Friday, January 24, 2014


Recently a Christian who had gained some profile because he was a member of UKIP, became front page news when he made a statement about God Judging Britain.

This judgement took the form of floods around the country because our parliament had passed a law about same sex marriage. I happened to mention it on my facebook page and the comments started.

Now God can do anything he chooses so I am not here tell him what he can and cannot do. But just a few thoughts that go through my head:

  • It concerns me that much of the rhetoric I hear from from us Christians is full of satisfaction and anger. God's Judgement coming on people does not really cause me to celebrate. Maybe because I realise how wicked I am, how much I deserve God's wrath yet God diverted it to His Son instead of me. I fail to see how as a recipient of God's grace can gain satisfaction and joy from another person who doesn't.
  • We seem to forget the heart of God is expressed in what is possibly the most famous verse in the Bible. "God so LOVED the WORLD that he gave his one and only son...". 
  • Jesus was "the friend of sinners" he was talked about because he spent time with the worst in society and even went to their houses for meals. On one occasion when faced with someone caught in a sexual sin, the area where we in the church today lose our minds, he chose not to condemn. He REFUSED to throw the stone. He would not carry out the punishment.
Then today I am reading through the story of the early church and come to a place where we would seem to see the judgement of God in action.

A couple decided to pretend that they were entering in to the latest vision offering in their church. They said that they would sell some land and give the money to the cause. Well the day came the land sold but they hatched a plan to keep back some of the money. Then they fell down dead! Judged?

It would seem that where Jesus would not "Judge" the adulteress in the street he did "Judge" the person who lies in His Church.

It would seem that Judgement took place IN His church.

That's why I really don't want to shout and scream about God's Judgement. Not because the world isn't wicked but that I am wicked and I deserve it.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Worthy to Suffer

Then they left the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer dishonour for the name (of Jesus). - Acts 5:41 

A couple of days ago I wrote a post suggesting in the early church the Success & Sacrifice were links in the chain of its explosive growth.

In the very next chapter we find these guys in prison, threatened and beaten because of their witness. Not just a nasty look or a comment on facebook but actual physical beatings for talking about Jesus.

Their reaction, REJOICE because Jesus has found them WORTHY TO SUFFER.

I have to say that perspective has not found a comfortable home in my heart.

But for some it is just so true. I received an e mail yesterday from Ps George who had just received news from one of the areas that we are partnering around the world through LightForce. It informed me that a pastor who was preaching the gospel to unreached people was martyred. He leaves behind a young family.

This is not a theory it is real with real people who are so committed to the cause of Jesus they will not stop when threatened, beaten or even put to death.

I'm not sure if my brand of Christianity is even the same ball park as guys like this pastor or the early church fathers.

God protecting me from suffering would be much higher on my agenda than the perspective that somehow Jesus allowed it because I was worth in his eyes with the result of rejoicing.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

10 pieces of advice for the 19 year old me

This photo captures a pivotal moment in my life. It was the day when I left home in September 1982. The day I went off to Mattersey Hall Bible College.

Waived off by my Pastor Roger Blackmore and friends James Scott and Jacqueline Edwards, my mum and dad would drive me to England and leave me in the country that would become my home for now, 31 years plus.

Yes I would visit Scotland for holidays but at 19 I effectively left home, which seems slightly strange as that is how old my son is now.

What I wish I could tell that 19 year old guy now:

  1. Make the most of your next two years at college you will never have an opportunity like this again in your life to dig into God and His Word.
  2. God is not disappointed in you. You cannot earn His love and you can't lose it by failing. When you understand that you will do things out of love that you will never do out of fear. Rest in His grace. 
  3. Friendships are priceless. Cultivate them no matter the distance, make the call, take the trip, you never know when it will be too late.
  4. Being right is not what its cracked up to be. You may win the argument but you will lose a friend or damage a friendship. (Also advice for the 50 year old me)
  5. Your passion is going to get you into hot water. It is a great strength but sometimes your greatest weakness. Learn quickly to channel it.
  6. Too many things you think are nonnegotiable now you will u-turn totally on in a few years time. Hold things lightly except your character - fight for that.
  7. You can learn from everyone, especially those who see the world different to you, let them into your world.
  8. Don't try so hard to be noticed in other people's eyes. Live for an audience of one. No matter who knows your name it is known by Jesus.
  9. You are going to meet the most incredible woman in the world. Do not waste your time dating anyone else when you meet her you will know why. Then do everything you can to encourage and enable her to be all she can be. It will be the most amazing honour you will have in your life.
  10. You are going to meet a guy called John Ecclestone and he is going to introduce you to a football team called Aston Villa. Ignore him at all costs he is bringing you into 30 years of pain (A wee joke)

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Success and Sacrifice

3 And they arrested them and put them in custody until the next day, for it was already evening. 4 But many of those who had heard the word believed, and the number of the men came to about five thousand. - Acts 4:3-4

Honestly I like verse 4 and the 5,000 but I am less keen on the previous verse with words like arrest and custody.

But this would seem to be be the story that replays in the early days of this fledgling movement of Jesus. Moves of God that saw 5000 people join the revolution after just a preach coupled with imprisonment, beatings and eventually martyrdom.

It isn't mentioned much nowadays but following Jesus means we sign up for both. Success and sacrifice seems to be links in the chain and partners in the Kingdom. I know its not a gospel that is preached often but it is the story of this early radical movement.

This year we laid out the next step of our vision at Milton Keynes Christian Centre of "Bringing people to Jesus, equipping them to be fully devoted followers of Christ". We are now seeing around 1,000 show up each Sunday to celebrate and serve Jesus together, now we are believing, praying and working towards 2000.

I love the idea of 2,000 but ever so slightly apprehensive about the sacrifice it is going to take to get there.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Speak o Lord

A song written specifically for Pastors:

And this line messes up my world!

Test our thoughts and our attitudes
In the radiance of Your purity.
Speak, O Lord, as we come to You
To receive the food of Your Holy Word.
Take Your truth, plant it deep in us;
Shape and fashion us in Your likeness,
That the light of Christ might be seen today
In our acts of love and our deeds of faith.
Speak, O Lord, and fulfill in us
All Your purposes for Your glory.

Teach us, Lord, full obedience,
Holy reverence, true humility;
Test our thoughts and our attitudes
In the radiance of Your purity.
Cause our faith to rise; cause our eyes to see
Your majestic love and authority.
Words of pow'r that can never fail—
Let their truth prevail over unbelief.

Speak, O Lord, and renew our minds;
Help us grasp the heights of Your plans for us—
Truths unchanged from the dawn of time
That will echo down through eternity.
And by grace we'll stand on Your promises,
And by faith we'll walk as You walk with us.
Speak, O Lord, till Your church is built
And the earth is filled with Your glory.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

22 signs you are a son of a trawler man

A few signs that you were brought up in a 1970's Scottish fishing village and your dad was a trawler man.

  • You know when the back o Sunday is.
  • You thought all dads had a nap on Sunday afternoon when you went to Sunday school.
  • If you ever went on a fishing trip you were renamed - Jonah.
  • You thought that laughing at people being sea sick was the right thing to do. 
  • You thought all Dad's only came home at the weekend. 
  • You never looked forward to dad coming home as every time you were bad your mum would say "Wait till your father gets home!" 
  • The TV always got switched over in the middle of your favourite programme to watch the weather forecast.
  • Working on the boat in the harbour always involved a trip to the dole office. 
  • You thought the natural smell in all garages was that of curing herring.
  • A "fry" was not just a way to cook. 
  • Something being boiled alive on the stove was to be looked forward to. 
  • You though that anytime a dad called home from work it was compulsory to say "over" at the end of your sentence. 
  • You are good at geography because you needed a map of the whole of the UK to check out all the places your dad was working. 
  • You thought the volume always went up automatically when the fishing forecast came on the radio. 
  • You thought the "Isle of Man" was like Santa's Grotto because when dad went there he always came back with presents. 
  • You have worn a Fair Isle Gansey and thought it was cool.
  • You thought that the VW Dormobile Van was the fastest thing on the road bar non. 
  • You always have to donate to the RNLI every time you see one of those little lifeboats collecting tins. 
  • Your kitchen drawer always had a lone messer knife in it.
  • You are scarred by the memory of drinking tea with condensed milk it.
  • You have the ability clean your plate with a piece of bread or potato so you can use the same bowl to eat all three courses.
  • You thought a trip on a boat was a necessary biblical induction for all ministers everywhere when taking on a new church.
Any more?

Wednesday, January 15, 2014


Today, even amongst Christians, there can be found much of that spirit that wants to give as little as possible to the Lord, and yet to get as much as possible from Him. The prevailing thought today is of being used, as though that were the one thing that mattered. That my little rubber band should be stretched to the very limit seems all important. But this is not the Lord's mind. The Lord wants us to be used, yes; but what He is after is that we pour all we have, ourselves, to Him, and if that be all, that is enough. --Watchman Nee

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Joining the crazy gang

We read of at least two groups of people who followed Jesus:

The Disciples:

19 And he said to them,(Andrew & Peter) “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” 20 Immediately they left their nets and followed him. - Matthew 4:19 & 20

The Crowds:

25 And great crowds followed him from Galilee and the Decapolis, and from Jerusalem and Judea, and from beyond the Jordan. - Matthew 4:25

Being in the crowd following Jesus would have been amazing thing. Listening to great teaching. Seeing incredible healing's. Eating miraculous food. Witnessing the unexpected conversations. Smiling as the religious elite were put in their place. It would have been a wild ride.

But then there were those called his disciple. They had a ring side seat at all of the above. The message found a home in their hearts and being part of a crowd that witnessed the spectacular and smiled at his teaching was not enough.

To them it was not something to enjoy as a spectator from a safe distance but a person to get to know. They had to know the man behind the mystique.

When the crowd wished to hear the word of God, the disciples wished to receive it.

Jesus was not first and foremost looking for a crowd. He was looking for radical, sold out, sell the business, leave the house, bring it on no matter what followers.

So he challenged the crowd to leave the safety and anonymity and to pledge their hearts to the cause.

The invitation is not, “Give Me thine head.” The invitation is, “My Son, give Me thine heart.” –John G. Lake

So today Jesus keeps calling us to leave the crowd and join the crazy gang. Often it makes no sense but it really is the only way to live.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Unexpected Road Blocks

Then the people of the land discouraged the people of Judah and made them afraid to build 5 and bribed counsellors against them to frustrate their purpose, all the days of Cyrus king of Persia, even until the reign of Darius king of Persia. - Ezra 4:4-5

So God has spoken. Your whole body tingled with excitement as you contemplated your step into this new adventure with God.

It has been years in the making. It started when emotion took you by surprise when you watched that video on line. Then it started to multiply as you read God's Word. This rising passion you felt inside was being provoked at every turn.

It grew till passivity was now no longer an option and you now knew that your life was never going to be the same again. It was now time to step out in obedience and faith. With tension gripping your heart you jump with both feet.

Your security is gone, your cover removed, now everyone knows that course you have chosen. Now it's you and God. Will it work? Yes of course it will. You tested and checked so of course it will work.

And then it happens, bang! A totally insurmountable road block in your God vision. Like the returning exiles it comes in many forms:

Discouragement, frustration, compromise, temptation, intimidation, rumour & opposition.

It is then that so many of us give up. We accept the road block and down tools. It is in the face of these obstacles that Godly Leadership is found and formed.

The next chapter in Ezra simply records that the leaders of the mission chose to listen to the voice of God, GOT UP and CONTINUED TO WORK.

Then Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel and Jeshua the son of Jozadak arose and began to rebuild the house of God that is in Jerusalem, and the prophets of God were with them, supporting them. - Ezra 5:2

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Sweeter than honey

The law of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul;
the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple;
the precepts of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart;
the commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes;
the fear of the LORD is clean, enduring forever;
the rules of the LORD are true, and righteous altogether.
More to be desired are they than gold, even much fine gold;
sweeter also than honey and drippings of the honeycomb.
Psalm 19:7–10

A great few words to sum up God's Word, the Bible:

Reviving, Making Wise, Rejoicing, Enlightening, Enduring, True, Righteous, Sweet!

Time to devour it!

Friday, January 10, 2014

Blotted Out

Repent therefore, and turn back, that your sins may be BLOTTED OUT, 20 that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord - Acts 3:19-20

Blotted out =
Wiped out

We have a strange illusion that mere time cancels sin. But mere time does nothing either to the fact or to the guilt of a sin. --CS Lewis

We turn our backs on it and look to Jesus who is the only one that can break its power and know it has been immediately and eternally BLOTTED OUT!

Thursday, January 09, 2014

Finding a fathers joy

But many of the priests and Levites and heads of fathers’ houses, old men who had seen the first house, wept with a loud voice when they saw the foundation of this house being laid, though many shouted aloud for joy - Ezra 3:12

Maybe its because I turned 50 this year but reading this passage I am seeing my self more as one of the old priests that the new generation of builders in this account of the building of a new temple.

Our temptation as we age is to live more and more in the past instead of dreaming of the future.

It may be a little harsh but it would seem that some of these old stagers lost out on the miracle and joy of what was happening right before their eyes because the past was in their eyes better.

For them it had become about the glory of a building instead of the glory of God at work in the lives of people.

Yes the cobbled together small foundation of this new temple was pitiful compared to the majesty and splendour of the old temple.

But they we missing the great sacrifice that every person was making to see this exiled nation reborn. They had travelled back to a landscape torn apart from war, a city that was completely destroyed, they had given, sacrificed and given again to see this scrap of ground cleared of rubble and slowly converted into a building plot. Some of them had stopped work on their own houses to see this new temple built first. Whole families worked together. What was happening in that community was nothing short of miraculous and they allowed themselves to be robbed of its joy.

I want to always be celebrating in the now instead of romanticising about the past. I treasure the rich memories of my past but I want to have the joy of a father who sees his sons and daughters serve God in their own unique way today.

Wednesday, January 08, 2014

Where are you?

But the Lord God called to the man and said to him, “Where are you?” - Gen 3:9

Adam went into hiding from God because he was afraid. Hiding is something we have become very good at. It is often our first reaction.

We hide when hurt
We hide in shame, because we have been found out
We hide in grief
We hide in fear

At the very time we need help we choose to be alone and so often we leave people to be alone. Alone in their hurt, alone in the shame, alone in their grief, alone in their fear.

God goes looking, calling, Where are you?

Then he sent his Son looking for you, shouting "Where are you?". His exploration for you brings something Adam never experienced - grace. Something you did not deserve. It came as a complete surprise. Healing for hurt, honour for shame, joy for grief and assurance for fear.

But most of all that you never need know the crushing weight of loneliness because Jesus did it for you.

Today Jesus says to you Where are you?  Don't go hiding!

Tuesday, January 07, 2014

Trust in his timing

Kicked off the our new teaching series - Draw Near at MKCC on Sunday - Trust in his timing. Click here if you cant see the video.

Draw Near - Trust in His Timing from MKCCpreaching on Vimeo.
  • None of us know what the future holds but we know that our God holds the future in his hands.
  • Before Jesus we are caught in a sort of religious groundhog day. Sin – scared – sacrifice – survive - repeat.
  • Now it is no longer us working to appease an angry God but God that is working in our lives.
  • There is now no longer any need to be scared to come to God or to pass our own relationship with God to another “more spiritual” man. Jesus shouts to a people far away draw near
  • There is no more sad sight in the world as a man or a woman who have found the greatest treasure in the world – Jesus and yet don’t value it above everything else.
  • I'm a pastor, I help to lead a great church but its not the greatest treasure – Jesus is!
  • The mystery of time is controlled by the plans of an eternal God.
  • One of the problems with reading God’s word is that if we are not careful we don’t grasp the depth of time. In a few verses we can jump from promise to fulfilment but what took us a few seconds to read to days, weeks, months, years even decades to happen.
  • One of the problems of this type of faith is that it never deals with doubts, even suggests that doubts are wrong.
  • The unknown creates doubts. Faith is not the absence of doubt. It is trusting God despite those doubts!
  • Waiting is not incidental to faith. Waiting is the DNA of faith.
  • Recognise that God is in control, even when it seems He has forgotten you.

Thursday, January 02, 2014


Starting with Zerubbabel, Jeshua, Nehemiah, Seraiah, Reelaiah, Mordecai, Bilshan, Mispar, Bigvai, Rehum, and Baanah, the Holy Spirit takes time to list, in Ezra 2, every clan or tribe that became the pioneers of a reborn nation.

Not only family names but the number in each family in total 42,360. Then the number of animals then what they gave towards the mission.

And some say God is not interested in numbers. This passage along with others would seem to dispel that notion once and for all.

Numbers and the people (and the animals) behind the numbers were so important to him that he ensured they were recorded for us to read 1000's of years later.

That's one of the reasons we have prayed specifically for a number in our church (MKCC) for many years. We prayed that we would see 1000 people gathering each Sunday to celebrate Jesus together and then scatter to proclaim Jesus in their world. The end of 2013 saw the answer to that prayer.

Now we have a new number we are praying for in 2014 - 2000. Two Thousand people to be meeting together being equipped to become fully devoted followers of Christ.

In the words of Perry Noble, Senior Pastor of NewSpring Church: "Every number has a name, every name has a story & every story matters to God"

Wednesday, January 01, 2014


I have started a new reading plan on YouVersion today - For the Love of God. It will take me on a journey through the book whose words have been gifted to us by God himself. It continues to shape and transform my life, often on my part stumbling and stuttering but always encouraged by His bursting Grace.

Today I read of new beginnings or new birth.

The birth of the world - Genesis 1
The rebirth of a nation - Ezra 1
The birth of Jesus - Matthew 1
The birth of the Church - Acts 1

Out of NOTHING he created a universe.
Out of DEFEAT he grew a victorious nation
Out of the SILENCE he spoke his most beautiful word - JESUS
Out of WEAKNESS he empowered His church to take the world.

God's seems to like birthing things when least expected.