Oct 152014

It’s not the start of a tasteless joke. It was the start of my day today, and the pastor in question was me.

UKIP immigrant header

I want to tell the story, because I’ve been reflecting on it a little. It’s raised some questions and I’m not sure if the way I reacted was the best, so I want to sound it out. Please tell me what you think, even if you think I was an idiot!

How it started

The train was quite busy, but I managed to get a seat and found myself next to a rare phenomenon: two people talking. When the conversation turned to politics, one expressed his views in strong terms and (with some choice language). He’s not a fan of David Cameron, Ed Miliband or Nick Clegg who are all just in it to get rich themselves.

In fact, UKIP are the only hope. They are the only ones who have an answer to immigration, which is causing the disintegration of our society. That’s not the language he used (his was far stronger), but the following is:

All them immigrants, the problem is they just come because they know we’ll give them benefits for nothing so they can go back wherever they came from where stuff doesn’t cost much anyway and live it up large with our money.

This is not true. I happen to have read around this issue a little recently, so I knew that immigrants to the UK, on average, contribute more to the economy than they ‘cost’ in benefits, etc. And that Immigrants are less likely than native citizens to claim benefits. Many immigrants do come to the UK and send money back home or go back home in a financially stronger position. But while here, they contribute to the economy, not weaken it.

Some level-headed journalism on the issue.

Some level-headed journalism on the issue.

What he’d said wasn’t true. It’s a commonly believed lie, but a lie nonetheless. And potentially quite damaging.

What I did

As much as my middle-class, commuting Britishness told me to keep quiet, I found myself unable to do so. Truth is important, and especially because here we’re talking about a form of oppression against those already maligned in our society. These lies hurt immigrants, who have a difficult enough time already.

So I spoke up. Politely. I said I wasn’t sure he was right and asked where he’d got that information from.

There was a pause, and I was then asked who had asked me and why I was sticking my nose in. I said I think it’s an important issue and we need to let our views be shaped by facts, not just hearsay. I then shared simply some of the things I’d read about. I honestly believe I remained respectful throughout.

It was at this point that I spotted, just across the train, a woman who looked to be Eastern European and was visibly quite upset by what she was hearing. I made eye contact briefly, but she quickly turned away.

What happened then

I was surprised and shocked by what then happened. I got shouted and sworn at quite a bit. I was told it was none of my business what they thought and I had no right to tell them what to think. We all have a right to our own opinions and how dare I try and tell them theirs weren’t right.

I was amazed at the strength of their reaction. In their minds, my presenting an opposing position to theirs was me stripping them of the right to hold their own opinion. They were adamant that they were entitled to their own opinion, but they also seemed to feel a right to their own facts.

Another gentleman (a bit older) then joined in and suggested I was ‘clearly too young to remember what Britain use to be like, what it should be like, before our society was eroded by all this outside influence’. I began to respond, but didn’t get very far before the first two guys started admonishing me again.

I wish I could say I had some knock-down argument that ended the whole thing and I won over their hearts and minds. I didn’t.

The woman across the aisle looked very distressed, and got up to go to another part of the train. As she stood, she looked over to me and mouthed ‘Thank you’ with deep sincerity in her eyes. I wanted to check she was alright, so I finished my conversation with these three men by apologising if I’d caused offence but suggesting again that we need to explore these issues carefully. By then the train had pulled in to the station and the woman had gone.

Did I do the right thing?

There’s a few things I’m sure of. Truth matters and isn’t relative. As a follower of Christ, I’m bound to stand for truth. I’m also bound to stand against oppression and for the oppressed. I’m also called to be engaged in this world, its systems and structures.

That was my motivation as I spoke on the train. But did I do it in the best way? Should I have just kept quiet? Should I have said something different?

What would you have done?

If you liked this post, please share using the buttons below. Also, you can to receive all future posts by email. Thanks for reading!

Snapchat & photo leaks: is the internet just awful now?

Oct 142014

The internet has gone a bit bonkers recently, with lots of things previously thought ‘safe’ now not really seeming to be very safe at all. And a lot of it seems to be to do with seeing pictures of people they never wanted us to see.

Screen Shot 2014-10-14 at 10.34.56

I’ve been an advocate of the internet for a while, encouraging Christians in particular to use it for good. It’s also the major thrust of my role as a pastor at present. But should this ever-increasing dark side of the internet call that into question? I’ve certainly heard a few people suggest these things show we—especially as Christians—should avoid the internet altogether.

The problem

A number of female celebrities have had explicit pictures they took of themselves on mobile devices hacked and posted online. (While I question the wisdom of taking those sorts of pictures of yourself, I do not sympathise with people who say ‘it’s their fault for taking them’. If you disagree with me on that, feel free to comment below and we can chat about it!)

More recently—and perhaps more disturbingly—a little under 100,000 images originally taken on Snapchat have now been leaked onto the web. Some of these are explicit in nature, but by no means all of them. You can read a little more here.

My personal views on Snapchat have always been pretty clear, and I’ve never used it. To my mind, an app designed around the premise of sending a picture you do not want people to be able to store for very long is just a very bad idea. It encourages people to take and send images that aren’t a good idea because it promises the safety of a limited shelf-life. It has been the root of countless ‘sexting’ problems in schools, and actively feeds into the desire to do things in hidden and secretive ways. Of course people use it for harmless fun, but the premise on which it’s built is—in my view—not harmless at all.

The real problem

But I believe these recent events are just symptoms. So what’s the real problem, the real cause? On one level, it would be easy to say the root of all this is the internet itself. If it didn’t exist, hacking scandals like these would never have happened. Right?

Screen Shot 2014-10-14 at 10.24.37

What evil technology!

I don’t think so.

Do you remember a year or so back when that picture of Kate Middleton sunbathing topless in a very secluded and private place in France was big news? That picture was taken using a camera with a massive lens and then printed in a magazine. No hacking required at all. Just a desire to take that picture by some people and a desire to see that picture by more people.

My point is simply that the real problem isn’t the internet, but broken, sinful people who find ways to use it to do all the things that broken, sinful people want to do anyway.

We don’t blame the printing press because it was used to spread Nazi propaganda. We don’t blame photography for pornography. We don’t blame farming for obesity.

The tools and technologies humans create reflect their human creators. The good and the bad. I believe the internet is a mirror, a reflection, of ourselves. At its best, it shows us our capacity for relationship, dialogue, pursuit of good causes, creativity, passion—at its best it reveals those parts of us which are the image of God. At its worst, it shows our self-centredness, gossip, lust, shallow ways of thinking, apathy—at its worst it reveals those parts of us which are fallen and sinful.

What to do?

So, is the internet just awful now? No, I don’t think so. We are sometimes, but not the internet itself. In my view it’s neutral.

That isn’t to say every part of it is neutral. I don’t believe pornography websites are neutral. I don’t believe secret forums which are used to plot and plan acts of violence are neutral. I don’t believe certain apps are neutral (as I said above). Some things, in their DNA, in the purpose they set out to achieve or the principles by which they work, feed into our darker side. And I think they should be treated with extreme caution. They might not be as safe or benign as they are branded to be.

But while exercising caution, we mustn’t forget to celebrate the good parts of our online world. There are fantastic things going on, and great blessings in this world because of what people are doing online. We should embrace these good bits, seek to be part of them, let them be part of us.

The internet, like us, has dark and light. And we should—as with ourselves—let the light shine brightly into the dark.

If you liked this post, please share using the buttons below. Also, you can to receive all future posts by email. Thanks for reading!

 No Responses »

Reflections of a trainee pastor, part 1

Sep 252014

I’m starting to write this on the train home from my induction week at Spurgeon’s College in London, where I am starting study as I train to become a Baptist minister. (I suspect I won’t have time to finish it on the train. If so, I’ll finish it later.)

pastor in training 1

It’s been a good week, and these are some (fairly unstructured) cogitations it has sparked.

Character matters

I’m going to be studying a lot of theology in the next few years. That important, because thinking right about God, talking right about God, these things matter. I’ll also be learning practical things – preaching, pastoral care, leadership, how to conduct a funeral. These things matter too. Pastors should be competent.

But the emphasis this week wasn’t on knowledge or skills. It was on character. One tutor said this:

I would rather have a pastor who was a good person but couldn’t preach to save their life than a phenomenal preacher who doesn’t have integrity.

This is important. Over the next three years (at college and in my church), I’m going to be invested in as a person. My walk with God. My personality. My character. These are important things to get right. I pray I do.

I do wonder though: do we sometimes emphasise capability over character?

Journeys are better with friends

I made friends this week. We laughed, shared stories, played cards, got to know each other, talked deep stuff, and (unexpectedly) saw a football match. Someone bought me a pie.

I’m starting this journey of training and formation, and I’m glad there are folk doing it with me. Of course my wife, my family and my friends (I have fantastic friends who I love!) are with me, but they’re not also training. They’re doing other wonderful things!

There’s something wonderful about going through a situation or process or season of life with people who are doing exactly the same thing. It creates support, encouragement, energy, perseverance.

Life can be lonely. Church ministry can be very lonely. Im glad training and college won’t be.

I’m excited for this life!

This week has reminded me just how much I’m excited to be in the kind of work, the kind of ministry, I’m in! I’m excited to be a pastor. I’m excited to train, but I’m even more excited to be doing it.

I first sensed a calling to church ministry when I was 17. I was excited then, and I still am now. I’m looking forward to following this where God leads.

Why mention that? I just hope I’m still as excited in three years when training finishes. And in ten. And thirty. And fifty years. If you fancy praying that I would be, I wouldn’t mind.

(Turns out, I did finish it on the train…)

If you liked this post, please share using the buttons below. Also, you can to receive all future posts by email. Thanks for reading!

 No Responses »

New beginnings (or, ‘The future of Limping into Truth’)

Sep 222014

Wow, it’s been over a month since I last blogged. I took a break over August because life was busy, and didn’t quite manage to pick up again in September. I’m sorry about that. Life has been a bit up in the air recently, and carving time out to write for this blog has slipped.

I don’t often do updates on what’s going on in my life on here, but I’ll do a quick one, because there’s lots of new stuff going on, and then I’ll talk a little about plans for this blog in the future.

New beginnings

In August, I started a new role at the church that Mel and I have been part of for the last two years. I am now a pastor, and my full job title is ‘Pastor: Online Mission, Discipleship and Teaching’. I’m really excited about continuing as part of the family and the team at Gold Hill. I believe there are lots of great things ahead for us. And for me!

That role is part of the three-year training programme I am starting to become a Baptist Minister. I write this post from the college I’ll be studying at. It’s all rather new, and the one thing I’m really understanding so far is that it’s going to be rather busy! (This was my #firstdayatschoolselfie…)


We have also just bought our first house. That’s been great, but just as stressful and time-consuming as you’d imagine buying a house to be. It needs quite a bit of work, so lots of my time off will be spent working on that.

This isn’t new, but I’m married and in the business of all those new things I do not want to fail to invest in time with Mel my wife and in our marriage.

The future of Limping into Truth

All that adds up to – in all reality – less time to spare. I’m totally cool with that, but I also know it means priorities need to be clear.

With that in mind, I want to say this: I’m fully committed to keeping this blog going. This isn’t an ‘I’m taking a break’ post or a ‘I’m finishing now’ post. I will carry on limping into truth.

(As an aside, the reasons I started the blog are perhaps even more important as I step into more intense study and training and as I exercise more responsibility in leadership. It’s important to me.)

Realistically, though, I might blog a little less. I had been aiming at about 8 posts a month, and now might be looking at a bit less than that. I don’t expect the types of things I blog about to change massively, though my life shifting a little is bound to mean I’m thinking about different stuff. I have some more great posts to publish in my ‘Why are you a Christian?’ series, and some stuff I know I want to explore.

So watch this space!

This feels a little like a non-post. But I know at least a few people are interested to hear about what’s going down here.

If you liked this post, please share using the buttons below. Also, you can to receive all future posts by email. Thanks for reading!

 No Responses »

My family are dying. Please help.

Aug 122014

I haven’t posted on here in a little while. There are a few reasons, but the main one is this: every time I’ve loaded up my computer to write a blog post I’ve seen all the status, tweets, blogs, news articles and profile pictures all pointing to one thing—Christians being persecuted and slaughtered. Things like this, this, , this and—of course—this:


This is what I’ve felt and thought: how can I just carry on blogging when all this is going on. Then I thought maybe I should blog about it, but what could I say? There is already plenty of poor information and comment being circulated by uninformed people. I won’t say anything that’s not already being said, so what’s the point?

But here’s my realisation: that’s total rubbish.

I don’t need to say something new, so I won’t try. I don’t need to be clever and write something really wise, so I won’t try. This, for me, is the bottom line:

The people who are suffering and dying are my Christian brothers and sisters. They’re family. And they’re hurting. When my family hurt, I hurt, and I desperately desperately want this evil to stop.

Please help

This blog has a readership. It’s not massive, but people read this. You’re reading this. I want to use what voice I do have to point you to some ways you can make your voice known. I haven’t ‘discovered’ these things. They aren’t novel and new. You’ve probably seen them before. But if you haven’t, or you haven’t used them or done anything with them, please please do.

Sign and petition: These people being murdered or becoming refugees have no voice to speak of. You do. You have a name, and you can give it to a petition calling for action. .

Contact your government representatives: Unlike Christians in Iraq, Iran, Syria and elsewhere, I am fortunate to have a government accountable to an electorate. If enough people raise something, they are more likely to act. Contact your MP, congressperson or whoever it is for you. For UK residents, .

Give: If you are in a position to do so, there are organisations you can give to who are able to help in practical ways those suffering and those running for their lives. .

Raise awareness: It may seem like a tiny gesture, but evil will never be overcome by either ignorance or silence, so make sure those you know are informed by raising your voice. Share one of the links I’ve posted. Share this post if you want. Change your profile picture and explain why when people ask.

Pray: I know not everyone who reads this blog is a Christian. But I am. Charles Spurgeon described prayer as the ‘slender nerve that most the muscle of omnipotence’. Prayer has power. Prayer changes things. If you pray about anything, please pray about this.


Once again, I ask that you not ignore this horrible evil. There are children without parents, parents who no longer have children, husbands without wives, wives without husbands.

These are my family and my family is being killed and ripped apart.

If you liked this post, please share using the buttons below. Also, you can to receive all future posts by email. Thanks for reading!

 No Responses »

“Where’s your god now?”

Jul 302014

“Come to Jesus and all your problems will be solved immediately!”

There are some preachers and evangelists who give exactly that message. If you give your life to Jesus, health and wealth will quickly follow. You’ll face no more hardship and everything will go well with your life. There are some. But not many. Very few people deliberately and consciously promote this as the Christian message.

A strange question

But there’s a question I hear reasonably often, and it’s this: “Where’s your god now?” The sentiment is summed up hilarious in the following picture:

where's god

Clearly this is just a joke (though jokes tend to contain a grain of truth), but people ask the same thing seriously. I was with a non-Christian recently who shared the sad news that a Christian she knows has been diagnosed with cancer. She then pointedly said, “He’s a godly man, so where’s his God now?”

Behind statements like these, there seems to be an assumption that if a Christian has given their lives to God then He’ll sort everything out for them, fix all their problems, keep them safe, protect them from all harm. Why is it people believe that’s what Christianity is about, when it simply isn’t?

I’ve also heard and read the same question coming from Christians when things are hard. “Why is this happening to me? Where’s God gone?” I have deep sympathy for people who ask that (I have), but it is—I think—based on a wrong view of God.

A simple answer

The truth is God never promises to fix everything in our lives. There will be a time when all pain and difficulty will be put right and everything will be restored. But until that day comes, we live in a broken world. Does God heal? Yes. Does God intervene for His people? Yes. Does God answer prayer? Yes. He does these things, but He doesn’t always and He has never promised to.

wheres god crossSo where is God when His people suffer?

God is right there with them, standing alongside them.
God is on the cross, suffering for them, knowing their pain and Himself feeling a divine absence.
God is in them by His Spirit, giving strength and hope and peace—even joy.

The answer to the question “Where is God now?” is never “He’s gone away, absent.” The answer is always that He is right there, at the moment of deepest pain. I often don’t feel that, but I know it is true. Even though I don’t fully understand it. I believe it because God has said promised it and God can’t lie.

So why the question?

If the basis of the question is a wrong view of God, a view that very few people actually promote, why is it the question gets asked at all? Where has this wrong idea come from?

I honestly don’t know. I have a few ideas, but I don’t know. It could be that deep down we do believe God is better when things are going well and that He’s worse when they aren’t. At times do we believe we’ve entered into a transaction with God where we’ll be devoted as long as He looks after us? It could be we don’t believe that, but we far more readily say ‘God is so good!’ when something has gone well for us than when it hasn’t. It could be that in popular culture God is depicted in exactly that way, someone who will sort things out for you if you’re faithful to Him. Maybe the world can’t imagine why you’d want to follow any other sort of God—what’s in it for you?

I honestly don’t know. If you think you do, I’d love to hear.

But I’ll end with this. If the world has this opinion that people follow Jesus mostly because they think He’ll protect them—if that’s what people really believe—then it presents us with an amazing opportunity to put them straight.

I follow Jesus for far more exciting reasons than that.

If you liked this post, please share using the buttons below. Also, you can to receive all future posts by email. Thanks for reading!

 1 Response »

100 posts on. Back to limping.

Jul 192014

Screen Shot 2014-07-19 at 18.23.25

This is my 100th post on this blog. I’m quite pleased with that, and I felt I should mark it in some way. While working out what that might be, I reflected a little on what the purpose of the blog is.

The point hasn’t been to build up a regular readership.
The point hasn’t been to get more followers on Twitter.
The point hasn’t been to win an award.
The point hasn’t been to interact with celebrities about what I’m writing.

I don’t think any of those things is bad (in fact each—in their one way—has been a good thing), but they are not the reasons I started this blog a year and a half ago. And they aren’t why I’m keeping going with it.

I want to be a limper

The reason is still that I want to have a holy limp.

If you only started reading this blog recently, you probably won’t have read the first post I wrote, all about what I mean by limping. Basically, I mean having a faith where I’m happy to be uncomfortable. Where what God thinks is more important than what I think. Where I’m willing to submit to Him instead of stridently following myself.

A lot of the world today tells us that if it makes sense for us then it’s right. If something doesn’t work for us, we need to ditch it and find something that works better, that we prefer.

That’s fine if we’re talking about a hair-cut or a pair of shoes. It’s not when we’re talking about beliefs. It’s not when we’re talking about the way we live our lives.

I’m wrong. God never is. I do wrong. God never does.

If I follow everything I want, believe everything I want, then I’ll do a lot wrong, believe a lot wrong. It’d be a lot more comfortable, but a lot less good. All in all, I’d rather limp into truth than stride into falsehood and sin. This blog is one way I try to keep myself honest.

The lure of striding

This isn’t easy. The arrogant, self-important approach to life is very appealing, and is constantly tugging at me, trying to pull me back, tell me I don’t have to limp and I can stride because I’m right, I’m righteous.

Screen Shot 2014-07-19 at 18.24.58It’s a danger when I preach, stood with people listening to what I say. Do I subtly or subliminally start to think it’s my place to decide what’s right and dispense it to others?

It’s a danger being a leader, with people who follow. Do I sometimes think too highly of myself? If I’m the one who—or more often part of a team who—sets vision and leads people in it, do I sometimes think I’m more important?

It’ll be a danger for me as I hopefully begin theological study later this year. Do I think that because I’ve read books and written essays I have a handle on the truth? Do I become unteachable? Do I become strident in my views?

That’s just for me. If I’m honest—at times—the answer to each of those questions is ‘yes’. Striding is easy, attractive, compelling. Striding makes you feel good. Limping doesn’t.

How to limp

Like I said, I can’t say I’ve mastered this. But I have a few questions to keep asking myself. As I embark on this new season in my life (and as I continue with my 101st, 102nd, 103rd posts on this blog), these are some checks. You might find them helpful too.

Do you believe things you find hard because you believe they’re true anyway?

Are there things you do that aren’t natural to you because you think they’re the right thing?

How often do you sincerely challenge your own beliefs?

How do you react when others challenge your beliefs?

When was the last time you changed your mind because you realised you were wrong?

And as I wrote 99 posts ago “the test should be this: If I’ve managed, I will be limping”

If you liked this post, please share using the buttons below. Also, you can to receive all future posts by email. Thanks for reading!

 No Responses »

Who’s your favourite blogger?

Jul 142014

Well, apart from me, obviously… 😉Award

You may remember that back in November I won an award for this blog. I was named ‘Young Christian Blogger of the Year’ by Premier Christian Media’s division at their annual awards and conference day, #CNMAC13. You may not remember, but I promise you it happened.

But that was last year. This year there will be another conference, #CNMAC14, which I’ll hopefully be going to. Why mention this? Two reasons.

Maybe you should go!

Sadly I was unable to go to the full day conference last year, but I heard very good things about it, and will almost certainly be there for the full day this year. It’s on Saturday 1st November.

I believe very strongly that embracing new media and digital media for Christ and for the church is of vital importance for our mission, discipleship and ministry. So I can think of few more beneficial ways to spend a day than exploring this with people who really do know what they’re talking about.

There will be vital input about how the digital revolution can be harnessed by individual Christians and local churches, as well as practical seminars about use of social media in evangelism, personal spirituality, society, mission and discipleship. There is even the opportunity for one-to-one chats with good people who can try to help you out more specifically.

If this is starting to sound like an advert, that’s because it sort of is! I really believe this stuff is important, and this event could be of huge help as we try to take it more seriously.

This year’s theme is ‘Transformers’. 

Screen Shot 2014-07-14 at 19.14.01

Maybe you could nominate someone

The window is now open for you to nominate someone for an award if you think they are a positive Christian influence in the digital world. The awards is by no means the most important part of the day, but it is good to recognise goodness where it exists.

I can’t say how much of an impact on me and on my blogging getting nominated meant to me. Even had I not won, it was an incredible affirmation of what I was doing, and a huge encouragement to keep on going and even step it up a notch. For a lot of you who read my blog, you read others’ blogs too. Whose do you really appreciate? Who has encouraged you, challenged you or blessed you with what they do.

Maybe this list of categories will help spark your thoughts:

You could make someone this happy! (I'm not good at smiles...)

You could make someone this happy! (I’m not good at smiles…)

Blogging section:

  • Blogger of the Year
  • Young Blogger of the Year
  • Multi-author Blog of the Year
  • Up-and-coming Award
  • Most Inspiring Leadership Blog

Website section:

  • Best Christian Organisation Website
  • Best New or Redesigned Website
  • Most Engaging Large Church Website
  • Most Engaging Small Church Website
  • Accessibility Award

New media section:

  • Innovative Use of New Media In Outreach
  • App of the Year
  • Most Creative Use of Social Media
  • Tweeter of the Year
  • People’s Choice Award
  • International Award

If a Christian, church or Christian organisation has blessed you with their online work, why not take a couple of minutes out of your day to and bless them back with a nomination?

So, I ask again: who’s your favourite blogger?

If you liked this post, please share using the buttons below. Also, you can to receive all future posts by email. Thanks for reading!

 No Responses »

The latest “Atheists are wrong” video, and why I didn’t share it on Facebook.

Jul 112014

You may have seen a video doing the rounds recently on Facebook. You may even have shared it around yourself. If you did, this post is not designed to make you feel bad, but to ask some questions about how useful they are. I’m not sure videos like this are particularly useful. Sometimes they can do more harm than good.

In case you haven’t seen the video. It’s called “Kalam Cosmological Argument”, but it’s been doing the rounds as part of a blog post called . Here is a link:

Not a knock-down argument

The video is undeniably very well made. It is stimulating and interesting to watch, and sums up what are pretty complex scientific and philosophical ideas in ways that are engaging and understandable. Like most people, I haven’t studied philosophy or science to a high level, but I was able to follow along pretty easily.

That’s kind of good. But it’s also kind of bad.

The truth is, these are deeply complex arguments and ideas. People with big brains have been developing and interacting with these ideas for hundreds of years. Importantly, all through history people who can grasp these complexities far better than I can have remained divided on the issue.

checkmateThis is not the ‘checkmate’ argument which it is presented as in the video.

In fact there are some pretty good counter-arguments. You don’t have to look far to find them. Here’s an article I found which gives a fairly solid critique of the ‘cosmological argument’ which the video provides. In essence, it says this: If, as the cosmological argument states, everything that exists must have a beginning and a cause, saying ‘the universe must have a cause so there must be a god’ isn’t enough because by the same logic this ‘god’ must have a beginning and a cause.

Of course a Christian would say God has no beginning, but that’s moving away from science and philosophy toward faith statements. If we’re going to do that – if the basis of what we believe is ultimately faith, not purely reason – then why use a video like this at all?

More likely to get people’s backs up?

In fact, far from convincing someone there is a God, I think this is more likely to annoy and get non-Christians’ backs up. Imagine watching a video like this from the point of view of an atheist whose Christian friend put it on Facebook.

Maybe they watch it and think ‘Wow! That’s pretty compelling stuff. Seems pretty plausible. Maybe I have been wrong all this time.’ Chances are one of the first things they do (since they’re clearly not averse to internet-based research) is a Google search to see if it’s as compelling as they thought. Very quickly all fears are allayed as they find some robust defences. What impression are they left with? Isn’t it likely to be this: ‘Hmmm, that Christian video was a very one-sided and simplistic presentation. In fact it was a little manipulative.’

Or maybe they’ve already come across this sort of argument before, and know the counter-arguments. Might they be excused for thinking their friend should have looked into it a little more before sharing? That if their friend is going to present this as an argument for their faith they should also be able to defend it against criticism? And if their friend were unable to do so – having willingly used this video as a defence of faith – mightn’t our atheist doubt the strength of their friend’s reasons for their faith?

Is there a better way?

I wonder if videos like this are a good place to start a conversation, but only if we are ourselves able to debate at that level. I know that at present I am not, and I’d prefer not to unwittingly present something as ‘checkmate’ unless it is.

Should I share?

I think there’s a better way, but it’s also harder. Let’s be honest. It’s really easy to see a video (or a blog post, song, meme, whatever), think ‘that’s quite good’, and just hit share or retweet without actually engaging with the content at any deeper level. What if we only ever linked people to things that we were able to discuss it properly? It’d probably mean we’d share a little less and engage with things a little more. But we might see it having a better effect.

I’m convinced that the internet can be a brilliant way of engaging with others about our faith, but we need to be ready, equipped and able to given a solid answer, a good defence. Absolutely we can use others’ stuff, but never blindly.

God is huge. Faith is complicated. Neither can be reduced to catchy soundbites. Videos and blog posts can only ever be the start of a discussion, and if we aren’t ready to follow through then my advice – and I may be wrong – not to share them at all.

Am I crazy?

If you liked this post, please share using the buttons below. Also, you can to receive all future posts by email. Thanks for reading!

 4 Responses »

Why Christians should expect big things

Jul 062014

“Be brave, and be expectant.”

This is what one of the dads at our church said to his youngest daughter as she went off for her induction day at secondary school. She starts in September, and it’s a big move.

“Be brave, and be expectant.”

That first part about bravery, you sort of expect from a dad – the second bit is perhaps a little bit less common. He didn’t want his daughter just to go through the motions of school and hope to come out the other end in one piece. She should go in with an attitude of expectancy. Go for it! Expect big things! This can be amazing!

10 points if you can work out why I used this picture.

10 points if you can work out why I used this picture.

Dreaming dreams

For the first time since I was living at home with my parents, I know where I’ll be for the foreseeable future. Mel and I are staying in the village where we live for at least the next 6-7 years as I become a pastor at our church. That’s exciting and refreshing for us. But I want to be brave, and be expectant.

I’ve made a list (I like lists). It’s a list of 35 things I want to achieve or do in that time before we potentially move – 25 things in my personal life and 10 things in my ‘ministry’ life. (I thought about posting the list up here, but since some of the things on it depend on others allowing or asking me to do things, I didn’t want to accidentally put pressure on anyone.) When I read through the list, I am pretty excited. A bit daunted, but excited.

Some of it is pretty mundane, but some of it is certainly not. But I’m expecting and hoping for it anyway.

“Be brave, and be expectant.”

I want to expect big things. I want to dream big dreams and then run after them. I don’t want to settle.

God is able!

But this isn’t just some fanciful idea of mine. This isn’t about me blowing my own horn and saying “This is what I want to do, and I can do all of it because I’m so awesome!”

I preached a couple of weeks ago on the closing words from Jude’s letter in the New Testament (). He says this:

To him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy— to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen. (Jude 24-25)

Jude was writing to a bunch of Christians in difficulty. The difficulty was that there were a number of false teachers in their midst who were going to lead them astray if they weren’t careful. For a fledgling Christian community without easy access to the reliability of the Apostles, this was very dangerous. They could end up completely off the rails.

Jude gives advice about how to protect themselves, but ultimately he ends reminding them that God is able to keep them from stumbling. God is able. He can do it, so trust Him.

“Be brave, and be expectant.”

This is about false teachers, but it’s true for anything. God is able. All through the Bible, we see God’s people proclaiming that their God is able to bring victory, to protect, to change things, to break through in history. And all through the Bible, we see that God is able and that God does do those things. God is able.

Because God can, we do

And because we have a God who is able to – in Paul’s words – “do immeasurably more than we can ever ask or imagine” (Ephesians 3:20), we are given license to expect great things. He can do them, and we should look to Him to do so.

Walking on water“Be brave, and be expectant.”

And more than just expecting God to do big things, we should expect and seek Him to use us for them. Not because we are able, but because He is and He’s made very clear that He wants to work through His people. Peter walked on water not because He could, but because Jesus could, and yet Peter was the one that actually did it.

Of course when he started to focus on the wind and waves and realise he couldn’t do this, he started to drown. We have to keep fixed on Jesus, but Jesus calls us to do big things. Because He can do big things.

God is able. Because He is, we can do stuff. And we should seek and expect some of that stuff to be important, significant and big.

Ultimately, if God can do more than all we ask or imagine, let’s ask for more. And let’s imagine more.

If you liked this post, please share using the buttons below. Also, you can to receive all future posts by email. Thanks for reading!

 No Responses »