The Gospel According to…

God’s word is powerful, it spoke the universes into existence and all that is seen and unseen is held together by His powerful will and word.

We are created in God’s image and can act in accordance with His will or our own. We can act like we are the master of our universe and attempt to orchestrate the people and things in our lives for our own purposes.

All the things we say and do have consequences for ourselves and others. It is a basic right to be able to speak the truth freely without fear of retribution. When we are wronged, we would like to be able to say so, to be free to admit to our own wrongdoing without being shamed or humiliated for doing so.

Our speech and actions inform others about our values, our ethos and our purposes in life, whether directed towards the Creator of the universes, or as a master of our own making.

We hear the word ‘gospel’ used for all sorts of things, just as there is a ‘bible’ available for all sorts of hobbies and pursuits. These words try to impose an image of right-thinking or right-acting on the person or work when it ain’t necessarily so.

A ‘gospel’ that is holding fast to an outdated English version of the Bible, that aims its message towards less than half of the world’s population because of the gender they were born.

It ain’t necessarily so.

A ‘gospel’ that denies the legitimacy of young people, older people, frail people or ‘those people’ to a calling or vocation in the name of the ‘gospel’ because it was not first ordained by a crooked stick.

It ain’t necessarily so.

A ‘gospel’ that decides that all people who visit a certain type of building on Sundays (or Saturdays) are not ‘covered’ by God’s grace and mercy like those in a particular ‘chosen’ flock.

It ain’t necessarily so.

Perhaps those who wear fancy robes or speak in flowery prose are too old school to be considered part of the updated, renovated plan of the ‘gospel.’

A ‘gospel’ that excludes. A ‘gospel’ of conditions and revisions.

It ain’t necessarily so.

God’s flock is much greater than the people in your midst or on your friends’ list. The gospel of Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God, is the servant and sacrifice for all humanity. He calls us to follow His voice, to love and serve all people – especially the lost, the weak and the poor. Who do you serve? Who or what do you pray for? Is this God’s desire for our lives, is it God’s image we reflect, or our own to which we aspire?


Loving God, you are the author and sustainer of all things, including us. Help us to truly know your grace and mercy in our own lives and to reflect your image, Your glory, to others in all we do and say. Open our eyes to the worldwide fellowship of your church who acknowledge the Gospel truth. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

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Image Credits: Sheep in Kerry, Ireland – Little Black Sheep

‘But you were washed’ – Denying the spirit of judge-mentalism

In my former years, I would go outside for a durry, but now I go out to breathe fresh air. For some of us, this statement rings true also for our whole lives. The toxic habits we used to live by may have taken their toll on our health – emotional, mental, physical or spiritual. Some of these old ways become ingrained, in our speech, actions, appearance, even the lines on our face tell a story.

We can judge another person without even speaking to them, we judge by what we see, perceive or hear about them, allowing our own motives and prejudices to guide us. This kind of judgementalism is unjust and is a sign of our humanness. Though broken, humanity still bears the image of the invisible God that is his glorious creation, despite our misgivings concerning one another.

We’ve all gone the wrong way, and we’ve all suffered pain. Who should judge their friend for being a smoker; for being tattooed perhaps at a time when life, love or grief overcame them; for having been admitted to a hospital because their emotional pain was too much to bear alone? When we judge one another for outward appearances or for our experiences during times of stress, suffering and pain, we deny one another an opportunity to be loved. The love of God is the source of all comfort, help and wisdom – it is expressed through one another by His word and Spirit, in our words and deeds.

A spirit of judgementalism has crept into our churches in many forms over many centuries. Are you saved? Are you from this place or that? Are you learned? Are you friends with those people? Are you faithful enough not to despair in times of suffering? What work do you do?  …  (Are you better than me?) Did you pass the test?

This testing of one another reminds us of the disciples jostling for pole position next to Jesus’ side (Luke 22). It is a false gospel that is proclaimed, it is not what Jesus taught his friends. Jesus’ friends also struggled with this spirit of judgementalism time and again. They did not fully understand who Jesus was nor did they understand what the kingdom of God would bring.

Christ-culture. We, as friends of the resurrected Jesus, come to him just as we are, every day. We come to him first, knowing that ‘there is only One who is good’ (Mt 19:17) before we open his whole word and listen for his Spirit which is one of love, unity, fellowship and forgiveness. It is God who teaches us how to love and serve him and one another because he is motivated by love – he is Love.

Turn around from that treacherous road you were travelling upon and believe and understand with your heart, mind and soul that Jesus is Lord of all Creation, our communities and our lives. Live in light of that knowledge, relying on God’s wisdom and the Spirit of gentleness and discernment. Give glory and power and honour to him who is the Just Judge over all things, forever. Amen.

Less-quoted sayings of Jesus: (Recommended reading in context)

“My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death…’ Mark 14:32-34

“Leave her alone… why are you bothering her? She has done a beautiful thing to me.” Mark 14:6

“Beware of the teachers of the law. They like to walk around in flowing robes and love to be greeted with respect in the marketplaces and have the most important seats in the synagogues and the places of honour at banquets. They devour widows’ houses and for a show make lengthy prayers. These men will be punished most severely.” Luke 20: 46-47

“Everyone will hate you because of me. But not a hair of your head will perish. Stand firm, and you will win life.” Luke 21:17

“Stop judging by mere appearances, but instead judge correctly.” John 7:24

“…why do you break the command of God for the sake of your tradition?” Matt 15:3

“Get behind me Satan. You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.” Matt 16:23

“Take your pay and go. I want to give the one who was hired last the same as I gave you. Don’t I have the right to do what I want with my own money? Or are you envious because I am generous? So the last will be first, and the first will be last.” Matt 20:14

“For who is greater, the one who is at the table or the one who serves? Is it not the one who is at the table? But I am among you as one who serves. You are those who have stood by me in my trials.” Luke 22:27-28

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Image credit:

A lost sailor photo by Michael Olsen on Unsplash

Dewdrop reflection photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

Peace, brother.

‘Sanctification begins in regeneration. The Spirit of God infuses into man that new living principle by which he becomes “a new creature” in Christ Jesus. This work, which begins in the new birth, is carried on in two ways—mortification, whereby the lusts of the flesh are subdued and kept under; and vivification, by which the life which God has put within us is made to be a well of water springing up unto everlasting life.’ – Charles Spurgeon.

Spirituality has become something of a shopping spree these days hasn’t it? There are so many options that in some way closely resemble one another, the search for inner peace.

Sometimes we hear the popular notion that people need to be ‘true to ones’ self’ or ‘find their inner you’ – but I would like to suggest that this is a meaningless search. Who we are on the inside may well be determined by our own will, our own environment, or the character that we were born with – but how changeable is it? We label each other in society as a way of segregating and defining our relationships. Labels we apply to others may be fair of unfair, but usually determine who we choose to be friends with, or not.

This is the situation for women of the bible who were socially excluded because of their lifestyles; they were branded and labelled with no hope for their future. The woman who anointed Jesus feet with oil (Luke 7:36-50), the Samaritan woman at the well who met Jesus (John 4:1-42) and the Rahab of the bible (Joshua 2),  abandoned their former selves by becoming completely emptied and re-filled with the glorious grace of God. What would it have been like for them to return to the town or walk into the Israelite camp after being made new? Did women avoid making eye contact or developing trusting friendships with them – never really sure if their new commitment to God was legitimate?

It was not only the faith of women but the faith of the community that had to truly believe that God is able to make all things new, only He can perform miracles. Because the women completely emptied themselves (humbled themselves) before God, the grace of God is generous. The nourishment of the Holy Spirit is immeasurable.

If you find yourself weighing and measuring people, applying labels and examining others, you may need to lay aside this preoccupation.  Jesus tells us about such women ‘her sins, which were many, have been forgiven; hence she has shown great love. But the one to whom little is forgiven, loves little.’ (Luke 47) Perhaps the extent to which we empty ourselves is also the extent to which God can fill us. The harsh labels that we apply to others; to the same degree we will be harshly judged.  Jesus tells us the actual contents are irrelevant and labels are misleading – only our choice to completely follow him is honoured ‘Your faith has saved you; go in peace.’ (Luke 7:50)

If your ambition is to be a good person, if you’re looking to choose the right spiritual product, or you’ve abandoned the right to choose a belief and have decided to follow yourself, give up the searching and surrender to the generous grace of God who makes all things new. God sets us apart as His people; He can make us Christ-like inside and out, and are no longer measured according to the standards of the world.

‘For we are the temple of the living God; as God said,

I will live in them and walk among them,

And I will be their God,

And they shall be my people.

Therefore come out from them,

And be separate from them

Says the Lord

And touch nothing unclean;

Then I will welcome you,

And I will be your father,

And you shall be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty.

Since we have these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from every defilement of body and of spirit, making holiness perfect in the fear of God.’ 2 Corinthians 6:16-7:1

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