Paul featured on Premier Christian Radio / Churches Together in England Prayer of Hope on Sunday 26th April. Here is the prayer:
Just pondering on how our current situation is like a worldwide journey into the new Promised Land (based on the journey of the Israelites in Exodus - a journey that took 40 years of wandering round in the desert before the Israelites finally arrived)
40 years in the desert would have meant day after day in the intense dry heat. More than likely day after day of grumbling and complaining - 'if only we could...'. The Promised Land was a land of blessing - a land worth waiting and fighting for. Today's situation of isolation, not visiting family or friends, the unknown timescales, tragic and meaningless loss of life looks a lot like the wanderings but there is a Promised Land on the other side of this and it is worth waiting and fighting for.
The Israelites had the obstacle of the Red Sea but God got them through it and drowned the enemy behind. Our daily life may be filled with massive obstacles and challenges - but God will get us through it... God sees the bigger picture and we need to trust in a big picture seeing God!
God was a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night - he never left the wandering Israelites. God never leaves us alone - he is always with us - every isolated step of the way. Even if death or illness come - he is our comforter, our peace and the Promised Land of eternal life with him is far greater than any earthly Promised Land.
God helped the Israelites fight the battles of the enemy - God is fighting the battle of this coronavirus - we need to pray that our leaders will have wisdom, those looking for a cure will recognise insight. We need to pray for those in situations where the safety of home is anything but safety - whatever the enemy God is fighting our battles.
Food and water was provided for the Israelites - we have seen the panic buying of food, milk, toilet rolls, soap in our supermarkets - yet God's resources (and even the supermarket stock systems) never run out! There is always a miracle of provision.
The sin of moaning, grumbling, complaining, fear, panic, doubt took over the Israelites - let that be a lesson for it not to take over us! Remember the goodness of God and how God has got our back! God with us is never dependent on us but a 100% guarantee. We may have struggles, times of testing, wondering - but call out to God in the desert and the miracle of the Promised Land - of time beyond the current situation - is a minute, hour, day, week closer...
For all of us, but especially those in the charity, ministry and church world, this is a time not to set up camp in the desert. We need to increase our planning, our strategies, our faith levels, our risks to take the lead - not only in getting others through this desert experience but, and more importantly, moving people from this current wilderness once the Promised Land is on the horizon. We need to be bolder, stronger, coordinated like never before, thinking and dreaming bigger. We need to be ready, in tune with God, prepared, tooled up to be at the forefront of the new Promised Land that is beyond the wilderness of the now.
A Christian group which works to reduce alcohol-related violence has warned that boredom during the UK coronavirus lockdown is triggering higher-alcohol consumption.
The Christian Nightlife Initiatives (CNI) Network echoes research released from Alcohol Change UK which found one in five adults who drink alcohol are drinking more often since lockdown began on 23 March - around 8.6 million people.
Paul Blakey, CEO of CNI Network told Premier he's not surprised by the statistics.
"Having seen the empty shells of alcohol a few weeks ago as a lockdown came in my local supermarket, and increasingly empty shelves since, you realise that one of the things that people do in a time of crisis like this is drink alcohol.
"If we're all isolated, we're all in lockdown, then it's very easy to kind of open the bottle of wine, open the can of beer very early.
"There's not much else to do once you've done your daily walk and you've been to the supermarket once or twice a week. There's not much on TV, you kind of sit down and relax and drink alcohol.
"Most people are doing it sensibly. But of course there will be those few, as the survey says that overindulge. That kind of increase comes all sorts of problems, which is very sad."
The research also found 1 in 14 people - roughly 3.5 million adults - are living in households where alcohol is leading to greater tension or conflict. 1 in 7 people with children under 18 reported that alcohol had increased tension in the household.
The research follows figures from global data analytics company Nielsen which suggest that the sale of alcohol has increased by 291 per cent during the pandemic.
Blakey told Premier people who drink should put healthy habits in place such as having non-alcohol days and also having mixed alcoholic drinks instead of fully alcoholic drinks.
"Also just ask family members to kind of be aware of amount that you're drinking," he said.
"It's very easy just to kind of fall into that trap."
Blakey expects there to be a spike in people enjoying nightlife when the country ends social distancing measures and said CNI Network is preparing on how to respond to that.
He said the charity is also working on how to help those who work in the industry.
"It's obviously a very volatile environment, anywhere that relies on weekends and peaks to keep going, especially the night-time economy. So we're thinking, what will the effect be and we're aiming to support those that we know who work within this industry to offer them our prayers, opportunity to chat, opportunity to get alongside them, and hopefully just to kind of weather the storm."
Listen to the full interview here:
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