30 November 2014


John 14:1–6 (NIV)
“Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going.”
Thomas said to him, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?”
Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

26 November 2014

Getting Ready

Advent is just around the corner. In the modern church calendar, it's time to get ready, waiting for the coming of Jesus at Christmas. The term is an anglicised version of the Latin "adventus", meaning "coming".

It's a time of preparation. The decorations come out. A Christmas tree becomes the central point in many houses and shops. In some homes an Advent wreath is placed on the dining table and the candles lit at mealtimes. It's a time for baking, for writing cards, for singing of Christmas songs and carols. Advent calendars count down the day until Christmas.

All of these are opportunities to teach about the significance of this special time, and to remind ourselves of it as well.

Advent for this year begins on Sunday, 30th November 2014.

Are you ready?

25 November 2014

Sins of Omission

This blog post has been a few weeks in draft. It stems out of a couple of discussions we've had recently in our Bible Study group, when we briefly touched on "sins of commission" and "sins of omission". The topic has really got me thinking...

Sin is an emotive word, which perhaps could be defined as 'something that we do that is wrong'. It describes one of those occasions when we mess up. It may be a breach of a moral law or principle; if you have a faith it might be doing something that you know is contrary to what we know to be God's will.

Sins of commission are those things that we do that are wrong and that we are overt or even proactive in doing. We do something that we shouldn't. Examples include: Lying, stealing.

Sins of omission, in contrast, are those things that we don't do that we know we should. Examples include: not standing up for what you know is right. James 4:17 is often used as a scriptural example for the second point: "So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin." Or we could look at Luke 10:30-37: Jesus' teaching in the parable of the Good Samaritan. The two men who did not help are usually considered as committing a sin of omission.

However, the discussion went on a little further... Is failing to do something that you know deep down is right an omission, or in fact a definite decision on our part? Is it, in fact, deliberate disobedience to what we perceive to be the will of God? Surely that would then make it a sin of commission...

It's odd. This particular subject just won't go away.

Forgive me, Lord, as I continue to pray into this.

19 November 2014

Attack Of The Killer Commitments

Sounds like a really unorthodox 1950's science fiction B-movie? Yep, it sure does to me. But living it, well that's a bit scary.

At the moment there's so much going on in my life that it all seems to be happening at once. And then it begins...

Do you know what it's like when some of your commitments 'attack you' -  those jobs that are started and yet remain unfinished; those promises to help other people but you haven't got around to yet; unexpected crises; even mundane household chores that end up at the bottom of a very long list.

Sometimes they all gang up on you at once, scrambling for attention. Sometimes they attack you one at a time, like baddies in one of those cheap kung fu flicks. One after another they come, raining blows on my poor head. But each blow hurts.

I've even had one or two 'completed tasks' have a go at me today! Trying to trick me, to convince me that I hadn't done them, in an attempt to make me feel guilty!

And I thank God for His gentle patience with me at this time. He's there for me. He helps me rebuild my defences. He helps me replenish my precious energy, running low as I run short of precious 'me time'...

He helps me deal with the things I have to do, and gently reminds me that it's OK to say 'no' once in a while. I'm recently had to let one of my bigger commitments go. And it's been painful to let go. But I did it. 

My Heavenly Father knows I am capable. I can sort it out, and know that I can win through.

14 November 2014

Can't We All Just Get Along?

I hate squabbles. :(
I've seen more that my fair share of these in a couple of the places that I've been in the last few days.

  • Temper tantrums
  • Malicious gossip
  • Rebellion
  • Disobedience
  • Spiteful comments

It's been awful.

Because all of this just gets in the way. Those concerned go around using energy to pull others apart; energy that could be much better used building others up; fixing other people's broken lives and broken relationships.

Or am I the only one that sees this?

And the people doing it - well, unfortunately they should know better.

Just wanted to rant today. Feeling a bit down because of it.


13 November 2014

Christmas Is Coming...

Oh yes. All of a sudden, it's November! Everyone starts getting focused on Advent. All roads now lead inevitably to the festive season... for instance:

We're now practicing Christmas songs and carols in our Singers group.
I've received my tickets for the first Carol Service of the season.
At work we are now planning 'Christmas Jumper Day'
This coming Saturday is the Corps' Christmas Fayre (10am - 2pm, come along, lots on offer!)

Everything is busy, busy, busy.

And yet, there still hasn't been time to think about my own Christmas! About gifts for my own family, what we are going to be doing on Christmas Day (I mean, after church and before Doctor Who)...

So does that mean that I've forgotten the real message of the season? Am I so wrapped up in tinsel and sentiment, turkey and all the trimmings, the fairy-tale imagery of Christmas, that I have forgotten my faith?

Do I have room for the real Christmas story?

It's the story of Mary and Joseph, a young couple who had set up home in Nazareth, miles away from their family. Mary was heavily pregnant and her delivery was just around the corner. Suddenly, news reached them that the vagaries of local government had dictated that they had to travel to their home town for a census, a precursor for more taxes.

The couple both hailed from Bethlehem, so that meant a 90-mile journey across rugged terrain. Even if you assume they travelled an average of 20 miles a day, that's still a five day trip, with no possibility of shelter at night, and with threats of attack by animals or robbers. Not a good prospect for anyone, let alone a mum-to-be who is just about to deliver...

By the time they arrived in town, all of the accommodation was taken - there wasn't a room to be had anywhere. And so, Mary had to give birth in less than perfect surroundings. The squalour of a borrowed stable.

And yet - this child was destined to be the Saviour of the World!

Is this the way that the King of Kings should have started life? Surely He could have been born in an elegant mansion. And if you were planning the birth of a Messiah, would you have subjected Him to such an entry into the world?

But this is the way God planned it - and planned it to the slightest detail. For instance, Scripture had always said the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem (see Micah 5:2 - the book of Micah was written about 700 years before the birth). So that's what Mary and Joseph had to do. They had to go to Bethlehem.

Take time to plan now. Where are you going to spend Christmas?

7 November 2014

The Danger Of Maybe...

I know. I can be very bad at "no".

And that can be a problem. It's a lesson I've had to learn the hard way. I want to be out there making a difference in the world, but I can't do everything.

So I've had to upset some people recently by learning how to give some things up. It's been painful. But I know it's starting to work. I've regained some precious "me time" in my schedule.

However, it doesn't make some things any easier. There's still a whole plethora of people out there who are pleading with me to say yes to them.

  • Just one extra job.
  • Just do it this once.
  • Just for a little while.

I've been listening to a podcast on this very subject today. It was all about how to filter these requests more effectively. This revealed to me that there are a few words in my vocabulary that I need to use with care. They're dangerous words. Words which I must learn to avoid if I want to stay on track, if I want to ring-fence my free time.

Words like "maybe".

Sure, the word comes a bit easier off the tongue than "no". Other words are available, like "perhaps", or "possibly".

The problem - these words are closer to no when you use them, but closer to yes when you hear them.

So, the listener never hears the "maybe". They hear "yes". And therefore they keep on and on at you.

Folks, don’t use "maybe" when in fact you mean "no".

It will make your "yes" even more effective.

4 November 2014

Dedicated Follower Of Fashion

"They seek him here, they seek him there,
His clothes are loud, but never square.
It will make or break him so he's got to buy the best,
'Cause he's a dedicated follower of fashion."
(Lyrics from the Kinks)

Don't get me wrong. There is no way that's anything like me at the top of this entry. If anything I'm far too staid for this sort of get-up. Unless it's fancy dress, then I can go a little crazy...

I must admit I've never tended not to worry unduly about my appearance - isn't it supposed to be all about getting the inside right? So what if my suit is 12 years out of date? Surely it's more important to care for others; to have a servant’s heart. And, as Toyah Wilcox once said, "as long as you're warm, who cares?"

However, this is a big deal for some individuals who continue to badger me to dress differently. In the proper 'style'. They are not very subtle - some are downright rude! And I don't respond well to 'rude'.

Now, having said that, I know that I am His ambassador (2 Corinthians 5:20) and therefore need to dress accordingly. I want to represent Him well. To be smart and presentable.

So, it's all a question of balance. Like many people I know at the moment, funds are tight. And so I need to choose wisely, work within a budget. And not just do like others do.

Anyway, why should I spend great chunks of my time shopping for clothes? My precious time... which could be spent oh so much better...

And then there's the sheer cost of it all!

Anybody got any thoughts on the subject?