A new year prayer for 2023

Happy New Year from Understand the Bible! This year we will be picking up where we left off in the Firm Foundations series. (If you aren’t subscribed on YouTube or signed up to the mailing list, please do so to get the new episodes as they are made!)

I came across a lovely prayer the other day, and I would like to share it with you. It’s a prayer for the new year, taken from the Valley of Vision. (The Valley of Vision of a collection of puritan prayers and devotions). The prayer uses old-fashioned language (thees and thous), and has a few unfamiliar words, but I think it’s a lovely prayer to open the year with.

It asks the Lord to be with us in everything we do, that we may serve him and grow in our service day by day.

Length of days does not profit me
except the days are passed in thy presence, in thy service, to thy glory.
Give me a grace that precedes, follows, guides, sustains, sanctifies, aids every hour,
that I may not be one moment apart from thee,
but may rely on thy Spirit to supply every thought,
speak in every word,
direct every step,
prosper every work,
build up every mote of faith,
and give me a desire to show forth thy praise; testify thy love, advance thy kingdom.

I launch my bark on the unknown waters of this year,
with thee, O Father, as my harbour,
thee, O Son, at my helm,
thee, O Holy Spirit, filling my sails.

Guide me to heaven with my loins girt,
my lamp burning,
my ear open to they calls,
my heart full of love,
my soul free.

Give me they grace to sanctify me,
thy comforts to cheer,
thy wisdom to teach,
thy right hand to guide,
thy counsel to instruct,
thy law to judge,
thy presence to stabilize.

My thy fear be my awe,
thy triumphs my joy.

Valley of Vision “New Year”

What a way to start the year! I pray this would be true of each of us in these coming twelve months, and always. God bless you through 2023!

Share this:

Summer 2022 plans

Well it’s the summer again! It comes round every year at the same time, and yet it always seems to catch me by surprise.

I’m going to be taking a break during the month of August, so there will be no new course videos and no new sermons. I am hoping to have time to record a couple of thoughts on the Psalms though – previously I recorded up to Psalm 15, so I’ll probably go from there!

I haven’t quite decided what I am going to be doing on Understand the Bible next term – I am going to spend some time thinking about that over August. As always, if you have any particular thoughts or comments about what you’d like to see please leave them below or get in touch.

Thank you to everyone who has engaged with Understand the Bible over the last year – it means so much to know that it’s making a difference. I hope and pray that next year God will bring great fruit upon the ministry of his word that many people may hear and believe the message.

As the rain and the snow
come down from heaven,
and do not return to it
without watering the earth
and making it bud and flourish,
so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater,
so is my word that goes out from my mouth:
It will not return to me empty,
but will accomplish what I desire
and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.

Isaiah 55:10-11
Share this:

Ten Commandments course now available

If you’ve been paying attention over the past few months, I have been busy creating a course on the Ten Commandments. The course has now been finished, and is available to do here on the website. It’s free to do here – all you need to do is create an account (free!). If you’d prefer, you can watch all the videos on this YouTube playlist.

I hope you enjoy the course! I have really enjoyed creating it – and it has struck me how much there is to say about the commandments. I think I’ve barely scratched the surface! In particular, following the session on adultery I would like to do a course about marriage, sex and relationships. If you’d like to know when new courses are released, do sign up to the mailing list.

After Easter I am planning to do a series on the Lord’s Prayer. If there’s anything you would find useful, please get in touch and let me know! I’d love to hear your ideas and thoughts.

Share this:

Coming up in 2022…

Happy New Year to all friends of Understand the Bible! I hope you had a wonderful Christmas and New Year, and you are looking forward to what is coming in 2022.

This is what is planned for Understand the Bible in the coming months:

  • New Course: The Ten Commandments. So do you think you know the Ten Commandments? They have been the bedrock of our laws for centuries, and yet they continue to speak into our lives to give us meaning and direction. They teach us right from wrong and help us to live well. This will be the next course on Understand the Bible, the first video should be out next week.
  • New Course: The Lord’s Prayer. After completing the Ten Commandments course, we’ll be looking at the Lord’s Prayer – which teaches us how to pray and fleshes out how we should relate to God.
  • Livestream Course. I will be re-starting the livestream course this afternoon as we finish off the last part of the Apostle’s Creed course.

In addition to all that, there will be more videos in the Your Questions Answered series. I have one question someone asked me already, but if you have any more questions then do send them in (you can leave a comment below or get in touch).

And this year, Understand the Bible will be turning THREE! I can hardly believe it’s been going for three years already. Thanks so much to everyone who’s supported it this year – I feel like it’s going to be a good year.

God bless everyone, and I hope I will see you again over these coming weeks for the Ten Commandments!

Share this:

Livestream Course Update

This is a quick update about the livestream courses: I am still running these each week at 3:30pm on Wednesdays (UK time). I have nearly finished the How to Live as a Christian course (two more sessions left at the time of writing!). The format has evolved a little bit, and I hope that it’s become something that would be appropriate for a Bible study group with questions to think about and discuss.

I’m also separating the courses I’ve completed into separate playlists on YouTube, so you can see them here: What is Christianity and How to Live as a Christian.

If you’d like to do a course on Understand the Bible, this would be a good way of engaging! And please feel free to share the details with any friends (or church leaders!) you think might appreciate it.

Share this:

Autumn 2021: Let me know your thoughts!

This is a brief announcement to let you know that I won’t be doing much over the month of August. I’ll be taking a bit of holiday time myself, but I will also be planning ahead for Autumn 2021.

In the last few months I have completed the What is Christianity? course as well as How to Live as a Christian. I’m currently thinking about what would be best to focus on in the run up to Christmas.

At the moment I’m leaning towards developing an Understand the Bible Catechism – a course which works through the three traditional parts of a catechism: the Apostle’s Creed, the Lord’s Prayer, and the Ten Commandments. However, there are other things I’d like to do at some point, e.g. I’d like to complete the Sermon on the Mount series and do that as a proper course.

One of the challenges at the moment is that we all have the same number of hours in the day and in the week. We need to prioritise certain things and there are always things we need to say “no” to.

So – let me know what you think. Are there any particular things you would appreciate videos on? Are there particular parts of the Bible, or particular aspects of Christianity, that you’d like to look at? Let me know your thoughts below 👇

All that remains to say is – thanks everyone for being part of the Understand the Bible family, and I look forward to seeing you back in September!

Share this:

News: Changes to how you do courses

When this website launched back in November 2019, I decided I needed to create courses and lessons (rather than simply YouTube videos). When we went into lockdown last year, I ended up with more time on my hands and so I decided to do build a course system from scratch. I can’t remember now why I built one from scratch – it seemed like a good idea at the time! I think it was because I wanted it to be integrated with a mobile app.

Anyway, as you may have seen, recently I decided to simplify the way I publish courses (see the announcement last month). I’ve decided that this is also the right time to move to an “off the shelf” system for running courses. I simply don’t have the time at the moment to create videos and perform my regular church duties, as well as maintaining a code base for this website!

So here’s what’s happening in summary:

  • The mobile app has been formally retired – you won’t be able to download it from now on. If you had already downloaded it, it will stop working.
  • If you had completed any courses here on the website, your progress will be lost.
  • All new courses added will be under the new system. It’s now operational and you can sign up for courses on the Courses page. (I hope to tidy up a few things over the next few days).

I’m sorry if any of these things affect you – very few people used the app, and few people had started courses or were actively using it. However, if you were one of them, I am very sorry and I hope that you’re able to make use of the new system.

Share this:

How to support Understand the Bible

Over the last few weeks I’ve been making a few changes to the way that you can support Understand the Bible – in particular with financial support. PayPal is now gone, and instead you can support via Patreon or donating via Direct Debit.

I’ve made a short video about it all:

All the links are on the support page.

I’d just like to say, once again, how much I appreciate everyone who supports Understand the Bible in any way. God has really provided through you, so – thank you!

Share this:

An exciting announcement

An announcement about what is happening with Understand the Bible after Easter 2021:

Obviously this will have implications for the existing features – I won’t be doing Thought for the Week or Learn to read the Bible. Instead, everything will be rolled into one weekly video. That may be a course, it may be on a specific book of the Bible or topic. The point is, hopefully by focussing on one topic per week it gives me a bit of time to create something of higher quality.

I will continue to do occasional other things such as the Your Questions Answered series.

Thanks for bearing with me, the last year or two have been a steep learning curve for me but, God-willing, I am beginning to get there! I’m pleased with the first of the “What is Christianity?” videos which is due to be published next week.

Thank you to everyone for your continued support of Understand the Bible, and I look forward to journeying with you over these coming months.

Share this:

Changes to the weekly schedule

Hi everyone, a bit of site news: there are going to be some changes to the weekly schedule. Back in September I decided to start up a couple of new features – Thought for the Week and Learn to read the Bible. This meant that I was publishing things regularly through the week – in fact, some weeks I’ve published a new video every day. I’ve also started a mental health livestream during the lockdown (which will be continuing post-lockdown).

All that seemed like a good idea back in September last year, but the schedule of creating videos has been pretty relentless. It’s hard to achieve the quality level you want with so little time for each video. Also, with lockdown restrictions easing in the UK, I will have a bit less time for video creation.

So, what I’ve decided to do is take a step back, and focus more on quality instead of quantity. This is what I’m hoping the new schedule will look like:

  • Monday / Tuesday – a course video – at the moment I am re-doing the Sermon on the Mount course;
  • Wednesday / Thursday – thought for the week. After Easter I am planning to do a series on the book of Galatians in the New Testament, looking at how the gospel works.
  • Friday – mental health support

Thank you everyone who has supported Understand the Bible over these past few months. I feel like I have learned a lot in this time, and I hope that the new schedule will mean I am able to focus more on producing better quality videos. Do let me know in the comments below if you have any comments or ideas for any future series here on UTB!

Share this: