About ralphreilly


Human Interaction

“Most human interaction is for better or for worse. Each moment with another person can be an opportunity for discovery and growth or for the erosion of identity and the destruction of one’s personhood.”

This quote is from Robert Bolton’s 1986 book “People Skills”, and I think it highlights the enormous potential that we carry with us, every day. We carry the potential both to curse those around us and to bless those around us.

Each moment that we are with another person we can listen to them, we can encourage them, we can comfort them. We can, if it is appropriate, challenge them, inspire them, confront them. We can always speak the truth. We can always be loving – as love is described in 1 Corinthians 13.

Or, as is often easier, we can ignore them, snub them or put them off. We can crush their hope to connect with us simply by “getting on with our business”.

In the gospel reading set for today, Jesus walks on the water (Matthew 14:22-33). Jesus is clearly working from a different rule book, and Peter wants to join him. Peter is a fisherman. He knows how boats and water work. Or, how they usually work. Peter allows his faith in Jesus to challenge the ways he has always looked at water, and he steps out of the boat.

Will we allow our faith in Jesus to challenge the ways we look at the people around us?

In our song this morning, “Oceans”, there is the line “You call me out upon the water – the great unknown, where feet may fail.” This must be exactly Peter’s feelings as he steps out of the boat. But it’s the next line of the song that gives us courage: “And there I find you, in the mystery”. We can step out onto the water with faith, because we know that it is Jesus who is calling us.

When you’re with another person, and you find you have the opportunity to bless them, take the step with faith. Allow Jesus to call you out of the boat of your safety, to encourage a person whom you wouldn’t usually encourage, to comfort a person who doesn’t “deserve” comfort from you, or to be patient and kind in a way that Jesus would be.

Please notice, I am NOT suggesting that we put ourselves in harm’s way. I’m suggesting that we love our neighbours the way we want to be loved ourselves – the way that Jesus loves us. And I’m suggesting that when Jesus suggests we trust him, we fully trust him.

That is my hope and prayer


In a tough spot, will you follow Jesus?

Have you ever had one of those days when nothing seemed to work out? Have you ever had one of those years?

COVID-19 has made life difficult and unpredictable for most people in the world.  All churches – including ours – have been trying to predict what the virus will do too. Churches, it turns out, are ideal spreading grounds: people gathering inside, for extended periods, vulnerable people, singing and preaching. It almost seems like God is asking us to be “the church” without meeting in our church building.

Can you conceive it? What are we if we can’t meet in our building? I imagine that the disciples felt something similar. In the Gospel reading from the Lectionary for today (Matthew 14:13-21), when faced with a hungry crowd, Jesus says to the disciples “You give them something to eat.” Can you imagine yourself there as a disciple? How do you respond?

I’m sure the disciples had no idea what Jesus meant. How can the few of them feed all these people?  But they had forgotten who it was whom they were following. 

As we read in last week’s lesson, we need to let the “yeast” of the Kingdom of God fill us and work it’s way deeply into us – like yeast through a whole batch of dough. Like the virus, but with very different results. The virus brings organ failure and death. The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, goodness and self-control (Gal 5:22-23). 

The economics of God are not the economics of man.

If we can step out, like the disciples did, and offer our Lord the meagre resources that we still have, our story teaches that Jesus can do the miracle. In our scripture passage, the massive crowd all ate and had enough. In the story of our Church and Ashmore, what can Jesus do if we place into HIS hands the things that he has entrusted to us?

Let us hear the invitation today: “You give them something to eat” and reflect on what God might be calling us to.

And may God, in his mercy, and in Jesus’ name, bless us all with his grace and peace.


Learning from the Tower and the Virus.

click to see full size (20MB)!

In a previous church I spent 2 and a half years looking through the Old Testament Sunday by Sunday. Sometimes we went through many weeks on one book, other times we spent just one Sunday.

And on Thursday night the men of the church would gather together and offer their cents worth of understanding. But the thing that came out of the discussions we men had was this: There is nothing new. What they did back then, we are still doing today.

Which brings me to Genesis chapter 11
It’s the story of the building of a huge city and an even bigger tower within the city It was to be a monument to greatness as the Discipleship Bible Reading Notes tell us.

But there was a problem. I mean there were some good points. People decided to cooperate on this venture. That is always a good thing.

Look at the Covid-19 virus. People from all over the world are working together to come up with a solution, a remedy, a vaccine, and that’s great.

These people who built the Tower were innovative tower builders, but they did not master life itself. They thought they were invincible, supreme, self made men who could do anything.

Sounds like people today, doesn’t it. But and here’s the thing.

Buildings do not epitomise the meaning of life.

Life cannot be conquered or controlled by a tall tower. They didn’t get it and neither, sometimes do we.

No matter how great or impressive our own accomplishments are, we are still mortal and thus limited by our own humanity.

But God, well, He is not mortal or human, and therefore, is able to do abundantly more than we could even hope for or dream of.

As we allow God to take His rightful position in our lives so life becomes so much richer for us all.

God bless you

ps. Discipleship Bible Reading Notes are distributed every Wednesday by email.
If you’re not getting yours, please tell Ron and he will add you to the list. Watch the video of the service for his email address!

Easter 2020

Easter has finally arrived.

What with all this virus business, it has sadly got a mention out there.

But it is here.

The moon is full.

But, and here’s the thing.

Easter this year is different from any other year. All because of the covid-19 virus. We can’t do what we would normally have done.

And to make matters worse, they are saying that it will take at least six months before anything gets back to normal. Whoooooo!

This leads me to reflect on the story of Noah which we have been reading in our Discipleship Notes.

If you haven’t started yet. I encourage you to have a go.

We are reading the story lines of the Bible beginning with Genesis. And Genesis 6, 7 and 8 are all about Noah and the flood. Did you know that although the rain only lasted 40 days they were on that boat 450 feet long and 3 decks high ~ 8 humans and all those smelly animals, for a period of at least 13 months.

The flood waters actually covered the earth for 150 days. That’s five months.

Then, there was another 21/2 months before any land was seen. (picture mountain peaks)
Then, ten and a half months after the rain began, Noah saw that the earth was drying but it took another month before it actually dried.

Imagine the patience those eight humans had to endure.

Patience is not something that comes easily to any human, even Christians. But, as my wife, Janie, aptly put it in her notes of this chapter, “once patience leaves the building, all focus on signs of hope fade”

To quote another Christian, Edward Mote (1797-1874) “Our hope is built own nothing less than JESUS blood and righteousness.

On Christ the solid rock, I stand. All other ground is sinking sand”.

It is important for Christians to not dash off on their own, but to wait for God. His timing is perfect, ours is slap dash.

But when God acts then we need to be ready to act with Him.

We need patience for this season.

It will end when it does.

But in the meantime, we need to recognise that God is active now, and to listen for His still small voice, and to follow His direction.

He is our hope and we will be blessed beyond our expectations if we do. And guess what?
We will also be blessing others as we do.

God bless you


Easter Sunrise
Easter 2020