Posted on: 25th March 2019
“Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.””
Have you ever lost your way? It was July 2004 and I had found a lovely circular walk around Cuerden Valley for myself and my wife in a book. To paint the picture, this was a few days after the due date of our first child. It is also worth noting that it was a hot summer’s day. My sense of direction is better if I have been somewhere before. But on this day, I was sure I would be able to find our way back to the place we started from. The problem was, we didn’t seem to be turning at any point of this walk. Our circular walk felt very linear. I hear the younger generations screaming as they read this, “Just use Google Maps on your smart phone!” This wasn’t a luxury we possessed in those days. After a few conversations with ‘real walkers’ and a few styles and fences to climb, we returned to the car.
Are you looking for the way through life? The disciples were. When Jesus called them, they had their lives changed. But in John 14, we read that the disciples didn’t realise who Jesus was. They heard the teachings and saw the miracles. But they didn’t recognise that Jesus was God or that he was the way to God. Why would they? This was a completely different route to what they thought.
In Acts 9:2, we meet Saul. He was a devoted follower of God. In Acts 22:4, he admitted that before following God, “I persecuted people who followed THE WAY and some of them were even killed.” This came after arrests, imprisonment and beatings, for following THE WAY!
Following THE WAY (Jesus) was a matter of life and death for those early believers. We may not face the same persecution and suffering in our lives for following Jesus (although many across the world do), but we too must make a choice. My prayer for you this week is that you consider the words of Jesus, the passion of Saul and the struggles of the early disciples to recognise who Jesus really is – THE WAY.
Posted on: 11th March 2019
“Come, and I will make you fishers of men.”
Have you ever met someone who is so full of life and energy that they seem to fill their lives to the full? After speaking to them you realise that there is so much you could achieve by adopting some of their habits. I was inspired recently by a colleague who fits in twenty squats whilst brushing their teeth and fifty press ups while the morning kettle boils! As well as giving up TV, sweets and games on my phone, I’m trying to do more reading over lent. One book is called ‘Atomic Habits’ by James Clear. It is an inspiring read and very practical. But reading the book is not revolutionising my life. For that to happen I am going to have to put it into practice.
At the start of Jesus’ ministry, he began by choosing, empowering and equipping twelve disciples. His words to Simon and Andrew as they were doing their normal working routine changed their future. “Come, and I will make you fishers of men.” (Mark 1:17).
Today is another day when you get to respond to the same call that those disciples did. Some opportunities you are presented with today will be ‘too good to say no to’. Others will require will power and determination. You will pay the cost of effort or investment today, but receive the rewards in the future. Some choices will give you instant rewards but they will cost you in the long term.
The response of those first disciples to Jesus shaped their future forever. It wasn’t an easy life but it was full of purpose and adventure. “At once they left their nets and followed him.” (Mark 1:18).
My prayer this week is that you find time to reflect on the call of Jesus to follow him. I hope that you feel empowered, like the early disciples, to “Live life to the full.” (John 10:10).
Posted on: 15th May 2017
“For life is more than food, and your body more than clothing.”
Luke 12 v 23
(Tradition vs Honest Faith)
This week we are looking at the story that Jesus tells to the Pharisees in Luke 12 as they challenge his disciples for their practice of eating without doing a wash ritual first. Let’s remember though why Jesus told stories and parables. One reason was to explain what the kingdom of heaven was like and another was to explain the law of the old scriptures to people who didn’t understand it or who were using it wrongly. This story was told for the second reason, to help people understand what the bible said about rituals and traditions.
So Jesus was out with his friends, his disciples and they had just started eating as Jesus was talking to the crowd that was gathering around. The Pharisees were quick to point out that they hadn’t washed their hands before they began to eat, so one raised their voice, “Why don’t your disciples do the traditions and rituals of our elders? Why don’t they wash their hands?” (Mark 7 v 1-5 abbreviated).
Jesus responded to them by calling them hypocrites (sometimes he just said it as it was). But what the Pharisees hadn’t realised that the disciples had been serving the people through their ministry, they had been with Jesus for a few days (or maybe more) working hard and were ready to sit down and eat. The Pharisees were letting the traditions get in the way of their honest faith. No, we shouldn’t forget that some traditions that we may do today are reminders of our faith and help strengthen our faith when we do them. However, we must be careful to not fall into a trap of doing it for traditions sake or just for going through the motions but through our focus on God and in faith.
But what do we do when it comes to our honesty? Do we let our traditions, timetables, to-do lists get in the way of our honesty towards other people? Would we say we would look after someone but when given the responsibility to do so would be prioritise our own traditions?
This story illustrates a challenge to us all as to how we live out our faith. Do with live it with all honesty and integrity or do we hope our traditions keep us in the ‘good books’ of God?