Thursday, 9 July 2009

What I learned at Holiday Club

Jesus called the children to him and said, "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.”
Luke 18:16-17

Holiday Club 2009 finished up on Sunday. Here’s what I learned this year.

Children listen.

I mean really listen.

We quizzed them twice every day on the talks and stories, and found it almost impossible to find a question they could not answer.

What would church be like, if people listened like that? If people had that level of desire to learn about the Lord, and to listen for His voice? One of the great discouragements that preachers face is pouring out their lives for a 30 minute message, and finding many people don’t really listen- often because they just can’t be bothered.

Lord, grant us the listening ears of little children when it comes to your Word,


Friday, 26 June 2009

Free Online Book

This has been kicking about the web since Father's Day- a free online book on fatherhood by Mark Driscoll.

I was intrigued by the title and found that it's called 'Pastor Dad' because Driscoll asserts that all Christian fathers are called to pastor their children... Nice, but if I were to write a book on fatherhood it'd definitely have to be called 'CBeebies saved my life..'

Saturday, 20 June 2009

Begg on the Confidence of Heaven…

After reading this blog post from my good friend John Caldwell, I was put in mind of something that Alistair Begg said at the ministers conference.

During the Q&A session he quoted Luke 16:

"He answered, `Then I beg you, father, send Lazarus to my father's house, for I have five brothers. Let him warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment.'

"Abraham replied, `They have Moses and the Prophets; let them listen to them.'

" `No, father Abraham,' he said, `but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.'

"He said to him, `If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.' "

He then summed up by saying:

“The confidence of heaven is in the Scriptures”

Begg was not actually speaking about signs and wonders, but about fads and fashions, nevertheless the principle is the same. We are all too prone to looking to the wrong places for power, validation and authority- the confidence of heaven is in the Scriptures.

Tuesday, 16 June 2009

Scottish Baptist Ministers Conference 2009

I’ve been in pastoral ministry for a year and a half now, and last week was one of the most refreshing and encouraging. I spent most of the week at the Baptist Ministers Conference in St Andrews. It was a great joy to spend some time with good friends and fellow pastors, not to mention sitting under the preaching ministry of Alistair Begg.

Here’s the reflection I put in our church newsletter on Sunday:

(From the Newsletter Sunday 14 June 2009)
Thoughts on the Ministers Conference 2009

This year was the first opportunity I have had to stay for the full Ministers Conference, and I thought I’d offer you a few thoughts on the week.

The place

The conference was, as always, held in the University of St Andrews which is a fitting home for such a gathering. Not only does the town provide a beautiful setting for us to enjoy, it is a place of great historical significance for the Church in Scotland. I had the opportunity to visit the site at which Patrick Hamilton was burned alive (at the spot now marked by his initials above.) He was just 24 years of age. Hamilton's execution was horribly botched and he took several hours to die, as the flames engulfed him he cried out “Lord Jesus receive my Spirit! How long will darkness overwhelm this realm?”

The other site I visited was George Wishart’s place of execution. He too, was martyred for his biblical preaching of the Gospel. Wishart was good friends with John Knox (who acted as his bodyguard when he went preaching!) but when it became clear that he would be arrested he told Knox to leave him, saying “one person is sufficient for a sacrifice”. As Wishart prepared for his death he prayed, then turned to the crowds and said:

“For the Word’s sake and the true Gospel, which was given to me by the grace of God, I will suffer this day at the hands of men; not sorrowfully, but with a glad heart. For this cause I was sent, that I should suffer this fire for Christ’s sake. Watch my face closely. You will not see me change colour for I do not fear this grim fire. I know surely that my soul shall dine this night with my Saviour Christ.”

The manner of these men’s deaths actually validated the truth of their message- that we can have a living personal relationship with God through faith in Jesus Christ alone. Whilst their martyrdom silenced their own preaching, in a sense it actually served to amplify their voices and further the cause of the true, biblical, Gospel. What a powerful legacy they have left for all who desire to remain faithful to the Lord irrespective of the personal cost.

The people

It was a great joy to meet with other ministers, to share joys and sorrows, hopes and fears, to laugh and speak and eat and worship and pray together. It was particularly encouraging to meet with some of the guys I studied with in College, we are good friends, and good influences on one another!

The preaching

This year the Conference welcomed Alistair Begg back to Scotland. Alistair is a wonderful preacher and I was greatly challenged and encouraged by his three messages. He was asked to speak on “21st Century Church”, and preached on 2 Corinthians 4\5 and Acts 26. Fittingly he said that what the church needs in the 21st Century- is exactly what it has needed in every century; faithful, clear, unashamed, persuasive, biblical preaching of the true Gospel.

The point!

Admittedly I haven’t just offered these thoughts simply to inform, but to inspire prayer! Please pray for the ministers of our denomination and our land. Pray for courage and conviction like that modelled by Hamilton and Wishart. We may not be burned at the stake, but there is a cost to living and ministering faithfully in the 21st century, it is still not the path of least resistance. Pray for congregations with discerning ears and warm hearts and pray that many would respond to the Gospel in our day.

Yours in His service,


Saturday, 13 June 2009

Resolved Conference 2009

For yet another great conference from the States with free live feeds see this website.

Friday, 22 May 2009

General Assembly Update

I posted here on the planned assembly debate regarding the call of a man living in a homosexual relationship to a pastorate in Aberdeen. The date and time of the discussion has now been confirmed:

The Assembly begins today Thursday 21st May, and the debates concerning the Complaint from the dissenting Presbyters of Aberdeen and the Overture from the Presbytery of Lochcarron and Skye are scheduled to take place on Saturday 23rd at 6.30pm.

If you want to see and hear some or part of this debate, it may be available by webcast at:

MLJ mug and merchandise

I'm sure the Doc would dissaprove, but next time I have a bit of spare income, here's where its going!

Also available from the pyromaniacs:

Thursday, 14 May 2009

Words I love to hear…

I noticed on Sunday that both deacons who prayed at communion used the phrase “we have been reminded this morning…” I love to hear this phrase in communion prayers because it means that people are making connections between the Sermon and the Supper, the Message and the Meal!

We should always be able to pray “we have been reminded this morning” as we give thanks for the bread and the wine, as every message should be a Gospel message. That is, every message; whether its on salvation by grace through faith, the role of church leaders, hospitality, or an Old Testament story, every message should relate clearly to the life, death and resurrection of Jesus.

Friday, 8 May 2009

Let Glasgow Flourish

Here's a wee video put together by the guys at the Tron. Its both a walk through Glasgow, and a walk through the Gospel. What more could you ask for!..

Tuesday, 5 May 2009

I Signed the Petition...

The Fellowship of Confessing Churches petition has hit the headlines and got people talking recently. It urges the C of S Assembly not to support the decision of the Presbytery of Aberdeen to induct a minister living in a homosexual relationship.

I wasn’t surprised at the hostile response received in many circles, but I was surprised to see one evangelical describe the petition as arbitrary and potentially homophobic, so here’s four reasons why I signed the survey:


It’s going to be hard, really hard, for those who will stand up for truth in the Assembly later this month. I know how lonely the C of S can be for evangelicals, particularly those in leadership. Maybe the thousands of names on the petition will prove an encouragement and a reminder to them that they are far from alone.


This is an issue where the world and the Bible are poles apart. The Bible proclaims its message very clearly (Lev 18, Romans 1…) The world proclaims its message very clearly- just watch Home and Away (or any soap) and observe how the issue of homosexuality is presented. The families are shocked when they find out, but they love their brother\sister\child and so offer their full support, the reasonable normal people of Summer Bay (that is the people like you and me) love and support the gay couple, but there are one or two nasty, one dimensional, small-minded, unthinking bigots who attack the couple.

We are watching the world’s sermon on sexuality.

(Even the word ‘homophobia’ implies that it is impossible to hold to a reasoned and reasonable position against homosexuality. It suggests that those who believe homosexual practice to be wrong are acting out of irrational fear rather than reasoned thought.)

The issue is so clear cut- God’s wisdom or the World’s wisdom. If the C of S does not take a stand on this, then I’m not at all sure it will take a stand on anything. It also sends out the message to the world that the Church's role is essentially to affirm the wisdom of the world rather than to tell the world what God has to say.


This, for me, is a Gospel issue. W. Philip, says

"this is an issue of enormous magnitude: not just about sexuality, nor even only about the authority of Scripture, but about the nature of humanity, and indeed the nature of the gospel itself, a gospel not of affirmation of sin, but which demands repentance from sin, and brings liberation and transformation from sin."


The statement itself is well worded. That is to say, it clearly articulates its arguments, what is and is not being said about homosexuality and homosexual people, and is careful to avoid the risk of being caricatured by those who hold to other views.

~ ~ ~

One final word, I do agree that to be in a homosexual relationship is no worse a sin, or any more of a disqualification for leadership than preaching certain false doctrines – for example denying the uniqueness of Christ and His saving work, but as DA Carson says:

“…at some juncture churches have to decide whether they will, by God’s grace, try to live in submission to Scripture, or try to domesticate Scripture. I suspect that in our generation , for better and for worse, the homosexuality issue is becoming one of those triggering issues (like indulgences at the time of the Reformation) that is forcing upon us some profound reflections on whether we will submit to Scripture or not.”

(Carson, Becoming Conversant with the Emerging Church, 172)

You can read the statement and sign up if you want here.

The debate will probably be hosted on Sat evening 23 May, please pray- petitions are well and good, but your prayers are more potent than your pen!

Thursday, 30 April 2009

A Blog is Named

As I discovered 6 months ago childbirth (for a man) is easy. But naming the new baby can be tough. In the providence of God, my first 100 or so attempts at Blog Titles had already been taken. Eventually, I settled upon “that which thundered”.

I’m now rather pleased with my blog title.

As you can see from the Blog's subtitle, it comes from a Spurgeon quote:

"John Knox's gospel is my gospel, that which thundered through Scotland must thunder.. again"

I confess I’ve “Purpose-Driven-ified” the quote a bit (ie lifted the line from its context and used “…” to subtly change the meaning ever so slightly. In my defense I’ve not used the Message ‘translation’ of Spurgeon’s sermon. Nevertheless I ask your forgiveness and post the wider context below...

Firstly though a few words about why I like “that which thundered” as a title:

1- I love the Gospel.
2- I love Scotland.
3- I am profoundly concerned about modern evangelicalism in Scotland.

The Gospel no longer thunders through Scotland. We whisper it, we are happy to use (some of) it to entice, but never to confront. We are happy to converse, but never to proclaim. We confuse uncertainty with humility. Evangelicalism is, in general, ashamed of the Gospel and afraid of the world.

In the early Church, The Gospel thundered, lives were changed, and God was glorified.

I would love to see Knox’s Gospel thunder through Scotland again.

Here's the Spurgeon excerpt, from a sermon preached 151 years ago. How we need to hear and heed these words:

“…And men that stand up to preach as those men did, with honest tongues, and know not how to use polished courtly phrases, are as much condemned now as those men were in their time; because, say they, the world is marching on, and the gospel must march on too. No, sirs, the old gospel is the same; not one of her stakes must be removed, not one of her cords must be loosened. "Hold fast the form of sound words, which thou hast heard of me, in faith and love which is in Christ Jesus." Theology hath nothing new in it except that which is false. The preaching of Paul must be the preaching of the minister to-day. There is no advancement here. We may advance in our knowledge of it; but it stands the same, for this good reason, that it is perfect, and perfection can not be any better. The old truth that Calvin preached, that Chrysostom preached, that Paul preached, is the truth that I must preach to-day, or else be a liar to my conscience and my God. I can not shape the truth. I know of no such thing as the paring off the rough edges of a doctrine. John Knox's gospel is my gospel. That which thundered through Scotland must thunder through England again. The great mass of our ministers are sound enough in the faith, but not sound enough in the way they preach it. Election is not mentioned once in the year in many a pulpit; final perseverance is kept back; the great things of God's law are forgotten, and a kind of mongrel mixture of Arminianism and Calvinism is the delight of the present age. And hence the Lord hath forsaken many of his tabernacles and left the house of his covenant; and he will leave it till again the trumpet gives a certain sound. For wherever there is not the old gospel we shall find "Ichabod" written upon the church walls ere long. The old truth of the Covenanters, the old truth of the Puritans, the old truth of the Apostles, is the only truth that will stand the test of time, and never need to be altered to suit a wicked and ungodly generation.”

A Blog is Born

I suspect its customary to open a blog with a brief statement, detailing its raison d'etre, well that’s easy for me- I can just provide this link:

6 reasons pastors should blog

Piper’s article was the sole reason for the birth of my blog.

I think particularly pertinent is Piper’s fourth reason- to recommend. I frequently read wonderful articles, quotes and insights which for one reason or another would not be suitable for the pulpit. I hope this blog will provide a more appropriate setting to highlight some helpful quotes\videos\resources relating to the Gospel.