A 60+ child…

I guess I don’t “think” my age, if you know what I mean. You don’t know what I mean” Well then, let me explain:

I have been Christian for 48 years. I was called to ministry on the day I was converted. I am in my 60’s and have been a minister or assistant in some capacity for 40 years plus. I am called to speak at gatherings in Scotland and beyond from time to time even still despite getting on a bit. I am even asked to speak to other leaders on a semi regular basis. Fellow ministers seem to want to know what I think about situations they are facing: I love that especially; it fits well with my limited capacity health wise these days. However, personally I still feel like Jeremiah felt and have his type of conversation with the Lord:

“Then I said, “Ah, Lord GOD! Behold, I do not know how to speak, for I am only a youth.’ But the LORD said to me,

‘Do not say, ‘” am only a youth”;
for to all to whom I send you, you shall go,
and whatever I command you, you shall speak.
Do not be afraid of them,
for I am with you to deliver you,
declares the LORD.’ ”

I so deeply feel I am but a youth, a child, a boy. After all these years of relationship with the Lord, all the thousands of sermons and thousands of hours pastoring, I can’t seem to think of myself as all grown up, though sometimes I pretend I am. My preaching never goes well when I act all grown up in the pulpit or the conference stage, or as I pastor folk. Thankfully, I don’t do the all grown up act, the expert act, very often. It seems very unnatural to me. When I slip into those clothes, well, I am in a very bad place indeed with myself and the Lord.

There is a deep rest actually in knowing God is the Father and I am the child who just needs to listen and pass something on. When I do that, I feel I am living in a pre-womb-formed purpose. One day I will grow up and know as I am fully known, but it is not yet…

By the way, my sermons go in the bin after they are preached. Some I preach for a season for I know they are the Word of the Lord for more than one setting, but even they get discarded as what I am hearing seems to move on, ever the same and ever new, that strange mix of the Word and the Spirit dancing together to a score on which they agree, but which they alone know fully. That is why thus far I have never written a book because what is important to me now, tends to give way to something else that seems more life filled, which in turn gives way etc. etc..

Maybe it is time to get rid of your barrel of “best talks” and start listening again? Be a child with an instructed ear and an instructed tongue? That is how Jesus seemed to go about things. According to Isaiah 50 morning by morning He was wakened to listen for the word that would sustain the weary which He would then speak, sometimes going out of His way geographically to find the individual the word He had heard was for. It seems He felt and knew He could do nothing, say nothing on His own: Jesus the child; the Son… in time and on earth what He is always in eternity; the Son. Always, eternally, The Son.

God bless


Miracles in New Zealand…

I met two people in New Zealand who have been living in permanent agonising pain: one of them for months – the Lord seemed to speak a couple of words to me about them on the plane on the way over – and the other, for years. If you want to know what a “More than a Conqueror looks like” it looks like people like these people wanting to pray for people like me with love, concern and faith.

At times in the gospels, Jesus expressed amazement at what He found in people and for that matter at what He didn’t find in other people! Well, some of the people I met in New Zealand amazed me in a profound way, particularly the two I am remembering in this post. Somehow when no one would say a word of rebuke if they just curled up and never managed to reach out to a single person, they continue to love, serve, pray and hope. They shed tears as they told me about their struggles to cope with pain and to still function as human beings with family commitments and church leadership commitments, for they are not superheroes in the Hollywood sense. Added to permanent physical pain, both had stories from their childhood years which were as cold and brutal as any I have heard in 40 years of pastoring. I felt was in the presence of miraculous and fearful grace.

It is not easy sometimes to live in the already here and still to come Kingdom of God, when no explanation is given for what seems like a silent heaven in the face of a reasonable request for relief. Let’s make sure we don’t dishonour such heroes with hollow formulas on how to experience breakthrough. Let’s be silent and sit at their feet and learn the lessons that few would choose to have to learn

I will always remember seeing radiant faith shining through tears, and through horizon scanning, pain filled eyes. “Maybe even today? But if not…”

Of course such heroes are here in Scotland too, or wherever is home for you at this moment in time. You may bump into one as you go through this day. They will be unlikely to share their story in these days when often in some sectors of the Christian Church we seem to clamour for drama, and even take some perverse delight in the race for the title of “Greatest Sufferer.” But at times, limited times, even these superheroes of the faith need to talk, simply, without the pressure to reveal all the details. They look for an environment where truth is honoured and exaggeration is not. Perhaps God will call you, allow you, to be that place today or in the not too distant future. Remember to take your shoes off and tread carefully, for you will be standing on Holy ground.

God bless…and God bless you if you are one of these Superheroes, in the terms of this post,  who seldom share your story. May you find the right place, the right space to do so, as and when you feel you need to.


Thank you Mr. Rogers

One of the unexpected blessings in New Zealand was going to the Cinema and watching “A Beautiful Day in the Neighbourhood” starring Tom Hanks. I would not have chosen to see the film were it not for the encouragement of David, my Son, without whom I would not have managed the whole trip. When looking at the films on offer he said, “Trust me, this is the one you should watch.”

It is based on a TV legend from America, Mr. Rogers, who presented a children’s programme for decades helping children to value themselves and face life. I found myself profoundly moved. I never give sermons a title as I never know until I actually preach them what they were most truly about, but I know in my mental filing cabinet there will be a few sermons under the heading”The Mr. Rogers Series.” If you like action movie noise and effects, give this film a miss. In fact I take that back. If you like action movie noise and effects all the more reason to go and see it! If you want to touch profound truths about yourself, God and how to do life, find time, if you have the money, to watch this. It seems to be true that here was someone of whom it could be said, “What you see is what you get.”

Here is a starter of the sort of thing he encouraged people to do: he even did this when accepting a TV. lifetime achievement award. “Would you take a moment just to be silent with me and think of those who have helped you in life? Some of them may be here. Some of them may be far away. Some of them may be in heaven.” After the silence? “How happy they would be to know you were thinking of them.”

I tried that, and was surprised that my eyes were moist…

God bless