Old Communion Cups and Someone’s Coat (cover song)

publicly christian

As I write this, I’m in a trendy food hall in a town that was not trendy when I left. Gentrification has taken hold of this place and now you’re more likely to see semi-ironic mullets and limited-edition Jordans than the needles and detritus that would have once been ubiquitous. What hasn’t changed is the fact that actual, practicing Christians seem to still be around. In public. Something I once took for granted, that you would see Christians in a coffee shop, Bibles open and conversation happening, is now novel.

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in two parts

I am a dichotomy. Both rushing river and dried up river. Mountain framed by off-green and tan scrub. Mountain with springs flowing down. Cactus wren and crow. Rattlesnake and adder. I was born in the desert and now live by the bay. My view framed with green hills. Death to life. As I journey with family to grieve together, I feel the tension. I love this southwest landscape but it is now alien.

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Looking back at 2 Timothy

We finished up our series in 2 Timothy at Ardgowan this week and I found the whole process really rewarding, personally. Some of this was down to the practicalities of things but it was also a joy to teach a letter I’ve spent a fair amount of time studying now. From a purely practical standpoint, I set myself the challenge of preaching from a detailed outline rather than from a full script.

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what are these words for?

One of the things that I’ve been trying to figure out recently is what to do with this blog. Part of the issue is that time to write for my own enjoyment is limited. The other is that the sermon-writing process is a creatively fulfilling act. And yet... I still have this impulse to write. It feels like an important thing to do. It’s something that I have always done in some way or other (just ask my parents).

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Photolog: Millport

We went for a day trip to Millport. it’s great to be able to travel around as a family on public transport.

What does Christ’s resurrection mean for us?

Christ triumphed over sin and death by being physically resurrected, so that all who trust in him are raised to new life in this world and to everlasting life in the world to come. Just as we will one day be resurrected, so this world will one day be restored. But those who do not trust in Christ will be raised to everlasting death.Question 50 of the New City Catechism.

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that time we didn’t see the northern lights

There was a chance that the aurora was going to be visible in Scotland. We missed out on it yesterday but when we found out there was a chance to see it tonight (27 Feb), we got the kids out of the bed and made the multiple trips it takes to get us all out to Lyle Hill (there are six of us and our car seats five so we have to make multiple journeys if we’re using the car).

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analogue system update

It’s the middle of February, so I’m a bit late to the whole techo kaigi scene. However, I’ve recently finished a notebook so it seemed like a good time to share what I’m using for my work. Some pastors like to craft complex and powerful Notion templates. Things which will track all of their church members, keep meeting notes and events running, and all other manner of thing. I’ve explored the dashboard and if you’re the kind of person who likes to have everything set up like that, it’s a really good option.

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what this throne of grace is

Cannot recommend this book enough. This throne of grace is the humanity, or heart and soul of Jesus Christ, in which God sits and rests for ever in love towards them that believe in him.John Bunyan, Prayer, pg. 74

waiting for spring

It’s been a very wet and windy winter so there hasn’t been as much opportunity to explore the area or be outside. But there have been the odd days here and there. When the sun does come out, it’s incredibly beautiful here. And signs of spring are beginning to appear. And the fact that we’re already half way through February is entirely unacceptable.

If he’s unchanging

I had the privilege of having a short prose poem published over at Clayjar Review! Go check it out, along with the other entries from the most recent issue.

Comfort for times when prayer feels empty

The life of the Christian, like ordinary daily life, runs in seasons. Just as there is time spent in green pastures, there are also times spent in the valley of the shadow of death. This happens with our prayer life as well. The great battle for Christians is to trust what God has said rather than what we feel or what we can see. While our feelings can give us clues as to the state of things, they’re imperfect.

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Obvious things that aren't obvious

Illness is a physical and mental burdenTaking part in a retreat week on top of work that still has to happen is maybe not going to be restful or energisingIt is not easy to fit sermon prep into the early morning or in the evening. My brain works best between 10-3pm.Sermon prep is much simpler when your task is to work out the main point of the passage and tease out the natural application points.

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Fourteen years ago we said, "I do." Here's to another fourteen.

Quiet Contemplation

One of the benefits of pastoring a church that has been blessed with its own building is having a place to go to pray. On Sundays, I stand at the pulpit and preach God’s Word. On Monday mornings, however, I sit in the pew. I bring my Bible, the latest issue of Tabletalk, and a pen. It is a small change in environment. I could just spend that time doing my devotions in my study.

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A life of radical dependence

If it was all up to us, the work of gospel ministry would look a lot like building the Tower of Babel. Over the course of my time as a ministry apprentice, I've found myself learning the same lesson again and again. The life of the Christian is one of radical dependence on God. For my own family, this has been a very strange apprenticeship. It began in Liverpool and ended in rural Scotland with a stopover in Poland.

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new month, new vocation, new home

It already feels like autumn. Growing up in the American Midwest meant that autumn didn’t truly begin until October (PSLs notwithstanding). But in the U.K. and Scotland in particular, it feels like autumn from the moment September begins. This is a big month for us. Today is technically my first day in my new role as pastor at Ardgowan Square. While I’ve been working on things over the summer, today is Day One.

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Burnt toast and catfish

Jesus saved me while I sat at the kitchen table with my mother. I was just a boy, still obsessed with Power Rangers and Lego. Looking back 25 years, I don't know how much I understood then. But all that I've seen in the years since, what I have felt and experienced, has shown me that Jesus isn't just real. He is who he said he was. I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me.

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Edinburgh - a photo log

I got to catch up with an old friend in Edinburgh this weekend. Here’s what I saw.