Tuesday, 7 January 2020

By another route

January 6th 2020.  Children are going back to school.  Adults are returning to work.  The festive crib is being returned to the attic. Everywhere I've been today, I've heard the phrase 'back to normal', usually preceded by the words, 'it's good to be ...'.

This is Epiphany; the time when the church remembers the visit of the wise men, which, culturally, we often fast forward into our Christmas celebrations. Like countless other children across the land, my grandson, wearing a makeshift crown, carried his precious gold to the crib. Our nativity plays are a much loved part of the season and an important way of bringing the story alive for the youngsters. Rarely enacted though is the place of Herod in the story. Threatened by the news of the birth of a new 'king', he had asked the magi to return to him and tell him exactly where they found the baby Jesus.  

But they didn't.  Instead, warned against this in a dream (because Herod wanted to kill Jesus), they returned home by a new way.  

We thrive on rhythms.  And the different rhythms of Christmas are very disruptive. But let's not forget that Jesus is pretty disruptive too: an encounter with him changes us.  And if we return 'back to normal' too eagerly, maybe we've missed something fundamentally important.  

At the turning of the year, it's worth taking time to ponder:

In what new way might we be being called to carry the presence of Jesus into 2020?

Might God be prompting us to 'return to normal' by a 'new route'?

Happy pondering ... and my best wishes to you all for your journeying with Jesus in this coming year.

Wednesday, 18 December 2019

The Compassionate Jesus

Christmas can be a bittersweet time.  

Amid the merrymaking and twinkly lights, beneath the festive music and the media exhortations to make this a perfect family Christmas, for many people (myself included) this can be the hardest time of year.  Where there is loss, loneliness, brokenness and bereavement, this time of year can dramatically heighten the pain.  And where there is illness, homelessness, and a constant struggle to live, it can be hard to summon up any kind of Christmas spirit.

I'm heartened that Jesus didn't come to a perfect, happy place.  He came instead to a troubled place; born in poverty, effectively homeless, amongst a people living under oppression, and with his parents forced to become refugees shortly after his birth.  No easy start for him.  No silver spoon.  This was his choice. He came right into the heart of a messy, fractured world.  He understands that life's not perfect; that life can be gut-wrenchingly hard.

And that gives me hope.  

At a time when we celebrate the mystery, miracle and wonder of God-made-small, there can be huge undercurrents of sadness for some.  And this has nothing to do with Jesus.  Rather, it has everything to do with familial and cultural expectations that this season should somehow be a perfect, happy and harmonious time.  And of course, life's not always like that.  Which makes it tough for those for whom 'happiness' feels distinctly elusive right now.

As we move through these coming days, many whom we meet will be shouldering deep, hidden pain behind their smiles.  Some will be secretly at breaking point.  So let's be kind, as Jesus was.  He was always, and everywhere, compassionate. Let's celebrate His birth by spreading kindness and love, by being patient and gentle with everyone.  These gifts cost nothing and might be a greater gift to them than we will ever know.

And if this post speaks directly into your own situation, allow yourself to be gentle with yourself, whatever that means for you.

This post comes with my deepest love to all my readers.

May we all have a Compassionate Christmas.  


Tuesday, 26 November 2019

Dwelling more deeply

Have you seen it yet?

It's selling phenomenally well.

Help someone to deepen their prayer life in 2020 by making them a gift of this new book, 

'Dwelling in the Psalms'.

The psalms are an outpouring of unrestrained emotion to the One who won't be shocked by any of it; to the God who wants to hear it and who wants to be intimately involved in every detail of our lives.  They are prayer of the highest order.  They hold up a mirror to our deepest feelings and that's exactly why they remain so relevant today in this very different time, context and culture from when they were written.  

And that's why people are finding that this new book resonates with them.

If you haven't seen it yet, it's worth a look.
It was a privilege to write it and I'd love you to pray with it.
And it would make a great Christmas gift!
You can find it on Amazon UK and at my online shop.

Saturday, 23 November 2019

A gift for the weary

Ever wished you could step right inside the gospel stories?

Need some help to do that?

Look no further!  The Pathways to Healing series of CDs will enable you to do just that.   Based on scripture, they combine narrative poetry and guided meditation with prayerful questioning and relaxing ambient music.  Our intention is to produce a series of 10 recordings: no 1 in the series is available now, and no 2 will be released in the New Year.

They are CDs to be experienced, quietly, expectantly, deeply; a perfect antidote to the pre-Christmas stresses or a perfect gift for the weary.  And the first has won high praise:
"A wonderful CD! It leads the listener on a journey, touching their deepest fears and worries with peace, forgiveness and the presence of Christ."
Pam Rhodes
"Take Up Your Mat" is a great gift for any Christian friend who needs a bit of a boost.

Available from Amazon UK and my online shop

Take a look now  …  before you forget! 

Sunday, 10 November 2019

Praise for Dwelling in the Psalms

People are saying some lovely things about 'Dwelling in the Psalms'.

This feedback comes from a recently retired chaplain -

"It's such a treasure trove, full of jewels and precious gems; so full of Godly wisdom and truth.  Inspiring. Comforting. Challenging. Thought provoking. Encouraging."
 If you haven't seen it yet, do take a look - 150 contemporary interpretations, devotional reflections and accompanying prayers, based on the entire collection of Psalms.

Available from Amazon UK, my web-shop and all good Christian retailers.

It would make a lovely gift for Christmas; or why not treat yourself?

Wednesday, 16 October 2019

New book! Available now!

My new book is launched today!

A new resource for ministers, churches, retreat houses and individuals. ...  in fact, for anyone who prays!

With an emphasis on healing throughout, the book comprises a contemporary interpretation, devotional reflection and accompanying prayer for each of the 150 Psalms in the Bible.

Available from Amazon, my webshop and all good Christian retailers.

Sunday, 6 October 2019

Dwelling in the Psalms

In 2018 I reflected with the psalms for six months, whilst recovering from major surgery.  Nothing could have prepared me for how my convalescence would change me.  It's impossible to pray the Book of Psalms from start to finish without being significantly impacted by the experience.  I mined their depths and unearthed their treasures.  And I revisited the whole of my life along the way.  I worked through incredible heartache and immense joy, through deep angst and profound gratitude, and through every possible emotion in between.   This new book is the result.

The psalms have taught me their lessons.  I have discovered that some of the most helpful and healing prayers happen when we’re real with God.  Far from being 'unholy', emotions like anger, bitterness, depression and fear can carry us onto holy ground once we express them to God with full force.  And the psalms have taught me much about clinging and singing.  I have learnt the value of clinging to God with tenacious trust through whatever life throws at me.  And as I have pondered, with the psalm writers, on the miracles of history and the wonders of creation, worship and praise has come alive in me.

If you'd like to see the psalms from a fresh perspective you can pre-order the book here: I'll send you a signed copy at a postage-free special offer price of £12.  

It will be in the bookshops from October 17th, priced £12.99.