Friday, August 17, 2018

Where’s your garden?

The bible began with a regular encounter that took place in a garden, God originally walked with Adam and Eve in a garden.

Genesis 3: 8-9
Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the Lord God among the trees of the garden. But the Lord God called to the man, “Where are you?” 

God the creator of the garden would take a daily walk with the stewards of His paradise. The Hebrew verb in it’s reflexive conjugation could mean “walking for pleasure”, and there is also an implication that this was regular occurrence, not a one off! 

God walked for pleasure regularly with Adam and Eve.

They heard him walking, they heard the sound of his footsteps. Maybe God was loud but I get the impression that to hear his footsteps, to listen out for him, they had to get still, to sit quietly and listen. Psalm 46:10 comes to mind; “be still and know that I am God”

This all happened in the cool of the day, after the work was done, normally in a hot climate when the evening breeze sets in. So this wasn’t all business this was a rested walk, maybe even a tired walk! I would imagine Adam or Eve didn’t rattle of a list to God!

What a beautiful picture, of two rested People waiting patiently and quietly for the arrival of God who would walk regularly with them for pleasure. The original plan was one of regular encounter. A set aside time of walking and talking.

Of course we know it all went wrong but this was the original intent; humans walking with creator God.

We see God calling “Where art thou?”

Do you think when God called out “where art thou?” he didn’t know were they where? I find this hard to believe that omniscient creator of the universe could somehow lose two humans!

God was not calling out to find out what place Adam and Eve were in but what condition they were in.  Almost a modern day “where are you at?”

It was a gracious pursuit an enquiry after the state of their hearts!

The plan was encounter, God walking with his creation.
The plan is still encounter, God walking with his creation.

We need to create space in our lives for regular encounter. 

Where’s your garden?

The Hebrew word for garden: gannah literally means ‘a covered or hidden place’, this kind of garden in biblical times was usually a walled enclosure, a place with winding paths, fruit trees, running water, fountains, sweet smelling herbs and blossoms a beautiful, tranquil sheltered place!

We need to find our Garden, our place of encounter!

My garden is a chair I sit in every morning, my garden is the prayer beads I use to help me focus, my garden is the small wooden cross I hold, the journal I write in, the bible I annotate, the devotional I read.

My Garden is the walk I go on, my garden can be the sanctuary of my car, my garden can be the gym where the place of physical exercise becomes a spiritual exercise. My garden is standing still whilst the kettle boils and asking the Lord to rise in me, my garden is music that stills my stress and focuses my mind, my garden is art that I stand and stare at, my garden is the wonder of creation that if I walk slowly enough I get to look at.

Create gardens, small covered hidden places where you can regularly walk for pleasure with your creator, we need to get still when the work is done and listen quietly for his footsteps as he enquires after the state of our hearts.

We need to take the mundane repetitive aspects of our everyday lives and turn them into gardens, maybe travel a little slower, breathe a little more deeply, still our hearts and minds and try to live as rested friends of God.

Thursday, August 09, 2018

Paul made a tent!

Wow, looking back over my old blog I have realised how bad my grammar is! Sorry about that.

Something else I have realised is that anytime anyone tells a story or recounts an incident, you get the highlights, increasingly our world has become a selection of peoples’ highlights reels. Someone said to me recently “If it didn’t appear on social media, did it really happen?”.

Listening to a phycologist on radio 4 the other week (I’m nearly 50 so radio 4 is increasingly becoming appropriate to my stage of life) she said the problem with instagram was that we end up comparing our lives to someone else’s highlight reel.

This of course leads me to think about my old blog, the book I wrote Gatecrashing or my friends Pete’s book Dirty Glory  and how they present highlights of otherwise mundane and normal lives. Of course we need stories and testimonies to inspire, build faith and challenge the status quo and I love a good read.

But there is something we mustn’t miss in reading stories and listening to stories and that is the gaps in between the highlights. The book of Acts is a great example - there are not many verses that say ‘One day the apostle Paul got up and made a tent, and the next day he made another tent and the next day he went for a walk and made a tent’.  In fact if you look at the chronology there are probably thousands of days in the bible were all that happened was Paul got up, prayed, did his normal Christian stuff and made tents. Throughout the bible people surely went for walks, prayed the same prayers in the synagogue, had meals, sailed on ships and just carried on with everyday daily life that never became a verse or a chapter in the great book.  I would imagine they lived their lives faithfully and courageously, but the normal Christian life contains its fair share of activity that is routine and, dare I say, mundane!

It’s in the journey of routine devotion that the magic happens; people pray the same prayer for 30 years and one day it gets answered, someone prayer walks a certain area for 4 years and then an opening occurs, we try to read the bible and one day we realise we have read it all and start again. The greatest testament to faith is faithfulness, most days nothing spectacular happens but I chose to keep getting up and doing the same thing, praying the same prayer, loving the same people.

I would like to celebrate devotion more, it’s not sexy and doesn’t look good on social media, it can’t necessarily be captured online but it is what brings breakthrough, changes lives and grows the person who practices it.

Friday, June 27, 2014


Wow it's been nearly a year since I last blogged and nearly two years since we left Ibiza. During that time I have been putting together a little book about our time in Ibiza.

The book is called Gatecrashing and you can get it here: Gatecrashing preorder

The first challenge was the title, it was very hard to come up with something that encapsulated our time in Ibiza, but in the end gatecrashing felt right.

The second challenge is to write a book about what we got up to without casting Ibiza in a bad light, we love Ibiza and the people who live there but we were involved in a lot of messy situations, but I feel we have a struck a balance.

The third thing was strap line, primarily this is a book about prayer and mission but it's part of the story of a movement who believe in prayer and mission. It is part of the story of 24-7 prayer in Ibiza not all of it!

The fourth challenge was writing a book on mission without people labelling it as an overseas mission book, I firmly believe we are called to mission, mission is part of our DNA it's what we do as christians, mission is a way of life not an activity we perform overseas.

They were just challenges I think we have struck the right balance with all of those things and hopefully produced a resource that will bless, inform and resource people.

Grab a copy and tell me what you think?

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Questions for God TV

What would a world without God TV look like?

This is an occasional personal hobby horse of mine, one I find hard to let go. Yet it is a difficult one to address without cynicism or appearing harsh but somehow I feel just ignoring it, which is what most of us do, may somehow mean that our silence brings validation.

1. Who is really watching it?

I know they say they have the broadcast capabilities into literally millions of homes but there is a difference from who is able to watch it and who is actually watching it. Yet when they give their big fund raising push they always mention the potential figure rather than the actual figure.

2. Why are people watching it?

I would imagine in countries that are closed to christianity it could be a good tool. If it is to closed countries why aren't there more arabic programmes? In christian countries, why would you watch it unless you couldn't get to church or church couldn't get to you? Even then is this what you really want to watch? A variety of people american accents asking for more cash and proclaiming a specific type of healing ministry!

3. Who decides the content?

It would appear to me that the content is poorly regulated, if regulated at all. There are a whole range of theologies on show, some good, some bad, but maybe thats a reflection of church in general.

4. Can TV really spread the gospel?

Personally when I read my bible I am convinced that the spread of the gospel happened when God made himself incarnate and dwelt amongst man. Or when the church moved into the neighbourhood and became his hands and feet here on the earth. I would be just as wary when it came to internet church, or discipleship via the web. It lacks the human touch, and God is all about the human touch.

5. Is it being conformed to culture or changing culture?

Doesn't it just create it's own celebrities, build up super stars and show us the lifestyles of rich and famous Christians. Doesn't feel very like Romans 12 to me, feels like it does conform to the pattern of this world.

6. If your church disappeared tomorrow would your community miss it?

If God TV disappeared tomorrow would your community miss it? Not your home group but the community that God has placed you in? The geographical location or people group you find yourself situated in, the group of people you are called to shine amongst! Would they miss God TV?

7. Does any of what you are doing relate to a younger generation?

Old men in suits, or middle aged men trying to look young, note I said men!

Monday, July 08, 2013

Events Theology

So yesterday Andy Murray wins Wimbledon, well done Andy! It only takes about 15 minutes for someone to tweet that Murray's win was a significant sign for our nation. I find myself extremely puzzled by this. How on earth can a man winning wimbledon be a significant sign for us as a nation. He is just a great tennis player who trained hard, worked his way up through the rankings and with dedication, talent and balls eventually won Wimbledon. Which made for a wonderful afternoons viewing and left us all buzzing from having seen an athlete win wimbledon for Scotland.

 I see a creeping idea that sports stars who do something remotely spiritual or even just win something soon get quoted as a spiritual sign for a nation!!!!, I think not! Why? Well because it just further shows how celebrity culture has permeated our society to the point that if the world number one tennis player prays, we make it significant! In Romans 12 it talks about not being conformed to the pattern of this world?

 Special dates, special events, special people!!!! Oh and if it is televised then obviously it is uber significant!

Please can we not see how this is so not the kingdom of God? It doesn't work like that. Last week I know a bunch of people who prayed on council estates around London, people rocking up to a prayer room at 4 in the morning to cry out to God for some deprived area of our land! I watched 5 ladies yesterday morning clean the urine infested stair well of a block of flats near where I live because they wanted to show love to the residents. A group young people worked in sectarian Derry/Londonderry last week clean and serving on the streets. Orphans got fed in Romania, Water projects got launched in Africa, Children got educated in Bolivia. Neighbours helped one another, people prayed and the kingdom was gently but forcefully extended by a serving praying church.

 Not by a man winning a tennis match.

 And if you want to say you get all of that but you feels it's a sign, a prophetic sign. What a sign? that celebrity wins, that 1.6 million pounds is a justifiable pay day, that the fact it was increased by 38% from last year shows an organisation that is in touch with reality? Frankly a tournament that sells 200,000 glasses of Pimm's, 100,000 pints of lager and 25,000 bottles of champagne over 2 weeks is a sign of something. Or here's another one Total top-50 players to have emerged solely through the British tennis structure in both the men's and women's games since 1994: one (Tim Henman). Total cash injection from Wimbledon in that period: £476m. Whats that a sign of?

 Anyway sorry for the rant, it was just a tennis match, a wonderful exhilarating tennis match, Andy murray is a great chap and I enjoyed every tension filled minute. Lets just keep a grip with reality!

Spain won the world cup then descended into recession! Greece hosted the Athens Olympics was that a sign?

 Here's what spoke to me this morning:

"Brothers and sisters, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him. It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. Therefore, as it is written: “Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord.”

Monday, January 14, 2013

What next

Just reading some internet stuff about stepping out, hope I am not coming across like a Nike commercial with a kind of "Just do it" feel!!

I like the occasional pithy saying it helps me keep motivated...

I like these 3 statements, they resonated with me

1. If you do not go after what you want you will never have it.

2. If you never ask the answer will always be No

3. If you do not step forward you will always be in the same place

As Martin Luther King said it is also helpful:

“You may be 38 years old, as I happen to be. And one day, some great opportunity stands before you and calls you to stand up for some great principle, some great issue, some great cause. And you refuse to do it because you are afraid…. You refuse to do it because you want to live longer…. You’re afraid that you will lose your job, or you are afraid that you will be criticized or that you will lose your popularity, or you’re afraid that somebody will stab you, or shoot at you or bomb your house; so you refuse to take the stand.

Well, you may go on and live until you are 90, but you’re just as dead at 38 as you would be at 90. And the cessation of breathing in your life is but the belated announcement of an earlier death of the spirit.”

Maybe I should have popped a few bible verses in as well......

Wednesday, January 09, 2013

Yes but how?

I have a friend who tells me the best thought to have in mind when preparing a talk is "Yes but how?" I use this a lot when preparing a preach.

I guess when I start with this whole, life on the edge, scaring ourselves type vibe I want to ask the same question "Yes but how?"

I have words not sure I can fully verbalise them, abandonment, surrender, sacrifice, obedience

Visually the idea would be the early celtic monks getting in their small coracles and pushing themselves out to sea without actually knowing where they would end up or even if they would live.

Increasingly I think that the pattern of our world here in the UK is risk averse. Have we been conformed to this pattern. In a world of risk assessment and health and safety have we allowed that to creep into our faith. Our we becoming conformed to this pattern of the world?

When we left for Ibiza, we had two sons who were in school, people thought it was unwise to mess with their education, we didn't have a salary people thought it was unwise to move without having the full amount, we couldn't speak Spanish and we were moving to Spain that seemed unwise. We had very real fears about all of this. You know that the people who helped fuel these fears were predominantly christians!

What made us do it? I guess we had a sense that it was right but we also thought "God responds to movement" Look at various biblical encounters and you soon realise that sometimes you have to get out of the boat, move, for God to respond!

We also had a few other little thoughts like "whats the worst that could happen?". You then also need to confront the fact that you may be wrong, you may come back with your tail between your legs having failed!

In the end you have to accept this reality, deal with your own pride and ego and realise "Yes it could go wrong, but am I going to let this stop me?"