Monthly Archives: June 2017

The Prodigal Allegory

Here’s a great article by my friend Ken Nichols, a man who is prophetic in hearing the new things the Spirit is saying to the churches in this time. Listen to what God says as you read it:

The following is a retelling of the Prodigal Son story [Edit: Luke 15:11–32], using the popular “penal substitutionary atonement” (PSA) model as a guide. (Note: like most allegories, this won’t ‘fit’ perfectly, but is done to make a point.) (Note 2: If you don’t know what “penal substitutionary atonement IS, a quick Google search will give you all you need to know.) (Note 3: This retelling uses The Message version as the original “base” for the story, so I wouldn’t have to make my part sound all “spiritual”.)

“There was once a man who had two sons. The younger said to his father, ‘Father, I want right now what’s coming to me.’

So the father divided the property between them. It wasn’t long before the younger son packed his bags and left for a distant country. There, undisciplined and dissipated, he wasted everything he had. After he had gone through all his money, there was a bad famine all through that country and he began to hurt. He signed on with a citizen there who assigned him to his fields to slop the pigs. He was so hungry he would have eaten the corncobs in the pig slop, but no one would give him any.

That brought him to his senses. He said, ‘All those farmhands working for my father sit down to three meals a day, and here I am starving to death. I’m going back to my father. I’ll say to him, Father, I’ve sinned against God, I’ve sinned before you; I don’t deserve to be called your son. Take me on as a hired hand.’ He got right up and went home to his father.”

And when he arrived home, he found the front door locked. He knocked at the door and heard his father’s voice say, “Who is it?” from inside the house. The son gave his speech: ‘Father, it’s your son. I’ve sinned against God, I’ve sinned before you; I don’t deserve to be called your son ever again.’ And the Father said, “That’s true, and I appreciate the apology. That’s a good first step towards mending our relationship.” The son said, “Well, can I come in?” The father opened the door and came out. “Not yet.” the father said. “We still need to deal with this sin problem. You see, you have to be punished for what you’ve done to me before I can accept you as my son again. I can’t just let you ‘get away with it’. A price must be paid.” By that time the older brother had discovered what was happening and also came out of the house just as the father was explaining the problem.

The father continued, “And unfortunately, my laws demand that blood must be spilled in order to forgive you. I’m sorry, but these are the conditions required to grant you restoration in my household.”

The father said to the older brother, “Son, go get my rod from the barn. Your brother must be punished.” The son obeyed, but when he got back, he felt compassion on his brother, who after the famine and all, wasn’t in too great a shape anyway. He was afraid that the beating might be too much for him, and was concerned he might die.

“Father,” he said, handing him the rod, “beat ME instead.” His father was shocked but also proud that his eldest son would step up and volunteer for such a thing. Even though he knew this son was innocent he said, “That’s fine. As long as justice and the law are satisfied, that will pay the debt your brother owes.” He then called for one of his farmhands and handed him the rod. The youngest son seemed confused so the Father explained, “Oh, I can’t do it MYSELF. I don’t actually punish people directly. I have someone else do it at my command.” To the farmhand, “And remember, blood has to be spilled, so don’t hold back.”

The farmhand, who was angry with the son concerning things we won’t get into here, proceeded to beat the oldest son nearly to death (It would take a “miracle” to revive him). The father was pleased to see him suffer and all the spilled blood. The price had indeed been paid. He opened his arms to the younger son and said, “I forgive you! Now we can be together again.”

However, by this time, the son wasn’t so sure what to think. He loved his brother, for sure, for taking his place, but his father was scary. Honestly, he just wasn’t sure if he could be trusted after this display of violence. So, he hesitated.

His father admonished him, “Come on. This is how my love and justice work together. And if you don’t accept me now. I might have to walk you over to the outhouse where you’d have to go live. Trust me, it’s not someplace you want to be.” “Why?”, the son said. “I thought the price was paid.” The Father replied, “Only if you ACCEPT all this and love me. Otherwise, we will be separated forever.”

Ken has asked me to provide a link to his Facebook page in case anyone wants to contact him about the article. Click here to be taken to Ken’s page.


This entry is part 15 of 38 in the series Fiona

Fiona and I always shared an irreverent sense of humour. And, despite having lost her, my sense of humour is still just as wacky 🙂 Our outlook on life has always been free and flippant! Because we were (and are) both completely secure in our relationship with Father, we felt free to make jokes about our faith, sometimes to the consternation of other churchy types who were nearby – although to be fair, we didn’t usually use that type of humour in the presence of those who would not understand, because it would have made them uncomfortable. I sometimes think that people are afraid of God, despite 1 John 4:18, which speaks about perfect love driving out fear… sadly, then, there are many Christians – and people from other faiths too – who declare that ‘God has a sense of humour’, but whose ensuing fake laughter usually belies that belief. Lolz.

But not Fiona and I. We were wacky all the way, in ways I won’t share here because, well, I suppose you had to be there…

Now, here’s another worship song from our youth – El Shaddai, sung by the legendary Christian artist Amy Grant. And, for us, this song has a wacky story behind it. We first saw this song in the Dales Bible Week songbook for the 1985 Dales Week, entitled ‘Enthroned on High‘. But we didn’t actually hear the song at that time.

The ‘foreign’ words in the song are just some of the Hebrew names for God, and because of the sense of humour Fiona and I shared, and in the way that we always made irreverent jokes about absolutely everything, we decided for definite that the song was put in that Dales songbook in order to enable people who didn’t ‘speak in tongues’ to sing something that sounded foreign enough to pass as ‘tongues’. Some won’t find that funny. We thought it was bloody hilarious. And this is the first time I have made that public knowledge 😉

And then we heard the song a couple of years later on a worship tape, if I recall correctly, and we loved it immediately.

I’ve put it in Fiona’s series on my blog, because it reminds me so much of the time we had together, the worship we shared, Fiona’s wacky sense of humour that complemented mine so well, and the great times we had singing it together, with me on piano and Fiona’s tremendous vocals. She was a lady of great talent and, over the months, I have sorely missed her pure, wonderful singing voice, and her gentle spirit coming through in her music.

And the song is indeed beautiful, and is well worth hearing. Released in 1982 on Amy Grant’s breakthrough album ‘Age to Age‘, this song was one of the numbers that made her famous. Here it is, with its lovely arrangement, great dynamics and excellent chord emphases along with Amy’s brilliant talent.


El Shaddai, El Shaddai,
El-Elyon na Adonia,
Age to age You’re still the same,
By the power of the Name.
El Shaddai, El Shaddai,
Erkhamkha na Adonai,
We will praise and lift You high,
El Shaddai.
Through Your love and through the ram,
You saved the son of Abraham;
Through the power of your hand,
Turned the sea into dry land
To the outcast on her knees,
You were the God Who really sees,
And by Your might,
You set Your children free
El Shaddai, El Shaddai,
El-Elyon na Adonia,
Age to age You’re still the same,
By the power of the Name
El Shaddai, El Shaddai,
Erkhamkha na Adonai,
We will praise and lift You high,
El Shaddai.
Through the years You made it clear,
That the time of Christ was near,
Though the people couldn’t see
What Messiah ought to be
Though Your word contained the plan,
They just could not understand
Your most awesome work was done
Through the frailty of Your Son
El Shaddai, El Shaddai,
El-Elyon na Adonai,
Age to age You’re still the same,
By the power of the Name
El Shaddai, El Shaddai,
Erkhamkha na Adonai,
I will praise You ’til I die,
El Shaddai
El Shaddai, El Shaddai,
El-Elyon na Adonai,
Age to age You’re still the same,
By the power of the Name
El Shaddai, El Shaddai,
Erkhamkha na Adonai,
I will praise You ’til I die
El Shaddai.

– Michael Card/John W. Thompson

I’ll also relate another humorous story about this song. Fiona and I were once in our Church in Leeds when there was a guest lady who’d come in to perform an expressive dance, and she did it to El Shaddai. And she did it really well; it was very moving and expressive and spiritual and all that. Right up to the point where she slipped and did a spectacular comedy-accident fall, through the drum kit if I remember correctly, to the accompaniment of crashing cymbals et al. She was ok, but boy was it funny, and Fiona’s irreverent sense of humour came to the fore and I’m convinced she only narrowly avoided serious internal injury due to her attempts to suppress her laughter. I know it sounds bad to laugh at that sort of thing, but the young dancer was fine, as was the drum kit, and it was even funnier because of all the knights in shining armour who gallantly leapt to the young lady’s rescue, almost causing a further accident in their haste to render assistance.

And to the lady’s complete credit, she got straight back up again and carried on with the dance, bless her 🙂

Anyway, there we go. A lovely song with lots of happy and funny memories for me. Fiona loved it 🙂

Doctrine, Signs and Wonders

I have seen it claimed that there are in excess of 40,000 Christian denominations. Almost all of the people in those denominations would claim to have some experience of, or fellowship with, God, despite the fact that they all believe many different things – although of course they have many beliefs in common. And He chooses to work through those people. Now, if those people claim fellowship with God, what gives me the right to doubt them, just because I have ‘other ideas’ about correct beliefs; about what is a ‘good doctrine’ and what is a ‘bad doctrine’? If God chooses to work through these people, who am I to argue with that, just because they don’t necessarily fit with ‘what I believe the Bible says’, or, more presumptuously, ‘what the Bible clearly says’? Each of those people has arrived at their current faith position through a multitude of different factors: geography, upbringing, literacy, education, family background, church background, whatever. And yet, they claim, God touches these people all the same, irrespective of belief or doctrine.

Some would argue that they definitely have God’s ‘seal of approval’, because of the ‘signs and wonders following’ that confirm the Word. In Mark 16:20, the Scripture says that, “Then the disciples went out and preached everywhere, and the Lord worked with them and confirmed his word by the signs that accompanied it”. What we see in terms of miracles, helping the poor, and other visible Christian fruits, is therefore seen as God’s ‘approval’ of what we believe in.

But we must remember that the ‘word’ being preached is Jesus – the Word become flesh. The signs and wonders confirm Him, not Us! They testify that the Kingdom of God is at hand (Mt 3:2, Mt 4:17, Mk 1:15) They testify as to God’s immense goodness and love.

They do not mean that you’ve got it all right and they certainly should not be interpreted as God ratifying, approving, subscribing to, endorsing or otherwise confirming your doctrines. In short, He does His miracles not because we are right, but because He is right! He does it because, despite our imperfections, He wants us to experience the fulness of His Kingdom. It’s all because of Him.

I therefore consider that actually God does not mind all that much about what we actually believe – or say we believe, which is often different – but actually, ‘as the Bible clearly says’, God looks on the heart (1Sam 16:7). And He rewards those who earnestly seek Him (Heb 11:6). Nowhere does it say that He rewards those who hold ‘correct doctrine’.

In fact, all that the Bible says about what is necessary in order for us to experience the fulness of His Kingdom is that we believe in Jesus. Christianity is an ancient, broad faith, whose 40,000-plus denominations, encompass a vast spectrum of different beliefs on all kinds of peripheral topics such as Hell, homosexuality, the authority of Scripture and many, many other things. But still, central to each denomination’s faith, is the Person of Jesus Christ. It is completely unreasonable to expect that any one of these denominations has everything just right; all their ducks lined up. It is also therefore folly to believe that God somehow expects us – all of us – to be right all the time. Jesus is what it all hinges on, not a) our beliefs nor b) correct doctrine.

And so, my dear readers, please take encouragement. Carry on questioning, probing and thinking – because God made you to do that. Not necessarily to ‘find the right answers’, but simply to find out more about God’s goodness.

Only those with the control issues; those who will only tolerate their own doctrines, will have a problem with this.

“When the Spirit comes, He will lead you into all Truth”. He has so much more He wants to tell you…(Jn 16:12)

This piece is a companion essay to two of my previous posts on the same sort of issues, this one from two years ago and this one from eighteen months ago. Read in conjunction with this piece, they might be quite enlightening…

The Good News

So often we hear the Gospel (which means ‘good news’) being presented, and it’s anything but good news. Tales of a god who burns people forever in hell just because they don’t ‘repent’ and turn to him. Even if they’ve never heard of him.

I don’t buy that at all.

Instead, the Good News is so much bigger, better and more vast and expansive than all that; so much better than just ‘Turn or Burn’, as so many espouse it.

The Gospel is supposed to be Good News.

And so, here is a piece by Jacob Wright, a young man who is very wise in the things of God, and, well, you’ll see what I mean. This piece is a breath of fresh air. Without more ado, here it is:

The good news isn’t “Turn or burn”. The good news is “Rise and shine.”

“Wake up, sleeper,
rise from the dead,
and Christ will shine on you.” – Ephesians 5:14

The good news is “Come! Let the one who is thirsty come; and let the one who wishes take the free gift of the water of life.” – Revelation 22:17

The good news is “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” – Matthew 11:28

The good news is “God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their sin against them.” – 2 Corinthians 5:19

The good news is “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free.” – Luke 4:18

The good news is “I have come that they might have life, and life to the fullest.” – John 10:10

The good news is “Whoever has seen me has seen the Father.” – John 14:9

The good news is “Change your way of thinking and turn towards God, for his kingdom is approaching!” – Matthew 3:2

Let all wondering of who God is be put to rest. We have seen what God is like in Jesus. God is Christlike and in Him is no unChristlikeness at all.

We already know the bad news. The bad news is despair, depression, disease, disaster, and death. The bad news is that creation has been subjected to frustration. The bad news is we’re all lost in life and wondering who we are and who God is and what the point is. The good news is that God is like Jesus, that God has revealed a new way of humanity in Jesus, and that God has highlighted the hope of redemption in Jesus. God is a participator in the human experience, and empathizes fully with us. God takes up our grief and carries our sorrows within himself and through it births a new creation.

God is both in it with us, and has triumphed over all of it for us. God is not angry at humanity, but has woven himself into humanity. God is a father that is waiting to see us on the road back home so he can run to us and embrace us! God is a shepherd that is intent on searching out and finding us who have wandered astray so he can bring us back to safety! God is a doctor who has come to heal us of our sin-sickness. Most of all, God is human, of the same blood as us, which means we are divine, and to be revealed as sons and daughters of God. God is in complete solidarity to the ultimate limits of our sin, suffering, and death, experiencing it all in the incarnation and the cross, and triumphing over all of it in the resurrection.

Jesus is the good news.

With Eyes For Only You

This entry is part 14 of 38 in the series Fiona

The other day I heard, for the first time, a song that has utterly blown me away: My God and King written by Shauna Chanda and sung beautifully by her on Terry MacAlmon’s worship album, The Sound of Heaven.

At the moment, I can’t listen to this song without my heart bursting with worship, and often even weeping with the sheer weight of glory that falls upon me. Only three or four times in my life so far has a song had this effect on me, (the main one I can remember being When I Look into Your Holiness in 1983) and this song, My God and King, is one of those songs. It’s been a long time since a song has had such a profound impact in me; I can feel the Spirit reaching in to the deep places of my heart as I sing or listen to it, and I feel Him minister His deep healing of the wounds I have received over the last three and a half years of Fiona’s illness and her passing. This song stirs up the deep spirit of worship within me like no other I have ever heard, and in that worship is my healing in God’s Presence.

Fiona at our son’s wedding, September 2009

I love how the song describes that, for the worshipper, to see God face to face and to be with Him would be their dream come true. And this is partly why I have included this in Fiona’s series – because indeed her dream has come true and she now sees God face to face, and worships Him there. Her heart longed to be with Him. She never heard this song on this earth, but I bet she’s singing it right now! I can imagine her lovely soprano voice singing it; she would have loved this song, it’s exactly the kind of song she loved best. A beautiful love song of worship where I declare, and live out, that I have eyes for only my Jesus, my God and King – even, and especially, through the storms of life.

So, with this in mind, here’s the brilliant Shauna Chanda singing her song, with the inimitable Terry MacAlmon on piano. It is my prayer as I write this that this song will bring healing to you too, in whatever area you need it:

My God and King
To You alone I sing
You’re the face I seek
For all eternity

My God and King
To You alone I sing
You’re the face I seek
For all eternity

You’d be my dream come true
Just to be with You
How I’d see brand new
With eyes for only You

My God and King
Through the storm I sing
Covered by Your wing
This song of love I bring

You’d be my dream come true
Just to be with You
How I’d see brand new
With eyes for only You

You’d be my dream come true
Just to be with You
How I’d see brand new
With eyes for only You

You are my dream come true
Just to be with You
Now I see brand new
With eyes for only You

With eyes for only You

With eyes for only You

I have eyes for only You

– Shauna Chanda

Lucy’s Song

This entry is part 13 of 38 in the series Fiona

Here’s another spontaneous post about Fiona, my lovely wife who tragically passed away from cancer last October.

What makes this post really special is that I am featuring a song in which Fiona is actually singing. Fiona recorded very few songs, I don’t really know why we didn’t really record much music together; I guess we were both always completely spontaneous 🙂

So, this is a lovely little number called ‘Lucy’s Song‘, by Heather Pope, and we discovered the song on an obscure little tape called ‘Celebration – Things of Beauty’, (recorded in the 70’s) while Fiona was at University in 1982. The track I am presenting here is Fiona’s cover of that song recorded in July 1985. What’s especially wonderfully prophetic with this cover of Lucy’s Song is that it’s as if Fiona recorded it, half a lifetime ago, for our grand-daughter Lucy, who’s now 7. Lucy loved her Nanny Fe and was heartbroken when she died. This song is Fiona’s legacy to Lucy, telling her that despite life’s storms, and despite her Nanny Fe not being there for her, still her loving Heavenly Father holds her closely in His hands.

I think this is a song that Lucy will treasure.

I apologise that the backing track is a little out of tune; this is because this was one of my dad’s early forays into four-track portable studio recordings, as I said, in 1985, which back then was all done by adjusting the tape speed to retune the tracks, and it appears he got it a little wrong. But the vocals are the focal point here; Fiona’s voice is the higher, purer soprano while the lower, more smoky and husky voice is her best friend, Cath. Their voices always went so well together and it always amazed me that I should be so privileged to be able to make music with these two superb vocalists. Here we go then: Lucy’s Song, vocals by Fiona and Cath, backing instrumentals by Johnny Douglas (my dad’s stage name):

Lucy, when the sky is cloudy, smile
Lucy, when your mind is racing, rest awhile
For there is time for all you long for, time for so much more
And every day’s a new beginning for you

As the springtime turns to summer, so you’re changing day by day
And the rain has come to water all the land
And the drops of life fall heavy, sometimes they’re hard to understand
But your Loving Heavenly Father holds you closely in His Hand

Lucy, when you don’t know what you’re thinking
Lucy, when you feel that life’s too hard
Remember to give your cares and worries to the One Who loves you so
For every day He’s walking close to you

As the springtime turns to summer, so you’re changing day by day
And the rain has come to water all the land
And the drops of life fall heavy, sometimes they’re hard to understand
But your Loving Heavenly Father holds you closely in His Hand

Yes, your Loving Heavenly Father loves you and understands!


This is Our God

God loves to surprise His children with wonderful things.

Quite out of the blue, He will pop up something that, for us, is totally unexpected and brings us great blessings. An example from my own life, from two and a half years ago, is here. This sort of thing has happened to me so many times recently that I just can’t remember most of the events. But each time the surprise and delight is real. Some would put it down to coincidence and ‘confirmation bias’, which of course it could be. But these things are so personal, so targeted, that I really doubt that it’s coincidence.

But it’s not just me that it happens to, either. A few weeks ago, I was writing on Facebook about one of my favourite worship songs, and one of my friends came up with this lovely anecdote. I have ‘sanitised’ it of the song and personal details to avoid embarrassment, but have left it unchanged apart from that. Here is the story, just how it was told:

“I know the guy who wrote that song. I was a DJ in a small southern gospel radio station in the south, and I’d sneak in a worship song here and there. One day, I found that song on an album and put it on. A few minutes after I started it, a man came back to my booth, he was a new hire that had just started that day working in the office. He had tears STREAMING down his face, and asked me why I played that particular song. I told him because I’d just found it and previewed it and it brought me deep joy… he was sobbing. 🙂 Come to find out, he’d been struggling with so many things and had been really discouraged. He told me about how he and his wife WROTE that song and how it was just a sign to him that God had not forgotten him… so then of course I was in tears, too! lol, I had to put on a really long cut from the Kingsmen (10 minute song! lol) just to recover. 🙂 “

Wow. What a lovely story, and all because of a song that is one of my all-time favourite worship songs. I have several 😉 … But anyway, here’s the response I wrote to my friend:

Now that is a lovely story. Wow. It’s one of my favourite worship songs and always has been since first I heard it. I have used that song to bless countless people in congregations large and small, singing it with great anointing and reality. Because for me it’s true. Maybe you could encourage him some more with that. I am going to bed now with my heart rejoicing because of your story”.

I wish I could tell you which song it is, but I want to protect that man’s privacy. Sorry. But really, you could pick any one of the many worship songs I have posted on my blog over the time I’ve been running it, and you can bet there will be similar stories surrounding many of them.

And it’s simply because God is like that. He’s brilliant; He loves His children with a fiery, jealous passion that pales even the strongest natural mother instinct. If He made us to have that sort of love for our own children, how much more is He like that, given that we are made in His image?

This is what He’s like. This is our God.


It’s not like me to be lost for words.

But I have just been to see the movie, ‘The Shack’, which was released to movie theatres here in the UK only last Friday.

And I am a complete and total wreck.

Let’s just say I didn’t take enough tissues in my pockets.

I can’t really say much more just now, except just that the film definitely did the book justice.

And it is completely unsurprising that The Shack in either/both of its iterations is offensive to the Religious. In this film is freedom, joy, release, forgiveness, healing; the exact antithesis, in fact, of the suffocating strictures of human Rules about God and how to approach Him.

But, less of that. If you haven’t already done so, let me encourage you in the strongest possible terms to go see this movie.

It will change the way you see life – forever!

Today is the Day of Salvation

The other day I was listening to a talk by a man of God whom I greatly respect, and one of the things he said really made me think. He said that ‘there are great times ahead!’.

So what?, you might say. Of course there are great times ahead; God is involved in our future, isn’t He?

Well, yes. Absolutely. And I am sure that the words are correct because of that. But the drift of that man’s message was that tomorrow will be better. Tomorrow, or at some indeterminate time in the future, things will be better. There will be better circumstances, better displays of God’s power at work, better whatever. But it’s tomorrow, not today.

Well, I have learned a real little gem through my grieving process, and it’s this:

Today is the Day of Salvation (2Cor 6:2)

No matter what you are going through – and I am going through some horrible circumstances as I write these words – Now is the day for wholeness, for salvation (remember the word ‘sōzō’?); now is the day in which it is possible to find God’s peace and to find rest, in your relationship with Him, despite, and in the midst of, your circumstances. St. Paul’s encouragement to ‘give thanks in every circumstance’ (1Thess 5:18) was written with precisely this sort of thing in mind. Bringing Jesus in to a situation changes everything.

This doesn’t mean that everything will just suddenly, magically change and all your circumstances will improve, at least on the physical level. But it changes the way you cope with it. This is because as you turn your eyes to Him – maybe in worship, prayer and/or thanksgiving –  it puts all your circumstances into a heavenly perspective. It sets up what you see before you, in the context of eternity. Not that you are thinking, ‘Well, it’ll all be ok because when I die I go to Heaven’ – Jesus’s teaching was all about His blessings on this Earth for us – but in the midst of our circumstances.

So for my friend the man of God, while I agree that indeed great days are ahead, I need to remember that Now is the Day of Salvation. God wants to bring His miraculous power, His sweet, sweet Presence, His incredible wisdom, into the here and now for us – right here and right now. Today! Now! When we are actually on one of those ‘great days’ in the future, for us it will then be simply ‘today’. So, on this ‘today’, as you are reading this, this is one of the ‘great days ahead’ that my friend the man of God talked about yesterday, last week, last month. It’s now!

So, yes, ‘Great Days are Ahead’, but God is not procrastinating His blessings – putting them off until some indeterminate ‘great days ahead’ in the future. It begins right now. And so, I need to remember this idea:

Great Days are Here Already!


As a great preacher friend of mine once said, “This is not ‘pie in the sky when we die’. This is meat on a plate while you wait! “. And this is the encouragement I am trying to get across to you today.

I hope it helps 🙂 God Bless you.

How To Put People Off God

In Matthew 23:13, Jesus says, “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You shut the door of the kingdom of heaven in people’s faces. You yourselves do not enter, nor will you let those enter who are trying to”

Who are these gate-keepers of the Kingdom? Quite simply, they are those people who say that their way is the only right way. You want to get into the Kingdom of Heaven? Then you have to do it OUR way, and no-one else’s, otherwise you’re not getting in.

And because of that attitude, they demonstrate that they are not really ‘in’ either, according to Jesus’s words that I have quoted above. It follows from this that actually the Kingdom is really broadly encompassing, welcoming to all who would come, and not just those whom the Religious people deem ‘worthy’. Those who have such an exclusive attitude are virtually showing that they do not understand the nature of the Kingdom of God, hence Jesus’s words.

Notice also that the Teachers of the Law are mentioned – the legalists. Those who would espouse certain do’s and don’t’s in order to be ‘good enough’ for God. Also the Pharisees – those who would be slightly more ‘helpful’ than the Teachers of the Law, in that they are eager to point out others’ ‘sins’ in order to try to ‘help’ them attain the standards that they thought qualified humans for the Kingdom. But of course it just comes across as its plain source: judgementalism! And anyway no-one can be made righteous (in right standing before God) through following rules (Rom 3:20).

I mean, it’s not rocket science. I think the take-home message of this is that dogma, doctrine and ‘sin-policing’ help no-one; in fact, quite the opposite effect occurs: You behave like those guys, and you will just put people off God altogther!

The thing is that God is not at all like the angry, narrow-minded monster that some Christians make Him out to be. He’s more like Jesus than he is like the Terminator, but many Christians would have us believe that the latter is actually a better likeness.

I can’t think of many things more likely to put people off my Father God….

If you liked this article, here’s another one you might like – ‘The Christians Making Atheists‘, by John Pavlovitz.