Are heaven and earth singing from the same song sheet?

“Willow”…”Wren”…”Rhubarb.” 3 words that are being culled from some Dictionaries for children. Should we not be a bit sad about that, in that it shows a growing disconnect with nature? I guess it happens through increased interest and fascination with fantasy, computer based play and other such things that keeps children and their play more indoors and screen based. It may be happening for other reasons too. Do we accept that as a done deal, or do we seek as a society to help children to reconnect with the world of nature? That was an aspect of my own education that I enjoyed very much and stays with me in some shape or form until this day, enriching my life.

Wondering what words have fallen or are falling into non use in Church life and worship? I have heard that some churches in prioritising mission no longer allow songs with “concepts” or “metaphors” dear and central to Christian belief because they are deemed to have no connection with non believers. Are songs to and about The Lamb of God, the blood of the Lamb etc. outlawed in heaven now or in the new heavens and earth to come? They have not been sung in some churches for decades, and indeed would be mocked and sneered at: I know that from personal experience of decades of ministry in the Church of Scotland. Will we have to go through an education programme when we arrive in that future glory so we can join in with the worship of the elders, the angels, the living creatures around the throne etc? Are the church at rest and the church in its labours singing from the same song sheet this Lord’s Day?


Had ended this blog at this point, but then started remembering the week of my conversion about 45 + years ago at Scripture Union Camp. Words that meant nothing to me at the start of the week meant everything to me by the end of the week. Every word and line once meaningless had become life changing, life directing, life supporting, adventure calling, purpose giving…

“There’s a way back to God from the dark paths of sin,
There’s a door that is open and you may go in
At Calvary’s cross is where you begin
When you come as a sinner to Jesus.”

This one too:

“Cleanse me from my sin Lord
Put Thy power within Lord
Take me as I am Lord
And make me all Thine own
Teach me day by day Lord
Underneath Thy sway Lord
Make my heart Thy palace and Thy Royal Throne.”

And these Scripture words:

“All we like sheep have gone astray,
We have turned aside every one of us unto our own way,
But the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.”

Education as to what words and concepts that meant nothing to me could mean for me was part of the work of the Holy Spirit in  my conversion.

So glad my ignorance was taught into and not allowed to dumb down the truth of the Christ I knew was calling me to Himself.


God Bless


To shout or not to shout?

Note to shouting preachers. Your flock can take it. They have probably been shouted at many times throughout the week in various settings. They are used to it. It happens in the world a lot. It happens behind the closed doors of homes a lot within marriages and family life. Some of your flock, more than you may realise, remember shouting parents awaiting them on return from their day at school with shouting teachers. Oh yes, they can take it alright, but maybe it would be nice to come to Church and get a rest from being shouted at? What do you think?

You have probably got a mic. so shouting is not really required. Perhpas you are confusing shouting with anointing and authority? To your ears, shouting emphasises a point. To battered people or people carrying the nervousness and jumpiness that follow traumatic experiences of personal relationships, used to it though they may be, it can feel like something very different, the verge of something very nasty indeed. Just saying. I know personalities differ and that is wonderful. I am not advocating becoming something different from who you are. I am certainly not advocating any style and most certainly not my own. Just saying though… take stock and take care.

This practice of mine, I do advocate: I regularly bring my preaching before the Lord and ask if there is anything I should be changing. Sometimes He tells me there is. Sometimes I am a bit afraid to ask Him as I am scared that an oldish dog will not be able to learn new tricks. Sometimes it seems circumstances have conspired to force a change, which has usually resulted in blessing.

Thinking off the top of my head, in the gospels it is clear that Jesus knew when and how to shout, that’s for sure. It’s good to learn from Him when it is necessary and do it and when it would be counterproductive and damaging to the prospering of spiritual life. It is important to know when passion has turned into something approaching anger (which may have grown from understandable frustration) whether shouted out or whispered in a tone of simmering quietness which can be just as menacing if not more so.

God bless you


In case you really can’t get to sleep and there is nothing of interest on the Telly and you can’t be bothered praying…

… is another one I prepared earlier on Facebook!

Jesus never sought influence with those who were seen as influential… that is not the way to take the mountains, one or seven, or make them move.

We need to be careful how we receive the teaching about “The Seven mountains of Societal Influence” much lauded in some Christian Circles and promoted therein by self appointed “Generals” of Global Mission. If it is not spoken about with care, it can easily become a time wasting band wagon of diversion at least or a Christ obscuring diabolical heresy at worst, promoting worldly ways of conquering and a departure from the Spirit of Jesus Christ.

Respecting authority does not mean we are never allowed to question the wisdom of “Generals,” those with huge influence over sectors of the church on a translocal scale. I respected my Head Master, but went to him in fear and trembling once along with a friend, when we felt something wrong was being done that needed to be challenged. I respected a head of Department in those same school days but felt I had to challenge them about the dreadfully humiliating way I saw them treating another teacher. At another point, at univesity I challenged authority in a wrong and disrepsectful way and I regretted it that I let Christ down publicly by the way I behaved and spoke. Challenging  properly does not mean disrespecting who or what you are challenging! We are not even to disrespect Satan when challenging his activity according to the bible. The attitude in which we do something must pass some tests.

I think some of the ‘Generals” some Christian leaders, especially in the Charismatic Sector of the Church of today are getting it wrong but it is difficult to receive challenge when attended by certain measurements of success. Why should they listen  when they have so much fruit to point to? Scripture says not many of us should desire to be teachers, because our words can start a forrest fire….


God bless



Naaman – mmm… a bit awkward!

Bedtime Reading for tonight?

Interesting to note that Naaman’s intended action which could be interpreted as “compromise” was met with a “Go in peace” from Elisha the prophet and man of God. Not what one might have expected.

If you don’t know what I am talking about, well, check it out for yourself it you are interested and I think you will see what I mean…. (2 Kings Chapter 5). Chewing it over… lots of thoughts sparking off, to do with being more undestanding towards Christian politicians, more supportive of Christians involved  in some aspects of the NHS etc… but not sure they would be considered Kosher by those who tend to read my ruminations regularly. Why not ruminate about it yourself if you have a spare five minutes? I do know, by the way, that there is such a thing as “Ruminations OCD” ….so only ruminate if you think it will lead you somewhere useful or if it will help you to nod off and sleep well!

God Bless


I still believe in healing….

For the avoidance of doubt and for the sake of clarity, let me say I do believe in divine healing and have experienced it more than once. Nothing I say below should be takn as my having given up on that belief. My concern is that not all ministry practices that result from the belief that God still heals miraculously today  are helpful to people, though these practices may not in themselves be  wrong.

As I say I have experienced divine healing myself and seen it happen for others, but I have also experienced non-healing when it was declared over me “right now” many times as has my wife from ailments much more painful and limiting than mine: tinnitus, arthritis, extreme pain in her feet and hands to name but a few of the things she struggles with on a daily basis. I get a lot of sympathy because in a sense I am a more “public” figure. She gets virtually none, yet suffers more than I do every day of the week, just more privately, as do tens of thousands of Christians in Scotland alone, whether they be cessationist or charismatic with regard to gifts of healing. She does not blog about it and neither do they! Neither do they speak about it in public. Few, even within their own fellowships would know of their struggle with illness or pain over perhaps many decades, but may criticise their non invovlement or non appearance at churchy things.

My concern is the damaging effect of a command of healing which is not backed up by a result, followed by a more forceful assured and louder command and a still silent heaven. In some charismatic quarters it is now taught that it is not right to pray for healing, it must be commanded as that is what Jesus did. I simply observe this: when Jesus commanded it happened, “right now.” In fact I cannot think of any time when healing did not happen either “right now” or very soon afterwards as in the case of the man who saw trees walking or the ten lepers.

Despite being charismatic in belief and experience, I have come to think that just as many people are healed through believers humbly bowing together in a prayer meeting, or being blessed by a minister or a priest in some routine but believing regularly available Sunday Service method, as are healed through people commanding it. It is not unbelief to ask rather than command. Asking rather than commanding, for some at least, is a geuniune expression of humility before the Sovereign God witnessed to in the pasges of the Bible and the mystery of His already here but not yet Kingdom.

Of course, commanding does not mean a person lacks humility either, I am not judging anyone’s heart or motive here. Neither am I saying that commanding does not have a place and cannot claim Scriptural warrant or genuine good result. I am speaking from the place of pastoral concern. The power is not in the method. It is possible that out of a genuine desire to see more people genuinely healedby God, we bring the very thing we seek into disrepute and set things back while thinking we are taking things forward.


God Bless



“For your sake Lord, just as I am, I step out into this day…”

Try saying, “For your sake, Lord” as you step into the day.

As one who lives at this moment with a certain degree of weakness of body and the spill over now and then into weakness of mind and emotion, I have decided, for myself at least, to rescue the “thorn in the flesh” theme from the debate as to whether or not God means to heal everyone, and/or argument as to what Paul’s thorn was. I have my own thoughts about that particular question and of course they are the right thoughts (Ha Ha).
Paul said that for Christ’s sake he delighted in his weaknesses/infirmities, for he had made this discovery: “when I am weak, I am strong.” In areas where you are carrying weakness/infirmity today, seek grace to carry it for Christ’s sake and life can flow in a way that will surprise you. I have learned precious truths by experience to do with the love and faithfulness of God even just recently as I step out in weakness to live or speak or serve or do something for the sake of Christ. 3 days of rest were needful after 3 talks at Kingdom Gathering on Skye, for example, but I rejoice in the memory or every moment of my time there. I would not have missed it for the world!

I want to say something that will make the blood of some of my friends, some of those who pray for me continually and some of my fellow charismatics boil: The experiences I have known of the help and tenderness of God in these last few years have been so real and precious, I fear losing them if/when physical healing happens. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak….

Would I be able to say all of this if the level of infirmity I carry was greater, indeed if it was the magnitude some of you have to live in right now, this very day, and have had ot live in for many years? Well, I can’t say, nor do I mean what I am saying from a place of low level infirmity become a yoke for anyone else. I do hope though in some sense this day you can make Paul’s discovery a chosen principle for your life.

I don’t particularly want you to comment on there being reasons you can see in what I am saying this morning for why I have not been healed, though I can’t stop you doing that if you choose. Sometimes though we stamp all over what people say with big clumsy boots in the belief we are being biblical when in fact we should be recognising when we stand on the ground of people’s weaknesses we are standing on holy ground and should take off our shoes, and listen more than talk….

God Bless


Power over your enemy?

OK, it is possible to find backing in Scripture for just about anything and it is also possible to find a text that seems to advise the direct opposite of another text. That is why time and place and situation, in short, context matters. It’s why we need to be careful of rolling out a “one size fits all” approach to matters such as healing for example: sometimes what is taught as a process from one part of Scripture is not all that there is to be said on the matter. The same is true of some truths and scriptural insights which have wrongly been turned “one size fits all” doctrine binding for all for all time, though unalterable doctrines do exist that are not conditional on any changes in time, place or circumstance.
Whatever, I woke up at about 5.00 am feeling I had slept very well indeed, with the stories of Elisha going round in my mind, for no reason that I could think of, so got up and read some of them. My attention seemed to be drawn to a part of 2 Kingd 6 where some of the enemies of Israel have been delivered miraculously by the prophet into the king of Israel’s hands:
“My Father, Elisha, should I kill them? Should I kill them?”
“Of course not!” Elisha replied. “Do we kill prisoners of war? Give them food and drink and send them home again to their master.”
Sometimes it comes around that you are in a place of power over those who have treated you wrongly. Elisha didn’t always behave in a way that we would think of adopting as being the right way when he was in a place of power over those who wronged him, but there is something about the behaviour advised in this particular incident that is echoed with approval in other parts of Scripture.
If it happens to you this very day, that those who wronged you are, for want of a better phrase, “at your mercy,” remember this story… remember Joseph….remember Jesus….the Jesus whose life is in you.
It is strange how often it happens that God gives opportunity to put a truth into practice soon after He has alerted our attention to it. It would not surprise me if some of us find ourselves in a situation very soon where we are given opportunity to put something of this into practice… me included.
God Bless

I Am…

Part of the sense of the meaning of the Name “I AM” is of active, present reality. In other words we know who God is by what he does. I think when I was growing up as a believer all the emphasis seemed to be on knowing God’s character, but the link between His character and the acts which revealed that character was not always stressed. I was to learn His character through the bible, which I have no argument with, but it was not always obvious in the way the bible was preached that the bible is the book in which we read of God revealing Himself by His deeds, that God is “I AM,” active, present reality.

Accordingly, there was little room for the activity of God’s Spirit in my life post salvation  other than to help me know the characer of God in the bible and to help me become, in turn godly. I am glad for that emphasis. It blessed me a lot. However it was lopsided. I grew up with little expectation of the intervention of God, little expectation that He still shows who He is by what He does in present day faithfulness to confirm in our experience the unchanging words and works of Jesus Christ.

Be on the look out for “I AM” confirming  the biblical revelation of Who He is as present active reality through what He does in your life and circumstances and in the wider world.

God bless


For you?

Felt this quite keenly as a word to strengthen, encourage and comfort somebody. Put it on Facebook but someone suggested I put it in a blog too, so I have obliged! There may be elements in it that will bless more than one of you. However, I always feel with a word from God that there are probably also elements in it that narrow it down a bit in terms of who it may be for in a very specific way. Anyway, this is what I posted…


A Word for someone: I think you are male 45 or 50+ but youthful for your years. Have not got faith to say it more accurately.

I think God wants to say to someone that his purposes are about to accelerate. You know that already and God will confirm it for you with a sale of your house that goes beyond market trends and the collective comments from those around you who have continually challenged your optimism by saying with worldly wisdom based on facts and figures, “It is taking a long time at the moment to sell houses.” Get the sound of the speed of the wind around you and enjoy the speed boat of God’s purpose cutting through the water. Others who deem themselves wiser than you will talk as though a crash is inevitable, but you won’t crash. You are young compared to the negative voices but the few decades you have been alive in Christ (30 or 40 years + since a young age) have given you the humble wisdom of an elder gained by faithful following in hidden places when the eyes of man have not been watching. You can be trusted not to forget the Lord like a friend you know who did just that when things started to go well for them in the land….

God Bless


Confession is indeed good for the soul…

So many thoughts and memories from “Kingdom Gathering” in  Skye. Through everything though, there seemed to be a theme of simply being honest before God. Let me share one precious moment:

It was the end of a meeting and someone came up to speak with me. I know vaguely, but know from others I trust, that he  a godly man and a servant of God. They wanted to confess a problem of pride. The paradoxical and wonderful reality of our time talking together, is that as they spoke about their struggle they did so with the most astonishing and God glorifying humility! It was a holy moment blessed by the presence of the Lord.

I am not sure why that should surprise me so much. The holy, holy, holy  God of Israel said He would speak to His people from the mercy seat. When someone like Isaiah confessed his sin He was immediately met by the touch of mercy and cleansing.

I will always treasure that sense of mercy in that holy and honest moment. I am not sure whether that gentle and godly man was aware of it, but I pray that he will be in a time, in a place and in a way that will be meaningful to Him. I know there is mercy and help from the Lord for him. It was sent as a present in the very moment of confession. “May the intended recipient open it with joy Lord.”

Perhaps tonight before you go to sleep you need to enter into the fresh air  that confession brings:

 “Happy are those whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. Happy are those to whom the Lord imputes no iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no deceit. While I kept silence, my body wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was dried up as by the heat of summer. (Selah) Then I acknowledged my sin to you, and I did not hide my iniquity; I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord,” and you forgave the guilt of my sin.” (Psalm 32; 1- 5 NRSV)

God Bless


Obadiah’s dilemma.

In 1st Kings 18, Obadiah, a righteous man, voiced a fear to the Prophet Elijah. Elijah has told him to go to King Ahab, who has been searching for Elijah for years, and tell him, “Elijah is here.” Obadiah expresses his fear  that the Spirit of God will take Elijah off somewhere else so that when Ahab comes looking for Elijah, he won’t be there anymore. The consequences for Obadiah could be severe! However, he is given the assurance that Elijah will indeed appear before Ahab that very day.

Obadiah understood this: the wind of God’s Spirit blows where He wills and can catch people up as He does so, setting them down again where neither they nor others could ever predict. He can do that phsyically, or spiritually to a person.

These thoughts that came to me this evening, set me thinking about a familiar verse in John’s Gospel in what will be an unfamiliar translation to most of us:

“The Spirit where he willeth doth blow, and his voice thou dost hear, but thou hast not known whence he cometh, and whither he goeth; thus is every one who hath been born of the Spirit.” ( John 3 verse 8 in Young’s Literal Translation)

There is unsearchable, inexplicable mystery at the heart of being born again, or born from above. Regeneration is not under our control. I wonder though if there is something in this verse that would speak to us of a principle in born again living , not simply in born again beginnings: are you and I willing to be like a leaf in the wind of the Spirit? Or having been born anew beyond our control, do we then seek to harness the wind of God’s Spirit to our to our convenience, control or commanding rather than be blown not knowing whither, save that we trust the Father by whose love and will we were conceived is working out His loving will in us day by day, moment by moment?

Life in the Spirit is not  always “safe.”  It may be that from time to time, in our lives, we need to tear down the idol of safety and predictability. It has a remarkable way of setting itself up again and again.

God Bless


The ancient path to victory today…

Henri Nouwen’s writings have helped me more than any other since I took unwell. I am grateful for his insight into the Passion of Jesus Christ: the word Passion means “undergoing” and is related to the word “passive.”

Have you ever noticed that Jesus’ glory burst forth at the point where he was betrayed and bound? From that point in the story onwards there is a change. Prior to this Jesus was the one who did things: he healed, he delivered, he taught, he took the bread and likewise the cup, he handed over the sop to Judas, he took a basin, girded himself with a towel and knelt and washed his disciples feet. But now he is the one who has things done to him, all of them unjust. He is the one who is betrayed, wrongly accused, flogged and crucified. He could have called legions of angels but he did not and would not, for his delight was to do the Father’s will. Jesus knew this was the beginning of the Father answering his prayer to glorify him that he might glorify the Father. At the precise moment that his Passion, his undergoing, his passivity begins, His glory is revealed in a mighty way. He announces that He is “I AM” and the glory of God is made manifest causing all around him to fall back, fall down.

This day you may be undergoing things you would prefer were different. Can you believe as you walk trustingly and obediently to the God who is working out His will in your life, even using the wickdness of man and the hatred of the evil one to do so, the glory of God can break through in you in a way visible to all?

Did you pray a prayer for the glory of God to be revealed in your life? Well Jesus prayed that prayer too. But remember how the asnwer unfolded for him…

Perhaps you and I will need help from heaven this very day to receive this truth and live in its victory.

God Bless


Old or Ancient?

Today I was remembering being at a conference in Skye back in the late 90’s. I met many wonderful people there who gave me more than I gave them. The memories are very sweet…

One of the greatest blessings of that whole time was the times of worship led by Dave Bilbrough. As I think of Kingdom Gathering happening on Skye this weekend (almost  20 years after the days I am remembering), under the leadership of that wonder of grace, Stevie Boyle, I find myself thinking of a line from a Dave Bilbrough song, “In these days of Impartation…” 

“Make me a prophet of my God not a king of nostalgia…”

There is all the difference in the world between asking God for the ancient paths, which we are to do, and wishing simply for old days we have enjoyed to return again.

I simply offer more words from the above mentioned song in the hope that they will bless those of us who are seeking a fresh touch from the God who is who He has always been and who does what He has always done.

In these days of impartation
I want to carry Your Spirit Lord
You have weakened me over all these years
Now I’m ready to hear Your call
Sometimes I don’t see clearly
There are shadows all around
But I’ll follow this voice that is leading me on
I’m heading up not going down

Give me dreams that shape tomorrow
Give me vision for today
‘Cause I’m tired of duplicating
All my old familiar ways
I’m not a captive of my past
But I believe I have a future
Make me a prophet of the Lord my God
Not a king of nostalgia

Don’t let my pride or reputation
Hold me back from seeking more
For there are many who have looked at the ocean
But never gone beyond the shore
It’s a time of new beginnings
Where You’re preparing me for change
Lord do something new within me now
So that I’ll never be the same again

God bless



Monday Morning Blues?

My pastoral advice for some of you this Monday morning? “Get out of your head today.”

No, not an ivitation to get drunk! Rather an invitation to get out of living in the world of your own thoughts. It is so easy to get trapped there, especially if there are unresloved conflicts in our lives or we are struggling with anxiety or whatever. Our thoughts can become our world.

Has it been a while since you noticed the grass is green or the sky is blue? Has it been a while since you registered a breeze on your face or looked into the jewellery of the night sky and marvelled? Has it been a while since you gave any true attention to what others are saying to you? Has it been some time since you opened the bible and allowed its truths to stretch your thoughts into the mind of Christ and bring you the scent of a Kingdom other than the small but jam-packed and intense world inside your head?

I do pray that you may indeed get out your head today. It may be you will even find time and space to get together with a Christian friend or two and get out of your heads together!.

God Bless


Sunday afternoon retired rumination….

Just a throw away thought as I think about the church circles that I have been nost used to church wise, namely evangelical/charismatic:

It is good to think about why a bible text is given as it is and not use it to prove our already existent point of view or force it to back up our agendas and priorities. For example the gospels were not written to prove everyone gets healed today. We may believe that, but it was not the purpose for which the gospels were written. Nor were they written that we might know how to gain material prosperity or success or influence in the business world , nor were they written to justify bizarre ministry practices – e.g. based on Jesus smearing mud on somebody!

We seem to have a very keen ability to find a text to justify and back up everything we think ( 3 fingers pointing back at moi!), but that does not mean that what we are advocating is biblical. Quoting a text along with its reference does not mean we have the backing of the bible any more than a church where the bible is preached accurately means that church is a biblical church.

Word of warning while I am in this sort of mode: if somebody you are listening to teaching the bible thinks they have seen something about a biblical text that no one has seen before in the history of bible interpretation, it is probably wrong. I have heard some ministers actually say, “What I am going to tell you is something that no one has seen before. It is something that God has been teaching me personally.” Sometimes they will spout the most ridiculous nonsense about Hebrew or Greek to back up their point, usually preceded by a phrase, “Watch this! Watch what I am going to show you here. Watch this now!” Usually the material that is given a build up to expect a dramatic rocket type firework to explode into life and colour is more like a damp squib despite dramatic build up at the start and the asked for clapping and Hallelujahs at the end.

Reformation type Scriptural “Breakthrough” moments are relatively rare… Heresies claiming biblical revelation have been common place and continue to be so….

God Bless


“There’s a van outside my house…the driver isgetting out…they’re carrying something…wonder what it is…”

“Jesus took the five loaves and two fish, looked up toward heaven, and blessed them. Then, breaking the loaves into pieces, he kept giving the bread and fish to the disciples so they could distribute it to the people.” (Luke 9:16)

“Jesus kept giving…so the disciples could distribute…” The miracle is always the Work of the hand of Jesus, the Son of God. Disciples’ hands distribute in His Name.

Every true ministry happening this day is really just a distribution and delivery service, whether it be local ot international. Remembering the distinction between who gives in the origin and source sense  and who distributes,  might help close the gap between grand proclamations and the works of God actually being made manifest among and through His people.

I always feel excited when a van driver arrives outside my house, parcel in hand….

God Bless


Thoughts on the “in” theme of “out…”

Thoughts on “Comfort Zone” goading in pastoring and preaching;

If you are preaching tomorrow/today and thinking of telling folk committed by Jesus to your care to come out of their comfort zone (a bit of a repetitive and tiring “in” theme in some circles at the moment), make sure you are inviting them to step by faith and obedience into God’s ways and not simply inviting them to come out of their comfort zone into yours…

If you are “in the pews” listening tomorrow/today don’t give up your comfort zone too easily even though there is an impassioned plea to do so by someone you want to honour. It may be your comfort zone is your zone of anointing which you are not meant to leave for anybody, though it is good – if a bit scary – to take further steps of obedience and trust within the zone of our anointing sometimes if fresh life is to flourish there.

For example, I believe one of my anointings or callings is in the area of preaching and teaching. Over the years, from time to time, God has invited me to make changes in the way I preach, presented to me fresh steps He wanted me to take in these areas, steps I knew I could not take without His help. I had to step out of my comfort zone within the zone of my anointing, or take steps out of my comfort zone to move deeper into my comfort zone where more life was waiting to blossom. Hope that makes sense!

God Bless



Came across this quote in the introduction to a book I have been reading to my great blessing these last few days: “Hebridean Altars, The Spirit of an Island Race, ” by Alistair Maclean: I had already read a fair bit of the book but then my eye caught this in the ‘Acknowledgments’ at the start of the book, which I confess I had not read:

“Whoever brings a gentle mind to what is written here, may He bless, who loves us all, and as they read, may each catch a vision of  The One Face.”

I find that profoundly beautiful.  It is worth thinking about not only in regard to the way we read, but in the way we listen to people, react, think etc. It is perhaps a good thing that we are taught in secular education and also in the best churches to weigh things up, to have a critical mind in the best and most positive sense of that word. However, speaking for myself I find that sometimes my critical faculty is so switched on that it actually stops me hearing fully and understanding accurately what a person is saying, or what I am reading. I have failed to give to the writer or the speaker the full courtesy of believing they are saying what they are saying for good and genuine reason, and so proper listening is dulled by the exercise of the critical mind. Surprise surprise! When I am like that, I don’t benefit as much as I might if I approached listening, reading, thinking from the place of having a gentle spirit married to a mind that weighs things up.

I tried to go through this day with a gentle mind. It pays dividends. It leads to greater satisfaction, less inner turmoil, less tension with a book or a person, or a situation,  more hearing, greater understanding, fresh insight, more love, less antagonism.

Why not try the experiment with me? Listen with gentleness. It makes life and thought and speech more pleasant.

God bless



I hear them hail thy bright ascendant star….

In days of better health when I was involved in Conference speaking, I discovered that some speakers had an A4 page of requirements that they expected to be be met. In fact some had more than an A4 page. Have to say, I don’t get it, I just don’t get it… I did request that someone would pick me up and take me to the venue, that I would be fed and that I would have somewhere to sleep: these 3 conditions were not always met, but where they were not, there was the occasional miracle, which was, as they say, “Cool” even “Awesome!”. God is good. HIs people are not perfect, but they usually mean well and do their best. Mind you five days without a meal was mystifying to say the least….

Sometimes in the purposes of God, you may have a higher profile than is usual for you, even if just for a time. If God is giving you a wider profile at this moment try and not behave like a “star.” It’s not nice to be around… Just do your job as an obedient servant, meek before God and the people who invited you and get back home to folk who really know you, who really love you, who could soon put the record straight about the “star” but never do… get back to broken washing machines, teenage scowls, normal meals, reheated left overs, reminders about household jobs outstanding, standing in queues just like every other mortal: get back to real life and real love, the most real you with the always real Jesus. He and those who love you most know the wounds that sometimes you cover up by receiving and welcoming the star treatment. He and those who love you most know about the wounds of your truest servanthood too.

Hast thou no scar?
No hidden scar on foot, or side, or hand?
I hear thee sung as mighty in the land,
I hear them hail thy bright ascendant star,
Hast thou no scar?

(Amy Carmichael)


God Bless



For what it’s worth… this is what I have found….

An operating principle of mine over the years that I think somebody needs to hear: it may be many of you will disagree with what I write below. That is fine. it means this thought is not for you, so don’t bother expressing your disagreement or putting me right, I politely ask. As I say, I feel this is for somebody, particularly somebody who feels a step they are about to take makes a purpose they have sensed in God seem less likely to happen:

Never make decisions based on possible advantages to your calling; make decisions based on obedience to God’s will and somehow doors and opportunities in terms of calling will not be a problem… I knew from an early age that part of God’s will for me was to go to other countries to preach although my prime calling was to be a minister in the Church of Scotland. Stronsay and Thurso seemed odd choices if I believed that, but they were the will of God. God knows where you stay. Just obey and trust. Obscurity of place is no obstacle for the purposes of grace.

God Bless


Urgent Prayer Request…

Before you go to sleep tonight, I want to ask for your prayers.  Tonight sitting in an evening service  The Holy Spirit highlighted  for me  in a very direct and immediate way the the fact that many Christians in Scotland live under the threat and the actuality of Physical violence within their own homes.

I have heard many testimonies which speak of difficult backgrounds of violence in the home. Very aware tonight that for some people that is a continuing part of their experience even after conversion. Some after worshipping with you tonight will have returned home to situations that are very unsafe, where violence is a reality. Indeed you may be the one who has returned home after worshipping to such a situation. So strongly remind by the Spirit of God tonight of that simple horrific fact.

In simple faith, will you join with me to pray for anyone in your fellowship who may be living in such a reality, that God would prevent physical harm from being perpetrated this very night? (Please don’t “comment” that there are other types of harm. Indeed there are, but it is physical violence the Lord highlighted by His Spirit to me tonight and therefore I am highlighting it for you to pray about.) If you are in such a reality yourself I think I can promise you that somebody will be praying for you this very night.

God Bless those who need such prayer, and God bless you in your praying.


Preaching today? This word could be for you more than for anyone else…

One of these “word for somebody” things: Hard to explain but I just have a knowing in my knower when certain things I share are something above and beyond me sharing….

You are feeling a disatisfaction with the way you preach. You know you have a skill to skim stones across the surface of the water, across the surface of a text, a skill that brings laughter and admiration from those who watch you, but you long for more.

I believe God would say that your skimming stones has blessed people, brought life and happiness, but the disatisfaction you feel does indeed come from Him. It is not there to make you dismiss all your preaching to date as failure. Lightness of touch is not wrong. It can and does bless people and some could learn that touch from you to their benefit and to the benefit of the flock entrusted to their care. Rather, your dis-ease is there as God’s invitation to take others into the waters that you yourself have tasted but held back from ministering in.

You have been on deeper waters yourself and looked into them with awe.You have glimpsed limitless love, limitless power, limistless wisdom, limitless faithfulness, a limitless unfaltering purposefulness, and never altering righteousness and holiness and mercy. You have met with God. “We speak of what we know.” Speak of what you know of the unchanging God of the Bible who is the God of your experience too.

God got you on to these waters. He can get others there too. Just be a witness to speak of what you have seen and heard. Speak of what you know…. it will help some to long to swim where they cannot feel ground beneath their feet, to siwm in a place where they cannot feel or see an edge or bank to hold on to, to be in an open sea, where they are aware of movement around them and underneath them over which they have no control and is beyond their knowledge.

Some are longing for that place where they are out of their depth in God. They need to hear from you that their longing is not a longing after a spiritual fantasy that does not exist. Tell them such a place is there, a place where your only hope of surviving and living in God is God Himself who draws near in Jesus Christ.

God Bless


Deep calls to Deep….

Well, if you have not guessed it by now, I am a Presbycharicostal Christian if you must use terms. I guess that means I am a mongrel of sorts, but sometimes they are very healthy dogs remember!

Anyway, there are things about many strands of Christian expression that have blessed my mongrel make up over the years. From time to time I come across something that gels extra well with the deepest places in me that I am aware of. Today I came across a Prayer and the explanation for it, that I dare to say touched something of my Redeemed Scottish being, that is the best I can desribe the matter.

The Prayer:

“Thou art our Father, therefore our strength and light. Of which we, who are now at the chair of Thy grace, ask for a portion, so that we may have power to do Thy will, even though it be a cross.”

The explanation:

“From a prayer – once her husband’s – of a widowed woman who lived in the Island of Mull. This heart-cry broke from her every evening when she and her four children knelt together at the feet of God.”

(From “Hebridean Altars, The Spirit of and Island Race,” by Alistair Maclean.)

Thank you Lord, for our Heritage of faith. May we not despise it; may  a generation arise of all ages who find and open the wells  from which our fathers and mothers – and theirs and theirs and theirs and theirs  – drank in faith, humility and meekness and were rewarded on earth with an inheritance in you that is so  easily traded away.  Amen.

God bless


Thoughts on seasons….

One aspect of our  five or so years living on the island of Stronsay in Orkney that took me a wee while to adjust to, was the way you could experience the weather of all four seasons – plus an added few not in the calendar –  on one and the same day!

Spiritual life has its seasons as well. I read a couple of words describing life in a beautiful book called “Hebridean Altars” a few days; “changeful way…” It led me to put a couple of thoughts on Facebook today which I repeat here in my blog.

In my darkest season, quite a few years ago now, God made promises to me and showed me the process by which they would come about. They were very clear. He fulfilled them all. His voice lacked hype. It was just a plain forth-telling of the difficulties and opportunities that were about to break upon me. He spoke of suffering that it was His will I endure and fruit that would come from it. He asked not for great faith to clear the former out of the picture nor complicated processes to ensure the latter. He just asked for my “Yes, Lord.” Nothing more than that and more specifically a “Yes, Lord,” to this: His delight in me, regardless of human favour or its lack  had to be  sufficient for me. He asked me to offer my acceptance without the need for any further explanation of that point. I had such a strong sense that on that occasion, unlike other occasions, asking for further explanation would not be favourably regarded. Just saying what I experienced.  I am sharing in this way  that so I can say this: Not one of the Lord’s good promises has failed.

While I am taking about seasons, here is something else I found myself thinking today: “The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places,” and “Out of the depths I cry to you O Lord” are in the same song book. Actually quite often it is right that we find ourselves not singing from the same hymn sheet. May God help us to live our season well. “Is anyone among you in trouble? Let them pray. Is anyone happy? Let them sing songs of praise. Is anyone among you sick? Let them call the elders of the church to pray over them and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord. “ (James 5: 13 – 15.)

Let’s not demand others live in the same season as we may be in. Don’t be a party pooper of their joy, or be annoyed when their sadness rains on your parade. Try as best to encoruage them in their season even as you live your own. “Rejoice with those who rejoice. Weep with those who weep.”Remember too, seasons come and seasons go. Each season has  its own blessing and  can yield beauty in its time. Blessed be the Name of the Lord.

Oh yes, that phrase, “Changeful Way…” Let me finish with the beautiful prayerful expression  of freindship and trust from which these words come:

“Saviour and Friend, how wonderful art Thou! My companion upon the changeful way, The comforter of its weariness.My guide to the Eternal town. The Welcome at its gate.”

God Bless