The market stall

It was the summer of 1979. I’d made the trip to Ormskirk, a little market town, not far from the village where I lived at the time.

One of the market stalls was run by a local church and I’d brought a load of Gospel leaflets to donate to the Christian outreach of that church.

An older lady (probably not as old as I am now) was helping on the stall and I offered her the leaflets.


She politely and gently refused to take them, explaining that what we would now call “a soundbite” was a dangerous way to present the Christian Gospel.

What an ungrateful woman I thought to myself, as I walked away – still in possession of my bundle of leaflets.

However, I never forgot her words to me that day. And in the forty-odd years that have passed since then, I have come to clearly understand why she refused my leaflets.

tract 2A Gospel tract

Wise lady

Again and  again over the years, I have thought about that wise Christian lady, helping at the market stall all those years ago.

She understood the dangers inherent in a Gospel message that doesn’t fully explain what is the ultimate purpose of the Christian life – and the first foundations of what is truly means to follow Jesus.

She had insight that many these days lack. Yet such insight wasn’t always lacking – it was once much more widely known and written about.

ancient paths

As dark clouds threaten, we need rest for our souls right now. We need to know that God exists. We need to know that He is in control. We need to know that He will triumph and that evil will be confounded. It’s not enough to know about God – we need to know God for ourselves. Nothing less will do.

Need insight

“Soundbites’ won’t do it. We need the kind of depth and width of wisdom,  that could never be contained in a Gospel tract. We need the insight and understanding that the great Bible commentators of past centuries left for us in their writings.

I know – I’ve spent the past 40-odd years years studying the work of a wide variety of these wise Christians. They all insisted that God must reveal Himself to the ‘eyes of the heart’  by direct divine revelation.

An intellectual knowledge of God may appear to be enough when times are good – but it’s not enough when dark clouds threaten. We need to ‘look for the ancient paths‘ if we are to make sense of the times we are living in – and the time to come.

We need to know what our ultimate purpose in life is

What are we here for?