our grasp it is because we are striving for the temporal things. “While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal”   II Corinthians 4 v 18.

For God did once send His glory on earth and there were few that saw and understood the divine intrusion.   “And the word was made flesh, and dwelt among us,(and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father) full of grace and truth” John 1 v 14. What miracle of omnipotent love, so vainly treated!   The only son, the manifestation of the Father’s glory was sent to bear the penalty of imputed sin.

Now also consider the relationship between truth and glory.

Our latest text joins them tightly. When men seek truth they are seeking nothing less than God’s glory, for truth is the very nature of God and therefore cannot be less than God.  Christ was truth and in this He manifested God’s glory.   Many miss God because they cannot face the truth!


While this age shall last and before Christ returns, the only means of seeing Christ’s glory is by that faith that also secures for us redemption. But this faith is not of man and cannot be encouraged in destitute sinners, except it be engendered by God.  So have you faith?   If you have, you have also the means of beholding the glory that comes of divine revelation.   You may strive earnestly but you will not see or enter the inner circle of perception.   Neither is it given to a select few.   The promise of faith is to “Whosoever”; all men may come, but so few do come.  God is not partial in His love; He bestows it upon everyone who comes to Him.   God will not push glory on any man, but He longs that individuals will seek for a further knowledge of Him past the elementary scenes of nature, that only contain his natural greatness and goodness.   Faith then is the key.   It opens the door to God and leads us inside to further joy.

The Glory – Part 2

We are partakers of that radiance: so called and so chosen that we might, in constant effort towards heaven, establish in this time and upon this earth that “The name of our Lord Jesus Christ may be glorified in you, and ye in Him, according to the grace of our God” 2 Thess 2 v 12.   But how can we, the created, add anything to Him, the Creator?   Is it not that in saving lost sinners He gains to himself in our justification the glory of forgiveness?   So as sinners see in us the work of grace they give God glory and praise Him for His goodness.  We then add that virtue to His glory.

I am inclined to believe that which is laid up for us in heaven is glory, and in 1 cor. 2 v 9 it says “But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither hath it entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him”.   And if this glory cannot be conceived, how then can we attempt to fathom the matchless splendour of the Son of God?   There is a lingering excellence that Christ has which when seen leaves men speechless.   Paul who, when on the Damascus road saw the glory of the risen Christ, went to the street Straight, and saw nothing for three days, nor spoke.   We with the eye of faith which is the seeing eye of the Christian, penetrate beyond the dark veil to observe the majesty that is His.

We see the wonder of His person – the combined natures entwined in one redemptive act for lost mankind. “But God hath revealed them unto us by His Spirit, for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God” 1 Cor. 2 v 10.


If Christ’s glory could be well understood by natural men then His glory would be very little and of small value.   But God and His Glory in Christ are past the human comprehension.  Paul says that after he had preached the gospel there were still unsearchable riches past finding out.   I suppose he fathomed deeper than any man and yet in all his understanding of the great truths, he could still imply that the vastness of Christ’s treasure was like an ocean that was too deep to plumb.   There are some regions of the sea bed that no man has ever reached, beyond natural investigation; and that’s like God.   There are, however, many things which we can know and these we should be aware of.

It is true that God has put a curtain over the gleaming image of Christ, and we see through a glass darkly, but there are some revelations that have been given for our knowledge and future anticipation.   It would be unwise to reach heaven and not have some slight insight of the Glory, for it is glory that will be mainly beheld in that wondrous land.   You will see the glory of Christ in His nature and inner being, and it is only as God leads us into deeper communion with Him through Christ by the Spirit that we can know the real glory.

Christ carries heaven within Himself, and He will convey the knowledge of this in part as we worship Him.   The Bible reveals this path and we are bidden, for our pleasure and for His glory, to walk in wholehearted relationship, born of blood and settled by righteousness given freely upon divine merit.


Men have tried to capture His resemblance in order to reveal to the world some measure of His glory.   But all they do is to put Him to an open shame.   There can be no visible image that correctly portrays the nature of God.   Natural men cannot fathom God and therefore cannot mould him in earthly likeness by earthly means.   It only belittles the real glory that is His.   If man by his finger can give God a face then man will cherish that form to the exclusion of sight through faith, which is the only spiritual eye the believer has.

See next week’s blog post for part 3

The Glory – Part 1

If there is one thing which is veiled to the average Christian it is the glory of Christ.   The church may preach many things, but if it neglects the essential glory of God’s Son, then it falls short of the basic and most necessary teaching of the Faith.   We seem to know many side issues of Christian doctrine but very little about the central theme.  John’s Gospel tells us repeatedly in the 17th chapter that Christ has a glory that was His before worlds began, that He never lost that glory, that He has given part of it to His followers. Flesh loves to glory in itself, but we, as Christians, are called to bear the glory of Christ. “Changed from glory to glory”.


Before the agony and triumph of Calvary, Christ had confidence and assurance of repossessing that glory which He had before the worlds began.   For in John 16 v 28 He says “I came forth from the Father and am come into the world: again, I leave the world, and go the Father”. As the successful mediator, the Son of Man was made flesh and brought redemption, fulfilling His Father’s will.   He gladly wished to return and take the regal and rightful seat at God’s right hand, to administer with justice the kingdom of grace; shedding His glory upon the bond-slaves of mercy.   This is because He has first received and in Him dwells the fullness of the Godhead bodily.

See what it says in Psalm 68 v 18 “You have ascended on high, you have led captivity captive; you have received gifts for men…” In receiving such, He is also willing and more abundantly able to shower freely upon man those precious pledges.   Ephesians 4 v 8 “and gave gifts unto men”, gifts full of His immortal glory.   Everything that Christ bestows upon the heirs of grace is tinged with divine glory.   You will remember the exploits of King David; the chase to Ziklag, the victory; the words that followed; “And when David came to Ziklag, he sent of the spoil unto the elders of Judah, even to the friends, Behold a present for you of the spoil of the enemies of the Lord”. 1 Samuel 30 v 28.

Christ further says in the Gospels “And you are my friends”. Thus we are recipients of the spoils of Golgotha.   Our Lord has put the enemy to flight; he that made captives is now overthrown: we are set free, and have additional blessing for we are partakers of the glory, the spoils he has obtained.   Ephesians 2 v 18 says, “For through Him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father”. This is part of the heritage settled for us in Him, one of those gifts given to make all one.   Here is glory multiplied beyond the mind of man: access to God.  “For of His fullness have we all received”. John 1 v 16.


Peter in his first epistle, 1 v 11 “Of which salvation the prophets have enquired and searched diligently, who prophesied of the grace that should come unto you:  Searching what, or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow”.  Glory for Him, for He could return to the Father: and glory for us, for we were to become his children by adoption, and so inheritors of the divine fortune.   Because He has glory, He wishes it to be seen.  “When He shall come to be glorified in His saints, and to be admired in all them that believe” 2 Thessalonians 1 v 10.   Our text implies, not only seen, but shared!

See next week’s blog post for part two.


I recently treated Pamela, on her birthday, to a river and canal cruise starting in Amsterdam. This was to be my first holiday of this type having shied away from water travel, but she had done a similar thing previously. She has a bucket list and wanted to see the famous painting by Johannes Vermeer of The Girl with a Pearl Earring. Thus, we climbed aboard the Marco Polo river ship, with three decks, for five days luxury and idleness. There were 26 Britons and the rest were French and Americans. Both those groups clung together in their respective countries; so did the Brits!

We usually sat at different tables for meals but with our own kind, and struck up a conversation with other guests, with gentle introductions, so as not to pry too much. To my interest, six of the couples we sat with were on their second marriage, notably a new wife, as the previous one had died of breast cancer. I did not sit with all the 12 couples but there could have been more. However, 50% minimum was a high figure. I also noticed that no man had chosen a second bride much younger than himself, which was sensible. The disparity of age in some cases of second marriage is enormous and silly. I have just read in The Times that Mel Gibson at 60 has a new flame of 25. He is almost old enough to be her grandfather!

The food was excellent, each meal unique and all drinks throughout the day were free, so we had non-alcoholic fruit juice cocktails. This tested their creativity to the limit but the staff and crew were courteous and kind, and nothing was too much trouble. How refreshing from the London and Midlands scene.

We were taken to the Keukenhof Gardens which means ‘Kitchen Garden.’ It is open to the public with a special event each year on the same weekend we were there, which was the best day for most people who had come to see the processional mobile flower floats. They reckoned that 90,000 would attend. Such was the crush that it was almost impossible, at times, to walk anywhere, but still worth going.  It is the centre in Holland for world tulip distribution. It was breath-taking to see the waves and swathes of tulips of many different colours and types, bed after bed, almost beyond adequate description. In fact, words could not describe the beauty.

One female visitor tried to do a selfie with a phone camera so she crouched down and took it and fell backwards as she arose and flattened the bed of Tulips. I’m not sure what happened after that but suffice to say, her desire to be seen amongst the beauty of the tulips, may have highlighted her human deficiencies!

A day later we went to the Mauritshuis Museum in The Hague, to view the favourite painting that Pamela wanted to see. Again, we found countless selfies being taken, with a person standing in front of a famous painting, no doubt to pass on to others their experience and privilege of being there. Perhaps narcissistic in attitude.  It’s a diary saying to the world; this is my life – I’m here enjoying the event. There is a need in some people to share their experience or their worth to a wider media, self-worth no doubt crystallises it. There is clearly a lack or a desire for recognition in their lives beyond the current lifestyle.

Christians do not need this for the best advice I can give is to believe in yourself, love yourself and love God. His love is beyond measure – infinite magnificence indeed. We already have a selfie, with God looking over our shoulder; it’s found in the scriptures. We died with Him and we were raised with Him, and we are “in Christ” says the New Testament 164 times, that’s enough proof. Our photo is taken side by side with Jesus, our Saviour. One with him, no greater royalty on earth or in heaven; this is the height of privilege and partnership. The best selfie ever – Oh YES!


Pamela and I decided we would spend our first wedding anniversary in Florence; I had not been there before, but she had been three times. She eulogised about it, and it caught my interest. I had been to Italy once to preach many years ago and then on to Venice, so my knowledge of the country was meagre. The 25th wedding anniversary with my first wife was to Brittany in France, and after that we spent most years in California during the month of November. All I knew from my limited knowledge, was that Florence became the centre of medieval Europe and was and is noted for its Renaissance architecture, art, monuments, and culture. All fascinating subjects to me, for I once taught building to student architects.

We stayed in a hotel dating from the 12th century, and our room was large. It was about 6 metres to the ceiling and 8 metres square. The ceiling was hand painted in flowers and was exquisite. It had a super king bed, a five seater sofa, two leather chairs and a further divan which could convert to a bed, with plenty of room left over. We had a balcony overlooking a narrow street which was one car wide. In fact, many roads were like that. Most of those roads were cobbles or large dressed stones acting as cobbles. Thus, when we decided to have a horse and carriage drive around the city, the journey was more than slightly bumpy. Thankfully the horse was 24 years old and knew the route.

The first place we visited was the old prison now a museum called The Bargello. Amongst many sculptures it had a statue called the ‘Deposition’ or ‘Florence Pieta’ of the Christ taken down from the cross, with Nicodemus [possibly Joseph of Arimathea], Mary Magdalene and the Virgin Mary. Because of imperfections in the natural stone Michelangelo defaced the statue in his fury. He worked on it from 1547 -1553 and after his death it was completed by Tiberius Calcagni, who also restored it. It is said that the face of Joseph was his face. There was one statue I noticed of David and Goliath.  Goliath’s head was at David’s feet and had the stone still projecting from his forehead. Goliath can be viewed allegorically as those who taunt and persecute God’s people of any nation, therefore, no wonder they do nutty things with that kind of impediment in their spiritual heads!

The other thing I noticed was that the zebra crossings are designed to kill people for no vehicle stops. It seems they accelerate as soon as someone wants to cross, and before one even contemplates putting one’s foot off the pavement, you stop and look around even look up as vehicles seem to come from nowhere. But, worst of all were the bicycles for the sound they produce is minimal. I was almost clobbered by a female cyclist who came towards me with amazing speed, as if pursued by the demons from hell, as I tried to cross at a legal crossing point. I came within a few millimetres of being seriously injured but was saved by Pamela.

The city was beautiful and full of artistry and a joy to behold. The most remarkable thing was the largest unsupported dome at the Duomo Cathedral, even more astounding was the simple tools they used to construct it. However, where there is a vision obstacles can be overcome. I am never surprised at man’s ingenuity, labour, output and patience. The skill was remarkable. The details were profoundly accurate and spoke for themselves as a silent witness to superb craftsmanship. In other words, what was worth doing was worth doing well.  Time appears not to have mattered; the job took precedence. Some buildings took centuries to complete.

It reminded me of our spiritual life, for God is in no hurry to perfect us. He has our lifetime to do it and his tools are very simple.  A relationship here and there, a few crisis points, a storm or two, a wilderness experience and famine. Job done; trust perfected, foundations deeply built, superstructure developed through fruits of the Spirit. Grace undergirding, mercy overflowing and love cascading everything. God’s ingenuity in making us faultless to appear before Him at a future time is beyond our comprehension. Florence is a statement of man’s creativity, and the church is God’s manifested inspiration before angels, demons and people of His supreme skill at taking flawed materials and making them into something unimpeachable. He must, like Michelangelo, get frustrated at our imperfections, but overlooks them to complete the job – Oh yes.