Oct 272015


Ok, I’m doing something I’ve been thinking about for a while. A personal project on social media and on this blog which I’ve been planning, and which I’m really excited about. It’s definitely the biggest goal I’ve aimed for and the most ambitious undertaking I’ve set out to achieve on here.

Oh, the suspense…

It’s called #BCaD, and this post is just going to explain what it is, and also tell you how you can get involved if you’d like to.

What is #BCaD?

BCaD stands for ‘Bible Chapter a Day’. And very simply, what I am going to do is read a chapter of the Bible every day and reflect on it in two ways:

  1. I am going to tweet a summary of the chapter or a brief thought it has sparked each day.
  2. Every Sunday, I will write a blog post pulling all those tweets together and going just a little deeper, writing a paragraph’s reflection on each chapter.

That’s it. I’ll keep on going till I’m finished with the whole Bible, and it’ll take a bit under three and a half years. I’ve timed it so that if I start on the 2nd November (which I will be!), then I will finish this project the day before I turn 30, and that feels cool. If you want to do the maths and figure out how old I am and when my birthday is, be my guest.

(I want to be clear. I’m not the first to do something like this. I’m not claiming to have come up with a new idea – I saw someone else do something similar and thought ‘I’m going to do that one day!’)

So that’s it. That’s #BCaD. I can’t wait.

Get involved with #BCaD!

I fundamentally believe that the Bible is best explored in community. I’m not one to tell other people when or how to read the Bible, or how much to read or anything like that. But I’ve mentioned this to a few people and they said they might join me.

So, if you’d like to join the #BCaD train, here are some things you can do:

  1. Read along! I’ll publish the order I’ll be using soon, but we’ll be starting on November 2nd with Genesis, which will keep us going for 7 weeks and by the end of that I’ll have the full plan available to follow along with.
  2. Tweet/Instagram/Facebook/whatever else. If you’re reading along, or just join for a day or two every now and then, share what God’s been speaking to you through it on all your favourite social networks. Make sure to use the #BCaD hashtag.
  3. Read my posts. Again, as you follow along, why not read some reflections on what you’re reading.
  4. Write your own posts. Are you a blogger? Could you be? Why not join in with the project. This isn’t my thing at all!

Drop me a line if you have any other ideas, or if you’re thinking you might join me for this ride!

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Oct 232015

It’s perhaps become rather cliché, but one of the best ways of describing this life we live is a journey. As a Christian, I am walking a journey and creating a story. I believe that’s important. We are not just soldiers in an army or children in a family—though we are both of these. We are also travellers on a journey.


And I believe in being honest about that journey. I believe so strongly in telling that story. Our journeys have power, both the good bits and the hard bits. So I want to, once again, share some of my journey. It’s something I’ve done a few times this year, as my life has taken some turns I did not expect. If you want to chart some of that journey, the posts are here, here, here, here, here and here.

Why now?

So why, after a few months, am I sharing again some of my journey? There are a couple of reasons.

The first is quite practical. There’s been a development in my life that I want to share. Regular readers will know that this blog is very personal to me, and I have shared honestly (but I hope sensibly) on here throughout the last year as my marriage has broken down and ended. It felt right to complete that journey here too.

I am now divorced.

Those are words which at one point in my life I never would have expected to write. Life has gone in directions I never imagined. But it has gone that way, and I have made peace with that.

Which brings me to the other reason for sharing this part of my journey again: I am at peace. I am doing so so well. More on that in a moment. But when things were very dark, I shared that on this blog and bore my heart. It would be so easy to simply move on now I find myself in lighter days, to carry on as if this part of my journey hadn’t happened, not to give thanks for it’s passing or for the lessons I have learnt.

It would be easy not to celebrate the light now that the dark has gone. I do not wish to make that mistake.

This too shall pass

One of the things my dad said to me a year ago when I phone him with my news was this ‘I don’t entirely know what to say to you because this is going to be so hard, but I’m reminded of these words: “This too shall pass.” ‘ It meant a lot, but at the time I could not see it.

I can now. When I video-called him earlier this week to say the divorce was final, I reminded him that he’d said that, and smiled, and was able to say with total honesty “And it has!” He smiled too. Because he knows that is true.

God has brought me through the pain and the sorrow I felt. He has led me out of the dark woods of depression that I found myself in for a lot of the year. He has brought healing. He has brought hope and joy, even excitement for the future. I say all this not to say I’m good for getting to this point, or to rub it in the face of other people who are in their own valleys. I say it because it is true, because it is part of my journey, because I want to celebrate the good that God has done. I thank Him so so much!

And He’s used so many things to do it.

A wonderfully supportive and loving family who have given everything I needed. Old friends who have encircled me and protected me. New friends who have meant so much in reminding me I have a future, not just a past. A church that has just loved me and let me be me, whoever ‘me’ was on any given day. A counsellor who helped me make massive breakthroughs in my thinking and in my wellbeing. The Bible, which seems even more beautiful than ever. The sustaining presence of the Holy Spirit. Worship. Prayer. Books. Messages from total strangers. Weddings. New experiences. Holidays. Sailing. Lakes. Sunrises. My calling and purpose crystallising and clarifying. All of these things have led me to this place of healing I now find myself in.

Thank you

So in the past when I’ve shared my journey it has been to declare enduring confidence in Jesus and to commit, sometimes through gritted teeth, to keep seeking Him.

This time, I am smiling, and I simply want to thank Him. Thank you God for your restoration and healing in my life.

And also, thank you. To my family, my friends (you know who you are, even if nobody else does!), my church, people who have prayed, those who have dropped me a line on the blog to offer encouragement. I know that a lot of people read this blog who I have never met, and it moves me to know you have been praying and cheering me on.

So. That’s where my journey has led me to of late. I am so thankful.

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Oct 092015

Thank you everyone who’s encouraged me about my last post kicking off this ‘Verging on Heresy’ segment on the blog. It’s been cool, and I’m excited to crack on with it now.

Today, my first worry about the way we sometimes think and speak has to do with this phrase: “It’s a justice issue.”

verging on heresy justice issue

Surely justice is good?!

The phrase can be worded in different ways: “Surely it just wouldn’t be fair if…”, “It just seems wrong”, “I couldn’t be part of a faith that…”. At heart, they’re all saying the same thing. It (whatever ‘it’ might be!) is clear and obvious and can be determined purely by seeing what is just and what is not. It’s a justice issue.

Ok, so surely justice is a good thing, right? Right! The God I read about on the pages of the Old and New Testament is the just God who wants this world to be governed by justice, by what is right. He combats injustice. He promotes justice.

So when people are discussing their opinion (normally on some issue of ethics) why do I struggle with people saying “Well for me this is a justice issue…” and then outlining what they think? Before getting to that, I want to go back a step or two to explore what we are really saying when we use a phrase like this.

What we’re really saying

This is going to be hard to talk about in the abstract. So let’s pick an issue. Let’s pick women in leadership. Should churches allow women to occupy positions of leadership at the highest level? My answer is unequivocally ‘yes’! But my reason for that is not that it’s a ‘matter of justice’, that it is obviously unjust for us to restrict people in that way, and since God is just we need to let women lead.

If that were my reason, this is what I’d be saying: I’m willing to sidestep all the complex issues, questions and arguments that surround this discussion (including and especially a discussion of what the Bible says on the matter). I’d be saying that I have an inbuilt sense of justice, and the idea that women shouldn’t be allowed to have a certain role offends that sense of justice. I know best.

The problem, which I hope is obvious, is that sometimes I do not know best. Sometimes I’m wrong. And I don’t want to be mean, but sometimes so are you.

One thing which is unquestionably clear in the Bible is that I’m broken. The ways I live is broken and the ways I think and feel are broken. I can’t trust my own gut reaction to an issue. Importantly, I can’t trust my sense of justice. I am sometimes unjust.

What if I were convinced it is perfectly just to commit fraud? Actually genuinely convinced, not just pretending. What I’d need is others to help me realise I am wrong. I’d need God to tell me I’m wrong. And I’d need to decide—against what feels like my ‘better’ judgment—to trust that God is right and I am wrong. And then stop committing fraud.

When we bypass discussion and debate around an issue, we’re refusing to accept we could be wrong, and we are refusing God the opportunity to set us straight. It’s actually rather arrogant.

I need to be brought—gently and kindly, but firmly—in line with God’s justice, and I need that most in the areas where that most offends my own (wrong) sense of justice. And to do that, we need to be willing to dive into the depths of these issues, to explore them and grapple with them. To expose ourselves to the arguments of scripture, and to choose to let what God reveals through the Bible to be the benchmark against which we’ll choose to believe and behave, not our own in-built sense of justice.

It might well be a justice issue, but whose justice? Are you willing for it not to be your own?

The exciting thing

This isn’t the end of it though. Having done that grappling, having exposed ourselves to all of that, we find ourselves in a place where we have a stronger sense of God’s heart for justice. Of what is right and wrong. True and false. Healthy and unhealthy. It might be a challenge to our thinking, but it will always be better than our thinking.

I do believe the issue of women in leadership is a justice issue. But I believe that because I’m convinced the Bible reveals that God does not limit either gender in leadership. And if God does not, then I will not. But that’s a lot different from ‘It seems wrong to me’.

So the exciting thing for me is that, once we have uncovered something of God’s heart for an issue or situation, we have far more power and impetus to fight for that than if it’s just our ideas and our opinions. I want that power because I can’t make a difference by myself.

Wanting justice needs to make us passionate in our pursuit of it, not lazy in our thinking about it.

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Oct 062015

This is the first in a new kind of post I’m going to be writing for the blog. Actually, it’s more of an introduction to a new kind of post I’ll be writing. It is to do with heresy.

(Also, sorry it’s been ages since I’ve blogged. I’ve taken a little break, but I’m back!)

Verging on heresy

I hope it goes without saying that any discussion of heresy here will not ever lead me to consider the way ‘heretics’ have been dealt with in the past (see above picture) as ok.

Why heresy is bad

What is heresy, then? One dictionary definition describes it like this:

“a belief or opinion that does not agree with the official belief or opinion of a particular religion” (Merriam-Webster Dictionary)

In other words, it’s believing things that are considered incorrect. Of course the institution can be wrong, the ‘official belief or opinion of a particular religion’ can be off the mark, but for my definition of heresy I’m talking about actually being wrong, believing something which isn’t true, which God Himself disagrees with.

I’m not particularly interested in heresy. I am, though, interested in theology. And when theology goes wrong we end up with heresy. Theology matters. It matters because God matters, and thinking and speaking about God therefore matters very very much.

I’m not going to spend ages defending theology and talking about why it’s so important. What I will do is point you to something I’ve written as part of my role as a pastor at Gold Hill for our discipleship website (which I don’t shamelessly plug all the time on this blog but which you should totally check out!). I wrote a post called where I spend a bit more time exploring why theology matters so much.

But for now I’m going to assume it does, that it’s important to have our thinking about (and therefore relating to) God in order.

And if theology is important, heresy must be bad.

Verging on Heresy

So I think what we believe, our theology, is really really important. But there’s another thing I’m increasingly keen that we get right, which is how we come to work out what we believe. The processes we use to determine truth reveal an awful lot about us, and I want to make sure I’m doing theology well, instead of just having good theology. In a maths exam, getting the right result isn’t always enough. If our working isn’t ok, then we won’t get all the marks.

I might cross the finishing line in a race like everyone else does, but if I’ve got to that finishing line by walking for a little, stopping for a beer and then hopping in a taxi to catch up then I’m not good at running. No matter what time I get when I cross the line, I’m not a good runner.

I want to make sure the ways I think about God are right, just as much as I want what I think about God to be right.

It might be that the end-product of my theology is good and sound, that my doctrine is right. But if the processes we use to get there isn’t up to scratch, there is a problem that needs to be addressed.

It’s not full on heresy. But it’s verging on heresy.

Every so often I notice things in the way that I am thinking or the way that I hear myself or others talking (things we often say) which maybe reveal an approach to thinking about God which is not great. I may not always be right, and maybe as I do this I’ll be verging on heresy myself, but that’s the accountability that comes from a blog being public. But I’m going to explore some of those things that concern me, in the hope that I—and others—can become sturdier in the way we do theology.

Ultimately, that’ll make our theology itself far more worth building a life on.

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