Warner's TheoBlog

Thoughts from a disciple who writes


I don’t want balance… I want Truth

It is always great to receive comments following a blog post. Keep them coming readers!

After a recent post, where I offered some suggestions about useful web resources for theology, I received a comment from a friend who offered me some alternative sites with some theological views that were different to the ones I had offered. I would summarise them by saying that they were less Reformed and more Post-evangelical. He suggested that they might offer some balance to the sites that I had suggested and give people some alternative ideas. This got me to thinking…

Do I want balance on this blog?

I did have a look at the sites and they were very interesting. But I did not particularly agree with the theological perspective from which they were written.

This is not, in itself, a problem. If a person is a mature Christian and interested in theology, then there is nothing to fear from reading ideas and opinions that are different from their own. In fact, it can be both healthy and educational.

When I was studying theology I looked at many ideas that were properly opposed to my own theology. I had severe concerns about the writings of Fredrik Schleiermacher, Rudolf Bultmann and John Spong, who were on my reading list. There are also whole swathes of the works of Thomas Aquinas, Martin Luther and Karl Barth that cause me some trouble. In honesty, even now, there are certain things that Mark Driscoll teaches (who I recommended in my previous blog) that I am not sure I agree with.

But that is OK. People do not need to agree with me to be saved. They need to believe in Jesus. He is the way, the truth and the life. If it were up to me, Bolton Wanderers supporters would not get into heaven and anyone who thought computer games were a waste of time would be dancing on the edge of heresy.

One of the things that Mark Driscoll teaches, which I have found incredibly useful, is that idea of Closed and Open handed issues. Mark says that the closed handed issues of theology are those for which one would face death to uphold. Among these would be the divinity of Christ, salvation by grace through faith, the Sovereignty of God, the Trinity and so on. The open handed issues are those which, were an agent of evil to hold a gun to my head, claiming that they will pull the trigger if I did not back down, I would back down. One of these, for me, might be 6-day creation. I am in no doubt that God Created the heavens and the earth, but I am not really sure I would take a bullet over whether he did it in a literal 6 days or a metaphorical 6 days. (I am sorry if this offends you, dear reader).

As far as I am concerned, on the closed handed issues, I do not want balance, I want truth. On the open handed issues, I am open to discussion.

This Blog is my own work and my own ideas. I am concerned less with balance, and more with expression of what is bubbling up inside of me. There are aspects to it that people might not agree with and that is OK. If you believe that Jesus is Lord and have accepted Him as your saviour, then I am happy. You might be wrong on some things, but that is the most important one and the rest we can discuss (vigorously if necessary).

In our society, it is not acceptable to say that someone is wrong. It is believed by the majority of people that, as long as a person’s belief does not hurt anyone else, they have a right to hold that belief and that it is ‘true for them’. This is a travesty of truth. If a person is wrong, then they are wrong. There is nothing wrong in my pointing it out to them, or their pointing it out to me. It is what one does to that person when they are wrong that matters.

You might be wrong… but I promise not to burn you at the stake or hand you over to the inquisition. I hope that you will offer me the same respect. I don’t want balance, I want truth! But I don’t need to stone people when they disagree with me.

It comes down to this…

“Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ. From him, the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work” (Ephesians 4:15-16)

It is not about being right; it is about how we treat people when they are wrong.

I hope that this does not read as too much of a ramble and I would be fascinated to have people’s thoughts on this subject. I look forward to your replies.


Jesus was overwhelmed

As I spent time meditating on the Bible this morning (25th June), I was struck by a verse in Matthew’s gospel. Jesus, about to be arrested and crucified, goes to Gethsemane to pray. When he arrives he turns to the closest of his disciples and speaks these words.

“My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me” (Matt 26:38)

This statement and request are so rich and poignant.

In the darkness that precedes the whole purpose of Jesus’ ministry on earth, his death on the cross, he feels overwhelmed by the prospect and cost of what is to come and he shares it with his closest disciples.

Jesus displays such vulnerability. It is not a weakness to be honest and his confession of such sorrow and darkness does not disqualify him from what is to come. Ultimately, his disciples cannot share his burden or his task, but they can watch with him and Jesus tells them that he needs them to do so.

Jesus is so honest. In his darkest time, Jesus does not push people away or hide his feelings and pain. He tells them what is going on and asks them to be with him in prayer. Time and again, Jesus told his disciples to imitate what he did. I find this quite a profound implication as a leader and as a disciple.

There is an honesty that is breathtaking about the way Jesus speaks out his situation to his disciples. There is also a deep security that is evident in him. That Jesus feels able to share such a dark feeling without fear of the perception of others.

We do Peter, James and John a disservice if we simply move quickly on to the fact that in the next hour they fell asleep. “The spirit is willing, but the body is weak” (v 41) . I think that Jesus’ friends will have seen the depth of his pain and sorrow in his eyes and movements, as well as hearing it in his voice. They would have been deeply concerned that their master was so close to breaking point and full of sorrow. Yet all they could do was watch with him.

Praise God for the people who simply make themselves available to watch with us during times of great sorrow and stress. Those who we are aware will simply be next to us. A presence of comfort and a gift of loving friendship.

How many of us know friends who are going through a wilderness time? All we can do is listen and pray. It seems like so little, but it is as much as we can do. Someone once said that prayer is the least and most that we can do.

This verse has profound implications for me and, I think, for others. As a leader, I find that to witness Jesus’ vulnerability and honesty is humbling. As a disciple, seeking to follow my master, I find the depth of Jesus security in His Father and faith in the midst of darkness a simple inspiration. As a friend to others, I see the need for others, to simply watch with those who are at their most vulnerable and pray, unable to do any more. It is a profound encouragement to show love by simply drawing alongside and being present in Gethsemane.

  • If you are going through a dark time, share it with honesty and openness with someone you trust and pray together.
  • If you know of someone who is ‘overwhelmed’ with what they are facing, watch with them and love them.


The Wilderness Years

It seems like such a long time that I have been walking in the wilderness. I am sure I am not the only one. I would certainly be interested to hear other people’s stories.

I am in the wilderness; travelling to a new place that God has prepared but totally unsure where this new Promised Land might be.

Everywhere I look there is wilderness and many people wandering through it. We have faith that there is more to come and that there is a promise that we are travelling towards. Yet, all we see is rocky places, stubby growth and the very occasional spring of fresh water bubbling from the ground.

I hope I am not the only one who feels this way.

Every month, Kings Community Church in Braintree gets together for a worship night. It is a good, encouraging time where one or two of our musicians simply lead us in songs and music. We sing to the words and in the Spirit, and we listen for the voice of God in pictures, prophecy, tongues and any other way that God wants to speak.

Last night we met and, although there were only a few of us, the presence of God was wonderful. We sang songs that declared the truth about the character and work of our Father God, and we simply basked in the simple joy of knowing God’s presence. The Holy Spirit made the wilderness melt away as we bathed in an oasis.

What God said to me was simple.

Do not despise the wilderness

He spoke to me of the people of God as they travelled between Egypt and the Promised Land. The wilderness was harsh and water sources were few and far between, but the presence of God was with them. God was closer to them, for longer, during those forty years than at any time before the coming of Jesus.

  • For forty years, God’s presence was visible in the cloud and the fire.
  • For forty years, God fed them every day so that every person in every family had enough to eat.
  • For forty years, God spoke to them directly through Moses.
  • For forty years, in the wilderness, the evidence of the love and grace of God was on the people of God. Time and again they complained and sinned and struggled.
  • But for forty years, the presence of God was a daily reality for the people of God.

It is not about the wilderness. It is about the presence of God.

As far as I know, whilst God promises to return the years lost to the locusts, he never promises to return the years that were spent in the wilderness. Why should he? Who in their right mind would want to give back to God the years when they were closest to His daily presence?

Please, do not get me wrong; I am not saying that the wilderness is a good place to be. Neither am I saying that Christians should look to remain in the wilderness. What I am saying is this…

The presence of God is a good place to be!

We should not seek wilderness or promise, desert or valley. Rather, wherever we are, we should seek the real presence of God. Our Father loves us and wants to be with us.

I hate being in the wilderness, but I love the simple fact that for these last 3 years I have known the presence and voice of God more palpably than at any other time in my walk as a disciple of Jesus. I will not despise these years in the wilderness, no matter how long they continue, because God is with me. And when I come to the end of the wilderness and step into the promise of God, God will still be with me.

The important thing is this… it is all about the presence of God. It is all about Jesus.

Let me finish with this passage…

“Now Moses used to take a tent and pitch it outside the camp some distance away, calling it the ‘tent of meeting’. Anyone enquiring of the Lord would go to the tent of meeting outside the camp. And whenever Moses went out to the tent, all the people rose and stood at the entrances to their tents, watching Moses until he entered the tent. As Moses went into the tent, the pillar of cloud would come down and stay at the entrance, while the Lord spoke with Moses. Whenever the people saw the pillar of cloud standing at the entrance to the tent, they all stood and worshipped, each at the entrance to their tent. The Lord would speak to Moses face to face, as one speaks to a friend. Then Moses would return to the camp, but his young assistant Joshua son of Nun did not leave the tent.” (Exodus 33:7-11 NIV)

I have no problem being like Moses, spoken to face to face as a friend. But I want to be like Joshua, never leaving the tent of God’s presence because I simply want more.

Father, never take your presence from me.

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The Throne Room

Following the previous blog, I wanted to put this online. It is a picture that I had in April 2011 and into which I have been praying over the last couple of years. What I have written here is very much… ‘The picture so far”. I think that it is very much influenced by Isaiah 6, but I believe that God has given this to me as a focus of prayer and faith.

It is my desire to be so close to God that I can discern his voice and feel his closeness. He has invited us all to do so… I am taking Him at His word and intend to get as close as I can…

I see the throne room of God. I walk through the door and come into the presence of Jesus in a huge round room. It is so huge that I cannot see the opposite edge of the room.

In the centre of the room Jesus sits on a throne. He appears to be distant, kingly and majestic. The room is filled with music and worship, declaring the holiness of God and honouring Jesus. There is no doubt that I am in the presence of the Holy Spirit of God.

As I look around I see huge numbers of people standing in the throne room, many around the edge of the enormous round room. They are standing in God’s presence; saved, drinking in the atmosphere of the presence of the living God. They are watching Jesus on the throne but staying where they are. Present but unengaged.

As I look towards the centre of the room, where Jesus sits, I see that there is also a throng of people around the throne.

Between the throne and the edge of the room there are all sorts of people in different proximities to Jesus, many of them worshipping and singing. Some kneeling or prone in a facedown position, others just standing with eyes closed drinking in the atmosphere and presence.

But me? I want to be as close to throne as I can possibly be. From the distance, Jesus seems to be sitting, unmoving but glorious, and I simply want to go as close as I can to Him. I see friends and loved ones at the edge and in various positions, but I don’t want to be with them. I just have an overwhelming desire to be as close to Jesus as I can be.

I begin to walk closer to the throne. It is a massive room and I walk forward gradually, seeing the throne of Jesus grow in its perspective and gaining more clarity on the actions of the people around the throne. As I walk I pass people in different states. Some are worshipping and kneeling and praying; others are simply standing in the presence of Jesus. But I need to keep going. I need to get closer to Jesus. I just want to be in His presence and as close to Him as I can be.

As I draw closer, I begin to see that the people around his throne are not simply standing and worshipping and that Jesus is not simply sitting still being glorious. Rather, they are communicating together. Like the creatures in Isaiah 6, the people are calling to each other, and to Jesus, words about His glory and honour in praise and worship. They are calling to Jesus and telling him things, and Jesus is answering them and teaching.

When I was a long way away, it was as if there was a solid group of people in identical poses all the way to the throne. It seemed as if standing in the presence of God was everything and that everyone wanted to simply stop and be in that overwhelming and wonderful presence of God. But, as I draw closer to the throne, it becomes evident that those who are closest to the throne are not simply standing. They were participating. Jesus is speaking to them and they are speaking to him. And, even though in my head I wonder if I really have the right to get to the front, in my heart I know that I am a son of the living God and have the right to be wherever I want to be in that room.

It will not be a fight to get to the front… it is not like the front of a concert… there is space for me. However, it is up to me where I stand, sit or move. The question is, do I want to draw close or be distant?

I want to get close to Jesus. I want to be undone by His presence and the sound of His voice. I want to be in His presence, forced to fall on my face by the sheer overwhelming joy of his presence and grace. I want to hear His words and see His face and be with Him. I want to be undone. I want to have so much of God that I cry out, ‘no more, I can’t take any more’. And then I want more still. I want to be immersed, overwhelmed, overawed, soaked and drenched, in His presence. I am a son of the most high and living God and I am in my Father’s throne room.

I walk and run through the gaps in the massed throng of people. Closer and closer. Seeing more and more of Jesus and hearing more of His voice. I want to be right at the front. I want to be with Jesus.

I realise that to some of my friends, this will seem like a padded room post. But I hope that this brings encouragement and illumination to others.


Strength will rise… I just wish it would hurry up!

Over the weekend just gone I have had some really joyous, God filled moments. The Presence of God tour came to Essex and the team from Relational Mission, our Apostolic Sphere in New Frontiers, led us in some really great times of worship, teaching and ministry.

On Sunday, however, I found myself slipping into a real pit of despair. After a Holy Spirit filled service where there was loads of good stuff happening, I was being attacked on all sides over every insecurity and weakness in me. I was being tempted by every little habit and weakness that keeps such a stubborn finger hold on my life and surface whenever I am under duress or feeling hurt and vulnerable. It was horrible, unexpected and very, very dark.

I did not understand what was going on and why I was feeling the way I was. I felt alone and isolated, fearful and weak, angry and wanting to swear with every word I know. So many other negative things were going on I felt overwhelmed and had to leave before I shouted at people.

Not very edifying, I know. But I share all of this because I believe that others will empathise from their own experience and, if you are in a nice light and rosy place at the moment, can pray for me.

In the midst of the darkness and hurt feelings I remembered the story of David when, as the leader of a group of rebel fighters, he found that things were not going well. The families and belongings of his whole band had been stolen and his men were grumbling about him. Things were in a dark and dangerous place. It says of David that he “found strength in the Lord his God” (1 Samuel 30:6b).

So I turned to God. Feeling no lightening of spirit or any sense of rescue, I prayed and talked to God. I poured out my heart, telling my Father about all of the feelings and pain that were swimming around in my guts. The sense of injustice, isolation, incomprehension at my situation, and so much more.

I still felt nothing, but I talked to my Father all the same. Confessing and professing. Proclaiming the truths I know of His love and grace and power. Remembering the great mercy and grace he has shown to me and my family over the whole of my walk with him, I spoke the truths as I knew them and the thoughts as I felt them.

I felt no worse, but I felt no better. I spoke the truth but still had a bonfire of bleakness and anger in my chest.

I carried on praying for the rest of the day, trying hard to stand on the truths of the Bible and my faith even as I struggled to hold on in the storm. I prayed and cogitated late into the night. Even as I lay in our darkened bedroom, staring at the ceiling, I was seeking the face of my Father God. Yearning after His presence where everything else takes on its proper perspective and burdens are transformed.

I apologise if all of this sounds very bleak, but it is not. This is part of what John of the Cross, the 16th Century Spanish mystical writer, called ‘The Long Dark Night of the Soul”. When everything seems dark and God seems distant. Yet God is still God, my Father. Jesus is still Christ, my saviour. The Holy Spirit is still my comforter and friend. It is not the darkness that is important here… it is the reality of God! Whether I feel it or not, He is still Lord!

My desire is to be in His presence and to know Him. To know my God and be known by Him. The enemy does not want this to happen and my nature, suffering under the oppression of sin, (justified but still being sanctified) wrestles with my spirit for control of my soul – (I can’t think of another way to say it). And so I strengthen myself in the Lord my God.

It is God who rescued me from sin and a life lost in darkness and purposelessness. This God called me to follow him, wherever he might lead. He is my Father and provides for my every need, practical as well as spiritual (he has done so time and again and will this time too). It is this Father God of mine who holds my destiny, and that of my family, in the palm of His hand and will never… NEVER… let me go. He has shown Himself over the whole of my life to be faithful, loving and full of grace. My feeling may betray me… but I know the truth! No matter how many times I am distracted or turn my gaze away from His presence, He is right beside me. It is this Lord who lifts my feet out of the slimy pit and sets them upon a rock. He is the anchor in the storm, the foundation stone of my life and the Alpha and Omega of all creation. This is MY God!

I only want to be in His presence.

My soul may feel dark and that darkness may seem never ending, but I will walk with him through whatever it takes so that I can be in his presence. I will FOLLOW and I will NOT GIVE UP! This is my word and pledge.

Oh Lord… hear my cry. Please hear my cry! I cry out and I wait… Come Lord Jesus.

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A few fab ‘feologians’ to find and follow

In this digital age we have access to fantastic resources. Whilst there is some discernment needed, for the first time in history it is no long necessary to travel across the world to hear the best Christian preachers that are available. With the Internet we can read and listen to the best and most interesting Christian thinkers in the world, as well as find lesser-known gems who would never have found the publicity necessary for recognition outside of their own church before the advent of the web.

We also have access to commonly available resources that allow us to not simply listen to the people who influence our faith and thinking, but communicate with them directly. Twitter, Facebook and all the rest have opened lines of communication that have never before been accessible to you and I, the ordinary believers.

I realise that there are dangers involved with unfettered and unedited teaching, but the opportunities are staggering.

Below are just a few that I have found (I will probably share others in future blogs). I would encourage you to follow the links to their pages and Twitter feeds. You may not enjoy them as much as I do, but they are certainly worth a look. Interacting with these people has helped my faith grow, challenged my assumptions and helped my walk with Jesus to mature (which is, after all, much of the point of theology).

Mark Driscoll

Mark is the Teaching Pastor at Mars Hill Church in Seattle. The resources that Mars Hill put out are amongst the best I have ever found, especially the sermon podcasts that are available on iTunes. I would encourage anyone who had dead air time because they spend long periods in the car or travelling between meetings to download this remarkable preachers sermons and listen whilst they walk.

What is most impressive is that all of Mars Hill’s resources are available for free! They ask for a donation in line with one’s appreciation and my wife and I have made a donation or two over the years.

I would add that Mark’s style is often quite confrontational and shouty, but the things he says and the attention he gives to the Word of God are brilliant. What a blessing he and his church have been to my family and I, as well as to hundreds of thousands of people around the world.

Web: www.marshill.com Twitter: @PastorMark

Desiring God

Pastor John Piper is one of the most thoughtful and wise men of the Word of God that I have ever had the privilege to read and hear. The Website at www.desiringgod.org is a resource based on his gargantuan output and there is all sorts of stuff that is worth looking at. He is not a theologian who sits in an ivory tower but one who asks the amazingly important question, “What does the Bible mean in the face of the reality of everyday life?” The site also has other contributors who are equally worthwhile reading and hearing.

I would encourage everyone to take a little time to explore the website, listen to a few of the podcasts and read a few articles. To have the ability to invite a Pastor of John’s wisdom into your home is a tremendous privilege.

Web: www.desiringgod.org Twitter: @JohnPiper

Andrew Wilson

I read Andrew’s book, Incomparable, a few years ago and I have just found him online in the last year whilst I have been concentrating on my own writing. He is much closer to home for me (since I am in the UK) and an excellent apologist and deep thinker. Recently he appeared on Justin Brierley’s show on Premier Radio, discussing Rob Bell’s new book and theology with Rob Bell himself (good listening). I will meet him one of these days, but in the meantime I follow him on twitter and really appreciate his tweets (@AJWTheology).

Andrew is also a major contributor to the excellent ‘Theology Matters’ website (www.thinktheology.co.uk) where lots of different pastors and elders write articles relating to all sorts of issues that effect Christians, as well as offering apologetics relating to challenges and teaching from many different quarters.

Website: www.thinktheology.co.uk Twitter: @AJWTheology

Adrian Warnock

Again in the UK, Adrian Warnock is a blogger who has a very large following and writes very interesting articles relating to Christian faith in the real world. His recent focus has been on mental health and faith has been very helpful and insightful. Adrian also has links to some very interesting theologians and teachers who feature on his site under the ‘Interview’ menu.

Adrian is a thinker for whom I have great respect. He is also an occasional guest on Premier Radio and author of a very worthwhile book on the resurrection of Jesus called Raised with Christ.

Website: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/adrianwarnock Twitter: @adrianwarnock

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Paint yourself Blue!

Even as I read this passage from Philippians I feel my heart racing and my blood rising. I feel a Braveheart moment coming where I look across the valley at the enemy and feel the call to battle. I want to (metaphorically at least) paint myself blue and charge naked at the enemy with my sword in hand. I feel the call to sacrifice everything, even my life, in the cause of Jesus because there is nothing of more import or value than being found in Jesus.

“But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ – the righteousness that comes from God is by faith” (Philippians 3:7-9)

In comparison to knowing Jesus and being found in Him, everything else pales into insignificance. When I find Jesus, He is wonderful, vibrant HD colour in comparison to 8 inch, valve driven, cathode ray black and white. There is nothing in the world that is as wonderful or fantastic as knowing Jesus. Every other thing that I could have or inherit is not just rubbish in comparison, but toilet detritus. Every other thing is worthy only of flushing in comparison to knowing Jesus and being found in Him.

This makes me so excited! It makes me take a moment and consider who Jesus is and what he is like. I remember what it was like the first moment when I got up and followed him as my response to his sacrifice and call. It makes me consider afresh the amazing nature of His love for the world that he would leave the Father and take the form of a man and make the ultimate sacrifice on the cross so that the punishment for my sin is paid. I am made alive in Him. Everything else is death. It is shadow in comparison to the life and color and resonance and wonder of Jesus.


How is it then, that the Christian faith is most often simply a grey, boring, lifeless institution? Is this really the fullness of our inheritance in Jesus and the result of His love and sacrifice? A bland, liberal, middle of the road social club for bland, liberal middle of the road people who fool themselves into thinking that they are ‘radical’ and ‘accepting’ but find the teaching of Jesus too radical for them to accept?

The Church is called to be a reflection of Jesus. A taste of the kingdom of God in a world that is lost in sin. If Jesus is vibrant colour with the full and incredible healing power of God’s Spirit then the Church should be the same. This Jesus who is worthy of total sacrifice is the model of what it is to be a Christian and the image to which the Church should conform.

When I look at the church, however, it does not make me want to paint myself blue and charge at the enemy. (For a start, the pews would get in the way). If I am honest, when I look at the church, the beloved bride of Jesus, it makes me want to walk away. There is so little vibrant life in comparison to the life I find in Jesus. Why should I dress in grey when there is a coat of many colours on offer?

I would rather paint myself blue and charge than dress in grey and cower!

But I cannot walk away because the church is the bride of Jesus. If I walk away I will not find Jesus, because Jesus is with the Church. The Church is the Bride of Christ and he has purchased (as in olden times) with a price so high that only the Son of God can afford to pay it by His blood. The Church is beautiful in His eyes and He is profoundly in love with her.

The fact that the Church often chooses to dress in grey is not a reason to consign her to the rubbish heap. The matter that the church of Jesus has become so used to wearing grey that it seeks to, falsely, justify grey as ‘the will of God’ and ‘the real intention of Jesus’ is not sufficient reason to walk away. Jesus loves her and is coming back to reclaim his bride.

The Church needs a makeover and there are 2 things that need to happen…

  • First, we, the Church, need to look at Jesus instead of the world.

When I look at Jesus I feel my blood rise and my chest fill and the strength of a warrior course through my spirit. I feel that in Him there is a cause worth living for and fighting for and, if necessary, dying for. When I look at the cross I know that my freedom and life has been paid for with the blood of an innocent man and I perceive the overflow of my heart in response. Oh, to be found in Jesus! He is world changing, life transforming, sin saving, life giving and I am his man forever and always.

When I look at the world I feel myself lose hope and sink into despondency.

  • Second, we, the Church, need to remember that we are the beautiful bride of Jesus.

Chosen, purchased and being prepared for unity and new life with Him. Not dressed in grey and enrobed in defeat and fear. Dressed in the image of our vibrant, wonderful, colourful Christ Jesus, who taught the truth, healed the sick, confronted sin, offered salvation and opened the way to God the Father by utterly destroying the power of sin! We are His chosen people, a royal priesthood, the bride.

When I look to Jesus I find motivation and power in the Holy Spirit to BE who Jesus calls me to be. I find the courage and power to charge naked at the enemy so that the battle is joined. The enemy is not the Church…

“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” (Ephesians 6:12)

This is no empty and dead religion! I have no idea how we let it seem like such… But it is time to get out the blue paint and charge!

Does anyone want to borrow my blue body paint?

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It’s all about the presence of God!

I would love to see God move in the Church in the UK, any church in the UK, in the powerful way we see in Acts. But would I? You see, when a move of God happens it has little to do with structure and what we might expect and everything to do with power and transformation. The truth is, when God moves it is uncomfortable and confrontational. We do not make God move or choreograph God’s move… we let it happen. Further, it happens because it becomes more important to His followers for God to be present than for them to be comfortable.

  • Like in Acts 2, when the Holy Spirit comes at Pentecost. The disciples are praying and suddenly God’s Spirit takes over the meeting with a rushing wind, tongues of fire and strange languages. The disciples had not planned for it to happen and they did not know that, when it happened, it would happen in the way it did. All they could do was step into the rushing stream of God’s presence and be swept along with it. Peter simply commentated on what God did, he did not shape what God did.
  • In Acts 8 when, following the diaspora after Stephen’s stoning, Philip preached and amazing miracles happened to the great joy of all who saw them. Philip could only tell those who were present that it was all about Jesus and simply let the Spirit do what the Spirit wanted. He had not planned what would happen or have any imagined structure for those meetings. All he could do was follow the Spirit in a new thing and boy was it powerful.
  • Acts 10:44-38, where Peter preaches to Cornelius and his household. There was such a hunger and desire for God’s presence that Peter did not even get to finish his sermon points before the people were swept away in the presence of the Spirit, praising in the presence of the Spirit. Peter did not expect it to happen in that way. He did not even want to be with the Gentiles, if he was honest about it. These people were not even followers of Jesus when the Spirit touched them with such an overwhelming presence that their praise overflowed and overwhelmed. But when Peter saw the move of God’s presence, all he could do was accept it and follow in another new thing. Faith followed presence.
  • In Acts 19, “God did extraordinary miracles through Paul” (verse 11). Paul simple preached about Jesus, but the presence of God was so strong that healings were happening through shadows and hankies. People who were not even believers were doing miracles in Jesus name because the power of the presence of God was so palpable as the Spirit burst into the midst of the city of Ephesus and changes the lives of thousands of men and women. Paul did not plan the outpouring of the Spirit, he simply let God’s Spirit have His way and responded to it.

In all of these incidents, and I could look at others, there are some significant unifying factors.

  • There is a yearning for the REAL presence of God. Not for some religious structure, but for God Himself to turn up. The disciples in the upper room were seeking God. The people of Samaria were desperate to know the person of Christ that Philip proclaimed. Cornelius and his household were desperate to be with the real an true God. The people of Ephesus were desperate for a real touch from the real God… even via a sweaty hanky.
  • It was the REAL presence of the Holy Spirit of God that made things happen. It was not the doctrine of the disciples that dictated the move of God’s power. Peter wouldn’t have been seen dead in the house of a Gentile before his dream and the offer of Cornelius and Paul’s sweaty hanky has no precedent in the Old Testament. It was the REAL presence of God that makes things happen and brings about real change in real people.
  • When the people were exposed to the REAL presence of God’s Spirit they were confronted by the reality of God. That is not to say that all who saw believed. Simon the Sorcerer saw only power in Philip’s actions and the Seven Sons of Skeva refused to believe for themselves and tried to do miracles in Paul’s name. When the presence of God touched people, things could not remain the same and choices had to be made. Do I follow or not? Those who submitted to the presence of God were transformed forever by what happened and the presence of God was heavy and real.

I have come to the conclusion that it is not the theology or the practical work of the church that will bring people to know Jesus. These things do not dictate the move of God, rather they are shaped by the move of God. Knowing it right and doing it right will not change the world, it will only create a situation where those that know it and do it in the same way as us gather together. God calls ALL people into His presence… not just the people who are like me.


How do we get into the presence of God? I cannot make the presence of God’s Spirit happen. I can only let it happen. I can humble myself and pray and seek His face and turn from my wicked ways… Then there is space for God to move (2 Chronicles 7:14).

I apologise if some of the writing above is not clear and the thinking is unfinished. The truth is, I don’t really care if my theological cogitations are professional or academically acceptable. All I care about is that I know Jesus. I find that I am increasingly coming to the conclusion that I just want to be close to Jesus. I yearn to know Him and be known by Him.

It is a dangerous place to be, because it is the place where I cannot plan for what might happen because it all about Jesus, not about me. But it is the only place I want to be.

It is all about the presence of God… I want to be in the presence of God!