The main focus of this BLOG, is to uphold those simple, and clearly defined truths, that are so often missing from Christian life and conversation.
(There may also be the odd film or book review along the way as well as stories from my life)
If you wish to use material from these posts, you may do so, but please respect the work of the writer. Proper attribution, and accurate quoting that is faithful to the context is appreciated.

Monday, 23 November 2015


The Bible talks a lot, both metaphorically and literally, about the paths we travel. They might be called roads, or referred to as a 'way' or something else. But there is no doubt, that to embark on the Christian 'walk' is to start the journey on these paths.

This is the first in a series of posts on this subject. I'm going to look, one by one, at what I believe are the four major paths we must all walk along. We will look at the people in the Bible that also walked these paths. Hopefully we will learn something along the way, and understand the path we are walking right now.

So, are you ready? Good, lets get started.

First, we're going to look at the path through the Wilderness.

Wait, did you just think to yourself, testing? Well that's only part of it, so before you let yourself drift off with that thought. STOP.

Because the path through the wilderness is the path to beginnings.
Look at these five major figures in the Bible that had wilderness experiences. Each of them went into a wilderness setting before something new was released into their lives.

Moses was in the wilderness forty years before he became the deliverer of the Israelites.
Joshua was in the wilderness forty years before he led the Israelites into the promised land.
David was exiled into the wilderness before he ascended to the throne.
Jesus was in the wilderness forty days before he began his public ministry.
Saul (Paul) spent three years after his conversion in Arabia and Damascus, before he stepped into his apostleship Gal 1:17-18.

So the wilderness, is a place of preparation, it leads us to a beginning, a new thing.

There are a number of things we must learn on our way through the wilderness.

We must come to the tabernacle, to learn how to worship. As we learn to worship, we learn to lose ourselves.

We must come to Sinai to learn His word. As we learn His word, our relationship with God is revealed.

We must be led by the fire and the cloud, as we learn to walk. As we learn to walk, we learn to follow.

We must face down our enemies as we learn the art of war. As we learn to war, we learn to walk in our victory.

We must gather manna, and drink water from the rock, as we learn to wait. As we learn to wait, we learn obedience to God's sufficiency.

We will all go through this wilderness experience, and more than just once, it may be many times. It might be through sickness or injury, personal struggles, a career that seems permanently on hold, or that promise that you're still waiting to see come to pass. We may not always recognise it, but we learn something along the way, hold fast to God, and move on. The wilderness is a place of barrenness and emptiness. We experience that barrenness in our soul. If we are not careful, if we do not keep our focus centred on God, then we can so easily lose hope, we fall into despair and desolation.

The big mistake, is in not learning, not growing and not moving at the right time. Out of the entire nation of Israel, only two saw the opportunity God had placed before them. I am of course talking about Joshua and Caleb Numbers 13 and 14.

It is of very great importance to remember, that as barren, empty and lonely as the wilderness may feel, you do not walk this path alone. Deuteronomy 1:33 "who went ahead of you on your journey, in fire by night and in a cloud by day, to search out places for you to camp and to show you the way you should go."

You can't walk it alone. Because on your own you will not survive. You must be shown the way. Trust God to lead you to water, to sustain you. Draw from his word, lean in to worship. And above all else, don't be afraid to take the fight to the enemy.

As we have seen with the children of Israel. How we respond to the wilderness journey, will determine the length of the journey. Joshua and Caleb had an unbridled passion and faith in God's ability to take them into the land, but were held back for forty years by the fearful complainers and grumblers. After Jesus had faced down the devil, angels came to minister to him. Even while in exile David continually called on the Lord, who led him into victory.

As you walk out this pathway, remember you're not alone. God is there to guide you and provide for you. You will pass through.

Images used in this post.
"Light path"
Image courtesy of dan at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
"Mesquite Sand Dunes at Sunrise-Death Valley National Park"
Image courtesy of dexchao at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Monday, 16 November 2015

Hashtag. All lives matter.

This past weekend has seen tumultuous, tragic events taking place.

Hundreds have died because of needless, senseless, hate filled violence. In Beirut, Nigeria and Paris to name just a few.

But all the focus has been on just one place, Paris.

And I have to ask why?

Why is all the focus, the outpouring of rage, the cries of injustice, the demand for a solution focussed on this one place.

Image result for beirut bombingYou might have seen this photo, which was circulated by Angelina Jolie. This is a bomb blast that erupted in Beirut. (I'm not sure when this photo was taken, I can't guarantee it is current to these events) There was however a series of bomb blasts, suicide bombers, the action of ISIS in a Hezbollah stronghold. Many have died and hundreds were injured.

I didn't see the flag of Lebanon appear on Facebook profiles. So obviously we care less about this right?

Because that's just one terror organization attacking another. Here is an article posted in Time Magazine , because the people of Beirut are asking this same question.

There is also the report of some slayings in Nigeria. Well the problems in the African continent are many fold. The Sudan, The Congo, Somalia, Libya, Algeria, the list of trouble spots there is almost as long as the list of nations.

What about the war in Yemen, ongoing conflicts in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Israel. Well, maybe Israel is a different story, because it is Israel that is tarnished with the fault, it's currently fashionable to blame Israel for everything, so there's no need to feel sad about that right? Oh yes, there's another one you probably haven't heard of, West Papua. Where the people are being brutally oppressed by a neighbouring country.

So why does Paris get all the attention? Is it because it's a place we would all like to visit? It's the city of lights, the city of love, the site of Jim Morrison's grave. The Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame, The Louvre, The Moulin Rogue. A cultural centre of art, history and romance.

I'm not trying to belittle this tragedy, and I am not sympathetic to Islamic extremism. I simply want to know why we responded the way we did.

Maybe we're tired of all those other, unfashionable places and their little troubles. Those places aren't romantic. They're not centres of art, history and culture. Well actually they are. Maybe it's just that none of them have the "Mona Lisa".

Most disturbing of all. Is what I see in social media. Post after post of retaliation, hate, anger. Sadly, so much of it from Christian friends. Some of whom incidentally, seem to have spent their Sunday watching two girls beat each other up for entertainment.

Even more disturbing. And this is the thing that has my real attention. Is this article about French Mayor Robert Chardon. He is calling for legislation to ban Islam from France. A sentence attributed to Mr Chardon is, "it's the only solution for most of France's problems".
It was only a generation ago that someone in Europe spoke about problems and solutions. That was in the 1930's. The problem, was the Jews. Except they weren't going around bombing people.
Is Europe on the verge of wholesale, systematic, state sponsored ethnic cleansing. AGAIN?

We remember the holocaust, that others try to deny. We say never again, not on our watch. But the language is starting to emerge, again.

To answer my first question. If there was not a current flood of "refugees" in Europe. Then the attacks in Paris might not be seen as part of a larger threat. The troubles in Beirut and Africa, are not really a threat to us, are they?

Do all lives really matter? Or just the ones from western democracies?

As a Christian, I have to say, yes they all matter. Because as a Christian, I want above all else, to be transformed.
I want the mind of Christ. I want to exhibit the nature and character of God. I want my DNA to be reprogrammed, overwritten with superior coding. I want to be like Him.

So what does God say? What does "the Christ within me, the hope of all glory" say, how does he respond?

Here's a few verses you can look up. Ezekiel 18:23 and 32, 33:11. I'll tell you what they say.
God does not take pleasure in the death of the wicked.

We care more about the deaths in Paris than elsewhere. Our grief is selective. No one was deserving of a horrible, fearful death. Yet who are we to say that the death of an innocent child in Beirut, is less tragic than a fan at a Death Metal concert in Paris? Did someone deserve it more?

Here's another verse. It's pretty much one of a kind.
Psalm 11:5 "The Lord examines the righteous, but the wicked, those that love violence, he hates with a passion."

God does not take any pleasure in the loss of a soul. And he abhors the act of violence, as much as he hates the act of retribution. Because in the end, everybody loses.

We cannot be selective in the outpouring of our grief. Nor can we advocate the act of retribution.
I saw a response to one of the many posts this weekend. One that said Pray for Paris, Pray for Peace.
The view taken, was that this was an ineffectual approach. Obviously they thought a good old bombing campaign was the answer.
Well maybe it is. If the god you pray to is impotent.

You've probably heard the phrase, "war is a necessary evil". I have always held to the view that war is not always necessary, but it is, always evil.

I've changed my view again.

War is made necessary, by the evil within us.

Monday, 2 November 2015

In the Drivers Seat.

A few days back, I was driving around on my way to pick up some people from the Airport. It occurred to me that I have two different driving styles.

Firstly, there is the way I drive when I'm on my own. Secondly, there's the way I drive with passengers. In fact, there's a third variation, which depends on who the passengers are.

It all got me thinking back to something I wrote in a book a few years back. The book covered some events in my life when I had broken my neck in a cycling accident. I was going through a fair amount of soul searching, when I had this conversation with myself.

“What would your day look like if you spent it in Joel’s company? (Joel is a senior pastor at Hillsong church. I say senior but he’s younger than me.) I realized, that the way I was living, my actions and conversation would be radically altered. Not that I was living a sin filled life, or that my speech was particularly profane, it just wasn’t what it could be. I, wasn’t who I could be.
Then this happened. (I’ll try to write it so you get the two simultaneous thoughts that ran through my head.)
It would be almost as if God was with you . . .    (You idiot God is with you)   . . . the whole day."        

(Excerpt from "I am Broken" by Leo Sandy. Available as an e-book on Kindle, iTunes, Kobo and Nook.)

Which brings me to ask. Where have we placed God? Where do we see him?
Is God remote, a disembodied spirit? Do we think of him as only being in heaven, sitting on a throne?
Do we really believe that he has a vital interest in our day to day waking life?

Because it seems as though a lot of us live with exactly these kinds of misconceptions.

Philosophical thinking would have us reduce God to an idea, nothing more than an abstract notion.
A set of noble ideals to aspire to. Certainly not a personal God that seeks after relationship, dialogue and involvement.

It's kind of like how we drive our cars when we can "see" that Police Car. But once it's gone, the law becomes reduced to an abstract ideal. We know the law exists, but because we don't see the agents of enforcement in our presence. It gets cast aside.

Wait. Am I suggesting that we don't consider God to be present, and that we have cast him aside from our conscious thinking? In many ways, yes.

My analogy of the police car serves us well here. Because we tend to forget the presence of the law, when we forget the presence of the agent.

I believe we've settled into a reductionist compartment view of God. God is in heaven. Jesus is up there too, because he ascended and took up residence in the throne room. As for Holy Spirit, well, where and what is he?

The Holy Spirit is God. In totality. It's a concept that our finite minds have trouble grasping, because we think in terms of solid objects. When we think of spirit, our thinking has been reduced by fairy tales and genies and such like, one thing in one place. Take it out of the bottle and put it back again.

But the Holy Spirit fills the whole earth.

Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence?
If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea,
even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast. Psalm 139:7-10 NIV 2011.

David understood this idea of an all encompassing, ever present God. He knew, that God was always there. God is infinite and complete. It matters not wether we refer to him as; God, Father, Son, Holy Spirit. The name doesn't change the fact.

I think another part of the problem is with how we read a verse in Ephesians.

". . .the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption . . ."
Ephesians 1: 13b-14a. NIV 2011

That verse, when misread, becomes completely reductionist. We reduce the Holy Spirit to a "bit" of God. The KJV uses the word "earnest", which means a down payment.

Here's the problem. You can't cut God into pieces. God is infinite, without beginning or end.
Even if you were able to separate something infinite into component parts, each part would still be infinite. Because that is its inherent nature. (Now while you get your head around that, let me assure you. I have checked this with a friend, whose has degrees in Mathematics. He says this is correct.)

Too many Christians I fear live their lives from exactly this viewpoint. They have a "bit" of God. They have a "bit" of his power, a "bit" of grace. When we have a small view of God, (and it is entirely possible to know God is infinite and still hold him in a small view) then other things take the centre of our view. God gets pushed out to the periphery, he becomes a fleeting shadow.

We are not meant to live out our Christian lives as if God is only present some of the time. Only accessing His presence when we need it, or when we remember. God is meant to be fully seen, not just glimpsed at. This is why, when I had that moment with God, I realised that I was living "in part". I can't only live as a Christian among Christians.
We must live our lives in the fullness of the present, presence of God.

So, (if you will excuse me quoting from "The Cars") Who's going to drive you home tonight?