religion

heaven

The Places We Call Home


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Space

When you’re relaxed and at peace, when things are sweet between you and God, (currently not just fundamentally), you tend to notice things. This is because the spaces that you need in order to hear, and the discipline that you need in order to listen, are too-often rammed with the traffic fumes of anxiety and fear, idleness and unbelief.

I was with Mairi walking through a small Scottish village on the Eastern coast of the UK a few hours before Christmas last year, passing through plumes of our own breath and treading the seasonal crispness under foot. It had been a stressful end to a stressful year and we were easing in to a couple of weeks away from the front line.

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God, Jesus, Love, Theology

The Hardest Lesson I’ve Ever Had To Learn


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Broken-down World

The sting of injustice is never pleasant. Like an incurable disease plaguing the entire world, all of us can see injustice functioning on a global scale every single day. We witness Robert Mugabe, corrupt Bankers, terrorism, famine, Rogue Traders, lazy Landlords, disallowed goals that have crossed the line, recruitment processes that look legal but that are internally rigged, false imprisonments, false biblical teaching, the ivory trade, endangered tigers, abuses of power, human trafficking and a whole other nightmare of unimaginable dysfunction that, somehow, manages to endure.

Despite the rare pockets of glory, our best efforts to act justly and the promises within the redemptive mission of God, we still live in an unjust, broken-down world.

Global becomes Personal

Global injustice like this is meant to provoke us into faith-filled action and to woo us into the caring shelter of God, but, like a nauseating hors d’oeuvre before our eventual main course of numbness, it has a nasty habit of shutting us down. (more…)

Bible, Theology

The Cinderella Gift of Discernment


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An Unlikely Bride

The Disney fairytale Cinderella is a story about an unlikely bride mistreated at the hands of her guardians but who eventually rises from the doldrums of her slave labour to become the star of the ball and the stunning wife of Prince Charming. The tale is a love story of redemption, beauty, justice and power, all punctuated by the sweet grace notes of gospel-joy.

More specifically, as the supernatural source of Cinderella’s salvation, The Fairy Godmother’s presence in the story is a poetic type of the gift-giving Spirit of Power in the life of the Christian. Cinderella herself typifies a specific gift of the Holy Spirit that we’re urged to long for – a gift that enables our tasting and seeing of the joy to be found only in God. (more…)

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…)

Church, Theology

Into the Pray – Marriage


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If you’ve read the other 5 posts in this blog series, you’ll know that it’s a series that’s been born out of a deep distress with how a lot of church (fundamentally) functions today compared with how we see the Church (fundamentally) functioning in the Bible. It is also a blog series that’s been born out of a deep love for the church and a longing for her to be all that she is meant to be.

Before I write the final post in the series next week, I wanted to flag up a uniquely distressing aspect of the ‘schmorgers board’ of church life that I referred to in one of the earlier posts a few weeks ago. (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…)

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)

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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…)