A New Year - Jan 2019
Stacks Image 16556
January is our regular reminder to take a look back and see how far we've come together. Thanks for all the photo's, it was fun hearing about all your highlights from 2018!!

Here's to another great year together!


Every Season… - Oct 2018
Hopes and Prayers… - Mar 2018
Stacks Image 16536
On Thursday 1st March I was due in Ringwood for about 3.30pm. The weather wasn't looking good but I was sure that the snow was unlikely to amount to much. I was wrong. As the snow got heavier it soon became obvious that this wasn't a good time to be out on the roads. Traffic was building up and I was starting to wonder if I would make it there on time. As the conditions worsened I realised that my deadline just wasn't going to happen and I was hoping that I would make it at some point that afternoon. Pretty soon traffic was at barely crawling along and the snow still kept coming. Soon I was hoping for a junction to turn back just so I could make it home.

After about an hour I'd moved just over a mile to a break in the dual carriageway and I could head home. Others weren't so lucky, spending 8 hours, or more, trying to complete the 30min journey.

It was while sitting in the car that I realised that hopes are not that dissimilar to prayers:
I hope my car passes it’s MOT
I hope I pass my exams
I hope I get the new job
I hope I get home safely

We might not always notice but we have all these thoughts flying round our heads. And to me my thoughts and prayers are different sides of the same coin.

I can keep my hopes to myself or I can give them away as a prayer.



Do Not Worry… - Feb 2018
Stacks Image 16542
I’m all for making plans and having goals. In fact I’m always looking out for the next new idea, looking forwards for the next big thing.

I’m not so good at reflecting back on where I’ve been and what I’ve done. I get bogged down with disappointment sometimes when things don't go to plan, but I’ve never really used reflection on the past to help me make the most of today.

They say some people ‘live in the past’ I think I get caught up in living in the future.

But recently I came across this:
Don't worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
The Bible

I tend to get caught up in the first two words “Don’t worry…” and don't get any further. If I’m honest I’m a bit of a worrier. Maybe I’m someone who gets anxious, perhaps I should find out if there’s a difference. But it does mean I can worry about things. Not so much the big things, but little, annoying things. Have I got time to write this article and get everything else I want to do today done? Is anyone going to get annoyed that I’m banging on about the Bible again?

“don't worry…” feels like it's easier said than done.

But then I remind myself that it's not the end of the sentence. It goes on to say: “Don't worry
about tomorrow.”

Sometimes I’m so busy worrying about tomorrow I forget to make the most of today. ‘Live in the moment’ I think is what it's called.

So for me, not worrying about tomorrow means paying attention to today. If I take time to listen to that still small voice, that we call our conscience, and if I live faithfully with those around me I don’t have to worry about tomorrow.

And that’s good news.



Stars - Jan 2018
Traditionally Christmas wraps up with Epiphany. Its a celebration of those wise men with their gifts who followed the star. I’m no astronomer and I can barely tell orions belt from the plough but there's something about stars that grabs our imagination.

A sky full of stars is a truly legitimate use of the word ‘awesome’.

But what is a star? Apparently it is a luminous ball of gas, mostly hydrogen and helium, held together by its own gravity. Nuclear fusion reactions in its core support the star against gravity and produce photons and heat, as well as small amounts of heavier elements. Or more simply, tiny lights twinkling from some distant galaxy. Take your pick.

This weekend I’ve thought of stars as high-lights.

The new year is a good time to think about highlights. It’s a good time to look back at what’s been and look forwards to what’s to come.

Hoping and praying that 2018 brings many highlights your way...


Stacks Image 16530


Stacks Image 16518
Stacks Image 16516


Finding Our Heroes - October 2017

Shopping for T-shirts with our children recently we came across some shops who all ran with this same design. To be honest I wasn’t tempted to buy it. But it did get me thinking. If Jesus is the final answer, what is the question?

I saw a video recently which really got me. it was a conversation between a child and a soldier. You can watch it

It finishes up like this: “People like you are my heroes. And people like you are mine.”

It seemed a real conversation, a genuine encounter. And it got me thinking. Who are my heroes? How do I go about picking them?
Stacks Image 16510
I’m not talking about the Caped Crusader, Captain America, or event Ant Man. Who is it that I genuinely admire, who has made this world a better place, who helps me be a better person?

One of my heroes as a boy was Glen Hoddle. He played football for Tottenham Hotspur and was, in my opinion, Spurs’ best ever player. As a boy he was the first person I encountered who managed to find a balance between fame and faith. (I realise he didn’t manage to hang on to that balance later in life - people are flawed, our heroes sometimes let themselves down.)

So back to my heroes, and there have been a few. Some I’ve known personally, some I’ve only observed from a distance. But they’re all people I admire. But back to the question for the answer. Perhaps 'Jesus' is my answer for this question. He has had arguably the most influence for good in our world across the whole of history, yet he also has good for me right here, right now.

That's why 'Our Way' is based on three principles from the life of Jesus - looking after ourselves, sharing life with others, loving our neighbours. If that's something that appeals to you, take a look at "our Way'.

Watch a two minute intro video
here or read more at out website here



Finding Our Way - August 2017

I have to admit I’m rubbish at asking for directions. I have a reasonable sense of direction so if you point me in the right direction with a few clues I’m confident of finding my own way there. Perhaps more significantly, I have a terrible memory, so when someone lists off 20 different left / right / straight on directions I’m pretty much switched off after the third one and have already decided to head in the general direction and see what happens. Plus, left and right are pretty meaningless to me (I still make an ‘L’ with my hand to remind me which hand is which!) - I guess I’m more of a picture person. Anyway, enough excuses for why I don't bother listening to directions and a bit more about maps. I’ll take a map over verbal directions any day of the week.
Stacks Image 16528
If there’s one essential thing about getting directions, whether its verbal or visual, its that the creator must have some previous experience to base the directions on. If you asked for a map from your house to the nearest shop, you’re going to need to know that I have some useful information - like where you live and where the shops are for a start.

Perhaps the other thing that I like about a visual set of directions is that it can be used again. I can give it to someone else and they can take a similar journey. As for those verbal directions, I’m not convinced I’ve memorised them correctly and unless you’re up for a game of chinese whispers, you’re not going to want to take any second-hand directions from me.

But a visual map might just be worth a look, especially if we’re heading in a similar direction.

If you’re intrigued. Take a look at 'Our Way'. It’s a framework to help us discover how we can grow the rhythms and relationships that make up our everyday lives, and based around three principles from the life of Jesus; loving ourselves, living together and giving something back.

You can find it



Summer Update - August 2017

Stacks Image 16489
Stacks Image 16491
Father's Day - June 2017

I picked up 'Good to Great' by Jim Collins recently. It's designed to help businesses go from 'good to great', but it seems to catch some principles that are good for all of us to consider. Here's a few ideas form chapter 1 that I felt were particularly appropriate for Father's Day:
Stacks Image 16483
There are two principles to go from good to great - being modest and wilful or to put it another way, being humble and fearless.

To go from good to great you're gonna have to be ambitious, not first and foremost for yourself, but for your family.

When things go well don't take the glory but give it away. And when things go wrong, take some responsibility.

You're gonna need to be self effacing, understated. Don't let your ego get in the way.

And as you go from good to great you'll be setting up your family for greater success in the next generation.

But you're gonna need to bring your energy, you're gonna need to be driven, resolved to do whatever it takes to make your family great.

And finally, a blessing for dads:

May you know the love of your family,
the strength of brothers to remind you that you don't have to do this all alone.
May you know
Strength for the battle
Forgiveness for the failures
Wisdom for the questions
Grace for the challenge
Joy in the journey!

How about making this a prayer for your Dad? Say it for him, out loud even. Or perhaps even better, say it to him.



Giving Something Back - May 2017

After ‘looking after yourself’, ‘sharing life with others’ the third part of our plan as we take over the world is ‘give something back’.

You might have seen this question on our FB page recently, and from the conversations we’ve had it seems that its a complicated question.
Stacks Image 4630
Its not just a question for us as individuals either. It wasn’t long ago that newspaper headlines were full of questions over the appropriateness of our foreign aid spending. Perhaps its a good way to sell newspapers, but you just know that any article that uses the word ‘handouts’ isn’t going to be very positive.
Stacks Image 4669
Anyway, its not really the national picture that I want to get us thinking about. What about at a personal level. Are we committed to giving something back? If so why? I’m really happy to concede that I haven’t come up with all the possible reasons why we give but here are a few:

1.It makes us look good.
No one wants to give the impression that they're a tight-fisted scrooge. We want others to think that we are kind, generous, altruistic even.

Maybe there is some kind of retributive power in the universe that will ensure that we are paid back for our actions. If we are generous we will be on the receiving of generosity, if we are kind we will receive kindness. You get the idea.

I know its obvious but this one requires belief in some kind of cosmic life force…

3.Self preservation
We might not be up for karma but perhaps there is a sense that if we are generous we make the world a more generous place and if one day we are in need we are more likely to receive generosity. No need for a cosmic life force. Just the law of averages.

4.Personal experience
This reason has come up a few times. We have appreciated being on the receiving end of generosity and so we are now inclined to be generous to others.

I’m sure I’ve missed some in my simple list and I’m really up for hearing other motivations for ‘giving something back’

If you’ve read this far maybe you’re happy for me to float an idea past you. What is it that makes us take care of a baby?

Perhaps all of the 4 reasons above still hold true? Maybe the main reason we look after babies is so there’s someone to look after us when we’re old. I’m not convinced. I think there’s one key reason we look after babies, and its called love.

I ‘love’ this definition from Peck*
Love: the will to extend one's self for the purpose of nurturing one's own or another’s spiritual growth.

Choosing to give something back for the benefit of someone else is an act of love.

So perhaps our plan is about love. Loving ourselves. Loving each other. Loving our neighbours.

Perhaps that sounds just a bit too simplistic. And I’m inclined to agree.

But it sounds like a great place to start.


*(no, not the one from the A-Team)


Stacks Image 2118
Stacks Image 2116
Bike40 challenge - April 2017

Stacks Image 984
Over Easter we took on a 40 hour exercise bike challenge. If you missed it, or want to relive some of the highlights check out the videos below. You can also read about the challenge in our Spring Update here


Give Something Back - Mar 2017

Over the past few months we’ve been looking at two big ideas - the importance of looking after ourselves and our need for community. Perhaps you remember the hashtags: #youmatter #bettertogether

I’m keen to throw one more big idea into the mix - 'give something back'.
Stacks Image 6559
I came across this list on social media recently. To be honest I’m not all that convinced. I don't think that success looks the same for all of us and I’m even less sure there are 6 rules for it. Anyway, leaving some of those questions behind, I spotted the final one on the list.

6. Give something back

I definitely agree, but it's got me all intrigued. More about that later…

First, to help us 'give something back' our plan is to raise some money, between now and Easter, for two charities. It's that time of year, so 50% of what we raise will go to
Comic Relief, but to show our commitment to giving something back more locally, we are going to give the other 50% to a charity based in Eastleigh that supports children and young people with autistic spectrum conditions. (You can read more about the work of the Friends of In Touch here)

So how are we going to do this? Over the next 4 weeks or so I am suggesting that we give up one thing and donate the money that we saved. So for example, if you quite enjoy a vanilla-spiced latte, one time when you would normally treat yourself to a coffee, hold back and put the money aside. If it feels right, you can skip one a week and put the money aside, but it’s up to you - find your own level. So whether its buying a coffee / bar of chocolate / bottle of wine / cinema tickets / or something completely different, think about giving one up and giving a little bit back. Hopefully, if we all give a little we might actually raise quite a lot.
Stacks Image 5004
This third big idea has got me thinking. Why is helping someone else a good idea? I've not found it an easy question to answer. It could be that 'loving our neighbours', or 'doing for others as you would want them to do for you' are ideas that we've accepted.* But I still wonder why.

I asked the author of the list above why he put number 6 on the list. I haven’t heard back from him yet.

What do you think? Have you got a reason for doing some good?

It would be great to hear some reasons - feel free to leave a comment in Facebook. But until we come up with some answers, I'm confident that we’ll find that we feel more alive as we give something back…


*They’re both from the Bible. Perhaps more about that next time.


Better Together - Feb 2017

For a few weeks now we’ve been thinking through how life is #bettertogether. If you scroll down a bit you'll see that last time we considered the practical benefits of sharing life; it’s good to know there’s someone to help us if we fall over, its good to have some help if we’re facing a big job. But its not just a practical solution. There’s another benefit when we share life with others.
Stacks Image 4977
"The body is not made up of just one part. It has many parts. Suppose the foot says, “I am not a hand. So I don’t belong to the body.” By saying this, it cannot stop being part of the body. And suppose the ear says, “I am not an eye. So I don’t belong to the body.” By saying this, it cannot stop being part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, how could it hear? If the whole body were an ear, how could it smell? God has placed each part in the body just as he wanted it to be. If all the parts were the same, how could there be a body? As it is, there are many parts. But there is only one body."
The Bible

So here’s a another reason why we’re better together. We have access to different gifts and skills when we share life together.

It happens all the time. One of our guinea pigs was ill recently so I phoned a friend who knows a lot about pets and small animals. It was great to have a friend I could call on when I felt out of my comfort zone. It wasn’t that long ago that I cleaned out the gutters of our house. I could have gone to B&Q to buy a long ladder, but I knew my friend down the road might have one, and one quick conversation later and I’ve got a ladder and my gutters are clear! Or how about our recent football match, having someone that is great in goal and someone else that is great at scoring goals is great for a team. Even if one person is great at it all its not easy to be in goal and scoring goals at the same time. Team-work makes the dream-work*

I’m hoping you get the idea.

If not try these on for size...

15 reasons you need a workout buddy in 2017

5 Good Reasons Why You Should Work out with Your Friends

If you've been enjoying the benefits of working out with us over the past year keep a look out as we’ve got a video coming out real soon!

*according to my good friend Emma Heather and also John C. Maxwell


Better Together - Jan 2017

I wonder how it's been going with looking after yourself? Towards the end of 2016 we suggested a few ways we could try to make sure we are people who are learning to take care of ourselves. Perhaps you even remember the list? Getting enough sleep, practising prayer or meditation, reading regularly, spending time outside, starting a gratitude journal, exercising, or even something else…

I’ve tried to make a few of them regular habits. My sleep patterns are much more reliable now, and I'm still taking a few moments each day to write down a few things I’m grateful for. Have any stuck for you?

I think it's true that I am finding myself more alive as I look after myself, but in itself it's not enough to make for a balanced life. Humans are designed for community, family, friendship, relationship. We aren’t designed to be isolated creatures. In the words of Jack Johnson, we’re better together. Which brings us to part two of our way of life…
I am more alive as I share life with others.

The book of Ecclesiastes puts it like this:

Two are better than one,
because they have a good return for their labour:
if either of them falls down,
one can help the other up.
But pity anyone who falls
and has no one to help them up.
Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm.
But how can one keep warm alone?
Though one may be overpowered,
two can defend themselves.
A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.

It gives four situations in which it's better not to be alone. Earning a living, involved in an accident, freezing to death, under attack. I’m intrigued by this list. Each one covers a different theme: daily life, mishap, poverty, threat. It’s almost like it's saying that in all areas, life is better shared.

Stacks Image 434
Now I’m not denying that there are times when we need our own space. Perhaps it's a good book. Or a cup of tea. Some things definitely benefit from some peace and quiet. A friend of mine confessed that they like to go to the cinema on their own. I’m in agreement; its dark and quiet, I’m there to watch a film, I don't really want to share my popcorn, all make a good case for solo cinema visits. I’ve been known to go the cinema on my own. But even then I think I miss the ‘what did you think?’ conversation afterwards. A meal in a restaurant is another situation that feels different on your own. I’ve tried it a few times but it's still not something I’m altogether comfortable with.*

For me, most things are better shared. I enjoy going out on my bike, but I enjoy a shared bike ride loads more. I enjoy an early morning run with friends, but if I was going for a run on my own it would be a much bigger challenge. “I think I’ll go for a run tomorrow / when it stops raining / when I can find my trainers…” kind of thing.

So what’s on your list. What do you enjoy when you get a few seconds of peace and quiet?** What do you prefer to share with others. Take a look at the list above. To go alongside the things you're doing to look after yourself, what things might you chose to share with others. If faith is your thing joining to church is a no-brainer, in fact I’m not sure church even exists if you’re on your own, but that's a different conversation. As for the rest, they’re pretty self explanatory, and like last time, there’s always space to add your own to the list.

So take a look, what's it going to be? Let's find out if life really is better if we share it.


*Some of these choices are down to personality. I’m more of an extrovert whereas Helen is much more of an introvert. We need different amounts of alone time. Today's post isn’t about our personality preferences - although I’m happy to write about that sometime if you’d find it interesting.

**I understand that some of us don't get much peace and quiet. Our worlds are busy. I’m all for us being less busy, but again, that's for another post. But if as you’re reading this you’re thinking, I don't ever get a moment to myself, get in touch, and I’ll come over, put on the kettle, do the hoovering, clean out the rabbit, wash the car, cook a meal, feed the baby, or whatever it is you’re just about to do, while you catch your breath. Then we can have a chat about priorities ;-)


Take Care of Yourself - Nov 2016
"Take care of yourself". I wonder if its something you hear very often. Or perhaps its something you say yourself. “Take Care”. “Look after yourself”. These little phrases are a reminder that someone cares for us and wants us to look after ourselves while we are apart. I wonder why we need the reminder? Isn’t it obvious? Well, even obvious things still need to be said.
Recently we’ve been considering what it means to be people who look after ourselves. In the Bible we are commanded to "love our neighbour as ourselves". Every time I’ve heard this phrase it's always been about how important it is to love my neighbour and I’m wondering if we’ve missed a trick. This phrase is also about something else. Its a reminder to love ourselves. Perhaps it sounds better if I say its a reminder to ‘take care of ourselves’.

To help us consider what it might mean to practice self-care, I’ve got six suggestions for things you might want to do to look after yourself. Have a look through the list and commit to giving one or two a go for the next two weeks. If none of them grab you there’s even space to write one for yourself. Once you’ve picked one or two, tell someone you trust how you are planning to look after yourself for the next fortnight. If someone else knows what you’re doing your more likely to keep it up. If you wondering why these six made the list, or if you just have a few questions feel free to get in touch with me.

So today as we consider what it means to live full and vibrant lives. Let’s be people who ‘take care of ourselves’.


Stacks Image 9307


Love who you are - Oct 2016
Stacks Image 347
I came across this on Facebook recently:

"When you go out into the woods, and you look at trees, you see all these different trees. And some of them are bent, and some of them are straight, and some of them are evergreens, and some of them are whatever. And you look at the tree and you allow it. You see why it is the way it is. You sort of understand that maybe it didn't get enough light, and so it turned that way. And you don't get all emotional about it. You just allow it. You appreciate the tree.

The minute you get near humans, you lose all that. And you are constantly saying 'You are too this, or I'm too this.' That judgment mind comes in. And so I practice turning people into trees. Which means appreciating them just the way they are."

You can read the original here:

It got me thinking about what it means to be people who appreciate one another. Then I realised that maybe, even before we get our heads around appreciating each other, we need to be able to appreciate ourselves. Perhaps its a weird thought. Perhaps it makes perfect sense. But do you appreciate yourself?

You have a whole bunch of great attributes that make you you. You have skills and gifts to make this world a better place. You are unique out of the 7 billion people on this planet. That’s pretty amazing in itself!

I know. It doesnt mean I’m perfect, that I haven’t got any issues to deal with, that I can’t make any improvements. I can give you a list. I know plenty of ways I can improve. But none of the things on that list will make me more human. I’m already a 1 in 7 billion. In the words of the psalmist "body and soul - I am wonderfully made!"

Let those words sink in. You are wonderfully made...

Look out for a daily challenge to help us take this on board this week.

Join us on the journey as we learn to love who we are...



What makes a car a classic? - Sept 2016
Stacks Image 2242
What makes a car a classic? - Sept 2016

Normally if I’ve got a question I ask someone who knows, throw it out on Facebook or Google it. Today I’m going to try and answer it myself. We recently put on a classic car event on St Francis Green. We had a some fantastic cars and motorbikes turn up and it was a great afternoon. It left me with a question though. What makes a car a classic?* Initially I thought ‘classic’ meant ‘old’, but now I’m not so sure. My own car is 16 yrs old, has almost 100 thousand miles on the clock but is never going to be a classic. I think age is part of it, but I don’t think it's enough to make a car a classic.

I began to wonder if a classic car had to have some kind of individual design, craftsmanship or material. Does it need to have leather seats? Or a wooden dash? Or seat belts that don’t retract when you undo them? If so my car will never be a classic.

If it is about the distinctive value of the car who gets to decide? Is there a list of what makes a classic car? Who get’s to write the list?

I want to throw one more variable into the equation. History. It seems that most classics have ‘history’. They have been driven by actual people doing real things. They haven’t been driven off the assembly line into a museum. They have covered some miles. They’ve seen some places.

So my definition for a classic is that it’s a car that’s got soul. It’s stood the test of time and it’s made the most of its years.

I hope the same can be said of me one day.

*From my limited experience of the classic car scene it seems that there is some agreement of what is a classic, but also a generosity towards vehicles that might be a classic.



Rio 2016 - Aug 2016

We’ve just come to the end of the Rio Olympics. Been watching it? I’ve got to admit I really got into the track cycling in the velodrome. So many of those events are edge of your seat competitions and I was willing team GB over the line every time. I’m not too sure you can put our Rio cycling success down to my contribution, but I was cheering them all the way!

I came across two cycling stories from Rio that really got my attention. We might not all be olympic athletes but we are all made for something, and the quicker we work out what it is the better!

I came across the first story on Facebook...

Stacks Image 1837
I heard the second from the commentator of the BMX final...

Stacks Image 1871
It reminds me of this from the the book of 1 Corinthians in the Bible: "You’ve all seen the stadium and seen the athletes race. Everyone runs; one wins. Run to win." We might not all be olympic athletes but we all have our own race to run, our own path to take in life. Which brings me back to the question, If you've not been made to ride bicycles really fast round a track what have you been made to do? What’s your path? If you’re not sure, try asking. Who can you ask? That's a good question. Just say it out loud and see what happens. (And that’s a prayer right there;-)

The Bible continues "
I don’t know about you, but I’m running hard for the finish line. I’m giving it everything I’ve got. No sloppy living for me! I’m staying alert and in top condition. I’m not going to get caught napping, telling everyone else all about it and then missing out myself."*

As we chatted through this on Sunday evening I noticed one person sat around the table was wearing this T-shirt. it sum’s it up pretty well!

*Quotes are from a version of the Bible called The Message

Stacks Image 1881



Stacks Image 4313
No Worries part 2 - May 2016

We left off a few weeks ago talking about how we deal with our worries. Just saying 'don't worry' doesn't seem to work.

Perhaps we keep ourselves busy hoping that our worries will disappear, or perhaps we keep distracted so our worries fade into the background. Either way, its not a solution. It doesn't help release us from our worries.

The Bible says that we can "Cast all your worries on him, because he cares for you." I guess that's what prayer is.

Casting is a bit like throwing. And for me, this 'throwing' isn't like into a rubbish bin, where our fears are thrown away, discarded. It's more like a throw and catch. We throw them, God catches them, holds on to them. He's a safe pair of hands.

So if you're worried, or scared, or afraid. Give prayer a try. And if you're not sure how. Feel free to get in touch.



Perfect Weather for a BBQ! - May 2016
Stacks Image 2080
No Worries - May 2016

I wonder if you remember that distinctive track Everybody's Free (To Wear Sunscreen) - it's a few years old now but I'm sure you can track it down online.

It starts like this:

"Ladies and gentlemen of the class of '97, wear sunscreen
If I could offer you only one tip for the future, sunscreen would be it"

A bit later in the song we hear:

"Don't worry about the future
Or worry, but know that worrying is as effective as trying to solve an algebra equation by chewing bubble gum"

I like the idea of not worrying. I just don't think its as simple as that.

I haven't counted it, but apparently there's one thing that Jesus told people not to do more than anything else. It wasn't 'do not steal, or lie, or swear. It was 'do not be afraid'. And that's what our worries are, fear. But again, it's easy to say, but how do we do it. The Bible helps us with this bit too, for it says:

"Cast all your worries on him,
because he cares for you."

So if you're worried, or scared, or afraid. Give your worries to Jesus, for he cares for you.

It still might seem too easy. But it's got to be worth a try...



The Most Important Meal of the Day! - April 2016
Stacks Image 286
Got a favourite breakfast? Bacon and eggs? Coffee and croissants? Pancakes and syrup? I even know someone who loves marmite on croissants. I'm not convinced it’s a great combination, I think I’ll stick with bacon and eggs.

But sometimes different combinations can be a great thing. An unexpected taste sensation.

This Easter we changed the expected order of the story. We put the ending before the beginning. Maybe you saw the board. Someone asked me this week; 'What’s it the beginning of?' Great question.

I think its probably the beginning of a new opportunity. A chance to close down some things that have been holding you back, and open up to some new possibilities. So if you’re looking to close something down, turn a corner and head in a new direction, take a look at Jesus and the Easter story. It’s an invitation to new life. A fresh beginning.



What is it about the Cross? - April 2016
Stacks Image 5082
Any idea what the following people have in common: Madonna, Elton John, Katy Perry, Rita Ora, Jennifer Aniston, the Pope and Justin Beiber? There may be a variety of answers, but one answer is they all wear a cross.

And there’s nothing wrong with that, but has it ever struck you that in a way it’s quite a surprising thing to do, because the cross was a form of execution. A way of killing people.

Most leaders who’ve influenced nations or even changed the world are remembered for the impact of their lives. Jesus, who more than any other person changed the face of world history, is remembered for his death even more than his life. Why did he die? What did it achieve? Why is it important? What does it mean? There’s a little expression that appears in the New Testament: ‘He died for our sins.’ What on earth does that mean? And how can it be relevant to us?

John, chapter 3, verse 16. This is perhaps the most famous verse in the whole Bible, and in a way it sums up the message of the whole Bible:

‘For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.’

In a nutshell, the answer to the question ‘Why?’ is, because God loves us.

So what was the problem? In another part of the Bible it tells us that ‘... all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God' and that 'the wages of sin is death.'

It's a bit like this story:

There were two friends at school. They were great friends. They went to university together. They were great friends at university. Then they went their separate ways. One of them went on to become a lawyer and then a judge. The other one went into a life of crime. And one day the criminal was caught and had to go to court where he appeared before his old friend the judge.

And the judge was faced with a dilemma: he loved his friend, but justice had to be done.

That, if you like, is God’s dilemma: he loves us, but there has to be justice. He can’t just say, just like that judge couldn’t just say, `Oh well, you’re an old friend. I’ll let you go.’

So, in this story the judge fined him the appropriate penalty for the offence — it was a serious crime and a huge fine - £20,000. Then he took off his robes, he went round the other side and he wrote out a cheque for £20,000.

He paid the penalty himself.

And in an even more amazing and wonderful way, Jesus died in our place. He endured crucifixion for us.

He died so we can have eternal life.

And if that's true, it's certainly worth thinking about...


Easter Watching and Waiting - March 2016
Stacks Image 3550
This Easter we wanted to do something that reminded all of us what Easter was really all about. I’m all for bunnies and chicks and eggs, in fact one of our family traditions is to watch the film Hop - which seems to combine all three!

Perhaps you noticed the billboard that went up on one of our trees. Due to budget it wasn’t an ultra-widescreen TV as someone thought, but instead some wood that I had carefully crafted into a state of the art billboard.

It all started on Good Friday. We know what Good Friday is. Its a reminder of how Jesus was tortured to death on a Roman cross. It’s anything but good. Good Friday is a bad ending to a good life. For many of Jesus’ disciples it wasn’t just the end of Jesus’ life, it was the end of their hopes for a different world.
Stacks Image 5071

Many of us know that Good Friday feeling. When it just can’t get any worse. When we are at an end.

I’m glad Easter isn’t just Good Friday. It feels like an end, but its not the end of the story. We know that Easter Sunday is coming, we know that Jesus conquers death to rise again. But Sunday doesn’t follow Friday. Saturday is in-between.

To experience that sense of ending and waiting we lit a fire in the front garden and we sat out. Waiting for Sunday. I’ve discovered that Friday to Sunday is a long time. Especially for someone who can’t sit still! But it felt like a good thing to do. To experience the waiting. And I didn’t experience it alone, lots of people came in to sit by the fire. It wasn't a lonely experience, but it was a slow one.

The Easter Saturday feeling isn’t so much about feeling the loss. It’s about the helplessness. Knowing that there’s nothing you can do to fix the situation. Many of us have known that feeling too. When we’ve tried everything to fix a difficult situation with no success. For Helen and myself, infertility was a situation we felt helpless in.* And we tried. We definitely tried. But sometimes you have to wait. And I don’t know why.

But there’s something about waiting. Perhaps it changes us. Perhaps it reinforces that sense that I can’t fix everything. Some things are just broken.

But that sense of helpless resignation of Easter Saturday isn’t the end of the story. Easter Sunday arrives with shouts of ‘He is risen’. The ending is finished and the beginning has arrived.
Stacks Image 2875
So if you are facing the sorrow of a Good Friday, or the helplessness of an Easter Saturday, my prayer is that you might know the fresh start of an Easter Sunday. Something new, springing up, unexpected even.

PS. You may have noticed that our sign took a hammering from Storm Katie. Apparently PVA glue isn’t designed to withstand that kind of onslaught. We’ve since repaired the sign, but we lost part of the message, so just in case you didn’t see it earlier...

Happy Easter :-)


*If infertility is a 'Good Friday' thing for you we've got no quick fixes but we're happy to listen / chat /pray, J&H


Lent 3 - Have it all - March 2016
Stacks Image 2891
The third temptation sees Jesus asked if he wants it all.

Now I’ve never been flat out asked if I want everything to be under my control before, but I have noticed something about the type of things that are offered to me and when. I don’t mean necessarily literally offered to me. But I’ve realised I could have so much stuff if I didn’t care about emotional, or moral, consequence. I could steal sweets from the shops, demolish the young people I work with at table football, or even connect with people as they laugh or gossip about someone else. All of these examples have outcomes I want. Connection, victory… sweets! But I would have got there in an unhealthy way.

It’s like those mazes that are on the back of restaurant menus. How satisfying is it to get them right! How unsatisfying would it be to just draw a straight line from A through to B without engaging in the boundaries? That wouldn’t be a win. How do I get through life without ignoring the boundary lines? Which boundary lines are important? I know what I want is good, but what’s the best way to get there?

Jesus has decided that getting it all just doesn’t quite cut it if he has to turn his back on the relationship he’s promised his dad.

Now it’s our turn.
What are we not going to turn our backs on?



Lent 2 - Prove it! - Feb 2016
Stacks Image 16474
During Lent we're taking a little look at the story behind it, when Jesus was tempted in the desert. At first the Devil tempts Jesus to turn stones into bread as he is hungry, Jesus refuses. Then he tries a different approach:

Then the devil took him to the holy city and placed him on the pinnacle of the temple, saying to him, ‘If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down; for it is written,
“He will command his angels concerning you”, and “On their hands they will bear you up, so that you will not dash your foot against a stone.”’

This is a different temptation. The Devil is basically saying; 'Prove it. Prove that God cares about you. Prove that you are his Son.

Once again Jesus resists the temptation.

We tend to think that there's lots of things in life for which we want proof. But as I try and think of some I'm not sure the list is that long. I don't want proof that my wife loves me. I don't want proof that my bank lender isn't about to go bankrupt. I don't want proof that my dentist has got the right qualifications. Most things I'm happy to take on trust. That might make me simple. Or even naive. But it seems the best way to do life. I experience all these things in my life. I look for evidence to support their claims. I research which dentist might be the best one for me. But as for proof. I'm pretty much happy to give it a miss.

What does this mean when it comes to faith? I guess it means it's about experience, evidence and trust.



Stacks Image 473
Keep Running - Feb 2016
Stacks Image 2543
A few of us have signed up for the Eastleigh 10k. For me its the first time I’ve committed to a run further than 5k. I know that, at age 43, that makes me a light-weight, but my legs are short and running more than 50 metres just isn’t something that comes naturally. Despite these factors it seems that running is still something I can get better at and for me there’s a few things that are helping:
Running on my own in the dark winter evenings is not fun. Running with friends is. #fittogether
Completing our local weekly parkrun is one of my goals. Running 250 miles this year is another goal. Finishing the Eastleigh 10K in under 1 hour is another. All these help motivate me when I’d rather be sat on the sofa watching another episode of Chuck.
I’m a sucker for some new kit - and I need to ensure that this doesn’t become some materialistic tendency - but I’m always up for a new piece of kit that might help me run a bit faster / more safely / more comfortably.
Knowing that running is helping us be more healthy, lose weight and become better friends keeps me motivated.

So if there’s something you are looking to do, whether its fitness related or not, I’m recommending finding some like-minded people, making some goals, investing in some kit, and taking time to think through why you’re doing it and what you hope to achieve. It will be worth it.

And if its running, why don’t you come and join us.



Stacks Image 2533
Stress - Feb 2016

Even as I write the word I realise I’m stepping into some mythical realm, it's a word that has become detached from some of its meaning and has taken on a life in itself. The word is stress. It was the focus of one of our recent lifestyle coaching sessions and it's made me take a closer look at how I use the word and what it really means.

I think I’ve substituted the word 'stress' for that feeling of not quite having enough time to do all the things that I’ve committed to do. I'm beginning to wonder if that's less about stress and more about bad choices, poor time management and possibly because I try to keep too many happy too much of the time.

I’m no expert on stress but this quote below kind of sums up where I’m up to on it:

"Stress is defined as an organism's total response to environmental demands or pressures. When stress was first studied in the 1950s, the term was used to denote both the causes and the experienced effects of these pressures. More recently, however, the word stressor has been used for the stimulus that provokes a stress response. One recurrent disagreement among researchers concerns the definition of stress in humans. Is it primarily an external response that can be measured by changes in glandular secretions, skin reactions, and other physical functions, or is it an internal interpretation of, or reaction to, a stressor; or is it both?"

Understood like this, stress is a constant companion. Its my response to external stimulus. It's what gets me up in the morning. It's what reminds me to eat. It's what helps protects me from physical injury. Stress is my body's response to stressors, and stressors can be a really positive influence in my life. They help me achieve more of my potential. Do more than I thought possible.
Stacks Image 5169
Lucas recently provided a good example of the impact of stress. A few months ago we signed up to do a 40km bike ride together. I made sure he had the right equipment and we had been putting in a few training rides. On each one of these rides Lucas would come up with a list of reasons of why he couldn’t go any further and was going to stop. Each time I tried to come up with a new reason why he could do it and some kind of reward for sticking it out. But on the day of the big ride, which took us across 40km of mixed terrain and took just over 4 hours, there was not one complaint. No list of reasons to stop. Something was different. I wonder if it was his body’s response to a different set of stressors. There was the impression he had of being part of a big event, there were the orange marker points to look out for along the way, there was the constant stream of encouragement from the other riders, and there was his hope of receiving a medal if he could complete the course. Not once did he consider backing out. Even when faced with a big shortcut he didn’t budge. A great stress response to stressors.

So good stress can be our friend. It motivates us. Helps us achieve more of our potential.

But what about bad stress? I’ve got a couple of thoughts, but no magic cure. Maybe that should be the subject of the next post.


Lent 1 - Throwing a six - Feb 2106

Its doesn’t feel that long ago that we were celebrating Christmas but we already find ourselves in February. Life seems to rush on at a relentless pace. But, for a moment, let me take you back to the tail end of last year...

I quite enjoy the week between Christmas Day and New Year. It’s as though one year has come to an end but the new year isn’t quite ready. Its an in-between space. This December though, my enjoyment of this in-between space was marred by a trip to our corner shop. It’s one of those shops that opens every day of the year and is great for topping up on essentials that run low. I’m not sure what I needed but what I saw on the shelves was Easter Eggs. Christmas was in full swing but the corner shop was gearing up for the next celebration. And for me it was too soon, way too soon...

Sometimes the joy is found in the waiting, the anticipation. Things don’t work when you take out the in-between bits. When you take out waiting. When you take out the boring bits. It’s like playing the chocolate game* with a dice of sixes**. We all want to throw a six every time. We want to go from one celebration to the next. From one high to the next. But life's not like that.

Stacks Image 2096
Stacks Image 2109
The whole purpose of the dice is to introduce uncertainty, difference, chance, waiting.

So why am I telling the Christmas / Easter Egg story now? Well Lent is almost upon us, and even now it still feels too early for eggs. Lent is a reminder that not every day is a 'throwing a six' day. Some days are just a bit more ordinary. Some days are downright difficult. I’m not excited about that but I’m learning to live with it. So maybe you’re giving up chocolate for Lent. Don’t go and buy the egg just yet. It can wait. Enjoy the in-between stage. I know, there’s a chance that the shops will sell out of your favourite Easter Egg. Deal with it.

Get a huge bar of Dairy Milk instead.

*In case you've not played it basically you get a chance to eat the chocolate when you throw a six.

**I know its a die but I can’t get my head around it


Stacks Image 9142
Stacks Image 2111
No Worries - May 2016

I wonder if you remember that distinctive track Everybody's Free (To Wear Sunscreen) - it's a few years old now but I'm sure you can track it down online.

It starts like this:

"Ladies and gentlemen of the class of '97, wear sunscreen
If I could offer you only one tip for the future, sunscreen would be it"

A bit later in the song we hear:

"Don't worry about the future
Or worry, but know that worrying is as effective as trying to solve an algebra equation by chewing bubble gum"

I like the idea of not worrying. I just don't think its as simple as that.

I haven't counted it, but apparently there's one thing that Jesus told people not to do more than anything else. It wasn't 'do not steal, or lie, or swear. It was 'do not be afraid'. And that's what our worries are, fear. But again, it's easy to say, but how do we do it. The Bible helps us with this bit too, for it says:

"Cast all your worries on him,
because he cares for you."

So if you're worried, or scared, or afraid. Give your worries to Jesus, for he cares for you.

It still might seem too easy. But it's got to be worth a try...