Identity – Men

This weekend I have been asked to address a men’s breakfast and it got me thinking about where men find their identity. It came to the conclusion that we are particularly prone to a distinct lack of reality. We often pride ourselves on being hand’s-on and practical, but the reality is far from the truth. Sure we can fix the dishwasher, change a tire, mow the lawns, but can we find a pair of socks in the sock drawer?

Let’s face it guys, we really are dreamers. As teenagers we think we are invincible. We get in a car and imagine we are Nicky Rosberg. We meet a woman and think of ourselves as James Bond. We face the things in the world that we just don’t understand like we are Dr Who. We like to think we are invincible, God’s gift to women, and have a solutions for every problem.

Things don’t get any better as we get older. In fact how we see ourselves often become even less connected with reality. If reality was life I would be 18 years old. Tall dark and handsome, elite sportsman with great 6 pack body. Funniest guy on planet, every other guy is jealous and every woman wants me. I’m richer than Bill gates, more talented than Hugh Jackman AND better looking!

But the truth is something far different, and we can not trust our own judgement on these things. It is only when disaster strikes and we are forced to face reality that we see things how they really are. Although it may not be too late to fix the problem at that time, we are usually full of regret that we didn’t spot the problem earlier. We know that if only we had seen the truth the problem would never have become as serious as it is now.

Let me give you several examples. Take the alcoholic who doesn’t recognise they have a drinking problem, or the man with prostate cancer who refuses to believe that it is anything to be concerned about. Relationships is also one of the areas where guys are particularly bad judges. How many times have relationships broken up, and they guys says “I never saw it coming” despite the fact that the relationship has been on the rocks for many years.

The problems is often related to our identity. How we see ourselves reflects how we feel about our situation. If we see ourselves as invincible then their is nothing to worry about. If we see ourselves as appealing to others, then we can handle rejection. If we see ourselves as gods, then nothing is impossible for us.

Psychologist often promote the power of positive thinking, but given the serious reality check that disaster often brings, positive thinking will not get you through. Instead of taking your identity from who you think you are, take it from who God says you really are.

“As it is written: ‘There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands; there is no one who seeks God. All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one.’” (Romans 3: 10-11) “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5: 8) “For if, by the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God’s abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ!” (Romans 5: 17)

Look to Jesus. Comparing our life to his gives us the reality check we need. Accepting his life in ours gives us the solution to becoming the very person we always want to be – REALLY.

God Bless,


“Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will never fail, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys.” (Luke 12 v33)

Possessions are very much like riches. Money can buy possession, possession can be sold for money, but I would like to suggest they are not the same thing. Possessions have their own attraction that I think can make them even more insidious than money. Ultimately money is simply a method of exchanging possessions and when we consider our wealth we need to include possession in the calculation.

As an example, many people are happy to give money out of their income to various charities, but how many would actually sell their house in order to give the proceeds away? Some may leave their estate to charities in their will, but that is once they have finished with it. Very few people would think that it is prudent to sell your home and give it to the church while you were still young.

I am not suggesting for a moment that you should go and sell everything you own and give it to the poor (Unless you are sure that Jesus is asking you to do this very thing, in which case I would say do it immediately). What I want to point out however is that for many people it is far easier to get attached to possessions than it is to money. Cars, houses, entertainment systems, mobile phones – we can become attached to them all. It may well be worth thinking about what you own that you would never give away. What are the things you just couldn’t do without?

As with money, possession should be just tools that we use to further the kingdom of God. There is nothing wrong with having them, as long as we use them wisely. If we are not willing to use them appropriately, or even to give them up if asked to do so, then it should be clear to us that we value them more than we value our relationship with God, and that makes them nothing more than idols in our life.

If you are tempted to excuse yourself by saying that you need your house or you car or whatever else it is that you own, just bear in mind that we must not trust in the things of this world.. “Woe to those who go down to Egypt for help, who rely on horses, who trust in the multitude of their chariot, and in the great strength of their horsemen, but do not look to the Holy One of Israel, or seek help from the Lord.” (Isaiah 31 v1)

You may be diligent with your money. You might regularly give to the house of God and to the poor and disadvantaged, but how do you use your possessions? God requires us to use everything we have for his kingdom.. “The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field.” (Matthew 13 v44)

This very day you should do a stocktake. Look around you at everything you have and ask how God can use what you have to serve his kingdom better. In this way you will be like the shrewd manager in Luke 16 v1-9, “I tell you, use worldly wealth to gain friends for yourselves, so that when it is gone, you will be welcomed into eternal dwellings.” (v9)

God Bless,


“For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.”

(1 Timothy 6: 10)

Many Christians struggle with how to deal with the issue of money. Often it is a case of one extreme or the other. Many devout christians have taken a vow of poverty for the sake of Jesus and have changed the world for the better. Then again there are many examples of Christians who are (and remain) wealthy who are using their money to advance the kingdom in ways that would not be possible if God had not blessed them..

Part of the problem is that this verse in Timothy is often misquoted as ‘Money is the root of all evil’. This is not what this verse says. It is the love of money that is the problem. Although it is easier for a rich man to love money, it is certainly not impossible for those who are poor to have the same problem.

Probably the simplest test you can do to see if money is a problem for you is to ask yourself if you have the same attitude as Paul did towards money. “I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.” (Philippians 4: 12-13)

The biggest sign that your identity is associated with money is that you are never satisfied. You make your first million and you can’t wait for you second million. You get the latest phone and you can’t wait for the next one. No matter how many overseas trips you have been on, you are never satisfied unless you have yet another one planned.

Because the poor have nothing they certainly find it easier to keep their imagination under control. They don’t know what it is like to have, so they find it easier not to want it. But nevertheless they can still suffer from a love of money. Paul had been in both situations. He had been is a position of wealth, and in a position of poverty, but neither had satisfied him. The key to be content, Paul says, is to know that we can only achieve a full life through him who gives us strength.

Being rich will not make us content and will not achieve God’s purposes in itself. Neither will being poor. The only way to be content is to trust him to provide all our needs. He may meet these needs in many ways. Money is only one of them. But we should never forget that he is the one who is does it, and put our faith in God not in the money he provides. Money is simply one of the tools we can use to help us meet our needs. Used correctly it can be beneficial. Used incorrectly and, as Paul says to Timothy, it will pierce us with all kinds of grief.

In today’s passage we are also warned not to be eager for money. If we want to live a satisfied life, and we understand that it is God who satisfies, then it is clear that we should be eager for God instead. As the Psalmist says “Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.” (Psalm 37 v4)

Why would you want money when you can have everything your heart desires. Surely as Christians who have a personal relationship with the living God, the creator of the universe, we are so much more than that.

God Bless,


“You were bought at a price; do not become slaves of human beings” (1 Corinthians 7:23)

In the last devotional I talked about becoming a new creation and finding my identity in Christ. If we want to become a new creation we need to kill off the old, and remove anything that give us our identity outside of the will of God. If we recognise where our identity lies at the moment then we can see more clearly as Jesus changes us and we become a new creation and take up our identity in him.

I would like to tackle some of the areas of my life in which I have found my identity. Each of these areas have been so much a part of my life that I didn’t even recognise that it was a problem. I thought that it was right for me to take pride in my work, and do my best, and show loyalty and give honour to those I worked for. But I never recognised that I had gone too far. I had become a slave and I didn’t even know it.

When it came to my job, I made so many concessions in my life and sacrificed so many things that it became very unhealthy. And all along I thought I was doing the right thing, and it was killing me. God never intended us to be a slave to earthly masters, indeed in today’s passage he tells us the exact opposite. Yet I never took any steps to free myself.

I believe there were two main reasons for this. Firstly, as I have already mentioned, I was never really aware that the situation had become so serious, and secondly my identity was so intertwined with my work that I was afraid I would simply cease to exist if I gave up my job! It gave me a sense of belonging, it gave me meaning, and I needed money to pay the mortgage, and pay for the cruises I loved and the many other things that money could bring.

But the reality was quite different. Far from making my life happy and giving me an identity, my work made me miserable and was taking my identity away from me. I had become merely a cash cow for the company. I was chained to the grindstone and it was killing me.

This is no exaggeration. Those who know me have been telling me for a long time that I needed to give up my job or I would die. Like you, I thought they were exaggerating too, but now that I look back I can see that if I had kept going the way I was going I certainly would not have lived much longer.

You can’t see it when you are in it, but I urge everyone to try and ascertain it for themselves. Take a step back and look at what gives you identity. If your identity lies in anything other than Christ then it is idolatry which is sin and it will enslaves you “for people are slaves to whatever has mastered them.” (2 Peter 2: 19b). Let my testimony be a warning to everyone that if we have our identity in the things of the world, we will be enslaved and die, but if our identity is in Christ we will be set free to live.

“When you were slaves to sin, you were free from the control of righteousness. What benefit did you reap at that time from the things you are now ashamed of? Those things result in death! But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life.” (Romans 6: 20-22)

By God’s grace he has taken from me the very things that have enslaved me. The things that gave me identity, but extracted a heavy toll from my life. What benefit did they really bring me? No, they were leading me to death, and yet all the way I thought they would bring me the joys of life. Instead I have gained a new identity. No money, no job, no corporate belonging, instead I have spiritual riches, a heavenly assignment, and I belong to the body of Christ. Shall I be a slave to the world, or a slave of God? I know which one I would prefer!

Lord help me reap the rewards of holiness and eternal life that come from living with an identity firmly based in you. I once slaved passionately for my work, help me now slave as passionately for you kingdom. Amen.

God Bless,


“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!” (2 Corinthians 5:17)

It has been over a year since I was made redundant from my job and the worse part about these past 12 months has probably been dealing with my own identity. I know it might seem a strange thing to say, but not having any money has not been as big an issue as not having a job.

Now when I wake up in the morning I no longer have any reason to get out of bed. There seems to be very little that motivates me anymore. More than that, the one thing I hate most know is when I have to fill in forms, or when people ask me, “So what do you do for a living?” Everytime I get asked this question I am reminded that from a worldly perspective I have no useful function and I am not contributing to society in the way that everyone would expect from a person of my background.

So it is that over the past 12 months I have had to come to terms with who I am. My identity was very much in the work that I did. I never realised how much I associated myself with my job, and took pride in identifying myself with the company I worked for and the work that I did. Yet now these things are gone I am left feeling empty, useless and alone.

Yet even at the very moment I found out that I had lost my job, even in the shock and numbness that settled on me, I had a small voice in the back of my head that told me ‘This is going to be the best thing that has ever happened to you’. Why? Because now I have the chance to re-invent myself. I can start from scratch and rebuild my life. I can become a completely new person, with a new purpose and a new identity.

This is exactly what we are called to be in this verse. We must put to death our own life and start living for him. “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me.” (Galatians 2:20a). This means that if you are a Christian then your identity must be with him.

No longer can we, as Christians, identity with the company we work for, with the job that we do there, or with the money that we earn. When I get up in the morning, my purpose must be God’s purpose, the things that give me identity must be in Christ. All that I do must be done for him. In short I must be completely sold out to him.

There is no longer a Sabbath in the sense that everyday must be offered to the Lord, not just one day a week. Of course this doesn’t mean I have to undertake full time ministry. I can still work for my living, I can still make money, run a business, and do a job. But in all these things I must be careful that I identity with Christ alone. My reason for going to work is to bring glory to God.

“Slaves, obey your earthly masters with respect and fear, and with sincerity of heart, just as you would obey Christ. Obey them not only to win their favor when their eye is on you, but as slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from your heart. Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not people, because you know that the Lord will reward each one for whatever good they do, whether they are slave or free.” (Ephesians 6: 5-7)

Note that even in our everyday work we still need to be doing the will of God from our heart. We need to be in the place God has called us to, and we need to do our work wholeheartedly just as if the Lord himself was our boss. Our reward will not come from our manager, nor from the money we earn or the praise of our colleagues. Or reward will come from the Lord himself.

We must have our identity in Christ. We must re-invent ourselves so that the Lord is in EVERYTHING we do. We must see his purposes in doing our work, in spending time with our families, even in our leisure activities. In everything we do we must be living for Christ. Anything less will leave us a slave to the world. I may have lost my job, but in finding my identity in Christ I have regained my life.

God Bless,


“’Don’t be alarmed,’ he said. ‘You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid him’” (Mark 16: 6)

As we enter the week of Easter it is important to remember the one critical fact that marks Easter as the single most important event of Christ life. Easter is NOT about the death of Jesus Christ!

It is true that in dying he became the perfect sacrifice for our sin. It is also true that in dying, he took on his body all of our imperfections, sicknesses and diseases. It is also true that when he died the curtain in the temple was torn from top to bottom, signifying that the ‘holy of holies’ – the very throne room of God – was now open for business to everyone, not just the chief priests.

In Jesus death we see our sins forgiven, and in addition to that we see physical and spiritual healing, and we see a complete restoration of our relationship with God. Jesus himself said at his death that his work was now finished. “When he had received the drink, Jesus said, ‘It is finished.’ With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.” (John 19:30)

So given all this, how can I possibly say that Easter is NOT about the death of Jesus Christ? It’s simple really. It’s about his resurrection not his death. “And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith.” (1 Corinthians 15: 14)

Why? Because if Christ is did not rise from the dead then – although we can experience all that Jesus achieved on the cross – it has no long term benefits to us. If the Son of God did not rise from the dead then nor will we, and if we don’t have eternal life then Jesus sacrifice has a used by date. It is only good while we are still on this earth.

God is about restoration and new life. Nothing about him is temporary. Hence the greatest work of God is in the resurrection of Jesus and new life God gave him, and offers to us. “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead” (1 Peter 1: 3)

On Monday I was diagnosed with severe and advanced Ankylosing Spondylitis. I feel like I am walking around in a graveyard at the moment. All I seem to be aware of is the decay of my body. I am meditating closely on today’s passage and although I can’t begin to comprehend it, I can’t help but feel that in all this disease and illness, I am alone.

But this passage tells me not be afraid. Yes, in all this I am trying to find Jesus, but I am looking in the wrong place. He is not in my death and decay, he is in my health, my new life, and my wholeness. He is risen. He is calling me to rise too.

This Easter I will not remember Jesus on the cross. I will not remember the tomb where he was buried. I WILL acknowledge his sacrifice, but my largest focus will be on his resurrection power, the same power he has given me.

Like Jesus I choose not to wallow in my pain, humiliation and death – although Jesus has been there – I can see where he lay – he is there no more. Instead I will remind myself of his resurrection life, eternal, whole and full of power.

This is Easter! This is my new life! This Sunday I will shout for praise because he is risen, and therefore so am I!

God Bless,


“And when the centurion, who stood there in front of Jesus, saw how he died, he said, ‘Surely this man was the Son of God!’” (Mark 15: 39)

I find this proclamation so odd in many ways. Firstly from my perspective there seems to be nothing remarkable about how Jesus died. The centurion would surely have seen thousands of crucifixions and there didn’t seem to be anything remarkable about this one. Secondly how is it that a centurion could recognise a Son of God when those who knew – the chief priests and teachers of the law – had clearly said he wasn’t? Thirdly, why would he even care?

Here is a man who is paid handsomely (at least twice that of a normal soldier, and some sources claim as much as 20 times). His job is to follow orders rather than to make decisions. He works for the invading army. The sworn enemy of the Jewish people. Many Jews expected that the messiah would in fact rise up against this very army and set them free.

So here he is watching over a rebel who, if he is indeed a king as he claims, is a very threat to the Roman Empire. The very fact that he is standing in front of Jesus means we can safely assume he was the commanding officer who carried out the orders to crucify Jesus. He was the one who watched over his soldiers as they drove in the nails into Jesus hands and feet, and hung him up for public humiliation.

Sure he was just carrying out orders, but he DID carry out those orders without hesitation. It was what he was paid to do, and it is unlikely he would have felt any compassion towards any of the others he was ordered to crucify. If he had I cannot imagine he would have ever been promoted to the lofty position of centurion. All of this, and a gentile too.

Yet in this passage we see him recorded as one of the great witnesses to the events that changed history. Somehow he managed to recognise what everyone else seemed to miss, this was a moment in history when the Son of God had appeared, and they had rejected and killed him. It is no wonder that in Matthew’s gospel he is recorded as being terrified (Matthew 27: 54). It had suddenly dawned on him what he had done.

What was unusual about how he died? Matthew’s Gospel give us a bit more detail. “At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook, the rocks split and the tombs broke open. The bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life.” (Matthew 27: 51-52)

This is truly amazing, and it is difficult to understand what it all means, but clearly this was not a normal death. Luke’s testimony describes it this way “It was now about noon, and darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon” (Luke 23: 44) and then goes on to say “When all the people who had gathered to witness this sight saw what took place, they beat their breasts and went away.” (Luke 23: 48)

If you have been spending your life like the centurion – a man of power and wealth, content to make a living carrying out orders and doing what he is told – then it is time to take notice. It is as if the centurion himself is begging you to understand ‘Surely this man was the Son of God!’, and then asking you to see what terrible things you have done in ignoring Jesus up to this point, then be afraid, beat your breasts in sorrow, and ultimately return to him with a new understanding.

Whatever you do as you read these words, do not ignore this man! Do not fall into the folly of the centurion, but listen to his testimony. Jesus is the way, the truth and the life, “For to be sure, he was crucified in weakness, yet he lives by God’s power. Likewise, we are weak in him, yet by God’s power we will live with him…” (2 Corinthians 13:4)

See how he died for you. See what he achieved on the cross, and take note of all that happened. If no other part of this journey we have taken through the gospel of Mark has convinced you that he is the Son of God, then let this most unlikely testimony be the final words that convince you. If you can manage to change your mind-set in the same way the centurion did, then you too will find life in all its fullness, the truth about the many mysteries of life, and the best way to live.

God Bless,



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