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Day 12 - Issue 25

Proverbs 4:4 NLT My father taught me, “Take my words to heart. Follow my commands, and you will live.” I have discovered over time that my heart is the core of my being; the source of my will and my emotion. My heart is the location of my connectedness with God. For far too long I relied upon my mind. This is active and agile. However, my mind was and remains so easily deceived. My daughter had a friend who was caught up in the tsunami that devastated Thailand in 2004. Her schoolfriend...


Day 11 - Issue 25

Proverbs 4:1a NLT ‘My children, listen when your father corrects you.’ Wisdom is both prized and sought after in our society. So many health regimes, from diet to exercise are associated with a growing wisdom. This includes deepening self-knowledge and engaging more effectively with all of life. These attributes which I might describe as ‘a life well-lived’ have always been the foundation of practical and effective Christian living. What began for me as a mental agreement and emotional...


Day 10 - Issue 25

Ecclesiastes 9:10 NLT ‘Whatever you do, do well. For when you go to the grave, there will be no work or planning or knowledge or wisdom.’ A great temptation with ageing is to drift towards the inevitability of decline and isolation. The statistics are useful, yet they are not to victimise us. It is wonderful that we can keep interests alive even as we age. It might be that we need to reappraise our situation and develop new hobbies and activities, yet we are not dead until we stop...


Day 9 - Issue 25

Psalm 71:18 NLT ‘Now that I am old and gray, do not abandon me, O God.’ Ageing is a personal subject, seldom addressed outside of humorous remarks, yet it is a challenge each of us faces. We live in a society that seems either unwilling or unable to speak of the most profound milestone in our lives. I was shocked to discover when caring for Katey that the medical profession was most uncomfortable talking of death. For us it was an inevitable reality, given her degenerative disease. A...


Day 8 - Issue 25

Psalm 90:12 NLT ‘Teach us to realize the brevity of life, so that we may grow in wisdom.’ Why is it that as a child, my bed was a warm, comforting and comfortable place to sleep, but now I lower myself with some care into bed, manage various degrees of sciatic pain and know that I will not be comfortable for more than six hours in a prone position? I’m still really active, the Oratory to manage, an e-learning business launched and much gardening to keep me vigorous. Yet I feel the aches...


Day 7 - Issue 25

Job 12:12-13 NLT ‘Wisdom belongs to the aged, and understanding to the old. But true wisdom and power are found in God; counsel and understanding are his.’ The list of questions I carry has lengthened over time. I’m now content to live with questions, and have little interest in, even expectation of, answers in as far as answers offer a one-time solution. The Christian life is a paradox, as so many of Jesus’ teachings demonstrate. It has long been assumed that wisdom accompanies ageing,...


Day 6 - Issue 25

Isaiah 46:4 NLT I will be your God throughout your lifetime – until your hair is white with age. Recently I fell over in the kitchen. It was one of those slow motion, slightly comical falls. I overbalanced seeking to put some food in the dog dish. Aware of my direction of travel backwards, I failed to find the strength to compensate for the force of gravity dragging me down. Because I fought against the fall, I strained my back and hurt my arm. Realising I wasn’t going to stop myself, I...


Day 5 - Issue 25

John 20:27 NLT Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and look at my hands. Put your hand into the wound in my side. Don’t be faithless any longer. Believe!” Thomas is terrific, a man who heard of Jesus’ resurrection yet would not believe it personally until he saw it for himself. Does this deserve the adjective ‘doubting’? I think not. Here was a man who was unwilling to live out of the testimony and experience of others. He needed a personal and real encounter with the...


Day 4 - Issue 25

John 20:19 NLT That Sunday evening the disciples were meeting behind locked doors because they were afraid of the Jewish leaders. Suddenly, Jesus was standing there among them! “Peace be with you,” he said. Following Jesus is a roller coaster ride. I embraced Christ with an enthusiasm and an assumption that all would be well with me in life, having surrendered to God. I gazed into my future imagining I would be a solid Christian with firm convictions. Even before I hit the buffers of...


Day 3 - Issue 25

John 20:16 NLT “Mary!” Jesus said. She turned to him and cried out, “Rabboni!” (which is Hebrew for “Teacher”). My greatest need for God is in my bleakest moments. Yet, although I know that in calm times, when overwhelmed by difficult circumstances and inner depression, I am immediately disorientated. No matter where I turn, I fail to discern Christ. In those moments of disorientation I stagger as a drunk might, grasping at anything in the hope that I might seize control of my raw...


Day 2 - Issue 25

Matthew 28:2 NLT ‘Suddenly there was a great earthquake! For an angel of the Lord came down from heaven, rolled aside the stone, and sat on it.’ Jayne, my second wife, spent some time living in San Francisco. Straddling the San Andreas Fault, the city is subject to frequent earthquakes. The majority go unreported since they are small. Yet, Jayne often returned home to find pictures and books on the floor, shaken loose by the tremors. Just as Jesus’ death was marked by nature, so too was...


Day 1 - Issue 25

Acts 7:56 NLT And he told them, “Look, I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing in the place of honor at God’s right hand!” A year after my first wife, Katey, was forced to retire from teaching due to multiple sclerosis, she suddenly collapsed and was rushed into hospital. I was away in the USA, preaching, so our extended household took charge and fed me the news. They advised I stay where I was and came home as planned, since Katey was not in immediate danger and there was...


Day 65 - Issue 24

Matthew 27:59-60a NLT ‘Joseph took the body and wrapped it in a long sheet of clean linen cloth.He placed it in his own new tomb, which had been carved out of the rock.’ Good Friday is the day the world is silenced. Jesus is crucified and the voice of God goes quiet. Many assume this is the conclusion of Jesus’ ministry. Now Joseph of Arimathea places Jesus in a tomb he has purchased for himself. It is his final act of respect for someone he followed at a distance. As the small funeral...


Day 64 - Issue 24

John 19:38 NLT ‘Afterward Joseph of Arimathea, who had been a secret disciple of Jesus (because he feared the Jewish leaders), asked Pilate for permission to take down Jesus’ body. When Pilate gave permission, Joseph came and took the body away.’ Jesus dies and there follows a deep silence. The jeering crowd drift away, leaving behind only those most closely affected by events. When Katey died, the two weeks before her funeral felt grief-stricken yet busy. Organising the funeral,...


Day 63 - Issue 24

Mark 15:34 NLT Then at three o’clock Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” which means “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?” My journey with God has not been simple. The lines of demarcation that fell into place when I first made my commitment to follow Jesus have grown blurred over the years. Experience has clouded my understanding and enabled me to think far more about my discipleship. I hold fast to the God who found me and won my heart, yet often...


Day 62 - Issue 24

Mark 15:27 NLT ‘Two revolutionaries were crucified with him, one on his right and one on his left.’ The context of Jesus’ death reinforces the substance of his message. In death he is flanked by two common criminals, each responsible for their own fate. Jesus, meanwhile, was an innocent victim. Yet, he had come in search of the fallen and lost, and the two thieves either side of him are testimony to a successful search. Those whom society condemns, God embraces. Here one thief seizes his...


Day 61 - Issue 24

John 15:23 NLT ‘Anyone who hates me also hates my Father.’ When working on religious liberty issues, I visited the former concentration camp, Auschwitz. It was the end of January to coincide with Holocaust Memorial Day. It was colder than I’d ever experienced and the horror of its past seems to have been etched into every building that remained. We, like everyone else, walked around in silence, our emotions and rationality numbed by what our eyes witnessed. Among the many photos were...


Day 60 - Issue 24

Isaiah 59:14 NLT ‘Our courts oppose the righteous, and justice is nowhere to be found. Truth stumbles in the streets, and honesty has been outlawed.’ There are moments when the world stands still. I can remember those instances in my own experience when I’ve been asked a critical question and for a moment my mind races to analyse all my options. The question hangs in the air and every eye is on me waiting to see my response. I hear the question, yet don’t know the level of information my...


Day 59 - Issue 24

Luke 23:28 NLT But Jesus turned and said to them, “Daughters of Jerusalem, don’t weep for me, but weep for yourselves and for your children.” There is a great challenge in disentangling good advice from future proofing against disaster. As I entered the unstable world of Christian youth work after finishing at Oxford, my father was angry. He observed me throwing away my opportunity for a secure future, or one he defined as such. He wasn’t a Christian and the anxiety must have been...


Day 58 - Issue 24

Isaiah 53:4b NLT ‘And we thought his troubles were a punishment from God, a punishment for his own sins!’ As Jesus made his way towards Golgotha, the exhaustion and pain following his trial and torture must have brought him to his knees more than once, even with Simon’s assistance. How quickly the worship of his welcome into Jerusalem morphed into the insults that accompanied his walk of shame. For many of us, when we are recipients of bread and fish among a crowd of onlookers, or when...


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