Friday, March 30, 2012

49 part Trois

The 3rd instalment of the 49 people who have influenced my 49 years:

16. Jimmy Gilmour. A fellow Scot who I hung out with at Bible College. I hadn't been in contact with him for almost 30 years till we finally hooked up through email this year. For a year we enjoyed each others company, travelled to various churches very often to a great church in Lincoln lead by the legend that is John Phillips. Jimmy also introduced me to a little known band back then called U2, which started a 30 year love affair with their music - Thanks Jim.

17. George Ridley. We had many lectures over 2 years in college but in some cases the people stood out more than the subject. That was the case one day when Mr Ridley came to Mattersey. I cant remember exactly the subject but I knew that there was something different about the guy and I knew I needed to learn from him. My first interaction was not great. Being set an essay I submitted what I thought was my best work only to have It returned with a line through it and "Where is your faith" written in red across the top. I have a feeling he didn't read past the first line. So I plucked up the courage and asked if I could come and learn from him in Milton Keynes. I arrived at "New City Pentecostal Church" as it was called, in Milton Keynes on 4th September 1984 for what I though was a 2 year temporary assignment. It has been an interesting journey at times but I have been humbled and honoured to serve a truly great man in God's Kingdom who continues to step up to the coal face the Kingdom again and again.

18. David Petts. As principle of the Bible College during my 2 year visit I have no doubt that Dr Petts would not have seen me as a model student. In fact he had more than one reason to kick me out. But on one such particularly bad occasion when I certainly didn't deserve to be in a place where people were studying to serve God he showed me GRACE. That meeting could have been a defining moment in my life where I would have had to return home in disgrace. I will always be grateful to him for showing me grace when I least deserved it. But actually his influence on me dated long before my college days. When becoming a Christian I was given a little book called "How to Live for Jesus." which shaped my early Christian experience. Written by David Petts!

19. Alex Ferguson. Obviously never met him or spoke to him and probably never will. But the Fergie years with my beloved Aberdeen were simply wonderful. League titles, Scottish Cups and of course the night of all nights the European Cup Winners Cup. My request to the college powers at be to travel to Gothenberg refused there was no way I was going to at least not watch it on TV. Problem being there was a chapel service on Wednesday nights. For me there was no choice. Only problem being Dr Allen stood up to welcome everyone to the service saying "We should be congratulated for being here tonight as there is a big football match on, isn't there Billy?" Only problem being Billy was not there! Another visit to the principals office the next day. But I cared not a jot, The Dons were on top of Europe and I was in cloud 9.

20. Paul Newberry. Another lecturer who was supposed to be teaching if I remember rightly, Pastoral Epistles. But for some reason started talking about the kingdom and eschatology and for the first time I heard someone talk about the subject that started to answer some of my questions. Brought up on a diet of what I would now call dispensationalism with tribulations, millennium and scenarios that didn't make sense to me and the devil always winning. Mr Newberry thankfully gave me a glimpse that there was another option. He introduced me to a little book by Michael Wilcock - I Saw Heaven Opened, which allowed me to carry on my voyage of discovery.

1 - 10

11 - 16

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

The Secret Place

But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you. - Matthew 6 v 6

We often make efforts to keep things secret. Mostly because we are not proud of many of the things in our secret world. We often go to great lengths to hide our habits, our thoughts or our misdeeds.

But why on earth would we hide something good. People need to know our good thoughts, acts or habits.

I think Jesus knows us only too well. Our hearts can take even spiritual disciplines and our "relationship" with God and turn it into a virtue. Somehow we can take our interactions with the creator of the universe and turn it into look at me.

My secret place, inside myself, is often filled with much of me. My reasoning, my thoughts, my fears, my doubt. Maybe its time to open the door to entertain Jesus in secret in my most secret place. My reward - I am changed!

“I pray because I can't help myself. I pray because I'm helpless. I pray because the need flows out of me all the time- waking and sleeping. It doesn't change God- it changes me.” ― C.S. Lewis

Monday, March 26, 2012

Law v Grace

A poem by Ralph Erskine. This guy gets what the law points to and that grace delivers.

The law supposing I have all,
Does ever for perfection call;
The gospel suits my total want,
And all the law can seek does grant.

The law could promise life to me,
If my obedience perfect be;
But grace does promise life upon
My Lord’s obedience alone.

The law says, Do, and life you’ll win;
But grace says, Live, for all is done;
The former cannot ease my grief,
The latter yields me full relief.

The law will not abate a mite,
The gospel all the sum will quit;
There God in thret’nings is array’d
But here in promises display’d.

The law excludes not boasting vain,
But rather feeds it to my bane;
But gospel grace allows no boasts,
Save in the King, the Lord of Hosts.

Lo! in the law Jehovah dwells,
But Jesus is conceal’d;
Whereas the gospel’s nothing else
But Jesus Christ reveal’d.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Jesus Greatest Achievement

"Jesus and His father were at their brightest in the dark for you" - John Piper

Grow in freedom

"It is absolutely clear that God has called you to a free life. Just make sure that you don't use this freedom as an excuse to do whatever you want to do and destroy your freedom. Rather, use your freedom to serve one another in love; that's how freedom grows. For everything we know about God's Word is summed up in a single sentence: Love others as you love yourself. That's an act of true freedom." - Galatians 5 v 13 - 14 (Message)

My freedom has been won.
In the biggest and most important battle in history.
Jesus conquered: Death, Hell & The Devil.
He won a victory that will never be overturned.
So my freedom is secured, nailed down & sealed.

But my journey in freedom has only just begun.
I arrive in freedom at the other side of the cross,
with same baggage I had before.
Character flaws, personality traits, insecurities and more.
All clawing at my new found life.

But there is a difference, a dynamic difference.
I now have Jesus and the empowering Holy Spirit as my guide.
I now have a freedom to choose.
I am no longer a SLAVE with no choice.
I am now a FREE man with the gift of choice.

That freedom grows every time I choose:
Through Christ to hope instead of despair.
Through Christ to love instead of hate.
Through Christ to trust instead of doubt.
Through Christ to serve instead of take.

Through Christ to grow in freedom instead of caught captive by deceitful hearts.

Monday, March 19, 2012

49 part Deux

Its been a few days but next instalment of the 49 people who have influenced my 49 years:

11. Ernest Shearman - Pastor Shearman wouldn't know me from Adam although he sill alive and well into his 90's living in Nottingham. As a visiting speaker at one of our conventions at Cairnbulg AOG he spoke over my life words that brought a small level of understanding to a very young boy of what God wanted me to do with my life.

12. William Dillon - On a sunny day in September 1982 I arrived at Mattersey Hall Bible College. My mum and dad drove off and left and suddenly I was alone knowing no one and a touch scared. Then this guy with an Belfast accent came and said hello. That was the start of a long friendship with my big brother. For the next year we were almost inseparable. I had the privilege of being his best man and I could have been no prouder than to have him stand by my side on the day I got married. I haven't seen him for many years but more recently we have made contact again and its just great to hear his voice. He is facing difficult health issues. So pray for him if you can.

13. David Priest - Another colleague from college days. I shared a dorm with him for the first year and roomed next to him for the following year. Dave made a trips up to my home with me even landing fish for my dad at some unearthly hour in Peterhead. Thankfully nearly 30 years later we still have some contact with each other and I am honoured to have known such a genuine guy.

14. John Phillips - The day Pastor Phillips walked into our lecture room in the first year of Mattersey is etched in my memory. His subject "The Doctrine of God". For an hour I was mesmerised as he unfolded the Glory of God and made the scriptures or "sciptures" as his north east accent would say it. That day I had a new goal for my life to be able to teach God's Word taking people to the heights of glory in the way he had just done for me.

15. Keith Green - OK I've never met him in fact he had died in a plane accident before I first heard even one of his albums. But the day that Chris Bowater as part of a worship lecture at Mattersey played one of his songs for us, my heart was gripped! His in your face passionate prophetic message kicked me around the room. Even now 30 years later his songs bring me to tears. His song Prodigal Son is for me still the most emotion packed rendition of the most clear story explaining the fathers heart towards men in the whole of the Bible. On the day that I heard that my heart started a journey of grace that was still confused till many years later when I encountered a book that bears the name of the title of my blog. But more of that later.

16+ to follow.

The first 10.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Its not about you, it is always about Jesus

Great wisdom on The Gospel by Matt Chandler

Wednesday, March 14, 2012


Today I turn 49. I have been blessed to have so many people impact my life in so many ways. So here is a shout out to 49 of them. Some of them I have never met but they shaped my life beyond all recognition others I have walked with for many years. There is no real order to this and I have to restrict it to a self imposed 49 but here goes:
  1. Albert & Elsie Ritchie AKA mum & dad. Mum went to be with Jesus so early at the age of 57 but its still good to go back home and see my dad. Thanks for everything.
  2. William Wood Whyte - Diddie. Its him that I'm named after and its him that shaped my life so much. It's his fault I am obsessed with the game called football and a team named Aberdeen
  3. Mary Whyte - Granny. Thanks providing a no questions asked place of acceptance and a fierce loyalty which I have tried to emulate.
  4. Uncle Billy - I had a great extended family growing up but some of my fondest memories we taking the weekly drive through to Pittodrie to see our beloved Aberdeen FC with Uncle Billy. We lived through most of the golden years - the Fergie Years together.
  5. Andrew Smith - Our ways parted when we both went off to Bible College's but through secondary school and even as we started our first jobs we shared bus rides every morning and lunch most days in the mission.
  6. Johnny Whyte - Our passion for Jesus brought us together. I think I was drawn to his craziness. Shared talks about God, 2 person open air outreaches & worshipping Jesus in his car. All fond memories.
  7. Alex Duthie - Or Sunday school Alex as he was known. He was the face at the front of Cairnbulg AOG children's work throughout my childhood. An amazing man who as I grew I learned that he loved the scriptures with a real passion. Listening to him preach in such a meaningful yet tender way has always stayed with me. He rooted in me a deep passion for studying God's Word.
  8. Arthur Hibbert - My first pastor, although he left when I was still young. I remember the day on a Monday night when he prayed with me and one of my friends Michael Stephen to receive Jesus as our saviour. A night that changed my young life. 
  9. Steve Ritchie - Summer Camps have played a huge part in my life. My first experience of Camp was at the very originally named "Stevie's Camp". My self and David Tait went but if I remember rightly we both got home sick and came home. But for a number of years Stevie's Camp helped to galvanise my early steps in faith. I got saved "again" at one of the camps. I just wanted to be sure.
  10. Roger Blackmore - My pastor and friend. What can I say. I thank God every day that at the age of 13 this man came into my life. He seemed ancient to me at the time but I think he was probably about 26. From the age of 13 till I left home at the age of 19 Roger revolutionised my life. After meeting him the only thing I wanted to do with the rest of my life was serve Jesus. I suppose now it would be called mentoring but basically he spent time investing into my life. He gave me my first opportunity to lead a meeting & the first opportunity to preach God's Word. Which I read word for word off a piece of paper for all of 5 minutes! Unfortunately the Atlantic ocean separates us now. But one of my highlights this year was getting to spend a few days with him in Long Island and preach for him again. This time a little longer!
That's the first 10 more tomorrow!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Daylight is coming on....

Daylight comes to meet you on the road
Like a prodigal son, a prodigal hope
That you gave up on when you were young
Yeah, but daylight is coming on

Heaven bends low for the naked and the poor
To settle up a debt, to settle up the score
To set up a table on the edge of a war
Cause we’ve been bleeding on the edge of a sword

We live on the edge
On the edge of a darkness oh
We live on the edge
On the edge of a darkness oh
But daylight is coming on

- John Mark McMillan

Monday, March 12, 2012

The Explicit Gospel

Pastor Matt Chandler has written his book The Explicit Gospel & I am so looking forward to it landing in my kindle app on the 30th April. I have loved learning so much from listening to Matt through his podcasts and also some of his teaching videos like Philippians. So a book on the Gospel I am certain is going to be a great read.

Here is some of the blurb about it:

"Too few people attending church today, even those in evangelical churches, are exposed to the gospel explicitly. Sure, many will hear about Jesus, and about being good and avoiding bad, but the gospel message simply isn’t there—at least not in its specificity and its fullness. "

"Inspired by the needs of both the overchurched and the unchurched, and bolstered by the common neglect of the explicit gospel within Christianity, Matt Chandler has written this punchy treatise. He begins with the specifics of the gospel—outlining what it is and what it is not—and then switches gears to focus on the fullness of the gospel and its massive implications on both personal and cosmic levels."

"Recognising our tendency to fixate on either the micro or macro aspects of the gospel, Chandler also warns us of the dangers on either side—of becoming overly individualistic or syncretistic. Here is a call to true Christianity, to know the gospel explicitly, and to unite the church on the amazing grounds of the good news of Jesus!"

Roll on 30th April!


"Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing"1 Thessalonians 5:11

The believers at Thessaloniki got it. They WERE encouraging each other they WERE building each other up. But Paul takes time out to remind them to do what they were already doing!

To encourage is defined as to inspire with courage, spirit or confidence, to stimulate with assistance and approval.

Other words include: embolden, hearten, reassure, urge, support, aid & help.

How quickly & easily we jump to doubt, criticism, judgement and questioning.

Inspire or dissuade
Stimulate or depress
Uplift or deject
Strengthen or sap
Encourage or discourage

Paul makes it clear what side of the equation we should fall. Why:

For God has not destined us for wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us so that whether we are awake or asleep we might live with him - 1 Thess 5 v 9 & 10

Salvation not wrath always marks our journey of every follower of Jesus irrespective of what we deserve.

Let us strive to bring encouragement into each others lives and not judgement no matter what we deserve. 

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Battling despondency

Despondency and depression are not buzz words in church world. Often we just don't know how to handle them. But the stark reality depression is one of the huge challenges here in the UK. Including in the church.

There can be many reasons for this to enter our lives and this post is not meant to over simplify this very real difficulty. However I was challenged by this article by Ps John Piper looking at how Jesus prepared and faced up to what was going to be his darkest hour in the garden at Gethsemane.

"There were several tactics in Jesus' strategic battle against despondency.

First, he chose some close friends to be with him. "He took with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee" (Matthew 26:37). (How often do we isolate ourselves when trouble or difficulty comes - Billy)

Second, he opened his soul to them. He said to them, "My soul is deeply grieved, to the point of death" (verse 38). (Why do we choose to pretend for so long that we are OK? - Billy)

Third, he asked for their intercession and partnership in the battle. "Remain here and keep watch with me" (verse 39).

Fourth, he poured out his heart to his Father in prayer. "My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me" (verse 39).

Fifth, he rested his soul in the sovereign wisdom of God. "Yet not as I will, but as thou wilt" (verse 39).

Sixth, he fixed his eye on the glorious future grace that awaited him on the other side of the cross. "For the joy set before him he endured the cross, despising shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God" (Hebrews 12:2).

When something drops into your life that seems to threaten your future, remember this: the first shock waves of the bomb are not sin. The real danger is yielding to them. Giving in. Putting up no spiritual fight. And the root of that surrender is unbelief — a failure to fight for faith in future grace. A failure to cherish all that God promises to be for us in Jesus.

Jesus shows us another way. Not painless, and not passive. Follow him. Find your trusted spiritual friends. Open your soul to them. Ask them to watch with you and pray. Pour out your soul to the Father. Rest in the sovereign wisdom of God. And fix your eyes on the joy set before you in the precious and magnificent promises of God."

Monday, March 05, 2012

India - Sunitha attacked whilst preaching

For well over a year we have been astounded at MKCC by the story of Sunitha from the region of Andhra Pradesh in India.

Homeless after the death of her father this young lady grasped the baton from her dad and vowed to continue his work. Caring for the poor and reaching remote idol worshiping villages with the Gospel.

As well as caring for and feeding orphans on a daily basis with no outside sponsorship or help she has planted churches in over 50 villages. MKCC is now assisting through LightForce International in her endeavours in building the Home of Faith.

So it was sad to receive the following e mail from George Ridley, Director of LFI on Sunday:

"Our friend Sunitha has been attacked and had boiling water thrown over her whilst trying to share the gospel in a new idol worshipping community in India.

Her leg is badly burnt and she is in hospital - for the moment can't walk. She was praying & fasting up to Easter asking God to do great things through her Easter evangelism.
This is just one of a number of current challenges. She is committed to returning to the village asap but the doctors want her to remain in hospital. Please pray seriously for her at this time - she is adamant she'll return to the village soon to fulfil her purpose &plant a church.

Hospital treatment will be costly - you can give today through MKCC website by clicking here. Please choose "Home of Faith" when giving. 100% of all gifts will be forwarded through LFI to Sunitha."

The people of MKCC have already given £690 towards her medical expenses. Please consider supporting this inspiring young lady!

Sunday, March 04, 2012

Important, More Important, Most Important

“Reminding ourselves of the gospel is the most important daily habit we can establish. If the gospel is the most vital news in the world, and if salvation by grace is the defining truth of our existence, we should create ways to immerse ourselves in the these truths every day.” - C J Mahaney

Its that simple

Friday, March 02, 2012

Volunteers make the difference

“Volunteers make the difference between a good games and a great games!” - Lord Coe

Lord Coe may well be right about the Olympics but this statement is hands down on the money when it comes to church.

Volunteers are the absolute life blood of any church. Lets face it they do MOST of the work. I'm not saying that staff on church do not work hard, they do. I know from personal experience that the boundaries between "Work" and "life" can get blurred and even disappear.

But lets face it, if things are reasonably healthy around the local church, volunteer hours vastly out weigh staff hours.

At MKCC volunteers:

Direct cars, drive mini buses, welcome people, lead teams of stewards, play instruments, sing, lead worship, prepare refreshments for other volunteers, work the PA, work with video cameras, mix & record video, change lighting, use song management software, tidy the auditorium, hand out newsheets, lead people to Jesus, pray for & counsel people, serve in our guest lounge, serve in the coffee shop, set up and maintain refreshment stations, set up kids church, welcome children, play with children, register kids, lead worship for kids, teach kids, lead children's small groups, coach at kids church, take down and pack away. And finally a volunteer even peaches sometimes!

And that's just SUNDAY!

So thank, love, empower, train, release the volunteers in the church to change it from a GOOD church to a GREAT church.

Disclaimer: By writing a list I for sure have committed the cardinal sin of missing out one of the volunteer roles that makes Sunday happen. In advance SORRY!