Tag Archives: journey

Well That Sucks!!

This was turning into a ridiculously long facebook post. Instead I thought a blog post might be more a appropriate some how, even if it’s no less shorter! 

This morning I am around the 3 1/2 week point of  exercising 4x a week, with a variety of aerobic and anaerobic exercise. Eating whole foods for breakfast, lunch and for snacks, with just ‘a few accidents’ with packets of Maltesers and chocolate bars. 

Physically I certainly feel fitter and stronger. But, yes there is a but, whilst my weight dipped initially by one or 2 pounds I find myself cruising to the end of September with the scales telling me i am actually 1/2 lb heavier than when I started! WHAT!!!!!

I have two options on this lengthly mystical journey towards being healthier and lighter and hear they are:

One option is to give up and just accept the inevitability of the direction of travel, as I pass those metaphorical health-warning road signs, which tell me there is danger ahead, in the form of health complications. To accept that these are unavoidable and that unless there is a magic wand, that can be wafted over me, I am doomed. Meaning I probably wont see my kids grow up and have families of there own, because the fat will have suffocated my internal organs, long before then! (bit overdramatic sorry)

The other option (Oh thank God for that), it is the road less traveled, it is one of painful self evaluation, to avoid an even more painful heart attack. I need to get real, acknowledge how bad I want/need this, and that no apple watch type tracker, or other aids is going to make me change, unless I change first. I have to acknowledge with vulcan-esk logic my foibles, my triggers, that make me eat rubbish or cause me to be too lazy to keep track of what I consume. 

Then like today, I draw a line on one side my most recent failures or false starts and on the other side, wisdom i have gained from those falls and a rededication to the journey I am on. My prayer is that those decisions for good, will ultimately outweigh those that cause me harm.

Today after my disappointment on the scales, I still went to my workout area, I still lifted those weights. But I did a few less so I had time to reflect on what went wrong learn from it  and ask the lord to help me carry on.

Keeping God Busy!

It is not that God has nothing to do! What I mean is that sometimes in our lives we might, experience moments of God being especially active with us! This week has been one of those weeks.

For me I caricature God or the angels working hard to help me avoid mistakes and helping me through tricky spots. I find it’s a positive way of looking at life’s bumpy roads and it makes me smile and reminds me of the bigger picture. 

On to this week, God has been busy with me through the words of earthly saints this week. Bringing new awareness into my life, painful at times but honest, leading me towards healing, pointing me to Jesus. One saint in particular helped reveal hidden things buried inside my heart.

Two saints have helped me begin transitioning to a healthier life style, (hense the photo!) these same saints have just inspired my boots off, by their openness and upholding of a vision of christian community and a church that is real. It makes me want to worship God in thankfulness. 

Another saint stood in front of people, and reminded us of a church that is so real it goes beyond social pleasantries. Together (I paraphrase) get into the hot tub of deeper relationships and deeper connection with the Lord. The image of church community being in a hot tub is a little awkward, but there is a deeper message of connectedness, breaking down of barriers, acceptance and the sheer delight of being in a hot tub. 

I post this on the seventh day, when according to the book of Genesis God rested because seeing all that had been done and declared it was good. This week has been a bit of a journey but I arrive today and echo the lords sentiment, it is good.

On one level it would be lovely for me to tell you, who these people were that God used, but that would discolour the purpose of their words and encouragement, which is to draw near to God, to abide in God, to glorify God. Ultimately to be reminded, that Gods’ love is sufficient and I am approved off. Amen to that.

This posts top photo is of my lunch yesterday. Which would normally be a packet of crisps and some can of tinned soup or maybe something more unhealthy. I found that it took me ages to eat what I had made, not because cheese bread sticks, crackers, carrots and red pepper humous, didn’t taste good, but it really, really filled me up and lasted until dinner! Which was not what I was expecting!

I wonder which saints you will speak through this week! Go well my brothers and sisters in Christ, and go with God, keeping your eyes open and ears tuned to Gods voice.

my aproval 1

Get Your Faith Lift Here!

Has your faith become sanitised, tame, lukewarm? Is church ‘run of the mill’, no more challenging than what you might pick for breakfast in the morning? The video below that reminds us otherwise; the sheer challenge of the gospel, the agony of the early mission leaders to choose Jesus every single time.

Today in ISIS held land Christians are facing the kind of hate these early missionaries experienced. And just see what God does with that. The story is based a long time ago, but it could be a story and narrative that happens today. Not in our comfortable, westernised lives perhaps, but where people live in fear from those who would have them killed for their faith, this story is real and relevant.

Be warned, the story in this video is not for the faith hearted!

Finally, what does your faith mean to you?  How far would you go?  What would you give up for the sake of the gospel?  As you listen to the words, the story alongside blows you away.

Ashed & Ready To Travel.

Lent week 1: Ash Wednesday

Lent week 1: Ash Wednesday the beginning of a journey

 

Lent week 1: Ash Wednesday began our pilgrimage or journey through lent this year. Consider today what Lent means to you. For most and indeed myself in the past, lent can run its course unnoticed. It’s not always easy to reflect on difficult journeys and choices in life. Yet the opposite can be true. It is in reflection before God on our failings, that healing can begin, as we learn to forgive ourselves and be forgiven by the living God.

Enjoy the images posted each Sunday.loved

It is also the day to remember love, both the love for on another and the Love of God. Happy Valentines Day.

Heavens Life Lesson

Sometimes success is found by looking back, by looking at the footprints in the sand of life we might just glimpse the Lord at work in the detail, in the narrative of our existence. However this is not how society is wired as we travel in life.

As a child generally we desire to succeed at school, as a grown-up that same desire develops. Each of us finds, that there is always something more, something that is just out of reach, to earn, wether that’s in a relationship, work, or in general life. Sometimes we attain it, sometimes we don’t. For me when I miss my target, I get up and go again, or sometimes my walk with God takes me in a new direction.

The quest for more of everything, has blossomed many industries, such has the self help industry, you only have to walk into a book shop to see how popular that genre is. Furthermore on YouTube the most watched videos are online self help gaming tutorials. Earning the creators of these videos many thousands of pounds, and celebrity status in certain circles. In particular Google has become a worldwide database of self-help solutions. The only problem is there are so many solutions it’s hard to filter out, the good advice from the bad.

In all this striving to get ahead, to know more, to be better, we sometimes forget to look back, sometimes wisdom and personal growth is not found in a book, or youtube clip, but by reflecting on our own story. Sometimes its only when we look back as the poem footprints in the sand suggests, that we can see God at work.

Its these moments that are the subject of today’s post, in recent years I have attended the bedside of a few  people who have been close to crossing over into eternity, people of faith and not.

Of those whom could speak, they spoke of having lived a life of service for others, they didn’t want to tell me how much they had in their bank balance, how big their house was, or the name of their cat or dog. They wanted to tell me, the focus of their life had been outward not inward.

Moreover for those who could not speak, it was evidenced by the number and quality of friends and family they had around them, that they had invested in the important things of their lives, not a financial portfolio, but invested in the lives of others in the love and care they had shown them. 

If we looked back today rather than ahead, if today was our final day, what would we say to the minister who visited? How have we lived our lives? These moments with the dying, a poignant, difficult, and an incredible privilege.  

These brilliant people in their dying breaths, cause us to reflect on our own journeys through life, not that it will always be perfect, or that we will always make the right decisions.

However when all is said and done, I hope I  can say to the Minister at my bedside, that I lead the majority of my days outward looking, caring for others, investing in kindness, Love and forgiving quickly. Then as I cross over from this life into the eternity that Jesus prepares, I’ll count myself as having lived life well, as God intended.

Ultimately death causes us to look ahead, at how we are living our lives outward in the service of others, defined by how much God loves all people both those who have passed through the veil and those who exist around us.

God Bless And have a good week

Last weeks post: The Know It All

Similar Themes: Looking Back And Seeing Jesus

 

Saying Goodbye

Some people have a hard time saying goodbye, for some a big send off ticks the box, for others they just want to slip away quietly, with minimal fuss. But saying goodbye is hard, change is difficult. You hold onto the idea, and feeling that God goes with you. However letting go of what was and heading into the relative unknown remains tough. 

Peppered through the beginnings of the Gospels, are short verses about how the disciples left all they had and went with Jesus!

Let’s stop a moment and think about those words. They left all they had, that meant jobs, family, friends, identity, stability and safety. They went with someone who perhaps they had heard of, perhaps they knew something about, more scarily though, it could be that they didn’t know anything about him at all!

What motivates somebody to just go? Perhaps having some kind of breakdown! Perhaps there is more to it that is written in the gospel, maybe there had been several meetings and discussions about what might happen if they said yes to Jesus? Or maybe something stirred inside them, we might call that the spirit of God, and they were compelled, inspired, moved, to take an momentous leap of faith. Which they didn’t know for a number of them would lead to martyrdom, denial, betrayal. Yet they who were Jesus’s diciples would witness the incredible things that God can do, not least raising his son from the dead, seeing 9000 people fed across two ocassions, countless people healed, and demons exorcised.

Hindsight would say they probably made the right choice! However in that moment recorded in the Gospels, there was no time machine, or Doctor Who’s Tardis that they could jump into, and see what was to come. Each of them took one step of faith, followed by another, and another. The diciples as we know stayed. I’m convinced that they would not have done the journey, if they hadn’t realised that Jesus was the real deal, and was and is the promised messiah.

I can’t imagine anyone, or any sane person following a charlatan, someone pretending to be something they’re not for that length of time and in such close proximity with one another. Because surely over the course of time the fake messiah would be found out. Which leads me to consider that what the disciples saw in Jesus was real, tangible, powerful and life changing. 

So when we head out, live our lifes, do church, lets be sure it’s the lord beckoning us, and step out in faith. For we may just see people healed, the dead raised.


A word to the wize,  whether we stay or go, following God being in the place he wants us to be, is also costly. I wonder if Peter for example, had looked ahead through the gift of time travel and discovered that the would die upside down on a cross. Might have instead said following jesus was not for him. Because at the start of his walk with Jesus his faith waw new, untested, unseasoned by the passage of time. It is the journey with all its bumps, and resting places, where faith grows, is tested, affirmed and strengthened. for Peter, his faith gave him the strength of character to say to his executioner tun the cross upside down, I will not die like my saviour and friend.

“Shine like stars in the world. It is by your holding fast to the word of life that I can boast on the day of Christ that I did not run in vain or labor in vain.”

Philippians 2:15-16

Heading Into The Waves

A boat that has never had the waves crash its bow, is in dry dock, or perhaps just a drawing or concept of an engineer. It has not lived as a boat, at all, it has not reached its full potential.

There is a part of me that wishes to be in dry dock, to exist amongst the simplicity of lines on a page or an artists imagination. The page or dry dock, is a safe space to be, unencumbered by the unpredictability of water crashing over the bow, or  traversing the deep swells of the rough seas. But life lived in that way whilst healing for a time, isn’t living! Faith founded and lived in the dry dock is untested, by the storms of doubt and discontent, or the piercing silence of the calm before the storm.

We follow one who walked on water, who calmed the storm, but even peters leap of faith landed him in the waves. So perhaps it is the waves that the Lord is calling us into, out of the dock into open water, it would be lovely if it was allways a flat calm but that’s not how I have experienced life.

More often I experience the lords call into the waves of life, and in those waves i am tested, sometimes battered by the winds, other peoples words and self doubt. Yet I keep going navigating towards the things of God. Attempting to serve him the best I can, seeking to draw people deeper into the things of the lord.

In God the peace we seek is not external but internal, it is that inner assurance that no wave is too big, no sea too rough, that keeps us navigating the seas of life. As we chart a course we do not do that in isolation, but with others and together we reach our destination, of that great harbour in eternity.

Tomorrow each of us heads out into sea, some of us rough seas await and for others its calm perhaps before a storm. May wherever we are, atop the waves or recovering in dry dock, know the grace, healing and love of God, the guidance of the holy spirit and the deep peace of God that keeps our hands unshaken on the ships wheel and our hearts at a steady beat like a propeller on a boat pushing us through lifes waters, bless us, keep us and shape us.

Last Weeks Post:

Offer Hope Not Criticism 

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Looking Back & Seeing Jesus!

When you go on a journey with someone, there are points along that journey that hold special significance, there will be moments of beginnings and endings and a range of celebrations and commiserations in between.

One such Journey, has been my journey as someone trying to follow Jesus. I can remember listening, to a preacher a number of years ago now, tell me that he had been a christian for 25 years. I can remember, being hugely impressed that someone had followed Jesus for that long!

I wondered inwardly, what that would look like for me. So as I cross the line of my 25th year, I wonder if I have learnt anything? I wonder what truths have held me, shaped me, and lead me? Do I exhibit more of the fruit of the spirit than when I first began, those long years ago in my mid-teens.

25 years is a huge period of time, there has been more change in the last 25 years than probably will be in my next. Over this period of time I’ve have been busy growing up, and maturing to greater or lesser degrees, and finding out who I am. As well as leaving home, I have finished School and three colleges, and got qualifications I needed, also had various jobs, got married had two children and of course adopted a beautiful cocker spaniel called George.

One particular enduring truth, is that God is present. He has been present, in the darker moments, of depression, and self-loathing. He has been present when I truly believed I was unloved and alone in the world. He was present, in good company, laughter, new experiences, on my wedding day, and in so many other moments.

I have found that looking through the lens of time, some truths are moulded, whilst I believe in the fundamentals of my faith the death and resurrection of Jesus to name one. I have become less fervent about being right, and less quick to condemn others without first picking out the spec’s of prejudice and notions of exclusivity and superiority in my own life. I hope this has led me to be more gracious, and loving.

Another truth I have learnt is that through the ebb and flow of time, there are periods of doubt, spiritual isolation, and ultimately and eventually but deeper a walk with Jesus, that has been seasoned, and tested, as the song refiners fire says produces gold.

It is that gold that I seek above all, the spiritual gold that does not decay, but rather is a priceless gift that I keep giving away, that others, might see all that God is doing through us, the church of Jesus Christ.

I spent some time on retreat last week thinking about these things, discovering what truths I might have learned on my journey so far, and what God might be calling me too next. Sadly too often, I have found that the church has not always discipled me in a coherent and consistent way, and perhaps worse, is that if my faith was rooted entirely in the church I would’ve left long ago!

God however has scattered across my timeline so far, moments for spiritual growth, which have included worship events, friendships that have left their mark in profoundly wonderful ways upon my life. All these and other moments, have helped to grow me, into the person, into the man, I am today. And perhaps also define the ministry I feel called to, within the church, though less than perfect, but which I call home.

Finally during my retreat I stood within a cathedral which has of course stood for centuries, I became aware that my tiny grain of sand of faithful existence, was put into a correct and timeless context, of Gods eternity in which christ prepares a room for you and I.

This of course doesn’t mean we should stop working hard at building Gods Kingdom, far from it, but we can also know we can trust and rest in a God, that is bigger than our vision of what His kingdom should be. A God who will outlive all our attempts at trying to build his temple.

If I Could Walk Away From Jesus!

As we near Holy Week, and all that means for the Christian community, I wonder if might share with you one more story about my personal discipleship. As I have journeyed with Jesus these past 25 years. I have often wondered if the grass is greener on the otherside, if this life of faith is truly worth it?

Is the self denial and sacrifice of so called holy living all really necessary? As I strive to live towards a calling of loving your neighbour as myself and loving God with equal measure.  I wondered from time to time what I would look like as a non-Christian. Whether indeed life would be ‘better’ and more easy! Perhaps I would have less hangups, perhaps also I would be less bothered about other people, and more bothered about what I can get out of life, rather than give and invest in other peoples lives.

There is a story I tell, from the pulpit of a stonecutter, there are probably many variations of this story but here is the one I tell. There is a man who cut stone for a living, he is a stonecutter. He delivers some stone one day to a mansion, he looks at the vast house, and wishes to live there, and if by magic a big voice from heaven says “let it be so.” And so the stonecutter wakes up in a luxurious mansion, with people to wait on his every need. One day the stonecutter is driving in his limousine, the sunshine through the window causing him to squint and is not be able to see the way ahead. He realises that the sun is very powerful, and wishes to be the sun. And a voice from heaven declares “let it to be so.” The stonecutter becomes the sun and shines in all his brilliance warming the earth below and casting light throughout the Galaxy. He notices however that no matter how hard he tries he cannot break through cloud, and so the stonecutter wishes to be a cloud! A big voice from heaven declares “let it be so.” And so the stonecutter becomes a cloud, this seemed a good idea first and then he realised he was being pushed around by the wind. He quickly wished to be the wind. And a big voice from heaven declared. “let it be so.”

As the wind the stonecutter had quite a lot of fun, blowing over houses and people, twirling leaves in the street, blowing snow into huge drifts taller than houses, churning up a rough seas of gigantic waves. The stonecutter thought it was brilliant being the wind he’d found something he loved, however whilst he was the wind he was blowing one day against rock, and no matter how hard he blew the rock would never move. It wouldn’t budge an inch. In a very annoyed voice the stonecutter pronounced I wish I could be a rock. And as a rock he proudly looked out across the valley, as people came and went, as climbers climbed up his face, as couples grew old and children grew up. It was a contented experience he felt at peace. Until one day, he heard a Chipping noise and he noticed a man with a small hammer and chisel, digging into his stonework. There’s nothing he could do, except to say, I wish I could be a stonecutter!

No matter how the stonecutter longed to be something else, he ended up being the person he was meant to be. He took a long journey, to real self-discovery. Regardless of how grumpy I get with God, or temporarily want to walk away. I come back to the truthful reality of my self-discovery, and that I am a believer, I am a christian, no matter where are I am, or where I might end up. I belong to Jesus and it’s him I follow.

May your personal discovery of who you are, not cost you too much, or be too painful. But as you journey remember you are made in the image of the living God, who knows you and loves you.

God Bless and God Speed

Fertility Tips For Churches!

In a doctors waiting room John and Mary sit nervously, anxious for the news of their fertility tests, they longed for answers to their questions and fears. In a church nearby, a pastor sits looking across the empty pews in his church, he wonders what he needs to do to fill them. Two separate but emotionally charged scenes, each with hopes and fears about the future one for a baby and another for disciples.

The churches I look after, like so many, currently have a fertility issue when it comes to making disciples, it’s the singular issue that is paralysing our future, and we need help.

A couples fertility Journey begins in denial and ends with acceptance whether that is acceptance of a life with or without children. Whatever the Journey John and Mary take there will be an array of options such as IVF, various drugs, adoption or choosing to remain childless. This sort of journey is one not dissimilar that our churches might take.

I don’t think for many of Gods people we can deny our reality it’s plain to see for many of us, and it’s heart breaking and painful. This kind of reality check, can tear at the fabric of a congregation just as much as it tears at the heart of a couples relationship.

So what are the churches’ options? Recognising that there is a problem is a start, look at what others are doing well, research the local context, resist jumping on the christian idea bandwagon, listen to God, the community and the church. See how fresh expressions work might help you. There are so many options and possibilities but it can be hard to know whats right for your context.

Take your time, did you know that an adoption agency will not even consider your application earlier than one year after an infertility diagnosis. Rightly so in my opinion, social services recognise that there is work to be done, a journey to be had and acceptance and letting go of what was and peace to be held onto as they move ahead.

Just as much as John and Mary need to figure out what is right for them, the individual church needs to figure out and come to terms the right way ahead for themselves. Of course for John and Mary there is an alternate decision just as difficult and brave, that is to decide to call time on there journey and make a life without children.

For some of our churches it’s time, to sit and weep with them, to listen to their hearts breaking and invite them to move on to create a new life for themselves, because collectively they can’t make disciples for some reason. This is such a magnificently brave decision for a congregation to make. It might be that for those individuals they start at another church that is fertile and their hopes are realised in a different way as they are adopted by that church family.

The church is not dead we just have a little bit of infertility, and infertility is not the end of the story it never is, it is perhaps the beginning of a fight or a new life, it is the point of acceptance we move beyond, to the new thing God is calling us too, the bright future, the hopeful one, the one shaped not as we might have imagined, but reshaped in Gods design for us as his people.

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