religion

Bible, song of solomon, Theology

Song of Solomon: Virginal Wooing


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Have you ever ordered more pizza than you needed? Like me, you probably tried to eat it all because you’d spent the money but also had some tasty cold pizza left over for breakfast the next day.

Blogging through our Song of Solomon series has been a little like this for me: far too much for one or two or even three sittings but tasting better every time I return for more – often after significant indigestion.  (more…)

heaven, Theology

Paradise: Why Remona Aly’s Heaven is Nowhere Near Good Enough 


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Before reading, CLICK HERE & listen to Remona’s 2 minute feature on Chris Evan’s Radio 2 Pause for Thought from earlier this week. Start at 2:50 hours. 

This week’s blog is indebted to a good friend who wrote to me requesting that I have a listen to Remona’s view of spirituality in the radio show, above. My friend had seen my post a few weeks ago about an encounter I had with a couple of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Glasgow and wanted to know what I thought…
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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. (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.

Jesus, second coming, Theology

Ready: The No. 1 Hallmark of a Healthy Christian


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Your Spiritual Spring Clean

“I will agree with something Godly, righteous and true, nod my head, allow my heart to rise, even say ‘amen!’ out loud and then…do nothing.”

Last week I encouraged you to go away, get alone with God and begin a conversation with Him about how you might begin to convert thoughts and ideas from this series into practical steps towards actually changing your lifestyle. I suggested you share your thoughts with someone you can trust so that these blogs might catalyse lasting change in your life with ramifications rippling into eternity.

Did you do actually that?
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Jesus, Jesus Come, second coming, Theology

Ready: Introduction


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What’s This All About?

Most of you who read Firebrand Notes on even a semi-regular basis will know that about eighteen months ago we produced a film/music project called Jesus Come. Not only were Mairi and I really pleased with the way the project turned out, we passionately believe in the message that it carries: that the world is in a desperate, desperate mess (more than we can see) and people are hurting (beyond our capacity to understand); Jesus Christ is the only hope to bring justice and order and He is coming again.

For generations, the church has flitted between the excessive polarities of, on the one hand, talking about the Second Coming too much (while doing very little) and, on the other, focusing on an ‘attractional’, ‘relevant’, seeker-sensitive model of church (while failing to teach disciples to live in the reality of His coming).

In both cases, the gospel is generally more of a fix-my-life-make-it-better prescription than it is an invitation to surrender, suffer, die and live in the evangelistic power of the early church.

Houston, we have a problem.

What Is The Problem?

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faith

An Atrophy of Faith


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A Brave New World

An amazing Brazilian couple we’ve recently made friends with came over to our house last night for dinner. Monday evening isn’t exactly the usual time of the week for having friends over but it suited our guests who have a very hectic working schedule that involves them both regularly working into the early hours of the morning – via pretty unsociable patterns – and Monday was a day off. Having only previously met and talked briefly at church, we were about two minutes into conversation over dinner when it dawned on me that this beautiful couple sitting opposite us were mighty in faith!

About a year ago they had made the decision to radically relocate their lives, along with their two children, from Brazil to Scotland simply because God had asked them to. Now we were enjoying dinner together as they both shared stories about the goodness and the power of God in their lives. With all of the many challenges you can imagine in moving from one country to another (employment, schooling, food, weather, culture, language, friends etc etc), they are now prayerfully waiting on the Father to show them how He wants to use them in this brave new world.

Faith is a Muscle

In the natural world of exercise and health, when you regularly participate in resistance training your muscles get bigger (hypertrophy); when you don’t get involved in said resistance training your muscles waste and become weak and small (atrophy).

I had worked in the world of fitness and health for more than ten years so when my new friend used this phrase (faith is a muscle) to explain his understanding of the key difference between the Brazilian and UK churches, it struck me powerfully. But mainly it registered forcefully with me because it was a phrase that had come out of the mouth of a believer who was truly living by faith in front of my very eyes!

It was also because I am someone who does regularly lift weights to keep in good physical condition that this metaphor had a profound impact on me: it’s all very well training and looking after your physical muscles but if you’re not exercising your muscle of faith you’re weak on the inside. I hate the idea of being weak and flabby in the physical so how much more horrible is the thought of being a weak and flabby spiritual man of faith?

Primed by the miraculous, awe-inspiring stories of our friends, I wanted to start exercising faith there and then!

Comfortable Christianity

Thinking about this simple analogy for the spiritual life of faith, how healthy is your faith, would you say?

Chat to someone about it.

Do you feel like you exercise your faith regularly or perhaps you feel a little out of shape?

People don’t exercise in the natural for lots of reasons many of which are often very valid but perhaps God is asking you to talk to Him about starting to exercise your faith in a new way?

What does the Bible say?

“…faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.”

Romans 10:17

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