Thought 3: Already Here, Still to Come Kingdom: Good News…my lungs!

Jesus in Matthew, Mark, Luke and John embodied in deed and word the Good News that in Him the Kingdom of Heaven is here now and still to come in all its fullness. From the Book of Acts onwards that continues in and through His people, the Church.

That means when I am healed of something miraculously, as I have personally known a few times in my life, and have seen happen in the lives of others, it is a sign of the Gospel: the Kingdom of Heaven is here. When I am not healed of something here and now, and have seen happening many times in others, it may be an encouragement to keep praying for a miracle now. However, that non-healing here and now may continue and may be a sign of the Gospel too: the Kingdom of Heaven still to come, and because that is so it does not necessarily mean that either myself or those who pray for me are deficient in faith or have failed in the desired result for some other cause or reason.

In the community of the citizens of the Kingdom of Heaven here on earth now, we need to live in this recipe, this 3-fold mixture of mystery: openness to the Kingdom of heaven being manifest among us; faith filled acceptance it is not all here “now”, so non-healings happen as do healings and for this there is grace, love and help: hope that we are waiting for that day when Christ will come and change our bodies to be like unto his glorious body.

Some circles I used to mix in more regularly than now, leave out at least one ingredient of this Gospel of the Kingdom. Some say there are no healings now as the day of miracles is over. In such circles, Paul’s thorn in the flesh, whatever that was, is trotted out with monotonous and misapplied regularity as the dampener on any suggestion of instant healing miracles. Some circles I mix in today, say there is no sickness in heaven so there should be no sickness on earth right now. There are too many holes in that way of thinking to address in today’s post. I will leave you with two to think about. There is no marriage in heaven now or in the future. Does praying, “Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven” mean Christians should dissolve their marriages and live like the angels? There are no bodies in heaven now save the Lord Jesus and in the Kingdom to come we will have glorified imperishable bodies incapable of tiredness or weariness etc. Are we really saying that praying “Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven” means we can either become disembodied spirits as people are in heaven now, or can have our new Resurrection bodies now if we just prayed enough and had more faith?

Let me close with personal illustration. When the doctor told me I was extremely ill and had to go into hospital with pneumonia on top of my lung disease, I did not want to go and asked him not to send me there. I got friends on Facebook to pray: I was instantly healed before even 24 hours were out. Right now I have a lung disease that is not healed despite many of the same friends faithfully praying; in fact it is very gradually and continually getting worse. I believe the healing of my lungs and the non-healing of my lungs both confirm the Gospel of the already here and still to come Kingdom of Heaven. I also believe in my life God helps me to experience the other ingredient in the recipe of Kingdom of Heaven here and Still to come that I mentioned above: always there is grace, love and help, which in its own way is very much a miracle. God has become more gloriously real to me in the experience of healing delayed.

If only we lived in the profound but simple mystery that the Kingdom is here already, is coming, and will come, we would have more certain faith with the additives of rest and peace.

God bless you as you think through these things for yourself… and, of course, remember: The Kingdom of Heaven being near means we should always be open to surprises of the loveliest most wonderful kind. Things impossible for man or any power on earth can happen at any moment.


Thought 2 – Already Here, Still to Come Kingdom: John the Baptist

And John, 19calling two of his disciples to him, sent them to the Lord, saying, “Are you the one who is to come, or shall we look for another?” 20And when the men had come to him, they said, “John the Baptist has sent us to you, saying, ‘Are you the one who is to come, or shall we look for another?’” 21In that hour he healed many people of diseases and plagues and evil spirits, and on many who were blind he bestowed sight. 22And he answered them, “Go and tell John what you have seen and heard: the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, leperse are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, the poor have good news preached to them. 23And blessed is the one who is not offended by me.” (Luke 7: 19 – 23: ESV.)

John The Baptist had declared that in Jesus, Heaven was invading earth, God’s Kingdom was being established. There were indeed Kingdom-of-Heaven-happenings in the ministry of Jesus. John has heard reports of events that can only be explained by the fact that the power and love of the God of heaven is powerfully at work in the person, words and action of Jesus to free people from all that hurts and harms. Yet, despite these reports, he sends two of his disciples to Jesus with this question: “Are you the one who is to come, or shall we look for another?”

John was in deep and distressing confusion. Though there were indeed signs and wonders in the ministry of Jesus that confirmed the message of the Kingdom, there were other realities too. John had proclaimed a complete and total change, an upheaval of everything, including the judgement and the removal of the powers that be . But Herod was still a king; corrupt high priests and religious courts still held sway; the Temple system was corrupt through and through; Caesar was still Lord. “The axe is laid to the root of the tree” John had declared, but the trees were still standing. Where was this Kingdom? Was Jesus the Messiah, the King sent from heaven? John is not certain. John’s Kingdom of Heaven proclamations had not fully come to be as he envisaged when he cried out in the desert. He feels confused and even let down by Jesus.

The painful confusion of which we read in this passage is actually tremendously helpful for us. Thank God the writers of Scripture were led to include when they selected what to write about. John is experiencing what any true believer has to come to terms with sooner or later – and better sooner rather than later! He is living in the mystery of the “Already Here but Yet to come” Kingdom. At times there are astounding signs of that Kingdom. Jesus sends John’s messengers back to him to tell him of Kingdom of God signs and wonders that confirm Jesus is indeed the King who invades the earth with the obvious rule of Heaven. These signs still happen today in the Name of Jesus among and through the people of God. When they do, they assure us that the Kingdom of Heaven is near and here, among us and within us. However, there are many situations and experiences that we may be called to endure and to live through as followers of Jesus when there is no obvious Kingdom sign or wonder. Such times remind us that the Kingdom of God is not only present experience but a future hope for which we wait and pray: “Thy Kingdom Come!”

At times this tension of “Already Here and Yet to Come” can indeed confuse and challenge us and requires a faith to believe and hope, endure and rejoice, that can only come as it is given to us by God. Faith when there is no sign of the Kingdom, no miracle, is a sign of the Kingdom and a God given miracle! It makes no human sense to believe the Kingdom of Heaven is active when you find yourself in prison unjustly or when the executioner comes to cut off your head. Yet history is full of accounts of believers affirming the reign of God in His unfailing goodness, love, righteousness and justice, even at such moments. The key thing at those points seems to be to keep our hearts free of bitterness or offence at how the King is expressing His reign in my life “now”, as He also continually draws all things towards the “then” of The Day when indeed there will be no more sorrow nor crying: The Day when death itself will be past; The Day when there will be more more pain and God will wipe away every tear; The Day when every proud and lofty God defying and people harming influence will be chopped down for sure. What John the Baptise thought he would see He will indeed rise to see along with all those who long for Christ’s appearing in glory.

John’s experience should lead us to pray two things when the mystery of “Already Here and Not Yet” is in our lives in painful and confusing form:

“Lord, be my Good Shepherd. Lead me though the dark valleys of the conflicts and confusions I am experiencing, into the grace and peace of not charging you with wrong in the way you are ordering my days and my steps. Help me to trust you and know your peace.”

“Your Kingdom come Lord, in all its glorious fullness! Bring The Day Your Word promises us, The Day your people and all creation are waiting for with inexpressible longing”

Perhaps you are in a “John the Baptist, Cell of Confusion” moment as you read this. May Jesus who taught him, speak to you too, to find a way through. There is nothing wrong with you if there is no outward miracle. Miracle and non-miracle are both signs of the Gospel of the Kingdom as taught by Jesus, properly understood and faithfully lived out day by day. It’s the way the Kingdom is for now for those who are in it by God’s grace, who are deeply loved and watched over by the King.

God bless


Thought 1 – Already Here, Still to Come Kingdom…

Some folks have asked me to write a bit about the “Already Here but still to come Kingdom of God.”

i have decided to approach this with a series of simple single thoughts each time I post on the subject.

Thought 1:

It is really important that we understand this. Do you know what Jesus said the Gospel is?

There is no need to try and work out the answer. He told us plainly:

“The time is fulfilled. The kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe the Gospel.” (Mark Chapter 1 verse 15.)

Is this in your mind as you think of what the gospel is? If not…why not?

God bless


Here and Not yet…

“The Kingdom of heaven is near!” This is the gospel according to Jesus. I spoke on this recently at “Kingdom Gathering” on Skye and it seemed to bring help and hope to people and create faith and remove pressure and a sense of failure in ministry and prayer.

There are two errors that the enemy is sowing into the preaching of this gospel at the moment.

Number 1: error about the entrance. There is only one way of entry into the Kingdom ofGod: the cross of Jesus Christ where Jesus was punished for our sins that we might know peace with God. This is now being actively preached again. It used to be quite customary, in the days I was studying for my B.D., for liberals to deny this. Now it is evangelicals that are beginning to deny this truth, indeed folk claiming to be evangelicals now mock this. They deny it is even a valid interpretation of the cross at all. In this they go beyond liberals who at least are faithful enough to Scripture to admit it is a truth taught in the New Testament even though they would give it no prominence or preach it or agree with it. The name evangelical now means virtually nothing. It is often less biblical than classical liberalism or Roman Catholicism. I find nowadays I would be happy to share a platform with liberal or a Roman Catholic – and do from time to time with great gladness – but not with some who go by the name of evangelical. Lies work because they seem like the truth and sound like the truth. Obvious errors are rarely a problem. Don’t be ignorant of the devil’s wiles.

Number 2: the extent of the Kingdom now. Whereas error about the entrance to the Kingdom is being perpetrated by speakers and teachers claiming to be evangelical, the error about the teen of the Kingdom of heaven in the here and now tends to be common in contemporary charismatic circles. An example of this would be “There is no sickness in heaven now so there should be nor sickness on earth now. This is a serious misunderstanding of “The Kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” It causes immense disillusionment and pastoral nightmares. In the name of promoting faith for miracle it actually often destroys faith in God.

Don’t become heresy hunters, but be aware of who and what you listen to and align yourself with.

If this sounds arrogant, well, I can assure you that on a reasonably regular basis I see from Scripture where what I preach or teach needs amended to align with Scripture. However, at the risk of sounding inflated, I have a concern for the people of God throughout this land of Scotland and opportunities seem to open to me to speak beyond the local setting, as it were. I believe my concern it is God given.

God bless


Long awaited freedom?

Don’t give up hope that there can be freedom from that sin that has been part of you for so long. When it is evicted from the various parts of you it’s coils seemed to reside in, you may be shocked even frightened by how huge a monster it was. You will be surprised when it is gone that you do not weigh less physically! In Christ there is a victory that can yet be manifested in you.

When you have sincerely tried some of the excellent aids and helps to freedom on offer in the Christian scene, to no avail in your case, settle in the presence of Jesus and day, “Lord this has bothered me for decades. Please take it out of me.” In your waking and sleeping hours, He will answer that simple prayer. He is looking on you with great compassion and kindness, without condemnation, assured in His own triumph.

Do you know God can do mighty things as you sleep? That simple, humble prayer for deliverance from Leviathan.. He can do it even as you sleep. You have already made your will for His Will and victory clear to Him..

God bless


The police at your door?

Dream last night. Meaning:

“There is so much competitiveness amongst some ministries, movements and churches with a reputation of being alive – sound in doctrine and open to the Spirit – that needs, cries etc., go unheeded, wrongly diagnosed. People are left to seek their own healing from long standing captivities feeling abandoned, hardly noticed. It is little wonder that after staying loyal they make a decision to leave. Only then do they become a matter of intense interest and pursuit, for of course, their value is numeric and always was. Their leaving is pursued with the zeal of those chasing after an escaped prisoner.”

“Lord, is it I? Lord, is it us?”

There are times when it is right to leave a church for right and proper reasons. Sometimes it is necessary for our deliverance and healing to happen along with a new sense of worth, freedom and joy emerging. It is important that we find a fellowship to be part of again otherwise the escape is not complete, but don’t be swayed by the police force that may be sent to your door to bind you and bring you back.

Well, that was the meaning of the dream. Of course many times people leave churches for the wrong reason or because they have listened to the wrong voices. Then there is the need to be humble and return. That is true, but the dream last night was not about that.

Don’t be taken back into a church/ministry/movement that treats you as merely the servant of their goals and mission even when the Chief Constable himself/ herself appears on your doorstep.

God bless


A Person not a Project…

Job 19.22: “Why are you not satisfied with my flesh?” Job seems to be saying that his”friends” seem to be taking an almost perverse delight in his suffering rather than caring. His actual and obvious suffering is not enough for them. They are drilling into his inner being and won’t be satisfied until they expose his inner condition. They are making Job and his suffering their ministry project.

I was thinking today of someone who used to come around one of the churches I pastored. i still have contact with them from time to time, but they no longer attend that church anymore. The reason they gave for leaving? “I felt I had become a project.”

I think, sadly, with regard to the way some at least treated that person, that was so …

People who have suffered greatly are quick to see whether they are being treated as a person or a project. They may stick around for a while, but ultimately they will not stay in company whether they are treated like that. When they leave it may be a good sign: “I matter.” Spiritual gifts, programmes for inner healing mean damage when there is no love.

God bless


Why have you put that boundary there…?

Jesus, God in the flesh, was approachable. Sinners sought Him out. Mothers brought their children to Him to be blessed. He was angered at the very idea they should be kept from contact with Him. Spirituality and Approachability are linked, I think.

I used to hate it when well meaning people at conferences used to stop people approaching me after I had spoken, or when I was hived off to some secret room. I know it was to protect me, it was well meant, but… 

Anyway, don’t over protect your space. Take time apart for sure, as did Jesus, your health and well-being matter, but remember that approachability and hospitality – making time for others in your time and space for others in your space – is part of being like Jesus. Spirituality is proved in how we are with “what” or “who” we perhaps are too quick to dismiss as interruptions, distractions to the really important matters of our life in the Spirit or our terribly vital calling.

After learning from my mistakes over the decades, I would say that boundaries are good in life and ministry as a full time parish minister in the traditional sense. But remember, if you are involved in full time ministry of some sort, barriers need to be there for two positive purposes: for your wellbeing, and to enable healthy and sustainable availability to others. They should not be put in place with the purpose and intention of putting a series of hurdles in the road of people coming to you.

I have known people in ministry who make boundary setting a bit of a professional obsession. When that happens “Keep away, I am far too busy with more important matters than you!” becomes the main unspoken message of your ministry that people will speak plenty about for sure, much more than the sermon you spend hours praying over and diligently preparing. The pendulum does so often swing too far in one direction or another.

God bless


Then and Now…

I am waiting for the day when “Then” will become “Now.”

The following words from 1st. Corinthians Chapter 15 have meant so much to me lately in the loss of my Mum. . Maybe you have lately buried a huge part of your heart as a loved one died and their remains were sown into the earth like precious seed. From that seed sown in tears something magnificent and imperishable will grow thanks to the one who drew the sting of death on our behalf on the cross. If you shared the hope of Christ together, hold on to these magnificent words….

“For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection from the dead…”

“…what you sow is not the body which is to be, but a bare kernel…what is sown is perishable, what is raised is imperishable. It is sown in dishonour; it is raised in glory…”

“When the perishable puts on the imperishable and the mortal puts on immortality, THEN shall come to pass the saying that is written:

Death is swallowed up in victory.”
“O death, where is your victory?
O death, where is your sting?”

The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ…”

Why not take time and listen on Youtube to someone singing, “I know that my Redeemer liveth” from Handel’s Messiah. The day when “Then” becomes “Now” will come…. be sure of it. May it help you out of mourning, into comfort and even into joy…

God Bless


“Come in! Come in! It’s nice to see you? How’s yourself…?”

In times past when I was speaking in different places and different countries more than is the case now in days of enforced truncated ministry, there was an experience I away found difficult…staying in bedrooms where no place had been made for me to unpack my stuff! It was a temporary situation, so I managed, but to find not a single drawer where I could unpack my clothes etc., somehow affected me. In fact, I am not so sure I ministered as well or as freely when and where that was my experience.

I think the effect upon me whether intentional or the result of thoughtlessness and lack of any gifting of hospitality in the so called hosts, was that I heard a message: “You don’t really belong here with us.”

After Morag and I shared a meal with a wonderful prison chaplain last night, I found myself thinking as I dropped off to sleep that the need to feel we are welcome, that we belong, that there is a place I can unpack my stuff, is very deep, very basic. It is of course part of the gospel that Jesus invites us into His living space and makes room for us; He wants us to know that the love of the Father for Him is a living space we can share in. There is more than enough room there for us. Whether the luggage we arrive with is helpful or not, there is room for it in the Father’s love. In that love we find that some of what is in the suitcases is never going to be needed again. Nurtured with the food of divine love, we outgrow what once seemed to fit us. It no longer looks right on us, feels right. It is no longer needed, but we are welcome to bring it all when we come through the door, until that realisation is birthed in unexpected joy unspeakable and full of glory as irrefutable living truth.

God makes room for us in Himself. Hospitality is a gift that comes from His own nature. 

There are many differing thoughts about Church, Mission, etc floating around today. Reflecting the Hospitable heart of God may be a a very simple key. Would people feel after spending any time with me, any time speaking to me, that a place to belong, a space to unpack is being offered?

When I was unable to do very much at all ministry wise, indeed when I thought I might never preach again, God seemed to show me a Kingdom vision for how to live my life. He wanted me to be like a Kingdom of God tree in whose shade birds of the air could find refuge and build nests! I hope I hold on to that calling of being and offering a welcoming safe space, now that by God’s grace, I am speaking again on an occasional basis. It worked without words for a long while. My prayer is it will work with words now, that what I say will not mask the simplicity of the Hospitable Christ.

A warm memory from my childhood when T.V. used to be more about entertaining before it became a vehicle for one single issue politically correct cause after another, Andy Stuart used to invite us all into “The White Heather Club” by singing with a cheerful voice and a smiling face, “Come in! Come in! It’s nice to see you! How’s yourself? ” Thousands of us believed that invitation, and waited for it with joy each week! We could do worse than learning from that.

God bless


“Sorry, I’ll need to cancel…”

Over the last wee while, bereavement has led to me having to cancel one or two arrangements I had made with people. There were just some situations which I knew I could not handle this early on after my Mum’s death. I felt bad doing that, because I think that keeping our word is a good sign of where we are with the Lord, and breaking it for any reason should never feel like an easy thing to do even if it is done for unavoidable reasons that anybody would understand. In Psalm 15 the questions is posed, “O Lord…who shall dwell in your holy hill?” One of the many characteristics we are then told about the person who does indeed dwell in closeness to the Lord is this: they swear to their own hurt and do not change (Verse 4). In everyday, simple terms, it is good to be people who keep our word even when it is not easy and may indeed cost us a lot to do so. That is part of living in fellowship with the Lord.

Perhaps you will face a choice today: you have made a promise to someone, but something else comes up that you really want to do, or the opportunity for some advantage is offered to you that others might say you would be a fool to miss out on, or the possibility is presented of spending time with someone you really want to spend time with. What will you do? Will you keep your word, even though it is going to cost you something to do so? 

Of course in a world such as ours, in the frailty of being human, there will be times when we cannot keep our word. That is very different from not keeping our word because despite being free and able to do so we decide not to, for one reason or another. Whatever the reason, not keeping our word puts a spiritual sense of distance between ourselves and the Lord as well as probably hurting or disappointing the other person involved, who despite perhaps graciously assuring you it is “OK” will probably feel devalued. Keeping our word at cost shows we are getting to know the One who keeps His Word to His own hurt.

This is not moralism. This is about knowing who God is and learning to walk as His chosen child, holding His hand…

If you were thinking about phoning someone today to say, “I’m sorry, but I will need to cancel…,” maybe just maybe you should think again…

God bless