Flip the pancake!

December 7, 2018

I’m writing this from a coffee shop where I’ve ordered toast and marmalade. I came here at 7.45am, and am looking forward to the crispy, toasted bread. The problem is that often they serve it toasted just on one side, meaning, in my view, that it’s only half-done, and so I ask for it to be toasted on both sides. Am I being too fussy?

It reminds me of a description from the Christian Bible. It refers to an indecisive nation as a half-turned cake. Imagine making a flatbread or a pancake and not turning it over so that it cooks thoroughly. The result would not be good because it’s neither one thing nor the other. Just unfinished. Does this describe the UK right now? Not just the UK, but so many countries are in turmoil, and don’t know where to turn or on which side their bread is buttered!

On a personal basis I realize sometimes I’m like a half-turned cake. So many things incomplete, stopped halfway, betwixt and between, stuck in the middle. Maybe, what I’ve got to do is get help so that I can finish and let myself become like a cake that’s baked, fully risen, and that tastes good, so to speak.

That’s what Jesus offers us…to help complete who we are, to become the best we can be.

If each of us lets Jesus help, hopefully the knock-on effect would be that our nations would cease to be like half-turned cakes stuck on the griddle of life.

james.henderson@gracecom.church

True Love

February 9, 2018

My wife and I saw a movie recently about a woman who, on occasion, poisoned her husband slightly as an expression of love towards him. I’m not going to spoil it for you by saying which film it was, or what happened in the end.

I hope it does not give anyone ideas for Valentine’s Day! But, in the words of a 1970’s TV detective drama, let’s be careful out there…

How can true love be defined? The Bible gives an idea, and it relates to how Jesus Christ expressed his love to humanity. It tells married couples to love each other by putting the needs and interests of our partner before our own. A mutual self-giving. It sounds a bit dramatic, I know, but husbands should be willing to lay down their lives for their wives, and vice versa, just as Jesus sacrificed himself for all of us.

Of course, we don’t need a special day to celebrate love. Every day is a day to show not only that special someone but also to others around you, that you love him or her.

Why not begin today?

Just as Jesus put us first before himself, why not put someone else before you and your needs?

james.henderson@gracecom.church

Tweet the real special relationship

December 1, 2017

The special relationship between the UK and the United States has been much in the news over the past few days, but do you know that you have been born into a different kind of special relationship? It’s one that trumps any political alliance that nations may forge.

The relationship is with God, who sent his son, Jesus, to be born for us, to be with us and we with him. From before the beginning of time as we know it, God planned to bring us into this loving relationship with him.

That is special. In fact, “special” seems barely adequate to describe it. It’s mind-blowing, much too wonderful for words. But what has happened to it? Is it now, some 2,000 years later, a special relationship in tatters? It could seem that it’s all gone wrong, because Christ has been rejected by many, and God has not intervened to stop us from destroying both ourselves and everything that is precious.

Don’t worry. The relationship is still in place. Just as Jesus came the first time, so he will come a second time to restore the fullness of his saving relationship with you and me.

Now that’s something to shout about from the highest hill to the deepest valley, it’s a song to sing and a beat to dance to.

You can even tweet it.

james.henderson@gracecom.church

You don’t have to copy

September 1, 2017

Did you yawn today? And if so, was it because you saw someone else yawn first and you followed suit?

All of us sometimes copy other people without thinking about it. It can seem automatic, and contagious yawning is a typical example. According to research reported this week, such responses occur in the part of the brain responsible for motor function. Of course, we don’t just copy physical actions such as yawning and smiling, but we may also respond to the negativity of others by becoming negative ourselves. For example, we get angry when someone is angry with us, we attack when attacked, we hit back when under fire.

Christianity tells us to imitate Jesus Christ, and thus develop new ways of responding emotionally to situations and to other people. Instead of automatically responding with aggression when someone threatens us, with Christ we learn to respond with grace and love. The Bible puts it this way: don’t return evil with evil but return evil with good.

Someone next to me just yawned, and I am trying and failing to stifle a yawn in return. My automatic physical response beat me, again.

It doesn’t have to be that way spiritually, however.

With Jesus, we can overcome our negative reactions.

james.henderson@gracecom.church

 

 

 

 

Who’s listening?

July 21, 2017

“Alexa, what time is it?” my friend asked. I thought she was talking to me, and I said, “it’s me, James”.

And then a voice announced the precise time from a small, white dome-shaped box by the TV. We laughed, and then proceeded to ask all kinds of questions that we thought Alexa couldn’t answer.

Alexa, the wireless personal assistant device, is gaining much popularity. It can do all kinds of things, from searching the web to dimming the lights, from telling you the weather to reminding you of your name!

Unless you purposefully switch it off, Alexa is always listening, ready to go into action at the sound of your voice. Its critics see it as having frightening “Big Brother”- like future possibilities whereas others hail it as a comforting companion for the lonely.

When it comes to the idea of someone who is always listening, the reality is that God is always listening and aware of us, and we can’t switch him off, try as we might.

God is not, of course, the private personal assistant of the faithful. Rather he is aware of everyone’s situation and his desire is to save all of us through his Son, Jesus Christ.

Talk to Jesus.

He’s always listening.

james.henderson@gracecom.church

 

 

 

 

 

Are you listening?

March 10, 2017

Did you notice in the news this week the revised theory about attention spans? That is, that they’re not so bad after all.

The point is that our attention span is not getting shorter, as was recently thought. Therefore, we can’t use a short attention span as an excuse for not paying attention to the words of our significant other or for missing an annoying point that someone has just made to us. Maybe the problem is that we’re just not listening!

When it comes to God, he listens to us always. He doesn’t tune us out because we sound boring, and doesn’t get diverted into doing something more interesting than focussing on us.

We may not have the time for God or for others in our self-centred lives, but God has the time for us. His attention span is infinite.

Speak to God.

He listens.

james.henderson@gracecom.church

Give thanks

November 25, 2016

id-11637084-lorraine-kourafas-dreamstime-comDid you see the latest viral dance craze hit the world of social media this week? It’s called the ‘U Name It’ challenge, and it makes a refreshing contrast to the gloomy news headlines on TV and in newspapers.

From young to old, from newscasters to a global American pop star, all seemed to be putting inhibitions to one side and showing off their best moves in a dance that resembled preparing a dinner!

But this has been a dance craze with a difference. Why? Because the moves that hit the global dance floor were inspired by, of all things, a church song!

A remixed version of an American pastor’s song about American Thanksgiving got people dancing to a list of foods: “beans, greens, potatoes, tomatoes,” in what can only be described as a dance of Thanksgiving.

Maybe we have two left feet, but that does not mean we can’t join the dance. Maybe it’s time to count our blessings and be thankful!

Let’s take the ‘U Name It’ challenge and join the rhythm of thanksgiving by seasoning our conversations with naming what God, the giver of “every good gift and every perfect gift” (James 1:17 NKJV), has given us.

Give thanks to God.

Richard Fowler

No queues for grace

September 16, 2016

ID 50052728 © Zhykova | Dreamstime.comDid you read in the papers this week about how to join a shopping queue that moves the fastest at a supermarket?

If you’re like me then maybe you would automatically go to the queue with the least number of people – with me especially on the right because I am right handed.   Wouldn’t you do too?

I would certainly not go to a line where there is one customer with a huge trolley of goods that looks like they are stocking up for a hard winter.

According to a recent survey, however, you and I would be wrong…

Each person in the longer queue, it is said, will take a little time with pleasantries at the till which, when added up, will delay the overall progress of that line compared to the single person with the heavily stacked trolley.

It is also said in the survey that because most people are right handed they will naturally gravitate to the right queue, so we would be better served to go to the left – even if there is one large load putting us off!

But the things that we see are indeed temporal, regardless of whether we try to save time by going to the left queue or right queue or whether we’re behind a shopper who looks like she emptied her bank account for the groceries.

This all reminds me of a cartoon I saw once about people queuing up to enter through the pearly gates of heaven. St Peter had a list and was ticking off those whose names were on it before letting them in.

Of course, the reality is that when it comes to God’s grace, there are no queues! We don’t have to line up for it because in Christ he has already given it to us abundantly

Don’t wait any longer – accept God’s grace today.

Tony Goudie

Back from the brink?

August 12, 2016

ID 12148347 © Marcel Rene Grossmann | Dreamstime.comIt’s always nice to read a success story. Do you know what a puffin is? Sometimes it’s called the clown of the sea because of its colourful beak and comical appearance. As far as birds go, it’s one of the great treasures of the British Isles. The good news is that one famous colony of puffins has been brought back from the brink of extinction.

The island of Lundy, just off the Devon coast, had provided puffins with a safe breeding place for centuries but something went badly wrong. Rats invaded from the mainland, and they feasted on the eggs and chicks of the puffins and other species. The problem became so bad that the puffin numbers declined to just 5 birds. It was almost too late but at the last minute two charities joined forces in eradicating the rats from Lundy, and by 2006 it was declared rat-free. Now, ten years on, around 300 puffins are thriving on Lundy, even though colonies elsewhere are under threat.

Is it too much of a leap in logic to suggest that humanity is threatened with extinction, and that we need someone to intervene and save us? Perhaps the rats that eat away at us are of our own making, and we are our own worst enemy. We need to be saved from ourselves. That’s what the Bible suggests. It tells us that, even from the foundation of the world, God foresaw that we would get ourselves into an irretrievable mess and would need to be rescued.

That’s why God sent his son, Jesus Christ, to help us get rid of our self-destructive habits and to save us so that we might live and thrive with him forever.

Just like the story of the Lundy puffins is a success story, ours is too.

There’s hope for us because Jesus is our Saviour.

james.henderson@gracecom.org.uk

The dinosaur that didn’t roar

July 14, 2016

ID 9324321 © Derek Audette | Dreamstime.comSo a T-Rex walks up to you, and opens its mouth and you expect a loud roar, but all is does is offer a stifled sound, maybe a small “coo”? Perhaps you don’t wait around anyway.

Amid all the, by now fairly boring, political news of the week there is a cheerful report about dinosaurs. Apparently, according to recently published research, they did not roar or make much of a sound at all, Dinosaurs, that is. Not politicians. So what about all those bed-time books we read to our children and grandchildren? The ones with the noisy dinosaurs? Just like crocodiles don’t roar before they are about to eat their prey, neither did dinosaurs. That roaring T-Rex is now the subject of myth.

When it comes to God, there are many myths about him. So many misconceptions. One is that God is usually angry, ready to raise his fearsome voice and roar at us at the drop of a sinful hat. Yet the opposite is true. God’s main emotion about us is not one of anger but of love, which is why he sent his Son, Jesus, to us so that we might live.

In fact, in love God smiles at us, not some toothy threatening dinosaur smile, but a smile that lights up the world with his love.

If you want to know more about God and Jesus, let me know.

james.henderson

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