Evangelism, faith, God, spirituality, Theology

Call Him Abba

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I bumped in to a neighbour today out on the street on the way home from work. He’s an Iraqi Muslim who’s lived in Scotland for probably longer than I’ve been alive, has a wife and children and grand-children. He’s such a great guy…so gentle and willing to genuinely discuss and talk about loving God. We stood in the street for just fifteen minutes or so but for the whole time we talked about the Bible (like, “oh what’s your new job, Nick? What does Bible Advocacy mean? etc etc) about faith and about Western/Eastern world views that influence spirituality.

It was awesome.

Then, as I sensed the conversation shifting, I felt like I needed to just emphasise the Father.
Just for the moment, forgetting the state of the world, the mutual exclusivity of the Bible/Qu’ran, Trump, North Korea, terrorism, unbelief riddling the Nations, the cesspit of false teaching in the church, blind “leaders” leading others like sheep to the slaughter, societal obsessions about so-called gay marriage and mirages of equality and inclusion and counterfeit love….just for the moment let’s just talk about Him.

About Daddy.

So, I said that to him… (more…)

Smart Phones, Social Media

Social Media Voyeurism – Why I Quit Instagram

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The Fear of Disconnect – FOMO

It would be a fair statement to make that we live in the ultimate era of connectedness, in a society where pretty much everyone makes use of at least one social media platform to ‘stay-in-touch’ or to ‘keep up-to-date’. There are countless platforms to choose from and you can even earn money from them if you can work out how to do it really well. The teenagers that I teach can barely exist without their phones and, if it’s not on Snapchat, did it even really happen? (more…)

Bible, Eschatology, Evangelism, Prayer, terrorism, Theology

Masquerading Messengers of Light


In Matthew chapter 10, we read Jesus sending out His sheepish yet hard-core company of followers into a dangerous world with the gospel and an express set of instructions that are particularly interesting – particularly interesting because He usually didn’t prescribe formulas for miracles. There was no Visa, no North Face apparel, no weekending bag picked up for a snip at T K Max – just the gospel and a heart and mouth of Spirit-drenched faith.

Fledgling in their spiritual authority, Jesus told them to speak to the houses that they entered (v12), monitor the activity of their peace (v13), find the places that were deserving of their presence and to shake the dust from their feet in protest against the places that weren’t (v14). [Related reading: The Places We Call Home]

Church, Wake Up!


faith, Jesus, Theology

Exercising an Exorcising Faith 

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I love thinking about Jesus. Because  His name is inextricably linked with infinite, creative power, even my thoughts about Him hold potential to change my heart. Indeed, the epic hymn Be Thy My Vision exclaims,

Thou my best Thought, by day or by night…

So, settling down with the Bible in hand and regularly spending time soaking in Jesus’ gospel stories – His words, actions, thoughts, prayers – is the best thing you’ll ever do.

He Could Not Be Hidden 

But there’s one moment in the life of Jesus that has always left me particularly confused.

In Mark 7:24-30 Jesus seems to be having a bad day. The Bible says that  He had entered a house but wanted to be incognito (v24) – fair enough. It might have been that He was tired from the rigours if His Rabininc responsibility; it could have been that He wanted to pray quietly; perhaps He hadn’t slept much the previous night. He was a man, though He was God, and yet,

…He could not be hidden…His presence could not be kept secret. (V24[b])

This is a beautiful example of Jesus’ perfect dual identity: He’d have preferred to keep His head down (humanity) but He couldn’t conceal the Presence (divinity).

Jesus, Please Just Sort It Out

There are lots of “immediatelys” in Mark’s gospel, fast-moving and brief as it is. Immediately a desparate woman approached Jesus and fell at His feet. It turns out that her daughter was possessed by a demon.

Let’s pause here.

Imagine the scene of this woman’s home life:  Mummy’s little girl was possessed by a demon. This is terrible and shocking though common in the New Testament narrative. What would this have looked like? Frothing at the mouth? Self harming? Screaming obscenities? Not sleeping? Not eating? Throwing herself into fire? 

The bottom line is that this woman was desperate for Jesus to sort it out, just as you or I would have been.

But Jesus didn’t seem to care. Frankly, Jesus seemed to be in a bit of grump and not very Jesus-ey at all. He dismissed the Syro-Phoenician woman in a way that appears to intentionally insult her (v27) as well as dismissing the urgent situation of her little girl being abused by a demon. After all Jesus, surely it was about the little girl’s life and not her Mother’s ethnicity?

What’s in a Person?

What is the most astonishing detail of this passage? Jesus’ apparent racism? No, the woman’s reflex response of faith is the real gem here as, of course, Jesus knew full well even before it was hewn.

But was there really any need to have spoken to the lady like this? This is a legitimate question.

As I thought about our dichotomy (the loving Jesus we know vs. the apparently unloving Jesus in this passage) an answer emerged to our question.

There’s a moment at the beginning of John’s gospel where Jesus met Nathanael. Read John 1:43-51. 

The wonder of this encounter with Nathanael and his friends is Jesus proving and demonstrating to everyone that He saw and knew Nathanael  completely and perfectly before He even physically met him. Indeed, Jesus knew Nathanael (and everyone else who has/will ever lived) before he was born. And He knew Nathanael perfectly as he would come to be.

John then later explicitly says in 2:24 that,

…Jesus knows what is in a man (or woman!)

Jesus knew that there was no guile in Natahanael (Jn.1:47) and Jesus knew that an astonishing faith lived in this Syro-Phoenician woman. Had Jesus not (legitimately, might I add) quoted the Torah at her as a non-Jewish woman, the kernel of faith in her would have remained buried. It was as though the impossible-to-conceal Presence of the messiah called to the impossible-to-conceal faith of the Syro-Phoenician, that responded in Mark’s immediate style.

We think of Jesus’ correctly when we see that His bespoke answer to the woman’s initial request was in order to send her away not just with her desired miracle but also with the testimony of her exercised, exorcising faith. Jesus was thinking about the post-deliverance, testifying life of this family! Who knows what else this woman (and her little girl) went on to achieve by their faith that was proven as gold?

He Knows What’s In Us

What this tells me about God is that sometimes the way He leads us may seem to be unfair and even unloving.

This is never true.

What is true is that God knows us indivually so well that He knows exactly what we can handle (see 1 Cor. 10:13) and exactly how to bring the very best out in us as individuals. It also tells me that we can have honest conversations with Him including even pointedly disagreeing with Him.

Though the Bible doesn’t give us detail about facial expressions, I have no doubt that the robust Syro-Phonecian woman left this house party, from the Presence that couldn’t be concealed, feeling relieved as well as completely known and loved.

24-7 Prayer, faith, terrorism, Theology

Manchester’s 23rd Body


I write a lot. I actually write an average of thee blog articles every week including for several online magazines. This means that I can occasionally lapse into carelessness when it comes to forming ideas, concepts and sentences; or rush and take the proverbial half-baked loaf out of the blog oven before a post is really ready to be read.

So, I am deliberately approaching this article with a heightened sense of care for fear of upsetting, offending or being misunderstood and from a sincere desire to help us all in these dark days. (more…)

Evangelism, God, Jesus, Jesus Come

Ready: Steady, Go

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The Urgent Call to “Go”

“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. “Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you. You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavour, how shall it be seasoned? It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men.” Matt 5:10-13

I have been in love with Jesus just over fourteen years. I still vividly remember the day that I finally stopped running from God, repented of my sin and received Jesus as my Lord and Saviour. Everything changed in an instant. The Holy Spirit flooded my soul with the most glorious love, joy, peace and ecstasy. Words are utterly inadequate to describe what took place then and the loving Presence which continues to follow and fill my life to this day. I will say I knew that heaven and hell were real, that death had lost its sting, that I would spend eternity with my heavenly Father and that, well, EVERYONE needed to know about the reality of this crucified and resurrected Jesus Christ. So I started getting out there in the sea of humanity, going after the lost, opening my mouth and telling people about Jesus. The rest has been salty, bewildering and exciting history! (more…)

Bible, Theology

Carried Along (5 minute study of 2 Peter 3)

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I was reading 2 Peter earlier this morning in the ESV as I leaned in to God for a cuddle.  A phrase struck me that I found immediately vivid and helpful:

Right at the beginning of the letter in 1:21, Peter refers to the human writers of Scripture who were “carried along” by the Holy Spirit. Right at the end of the letter in 3:17, he warns of not being “carried away” with the error of lawless men.

Carried along and carried away – two phrases that, though having different roots in their original Greek, are constructions Peter clearly contrasts with each other as a word play.

Bumbling Peter, the restored rock of the church who, on more than one occasion, knew what it was to be carried away by the deception and cowardice of Satan. But also Mighty Peter, the stalwart Great on whom Christ would build His church as its Spirit-carried leader.

An Illustration

Have you seen the new version of the Disney classic Jungle Book? We watched it the other day and loved it! But there’s a scene in the original 1967 animated movie that illustrates Peter’s point here better than the new one and that came to mind as I read:

  1. Do you recall Mowgli drifting down the jungle river sitting on Baloo’s cushion-like belly without a care in the world? This helps us to understand what Peter meant by being carried along by the Spirit, by Whom we become more than our mere human nature. Becoming like God Himself as He fills us and carries us every day.
  2. Seconds later, Mowgli is snatched by King Louie’s monkeys. This helps us to understand what Peter meant by not being carried away by the error of the lawless.

The point is that, positively, in order to be carried along by the power of the Holy Spirit and not, negatively, to be carried away by the schemes of the devil, we must do two things:

a) Be On Guard – (2 Peter 3:17) – Every day when we wake up, and every night when we go to bed, let’s make sure to pray. Pray that you would be alert to the schemes of the enemy and increasingly aware of the power of the Holy Spirit.

b) Grow in Grace & Knowledge – (2 Peter 3:18) – This ‘being on guard’ isn’t a passive hope; it’s an  active priority to take your Bible and increase your knowledge of who Jesus is as we become more like Him in His grace.

In 2 Peter 3:-3-4 Peter tells us  that in the last days there will be scoffers. This means that there will people and spiritual entities who will scoff at the reality of being carried along by the Holy Spirit.

So, let’s do what Peter tells us to do in response to this in verse 8:

Do not forget this one thing….with the Lord a day is like a thousand years and a thousand years are like a day.

He is nearer that you think.

Read Acts 17:27 then ask Him to show you His nearness again.