How’s Your Soul?


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If we had to continue the conversation around this years soul prospering theme from 3 John 2 “that all may go well with you and that you may be in good health, as it goes well with your soul”, I’d probably start by asking the question; well, “How’s Your Soul?”

Ps. Judah Smith’s 6 Session DVD course, “How’s Your Soul?” explores that very question, and over the next 3 weeks we’ll attempt to answer it together…

Welcome Promo Video

Session Notes

Video Recap on Youtube

Session 1 When is My Soul Home? (19:30)

Session 2 What Makes My Soul Healthy? (21:30)

Session 3 Why Does My Soul Have Hope? (11:30)

Session 4 Who Does My Soul Hold On To? (15:30)

Session 5 How Is My Soul Helped? (12:00)

Session 6 Where Is My Soul Headed? (21:00) 




Hows Your Soul-PowerPoint

Ps. Judah Smith is the lead pastor of the City Church in Seattle, Washington. The City Church is a thriving multisite church noted for its cultural relevance, commitment to biblical integrity and faith, and love for Jesus. Ps. Judah is known around the United States and the world for his preaching ministry. His fresh, practical, humorous messages demystify the Bible and make Christianity real. Ps. Judah is also the author of the New York Times bestselling book Jesus Is _____.


T H E   [G O S P E L]  is GOOD NEWS

What is it, at its core? How is the gospel current, how is it [breaking] into people’s lives today? The following is an incomplete summary of The Gospel from mainly scripture…

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GOD MADE MAN in His image.

Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” Genesis 1:26-28

OUR SIN SEPARATED US from the glory of a holy God.

But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it – the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. Romans 3:21-25

Remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. Ephesians 2:12

SON SENT TO SAVE US from our Sin by His grace and mercy.

In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. 1 John 4:9

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. John 3:16-17

PAID OUR PENALTY as a propitiatory sacrifice on the Cross.

For God has not destined us for wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ. 1 Thessalonians 5:9 

In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. 1 John 4:10

EVERYONE WHO BELIEVES IN JESUS CHRIST is forgiven and restored to right relationship with the Father.

Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. John 3:18

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God. Ephesians 2:8

LIFE ABUNDANT AND ETERNAL promised under His Lordship and sealed by the Holy Spirit. All authority, power and dominion in heaven and on earth belongs to Jesus. The Father has sent the Holy Spirit to empower us to live the life and fulfill the mission Christ has called us to. His Kingdom has no end.

For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. Romans 1:16

For if, because of one man’s trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ. Romans 5:17

And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. To him be the dominion forever and ever. Amen. 1 Peter 5:10-11

For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities-all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross. Colossians 1:16-20

Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen. Jude 1:24-25

And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:18-20

And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come. Matthew 24:14

“The Gospel is the news that Jesus Christ the righteous one died for our sins, rose again eternally triumphant over all His enemies, so that there is now no condemnation for those who believe but only everlasting joy”. John Piper

“We are strengthened by God, through the Gospel, everyday ’til the day we drop. You never outgrow the need to preach to yourself; the Gospel.” John Piper


The Gospel is still breaking into peoples lives. It sets us free from sin, draws us to the Father and empowers us to live the abundant life He calls us to live.


To have 40 000 gathered at Loftus and 30,000 at Cape Town Stadium in one weekend for a Music Tour is a big deal. The Passion SA Tour was sold out this past weekend at both venues. As the masses filtered into the stadiums early there was an exciting buzz of expectation as people readied themselves to worship Jesus alongside churches from all over our nation. 

I flew in from PE on Saturday morning to join the Cape Town crowd, with many others driving or flying in from the Friendly City. Enroute to the stadium, a local Cape Townian, who has attended many music events in the city, expressed concerns that typically the concerts she had been to in the stadium didn’t sound great. Later that night, she turned to me and said, “Oh wow, it really sounds good”. She would also go on to say she had never been to a concert there that was so packed out.

The event started late, several minutes after 7pm, but the crowds warmed themselves up with a few Mexican waves. Eventually the worship experience launched off with a big creative video showing a montage of clips including local footage, with excellent light design, at least 6 cameras, stage haze and these words onscreen; “… Welcome to Passion 2016… We are the Jesus generation united for His fame. His name and His renown are the desires of our hearts… We are One Body … JESUS”. The Passion Band entered the stage as these words came up and the crowd erupted with cheers and applause, but they went mad at that last word spelt out onscreen J.E.S.U.S. The opening video and that name, Jesus, climaxing with Kristian Stanfill leading us in the first song; ‘The Lord our God is ever faithful’. Kristian interjected; “It’s a beautiful night, in a beautiful city, with beautiful people. 30 000 voices”, followed by the title song from the new 2016 Passion album Salvation’s Tide is Rising.

Chris Tomlin was up next; “Hello, Cape Town. What a beautiful night, this is incredible. Such a privilege to stand and sing these songs with you tonight. Thank you so much, you have no idea. This night is going to be one to remember… So I’ve been excited about singing this [next] song in Cape Town, because I don’t know if it’s made it over here yet!? It’s a song we’ve been singing around the States and at Passion this year called Good, Good Father“. The crowds went wild. “I mean, that’s what I love about you guys, you’re just so far ahead of the game…” He went on to invite those who had not yet heard the song to receive the love of the Father that night.    


The heart of Passion is clearly to partner with local pastors, Louie Giglio having met with many of them long before the tour, as well as giving them VIP seating, and inviting them to stand with him on stage to pray. I made the following comment on Shelley Giglio’s departure Instagram post, “Gone so soon?! Thanks for inspiring and stirring our country. I visited 3 churches on Sunday post Passion CT and every pastor spoke about the impact Saturday night had on them. #Envisioned #Impassioned #Passion16 #PassionSATour”. Yes, I use hashtags. Among those pastors were Louis du Piesanie of Oakhill, Andrew Selley of JoshGen and Phil Dooley of Hillsong Cape Town, who was called out of the pastoral group, by Louie, to pray. Shelley replied to my comment, “@garethdavidhogg love this so much. We pray the Church is strengthened and encouraged. We love that we can build together.” That is seen by their investment into local volunteers, local church pastors and local musicians. The gatherings were served by countless local ‘Door Holders’, which is Passion’s strategic term for volunteers. Each one got given their own Passion Door Holder T-shirt and had the privilege of serving at the event in various capacities.


If you mention Passion, Jeff Sandrom is not the first person you typically think of. He’s the man who shapes the sound coming from the stage. Harvest Church in PE, was one of many who took the opportunity to invest in our local sound. Warren Hoole, Harvest’s sound engineer, comments; “I was blessed enough to spend time in JHB and listen to him lecture on building blocks for shaping the sound needed from each instrument and vocalist. However, the lecture wasn’t only about sound engineering, most of the morning covered serving those around you. He spoke of Exodus 28:11-12 where Aaron had to wear the names of the sons of Israel on his shoulders in remembrance of those who he served. In the same way we are to carry the worship team on our shoulder as we serve them. Jeff has had many years of perfecting his mixes. It’s not how expensive or over the top your equipment is but what you do with the tools God has put before you. Keep it simple and focus on clarity and your mix will be shaped in a way that is good and pleasing to our Father”. This is the heart of Passion to partner and invest in the local church.
Before Louie came up to pray, 200 local singers joined the band, as a choir on stage, to sing How Great Is Our God. The stage had non stop energy from the band and it carried throughout the stadium. The song list included Hillsong United’s Oceans and a stand out song from the new Passion album is Remember by Brett Younker and Melody Malone. Then Louie came up bantering and rowelling the crowd with rumors that Cape Town was the laid back crowd in comparison to Pretoria — that got them even more fired up. Louie went on; “…it’s a special time to be alive, challenging times for sure… But what a beautiful sight to look around tonight to see the church of Jesus is doing okay.” He went on to speak about hearing about the State of the Nation, declaring that it’s better to focus on the state of the Kingdom and that if the church would hold on to Jesus that we would always hold on to hope for our nation. He then honored the pastoral partners, standing on stage with him, as friends, saying that; “…we wanted to come and stand shoulder to shoulder with the men and women who lead the church every single day in this city…”. Phil Dooley then prayed a powerful prayer over our nation and the city, for the Church and for this generation. 

As Louie led the time of prayer to a close He centered our focus firmly on Jesus, and after his Amen a creative video was cued showing history in reverse, featuring many scenes from our nation’s history, Mandela included. It tracked all the way back to creation and clips that brought to recollection Louie’s Indescribable teaching on the awe of the universe God has created. It then fast forwarded through some stories of scripture, concluding on the cross, and leading us back into worship with Kari Jobe’s Forever, which focuses on the death and resurrection of Christ, setting the platform for Louie’s closing message. But, before Louie would share again, the tone of the night would change dramatically as Hip Hop artist Tedashii busted into the middle of Forever. The atmosphere definitely changed as the Passion Band exited the stage and Tedashii and his crew took over. While this wasn’t everybody’s highlight, I know for many of the students, young adults, and some unchurched in attendance this just made their night. Tedashii had the crowd jumping and calling out back to him. Spiritually the tone changed, but for Tedashii this is worship, and for us it sure was a lot of fun.



Louie would come in at the back end of the hip hop item to deliver a message in typical Louie Giglio, Passion fashion. Louie connected his message to the people, by saying typically people’s lives are defined by a single word; divorce, cancer, studies and so on… But Jesus has the final word over our lives. On the cross He said “It Is Finished”. In the Greek and Hebrew there is a single word for our three English words ‘It Is Finished”. He declared that sin is finished, that the religious system, which God had set in place is finished, because Jesus was the once off final sacrifice that fulfilled the requirements of that religious system, and then finally that shame was finished over our lives. The night concluded with a call to respond; some to salvation, some to freedom from religion and shame, but all to kneel — 30, 000 people kneeling before Jesus in Cape Town stadium. 

We wouldn’t stay kneeling — we would stand to dance on God’s Great Dance Floor. But more importantly, we would stand to leave, to leave envisioned and stirred with passion for our nation — to see Jesus’ name, His renown made famous in our country.


THIS WEEKEND, for their third South African tour, LOUIE GIGLIO AND THE PASSION BAND will be hitting Pretoria and Cape Town. Besides bringing to our country a contagious passion for music, students, worship and for Christ, they are also bringing with them some big names including Chris Tomlin, Kristian Stanfill and Christian hip hop artist Tedashii.

For those that don’t know him, Louie Giglio, pastor of Passion City Church, in Atlanta, Georgia is a world renown public speaker, author, and the founder of the Passion Movement (268 Generation).

As renown as Louie may be, from the early days of the Passion Movement, God connected his story to the confession found in Isaiah 26:8, “For your name and renown are the desire of our souls.”

The heart of Passion is God’s glory, and they believe that ‘God is most glorified in us when we live lives that are fully satisfied in Him – when our lives become a worship to Him.’

Passion has stirred the hearts of 1000s of people, young and old, through their ministry of music, worship, and preaching God’s word at Passion Conferences since 1997.

The 2016 Passion Conference that took place on 2-4 January in Georgia and Texas attracted over 40,000 young adults from 1,500 universities and 47 countries. In South Africa this year, tickets for Friday night at Loftus in Pretoria are sold out and Cape Town has a record ticket sale of an estimated 30% increase from the last tour.

“These are going to be spectacular historic nights for the nation of South Africa…” said Giglio in a recent post. From a production perspective local musician and Passion Production and Ministry Assistant, Jason Zeeman, involved in the Loftus setup said “… I wish I could show you what’s going up in this stadium for Friday night.” “The evening opener is going to be very special. Brace yourself and steady your heart. Here we go…” Without a doubt, while the focus of these nights are directed towards Jesus, Passion brings with it an experience in production excellence of note.

Despite mixed feelings from ticket holders about Grammy Award winning Israel Houghton having to pull out of the tour for personal reasons, Chris Tomlin alone would be worth the low price of admission, with nearly 30 million records sold and multiple awards including a Grammy for best Contemporary Christian Music Album in 2012, Tomlin is a major draw card.

Replacing Houghton is Christian hip hop artist Tedashii from Reach Records. Zeeman comments, “I know that Israel would have been here if he could have. Tedashii is going to wow and gain many South African fans. We’re going to miss Israel and wish him all the best, but ultimately know that Gods got this. He knows exactly what’s going on”. Tedashii has collaborated with a number of well known artists including Lecrae and Crowder to name but two, and is sure to add a dynamic and exciting flavor to the tour.

Despite the band, the renowned speaker, award winning musicians, and top class production – let us be expectant for a weekend of renewed passion for His name and for His glory.



From the heart, to the head to the hand. That’s how we grow. We are inspired by beauty, creativity, music, art, crisis or cause and it stirs us to think about life, meaning, purpose and how we see the world. Our minds are renewed our perspectives altered through knowledge, understanding, insight, revelation, discovery. How we think and see the world determines how we live, act, behave, work, give, respond, react, craft and create. Our hands are put to action by how we think and feel.


Our heart is seen when our character and emotions are exposed by our words, body language, actions.


Our head is seen when we speak our minds, known thereby to be either wise or fool. When we improvise, initiate and implement we show insight, intellect and experience.


Our hand is seen when we show our cards, when we put to work our convictions, our motives, intent, impulse. We show who we truly are through gestures, we project our heart and head in micro expressions, shrugs, flinches and glances. We tell as we do. Our actions speak. Our words say more than they mean. Our action is an expression of our faith, love, peace, grace and truth; everything! Actions trump everything, but cause pain and chaos if our hearts and heads are not pure and wise.



  1. What are some things that have recently stirred your heart with a strong conviction to act?
  2. Have you ever had a radical revelation that changed the way you feel about your life and therefore changed a behavior or practice at home or work?
  3. What actions do you need to take to grow in character and wisdom?


Lord Jesus, I know that you want my heart, head and hands. I pray that you would heal my heart, make it whole, that you would help me to gaurd my heart, renew my mind according to your truth and empower me to be your hands, feet, body; a physical representation of You to the world.

In Jesus Name. AMEN.


Reading God’s Word, intentionally and daily walking with and partnering with the Holy Spirit and consistent prayer are the keys to growing from the heart, to the head, to the hand.


Unbroken Praise released this week as Matt Redman’s latest offering of worship, recorded live at Abbey Road Studios. 

“Unbroken Praise reveals a heart not wanting to be beaten down by the things of life, but to actually increase worship in those moments. I often think about how a song can travel so far around the world, but also into the deepest places of someone’s heart, giving them something they can grab onto even in the craziest moments.” – Matt Redman


Praise unbroken, unending, untainted. unfailing, be Yours forevermore.
Unbroken praise be Yours God forever.
All my praise be Yours God forever.
Lord take this life, let it become Your throne.
Unbroken praise be Yours.
My surrender, devotion.
Be Yours forevermore.



In point two of his six point vent ‘6 Destructive Trends Happening in Your Church’ Jared C. Wilson of The Gospel-Driven Church explains;

The music leader takes the stage to say, “We’re gonna start with a time of worship.” Is the whole service not a time of worship? Isn’t the sermon an act of worship?

Isn’t all of life meant to be an act of worship?

I see his point

At the opening address of our Worship Central SA Conference, Ross Lester, from Bryanston Bible Church, gave a fantastic exhortation to worship leaders from Philippians 3:7-21 to live a private life of worship which echoes Matt’s album motif of unbroken praise. The following is my interpretive notes of Session 1 by Ps. Ross. 

Your public ministry can ruin your private life. This happens as we cause a growing gap between our stage and private life and become more passionate about our stage role than the One we sing too.

In our secret habitual sin the stage will feel like redemption and sham at the same time. In our suffering we will be forced to fake a brave face, and our ministry success will make the gap between who we are and who we pretend to be greater.

Here are six exhortations of displine that will help close the gap of public and private worship.


Grow in your private discipline and devotion through prayer, reading your Bible, fasting and contrition. Nothing beats the surpassing worth of knowing Christ.


We have been baptized into his death, raised into His life, found in Him, righteous in Him.

God’s mercy and grace enpowers us with humble confidence in our position in Christ. We are righteous now and are therefore called to live like it.


The salvation of the world is not up to us. Jesus is the new High Priest and we don’t have to try to be one.


We’re in a long and grueling race of life in which we need to press on as we serve in the small things, in total obscurity and anonymity.


Who has their eyes on you? Flourish where you are with people who know you and know your limitations.


One day the gap will be gone. We need to remind ourselves of the reality of the unending praise of eternity.



Download Matt Redman’s New Album


The sound check was a disaster. The focus – on the stress of getting the mix right, fixing the in-ears. A bunch of us snuck off to the green room to snack and avoid the stress. Then our SA Worship Central director had a great idea… “Let’s pray”.


Worship is about connecting with and encountering God – ye it’s for Him, but the promise is that He inhabits the praises of His people. Distraction, noise, and stress disconnects our focus in worship. As we still our hearts and fix our eyes upon Jesus he makes a way where all seems lost. He brings a still, calm and peace to the chaos and stress of our lives.

The prayer I felt to pray in the green room was along the lines of ‘let every eye be fixed on Jesus, and every heart stirred in worship of Him’. He is our focus.


The opening  video, played in darkness, echoed my prayer – the audio visual of revurberating noise, building, frustrating every heart, reminding us of the stress of the day, suddenly stopped to soothing keys and words encouraging us to focus and fix our eyes on Jesus.

Lights illuminated, the set list of the days reahearsel somewhat dismissed as Tim Hughes humbly, obediently led the team in a slightly different direction that culminated in free singing of new songs.

In a moment of waiting on Him, a young man sang out from the depths of his heart, and Tim led us to join in as together we sang ; “You put this song in our hearts, You put this song in our lips, You put this joy in our hearts, I will praise you, praise you Lord.”

A call to pray for healing brought many to the front. At some point before the night concluded with us singing and jumping with joy in our hearts to The Way, I recall Tim using these same words ‘fix our eyes on Jesus’. I don’t recall his context, but it impressed on me my primary personal takeaway for the weekend – Fix your eyes on Jesus!

In the end we had a great worship night at the opening of our Worship Central Conference South Africa with Tim Hughes and an impactful conference would follow.

When we humble ourselves, when we realize our efforts can’t force breakthrough, when we get our focus right, when we fix our eyes on Jesus; He meets us, we encounter the beauty of His glory and grace, he brings peace, joy, healing and so much more.

Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. (‭Hebrews‬ ‭12‬:‭1-2‬ NASB)



One of my biggest debates… Okay it was a full on theological argument… was around somebody ascribing a second meaning to the parable of the sower. He had an opinion or feeling of what it meant to him personally in a particular circumstance. My argument was that Jesus a few verses later is asked by His disciples the meaning of the parable, and He tells them.

18 “Hear then the parable of the sower: … – Matthew 13:18-23

So granted I am a logical analyst, a rational thinker. Abstract, while appreciated, is odd to me. If Jesus tells us the meaning of the parable how could I ascribe personal alternative meaning to it? Recently I was conflicted by a verse read in its rightful context.

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. – Jeremiah 29:11

What a beautiful promise. Who me Lord? You have plans for welfare for my future?

Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart. – Jeremiah 29:12-13

Anything you say Lord? I’ll call on You and I’ll seek You with all my heart. After a promise like that why wouldn’t I?

I will be found by you, declares the LORD, and I will restore your fortunes and gather you from all the nations and all the places where I have driven you, declares the LORD, and I will bring you back to the place from which I sent you into exile. – Jeremiah 29:14

Um…? Ok…

“Because you have said, ‘The LORD has raised up prophets for us in Babylon,’ – Jeremiah 29:15

Clearly this promise in its original context is not directed at me. But it is a promise that reveals to us the heart of God towards His people. Now that we can personalize! We can personalize, from this verse, the nature and character of our God. We can confirm His heart towards us as we align ourselves with the covenant that He has promised to us.

That said… God is God. It’s His Word. It’s His Scripture. It’s His promises. If He would choose to speak through a donkey or even me… Then how dare I assert He couldn’t, if He chose to, speak something new from a promise of old purposed for a particular people.



  I messaged my wife and asked her, “What’s your favorite bible verse / story?” 

“Hmm. Seek ye first the kingdom of God and All His righteousness and all these things shall be added unto you. Also… For he hasn’t given us a spirit of fear but of power love and a sound mind. Off the cuff…plenty more. Why?”

“Just thinking…”


“What is my life message? Kingdom Seed Abiding Fruit. I like seek first… ‘He presented himself alive to them after his suffering by many proofs, appearing to them during forty days and speaking about the kingdom of God.’ – Acts 1:3


My mission in life is creatively communicating the Gospel of the Kingdom. For me the Kingdom, here but not yet fully established on earth, is sealed in us by the Spirit of God and then advanced through the sons of the Kingdom carrying that seed and multiplying it through humble obedience to the Lordship of Christ.

In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory. – Ephesians 1:13-14

He answered, “The one who sows the good seed is the Son of Man.The field is the world, and the good seed is the sons of the kingdom. The weeds are the sons of the evil one, – Matthew 13:37-38

He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness. – 2 Corinthians 9:10


We can do nothing of significance without God. In Him we can do all things. Abide has become the single-word challenge in my journey with Jesus. Instead of running around with my clever ideas and God-given creativity; to rather dwell, rest, live, step by step, breath by breath in HIM. Only then will what I put my hand to produce fruit that lasts. Abiding fruit sown from the leading of the Holy Spirit in and through me.

Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. – John 15:4-5

If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples. – John 15:7-8

You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you. – John 15:16


My favorite and most frustrating verse of Scripture is Acts 1:3

He presented himself alive to them after his suffering by many proofs, appearing to them during forty days and speaking about the kingdom of God.

Full stop.

It doesn’t tell us what Jesus taught them for forty days on the Kingdom. But Jesus does go on to promise them the gift of the Holy Spirit – a promise of power to witness – perhaps about the things they learnt about the Kingdom during those forty days.

“I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. – John 16:12-13

The Kingdom of God abides forever. It’s here. It’s coming, in you and through you, by the Spirit of God in you.




A New Year is coming… Are you prepared? As we gear ourselves up for the new year some may reflect positively or negatively back on 2014, while others eager with expectation to start the new year, others still may be going into 2015 with trepidation. Either way, we will enter into 2015, and we will be penning our personal story to the grand-narrative, which is God’s story. All of history is His story.

Again I ask the question…


As I reflect back on 2014, in this series of mosaic memoirs, I want to suggest three keys to preparing yourself for a new year in which you hope to journal your small story into God’s grand story.

Get Help, Plan and Paint. Simple, right? Let me explain. These three keys are drawn from three sermon series we did in 2014 in which we realize that it’s not only God’s story that our lives are a tiny journal or memoir of, but He is The Helper, He is The Plan maker, The Author, Architect and Artist to which he applies the colour and detail to our Life’s Canvas. The ultimate preparation for a new year is to realign ourselves with Him. That sounds like one key. Well let me break it down for you.



As we go into 2015 we can choose to do it ourselves, in our own strength, with our own wisdom or understanding, or we can acknowledge that the God of the universe; All-Knowing, All-Powerful, All-Wise wants to help us. In John 16:7 Jesus explains the benefits of Him leaving His disciples; “Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you…”

The Helper is the promised Holy Spirit, who I could write about in a thousand more pages, but for now I want to simply say that in 2015 The Helper will empower you and give you an unfair advantage that takes you beyond your limitations and weaknesses. The Holy Spirit will guide and lead you with the wisdom, knowledge, insight and truth of God. The Helper is God; the third part of the Godhead. If you want to a part of God’s story then get God’s help – As a believer you’ve got it. The Holy Spirit not only wants to help you in 2015 as you submit to, listen to, follow, and ask Him for more of Him, but He also wants to give you gifts to equip you, character apps if you will, to help you face the year according to His plan and purpose.



As you prepare for 2015, know that God prepared long before you. As you make our plans know that ultimately God’s plan prevails. Ephesians 4:10 tells us; “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them”. God’s Plan was to redeem us, to restore us to Him and then to purpose us with His mission, a mission that asks of us to walk in unity, holiness, love, light, wisdom and victory. (Ephesians 4:3, 4:24, 5:2, 5:8, 5:15-17, 6:10-11) 

If we walk in His plan we will show the world His glory, love and grace. Therefore, as we prepare for 2015, as we make plans, perhaps it’s best to enquire of God what His plan is, and to walk in it, with the help of the Holy Spirit and knowing that, as you “Delight yourself in the Lord, … he will give you the desires of your heart.” Psalm 37:4

I only recently understood the subtle genius of this verse… as I delight more in God, I inevitably get to know Him more, and begin to delight in His plans for my life. His plans become the desires of my heart, and He will not only give it to me, but also help me in it.



With God’s help and God’s plan you are guaranteed to have a great year. That sounds too simple. It isn’t quite true. There’s an inappropriate bumper sticker, and no it’s not “Jesus loves you” or “God is good” although those are appropriate and true – but one that rather suggests that bad stuff in life sometimes happen. Why does God allow it? Because in the tension of His Fatherly Love and Sovereign Lordship God knows best. Trust Him! While others may sin and mean evil in our lives God can use it for good. Depend on Him!

Is it really that simple. God is good and just and ‘God is painting on a Canvas as big as the universe’. This is a line that Louie Giglio gave us in a talk I played at a Creative Canvas Coffee Connect this year. In this talk, Louie explains that while we are looking at life through our little bitty snap shots of it, God is painting on a canvas as big as the universe, and while He does so He is always committed to at least three things all the time;

  1. To His Glory
  2. To His Plan of Redemption
  3. To His People

We won’t always understand the big picture of what God is doing, it may even suck or hurt sometimes, but we need to trust that He is good, He is love; ‘And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.’ Romans 8:28


The good news of God’s Plan is the Gospel plain and simple – “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16

But once you’re in, and you journey this walk a while, you begin to realize that the other side of the Gospel is that it will cost you everything, and that God’s Big Picture Plan is also difficult and challenging.

‘And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it.’ Luke 9:23-24

‘[However] let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe…’ Hebrew 12:28

We are not in His plan but a part of His plan, sons and daughters, heirs and ambassadors of an unshakeable kingdom, with a firm foundation of faith in Christ. We are people of a different Spirit, living from the inside out with the Cross before us and the world behind us.


With that as a framework my encouragement is to allow God to be the master artist who applies the paint to His Canvas, yours and my life, in 2015. Trust Him, believe that He knows what He is doing and His plan will work out for good according to His ultimate purpose, His glory, His redemption, His people.

You are His Plan for 2015 – Walk in it.

He is your Help – Ask Him for it.

He is Lord – Allow Him to paint the canvas of your life in 2015.

It’s His story and your 2015 is a part of it – may it be a great entry and a great year for you and your family in Jesus Name.

RESOURCES: THE PLAN – A Journey to Walk In Devotional