A New Occupation

Like many people, I have a lot of time to think and I’ve been mulling over my preoccupation with the past and the future at the expense of the present. The present is a bit boring and unattractive and I look backward at all the people and activities I am missing. I look forward to things returning to ‘normal’ (though my friend, who suffers with a whole cocktail of mental illnesses, says, “Normal is just a setting on a dryer!”) whatever the new ‘normal’ might look like.

It is natural, I guess, to spend time being nostalgic, looking back in melancholy at past activity or gazing into the foggy future imagining those activities. Past and future are vitally important to us and to the story of God in history.

In Revelation we have the reference to Jesus as Alpha, the first, and Omega, the last. These reference a past and future but the key to this reference is the “I am” part, which speaks of his eternal position in the present. When God first introduces himself to Moses he does so using the title “I am”. Jesus throughout the Gospel of John refers to himself as “I am”!

I do a disservice to myself when I live solely in the past or in the future. We are called to “occupy” (in the present) until “He comes” (the future). Today certainly does not hold the familiar opportunities but surely it holds opportunities. I have created ruts in which my life runs and when ‘normality’ is disrupted, as it surely is, then rather than bemoan the loss of the familiar I ought to creatively seek my new occupation.

How do I practise the present? I take the opportunity to “know Him”. God is eternal. God is infinite. This means that there is no end of ‘knowing him’. This week I was reminded of the Psalm where David pens “As the deer pants for the water, so my soul longs after you.” This is not just a cute way to phrase something. It describes a thirst which must be satisfied! This thirst is obviously the chief preoccupation of the psalmist. We often sing this but now in this time I have the opportunity to be occupied with slaking just this kind of thirst.

I could waste a unique opportunity by pining for the past or yearning only for a redeemed future or mindlessly entertaining myself. These would be the easy things. But can I choose the hard thing and spend a pandemic on pursuing Jesus.

“Turn your eyes upon Jesus. Look full in his wonderful face. And the things of this world will grow strangely dim, in the light of his glory and grace.”

There Is A Cure!

If we could only see the true infection rate, if we would only acknowledge the staggering scope of the disease, if we noted that that the mortality rate is 100%, would we mobilize!

Scripture tells us that through the one man, Adam, all became infected and that death reigned through that one man. The resulting disease and death are universal. The rich, beautiful, the poor and forgotten all succumb to this death. The toll on humanity is horrible, and complete! The carnage is beyond imagination!

The cry goes up “Who can rescue me from this body of death?” and the answer comes “Thanks be to God, through our Lord Jesus Christ.” Through the first man, Adam, came the universal infection, but through the man Jesus came the cure.

The best religion could do was try to isolate: Don’t touch. Don’t eat. Don’t associate. Touch and taste and association brought contamination.  All these efforts though were to no effect because the virus inhabited every human heart and the death that results was inevitable no matter the human effort.

Jesus alone became the host for this deadly virus and overcame it! The empty tomb speaks of this triumph. In him death has lost its iron grip on the infected populous.

We have a cure. The cure has a name. His name is Jesus.

Can you imagine having such a cure and keeping it to ourselves! If we had a cure for covid 19 we would surely shout it from the rooftops! Yet so often those of us who have experienced salvation through Jesus merely meet together and talk about it amongst ourselves! We should never neglect this meeting together but can we in good conscience do this almost exclusively?

This current pandemic, as horrible as it is, is but a pale comparison to the spiritual pandemic which though invisible takes a much greater toll. As we take extraordinary measure to protect ourselves and our loved ones from this virus, surely we ought also to be vitally concerned with this spiritual pandemic.

While we throw our energy and ingenuity at saving life on the physical plain let us purpose to pour energy and ingenuity into pointing toward the cross, the cure, to our universal need, so that others will experience the abundant and eternal life which we enjoy, through our Saviour Jesus.


Spiritual Personal Protective Equipment


The joke goes “ They told me all I needed was a mask and gloves to go shopping. Boy was I embarrassed when everyone else had pants on as well!”

PPE (personal protective equipment) is much on our minds and in the news these days when we need more than pants to go out shopping. In Ephesians 6 Paul lays out our spiritual PPE. I am coming to the conclusion that it is as vital as the physical type, and that too many of us ‘streak’ through life without it in all, or part.

This time of the virus reminds us that what we touch can contaminate us and indeed if we have the virus, what we touch becomes contaminated. In his earthly walk Jesus demonstrated that “He alone could fix this.” His touch of the most contaminated brought wholeness. Rather than having a touch that brought profane contamination, his brought holiness and healing. “One man said no to God and put many people in the wrong; one man (Jesus) said yes to God and put many in the right.” (Romans 5:17 the Message)

At the cross Jesus like the snake in the wilderness was raised up high and through that cross draws men and women, boys and girls back into a relationship with God.

He did not count the cure as being worse than the disease. Indeed, he counted it a joy to be poured out for us. Through his sacrifice we have not just been inoculated against the ravages of sin we have been given new life.

It is this new life we are to treasure and protect and the Armour of Ephesians 6 is the spiritual PPE we require in this mortal life.

Let’s give thanks for the cure that flows from the cross to those who will receive it and as grateful people let us guard and protect ourselves by consciously putting on our full personal protective equipment, in order that we might stand and even stand out in these times.


As people of hope we have the opportunity to be a distinctive people. Arise! Stand in the full Armour of God, and keep prayerful.

2 Questions for a Challenging Time

question mark

I have two questions I like to ask myself each day: What is important? And What is next?

These two questions help me order my day. One is a question that looks at the ‘big picture’ and the other identifies the next step toward that. As an example, I might answer that  helping people find Jesus and the abundant life He promises is important. This drives the desire to open Threshold House as means of loosing empathetic evangelists in our addiction riddled community. The next step might be making a phone call or writing an email or setting up a meeting. The next step is a ‘bite sized’ action that moves me toward that important goal. Daily life, then, is made up of a series of small steps toward that important thing and involves ‘keeping one’s eyes on the prize’. This is the life I am used to living. This is my ‘purpose driven’ life!

My current challenge is that so much of that agenda is ‘on pause’ and has taken a back seat to other more immediately important subjects. The question remains “What is important?”, and  my old answers are no longer totally adequate. This has required much reflection, but I certainly have time for that, and so I pray and seek God. These are my answers so far to the ‘big picture question’

  • I am to love God. I have an abundance of time to act on this “first and great commandment”. This means time in prayer, but not just with my ‘shopping list’ but in a quiet listening time. It includes a conversational relationship and the cultivation of a truly thankful heart. I am such a blessed man! I read the Bible and I study the Bible. Loving God is important.
  • I am to love my neighbour. This second and great commandment is challenging in a time of ‘physical distancing’. It involves praying for people I can’t touch. It means intentionally calling to check up on people. It means sending encouraging notes. It means not ‘panic buying’. I love my neighbour by staying in! I have the opportunity to save lives by simply staying home! I get to use my superpower of introversion to guilt free excess! I do it by washing hands and avoiding contact. I do it by putting a Teddy Bear in my window for tots and their parents to spy on their ‘Bear Hunt’ walks in our neighbourhood. I do it by trying to mourn with those experiencing grief and loss when our rituals around loss are impossible. I do it by trying to celebrate with those who have joyous news but cannot celebrate in normal ways. Loving my neighbour is important.
  • I am to take care of myself. The second and great commandment assumes self-care. I need to wash my hands and isolate for myself as well. God is not finished with me yet! When we emerge in our own ‘rebirth’ Easter experience I will have important things to do and I want to be prepared. I want to be prepared physically. I cannot get to the gym, but I can walk (thank God) and I can sleep, and I can eat well. I want to prepare spiritually. It would be a shame if I emerged from this cocoon still a caterpillar. This is the ‘lentiest’ Lent I will likely ever experience, and God doesn’t want me to waste this critical time. John the Baptist’ advice is good for me today “He must increase, and I must decrease.” I want to prepare emotionally. I need to be aware of the early onset of any depression and take immediate remedial action. This is important if I am to emerge prepared at the end of this. Loving myself is important.


Isolation need not result in atrophy, but it can if we are not careful. I encourage us to ask the big picture question and then take the next small step and the one after that! Occupying the time until our long, long, Lent ends in a glorious and inevitable Easter!