Monthly Archives: September 2016

Why We Fly…

“Flying as God meant it to be…..Wonderful flying weather; looking down on the rolling colourful countryside, English countryside, surely a green and pleasant land. Small cars on small roads passing through small villages and then a larger town with factories; nine till five, hard luck you down there.

“Up here the air is pure and clean. The sheer joy of flight infiltrates the very soul and from above the earth, alone, where the very thought in one’s mind seems to transmit itself to the aeroplane, there is no longer any doubt that some omniscient force understands what life is all about. There are times when the feeling of being near to an unknown presence is strong and real and comforting. It is far beyond human comprehension. We only know that it’s beautiful.”

Geoffrey Wellum, ‘First Light

Casting Down the Imaginations

“Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ” 2Cor10:5 (KJV)

I’ve recently identified the driving force behind my contentious blog posts, my forum postings (usually contesting posts by religious hard-liners) and my attitudes in general towards things spiritual.

It’s simply this: I feel passionately that the God that I love has been grossly misrepresented by certain current Church doctrines and attitudes. It is apparent to me that the Gospel of a God Who loves everyone, and saves people entirely by Grace, has been watered-down by several seriously-flawed, man-made ideas.

Jesus said, “But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men” (Mat 15:9 (KJV)) – in other words, things from men’s imaginations being taught as if they are truths worth stating as part of your belief structure (which is basically what a doctrine is).

Now, St. Paul wrote of ‘the weapons of our warfare’ being mighty in God for the destruction of [spiritual] strongholds (2Cor10:4). And the current spiritual strongholds that are in place are that God is seen as a horrible, evil, vicious, judgemental dictator; partly because of how certain people portray Him, and partly because of doctrines that have been held as true – in my opinion, erroneously – by the Church.

And it’s time to tear down these strongholds – these ‘imaginations’ – and that’s why I post as I do. These horrible man-made ideas, that malign the name of God and besmirch His Character, are indeed the ‘imaginations’ that need to be torn down, and the reason they need that is because, as the verse above says, they exalt themselves against the knowledge of God.

Let’s look at the verse again:

“Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ” 2Cor10:5 (KJV)

‘Exalting’ means ‘lifting up’, so what we are saying here is that these ‘imaginations’ – doctrines made up by men – are lifted up against the knowledge of God; they give Him a bad name, if you like, and skew humanity’s perception of Him. They portray Him in ways that are simply untrue.

And so I am completely fed up with my wonderful God being portrayed as horrible, by these ‘imaginations’, and by people who really should know better.

Let me be more specific, and use a few examples.

The Doctrine of Hell

Of course, the first up is the doctrine of Hell, as espoused by most people in the current Evangelical branch of the Church. This doctrine states that if a person does not believe in Jesus in this life, then when they die they go to Hell where they will be tortured forever.

This awful doctrine speaks of a cold, heartless god who, quite arbitrarily, sends people who have never heard the gospel, to this Hell place.

To quote from Rob Bell,

“Millions have been taught that if they don’t believe, if they don’t accept in the right way, that is, the way the person telling them the Gospel does, and they were hit by a car and died later that same day, God would have no choice but to punish them forever in conscious torment in hell. God would, in essence, become a fundamentally different being to them in that moment of death, a different being to them forever. A loving heavenly Father who will go to extraordinary lengths to have a relationship with them would, in the blink of an eye, become a cruel, mean, vicious tormenter who would ensure that they had no escape from an endless future of agony. Does God become somebody totally different the moment you die?

“That kind of God is simply devastating. Psychologically crushing. We can’t bear it. No one can. And that is the secret deep in the heart of many people, especially Christians: they don’t love God. They can’t, because the God they’ve been presented with and taught about can’t be loved. That God is terrifying and traumatizing and unbearable.

“And so there are conferences about how churches can be more “relevant” and “missional” and “welcoming,” and there are vast resources, many, many books and films, for those who want to “reach out” and “connect” and “build relationships” with people who aren’t part of the church. And that can be helpful. But at the heart of it, we have to ask: Just what kind of God is behind all this?

“Because if something is wrong with your God, if your God is loving one second and cruel the next, if your God will punish people for all of eternity for sins committed in a few short years, no amount of clever marketing or compelling language or good music or great coffee will be able to disguise that one, true, glaring, untenable, unacceptable, awful reality.”

Rob Bell, Love Wins: A Book About Heaven, Hell, and the Fate of Every Person Who Ever Lived

Everything that exists was created by God. If Hell exists, then it too must have been created by Him. But I find it hard, nay, impossible, to believe that God has indeed created Hell. It’s quite simple to tell, really: we’ve just said that by Him all things were created (Col 1:16); and without Him nothing was created that has been created (John 1:3) and, put simply, God cannot have created Hell because in Him there is no darkness. And he’d have to be a pretty dark person to have created Hell, but of course He’s not. And therefore Hell does not exist, or at least not the Hell that is portrayed in modern Christian doctrine.


You see, that Hell doctrine has to have increasingly complex arguments put in place to defend it, where really it (the doctrine) should not exist at all and it is simpler and far more realistic to simply discard the whole doctrine.

I too was brought up in the faith believing in the doctrine of Hell, and would you believe that I almost rejoiced in thinking that those who did not agree with me were destined to burn there. How sick was I? And yet I do think that some people believe this but without really thinking it through. They are just parroting what they have been told. There are so many other arguments I could make on this subject, but this is not the place for them. Click here for my blog’s resource page on Hell, which also includes my own personal opinions, for what they’re worth.

And, in fact, there are encouraging signs that individuals like me in the Church are ‘privately’ coming around to the point of view that God does not, and never has, condemned people to eternal suffering based on their theology. Here’s an interesting article on that subject.

‘Angry God’

The next travesty and slur on the Character of  God is the Doctrine of ‘Angry God’. Now it’s not named as such in any doctrinal handbook, but it’s inferred by most Christian doctrine that god’s holiness is so pure that he can’t bear to look upon sin, and his ‘wrath’ is so great that he has to ‘punish’ people for sin. He’s a god of destruction, one that kills women and children and commands his servants to hamstring all their enemy’s donkeys. Over to Jeff Turner for a good summary of the way that God is seen by most people – and what Jesus does to banish that notion:

“The sad truth is that we have all inherited a portrait of God that looks far more like Mt. Olympus than Mt. Zion, and it’s an inheritance that most are too terrified to discard. In our Western traditions God is often presented as being cold, austere, distant and judgmental. We imagine Him surrounded by dark clouds, with a scowl sprawled across his angry mug.


He’s very eager to be pleased, but, unfortunately, extremely difficult to please. He is a hermit that is notoriously difficult to coax out of hiding and even harder to keep around because the slightest scent of sin can send him bolting for the hills in a rage. In fact, one of our imagined deity’s greatest weaknesses is His sin allergy. Wherever there are humans behaving badly, you can be sure he’ll be absent. Where there are broken people doing broken things with their broken lives, God will not be present, for in our mythology human sin works like Kryptonite against him, forcing Him to retreat and separate Himself from us.

“He is mostly sad andAngryGod1 mad, and rarely, perhaps when his enemies bite the dust, glad. He is heartbroken over our lack of devotion and disinterest in prayer, but is himself quite disinterested in the everyday events of our lives. He is a demented Santa Claus of sorts, who tightly clenches the naughty list – which we’ve all landed on, by the way – and dreams of filling our spiritual stockings with the burning coals of judgment. When he looks at [a nation], he doesn’t see individual people who desperately need love and mercy, but a widespread, faceless blob of darkness, deserving judgment. He’s sickened by our lack of fervency, repulsed by our spotty church attendance records, and gets all up in arms when our summer vacation extends over a Sunday morning. To put it simply, He’s angry.

“The God that a large percentage of us imagine and pay homage to is disgruntled, disappointed, and disapproving. While some may be fortunate enough to have imagined Him in His true state, my experience has been that 9 out of 10 people, myself included, do not see Him rightly. We’ve been subjected to hours of teachings that have subtly sown into our minds the idea that He is primarily a legal deity concerned with rights and wrongs, and this subconscious programming is absolutely killing us. I would even venture to say that it is the leading cause of anxiety, fear, discontentment, and depression among Christians. In all of this fear, turmoil, and mythology, however, Jesus Christ, the Word made flesh, still stands in our midst, combatting these false ideologies, and seeking to shine the light of Grace upon the face of His Daddy.”

– (From Saints in the Arms of a Happy God: Recovering the Image of God and Man, by Jeff Turner, and quoted in better context in my previous article ‘The Ultimate ‘Bad Witness’‘)

And as beautifully written by someone I know on Facebook,

“Many people live their lives in depression and anxiety from the theology through which they find their existential meaning, fearful of the future, confused about God and thus about themselves, walking around believing they are rotten to the core, and that God is disgusted with them and would wrathfully destroy them except that he sees them through the appeasing violence done to Jesus. This is a prison for the mind and heart. It is not the Abba that Jesus revealed, nor is it the revelation of the sons and daughters of God, nor is it the life abundantly Jesus came to give, nor is it the power of the kingdom of heaven that dwells within us.

“Now my goal is to help Christians deconstruct this false, baseless idea of existence, and the structures of reasoning that have imprisoned their mind, and give them permission to break free of fear and believe and trust in an extravagantly good Father, who is revealed in the Son, [Whose] love is an endless ocean that you cannot escape as long as you exist, because your existence is energized by nothing less than infinite love. There is no other reason for you to exist except for love” [emphasis mine]

Yes, be assured that Father God is good – as represented by Jesus. Anything else is a complete misconception. Want to know what Father God is like? He’s just like Jesus: “He who has seen Me has seen the Father” (John 14:9) and “The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being” – (Heb 1:3).  And in Him there is no darkness – none whatsoever! Let’s read that Scripture (1Jn1:5) again:


‘God Hates Gays’

I’ve written about this many times before, but the principle of persecution of, well, not just gay/lesbian/transgender (LGBTQ) people, but other ‘minorities’ too, is just the tip of the iceberg. The Old Testament is full of lists of people who, supposedly, God will not permit in the ‘assembly’, that is, people who are not allowed to worship him. This list includes all those who are not of the tribes of Israel, and even within those tribes, there are many minorities – lepers, those who have been ’emasculated by cutting or crushing’, those with various skin conditions, women on their menstrual cycles – the list goes on. And it’s no different in today’s church – people are ostracised for all kinds of offences, the main ones of course being those that can be ‘supported’ by mistranslated and/or out-of-context Scripture verses (which basically anyone who knows their Bible can do; it’s easy to find a Scripture somewhere that will seem to support your point of view!). Oh, and those who do not toe the party line! Basically, anyone who is different, anyone who does not ‘fit in’; that person is ripe for ostracism. While this is not always a doctrine as such (although the gay persecution stuff is; there are at least six Scriptures that are misinterpreted so that gay people can be ‘scripturally’ discriminated against), it is still a major black mark against my Loving Father in the eyes of the world. What the world sees is that Christians – and therefore God – hate gays. The Church does not properly represent God on this matter! “I desire mercy, not sacrifice” – (Hosea 6:6) – God would rather people were good to each other instead of being religious! More of my musings on how the Church treats LGBTQ people can be found here, here, here, and here. But the point is that these practices are a major stumbling-block as perceived by someone considering coming to faith. And it’s a stronghold; an ‘imagination’. I understand that people are afraid of ‘differences’, but surely in the Church Family, there must be a better way than the dysfunctional practice of ostracism. Whatever happened to ‘live and let live’?

The ‘Bad Witness’

Then there’s the question of the people who profess Christianity but who come across as all harsh, judgemental**, vindictive and unbending. Like those I describe in my article – ‘Bad Witness’. These people see the Holy Spirit as a Convictor* (actually only one step from an Accuser) rather than a Comforter, and Jesus as yet another Lawgiver rather than Him being the end of the Law (Rom 10:4 (KJV)). These people can be found in their droves on religious forums. They portray Father as an angry Dictator, as we have already seen. So, all three Persons of the Godhead are maligned at the same time! And I therefore go on the forums to present the alternative view: that actually God likes the people He has created (including the harsh people!). Sometimes these people claim that I am not a Christian, and one forumite in particular was rather dischuffed that I didn’t support him at all, despite me claiming to be a believer and from that he concluded my salvation state was nil. But of course I’m not going to support him in his transmitting opinions that I feel to be toxic to others. How can I support someone I don’t agree with? But if he was ill, in need, hungry or in need of encouragement, I’d be right there beside him (except I think he lives in America so he’s too far away!)

In some ways, these people are living examples of what a person would have to become like if they are to mirror their heavenly father as they actually see him, if they believe that he’s like that too. If their god is harsh and judgemental, then they are going to portray him as harsh and judgemental. So in a way, they are just representing god in the best way they can; the problem is that, in the eyes of the world, they represent the real, loving, living God, and what the world see is, of course, awful! In a very real way, this ‘Bad Witness’ is actually an extension of the ‘Angry God’ doctrine above; what we are seeing here is merely the manifestation of that image of god to the world for them to see, and for them to be disillusioned with. Who would want to come to Church when they think it will be populated by people such as these? Naturally, these nasty types are just in the minority – most churches, including mine, are full of the sweetest, Christlike people – but can you really blame outsiders for tarring us all with the same brush?

So, that’s just four of these entrenched ideas and concepts – Imaginations – in the Church that are so destructive; there are more but these will do for now.

You see, if we really examine our doctrines on these ideas, they all, without exception, portray our loving Father God in a very bad, harsh and horrible light. Light that is as much darkness as it is light, in fact. I would even go as far as saying that this represents a Pagan, yin/yang, Karma-style (what goes round, comes round) god than a living, loving Creator.

Just because everyone believes in a particular doctrine, does not mean that that doctrine is correct. Acceptance of the majority opinion does not make a doctrine true; it is simply more likely that nobody has questioned it! Ironically, here’s a Rick Warren saying which states exactly that (the irony being that Rick is, as far as I know, one of the people who believes in Hell, and is probably against same-sex marriage 😉 )

rick_warren_carrot_lie truth

I believe that a new revival is slowly and carefully making its way through the Church in this day. A revival where people are waking up to seeing just how fantastic God is, how loving, kind and inclusive. Jesus’s message was not just for the people of Israel in the First Century; it was for all men everywhere and in every time (John 17:20). In this time, we in the Church need to include everyone in the message of Good News which is that God loves us and sent Jesus to show us that, in all that He did and suffered, He will stop at nothing to show us this amazing Truth.

Please be assured: this isn’t supposed to be a rant in any way. I’m just explaining where I’m coming from in my writings. You know, God is so much ‘nicer’ than how many believers – even sincere ones – portray Him, or at least, who believe these untrue things about Him because they haven’t really thought them through in any great depth, and/or they have simply believed what they’ve been told without questioning it. Maybe they don’t realise how destructive these ideas are, but let me assure you that the world outside the Church sees the problems caused by these doctrines really clearly. And it’s also counter-intuitive; most people outside the Church, believe it or not, actually think that God is Good. It’s just some of the Christians who claim to represent Him that they have the problem with!

So, these are just some of the ‘Imaginations’ that need to be cast down. If you can see yourself in any of these descriptions, please ask Jesus what He thinks. And let Him change you, in His own good time! And, if you are someone who already knows that God isn’t like these imaginations, please feel free to let everyone know. Although, I appreciate that you probably already do!

Bless you!

*The Spirit does convict the world of sin, but in the sense of “He will convict the world in regard to sin … because they do not believe in Me” (Jn 16:8-9). Jesus is talking here about unbelievers, not believers. Those in Christ are no longer under condemnation nor accusation of any kind! (Rom 8:1-2)

**The concept of ‘speaking the truth in love’ (a ripped out of context verse from Eph 4:15) is abused regularly as an excuse for telling complete strangers where they are ‘sinning’, supposedly in the hope of correcting their behaviour ‘so that they won’t go to Hell’. This concept does not stand up to scrutiny on many levels: they are spoken to complete strangers so how can there be any love involved; who are we to tell others about their ‘sin’; it’s legalistic when really the governing factor should be Grace; it’s the Spirit Who convicts the world of sin (as we have seen above, in Jn 16:8-9); according to the accusing parties, those people are ‘going to Hell’ anyway, it’ll take much more than just being told that they’re doing something wrong to ‘save’ them!; as everyone knows, this ‘method’ of ‘evangelism’ simply does not work; and, finally, everyone else can see that it’s just people being judgemental and using the Scripture as an excuse. But it’s a repulsive practice, literally, in that it repels people from the beautiful Person of Jesus Who does not judge.

Raising Hell

I’m currently reading an excellent little book called “Raising Hell“, by Julie Ferwerda.

I can’t recommend the book highly enough. I have been listening to Father on this subject for several months now, and the things I have been given tally up almost exactly with the things that Julie mentions in her book. And I’m still only a third of the way through it!

Here is my review of the book as I posted it on Amazon today:

“This is an extremely good, scholarly work written by a lady who obviously knows the Scriptures and knows the Lord.

“All the author’s teaching in this book is from Scripture, using the original meanings of the Hebrew and Greek words and concepts, and the teaching is applied into her considerations accurately and convincingly. If you are a believer who has always had a problem with your loving God being able to consign the people He loves to an eternity of suffering; if you are one of these people who constantly thinks ‘Oh I wish that Hell wasn’t true!’, then this is the book for you. In this book, the author examines the modern doctrine of Hell as seen in the Scriptures and as declared by the Church, and explains why it’s not the way we once thought.

“But you will have to approach this book with an open mind. If you believe that Jesus still speaks to His people today (John 16:12), then prepare to hear His voice in this book. If the doctrine of Hell has bothered you (and it should), then be prepared to have your thinking radically changed. Prepare to have the focus of the Gospel shifted to the heavenly things it should always have been on, rather than the horrible doctrines of Hell. Philippians 4:8 says, “…whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things” – not Hell. And that is why this book sets you free; you will no longer need to think about Hell at all.

“But beware – this book will change the way other believers will perceive you. Because you will know the Truth, and the Truth will set you free, there will be those among your Church family who will be unable to cope with your freedom. But he whom the Son sets free is free indeed, and Jesus will indeed set so much of your mind free with this little book.

“Buy it. It will change your life.”

Oddly enough, but perhaps somewhat unsurprisingly, someone has also placed a one-star review which consists almost entirely of a completely irrelevant Scripture-bombing salvo. You might want to look at it and see if you can make any sense of it; I certainly can’t, despite my exceptionally high IQ (and exemplary modesty!).

Anyway, the book can be purchased from Amazon either as an eBook or as a paperback. The link for the (US site) is on the author’s website; Also, you can get a free PDF version of the book from the website too – click the logo below to go there:


You can find the book on too – click here to do that

As Julie says on her site:

“Dare to question. What have you got to lose? “

How Religion Damages Hope

Here is an excellent article by Paul Ellis of ‘Escape to Reality‘, on how controlling-type Religion* gains power over you – which it never should have done in the first place – by damaging your hope.

Over to Paul:

Seven ways religion damages hope


You can learn a lot about hope from watching the movies. When I was a kid I saw The Neverending Story, and for some reason one scene has endured in my memory. It’s the scene where Atreyu is confronted by Gmork, the wolf-like servant of the Nothing. Atreyu asks Gmork why he is helping the Nothing destroy the world and stirring up despair. Gmork the wolf replies:

Because people who have no hopes are easy to control; and whoever has the control… has the power!

Hope is a powerful weapon. Hope gives you strength and courage to endure. Hope keeps you free, and this is why religion hates hope.

I hope you understand that when I talk about religion, I don’t mean the church down the road and the nice vicar who serves there. I’m talking about an institution that sells itself as a kind of insurance business but is in fact a slaver. That’s what the word religion literally means – “to bind” – and that’s what religion actually does. It binds people.

Jesus wants you free, but religion wants you bound with guilt and fear. Why? Because those who have no hope are easier to control. It’s all in the movie.

Do not allow yourselves to be shaken from the hope you gained when you heard the gospel. (Col 1:23, GNB)

To stay in business, religion must shake your hope, and it does this seven ways:

1. Religion damages hope by diminishing God’s love

Love is the tree on which hope grows. Religion damages hope by portraying God as:

  • angry: “God is mad at you. God hates you.”
  • punitive: “God will judge you, scourge you, punish you.”
  • temperamental: “When you sin God withdraws from you.”
  • disapproving: “Tut, tut, God is not pleased when he looks at you.”
  • critical: “God will put you through one test after another to see if you’re any good.”

The hopeless picture you get is that while God may believe in your potential, he doesn’t believe in you. Which is not true, because God does believe in you.

2. Religion damages hope by undermining truth

Since hope must be hitched to truth, religion damages hope is by putting question marks where God has exclamation marks. “Are you saved and secure? Are you completely forgiven and unconditionally loved? What if you sin? What if you fall away?”

Like an insurance company religion trades on uncertainty and fear. “Do you know if God will accept you? Are you sure?” The greater your fear, the better the business. These questions distract you from Christ who is the Truth. They cause you to unhitch your hope rope from him and attach it to your own religious performance. Instead of resting in Christ you’ll end up laboring in hopeless unbelief.

3. Religion damages hope by selling lies

Another way religion destroys hope is by getting you to hitch your hope-rope to outright lies: “You’re not saved, forgiven, and secure, unless you confess, pray and read your Bible every day.” “It’s not about his faithfulness but yours.” “It’s not what he’s done but what you do.”

Buy into these lies and you’ll become a prime consumer of religious products. “Bless me, Lord, for I fast twice a week and tithe all I earn.” But when God fails to bless you on account of your religious labors, the result is hopelessness and discouragement.

Jon Stewart on Religion

4. Religion damages hope by being strict

God has given you unique abilities and giftings, but you will never pursue your dreams in a culture that punishes failure. Condemnation is a hope-killer. By punishing those who make bad choices, religion discourages you from making any choices.

Religion kills hope by defining success narrowly. “Be a minister. Be a missionary.” If you don’t fit the mold, you won’t be released into your gifting. Instead of being encouraged to become the rock-star slam-poet you’ve always wanted to be, you’ll be discouraged, or worse, shown the door.

5. Religion damages hope by pretending

The typical religious leader is a walking, talking success story with perfect teeth and perfect hair. Contrast this with the apostle Paul who was open about his weaknesses and occasionally struggled with “great fear and trembling” (1 Cor 2:3).

Leaders who hide their failures deny opportunities for others to see them trusting God when they are afraid, out of ideas, and out of money. A religious hero who never has a bad day is a myth who will discourage you. But a broken man who relies on God and changes the world will inspire you.

6. Religion damages hope by painting bleak pictures of future

The New Testament writers were unquestionably hopeful. They wrote of the gospel bearing fruit all over the world and they had a confident expectation of success. Yet religion paints fearful pictures of the future shaped by terrorists, blood moons, and raptures where you’ll probably be left behind. Read the Bible and you’ll be filled with hope, but listen to religious doomsayers and you’ll be filled with fear.

7. Religion damages hope by defining the church as something other than a family

In this world we are alone, but “God sets the solitary in families” (Psa 68:6). You need the love of a family and God provides this by adopting you into his. The church is his family and Jesus is not ashamed to call us his brothers and sisters (Heb 2:11). When religion portrays the church as an army, a business, a club, or anything that is not a family, it deprives you of the secure and unconditional love that leads to a strong hope.

What happens when hope is damaged?

Love leads to hope which leads to faith. When hope is damaged – when the false god of religion fails to deliver on the false promises that religion makes – you will wander from the faith. You will wander because you’ve hitched your hope rope to an untrustworthy god who says he loves you but he’s also angry with you. He thinks you’re great, yet he scourges you with whips. It’s confusing, it’s muddled, and it’s wrong.

How do you find your way back? How do you cultivate a strong and resilient hope? I will answer these questions in the next post.

Click the image below to go to the original article:

e2r escape to reality

*I use the word ‘Religion’ here in the sense of people trying to make themselves acceptable to God by using ‘methods’, ‘formulae’ or ‘rituals’ as opposed to the radical concept that actually Jesus Himself is all you need. If you need further clarification on that, please comment below and I can explain more. or, there is more explanation in the linked article itself.



You Deserve the Glory

My lovely wife Fiona was chatting to her friend Suzanne the other day, and she mentioned the brilliant pianist, songwriter and worship leader, Terry MacAlmon, and asked Suzanne whether she’d heard of him. And Suzanne said, “Oh, isn’t he the one who just takes you straight there?” – meaning, straight into God’s presence in worship. As I’ve said before, sometimes it seems like we’ve managed to get the Holy Spirit on tape…. and that’s what much of Terry’s music does.

So, here’s another beautiful worship song from Terry: “You Deserve the Glory”. As Terry says in between verses, “He loves this song; worship Him with it!”.

Go for it!

You deserve the glory
And the honour
Lord, we lift our hands in worship
As we lift your Holy name

You deserve the glory
And the honour
Lord, we lift our hands in worship
As we lift your Holy name

For You are great
You do miracles so great
There is no one else like You
There is no one else like You

For You are great
You do miracles so great
There is no one else like You
There is no one else like You

When Another Christian Calls You a “Christian”

I love this article. “Your faith is your sole property”, says John Pavlovitz at the end of this excellent piece, and you’ll see why by the time you get there.

I do a lot of commenting on religious forums where minorities such as gay people, those with doubts and so on are blasted by some really nasty religious types who, I’m sure, are acting according to the dictates of their consciences but actually are not manifesting the love of Christ in any way. No doubt they are “telling someone the truth about their sins so they won’t go to hell” – although this is simply judging others, by any other name! Many’s the time I have been blasted by someone who thinks I am not a Christian – and says as much – simply because I do not believe exactly the same things that he does. Quite often, some discussions simply degenerate into one or both sides denigrating each other’s faith structure, usually because one of them can’t ‘win’ the discussion by any other means. Not that I enter into such stuff, but there we are.

Now this sort of behaviour is completely unproductive and, ultimately, smears the character of the Christ these people claim to represent. They are a ‘Bad Witness‘, in fact.

Anyway, enough of my rants. Over to you, John:

“Air quotes are an abomination unto the Lord. – John

There, I said it.

You know what I’m talking about, friend. You’re engaged in an online discussion with another Christian; sharing your religious views, comparing Scripture interpretations, discussing politics, or debating the issues of the day, and in the face of a perspective that doesn’t quite match theirs, they finally decide to detonate the bomb of bombs upon you in some lazy theological mic drop:

They call you a “Christian”.

The air quotes ooze sarcasm, they drip with condescension, and they exist solely to demean you, disqualify your perspective, and shut down conversation. (All very Jesus-esque tactics, btw.) The quotes are a sugar-coated middle finger, letting you know that this relative stranger is declaring your personal faith convictions fraudulent, your public declaration irrelevant, and your life story false. The air quotes are Gospel.


The irony of such tactics is that they reflect the kind of unchecked arrogance that Jesus frequently condemned in the Pharisees; the Jewish religious leaders who appointed themselves gatekeepers of the Kingdom. Fancying themselves authorities on the moral condition of humanity, they made it part of their regular job description to police the souls of strangers, while themselves losing the plot.

Jesus verbally tore them a new one, quite regularly. 

The Pharisees are still alive and well today; lurking in comments sections, cluttering your Twitter mentions, and trolling your Facebook threads. They regularly dispense damnation and claim to know you better looking through a few 140-character windows than you know you, based on a lifetime in your own skin. This is hubris at Everest levels.

One of the greatest mistakes we make in our spiritual journeys, is wearing the degrading labels that others would affix to us. We allow their snap judgements and drive-by evaluations to stick. In the face of our far less-informed critics, we so easily forget our roads, doubt our experiences, and second guess our own hearts.

Resist these temptations at every turn, dear friend. They are the stuff devils are made of.

The truth is, Jesus is the only one qualified to verify your Christian testimony; not Jesus as translated by someone else, not Jesus as passed through another’s theological filter, not Jesus constructed from a few isolated Scripture verses tagged onto their opinions.

That’s the beauty of your spirituality—it belongs to you alone.

It is the sum total of your life, your study, your experiences, your relationships, your private prayers, and the things God has revealed to you alone. It is outside the jurisdiction of other people. They don’t get a say. They don’t get to determine your devotion to Jesus. They get to shut up and worry about the redwood plank in their own eye.

The air-quoters want you to feel that your pursuit of God is less intelligent, less authentic, less real, and less relevant than their own, and when you refuse to do so—they lose their minds. When you ignore them, they implode.

Here the good news: Jesus alone defines your Christianity; not a stranger, not a social media friend, and not a bitter Pharisee with a Twitter account and control issues. Never be defined by someone who knows less about you than you do—which turns out to be a pretty extensive list.

The next time anyone tries to cheapen your religious convictions with air quotes, sarcastic remarks, or outright insults, realize that this says far more about them than it will ever say about you. Remember how unqualified they are to comment on the path that you’re on. You keep walking your road and resting in what your heart knows and what your eyes have seen.

Your faith is your sole property.

As for the air-quoters: bless their “hearts”.

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john pavlovitz stuff that needs to be said

I Hear Angels

One of my favourites of the ‘early’ Hosanna! Music songs is this one, I Hear Angels, by Gerrit Gustafson, from the album ‘Forever Grateful‘ with worship led by Marty Nystrom, whom I have featured on my blog before.

I love songs like this (especially with such superb piano tracks!), and ‘Holy are You Lord‘, because this is one of the main themes of Heavenly worship – Holy, Holy, Holy – as described in the various Heavenly visions in the Bible, for example, in Revelation 4:8 or Isaiah 6:3. If you’re singing this, you’re singing the worship of Heaven. The worship of those angels and humans described in those passages, the worship of people who can actually see Jesus in all His amazing wonder, power and glory – this is their song. And so it is only right that we join in; even here in our earthly place where there’s suffering, pain and decay, still we can celebrate ahead of time, as it were, in the ‘here and now’ where we know only in part and not in full (1Cor13:12); where we can see the outworkings of God’s plans in all His genius, and rejoice in them!

Here’s the song, then – I Hear Angels.


I hear angels singing praises
I see men from every nation
Bowing down before the throne
Like the sound of many waters
Like a rushing wind around us
Multitudes join the song

And a symphony of praise arises
Tears are wiped away from eyes
As men from every tongue and tribe all sing

Holy holy, God Almighty
Who was, Who is and is to come
All the angels are crying “holy”
To the Lamb Who sits upon the throne

Holy holy, God Almighty
Who was, Who is and is to come
All creation is bringing glory
To the Lamb Who sits upon the throne

I see One Who’s full of wonder
Eyes of fire, voice of thunder
Shining bright, His Majesty
All the colours of the rainbow
Circle Him and fill His temple
So beautiful this is to me

And a symphony of praise arises
Tears are wiped away from eyes
As men from every tongue and tribe all sing

Holy holy, God Almighty
Who was, Who is and is to come
All the angels are crying “holy”
To the Lamb Who sits upon the throne

Holy holy, God Almighty
Who was, Who is and is to come
All creation is bringing glory
To the Lamb Who sits upon the throne
To the Lamb Who sits upon the throne

I believe I have personally heard angel voices singing.

It has happened to me only once, in about 1992, when I was in a prayer meeting in a hired room in Otley Civic Centre, in Otley, West Yorkshire. During a high, awe-filled lull in the open worship (which I was leading), I could hear music; voices and yet it was not voices; singing but the sound was more like trumpets of all different sizes. I couldn’t hear any words. No other party was in the building at the time; the sound was coming from somewhere below the room we were in. It wasn’t very loud, but it was real, and I shall never forget the sound.

To this day, I still believe this was angel voices worshipping along with our group’s high praise. I’d never heard anything like it before – in fact, it was like nothing I had ever heard –  and I haven’t heard anything like it since. Fascinating!

The Terror of the Lord

Everyone’s heard the phrase, ‘The Fear of God’. Whether it’s by putting the ‘Fear of God’ into someone else, or by referring to someone as a ‘God-fearing’ person; the phrase makes it appear that God is Someone to be terrified of.

But that’s not the picture Jesus drew of His Heavenly Father.

In this article, Paul Ellis explains what is really meant by the concept of the fear of God.

And it’s nowhere near as bad as it sounds!

Over to Paul:

The terror of the Lord (2 Corinthians 5:11)


Many people picture God as a scary bookkeeper recording everything they say and do. They fear that on Judgment Day he’ll shame them by playing the dirty tapes of their secret lives.

As we saw in a recent article on the Bema Seat, this caricature is far removed from reality. God is not counting our sins against us. Because of Jesus we can have confidence on the Day of Judgment (1 John 4:17). You have nothing to fear.

So what are we to make of Paul’s words in the verse that follows the one about the Bema Seat?

Since, then, we know what it is to fear the Lord, we try to persuade others. (2 Cor 5:11)

Some translations say “the terror of the Lord,” as in, “Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men” (KJV). What terror?

Pretty much every commentator says this is referring to the terror of hell and wrath. “Because hell is frightening, we have to persuade men to trust in Jesus.”

However, there are a few of problems with this. First, it’s the fear of the Lord, not the fear of hell. God is not hell. Second, it is Paul who knows this fear, and Paul never went to hell. Third, there’s no bad news in the good news.

Jesus said, “Repent and believe the good news,” not “Repent because of hell.”

To tell men that God loves them but will he fry them forever if they don’t love him back is both illogical and unscriptural. Jesus never did it, and Paul’s not doing it here.

So what is the fear (or terror) of the Lord that motivates Paul to preach and persuade others?

The fear of the Lord

Everyone knows about fear. Fear has been around since Adam hid in the bushes. “I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid.” Fear is a fruit of sin. It’s the one thing that keeps us from enjoying life and approaching God. I like what Bill Johnson says about fear:

The biblical command repeated most often is: Do not fear. Why? Fear attacks the foundation of our relationship with God… our faith… Fear is also a decay of the heart. It attracts the demonic in the same way as bitterness and hatred. ~When Heaven Invades Earth.

When it comes to God, fear is not good for us. Fear elicits two responses: fight or flight. Do you think God wants you to run away from him? Do you think he wants you to fight him?

If “fear of the Lord” means running away or fighting him, something doesn’t add up. We need a broader definition of fear, one that is based on scriptures such as these:

(The women) departed quickly from the tomb with fear and great joy (Matt 28:8)

Fear with great joy? That doesn’t sound like your everyday kind of fear.

Full of fear, they praised God, saying, “What marvelous things we have seen today!” (Luke 5:26, GNB)

They didn’t have a little fear but a lot, and they were happy. They were bouncing off the ceiling with joy because Jesus healed a crippled man.

Then the church enjoyed a time of peace and was strengthened. Living in the fear of the Lord and encouraged by the Holy Spirit… (Act 9:31)

Fear and peace? Fear and encouragement?

Toto, we’re not in Kansas anymore.

The beginning of wisdom

As Jesus explained, to fear the Lord is to worship him. It’s not being afraid, as Adam was, but being thrilled and awed as you realize that God is good and he is good to you!

Afterward shall the children of Israel return, and seek the Lord their God, and David their king; and shall fear the Lord and his goodness in the latter days. (Hos 3:5)

Hosea prophesied that Israel would be startled by God’s goodness. The context was the unconditional and undeserved love he showed to his faithless wife. That’s how much God loves you, only more so.

His love is great, his grace is hyper, and his goodness is off-the-scale.

When you see it your jaw will drop, your knees will shake, and your heart will tremble.

Adam’s fear caused him to run from God, but the fear of the Lord causes you to draw near in awestruck reverence. Adamic fear, or being afraid of the Lord, is a bad thing, but Biblical fear, or the fear of the Lord, is a good thing. The latter cures the former; the fear of the Lord is the antidote to fear.

When you see God as he truly is, nothing scares you. When you have trembled in awe-struck adoration at his goodness and your knees have buckled under the weight of his glory, the problems of life are reduced to nothing. You realize that, “God loves me! God is for me! Who can be against me?”

Now we begin to understand why the same apostle who said, “The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again” (Rom 8:15), also said this, “Since we know what it is to fear the Lord, we try to persuade others” (2 Cor 5:11). He was talking about two different things; a fear that causes you to run from God and an awe that draws you near.

So here is my paraphrase of Paul’s words:

Since we know what it is to fear the Lord (since we have tasted the goodness of God who loves us and wants to bless us), we try to persuade others (that he is good and longs to be good to them). (2 Cor 5:11)

Are you persuaded?

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I Was Made To Praise You

Here’s a lovely worship song from Hosanna! Music: I Was Made to Praise You

Such a simple song, and yet it says so much. I firmly believe that humans were made to praise and worship God; certainly there is no feeling like being in His Presence, and those who worship in Spirit and in truth (Jn 4:23) know that they feel most welcome and at home there.

Even now, as my heart is heavy with cares, I hum this song and straight away I feel my spirit lift. Worship does that kind of thing to you.

And, as I’ve written before, thankfulness is such a powerful weapon; why not express it in song too? That’s what this song does.

But what’s all that in that line of the song, “…and to obey You…”? Isn’t obeying God some sort of legalism? No, it’s not like that at all. Obedience is a delight, because it jives with what you really want. God knows what’s best for us, so obeying Him is also good. And it’s not like He tells us, like, ‘Do this; do that’. It’s more of a prompting inside by the Spirit of God, and really, listening to Him and doing what He says isn’t so much a chore as an adventure! Where’s He going to lead me today? What marvels will He share with me? Such is the Spirit led life. It’s not obedience through law or compulsion; it’s obedience through delight. The Psalmist says, ‘I delight to do your will’ (Ps 40:8 (KJV)) – and this is exactly what it’s all about. Brilliant!

Here’s the song:

I was made to praise You
I was made to glorify Your name
In every circumstance
To find a chance to thank You
I was made to love You
I was made to worship at Your feet
And to obey You, Lord
I was made for You

I will always praise You
I will always glorify Your name
In every circumstance
I’ll find a chance to thank You
I will always love You
I will always worship at Your feet
And I’ll obey You, Lord
I was made for You

– Chris Christensen, 1986