Monday, 26 September 2011


Just do it!


Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.
Romans 12:12

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.
Philippians 4:6


Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Lazy bones

Beds are awesome.

They support your entire body all at once, they always have time for you, they don't talk back. But they really come into their own when when you are so exhausted you can't sleep, when you are beyond tired and into a zombie-like comatose, when you are so tired that your eyelids, the tiniest of tiny slithers of skin, become too heavy to hold up. It's when you get to that stage that you are able to do the end of day flop unto the deep soft duvet, surrender to your body and slip serenely into deep, deserved, delicious sleep.

But then sometimes it's just nice to lie-on. You've had your nights sleep, you have recovered but now it's just preferable to stay where you are. It's warm and cosy where you are and it's cold and busy where you're going. But hey, you weren't made to lie in bed, you were designed to do stuff, useful stuff so get up and get on.

Of course there are more comfort traps than double beds - there are jobs, relationships, churches, dole offices and many more things that we can lounge about in longer than necessary. They can be really useful, supportive, encouraging and productive but they can become so comfortable or safe that we wallow in them longer than we should. Challenge yourself to get up, shake yourself down and get on with life.

Lazy hands make a man poor, but diligent hands bring wealth.
Proverbs 10:4



Friday, 16 September 2011

Are you Gideon me?

Below is a video blog by Penn from Penn and Teller, the famous magicians.

Penn Jillette is an out and out atheist, He takes a lot of time arguing that all religions are ridiculous and has even produced a 9 minute video in which he attempts to discredit the Bible (don't watch that one if you are easily offended!).

I got this link through a blog I follow so you may have seen it before, hopefully it will challenge you the way it has me.


Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Name and shame

I love giving stuff names.

Whether it's a new pet, a church organisation or an imaginary coffee shop I get super-excited about what it might be called.  If someone were to suggest doing something a little left-field like, say, buying a goat, I'll not be thinking about how much food it needs or whether it's going to chew more than just weeds, I'm not concerned how much milking we'll need to do or how we'll get rid of the mountains of poo. Oh no, I'm asking, 'What're we gonna call the little blighter?' before not getting one in the end after all (see yesterdays post for the reason why).

Some friends of mine have made an attempt at starting a band.  Just imagine my delight when they came rushing to me to think of a name for it (I might be misremembering that part).  Being Christian lads they wanted something nice and Holy and I was on it.  I was churning out great names faster than Elvis performs weddings, I was on fire, here are some of my favourites:

The Saints
Sons of Thunder
God's Own Anointed Teenagers
Kingdom of Silence
The New International Versions
White Stone
In Tune with the Lord

Some corkers I'm sure you'll agree but they went with none of them, Every suggestion I made was met with a look that said, 'Yeah thanks, em... we'll put it on the list.'

Names are not the be all and end all, it doesn't really matter what people call you, it's what you're like on the inside that's important, right? Well sort of.  Your name is not important but if you are going to put a label on yourself you'd better live up to it.  If my musical friends call themselves a 'Christian' band and then go on drink and drug fuelled benders, smashing guitars over pensioners heads and throwing TVs out of hotel windows then the label means little.  In fact it would be better for them to have avoided that label altogether.

Many of us claim to be one thing and are really another.  Let's make sure we are faithful to the labels we so proudly hang around our necks.

By the way, got any good names for a band?

He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes, I will give some of the hidden manna. I will also give him a white stone with a new name written on it, known only to him who receives it.
Revelation 2:17

And now, a song about identity...


Monday, 12 September 2011

Handbrake off

What's stopping you?

You see them in movies, hear about them in songs and read about them in books.  They are the ones living your life, the life you dreamed of in school.  The difference is that at some point you decided that those dreams were only flights of fancy - not for the likes of you.

I'm like that. I have a big old fear of standing out and looking silly, I need a good excuse to do anything in public. For example, The Wife and I thought long and hard before we took a trip to the pound to get Rocky in order that we would be confident that we could justify getting him to the people around us, I even struggle to go into a coffee shop on my own in case someone might think I'm an odd ball.  I'm starting to think that I live my life in fear of other people's opinions rather than by what I know to be right or good or, frankly, what I think is fun.

In our street on Saturday night!
I am like a car surrounded by scaffolding with an ironing-board and T.V. on top of it, I am trapped in mediocrity and mundaneness and it is - almost literally - frustrating the life out of me.

Of course if this is true (and not just a bout of grumpiness) it's entirely my own fault.  I am ruled by God not other peoples opinions or my own fears or the judgements of strangers.  I, we, have a great big bucket of potential to fulfil, we are made for greater things, for harder things, for great adventures whether of the traditional high-octane kind or adventures of the heart, adventures of the soul, adventures in the name of Christ.

Jesus did many a miracle in His day but in John 14:12 He says, 'anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these.'  Even greater? Wow...

So turn off the can't do attitude, break out of the Golden cage you've built for yourself and step on to the aeroplane of awesome that is the life God intended for you.  Live fully now.

 'I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.'
John 10:10



Thursday, 8 September 2011

False bottom

People in Rathcoole are generous, that's just the way it is.

We have what we call a trolley ministry in our church.  It's a simple idea, people bring along some extra groceries to church and leave them in a trolley in the front hall.  Once it has built up a bit those groceries are passed on to families who are struggling to make ends meet, it's a nice thing to do and it's what we're asked to do in the bible and like I say, people are very generous.

So the other day I, and the Girl from Down the Street, sorted the stuff into boxes.  There were ten in all, neatly arranged and awaiting distribution like little soldiers waiting for their assignments.  There were all sorts of delights within; beans, peas, pasta, sauces, pudding rice, cereal... even some toiletries and cleaning material, everything anyone could need.

The day after sorting them I rocked up with my trusty steed of a car to load and distribute the loot. All was going well until the last box.  It sat there on the floor, gleaming with pride.  It was a beautifully arranged box with a good even spread of foodstuffs.  It was the daddy of the boxes that day, the supreme receptacle, the King, the overlord, the terminator.. you get the idea - it was a box with some good stuff inside.

Then I lifted it.

The box came up but the contents stayed still.  The bottom of the box was weak and useless, the tape had failed, the cardboard had folded and it's reign as the Don was over.  Shame and disappointment gripped it like a  T-Rex grips a goat, the sham had been uncovered, the end had come.

Such is life.  We fill it with all the funky accessories we value - a job with a good wage, a shiny car, shiny kids and a shiny spouse.  We eat well, socialise well, get lots of high-fives when we 'knock 'em dead' and rumpy-pumpy on our king-sized bed.  We fill our box with all the box-tickers of earthly success; it looks good, it feels good, it smells good.  But then we go to lift it.

It's those times of turbulence that test the strength of our life-box and it will always be found wanting.  The truth is that you can fill your box up with all sorts of cool stuff but it's counts for nothing if you've got the wrong box.

Let me be clear.  Unless you build your life in Jesus it will be weak and it will not stand up to the tests of this world.  That is a fact that is clear to anyone who lives: Life is fragile and can only be got through when it is packed in Jesus Christ.

Which box is your life packed in?

"Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.
   5 “I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing."
John 15:3-5


Wednesday, 7 September 2011

Don't fear the tear

It's great to have someone to laugh with.

Those moments when you can let out a big hearty guffaw, loose control and roll about on the floor.  Those special-memory making minutes of side-splitting euphoria are a gift from God, a giddy release from the everyday normal-ness of life on earth.

But friendships and family-ships aren't powered by the breeze of laughter but by the gale of tears.  It's when a heart is breaking and another breaks with it that the strongest relationships are forged.

Don't be afraid to be afraid with the ones you love. Don't be afraid to cry with each other - when you look back, they will be your most joy-filled moments, the moments when you grow, the moments that make you close, the moments that make you a family.

And if you want to be a church family then you've gotta do the same. Take the stuffiness out of your pockets, remove the plastic smiles from your faces and get real with each other.  Open up to your brothers and sisters and let the tears flow, there is joy to be found in the pain.

For I wrote you out of great distress and anguish of heart and with many tears, not to grieve you but to let you know the depth of my love for you.
2 Corinthians 2:4


Tuesday, 6 September 2011

She gets it!

Bible Club Leader:   Hands up if you know the answer.  What is the best thing about heaven?

Five year old girl:   Jesus is there!



Monday, 5 September 2011

Million pound ambition

A wee while ago I was asked by an inspirational friend of mine, 'If you had a million pounds what ministry would you spend it on?'  I had no answer.

The truth is that it was never something I felt I needed to think about because it was unlikely that I was ever going to be offered that much cash in the first place.  But still, I had no answer and my mind started searching for one.

How about a groovy extension to our church with some storage space and a state-of-art-coffee-shop? Or developing some sort of techy on-line ministry that would reach the world? Or a team of fifty workers to shake the place up and do all the hard graft for us? 

The possibilities are seemingly endless, especially in a wee church like ours that isn't used to having surplus funds to throw at big projects.  

That fact is though that all the money in the world won't make much difference unless we are in step with God.  If our church has a beautiful building or a big staff or fancy-pants technology but is cold, or hurt, or disinterested then the nice stuff is just lipstick on a pig.

I still have no answer for my inspirational friend, but I know this: I won't be wasting my time praying for a million pounds, I'll ask God for something important instead - The salvation of my friends and family and the restoration of my church.  Make us whole again Lord Jesus.

What would you spend a million bucks on?