Au revoir

31 12 2012

It’s with some sadness that I bring this blog to a close. I’ve enjoyed the challenge of reading the Bible each day these past two years and considering whether life really does work better if you live it God’s way.

My conclusion is that it does – although “better” is not “easier”.

My thanks to those who have helped me think and write – I have been encouraged all the way by Pete, by other friends, and by those who have studied and understood the Bible better than I ever will. (In case you haven’t realised, I’m especially in the debt of Eugene Peterson, Tom Wright and John Ortberg.)

I’m grateful too to the writers and compilers at WordLive who have, albeit unwittingly, created the scaffolding to support my thoughts.

If you want to keep following my writing, you can subscribe to my 2013 blog. I’d love to keep the conversation going.


More blessings

12 10 2012

My Wordlive reading has taken me back to Genesis, to the story of Joseph.  No wonder his brothers are jealous and hate him. (Check out his arrogant dreaming in Genesis 37). And his dad isn’t too clever either. Having a favourite son is never a recipe for happy families.

Jealousy and hatred lead to the brothers’ plot to get rid of the cocky little brother, and Joseph ends up exiled in Egypt. But it’s not all bad…

Joseph becomes a slave to Potiphar, one of the Pharaoh’s officials, and we read this unexpected sentence in the story – “The Lord blessed the household of the Egyptian because of Joseph” (Genesis 39:5). Here’s the arrogant dreamer transformed into a conduit of blessing.

Being God’s ambassador is not plain sailing as chapters 39-40 make clear.  It’s a roller coaster ride of prosperity, false accusations, imprisonment, responsibility, success and abandonment. But the accompanying refrain is, “The Lord was with Joseph”. That made all the difference – to Joseph and to those he lived amongst.

“In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5:16)

The year at a glance

31 12 2011

Would you want to look like this man?  He is AJ Jacobs and his Before and After illustrate his experiment which became a book – The year of living biblically: one man’s quest to follow the Bible as literally as possible.

It is a fascinating account and a great read – funny, extreme, at times poignant.  I recommend it.

As in real life, so in Jacobs’ quasi life – there are highs and lows.  A high that he doesn’t expect comes when he starts to pray for other people  – “I love those prayers. To me they’re moral weight training. Every night I pray for others for ten minutes…It’s ten minutes when it’s impossible to be self-centred…I do feel myself becoming a slightly more compassionate person.”

But there are the lows.

“If my spirituality could be charted like the NASDAQ, the general trend so far is a gradual rise, but there are many valleys, and I’m in a deep one now. It’s making me lazy. I forget to put on my fringes, and I tell myself, well, what’s the big deal ? I’ll put them on tomorrow.”


Those of you who have been with me this year will know that I have been following a plan.  Here’s a reminder: I set out to investigate the truth (or otherwise) of the claim that, “Life works better if you live it God’s way.”

To do this I decided to read a section of the Bible each day in an attempt to find out what “God’s way” is.  I followed a plan provided by WordLive so that my reading was not random and so that I didn’t just pick and choose parts I liked.  That was relatively easy.

The difficulty has been making changes to my life so that what I read impacts me. Writing my blog has helped me process things (Absence makes the heart…) and I’m grateful to those of you who have commented and talked with me about what I write.  But the implementation has been down to me.

There have certainly been times when, like AJ, I was lazy, with a “what’s the big deal attitude.”  And to my surprise I shared his experience that taking action led to a change of heart.  (I’m glad that I didn’t know about his experiment until December – the challenge to keep all the biblical laws would have been a step too far, not to mention the beard!)

Taking action is not an end in itself, though; it’s the change of heart that counts.  That’s what matters to God (Forgettings).  I can take all the action I like, but if it is so that I can tick boxes, forget it (Clipboards, cardigans and cuddles). 

So, at the end of the year, there’s no spectacular Before and After. I look much the same as I did in January, but I like to think I’m making progress in living well. (Perhaps you’d better ask those who live with me if that’s true or if it’s self-delusion.) I’ve decided that the experiment is worth extending for another year.  I have a few amendments up my sleeve, but they may stay there.  We’ll see.  For now I leave you with words that I read this morning –

Be strong, do not fear; your God will come.” (Isaiah 35:4) Read the rest of this entry »

Absence makes the heart…

23 11 2011

Life has overtaken me in the last few weeks.  I’m sure you know the feeling.  Things have happened that were unpredicted and unplanned; there have been calls on time and energy that have drained my tank; stuff has come to the fore that should have stayed as background noise.  It has been life “full to overflowing” rather than “life in all its fulness”.

I have kept with the WordLive programme (more or less, with a few days adrift here and there, now and again) but I have been quiet on the blog for the longest time this year.  The interesting thing that I have discovered is that writing my posts helps me process what I read, and as a result I’m much better at implementing what I’m learning.  So no writing has meant 286-processing and impoverished impementing.  I feel like the person whom James describes in his letter towards the end of the New Testament –

Don’t fool yourself into thinking that you are a listener when you are anything but, letting the Word go in one ear and out the other. Act on what you hear! Those who hear and don’t act are like those who glance in the mirror, walk away, and two minutes later have no idea who they are, what they look like.”  (James 1:22-24)

So, my absence is over and I hope my heart is in a better place now that I’ve started to write again.


6 02 2011

I have discovered that one of the wonders of blogging is that you can take a wee sidetrack here and there without losing the plot.  According to the Free Dictionary to be sidetracked is “to deviate from the main course or issue,”  but that’s not always a bad thing.  The view on the journey is better than the destination…or whatever the wise man said. 


So, although my main line is to contemplate (and live) a life that’s aligned to God’s way, the sidelines that this sparks are necessarily integrated into what I write.

If you’re following my progress along the WordLive calendar, you might think that I am way behind.  In fact, I’m up to date with the reading but my comments are a bit slower.  Still, it’s off to look at the life of Jesus soon – just one more post before that – and hopefully I’ll stay on the main line until the calendar and comments come together again.

Onwards and…downwards

22 01 2011

Choice – good or bad?  Distracting or empowering?

It doesn’t take mankind long to make the first choice, to question what God has said, to push the boundaries, and to opt for his own way of doing things.

And the consequence was…

The Imago Dei is marred – Genesis 3:8

Shame – Genesis 3:10

Alienation – Genesis 3:8

Fear – Genesis 3:10

Blame of self and others – Genesis 3:12

Emotional and physical pain – Genesis 3:16-19


And the consequences spread until, “People thought evil, imagined evil – evil, evil,evil from morning to night.” (Genesis 6:5 The Message)

What would you do about a mess like this?

What did God do about a mess like this?


Every moment of every day you have a choice – choose wisely and seek what is good. (WordLive 7th January 2011)


Life works better if…

17 01 2011

January!  The month of resolutions, diets, and disappointments.  Only the T of my SMART goals is still relevant – Timed-out!  And it is only half way through the month.  But I have a plan. 

“Life works better if you live it God’s way.” 

I will investigate this.  It’s not too specific, not too measurable, who knows if it’s achievable, definitely relevant – and I will give myself a year to try it out.  Here’s the plan:-

  1. I will be specific and limit “God” – mmm, I’ll come back to that one – to the God of the Bible
  2. I will read the Bible to find out if it tells me “God’s way”
  3. This will only be achievable if I read a little each day (that may not be every day)*
  4. I will endeavor to make changes to my life so that I do life God’s way
  5. I will tell you how I’m getting on.  It might be relevant to more than just me, and you may will need to help me.

So, now I’ve told you, I suppose I’d better get started…once I’ve had a cup of tea, checked my e-mail, phoned a friend…

*Lots of people are better at planning than I am, so I’m piggy-backing on a Bible reading plan (January to March) that someone else has thought out.  You can check out the full programme, including readings, podcasts, comments and much more at WordLive.  Want to join me?

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