Remember to Rest!

I have had a really busy week and I am still not quite ready for Sunday but today I enjoyed a lovely day walking with my wife.

We walked 12 miles while the children were at school and we really enjoyed our time together. (This was one of the pictures I took on the walk).

Now I know what some of you are thinking, ’12 miles walking! That doesn’t sound very restful’.

I believe that God has given us a Sabbath principle of rest but that this rest doesn’t have to always involve sitting still.

“You have six days each week for your ordinary work, but on the seventh day you must stop working, even during the seasons of ploughing and harvest. (Exodus 34.21)

Sabbath is God’s gift to us. It’s an opportunity to take a break from our everyday work.

I could have told Tracey I was too busy to walk today but I have come to know and accept that God knows what we need better than we do. He tells us to take a day of rest each week, even in the busiest times of life such as ploughing and harvest.

After my day of rest, I am feeling renewed and restored and ready to continue in the work that God has called me to. Because I have rested, I can continue my work more effectively as I come at it afresh.

It’s wonderful knowing that the same God who calls me to work also calls me to rest and that’s a balance in life that we need to get right.

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What are we expecting in 2018?

What are we expecting in 2018?

There was a man called Moses who went to work one morning expecting just another ordinary day. During that day, he saw a burning bush and met God who invited him to join him in an amazing adventure.

Moses was to lead God’s people out of Egypt and in doing so, he would become a shepherd of people rather than of sheep.

What are you expecting from this new year?

What are you expecting from God?

Are we expecting something new or just the same old, same old?

God wants to do a new thing but is this what we want?

Moses was never the same again and I hope and pray that 2018 would become a year of change and a real journey of faith for those of us who call ourselves followers of Jesus.

Moses met God because he went to see how a bush could be on fire without burning up. May we learn to look for signs of God at work and when we think we see them may we have the courage to go and to have a closer look. As we encounter God, we and those around us will be changed!

So, what are you expecting from this new year?

You can read more about Moses and his encounter with God in Exodus 3-4.

Picture source: Unsplash by Nordwood Themes @Nordwood

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We’re going for a Walk: Our 2018 Adventure!

During the Summer, Tracey and I are planning to walk the West Highland Way which covers 96 miles from Milngavie to Fort William in Scotland.

We have talked about walking the West Highland Way for years since we drove through some of the majestic scenery that the route covers many years ago. For various reasons though (mainly the length of time involved) we haven’t been able to make the time to walk it.

Over the past few months we have been trying to walk the kinds of distances that would be involved each day and we have managed average of 12 miles whilst our children are at school. In more recent weeks we have tried to then do some a shorter distance the following day but unfortunately our girls don’t want to walk 12 miles and so it has been hard to make progress with this. In a month or two’s time we hope to cover  30-40 miles over 3 days in order to see what our progress is.

As well as working towards being able to cover the distance, we have been planning the route and how many days we might try to cover the distance in, where we will stop overnight etc. We are researching what clothing and equipment we will need and also whether to camp or to stay in B&B’s (that decision didn’t take very long to make!)

As Tracey and I look forward to our adventure next year, there is so much to do and to plan. The walks we are having in preparation to walk the West Highland Way are a lot of fun and something we are enjoying together. As we prepare to walk ‘the way’ in a sense we are on the way already.

Before we were known as Christians, Jesus’ disciples were known as ‘followers of the Way’ (Acts 9.2)

There are many analogies in the Bible that compare following Jesus to walking. Jesus said that he is ‘the way’ and in following him we find truth and fulfillment in life. We are also told to ‘keep in step with the Spirit’ and it is wonderful to know that God’s presence travels through life with us. If we look to God to set the pace and to determine our direction then we will know that we are walking in His ways.

Sadly, many Christians give the impression that they believe that following Jesus actually means Him following them. When our faith is built on us only talking with Jesus when we need stuff then we are treating Him as the one who walks behind us picking up the pieces rather than the one who we are committed to following in His way!

How many of us who say we follow Jesus are really actively following him, looking for direction and trying to stay in step with him?

Planning and preparing to walk the West Highland Way is taking up a lot of time and energy. If we don’t put this time, energy and preparation in then the walk will probably be a disaster, that is if it even happens at all.

How much time and energy are we investing in walking with Jesus and joining him in the adventure that he has for us?

I’m excited about walking the West Highland Way but I am much more excited about walking through life each day with Jesus leading and showing me ‘the way’.

Posted in Faith, Following Jesus, God is with us, Life experiences, Life in all it's fullness, Listening to God, Relationship with God | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

When Buzz Lightyear met Jesus

Can you spot the character who seems out of place in this nativity scene?

Buzz ended up in the Nativity scene following a recent family activity at the church. As I picked him up, I must have pressed a button (by accident honest!) because he said something like ‘quick, I need to save the galaxy’.

If Buzz or anyone else thinks that THEY need to fix and rescue everything by themselves after meeting with and following  Jesus then they really don’t understand who Jesus is t all!

Buzz has the ambition to go to ‘infinity and beyond’ which is ironic because Jesus has always existed in infinity and beyond but he chose to come down to Earth by becoming human. Jesus left infinity and beyond behind so that he could become our saviour.

Are we willing to let Jesus save us? Will we follow him and let him transform our lives as we do so?

If we feel like we need to be everyone’s saviour, are we willing to let that go in order to join with and to play our part following Jesus as he saves the world?

May we all receive the gift of Jesus as the saviour of the world this Christmas time.

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When the Elf on Shelf met Jesus

Can you spot the character who seems out of place in this nativity scene?

This year we have had an elf on the shelf stay with us. Each day when our children wake up the Elf can be found in unusual places (where we have put him) which make it look like he has been up to mischief in the night.

A few days ago I placed the Elf in our nativity scene for a bit of fun but then I began to wonder if I had done something profound?

You see, even naughty elves (if they were real anyway) are welcomed by Jesus!

Do you feel worthy of a place in the Nativity?

If you have read my Advent Reflections then I hope that you will have realized how much that the Nativity is a story of God at work in the ordinary.

Many of us don’t feel worthy of Jesus but he welcomes us anyway. Jesus was known as a ‘friend  of sinners’ while he walked the Earth and he still loves imperfect people today.

When we encounter Jesus though, we are changed. Jesus is ‘Immanuel’ which means God with us. He welcomes us and he also walks with us through life and as he does so, he longs to lead us so that our lives and the lives of those around us can be transformed into something even more beautiful.

May you know the love, acceptance and guidance of Immanuel.

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Have you ever thought about how tragic the Nativity Story is?

Do we want the Real Christmas story or just a Nice Nativity?

Honest about my faith

The version of the nativity that is often presented in church is a very nice, clean and happy story but have you ever considered how tragic that the Christmas story really is?

Mary was unmarried and pregnant and the punishment in her culture for sex outside of marriage was death. Mary felt privileged to give birth to the son of God but that privilege came with a price as she was persecuted and rejected by the people in her community.

Joseph heard the news that his fiance was pregnant and he knew that he was not the father. He lived briefly with the feeling of betrayal and disappointment until an angel filled him in on what was happening. Although Joseph was convinced that the baby was the son of God, to the wider community that he was a part of, he looked a fool who was being taken advantage of. People would have looked at…

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Is the Cross Your Foundation?

I was recently in a meeting and I noticed that the base of the table in front of me was a cross.

As I thought about this, I began to think about how the cross is the foundation of the Christian life and faith.

Jesus restores our relationship with God through his sacrificial death on the cross. His sacrifice makes it possible for us to know God but it also demonstrates just how much God loves us. 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

If our faith is built on us being saved by Jesus, on us knowing God and knowing we are loved by him then we will have a strong and stable faith.

I fear that too often though that people are building their faith on just bits of the Christian faith? It breaks my heart when I hear people say things like:

‘Do you think God really loves me’

‘Do you think God really listens to me’

‘God is far away from me’

The cross should shape our thinking and it should be the foundation of our lives and faith. If we understand the cross and what Jesus accomplished then we should never say any of these things.

The tables can be folded to put away and when you fold the top there is another cross.

Not only is the cross foundational, but the cross holds everything together as well!

Is your relationship with God built upon and held together by the cross or are you building on half-truths and vague hopes?

If you would like to read more about what Jesus accomplished on the cross then you might find Jesus died on the cross, so why do we call it Good Friday? helpful.

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Jesus is God’s Gift: An all age visual, fun, interactive and creative Christmas talk

This fun, visual and creative talk explains how Jesus is God’s gift to the world using a wrapped up present with various items inside of it.

As you pull each item out (it’s best done in order) you simply explain what they symbolize. Either lay them on a table or ask people to hold them up so everyone can see the flow of the illustration, this also makes it easy to recap at various points of the talk.

Wrapped up present

Read the label which can say Merry Christmas to you all or something similar. Open it and look inside and then get these items out one at a time.

Crown & World (globe or map): This works well if the crown can sit on the earth like a hat.

Jesus is King and the creator of the world


Ask, why would someone make a mess in this nice present by putting hay in it and then move on quickly

Torch/candle OR light inside the earth/Globe

Jesus is the light of the world who can offer hope in this dark world

Love heart

Jesus came to show us what God is like and in particular we see that God is love


God always has time to listen and to talk with us – he wants to know us!

Cracker/ Party Popper

Surprise : Immanuel means God with us!


We thought this hay was spoiling the nice present but it is an important part of God’s gift. Talk about the birthplace of Jesus:

  • Why would God choose the place where the animals lived?
  • Why did God choose for his son to be born into the world in such poverty?


God becomes human and he comes in such a way that he can identify with all of humanity rather than just the rich or the elite.


Toy Fire Engine

Jesus came to rescue us (press sirens if there is a sound effect and do so at any point in a recap you say and Jesus came to rescue/save us)


He will save his people from their sins: He came to remove the barrier of sin between us and God


Jesus took the sin on the world on himself so that the barrier between us and God could be removed

Invitation: (Hand write something on a card)

Jesus invites us to follow him. He promises to be with us always and that he will never leave us or forsake us

Jesus Came as a gift, he free & to all and there is plenty to go around!

Especially towards the end, recap where you have got to: ‘So Jesus is the King of the world, he’s the light of the world,  he loves us ….’ etc

If you use this talk and come up with alternative ideas for items then please comment below to let us know so that we can be inspired by your creativity

Feel free to share this talk  using the sharing buttons below. You can also share it on your own website or blog but please provide a link back to this page.

If you are looking for further creative ideas to use in Christmas services or assemblies then you might find these posts helpful:

Explaining the Christmas Story Using a Quiz: The quiz highlights the important points of the Christmas/nativity story and there is a link to a downloadable Powerpoint.

A creative assembly or church talk for children about the trinity and the incarnation

I’ve never thought about it like that before


Christmas Present photo by on Unsplash

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Could you climb a mountain?

When asked whether you could climb a mountain you might picture something like this.

I have to be honest and say that as I look at this climber, I am filled with feelings of admiration, inspiration and terror all at the same time. I also can look at it knowing that I cannot climb a mountain in the way that this person can.

Mountains can be symbolic of the challenges that we face in life! Scaling a peak takes a huge amount of time and effort but it is also incredibly rewarding when you get to the top.

A few years ago whilst on holiday, I went for a walk along this path and a few hours later my family and I were standing at the top of Schiehallion which is 1083m high.

Although I can’t scale a sheer rock wall, I can walk up a path!

Perhaps I can climb a mountain after all?

There are also other ways to get to the top of a mountain, say by cable car or by helicopter which require no effort at all.

A Mountain symbolizes an obstacle but a cable car reminds me of the power of God that can overcome obstacles.

I don’t know what kind of obstacles and difficulties that you are facing but I do know God who can overcome any and all of them.

When asked if I can climb a mountain, I instinctively want to say no which is ridiculous because I have actually walked up one.

When facing a huge problem, I instinctively want to say there is no way forward which is ridiculous because God is all powerful and he can lead me over or around things.

Sometimes God even moves mountains! I’ve seen amazing answers to prayer and I believe we can see many more as we continue to look to God in faith.

If you would like to reflect on this further, you might find this music video helpful.

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Are You Ready for Black Sunday?

On Black Friday, lots of people head to the shops so I figured that I would call today Black Sunday to inspire people to go to church.

On Black Friday, shoppers desperately try to save money by err… spending money that they otherwise wouldn’t have spent.

On Black Friday, people hunt for bargains to make them feel good. The bargains aren’t often for necessities, they are generally things that we might want but they aren’t often things that we can say we need.

On Black Sunday I hope that we can pause and consider God.

God may or may not be what you think you want, but I believe with all of my heart that God is who you need because ultimate meaning and fulfillment are found in him.

How about you, will you join the mad rush this Black Sunday and head to church in your search for meaning and fulfillment?

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