Our garden goes all arty!

We have an annex to our house that we let out to folk from time to time. We have had some wonderful, interesting folk living there.

At the moment, we have to lads living in there who are in Dunoon to participate in a ‘life college’ that is run by some friends, Michaela and Juergen Kast (check out http://www.xpand.eu/uk/).

One of them is the very talented artist Marcel, from Switzerland, whose grafiti art is starting to make a bit of a splash…

We commissioned Marcel to do something to one of the walls of the house. He went through lots of options, before settling on this wonderful word HOPE.

Hope springs eternal.

Proverbs 13:12 Lost hope makes the heart sick, but longing fulfilled is a tree of life.

Scottish emerging church network?

Last weekend I was in Glasgow, where Michaela and I met up with Thomas, Iain and Stewart in Starbucks. This was our first ‘meeting’ growing out of a facebook group we set up called EMERGING SCOTLAND. I suppose we began to dream of new things, and new possibilities…

A few others had tried to get along, but life got in the way- you were missed, but there will be other times!

Those of us that were there had this common idea that those of us engaged in fragile new ‘church’ stuff need to find common support and encouragement, and we need to get smarter in the way that we do this! Because no-one else seems to be doing it that we can find, we thought we would have a go.

As a way of gathering other thoughts and feelings- here are some questions that we would love comment on.

If you have friends and contacts who are not facebookers, and you want to circulate the questions for a wider discussion, or even other networks you can tap into, then feel free to get the word out there…

Here goes…

1. Would you value/have time to participate in/be interested to know more about/ a more developed support network in Scotland?

2. If so, what would you need from such a thing in your context?

3. What might it look like?- Do we meet, do we offer to come and support one another in practical ways, or is the on-line stuff, with all its possibilities and limitations enough?

4. Can you/we cope with doctrinal variation? How much?

If you are interested in getting involved, and have thoughts as above- we would love to hear from you!

The mole

The other day I climbed a mountain.

I climb mountains for many reasons. I love to set myself against the challenge of steep rock. I stay within my boundaries of safety for the most part, but always there is the spice of adventure. It is an experience that is enhanced by the company of friends, although on the steep bits my fitness level does not allow much spare breath for talking. Increasingly however, I love to be in the mountains alone.

And these days have often become my times of pilgrimage. As I journey through wild places, and allow a crowded mind to empty before the simplicity of scrambling over rough ground, I suddenly find that it is possible for God to be heard through the static of my usual day. It is not that I do not try to listen normally you understand, it is just that He really needs to shout. And I can be so busy trying to do His job for him, that I forget that He is so much better at it than I am.

So, whilst not pretending to be in the possession of great spiritual insight, I would recommend finding a place of your own where you can linger, or even journey, with the Living God. I have a friend who has a special place along the Loch side, with a convenient tree stump. Another far more organised friend has a room in her house that she keeps just for this same purpose.

I love being in Mountains. I love the sweep of slope from green forest to the dark crags. I love the cloud as it wisps it way through the peaks, and the constant changes of light as the sun brings out every imaginable shade of green. Much more than this, however, I love to be in God’s presence.

I have known His closeness in the high mountains, and also in other places far more earthbound. Like a heavy perfume, resting and intoxicating with Joy and anticipation. Suddenly the air crackles as if electrified. The space becomes fertile and full of fecundity. Nothing else measures up, and once experienced, all we want is more. In every sense of the words, these are the mountaintop experiences of my life.

But God also speaks through the small, quiet things, given as gifts in the stride of the day. Pockets of grace to pick up, and carry on.

Mountains can be dangerous places. On the day in question I climbed into a blizzard, enjoying the need for crampons and ice-axe. And there, just above the snowline, stark against the white snow patch, I suddenly saw a bundle of dark brown fur. Tiny and vulnerable, it was a mole.

What was he doing here, so high above the valley floor? Far from the gardens and football pitches of my youth, into which the industrious creatures would push up their countless mounds of earth like mushrooms in the night. What did he find to eat up here? He certainly seemed to offer a very visible target for any passing falcon. There was surely little opportunity for tunnelling into this hard rock, unless he was equipped with blasting powder.

He saw me, and had a terrible fright. With legs buzzing like the wings of a bee, he shot over to a pile of rocks, and dived in. He was home, safe deep in a friendly cleft rock.

And into my head, popped this Psalm. I t could be written just for the moles of this world.

I run to you O Lord, for life.

I throw myself upon you

I plead that you accept me

Come down to where I am, and listen

Your caves are my hiding place

Your precipitous cliffs are my nesting place

Hide me in your depths

Be my guide in the climbs and the scrambles

You are my leader

You will never let me fall

My life is in your hands

You will never let me down

(From psalm 31)

In appreciation of Calmac

We are away on holiday next week, and always, this brings to mind ferry journeys to Hebridean islands…

Calmac. A familiar, sometimes infuriating old friend.

This year we are going to France. We might well regret this. Usually, every other place is measured against the beauty of a soft Hebridean evening, and the peace this always brings to the soul.

So here is a poem that captures some of these thoughts.

Caledonian MacBrayne.

In this world of wide-eyed wonders
I have loved to linger at those places
Off the beaten track
Places where haste seems waste
And tide and time waits for everyone
Courtesy of Calmac.

Over the soft morning air comes the murmur of machines
Somehow disconnected from the passage of ship
Over sea.

Diesel smokes the breeze, but above it all
The crews bacon tempts even the vegetarian
Romance was never
So gloriously utilitarian

And after the commercial break to my reverie forced by ticket collection,
We set out into the loch
And past the blur of portholes poorly painted
Some hidden hand pulls a curtain of colours

Brown changes blue green
Light hits the perfect prisms
Of the dancing waves
Leaping and flashing
Lapping and splashing rainbows in every direction

Out beyond the headland
We meet head on a new movement
Blown in from the wide ocean

And salt seeps into Scottish steel
Water washing streaks of rust to remind us of our journey
From riverbank
To breakers yard

Sea holds us now, above the deep darkness
Beneath the keel.

The florida outpouring, and me…

Most Christians will have heard something of
the latest ‘revival sensation’ to hit the Christian media from
Lakeland, Florida. Led by Todd Bentley, a controversial and hard
hitting preacher, it features amazing stories of healing miracles, and
people being raised from the dead.

You might know someone who has traveled to Florida to receive
‘impartation’, in order to carry the fire back to their own church, or
have attended meetings led by the Florida leadership team in Dudley, or
most recently East Lothian. Good people- hungry for God, returning on

Or like me you might have watched the ‘God Channel’ (Not something
my stomach can usually take much of, I confess!), as they screen long
services and sermons from Florida, complete with healing testimonies.
The images polarize people, and seem to demand that we adopt a position
in relation to them.

All around me, I hear Christians asking the same questions.

What is going on here?

Is this a move of God that has major significance for our times?

Can I afford to ‘miss out’?

Is there manipulation and hype going on here?

Where are the fruits seen in lives changed?

Where is the evidence that authenticates the miraculous healings?

Are events like this a natural consequence of a marriage between Evangelicalism and the mass media?

Have we been here before? I certainly feel a sense of Déjà vu .

I grew up in a traditional Church of England church in a small
Nottinghamshire town. Our church was turned inside out and upside down
by charismatic revival in the early 1980’s. Lots of heat and smoke,
lots of speaking in tongues and prophetic utterances. Everything
changed. Many people were hurt and left the church. Many others joined.

Since then I have been in and around Charismatic Christians for most
of my life. I still count myself a skeptical (perhaps sometimes
jaundiced) charismatic. I have seen wonderful things, but I have also
seen some absolute nonsense. I have felt compelled to seek after God as
revealed in Charismata, but repelled by the excesses of this in equal

So- I think back to the gentle beauty I saw in Spirit-filled
intellectuals like David Watson, to the dogmatic arrogant power used by
Colin Urqhuart, the other worldly soft-rock polish of Wimber and the
embryonic Vineyard movement, the shouting-laughing-gold teeth imparting
madness of the ‘Toronto blessing’, and so on…

Can I say that I found God in this journey? Yes.

Do I think that there was much that was oppressive, manipulative,
self-centred and just downright WEIRD in this journey? Absolutely!

I bear the scars. Growing up as a tortured adolescent, and adding
the need to validate your life and faith through the acquisition of the
gift of tongues, this will always leave some strange marks on your
psyche! But God seems to be prepared to commune with some strange folk.
He is amazingly tolerant I find…

So, back to Todd Bentley. Hero of the faith, or charlatan? You decide!

As for me, I don’t care that much any more. I am old enough to know
that chasing after God by attending large meetings where others say he
is to be found is not for me. If however God is in this, great.

I will stick to seeking God along with my community, in my town. If
He wants to zap us with a bit of Holy Spirit fire, I am up for it

I read Jason Clark’s blog on this issue recently, and found myself to be more or less in agreement of everything he says…


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