bible

Culture

The Apprentice: I Genuinely Believe


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I’m sure a lot of us are looking forward to this coming Sunday and the final of the twelfth series of Lord Sugar’s The Apprentice. I for one am going to be genuinely nervous for young Courtney as he attempts to string four or five words together before his buffering kicks in like a pre-broadband dial-up. Seriously though, I wish the lad well – wouldn’t he be the most unlikely winner ever?

Watching the semi-final last night, one main thing struck me and actually spoke to me quite powerfully: No, not the unbelievably unprofessional business plans that are handed to Claude and Karren every single series; no, not the unbelievably stupid personal content on the candidate’s CVs; no, not the unbelievably fabricated facts and figures that the young entrepreneurs think will hold water.

The thing that struck me most (more…)

Culture, emotions, Jesus, Mental Health

In His Wings


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A Process of Healing

‘But for you who fear my name, the Sun of Righteousness will rise with healing in his wings. And you will go free, leaping with joy like calves let out to pasture.’ Malachi 4:2

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Four years ago I started praying for answers to major family difficulties that Nick and I had been facing at that particular time and that now, years later, seem ridiculous to still be praying about. I had (and still have) quite a naïve view of prayer and was holding out firmly for the moment when it would all make sense, when there would be full resolve and I could finally say “this is why this and that happened”. (more…)

Bible, Church, Theology

Into the Pray – The Bible


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Today is the 499th anniversary of the Reformation. This means that 500 years ago today it was the one year run-up to the defining moment in modern (church) history when Martin Luther would nail his 95 theses to the front door of Castle Church and All Saints’ Church in Wittenberg. Luther’s theses opposed the abusive practices of ‘preachers’ & ‘leaders’ who twisted the Bible, often to their own financial gain, via indulgences, rather than faithfully preaching the only doctrine at the centre of true biblical, Christian faith – the justification of grace by faith aloneSola fide.

(If you’re looking for further reading on Martin Luther, I can recommend this book by Scott Hendrix as an accessible option).


Next year, when the 31st October 2017 marks the 500th anniversary of something so profoundly important for all of us, can you imagine the excitement and the celebration and the stories that’ll be told?

But what about the year 1516, five centuries ago today, (more…)

Bible, men, theology

The Peace and Might of Gideon


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Imagine you’re sitting at home with your nearest and dearest, around a fire, eating some food, watching a movie. You’re trying to make the most of those few weirdly glorious days in between Christmas and New Year when everyone loses touch with the day of the week and the time of the day. What day is it? Don’t know. What time is it? Who cares?

Next, imagine that it’s night time and a crowd of one thousand people silently appears outside your house. Vaguely familiar, they stand facing your fort of refuge with large, flamed torches illuminating one thousand columns of cumulus breath rising toward the naked sky and the stars beyond. (more…)

Church, theology

Into The Pray – Baptism


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*This is the fourth post in a seven-part blog series called Into The Pray*

At the end of last week’s post, I asked a whole bunch of probing questions and provided the link to Bible Gateway so you could punch in the areas in question and then see for yourself what the Bible actually says, and, in some cases, doesn’t say about them.

If I was to roll all of these questions into one paraphrased version, it would be this:

Why do we do stuff in church that clearly we were never meant to do; why do we not do stuff in church that clearly we are supposed to?

Writing specifically of prayer, Mike Bickle puts it like this,

What we do negatively and what we neglect to do positively deeply affect our (prayer) lives. (Emphasis mine)

(more…)

Church, theology

Into The Pray – The Bride


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*This is the third piece in a 7 part blog series called “Into The Pray”*

Pic ‘n’ Mix

The church Mairi and I have left recently are awesome in many ways. But in other ways they are not awesome. This can be said of any church as well as of ourselves personally, so this  shouldn’t be offensive news to any of us, should it? But as a symptom of the common departure of denominational ‘church’ from Biblical truth about the Church, into a kind of blinkered brain-washing, some of you reading this will already be offended. (more…)

Church, Culture

Into The Pray – Prelude


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Raw Disclaimer

{No, I’ve not gone vegan, but I would like to issue a WARNING that this series is going to possibly offend or insult if you’re religious or blinkered by denominational or institutionalised forms of control. The aim of writing Into The Pray is absolutely not intending to insult or offend in any way (I take the subject of the church to be almost incomparably important) but I do want to deliberately ‘shoot in raw’ without ‘editing’ in order to process as best as I can}

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“Once more into the fray…into the last good fight I’ll ever know.

Live and die on this day…

Live and die on this day…”

Ottway, The Grey

__________________ (more…)

faith, religion

The Necessary Itch of Faith


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I appreciate the courage to rethink and examine the Christian faith as a response to the difficult (even distressing) loose ends that there can be for all of us in this life – like a kind of jazz music that ‘just doesn’t seem to resolve’ or sit pleasantly with us (any more).

But, without wanting to disappear down a rabbit hole by immersing myself in all the nooks and crannies that I’ve seen on Facebook lately, I’d like to just say one thing (in two halves) that, though likely to be disregarded as  being too simplistic or naive, remain the absolute and inescapable centre of these multifaceted debates. This needs to be said because although these conversations are personal in origin, to some, they nevertheless manage to create very public ripple-effects in the lives of others when they’re broadcast:

a) The Christian faith is a biblical faith, i.e. it is unashamedly based on the written word of God, regardless of how you respond to it personally. Christianity never pretends to be anything other than utterly biblical and the serious study of the biblical text will show far fewer grey areas or ‘interpretation weaknesses’ than we might like to think. The problem is that we don’t study it seriously enough.

b) The Christian faith is also just that: faith. If the starting (and ongoing) point of Christianity becomes anything other than faith then it ceases to be biblical and, therefore, Christian. This is not to say that faith is incompatible with general enquiry or even a millennial type of examen, but it does mean that you can spend an eternity trying to ‘work stuff out’ to find the illusive musical resolve of the jazz, but it will never come without faith…faith is always required despite our varying urges to fight and even rage against this order of design.

forest-landscape

Therefore, the Christian faith is not compatible with scratching the itch of needing to ‘know’ that something is real before ‘knowing’ it is true – in the sense of needing to ‘see before believing’ – in other words, the bible says you can ‘know’ THE truth by seeing but only via a sight that comes by faith.

Finally, it’s worth saying that examining the Christian faith can (and should) be done while still exercising faith…it is solidly robust enough to endure historical, philosophical and theological enquiry while still recognising that, at its core, is this mysterious but indispensable element called faith.

Christian FAITH – you may call it blind, childish or even ludicrous, but it will always remain the staple ingredient for any saving vision or relationship with Jesus Christ.

And He remains EVERYTHING

“Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” – Mark 10:15

Bible, Prayer, Theology

The Humanity of Prayer


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We were flicking through movie rental options on TV the other night when we stumbled across Kevin Reynolds’ 2016 film Risen – a film about the resurrection of Christ as seen through the eyes of a Roman Military Tribune, Clavius ((Joseph Fiennes).

Inititially I thought the film was going to be lame but was surprised by the way the film grew on me, particualrly when Jesus featured, as played by Cliff Curtis – I’d thoroughly recommend renting/buying the film!

Barging into the Upper Room

There is one particular aspect of the film that continues to speak to me powerfully:

As the Bible says, when Jesus rose from the grave, after Mary Magdalene had recognised Him by the grave-side, Jesus appeared to His disciples. Walls, Roman Soldiers, constanty conspiring Pharisees and the frightened bewilderment of His people weren’t a problem – Jesus met with his friends to prove his resurrection glory and to encourage His grieving mates. (more…)

Bible, Creativity, Prayer, psalms, writing

A Normal Oblivion


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Bed-side

Imagine being woken up tomorrow morning by voices in your head, or voices that you thought were in your head. Imagine groggily coming round, sick in your stomach, disoriented by fear because of the sonic traffic that the voices in your head were creating: unfamiliar tones, unrecognisable expressions – a mystifying medley of unearthly voice. Imagine waking tomorrow morning to experience something akin to a dream and yet that was not a dream; something understandable and yet utterly bewildering.

You would be afraid. (more…)