The glory of dawn!

Do we really believe the gospel, the gospel of the already here and still coming Kingdom of Heaven? I am a Charismatic and because of what I see in the bible, always will be I believe, but I fear for the Charismatic Movement in its popular manifestation in the Western World. Current popular charismatic teaching in its almost exclusive focus on “Kingdom now” causes very real distress of mind and soul to many of God’s faithful saints, but marches on in seeming unconcern about the damage inflicted upon vulnerable and fragile people living with the mystery of suffering of one sort or another. It shares only success stories giving only the very briefest of nods towards those for whom their ministry process has not “worked” but quickly passing on. Already convinced listeners seem to happily allow this sleight of hand, but it brings the charismatic dimension into discredit with those looking on and may contribute to the demise of genuine interest and pursuit.

Exaggeration of results does not help either, whereby we speak out our best two or three stories as though they are a continual pattern. All of us can be guilty of that, charismatic or non charismatic! I have seen one of the most well known healing ministries active today in many nations say on their web site that at a meeting they were involved in in the UK, healing was happening all over the gathering. I was there. No healing happened that night. I have been at other meetings in which that same ministry was involved in which healings did most certainly happen, even to me. The fact of the erroneous report was drawn to the attention of the Ministry involved. They were asked to alter their web page. They refused to do so. It takes a steady hand to hold a full cup. Success can be difficult to handle. All our idols have feet of clay. Thankfully, God is merciful.

If we do believe in “Now” and “Still to come,” then we will help one another to understand that non healing now as much as healing, tears now as much as joy, suffering now as much as release are all affirming signs as much as obvious miracle, that our hope is true and our faith in the Gospel is the real deal. “How long?” will often be the cry of hearts that truly believe, as will be awe and wonder at the action of God in more obvious intervening power. Sickness, tears and suffering are all sure and certain signs that Christ will come again to bring us along with all things into the fullness of His victory. We believe that, believing also that miracle may break in at any moment as we wait.

An appeal to some who read this from myself, your brother who is one with you in your desire to see more of “Kingdom Now.” If you are going to command a miracle in the Name of Jesus, make sure God is going to back you up and check you are not being presumptive. The proof of whether you were right or wrong in your declaration, moving in presumption or faith is if the thing you declare happens or does not. If it does not happen, don’t be quick to blame the person you made the declaration over, in fact be very reluctant to ever go down that avenue at all. Do some heart searching and some re-examining of the teaching you have imbibed…. and humble yourself before the God who loves you and does indeed want you to learn from Him, how to become a faithful channel of the mystery of the already here and still coming Kingdom of heaven. Let’s learn to carry that mystery together, in both our tears and our joy. Both are part of our triumphal march in Christ. Let’s celebrate and let’s mourn as those who know God is with us and the brightness of The Day has dawned upon us.

God bless


The Forgotten Four…

I am thinking today of Rev. Scott Burton, beginning his ministry in Britghtons Church of Scotland in Falkirk, and thinking too of his lovely wife, Gill, and their beautiful daughter, Hope. He is being preached in by the wonderful Rev. Ollie Clegg who was one of the ministry team at Holy Trinity in Wester Hailes, and is now Associate minister of  St. Mungo’s Episcopal Church in Balerno, with responsibilities too in St. Mungo’s in Livingston.  Ollie was a huge encouragement to Scott as he pursued his call to ministry. It made me think of how there may be many beginning a new season in ministry today who are unknown to me, but may be known to you. Jesus has promised to build His church. He can be trusted. Why not take a moment to pray for those beginning their ministries or a new chapter in their ministries today, Pray too for spouses, family and loved ones caught up in that call!

For some reason as I thought of Scott, the ramblings in the following paragraph started to bubble up to the surface. I found myself musing about ministry in a more general sort of way, and from there  my mind seemed to leap to all sorts of areas of Christian life and service. It all resulted in this:

Allowing loads of space for cultural differences, personality differences, differences in taste etc, if it doesn’t look and sound like Jesus in Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, don’t give it sway in your life… by “it” I mean the ministry of any Apostle, Prophet, Evangelist, Pastor, Teacher, etc. etc. Come to think of it, when it boils down to it, He is the model for all things; prayer, leadership, mission, faith, confrontation, servanthood, obedience, church/church planting/church discipline, spiritual warfare, healing, helping folk with a terribly wounded story, deliverance and anything and everything else for that matter. Jesus of Nazareth is what God and His purpose is and looks like in a human being. For every book you read, course you go on, take a longer look still at Jesus in Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. Have you put a favourite speaker above Jesus? A favourite writer or book above the gospels? If so, why not open them today and start reading any of the 4 or all of them? Begin at the beginning or open them up wherever you feel led to start. Don’t feel ashamed if you find the words you are reading unfamiliar or unknown to you. Just thank God for bringing you on to the right path and ask Him to forgive your folly. He will. ‘Jesus, be the centre!’ Let’s tell others to read the stories of  “The Forgotten Four.” “

God bless


The Lord of earthly and heavenly hosts…

I know some of you do not “do” Facebook. This is a story I posted there earlier this evening as part of a thread on angelic activity.. It maybe does not make sense in a vacuum and unrelated to the Facebook activity, but I somehow hope it blesses you and encourages your faith. Whatever else they may be, angels are a sign of the gospel that the Kingdom of Heaven is near to us.

In the early years of CLAN Gathering in Scotland when numbers were still climbing towards from a few hundred to several thousand coming from hundreds of churches, a few angels appeared on photographs. I never kept them or publicised them, as I thought they would be sensationalised and used in the wrong way. I remember meeting an older lady who simply came up to me and said, “Pray for Israel.” She then walked on with difficulty of movement. In one of the photographs she was standing there with her back to the camera – at least I am pretty sure it was her in that she was wearing the same clothes and shoes – worshipping …with wings on her back. By that I don’t mean a vague glow that could maybe could be interpreted as wings at a push and with a lot of imagination. I mean wings, truly glorious wings

The appearance of heavenly host seemed to be associated with joy. I have no idea why such realities appeared on photographs, nor why other types of spiritual manifestation appeared in the tent and in other conferences I was at a few weeks later, in the sky. If their wings had been visible to the naked eye I guess they may not have got past the stewards into the tent! Anyway, there it is. It is amazing what can happen when you create a venue with no other purpose than welcoming the presence of God and wanting to see His people encouraged in the joy of knowing Jesus. I heard this week of another ministry that started through the Spirit’s inspiration working in someone’s heart at CLAN in St. Andrews that is now international in its scope and bringing life to people and glory to God in Scotland and beyond. Wonderful.

Oh for days of nameless people, of no agenda other than welcoming the presence of God and honouring The Lamb slain since the foundation of the world. So much fruit is birthed in such an atmosphere, fruit that lasts and grows even when the seed itself falls into the ground and dies. It is a Kingdom law we can trust in with absolute confidence.

God bless


Let the Arrow Fly…

I lost my peace last night. The reason? I started thinking about someone who was needing put right in their thinking about a matter of biblical truth, in my estimation: someone who I thought needed to listen to my “wisdom.” Maybe it is a besetting sin of pastors, the flip-side of our strength and gifting. It may be birthed in our desire to help, but an unguarded strength or gifting can become a weakness, indeed it can become destructive of the very good we intend.

Well, I woke up this morning, and saw the wrong in me for what it was. I have repented and peace is restored. There is maybe a lesson in that about when to “think” about things. Mulling  over a peace destroying thought at night time is not the best idea. Things tend to look different in the morning especially if despite the troubling in our thoughts the night before, we have somehow managed to receive the gift of sleep. This morning, I did not feel any need to put the person right. I saw them for the unique person they are and felt pastoral hope and peace on their behalf. I do not need to make the remarks to them I had thought of saying, in order to “help” them!

However, that experience made me think back  to a remark made to me on Facebook by someone a year or two ago, which was viciously judgemental and was made on the basis of presumptions about me by someone who knows me not one whit. They were out to put me right in the most ungracious terms. Well, as a pastor you have to develop a sensitive spirit  skin allied to the skin of a rhinoceros , so the attack did not land ! However it made me think of the sorts of things that we often say to one another as believers on social media. My own bible readings today were all about the use of  “the tongue.” I put the following  on Facebook. I know many of you do not use Facebook, and you may be wise in that decision! However, here it is:

“One often reads such vicious verbal assaults on believers by believers on Facebook. It rarely comes in my direction but from time to time all of us will be victims or villains in such communications, or more accurately non-communications.

Listen: if I thought the same as you about all manner of things, that would not give you the opportunity to grow in the love of God fo me, nor give to me the opportunity to grow in the love of God for you. Humility would suffer as well, as would the potential to grow in truth and wisdom together.

Tuck that thought away in your spiritual quiver. Use it this day or any day when it might be the appropriate arrow to draw out and fit to your bow. Aim it in the direction of the mutual enemy of us all, draw the string back with all your God given strength and let it fly.”

God bless



Poltergeist…and the Power of the Ordinary using the Ordinary…

Great testimony to the power of God over spiritual darkness, heard at church last night.

A wonderful lady, who works as a Carer, was sharing that she had really been having a rough time over the last year or so. One thing after another had been hitting her in life. She was no sooner up on her feet after one blow than she was knocked down again. It all affected her spiritually. However she determined at New Year she was going to stand for Jesus, live for Jesus, come what may.

One night recently, after settling one of those she cares for, she was aware of a dark presence in the room. She felt like phoning the pastor, who has a ministry for dealing with such things, for help…but she didn’t. She got out of bed, knelt in prayer, and read bible verses off an App on her phone that corresponded to how she was feeling. The dark presence seemed now to be standing behind her, and she was afraid to look round. As she continued to pray read God’s Word and praise God, she was filled with the Holy Spirit’s power in a very tangible way. She continued to praise God, at which point 2 pillows that were on top of a chest of drawers were suddenly swiped from where they were lying and flew across the room. She kept praising God, and all was well.

The pastor afterwards, referring to the testimony in the course of the sermon ,simply said that the lady had done the right thing; used the ordinary things: she had prayed, read the bible etc. She then said it is always tempting when we are in need to think that we need someone “bigger” or “older” in God than we are to help us out. However, never underestimate the power of the “ordinary” things that God has given to us to use.

Anyway, I came home from church, blessed by a remarkable testimony followed by a remarkably helpful sermon.

Perhaps this is a day for you to discover the power of “Ordinary” things, or to rediscover their power: things like prayer, the words of Scripture simply read and believed, and praise.

I also thought as I was in the church that God put a young man on my heart, who was sitting in the front row, as one who would grow up to have a keen eye for dealing with the demonic because he had encountered that and early victories would lead to future giftedness and service. There are people who God does mean to grow into ministries in such things as I have described, but as I say, never forget the power of what we sometimes leave unused: the power of the ordinary means of grace that God has placed in our hands. Pick up the bible today and read a verse or 2. Pray today in whatever way you are accustomed to pray. Praise God, who is God always, forever, and in every circumstance you may find yourself in this day.

Such “ordinary” things are weapons made mighty through the Holy Ghost, to the pulling down of strongholds, especially these strongholds of wrong thinking which can establish themselves in deep places within us. Remember the truth, told in a homely way, that Satan trembles when he sees even the weakest Christian on their knees! Don’t get spooked by this testimony. Rather, remember what spooks the devil!

Below, you will find a link to a song which was played so so often on Sundays in my childhood, on the type of record player that in in vogue once more only now with Bluetooth facility! It is old fashioned and might be considered to be too simple by many and dismissed as sheer sentimentality, but I am grateful its truth got into me. I am grateful beyond measure for a home where Christ was loved and honoured. I am grateful for my memories of Dad singing along in his out of tune voice, dreaming of being George Beverly Shea, causing the rest of us loving laughter, as we waited for the delicious bacon and eggs and potatoe scones he would have been happily cooking for us all at the time!  I have met and pastored so many who woke on a Sunday to threatening silence, or to voices of discord and strife, voices to be feared from people to be hidden from. There are so many who would have loved such “sentimentality” being played on a record player, crackles and all, on a record player, and to have memories like mine. I should say  with all compassion and sincerity, that I recognise that some of you may not be able to reach the place the song speaks of without first acknowledging great pain and finding the loving help of Christ to bring you to a place where the song makes every day sense as it were. I pray He will. What some of you have been through is unspeakable and you may need help before the “ordinary’ is helpful rather the cause of further pain or even mockery. Perhaps  if your childhood was stolen, you could pray for its renewal in healed shape and from, even within  your adult life. I am remembering a song I first heard when living in Orkney which could be a prayer you might want to pray. It  started with these words: “I want to be a child again, I want to see the world through five year old eyes: To walk with my God wherever He may lead, to put my trust in Him”

Well, my Dad and George Beverly Shea will probably have met in heaven now, I suspect, and are both part of that great choir where nobody hears what anyone’s voice sounds like, for all attention will be on the Lamb in the midst of the throne, listening only for that voice that is like the sound of many waters. May you hear that voice today, flowing  all around you like living water, bubbling with a healing  happiness, and  with the joy of victory.

Click here

God bless


Honour where honour is due…

This is not mock humility, it is not hyperbole, rather it is deeply felt and, I believe, demonstrably true: the day when all things shall be made plain and surprising rewards will be given, will prove it to be so. …

I owe everything to those known and unknown who have loved me and prayed for me, not least among that number being my parents and my wife. If you have ever been blessed by God through me, thank God for the pray-ers of which you yourself may be one! The bible tells us to give honour where honour is due.

For reasons unknown I feel this so deeply this night, that It just had to overflow to you.

If you have someone who prays for you faithfully and from the love of God in their hearts for you, you are truly rich and blessed. Maybe God is asking you to hear His call to be that blessing to another?

God bless


“…go together like a horse and carriage…”

“Because of your unfailing love, I can enter your house; I will worship at your Temple with deepest awe” Psalm 5.7.

True intimacy with God, security in His unfailing love, does not take away deepest awe and reverence.

I worry a bit, not a lot but a bit, about the assumption that casualness should be the tone of a church gathering which is sure of the Father’s love and an inviting and safe space for seekers.

Old fashioned? I probably am in some ways, but I have never felt I can wander in and out for or with coffee in the presence of unfailing divine love.

Nostalgic? Probably. I have come to the stage where I would prefer a good old fashioned call to worship with words of Scripture, rather than the now familiar waffle full of questionable teaching ending with the not very inspiring required formula, “Why don’t we stand…?”

Formal? Mmm, perhaps a bit. It may surprise you, but because in the charismatic world casualness has passed from being a not thought about incidental, into being a requirement to be put on display, I would almost rather see a preacher in clerical robes, suggesting at least a Holy calling affirmed by the church, rather than someone dressed in the latest trend of what gym buffed orthodontically enhanced stars of stage and screen are meant to look like, though of course heart is more important.

Yes, it is, it really is. Heart is more important. No question. I know that…I really do, but still…

I actually think a day will come when casualness in its deliberate , chiselled and expensive designer form in the church in the West, will lose its appeal. It will not satisfy those who are looking for something radically different from the world who will become disappointed to walk into a church to find Christians still in love with what they have left behind.

Ah well, that is what I think…

God bless


Old truths ever New

Had such an enjoyable meeting with a fellow Church of Scotland minister today. I was reminded of two truths from two giants of the Faith.

Firstly, I was reminded of what David Watson said: true fellowship begins at the point of weakness, when we kneel at the foot of the cross, on level ground, in the place of healing and grace. Personally, I think that often fellowship is ruined when we try and meet one another in a competition based on our strengths.

Secondly, I was reminded Of something C. S. Lewis said: fellowship begins when all of a sudden one says to another with delighted discovery, “What? You too?” That discovery cuts through the need to know endless details about one another. Plenty time for that whenever, if ever…

God bless


Angry at Generosity?

Remembering a solid Christian angrily asking me what use the gift of tongues was to anyone. Well it has its uses for sure, but what a horrible view of God, that He only does what is useful!

I wonder what sort of gifts that person gave to their nearest and dearest? Only ones that would get the response, “Thanks I was needing that,”? Did they never give something to a loved one that caused uproarious laughter when opened? Did they never give a personalised symbol of love forever treasured as priceless by the recipient, a cause of warmth and joy, but confusing, meaningless or ridiculous in the eyes of everyone else? Did they never give to excess to the accompaniment of universal condemnation but with disregarding laughter in their Remembering a solid Christian angrily asking me angrily what use the gift of tongues was to anyone. Well it has its uses for sure, but what a horrible view of God, that He only does what is useful! I wonder what sort of gifts that person gave to their nearest and dearest? Only ones that would get the response, “Thanks I was needing that,”? Did they never give something to a loved one that caused uproarious laughter when opened? Did they never give a personalised symbol of love forever treasured as priceless by the recipient, a cause of warmth and joy, but confusing, meaningless or ridiculous in the eyes of everyone else? Did they never give to excess to the accompaniment of universal condemnation but with disregarding laughter in their own spirit?

Never despise the generosity of God. Why are you uncomfortable if He chooses to be generous to anyone…to you?

God bless


That thing we call “Church.”

A couple of bits and pieces that have moved me in recent days; worth sharing I think.

“If this is not a place, where tears are understood,
Then where shall I go to cry?
And if this is not a place, where my spirit can take wings,
Then where shall I go to fly?
(Ken Medema)

“Let light spill out of heaven
through my life,
dispelling mediocrity and silent blame,
Too many people, guilt stricken, wounded,
walk in regret,
feeling bad about failing,
apologise even for breathing.”
(Andy Raine)

Worth thinking about as we think of “church” and our place in its life and mission, don’t you think?

(Both quotes come from “Celtic Daily Prayer, Book Two: Farther Up and Farther In.” You might find that is a helpful book if you are looking for a new approach to your devotional life. I do not take to the Celtic approach to spiritual life naturally myself, but I have found it an immensely enriching discipline to use this book)

God bless


Is the answer you are looking for really that complicated?

Feeling stuck or unhappy about where you are spiritually and asking God about it in this New Year? I wonder how we would react if Jesus were to say to us, as He did to a couple of questioners in the gospels, “What do the commandments say?”

Sometimes we make an awfully complicated meal about things. “Oh well, it’s complicated…” Often it isn’t. In fact usually “it” isn’t really that complicated. How can we reach contentment and peace within as children of God if we are ignoring His will about how to do life, how to seize its opportunities and how to cope with its at times seemingly intolerable pains and tragedies?

There is so much ground of human experience covered by God’s commands in the Old Testament: they are His gift of love to a people, Israel, whom He redeemed in grace, but they are for us too living under the New Covenant, as of course are the commandments on the lips of Jesus and the first Apostles. Psalm 19 likens God’s Law to the life-giving light and heat of the sun from which nothing is hidden (Why not take a few moments right now to read it?). Keep it simple. Did you complicate a choice by seeking and following the advice of your peers or even a well meaning Counsellor who told you to go a different way from the commandments of God? Well, take responsibility for your life, forgive anyone for the advice they gave that got you in a mess (maybe they feared your reaction if they told you the truth!), and take a fresh step of obedience.

Have you prayed, “Send Revival, and let it begin in me?” With God’s help, answer your prayer: there is biblical precedent for such an approach to prayer. Personal Revival always looks like a new beginning of obedience somewhere in our lives…

God bless


Calling all heroes!

At this time of the year, if you have any affinity to the circles of spiritual emphasise I have lived in and ministered in over the years, you will probably be being subjected to the most amazing prophetic interpretations of the number 2019! I will leave it to you to work out which, if any, have the word of God for you somewhere in the midst of all the complicated and mysterious calculations.

In the mean time, I believe that 2019 just as 2018, and 2017, and 1831 and any other year you can think of,  is “The Year of  the Heroes!”


God bless


Learn from the Rose…

I love the poetry of George Mackay Brown. I guess that living for a few years in Orkney and ministering there meant I would look at his writings, but it was actually long after leaving there that I did so.

One of my favourite poems goes under the name “Prologue.” I think it got that unusual title partly because it sums up what is the core of the inspiration of his poetry and its aim and purpose, but also because it was the first poem in an early book of his published work. You might have heard of its opening line: “For the islands I sing.” You might have heard another famous line from the same poem: his description of Scotland as “the Knox-ruined nation.” That is not a line that has endeared him to many Calvinists or historians for whom facts matter!

However at the start of a New Year, it is something he says about roses that I want to leave with you to think about:

“Go, good my songs,
be as gay as you can.
Weep, if you have to,
the old tears of man.

Praise tinker and saint,
and the rose that takes
its fill of the sunlight
though a world breaks.”

The world which we wake to on New Year’s Day 2019 is a world of the most appalling suffering and need in so many places and so many lives. Your life or the life of someone you love may even have been visited by sadness, loss, betrayal or disappointment of one type or another in the closing days of 2018, and the effects of that are still there, deeply felt on this January morning. It is so important to allow ourselves and discipline ourselves to see, receive and drink in the goodness of God, just as the rose does the sunlight. Roses exist with all the beauty of their perfume and colour. God does not ban them as though no beautiful or joyful thing should be allowed in a world where darkness damages and destroys so much.  Along with many other beautiful things they can be reminders, signs and teachers, pointing us to God in His goodness, awakening a capacity for gratefulness and even celebration in the midst of life as it really is.

However you wakened on the first day of this New Year, whatever thoughts or experiences are lying heavily upon you, make time to drink in God’s goodness. Train your heart not only to “weep the old tears” that are part of the human story through the centuries, but to take your fill day by day of “the sunlight” of God’s goodness.

Oh and by the way, don’t be angry or offended if in the face of your difficulty or sadness someone says to you in a cheerful way, “Happy New Year.” Perhaps they are being a bit thoughtless, but just maybe they are a teacher sent by God to help you out of a rut in which you could easily get stuck…

God bless