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Wednesday, 31 October 2012


Distractions – I think I know something about them! How easy it is to get side-tracked and lose sight of the goal! 

Just back from walking Dusty near Drum Castle. We do that walk every so often, but not so frequently that we know every trail. So today we got distracted down a path well-trodden, but which did not lead to the pond Dusty longed to find. We had to turn back, retrace our steps, and then we found it. Nothing, then, could distract Dusty from swimming for sticks in a pond overflowing into a downhill stream. 

Paul wrote to his protégé Timothy, encouraging him not to get distracted from his task, which was sharing the good news that Jesus Christ died and was resurrected to new life in which believers can participate. He specifically names some common distractions. Worthless words that lead to godless lives. ‘Youthful lusts’ which lead many astray. Time spent – wasted – joining in worldly activities. Foolish, ignorant arguments that only start fights. 

Stick to the point. Don’t lose sight of the goal. Focus. 

Focus on Jesus, the author and perfector of our souls. Everything else fades by comparison to the glory that is in him.

I've been distracted; I've got an e-mail to compose.

Friday, 26 October 2012

Confetti from heaven

This morning dawned cold and crisp. As Dusty and I headed round the stand of trees, the sky was crystal clear and blue. I noticed how far south the sun is rising now, and sighed. I hate to see it go.

The next second, it seemed, confetti snow was swirling round us – out of that clear blue sky! Where was it coming from? As I poured coffee down at the church, others made the same observation of the earlier phenomenon – how did it snow out of a clear blue sky? Was there a party going on in heaven – a wedding perhaps, with the guests flinging confetti snow at the happy couple?

No answers there. But the afternoon’s dog walk was altogether more challenging as the arrival of heavily pregnant snow clouds coincided with our step out the back door. We carried on, undaunted, as the fall grew heavier and the flakes bigger; I might have turned back if we hadn’t at that point run into Mary and Tara, our neighbours. Tara was cleverly decked out in a smart doggie coat, a snug fit for the wee poodle, while Dusty wore her own hairy version. As the walk progressed, Dusty began to resemble a Dalmatian. Our speed increased. Round that same stand of trees, onto the road again, heading for home, the fireside and a bit of hot buttered toast.


Or a pig’s ear. Which are becoming harder to find to purchase than a hen’s tooth. Well, almost.

So now we’re back inside, the sun’s come out again. Might we expect more confetti from heaven any time soon?

Thursday, 25 October 2012


I’ve got an article to write on confession and the way sin separates us from God. It’s got me thinking. So often it’s the BIG SINS which we feel are an impenetrable barrier in our relationship with God, but in fact the small things may create a more devastatingly effective barrier. Small things like critical thinking. 

The thing about developing a sinful mindset, quick to criticise or grumble, is that it gradually becomes a characteristic of our personality. If my first response to anything unexpected or contrary to my way of thinking is to criticise or grumble, then my first response does not allow God to give me his response. I automatically exclude him, because he can’t abide sin and isn’t going to be around if I’m critical or grumbling. But I may not even recognise that my thinking is sinful, and so I may not seek forgiveness and open the way for him to transform my thinking so that I have the mind of Christ.

So it seems to me that committing a BIG SIN like, say, murder or adultery, might cause the perpetrator to recognise her guilt and immediately confess and have the relationship restored. The sin is still full of repercussions and consequences, but confessed and repented of, it shouldn’t be repeated nor develop into a habitual failing. Not if it’s truly confessed and repented of. But critical words, grumbling, or gossiping are not always easily identified. We have all sorts of ways of justifying them. Sharing for prayer. Etc. 

Just a few random thoughts. Repentance allows God to bless us with times of refreshing, which most of us are in need of. So we need to be careful to ask the Holy Spirit to highlight those sins which need confession and forgiveness. We need to listen for his answers, and expect them to be particular and not just generic.

Then we can rejoice in the times of refreshing.

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

God's Love Never Fails

The fog has clamped round our house like a damp towel. Our nearest neighbour is invisible, lost in the cold white mist. It’s isolating and unpleasant, reminding me of nightmares of the past where I was lost and alone in a thick fog, fearful of what lurked beyond my view.

I am about to venture forth, however, as Dusty, who hesitates to exercise in stair-rod rain, is unperturbed about the fog. She seems to trust that what was there yesterday is still there today. She doesn’t seem bothered about whether or not she can see to the end of the path. Just as long as she can see the next step, smell the next enticing scent. One foot in front of the other. 

One step at a time. 

That’s all God asks of me. Take the next step. Don’t be anxious about seeing the entire path and where it leads. Don’t fear what you can’t see. Just stay close and keep walking, one step at a time. 

God’s love never fails. If he calls me onto a path, he equips me to follow him all the way. He will never leave me, nor abandon me. He will never give up on me. His love never fails.

So I’m off, secure in his promise and excited to see what he has for me today.

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Spanning the Globe

Several years ago, Doug and I were at a self-catering holiday place on Loch Lomond with some others. One morning we noticed the mother duck had a queue of ducklings parading behind her. The next morning we noticed that one duckling was missing. Each subsequent morning, another duckling had disappeared. Finally, we could no longer identify the mother duck, because she looked like all the other ducks. No babies.

My ducklings don’t queue up behind me anymore. Actually, I don’t think they ever did! The rebel in them resisted such precision. The chaotic in me welcomed running and jumping, within reason...
I’ve got a duckling in Australia at the moment. Two in California. One in Scotland. Quack as I might, they’ll never hear me. 

But in my heart and mind, they’re always near. They may not be queueing up behind me, but then they never did. In my memory, they still run and jump, sometimes rebelliously, sometimes joyfully chaotically, within earshot. I pray that where they are, right now, they are still running and jumping joyfully.

Can a mother forget the baby she bore? God asks rhetorically in the Bible. Even if she can, God continues, he is not the sort of father who ever forgets his children. Ever. No matter how near, nor how far.

I suppose there are moments when I’m not thinking of one or another of my children. But not many.

Praise God for e-mail. And that I can trust Him to hold them in the palm of his hand, far more securely than I ever could.