Mar 312015

This is the third of the Easter Reflections I’ve made for Gold Hill, reflecting on words from John’s Gospel. Today, a bit of a challenge to us, as we meet people who wanted to follow Jesus but didn’t.

Hope you enjoy.

If you liked this post, please share using the buttons below. Also, you can to receive all future posts by email. Thanks for reading!

 No Responses »


Mar 302015

This is the second of my Easter reflection videos that I’ve made for Gold Hill. Like yesterday’s, it is based around one word in John’s Gospel.

Today that word is “Life”. What sort of life is it that Jesus offers? And how do we attain it?

I hope you enjoy it.

If you liked this post, please share using the buttons below. Also, you can to receive all future posts by email. Thanks for reading!

 No Responses »


Mar 292015

As part of my ministry at Gold Hill, I’ve been putting together some Easter reflections for people to use during Easter week, from today through till Easter Sunday. I decided it would be a good idea to share them here, too.

I’m not going to write a lot about each one, just share them simply. Each is based around a word found in John’s Gospel, as John writes about the first Easter week.

Here’s the first: “Donkey”

If you liked this post, please share using the buttons below. Also, you can to receive all future posts by email. Thanks for reading!

 No Responses »

“If every prayer” by Riodhna Duncan

Mar 142015

I’ve just got home from being with some of the wonderful young people from our church on an all night prayer event. It’s part of a 24/7 prayer initiative across churches in our community. It was an amazing time, and I am learning so much from the faith of these young guys and girls. They are incredible.

Every prayer

We spent from roughly 2am to 3am praying for people across the world who are suffering, especially suffering persecution for their faith. We heard information, facts and stories and prayed into situations. We lit candles for lots of different countries in the world, and re-lit them when they burned out.

And part way through, Riodhna Duncan spoke up.

The purpose of this post is simply to share what she shared. Riodhna is one of the greatest prayer warriors I’ve ever met. The way she prays is a challenge to me, and an inspiration to me. Her persistence in prayer moves me and urges me on to pray more fervently. Riodhna is 15.

She is a gifted writer, and is often inspired by God to put thoughts or ideas into prose. With her permission, I’m going to share what she wrote last night, what she encouraged us with last night, as we prayed for people suffering persecution and death for the sake of Jesus. I found it very moving, and I think it’s an important message for us to hear.

So this is Riodhna, on prayer:

If every prayer we prayed saved a life, would we not pray with every breath we gave? Would we not fill our days praying upon praying for the fixing of these broken, countless sufferings. Why do we not?

Why do we not believe that our prayers will change anything, any prayer we make, however simple—with few words, to complex—with many—these prayers are, may we never forget the true meaning of them.

We pray not out of being told to, but to ask our Lord Father above to help those who are in such turmoil, and so lost. We pray for those who we may never be able to help by ourselves, but who we can help with the power of you. Let us never forget, the true meaning of our prayers, our feelings, and our worship to you Lord, the one who conquerors.

Thanks, Riodhna, for allowing me to share this here.

If you liked this post, please share using the buttons below. Also, you can to receive all future posts by email. Thanks for reading!

 1 Response »

The difference between happiness and joy

Mar 072015

I had a great evening yesterday. After a week of barely sleeping I was feeling very rough indeed. I came very close to cancelling my plans, but I’m so glad I didn’t! I want to share some of what I ended up talking about.

happiness and joy

Great people, great conversation

Gemma is an old friend, and I had a meal with her and her fiancé Andy, who I’d not met before so it was great to meet him. Neither Gemma nor Andy would call themselves Christians. Then we went for a coffee and, after I got confused about which table we were at and almost ended up sitting by myself, we got talking again.

Andy asked what I thought about the afterlife. So we talked about that for a bit. Then we talked about forgiveness, about the Bible, about whether God is really a bit sexist, about creation and science and evolution, about whether I’m ‘religious’ or not. We spent about 2 hours asking each other questions and talking about our answers.

I love evenings like this.

At various points, Gemma and Andy apologised and said this was probably ‘a bit too much like work’ for me. If you’re reading this (and you better had be since you suggested I write it!), I want to say again not to be sorry. There’s probably nothing I enjoy more than getting to talk about Jesus with my friends.

The difference between happiness and joy

There’s one particular thing I want to share that we talked about last night. I was talking about how knowing Jesus in my life gives me meaning, peace and even joy.

Gemma has a pretty expressive face and I can normally tell what she’s thinking. When I said that word—’joy’—her face was quizzical, confused about what I was saying. I asked what was up. She clearly wanted to ask me about how I can have joy given the situation I’m in, but didn’t want to be insensitive. I gave her permission, so she asked (very sensitively I must say!).

happiness smileyHow can I possibly claim to have joy right now?

This is how: there’s a huge difference between happiness and joy.

I told Gemma and Andy about an evening three months ago, after everything had fallen apart and my life was a mess. I was sat in my bedroom at my parents’ house, and I’d just finished a phone call with my pastor. He’d talked with me and prayed for me. I sat there in that room, alone, and I just cried. I cried and cried and cried. I felt like I’d never stop crying.

I wasn’t happy. Not by any definition of the word.

But in the midst of those tears, another feeling came (I don’t know if ‘feeling’ is the right word – perhaps ‘conviction’ is better). I describe that feeling as joy. Not happiness, but joy.

And for a few minutes, the tears turned from tears of sadness to tears of joy. I was smiling, maybe even laughing a little, as I cried. This may sound to you like I was hysterical. Even in that darkest moment, I knew a deep sense of joy. Then I stopped crying for a while.

The centre of my life remains

I’ll try to explain why I think that happened, even in my darkest hours, and I’ll try to explain it the same way I did last night when Gemma asked.

It’s because the centre of my life is intact, my core remains.

Happiness is fleeting. I was happy last night because I had a great evening with friends. I am happy when I’m playing a game I love, spending time with people I love, eating food I love. I am happy when things around me make me happy. People, situations, relationships, activities. Stuff. Stuff makes me happy. But stuff doesn’t always last or linger. Very few things are permanent and eternal. So happiness isn’t either. I’m not being down on ‘stuff’. Stuff is great, and to be enjoyed. It’s just not as reliable as joy.

My joy isn’t based on stuff. It’s based on knowing who I am, a child of God. It’s based on who I belong to, the God who made me and died for me. It’s based on having a purpose, to love, worship and serve Him with every fibre of my being. It’s based on having been given a new life, a fresh meaning, a name and identity that can never be taken away.

My marriage meant the world to me. It made me very happy indeed. But it was not the centre of my life or meaning or identity. Jesus is. And Jesus isn’t like ‘stuff’. Jesus remains. Nothing and no-one can take Him from me.

That fills me with deep, deep joy. Joy is a state of being, not a state of feeling. I am His. He is mine. And nothing will ever change that.

And that joy is available for everyone. Me. Gemma. Andy. Even you.

If you liked this post, please share using the buttons below. Also, you can to receive all future posts by email. Thanks for reading!

 12 Responses »