Thursday, 28 December 2017

Free Book: Reflections ♡

A collection of 15 Christian reflections to uplift and inspire. Now available as a book on wattpad.

Monday, 25 December 2017

A Christmas Message: Christ’s Example of Humility

A Christmas Message

"For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich" (II Corinthians 8:9).

She...laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn (Luke 2:7).

"Now here you see the Son of God, and the Lord of glory, what entertainment He had at His birth, amongst them that were in the pomp of the world.  You know a manger is in a stable, where you feed your horses in.  And who were Mary and Christ's visitors, but the country shepherds that watched their flocks by night... Oh! the proud and lofty ones might say, this place was good enough; there was no room within for a carpenter's wife and her son..." 

"And there the shepherds found him swaddled, lying in a manger.  A poor entertainment for the Saviour of the world, and King of kings, and Lord of lords..."
(George Fox)

Whilst some will be lost in the consumerism of this season. At this time of year a lot are thinking on the birth of our Lord and saviour Jesus the Messiah. Glady some will also be thinking of family and others more. One thing that people may consider was the level of humility and kindness Jesus showed the world. Whilst being from the wealth of heaven He humbled himself and became of the poor of earth. Like George Fox pointed out He was not born into some royal palace or even a run of the mill inn but into a filthy stable. Becoming a mortal in itself was humble enough, but to be born in the dirt signified something special. 

Some say "silent night", but I doubt it was. A midst the blood and tears of birth pangs, the weeping that endures the night a Son was born and he truly would be the joy of the morning. Born in a simple town in nowheresville among the stench and noise of livestock a new kingdom is coming where the poor are the ones that are blessed (like shepherds who watch flocks by night, void of noble birth, see the new born king). 

The Lord showed a true example of humility and in this He is honoured. One of my favourite passages of scriptures is from Philippians 2 (ESV):

Christ’s Example of Humility
"So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father."

George Fox also wrote:
"We must not have Christ Jesus, the Lord of life, put any more in a stable amongst the horses and asses; but he must now have the best chamber, the heart..." Truly that is the heart of the matter.  Is He the king of your heart? 

Isaiah 9.6:
For to us a child is born,
    to us a son is given,
    and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
    Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God,
    Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.


Sunday, 24 December 2017

Mary’s Example of Heart (Christmas Eve Message)

For if that which is done away was glorious, much more that which remaineth is glorious (II Corinthians 3:11).

But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart (Luke 2:19).

"The law woundeth, but the gospel healeth, and is glad tidings and good news.  The law condemneth: and the gospel delivereth.  And Moses accuseth: but Christ defendeth.  And Moses condemneth; but Christ pardoneth.  The law restraineth the hands: but the gospel restraineth the hands and the mind.  And the law condemneth: but Christ saveth."

"And you may Mary wrapped Christ in swaddling clothes, and how tender she was of the heavenly birth, conceived by the Holy Ghost.  And must all true and tender Christians, that receive Him in the Spirit... She kept all the sayings that were spoken of Christ, and pondered them in her heart.  And so should every true Christian."
(George Fox)

Under the law there was condemnation, for all have fallen short of the glory of God. But, one was coming into the world to seek and save that which was lost.

So he comes. Not as a great empror, but as a baby wrapped in swaddling clothes and laid in a manger.

Did Mary keep all that she had been told of  her special boy in her head alone? God forbid. No, she kept it in her heart. It is possible for us to know gospel truths in our head alone, but what good is that? It must move beyond head knowledge to heart knowledge. Don't just know the truth about Jesus, but let it and indeed Him live in your heart. When we do this we are compelled to respond. Our head ministers to our heart and our heart to our hands. Mary responded actively. She gave birth to Jesus and as far as we know lived a Godly life. Likewise, though our task may not be giving birth to God's son, we also must respond actively to whatever our calling is and to live Godly lives.

Head, Heart, Hand!

A final thought from George Fox: "We must not have Christ Jesus, the Lord of life, put any more in a stable amongst the horses and asses; but he must now have the best chamber, the heart..."

Tuesday, 19 December 2017

Prophesy of peace fulfilled...

It would be controversial if I left the title at that. We live in a world where war is rampant (though some statistics indicate more peaceful than some previous generations?). How then can I say peace has been fulfilled. The answer is simple: it has! But, alas the kingdom of God's peaceable reign is both now and not yet.

Let me explain. Isaiah long ago spoke of one who would be 'God with us' (Immanuel). He would live among humans, but was of God. (Isa 7:14; cf. Mt 1:23). The coming of this servant king would also be the coming of the peaceable kingdom of God. (Isa 9:6-7). Likewise another wise prophet called Micah spoke of him as a new ruler born in Bethlehem. (Mic 5:2). He would not only bless Israel, but the entire world. (Mic 5:3-5). The birth of Jesus fulfilled these prophetic words. The peaceable kingdom of God appeared on the scene with Him.

Both Micah and Isaiah are famous for the ultimate peace saying that is so popular it is inscribed on a UN building and at the EU.

Isaiah (ESV) says:
"He shall judge between the nations,
and shall decide disputes for many peoples;
and they shall beat their swords into plowshares,
and their spears into pruning hooks;
nation shall not lift up sword against nation,
neither shall they learn war anymore."

Micah (ESV) says:
"He shall judge between many peoples,
and shall decide disputes for strong nations far away;
and they shall beat their swords into plowshares,
and their spears into pruning hooks;
nation shall not lift up sword against nation,
neither shall they learn war anymore."

These verses are surely the 'not yet' of the prophesy of peace. Yes, the Prince of Peace has come and his kingdom is coming more and more (hence Jesus saying to pray "Thy kingdom come.") But, there is a final phase of peace prophesy still to come to pass and that is this absolutely peaceable vision Micah and Isaiah speak of.

One verse that could be brought up to challenge how authentic a promise Isaiah and Micah are making is from Joel. Who says: "Beat your plowshares into swords,
and your pruning hooks into spears; let the weak say, “I am a warrior.”" Joel seems to be saying the entire opposite to the other prophets. However, let's consider it also as prophesy both fulfilled and being fulfilled. What have we seen so far since Jesus came with peace to earth. As Jesus promised we have seen "wars and rumours of wars. " We had the Dark Ages, the Inquisitions and crusades, the endless violence of a Godless foreign policy, colonialism, two world wars, the cold war, two (that we know of) almost nuclear wars, not to mention some of the cruelest persecutions of followers of this peaceful  prince, to name but a few. "But the end is not yet."

It sometimes seems as if it will never end. A new Nero like beast appears on the scene again and again. But, fear not little flock. There is hope.
"For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counseller, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace." (Is 9:6) His kingdom come!

Monday, 18 December 2017

Review: The Mennonite Handbook

The Mennonite Handbook The Mennonite Handbook by Sarah Kehrberg
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Good fun, informative, and handy for all things Anabaptist or Mennonite. It is one of those books I dip into from time to time rather than a "read right through" type of book. It combines both light hearted and more serious aspects of Mennonite life. This is given away well by the picture on the cover of Menno Simons with a baseball hat on. My initial reaction to the book (don't judge a book by its cover) was it must be a bit ireverant and that it should be more careful with the things of God. However, once I got past that assumption I realised it was more that this handbook didn't want to take it all so very seriously, but when it came to more biblical and doctrinal parts it was very very respectful and sensible. I actually learned a lot about Mennonite faith and indeed the Christian faith as a whole from this little book.

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Sunday, 17 December 2017

Review: Stop Talking, Start Doing: A Kick in the Pants in Six Parts

Stop Talking, Start Doing: A Kick in the Pants in Six Parts Stop Talking, Start Doing: A Kick in the Pants in Six Parts by Shaa Wasmund
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Read this on train from Glasgow to Inverness in one sitting. I rarely read books that way, but the diagrams, pictures, quotes and so on all contributed to keeping me engaged as a reader. The book does exactly what it promises to do and gives the reader a kick in the pants in six parts. I liked the social sciences the book touched on and was a nice refresher given that was my degree title a number of years ago. Whatever a person gets from this book they are bound to get the idea it is time to get a move on and start living the dreams we all so cherish but are often scared to live. 

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Saturday, 16 December 2017

Latest edition of The Call

Latest edition of The Call - Primitive Quaker Journal.

A few things of note: The first matter is that I have a short article in this edition called "What's in a name? - God of Wonders" should anyone wish to read it. The second thing of note is that the editor is looking for contributions. And finally the third thing is that this is a free journal should any wish to subscribe by email.

Here is your free copy.

Review: The Anabaptists: Neither Catholics nor Protestants

The Anabaptists: Neither Catholics nor Protestants The Anabaptists: Neither Catholics nor Protestants by Lamp and Light
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This booklet certainly does paint a grim picture of Roman Catholic corruption and of the failings of the Protestant Reformation. Indeed the violence and tyranny supported by both parties is rightly condemned. It is also true that we are saved not by works, but by Grace, and that Grace should compell us to discipleship, not a free licence to sin, on our own behalf or that of the states. Further to that the mention of the seperation of church and state and such like American libirties being through the influence of Anabaptist pacifists and not by the influence of Protestant pilgrims is a fascinating thought. As mentioned it is indeed true that the Pilgrims did treat natives, Quakers and others very poorly. Speaking of more recent times the book also condemns the idea of people just "making decisions" being viewed as salvation. This makes sense, cos many claim to have said the sinners prayer, but have abandoned all Christian fruitfulness. Almost with the attitude "I said a prayer so am saved, so I can live however I choose, unrepentant," That being said not all who have found Jesus via this evangelism tool have abandoned Christ in this way, and indeed many now who use this tool for evangelization (and no doubt see it as a tool) "follow up" with the person considering Jesus. The book near the end got very strict and on a few points I would struggle to fully agree. There is much to be said for the Anabaptists of old who suffered at the hands of Protestants and Catholics for the cause of Christ. There is much to also be said for some modern day Anabaptists who are devoted so strongly to the New Testament and the cause of Christ. But, my thought is this, Christ will not ask if we were Catholic, Protestant or Anabaptist on the day of Judgement, but if we believed, loved and followed Him.

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Saturday, 2 December 2017

Review: The Irresistible Revolution: Living as an Ordinary Radical

The Irresistible Revolution: Living as an Ordinary Radical The Irresistible Revolution: Living as an Ordinary Radical by Shane Claiborne
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A leaving gift from an Indian friend at Lee Abbey. I loved this book. It shook my world in a good way. There is so much in it about living the faith, community, non-violent initiatives, campaigning,
seeking truth and hope in a broken world. The book teaches that we are all broken and we are beautiful, no one is beyond repute and no one is beyond redemption. I especially loved the Iraq Journal
that appears in the book.

“And I think that's what our world is desperately in need of - lovers, people who are building deep, genuine relationships with fellow strugglers along the way, and who actually know the faces of the people behind the issues they are concerned about.”

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Sunday, 26 November 2017

Emmanuel - With Us!

"Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us." - Matthew 1:23
God be with us!
God be with us in the valley of the shadow of death.
God be with us on the mountain tops of glorious hope and life.
God be with us in thick and thin, up and down, conflict and peace...
Peace - give us your peace!
God is with us!
God is with us in the valley of the shadow of death.
God is with us on the mountain tops of glorious hope and life.
God is with us in thick and thin, up and down, conflict and peace...
Peace - He gives us His peace!

Tuesday, 14 November 2017

Review: Take Our Moments and Our Days: An Anabaptist Prayer Book: Ordinary Time

Take Our Moments and Our Days: An Anabaptist Prayer Book: Ordinary Time Take Our Moments and Our Days: An Anabaptist Prayer Book: Ordinary Time by Arthur Paul Boers
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This little Anabaptist prayer book (now available as an app on Google play) is brilliant! This is somewhat a partial review as I dip into it rather than reading it cover to cover. I love the idea of biblical focus and liturgy merged into one. This book is great for those who 'struggle to pray as they ought.' It can be used in 'Quiet Times', Family Worship or Church. It has a distinct radical reformation feel to it. The bible passages chosen and the presentation of well worded prayers promote Jesus as our glorious saviour, peacemaker and Lord.

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Saturday, 11 November 2017

This is the end Follow my writings on #yourquote

Friday, 10 November 2017

Celtic Cross Follow my writings on #yourquote

Wednesday, 8 November 2017

Manna Follow my writings on #yourquote

Tuesday, 7 November 2017

Son of Love
NB. This prayer is meant to be suitable for public worship. In this liturgy the # is for all to say and the person leading is a  * ...
Follow my writings on #yourquote

Monday, 6 November 2017

Will you answer him? Follow my writings on #yourquote

Saturday, 4 November 2017

Victory! Follow my writings on #yourquote

They Lie Follow my writings on #yourquote

Wednesday, 1 November 2017

Review: In the Valley of Decision

In the Valley of Decision In the Valley of Decision by Acacia Slaton
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book is very somber and challenging. My reading of it was brilliantly timed with the recent 500 years since the reformation as some of its content is what people have been warned about since the 95 thesis. The book even had the words of Martin Luther: "Our suffering is not worthy the name of suffering. When I consider my crosses, tribulations, and temptations. I shame myself almost to death, thinking what they are in comparison of the sufferings of my blessed Savior Christ Jesus.” This book reveals that Christ suffered so much and we followers may suffer but nothing will compare to his redemptive work. Sternly the book warns so strongly against trying to have a foot in the world and a foot in the kingdom of God, or to put it another way it warns not to only talk the talk but to walk the walk. Rightly salvation is explained as being provided by Grace alone, through faith alone in Christ. But hastens to add as St James does that faith without works is dead. As another person put it once 'we may not be saved by works but we are saved to do good works.' Such a challenging read! It urges us to examine ourselves and see if we are in the faith. It challenges against "once saved always saved" though I have to say I do hold to a version of this, but not a flipint kind, rather the doctrine set out in the Westminster Confession. That is more saying if God has saved you He won't unsave you. That said I agree wholeheartedly that we must make sure we are saved, make sure we are in the faith and make sure the fruit of our lives shows this. I struggle with some points, but this book ministers with such boldness that it makes one think deeply about things of the faith. I have been in that mode since starting the book. This book doesn't halt between two opinions and in the same way neither must we! If we are not for Christ we are against Him, so be for Him before it is to late.

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Latest review of Angelos

Please take advantage of the free download version of my book and share your reviews. Thanks.

Sunday, 29 October 2017

Simple Prayer 2

If a thought is a prayer, Lord teach us to have clean thoughts. As a man thinks in his heart so he is. Whatsoever is pure help us to think on these things. Amen.

Friday, 27 October 2017

Wednesday, 25 October 2017

Review: All Is Grace: A Ragamuffin Memoir

All Is Grace: A Ragamuffin Memoir
by Brennan Manning
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book is nothing short of moving. It is in fact more of a confession than a memoir. Brennan is brutally honest about the troubles in his life, the brokenness and sin. It is this kind of honesty the church and the world needs. Although from time to time it seemed as if he was promoting some kind of Universalislm that I'm not sure I would go along with (attractive as it may be), he none the less does constantly point to God's infinite Grace. Like the book title says: ALL IS GRACE.

Benson in his testimony at the start of the book writes: " the end, my sin will never outweigh God's love. That the Prodigal can never outrun the Father. That I am not measured by the good I do but by the grace I accept."

There were moments in the book where I was a little taken aback. It may have just been my own misunderstanding of what he was trying to say, but occasionally it felt s if his attitude to sin was simply "It happens". Like Saint Paul I would say "What should we sin all the more that Grace may abound? God forbid."

That aside he approaches the memoir with clarity and honesty, and constantly points out his own sins and in contrast God's Grace and it is indeed God's Grace that we all need. So I conclude my review with these words from Brennan:

"Prone to wander? You bet. I've been a priest, then an ex-priest. Husband, then ex-husband. Amazed crowds one night and lied to friends the next. Drunk for years, sober for a season, then drunk again. I've been John the beloved, Peter the coward, and Thomas the doubter all before the waitress brought the check. I've shattered every one of the Ten Commandments six times Tuesday. And if you believe that last sentence was for dramatic effect, it wasn't."

"All is Grace."

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The Peace Testimony Talks

Part 3

Sunday, 22 October 2017

Review: The Rhyming Rabbit

The Rhyming Rabbit
by Julia Donaldson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Cute story. Although the baby was sumewhat distracted at the time, having woken at 3am. Lovely story though even if it was just me getting to appreciate it. 😊

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Simple Prayer

I'm trying a new style of writing. Using only three sentences I aim to put together short and simple prayers anyone can use. Like the one below (more will appear here and on FB):
The more we see of human depravity, in the news, in our neighbourhoods, in our selves, the more we see the need of your infinite loving grace. Without you O God all is lost. Come into our midst be our salvation. Amen.

Saturday, 21 October 2017

Friday, 20 October 2017

Check Out My Old Sermon/Talk Archive

Sermon Friend

Still time to donate to Teenage Cancer Trust

"My brother Jon is doing a charity cycle of 26 Miles (that's a Marathon only on a bike) around the Beauly Firth for Teenage Cancer Trust. His employers Arnold Clark will double what is raised. Please donate if you can and spread the word. Thanks."

Still time to donate to Edinburgh Children's Hospital

A note from my wife Sarah-Egan:
"Ezra and I did a sponsored walk in Portobello today to raise money for Edinburgh Children's Hospital Charity. It would be awesome if you could sponsor us and raise money for an awesome charity."

Thursday, 19 October 2017

Review: Little One's Book of Prayers

Little One's Book of Prayers
by Mabel Lucie Attwell
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Sweet little book. Lots of cute pictures. The readings are very traditional with some old English occasionally, but that makes it timeless and beautiful. The baby seemed to like the pictures. Especially finding the ducks.

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Review: The Jefferson Bible: The Life and Morals of Jesus of Nazareth

The Jefferson Bible: The Life and Morals of Jesus of Nazareth The Jefferson Bible: The Life and Morals of Jesus of Nazareth by Thomas Jefferson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I love Jesus' words. However, this book cuts and pastes a lot making it no longer flow properly. I like the idea of trying to merge all gospels to get a fuller picture, but just using the words of Jesus primarily and sometimes removing context just confuses things. My opinion: stick with your red letter bible.

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Tuesday, 3 October 2017

Lost and Found

From the Archive. The start of a series of archived posts from my old blogs.

Monday, 2 October 2017

The Heart of the Matter

The more we see of human depravity, in the news, in our neighbourhoods, in our selves, the more we see the need of God's infinite loving grace. Without it all is lost.
The heart of man's problem is the problem of man's heart. "Vanity of vanities, all is vanity!" says the preacher.
Yet, in a world of cruelty and vanity a saviour came. He didn't come like a triumphant war lord, but came as a lamb. He identified with our weakness and suffering and paid the ultimate price to
liberate our souls from the slavery of sin and death.
He is calling us now to follow him, to take up our cross, to be as he is, liberators.
Liberators challenging the darkness and calling out the light. We wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities and powers, against spiritual wickedness in high places.
Let thy light shine o' God!

Sunday, 1 October 2017

How to create a house that touches heaven:

How to create a house that touches heaven.
Seven examples from Cornellious the Centurion convert in Acts 10.
1. He had the fear of God (reverance).
2. He was a man of prayer.
3. He loved the poor.
4. He was a family man.
5. He practiced a culture of honour (e.g. he bowed to Peter).
6. He was a devout man.
7. He wanted to share God with others.
(This post was inspired by a sermon heard at Full Gospel Church, Dalkeith - 1/10/17).

Saturday, 30 September 2017


Why are we here?
Why do the nations rage?
Why do the wicked prosper?
Where do wars come from?
Who am I Lord?
What must I do to be saved?
Revival, how long Lord?
In all our questions you have the answers.
Help us to keep asking questions.
Help us to listen.
Help us to be still and know that you are God.