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Monday, 23 November 2015


Self-discipline is hard work. Keeping a tight rein on your finances. Watching what you say. Minding your manners. In many ways, it is all about trying to conform to standards set by others – in some cases maybe authority figures like parents, teachers or legislators, or in other cases belief systems. 

Jesus did not come to set up a belief system. He didn’t come to establish an institution with a lot of rules to be obeyed. He came to give life, and life to the full. He came to set us free. He came to save us, not to judge us. He doesn’t want us to judge each other, and he doesn’t want us to judge ourselves.
Maybe that sounds anarchic. Rebellious. Chaotic. 

But Jesus is the Word who brought order out of chaos in creation. He spoke and what was dark and formless became light and beautiful. 

The longer I live, the more I read and study, the more I become convinced that the gold standard for Christians is to have a living relationship with the Father through Jesus by the Holy Spirit. That’s it. Jesus said we need to love the Lord our God with all our hearts, minds, strength and spirit. And we need to love each other like we love ourselves. 

Maybe that takes some self-discipline...but when I fell in love, I didn’t need to discipline myself to write to Don, or be with him. I think that when we are impelled by love, what grows is beautiful and free. 

This train of thought began when I was frustrated this morning by technology beyond my control. I am still struggling six hours later, but I have an unusual sense of peace about this. Like, if it doesn’t work all day, well, then, that’s the way it is. I can’t control it so I need to just let it go. I wondered if my sense of peace is from my recent attempts at fasting from negativity but no, I hadn’t really consciously thought that way. Then I wondered if it was that I was becoming more self-disciplined in controlling my emotions. But no, I don’t think that’s the case either. 

I do think that at the moment I am really excited about God. I am really falling deeper in love with him as I pursue him through his word and through various books I’ve been reading, and in my quiet times and in my worship times. And I think that as a result, the peace that passes understanding has somehow, by osmosis, seeped into me. 

I am walking forward into a time of change and decision, a time requiring me to do things I have not done before and which I would rather never do. I am leaning heavily on God, and rather than feeling like I am dragging my feet forward one step at a time, I feel strangely excited and alert to see what he is going to do to help me and lead me and guide me through this time. 

It isn’t hard work. It’s exhilarating.

Wednesday, 18 November 2015


OK, just got my old mobile phone ‘unlocked’ so that when I’m in the US I can buy another SIM card and use it as a Pay as You Go local phone. It will enable communication to happen when I am away without it costing an arm and a leg (I hope...) Well, at least no nasty surprise bills when I get back.

And it occurs to me, wouldn’t it be great if we could all go into a wee shop and pay a tenner to get our rock hard perspectives unlocked, enabling communication with those who live in another place and see things in a different way? 

And that takes me neatly to Jesus, who came to set us free (and it doesn't cost a tenner). To set us free from lots of things, including bigotry and narrow-mindedness and refusal to see things from someone else’s perspective. 

To set us free from seeing things through a telephoto lens focused on our own culture and way of life, to see things through a wide-angle lens from a divine vantage point.

Jesus died to set us free of our addiction to judging others by our own experiences and standards. Jesus died to set us free to have our minds transformed to the mind of Christ, so that we can see things from God’s perspective. Which is anything but narrow-minded, judgmental and bigoted, despite the centuries-old way he has often been portrayed and understood.

God is love. His arms are flung wide to welcome in any and all. Especially during these turbulent times, when the gut-reaction to insane violence is to single out other possible perpetrators based on our own profiling, single them out and then exclude them or exact revenge, we need to breathe deep, step back, take courage, and ask God for his perspective, for his grace and mercy, for his love. 

The lines of traumatised men, women and children snaking across Europe are filled with broken-hearted folk who have had to run away from everything familiar to them and hit the long and winding road, not knowing where it will end. They need a welcome, a safe place, a comforting hug. Yes, there may be infiltrators among them but God also gives us gifts of discernment and wisdom.

As the darkness sweeps in, may the light within us obliterate it, by the grace of God and through the power of the Holy Spirit.

May our hard hearts be forever unlocked by the love of Jesus, so that we can communicate freely with all, seeking to listen and understand as well as make our own voices heard.

Tuesday, 17 November 2015


Be still and know that I am God.

Be still. 

I feel like a rabbit caught in the headlights – paralysed not with fear but with indecision about which of the many things on my list I should do first. I’ve a deadline approaching and more things on my list than I will have time to do. 

‘I am leaving you with a gift – peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid.’ John 14:27

The world is a troubling place. Understatement of the year. But Jesus’ promise is that we can live and move and have our being in this world in his peace, as we are still in him. Be still and know that I am God.

No matter how things look, God is Sovereign. No matter how helpless we feel, he is powerful. No matter how pressured we are by things to do, he can lead us to do the things which have priority and he can give us the peace to let the rest go.

My peace I leave with you. Be still.

Monday, 16 November 2015

Let your Light Shine

Don’t hide your light under a bushel.

Now is the time for those who have the hope of eternity planted inside them to let it shine. We Christians are people of hope. We are people who believe in a Father God who loves the whole world. The whole world. Atrocities rip into our hearts and lives but they also rip into God’s heart. 

Now is the time to allow God to transform our thinking to that of Christ. God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him. John 3:17 We are his hands and his feet, his heart and his head, as we move through this day today. For too long the church has sat in judgment on the world, criticising, condemning, creating barriers when in fact, Jesus came to break down all the barriers, to welcome in the hurting and the lost, and to usher in the Kingdom of heaven. 

Now is the time. This is the day that the Lord has made. The darkness has not overcome the light. Jesus and his love and his mercy have the last word. 

After the weekend atrocities and the heightened fears, how should we Christians live? With courage and conviction, trusting in our Father who is love. 

Let your light so shine before others that they see, and give glory to God. Let’s transform this season which could sink into despair into a season of hope and high expectation. Keeping our eyes focused on the Lord, we can do all that he asks, which is more than we ask or imagine.

Sunday, 15 November 2015

Tara's Theme

Strains of the theme from Gone with the Wind come from the radio and I feel like crying. 

Such an epic film, one of overwhelming magnitude in my early years when I saw it first. The scene with Atlanta burning. The desperation of the despicable Scarlet as she does whatever it takes to save Tara. The heart-breaking final line uttered by Rhett, ‘Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn.’ 

Followed by the words of the irrepressible Scarlet as she gathers all that is within her and vows to herself, ‘Well, I’ll think about that tomorrow. After all, tomorrow is another day.’

It’s an epic film because it focuses on a time of huge upheaval and trauma and transition, a time when Southern society was shaken to its core and had to find a new way to do life, when families were split on either side of the divide. A time of death and destruction and disaster.  A time like now in many areas of the world.

And after the Paris attacks on Friday night, the quaking and shattering of societal norms has come to our neighbourhood. The fearful atrocities claim innocent victims in shocking, callous and brutal ways. Ways that have been happening in Iraq and Syria for months, years even, and now it feels as if the darkness is seeping towards us. 

Hosanna! We sang in church today, and never have I sung it with more conviction. God save us! Hosanna! We don’t have a clue how to stop this war but God has the answer. 

Because my hope is in Him, I can say, like Scarlett, that tomorrow is another day. We cannot give way to despair or fear but continue to put our hope and trust in the God who loves the world so much he came and died so that we may live with him forever.

Tomorrow is another day. Paris will be in my prayers but so will Baghdad and Beirut and .... the world.