People focused

The next value we have adopted is a church is that we are called to be people focused.

Like Jesus: caring for and loving people of all ages, from the youngest to the oldest; through our words and actions embodying and bringing the transforming love of God to our local community in Mutley, to Plymouth, the UK and the wider world.

Again, the crucial two words here are ‘Like Jesus’. As his followers we want to emulate his example and follow his teaching. There are countless examples in the gospels (well, okay, you could count them but I can’t be bothered and there are lots) of Jesus being people focused. In fact you could easily say that his coming into the world is because God is people focused.

In preparing for this Sunday’s sermon on this theme, I reflected that the two words ‘caring’ and ‘loving’ are indivisible. They aren’t so much two sides of the same coin as two ends of a kayak paddle. If you don’t have one you end up going around in circles.

Caring is often seen as a practical thing, whereas loving is a more emotional thing. But we care because we love. As I have mentioned before, this is not a mushy romantic love, or even the love you have for family members. It’s a dogged decision to seek the best for another person because of their innate value. That’s the sort of love God has for us. And we express it in practical ways as we care for others.

Caring for someone should involve us in praying for them, which is immensely practical, and in offering practical support and help.

But whom do we care for and love? To use another water-based image, consider ripples that are spreading outwards from dropping a stone into a pond.

At the start of the book of Acts Luke tells us of what Jesus said before he ascended into heaven. He told his friends that they would be his witnesses in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and to the ends of the earth. They were in Jerusalem (local). Which was in Judea (nearby). To the north was Samaria (further afield). And then there’s the rest of the world (the rest). Ripples flowing outwards from the immense splash they would make when the Spirit of God empowered them.

For us, our Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and the ends of the earth is: our local community in Mutley, to Plymouth, the UK and the wider world.

What’s yours? How might a people focused Jesus want you to care for and love people in those different arenas?

Be blessed, be a blessing


Hello dear Bloggists, did you miss me? Did you even notice the lack of bloggages? A lot has happened in the past couple of weeks and some of those things may form the basis for some blogging in due course. In fact, the most recent incident got my blog juices flowing…

We were driving back from Devon (where we had been on a week’s holiday) yesterday, happily pootling along the motorway at 70mph (yes, I do stick to the speed limit). I had overtaken a vehicle and was pulling back into the inside lane when, as I went over a cat’s eye*, there was a loud bump. I wondered whether the cat’s eye was coming loose, and then a car that was coming past me beeped and the passenger pointed to my front tyre.

I pulled off the motorway and discovered that my tyre was completely flat. There had been no warning and my car’s steering didn’t feel any different. If the car had not beeped I may have carried on for a while longer. We called out a rescue truck because my car does not carry a spare tyre and waited on the hard shoulder of the motorway for an hour – even resorting to playing ‘I spy’.


the view from behind the safety barrier

The truck arrived eventually and took us to a well-known speedy car tyre replacement emporium nearby. They had a bit of a queue so we went to get some lunch while we waited and eventually I got a call to say that actually both front tyres needed replacing and the tracking needed correcting on the car to get all the wheels pointing in the right direction.

When I got back to the tyre replacement emporium I asked if I could see the old tyres and was alarmed to see that the ‘puncture’ had been caused by the car tyre having worn out on the inside and the rubber had actually given way! The other tyre was similarly worn.

I do check my car tyres relatively regularly as I do a lot of driving and had no idea that this was happening. There looked like there was adequate tread on the tyre when I looked at it. However, because the wear was on the inside of the tyre it was not easy to spot unless the wheel was turned and (with hindsight) I realised that I used to check when the wheels were pointing straight ahead.

Do we cruise through life assuming that everything is okay when actually there is something important that needs attention? Do we think that everything is okay when actually our tyres are wearing dangerously thin on the inside? What about that neglected relationship? What about neglect of our own spirituality? What about that secret ‘sin’ that has stopped bothering us?

UK Cars have an annual Ministry of Transport Test (unless, like mine, they are less than 3 years old) that looks at all of the major (and minor) safety issues to ensure that the car is roadworthy which should pick up issues before they become serious problems: what’s the equivalent for us?

  • Going on a retreat can be a valuable experience to stop, pause, reflect and consider.
  • Of course it’s much better to be carrying out regular maintenance rather than leaving it to once a year: going to church can provide moments when we are more open to what God is saying to us.
  • Meeting with friends with whom we can be honest and whose wise counsel we trust is helpful.
  • Reading the Bible regularly is another way in which we make ourselves open to what God may be saying to us.
  • Not squashing that nagging little voice that is telling us that something’s not right is a good thing to do – it’s often God trying to get our attention.

I’m going to be checking my tyres all over much more regularly in future (personal and on my car). What about you?

Be blessed, be a blessing

*the guides embedded in the road, not a genuine feline eye attached to a moggy

The parable of the okay Samaritan

(This is the most recent parable we are sharing with our churches. It is based on The Message paraphrase of the Bible).


Just then a religious scholar stood up with a question to test Jesus. “Teacher, what do I need to do to get eternal life?”

He answered, “What’s written in God’s Law? How do you interpret it?”

He said, “That you love the Lord your God with all your passion and prayer and muscle and intelligence—and that you love your neighbour as well as you do yourself.”

“Good answer!” said Jesus. “Do it and you’ll live.”

Looking for a loophole, he asked, “And just how would you define ‘neighbour’?”

Jesus answered by telling a story. “There was once a man travelling from Jerusalem to Jericho. On the way he was attacked by robbers. They took his clothes, beat him up, and went off leaving him half-dead. Luckily, a priest was on his way down the same road, but when he saw him he angled across to the other side. Then a Levite religious man showed up; he also avoided the injured man.

“A Samaritan travelling the road came on him. When he saw the man’s condition, his heart went out to him. He gave him first aid, disinfecting and bandaging his wounds. Then he lifted him onto his donkey, intending to take him to an inn. But just as he was about to set off he remembered that he was supposed to be home early that night because he was expecting a delivery of a new harness for his donkey from

“Then he looked at the man’s injuries and felt bad that he was worried about who was going to sign for his delivery. He looked at the bandages that he had put on the man’s wounds. Blood was beginning to seep through. He worried that it might stain the travel rug that the man was sitting on, and blood was really difficult to get out as Persil hadn’t been invented yet, so he took the man back off his donkey and laid him gently at the side of the road.

“’No!’ anguished the Samaritan to himself, ‘this poor man needs help. I can’t leave him like this at the side of the road.’ So the Samaritan took out a piece of papyrus and wrote on it, ‘Please help this man.’ And he placed his sign next to the man who had been robbed and went on his way, feeling that he had made a difference and done enough.”

“What do you think? Which of the three became a neighbour to the man attacked by robbers?” asked Jesus.

“The one who treated him kindly,” the religion scholar responded.

Jesus said, “Did he really become his neighbour?”

How does the reshaping of the story make you feel?
Who are your neighbours?
What opportunities for mission action does your church take? Is there more that you could do? What stops you from doing more?

Be blessed, be a blessing

caring for the community

If you are squeamish you may want to skip to the next paragraph.

No, not this one, the one below! I went to my Doctor’s surgery yesterday afternoon where one of the Practice Nurses used a clever little tool to remove 32 staples from me. I was surprised that there were so many and that it did not hurt too much while the nurse removed them. I would never have thought that staples would be a good way of closing wounds but they seem to have worked well (except that they prick when you lean on them so I have not been able to rest my head backwards for eleven days).

This paragraph is squeam-safe. What impressed me was the care that the nurse showed me. Not just in how she carried out the procedure but in frequently asking me if I was okay and then in helping me out when I went dizzy and had to lie down. It was very reassuring to have someone so caring doing what she did to me. Many of the nurses in the hospital were also caring in the way that they looked after me and talked with me.

How do other people know that we care for them? We may send them a card, an email, a facebook message or phone call (thank you to the many of you who have kindly done so). We may visit them and talk with them. We may do kind things for them. We may even pray for them. We probably cannot underestimate the impact of the seemingly insignificant things that we do for other people.

“Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.”

But beware that you should not upset nurses!

A bigshot business man had to spend a couple of days in the hospital.

He was a royal pain to the nurses because he bossed them around just like he did his employees. None of the hospital staff wanted to have anything to do with him.

The head nurse was the only one who could stand up to him. She walked into his room and announced, “I have to take your temperature.”

After complaining for several minutes, he finally settled down, crossed his arms and opened his mouth.

“No, I’m sorry, the nurse stated, “but for this reading, I can’t use an oral thermometer.”

This started another round of complaining, but eventually he rolled over and bared his behind. After feeling the nurse insert the thermometer, he heard her announce, “I have to get something. Now you stay JUST LIKE THAT until I get back!”

She left the door to his room open on her way out. He cursed under his breath as he heard people walking past his door, laughing. After almost an hour, the man’s doctor came into the room.

“What’s going on here?” asked the doctor.

Angrily, the man answered, “What’s the matter, Doc? Haven’t you ever seen someone having their temperature taken before?”

After a pause, the doctor replied, “Yes, but never with a daffodil!”