Archive for category Christianity

Reflections on the Coronation of King Charles 111 at Manchester Cathedral and evangelism on the streets

The day of the coronation of King Charles 111 was a very busy day for many folks. People from all over the country and the world flocked to London to be a part of the extravaganza. People lined the streets in London to watch the procession as the king made his way to Westminster Abbey. 

I spent the morning at Manchester Cathedral to watch the broadcast and was interviewed for TV. Later I used the opportunity to reach people in the north for Christ. Over 800 people attended the Cathedral that day. Manchester is a great place for evangelism and people are open to calmly receiving the gospel. 

So what then are my reflections on the coronation? I actually quite liked the symbolism and the use of Scripture. I recognised a lot of symbolism and Scriptures used. On that note the Bible Society has published a well researched article on this and you can view it here

After the coronation I took to the streets and did the work of an evangelist, (2 Timothy 4: 5) Plenty of people were reached that day and many tracts given out. As always the day was packed with excellent and open conversations with the people who lingered around the market places. 

One to one conversation is very effective, engaging and rewarding. 

That’s a day to remember and let’s hope there will be a better, brighter, stronger and greener country to look forward to. Remember, if we didn’t have a monarchy, then parliament would only be answerable to parliament. What happens then?

I like many people have mixed opinions concerning the existence of monarchy but when it’s all said and done it keeps a long standing tradition going and offers our nation an identity.

Whatever a persons view is, when it comes to evangelism and the sharing of the gospel I keep things focused upon that singular event of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. I have yet to find anyone who can verifiably object to that reality.



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Easter reflections on Simon Peter and the Resurrection of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ

One of my favourite modern Biblical documentaries is David Suchet’s “In the Footsteps of St. Peter”. In this film the actor traces the steps of St Peter from his early days in Israel, to his possible connections to Cappadocia and the final events of his life in Rome. Although I don’t connect St. Peter with the Vatican, I believe he was in Rome. It’s a fascinating place!

Fascinating for me, since St Peter is one of the leading figures of the New Testament and a person I can connect with. I was named after the apostle by my parents. Simon Peter is my given name. When I was growing up my father had a book called “The Big Fisherman” and it meant a lot to me. As a family we often watched “Peter and Paul” (1981) starring Anthony Hopkins, as Paul and Robert Foxworth, as Peter. I still enjoy that series and when we were in Rhodes, we visited a number of filming locations where key scenes were shot. One of these was in Rhodes Town, near St Paul’s Gate. Lindos also features as a filming location, which adds more realism to the film since Paul visited there (Acts 21: 1)

Like David Suchet’s documentary, “Peter and Paul” portrays Peter as a very strong person, and does not white wash his humans faults. In the gospels Peter is up and down, he makes mistakes and even denies knowing Jesus (John 18: 15-18) Yet in Acts 2: 14-39 Peter’s sermon is courageously outstanding. A proof of the indwelling presence of Holy Spirit.

Peter’s life can be understood to show that Christian’s are not perfect, if they were they would not need to be Christian’s. Yet his life also shows a progression from a sinful man to an apostle absolutely dedicated to Christ.

No surprise then that Simon Peter, (Shimon or Simeon) is an important figure in my Christian life. Like Peter I too have been a preacher and also a fisherman. One of my favourite pastimes are my days of sea fishing along the shores of the Atlantic Ocean and the Irish Sea. For me there would be no greater pleasure than going out on the boat, catching fish from the shore and cooking them on the beach. Mackerel never tastes so good as when it cannot be fresher.

Back in the day I was just a simple musician desperately trying to get a recording contract, but each time something to do with church would deter or call me. Sometimes independent churches pressurise church goers to minister or evangelise even when it may not be their calling. I too at times wanted to be a minister but that has not yet come to pass. For me, going about in the Biblical lands, making free documentaries without all the fuss and clutter, works well. Maybe I’ve found my place in that.

But out of all the things in life, the uncertainties, the changes, the progressions, the ups and downs, one thing remains absolutely certain and that is the resurrection of Jesus Christ. In 2 Peter 1: 16 Peter wrote; “For we did not follow cunningly devised fables when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of His majesty.”

In John 20: 6 Peter witnesses the empty tomb and sees the “linen cloths lying there, and the handkerchief” that had been around the head of Christ. These were not scattered about, but folded together in a place by themselves. The eyewitnesses saw these happenings and believed. But it was not all a bundle of roses. The gospels communicate the real reactions of people. When the resurrection had happened and the body of Jesus wasn’t in the tomb, the apostles went fishing.

In John’s gospel Peter and the apostles are out on the boat and they weren’t catching anything. Then Jesus came along and told them where to fish and they caught “one hundred and fifty-three” (John 21: 11) In John Rylands Library, (my place of escape), there is a section above a stairway where the architectural dimensions are said to be built around St John’s reference. In sacred geometry 153 is apparently a sacred number communicating something of the dimensions of heaven.

In these days when Christianity is so difficult and it would seem like the whole world hates us and will not let us simply live in peace and practice our faith, there are times when I too (like Peter), withdraw and say “I’m going fishing” (John 21: 3) Then Jesus shows up and says ‘Simon, do you love Me, “Feed My sheep”.

For this reason I focus upon the truth of Christianity rather than the distortions of it. Feeding the sheep is better than arguing with wolves. I believe the proclamation of the Bible will overcome error. However, there has been many times when I have felt like walking away from Christianity and just keeping my faith to myself and simply go on living, doing my own thing. ‘Christianity’ has become so corrupt in many ways, I think. Too many churches are just exploitive money grabbing establishments of narcissism, power and people pleasing. If I focus upon them, it does no good. But then when I withdraw and keep focused upon who I am in Christ, and hold on to my Bible, I carry on and speak the truth. Christ raises me up and as one era draws to a closure, a new era opens up.

Perhaps some of you have felt this way? We are all only human after all.

Right now I do not know what the future holds for Christianity in Britain? I believe the truth will conquer in the end. Being in the Church of England I may well be seeing the final days of orthodoxy in that establishment? Glorious buildings, excellent liturgy, and when sung, Christ magnifying hymns edify the soul. Conservative evangelical Churches are growing. As for the rest, it’s not so good. Too many progressive liberal revisionists spend half their time arguing their way out of the liturgy.

Nevertheless, I wonder how you might let Christ serve you this Easter or Passover? Will you simply eat chocolate or attend a service? Or will you believe and go on believing. Will you let Christ serve you with a better breakfast than you have ever known before? Make life different this season, don’t let another year go by without doing something about it. If Jesus Christ truly rose from the dead, and I believe He did, the event cannot be anything else but earth shatteringly important and if He truly cares for you enough to die in your place, you cannot ignore Him.

No one need think that becoming a Christian means you must be perfect. Peter was not perfect, neither is any Christian. If we were we would not need a Saviour. Likewise believers need not feel over pressurised by other Christians as though imperfections make us false. We need the resurrected Saviour, without Him, humanity has no hope, and all our efforts and plans are nothing.

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The Gospel and the Coronation of King Charles 111

This week I received my Charles 111 Coronation gospel tracks from Living Waters. They look great! Full colour and the quality is excellent.

These tracks are basically well designed free handouts that make it easy to share the gospel with people in the events surrounding the Coronation of King Charles 111 in May, 2023. On the back of each of them you’ll find the plain gospel, 110%.

Recently the Church of England has said it plans to use the coronation to convert people to Christianity. What better way to do it? Since a majority of the bishops appear to be busy spreading confusion and division rather than converting anyone, I thought things sound ripe for the gospel. After all, people don’t need to be clergy or a bishop to evangelise. Politicians cannot change people, and bishops can’t either, it’s the evangelists who change things. And all of us have the right to share our faith.

With so much division being spread throughout the land it can never be a bad thing to invite souls into the kingdom of Christ. Never in my lifetime have I seen such a growing need for the gospel and indeed such a hunger for it. Make no mistake, people are hungry for the gospel in the uk despite what some would have you to believe. But so often, converts decrease because evangelists are few, and more often than not it is the church itself that prevents the gospel being shared. With apostasy all around us, and the Church of England in crisis, what better time than to use this opportunity to share the good news of the kingdom and win souls for Christ. There’s no need to cause offence, no need to argue with people, no need to shout on street corners, just be kind to people, share the good news of the gospel and be a light in the darkness. Let God do the rest!

Remember quality is better than quantity.

The gospel is simple, effective and when properly communicated, life changing. Keep things focused, don’t get caught up in distractions, Christ is crucified, Christ is risen, and no one is without sin, and we broke the moral law of God (contained in the Ten Commandments) “Jesus paid their fine.” so repent today and trust in Jesus Christ and God will give you eternal life.

Remember, you too can spread the gospel to a nation that has lost their way. Be you rich or poor, employed or unemployed, clergy or lay person, you too can be a powerful witness for the gospel and it’s free and available for all.

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On this day 12th March 1554

On this day in 1554, a warrant was issued for the arrest of a farmer and preacher by the name of George Marsh. At that time Marsh was a Curate in the Church of England and had been to Cambridge and had run a school and ministered in both London and Lincoln. Upon learning the Church of England had swayed over to popular culture and had committed the apostate act of bowing the knee to Roman Catholicism, Marsh left his ministry and returned to his home town to preach in Bolton, Deane, Bury, and Eccles. A warrant was issued by the Earl of Derby for preaching without a licence, and after hearing about this Marsh wondered around the area of Deane Church, and the following morning he received a letter from a friend who advised that he should in no wise flee, but abide and “boldly confess the faith of Jesus Christ.”

In those days, the authorities gave the reformers the option of either leaving the country and going to Germany or Geneva. At that time the reformation was in full bloom in those countries. After reading the letter Marsh chose to stay and handed himself in to the local sheriff, master Barton.

It was a very costly decision. Marsh stood a small trial at Smithills Hall, and was sent to Latham, Lancaster, and eventually to Chester where he was burned at the stake on April 24, 1555.

May we never forget.

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Farewell Queen Elizabeth 11

When a person dies, most of us remember the last time we saw that person. For some of us, those memories may relate to past loved ones, families, parents, or friends.

Over recent weeks many people have mourned the death of Queen Elizabeth 11 and since many have written tributes and messages of condolences, I thought I too should write some brief reflections.

In this post I would like to reflect upon my earliest memories of the Monarch and conclude with a brief perspective on her faith.

In the 1980’s (when I was a boy), my parents took me to London. This was a memorable event and seeing that city for the first time was a monumental experience.

I grew up in the north of England and the Lake District was my favourite place on earth. But still, the thought of going to London took my breath away.

It was a warm day when we arrived in England’s capital. I gazed up at Big Ben in awe and wonder. All around me were red telephone boxes and London taxis. ‘The Queen lives near here‘ I thought.

My parents bought me a souvenir. This was a small Britain’s Deetail Queens Guard metal figure. Afterward they took me to the area of Buckingham Palace. These are memories I cherish very deeply.

Back in those days my parents loved the Royal Family and whenever the Queen appeared on television we all sat around and watched. In our home there was never any challenge of those who were in authority, we accepted rules and that was that. But growing up in the north of England was tough and life was difficult. Many working class people hated the lifestyles of the rich and as a youngster I was horrified to learn that a certain group of protesters had thrown eggs toward the Queen during one of her visits to Manchester. Why would they do that I thought?

Times were changing I suppose. But change does not always bring stability and stableness does not always bring change. Life became tougher and the north became a difficult place to live. But for me, Queen Elizabeth 11 remained an enormous presence and gave our nation a sense of hope, identity and continuity.

I will remember Elizabeth 11 with fondness as the only Queen who will ever reign in my lifetime. All of us have been affected in some way by this extraordinary person and all of us will be effected by the Queens absence. As the saying goes you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone.

When I learned of the passing of Elizabeth 11 on 8th September 2022, I felt chocked. I didn’t believe it. But when I realized it was true, I sat in silence and cried. Perhaps you also felt this way?

On Friday September 9, 2022, I attended an evensong service at Manchester Cathedral and read some of the tributes people had written. There for my first time “God save our gracious King” was sung.

On Monday September 19, the world watched the moderate and appropriate funeral. I too greatly admired the 7 sacred hymns that were performed. Commenting, Rod Benson had this to say:

The removal of the crown, orb and sceptre to be returned to the high alter at the Queen’s committal was full of appropriate symbolism reminding the world that all human authority is on loan from the King of Kings himself and that he is the one who rightly holds all the instruments of power; conferring them for a finite time onto one of his servants before taking them back at the end of their life to pass onto their successor.”

It should be noted that over more recent years the Queen had become more vocal about her faith. Did you know Elizabeth 11 was Patron of the Bible Society?

This is perhaps reflected in the choice of a particular hymn sung at her funeral. It was based upon Psalm 121: 1, “I will lift up mine eyes to the hills” a favourite Scripture of Mary Jones who’s story inspired the founding of the Bible Society in 1804.

I believe the Queen will leave behind an enormous legacy to this country. We will never see the likes of her reign again. Like many people, I am very thankful for the commitment, loyalty and uprightness with which the Queen lived out a life of service.

But no matter who we are, rich or poor, blind or lame, weak or strong, all our lives will come to an end. What happens then? For those who live for this life only, life is but a fleeting moment. But those who live for Jesus Christ live for an eternal destiny in glory.

As a Christian I believe all those who are in the faith are brothers and sisters in Christ. There is no inequality in Him. All my life my late mother Joyce, would sing the words of the famous hymn, “I will cling to the Old Rugged Cross, and exchange it some day, for a crown.” It is an eternal truth that in heaven there will be no kings or queens, no rich or poor, no hatred or division, we will all be made equal and we will all wear a crown.

Queen Elizabeth 11 believed that Jesus Christ has made all things new and when He returns the dead will rise again, “those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of damnation.” (John 5: 29)

Speaking about her faith, in 2011, the Queen said this, “God sent into the world a unique person – neither a philosopher nor a general, important though they are, but a Saviour, with the power to forgive.

I believe those words are thoughtful, and to be cherished.

As we remember the Queen, please do not forget her faith. Because we all have evil within us and power in the wrong hands can be lethal. We all have the Queens faith to thank for her many years of service and strength. In this world we need peacemakers who are willing to give their lives in the service of others. Let us not forget that as God loves us, He gave us so great a gift, Christ Jesus King of Kings, and without Him we have no hope.

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Biblical ‘curse tablet’ found on Mount Ebal

Biblical Archaeologists have uncovered an ancient tablet containing what could be the earliest known example of the Hebrew name name of God, Yahweh.

The Tablet was found on Mount Ebal mentioned in Deuteronomy 11: 26, 29.

The ‘curse tablet’ is an extraordinary discovery because it was found on a site believed to be the altar of Joshua. If proven beyond doubt it could be the most significant Biblical find since the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls in 1946/47.

The use of Hebrew would also predate the Dead Sea Scrolls by 1,350 years. Meaning the ancient Israelites had a much more advanced knowledge of Hebrew than modern scholars have thought.

If true the ‘curse tablet’ could prove the Books of Moses were written earlier than modern scholars have claimed. I say this because in recent years many modern sceptics have sought to challenge the claim that Moses was the author of the Pentateuch. The use of Hebrew, they say, is too advanced. Yet Jesus said “If you had believed Moses, you would be Me: because he wrote about Me.” (John 5: 46). Clearly Jesus believed Moses was the author of the Torah.

I believe people today have to live with one of the biggest problems in history, they have lost confidence in the Bible. Secularists and revisionist modernisers have sought to drive away peoples trust in the Bible. But God is forever drawing them back.

The gospel of Jesus Christ is yet to be discovered by many people and for believers, telling people the truth about Christ is a little like doing archaeology, we must remove centuries of layers to uncover the truth.

The ‘curse tablet’ is great news in a world hell bent on destroying itself. If proven to be true, it is an excellent discovery. But don’t take my word for it. Look it up, see for yourselves! Have faith and be assured the Bible is true from cover to cover. Go tell someone about Jesus Christ today.

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Apostle Paul and the Island of Hippocrates

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The Sudarium of John 20: 7

One of the two Scripture readings from the Book of Common Prayer for today (Easter Day) is John 20: 1-10. In this passage John gave his account of the first day of the week where Mary Magdalene saw how the stone had been rolled away from the tomb of Christ and she ran to Simon Peter and the disciple Jesus loved to tell them “They have taken away the Lord from out of the sepulchre“.

In the passage from the BCP it is not difficult to hear Tyndale’s unmistakeable 16th century translation work. And if we look back centuries earlier, we can read Wycliffe’s 14th century translation, yet with a difference.

In verse 7 of the same passage, the 1388 Wycliffe translation makes reference to an English translation of a Latin word. This six letter word is “sudary” from the Latin Vulgate’s “Sudarium”.

The Sudarium is believed to be a bloodstained piece of cloth that was wrapped around the head of Christ after His death. Many learned people who believe the Shroud of Turin is the actual burial cloth of Christ also believe the Sudarium is a match.

The Wycliffe translation puts it this way;

And in one day of the week, Mary Magdalele came early to the grave when it was yet dark. And she saw the stone moved away from the grave. Therefore she ran and came to Simon Peter, and to another disciple whom Jesus loved, and says to them, They have taken the Lord from the grave, and we wit not where they have laid Him! Therefore Peter went out and the ilk other disciple, and they came to the grave. And they twain ran together, and the ilk other disciple ran before Peter and came first to the grave. And when he stooped, he saw the sheets lying. Netheless, he entered not. Therefore Simon Peter came suing him, and he entered into the grave and he saw the sheets laid, and the sudary that was on His head, not laid with the sheets, but by itself lapped into a place. Therefore then, the ilk disciple that came first to the grave, entered and saw, and believed. For they knew not yet the Scripture that it behoved Him to rise again from death. Therefore the disciples went eftsoon to themselves.”

The Wycliffe New Testament 1388. The Gospel of John, Chapter XX

Today a Sudarium is in Oviedo, Spain. Opinion differs as to the authenticity, but it is the responsibility of each individual to weigh the evidences and make a decision. But whatever a person decides, the resurrection of Jesus Christ cannot be ignored.

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Visiting Westminster Abbey

In 2019 I visited Westminster Abbey for the very first time. This was of course in our pre ‘Covid-19’ world which can at times seem a little difficult to conceive. It can almost appear a lifetime ago when people wandered around with hardly anybody wearing face masks, or socially distancing themselves.

To go back even further, I remember visiting Big Ben with my parents back in the 1980’s. However, since Lancashire is well north of London, many of my later visits had centralised themselves around the music scene. History had not yet taken it’s prominence with me.

Today, London has changed quite a lot. It is still however, one of those great places where all people can still find something to do. Whether you are a Christian or a history fanatic like me, a saint or a sinner, or someone who just likes to enjoy the moment, few can deny that visiting Westminster Bridge and the Houses of Parliament rarely makes anyone feel out of place. Or at least it shouldn’t do.

Then comes matters of faith, where the soul of a Christian can often feel out of place in this ever changing world, “For here we have no lasting city, but we seek the one that is to come.” (Hebrews 13: 14) Then comes the material Ecclesiastical buildings known as Churches. They can without doubt help the tent of the soul to feel at home. I certainly did, especially when I reached Westminster Abbey.

Westminster Abbey is a beautiful place that was founded in 960 AD and although the present building dates to the 13th century, it is believed to be dedicated to St Peter.

Standing outside Westminster Abbey can leave a person in awe. While contemplating the many souls and pilgrims who have, for many centuries, been visiting and worshipping here, it is not difficult to reflect upon your own mortality.

It was here where, at the Abbey, where folklore claims the expression “robbing Peter to pay Paul” either originated or at least, took on a new meaning. The story goes that when Westminster was dissolved in 1550, some of the assets were sold to fund the repairs for the old St Pauls.

Curiously enough, St Pauls Cathedral sits 2 miles away from Westminster Abbey who’s architecture differs dramatically. The former has external similarities to St Peter’s Basilica (Vatican), whereas Westminster Abbey is distinctly gothic.

At times the Abbey can have the feeling of looking like a ghost or a spirit from the past. It is alive but not alive, like a soul who has long gone but who’s spirit lives on. I speak course of the building, and not of any humans. The Christian Church however is not a building, but a people. A congregation of human souls who are united in and through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Today however, Christians are not always united. Doctrine divides. One person follows this teacher, another follows that. Yet all claiming to read the same Bible. Strange isn’t it that too many congregations have separated themselves and are all too quick to condemn others for holding opinions that differ to their own. Yet each one reading from the same Bible.

However, it was here, at Westminster Abbey, on Saturday 23rd February 2019 that I decided for certain that I am joining the Church of England and here I will stay. The Anglican communion is far from perfect, but at least here people can agree to disagree.

Since that time I have been drawn to prayer more than ever and the Book of Common Prayer has helped me enormously through the difficult seasons of lockdown.

Today, in September 2020, a person does not need to look very far to see that this world is a mess. England is no better. Such is always the case when nations abandon the principles of their Maker. But I have a hope within me that England and the Church will be great again, even if the Lord judges her before that time. Light After Darkness (Post Tenebras Lux) is written in creation. Of this I am sure.

I am also sure that although great buildings may not actually be the Church, they can certainly help believers congregate together, and hopefully, if right doctrine permits, dwell together in unity and in truth.

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Ancient Kameiros, and the spread of early Christianity on Rhodes

Kameiros © 2019 Simon Peter Sutherland

Kameiros, Rhodes © 2019 Simon Peter Sutherland

Recently I visited the ancient City of Kameiros on the Greek island of Rhodes. This is now an archaeological site.

In ancient times Kameiros was one of the three ancient cities of Rhodes and today has some evidences of the spread of early Christianity on the island. Here the city was built upon three levels. There was a Temple of Athena, a Stoa and an Acropolis. There was even a reservoir.

Here, hundreds of people once lived in terrace type houses. On my visit I greatly admired an area where these ancient houses once stood. Here, archaeologists affirm many early Christians once lived.

This is interesting because the first and only time Rhodes is mentioned in the Bible is in Acts 21: 1 and my documentary explores that passage of Scripture. However, it must be pointed out that before the time of Paul’s visit to Rhodes in the AD 50’s, there is no evidence for Christianity on the island. We can only imagine that Christianity must have spread from either Rhodes town or Lindos, after the Apostles visit.

Here in Kameiros early Christians would have had to live amongst pagan temples and the worship of other gods. However, in 142 AD an earthquake destroyed the city. Today it lies in ruins.

Kameiros, Rhodes © 2019 Simon Peter Sutherland

Kameiros, Rhodes © 2019 Simon Peter Sutherland

Much of ancient Kameiros is yet to be excavated, some of the finds are in the British Museum.  But what I learned from this visit was that Christianity was present on Rhodes very early. This is interesting because clearly someone brought the Gospel to Rhodes in the early days of Christianity. I propose that archaeology and history affirms that Luke in Acts was correct and that he and Paul brought Christianity to Rhodes on Paul’s third missionary journey.

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