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amazing graceIt might sound like a bit of self promotion for a worship leader to tell you that Congregational worship is a big deal! Today I want to focus on one particular part of worship that I have been thinking on lately.

What we sing in church really matters. I don’t just mean that what we sing is good theology and doctrine, though that is obviously vital. In this post I want to explore some of the important things to remember in choosing and writing worship songs.

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Welcome-MatThere is nothing more precious than the presence of God. This series explores the story of God’s presence throughout the bible and explores how we can host him well in our midst.

In the first two parts of this series (Part 1, Part 2) I set the scene by exploring the topic of God’s presence throughout the bible. It is a story of huge importance to us as believers. We are now dwelling places of God, carriers of his presence and partners in sharing him with the world around us. So in this post I want to explore some of the ways we can steward the immense gift of God’s presence and share some of my journey in this area.

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settingThere is nothing more precious than the presence of God. This series explores the story of God’s presence throughout the bible and explores how we can host him well in our midst.

In the first part of this series we began to explore the story of God’s presence in the Old Testament. God chose to be amongst his people Israel, it was an incredible privilege and yet we were meant for something more. It required a lot of regulations and ceremony to facilitate God’s dwelling place in the tabernacle and temple.

Enter the new Testament and everything changes. God with us takes on a whole new meaning as Jesus, God in the flesh, comes and dwells amongst us.

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tentThere is nothing more precious than the presence of God. This series explores the story of God’s presence throughout the bible and explores how we can host him well in our midst.

The bible opens with such a stunning scene. The God of the universe creates a magnificent universe full of wonder and delight. He creates a planet full of so much life and as His greatest creation He makes man. A creature unlike all the other living beings he has taken the time to make. This creature will made in His image. It will be shaped by God’s very nature and character. God made man in His image. What is even more surprising is that He pursued relationship with his creation.

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Silhouette of summer garden BBQ isolated against fireThe older I get the more I have realised that there is not much “pure” in life that we come across. There are mixed motives, hidden intentions, mixed messages and half truths at every turn. I used to take the approach of throwing out information that I was suspicious of very quickly. I used to call it discerning, especially when related to my faith. What I have come to realise is that maturity demands that we can hear any message or messenger and eat the meat, spit out the bones.

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saintsThis topic can cause a lot of controversy within the church and I make no apologies for a little theology. When we come to Jesus are we still sinners or are we saints? It might seem like a pointless argument but I believe the answer holds keys in how we impact our planet with the gospel. It is not simply an academic battle we should leave to bible scholars at seminary’s and bible colleges around the world. The answer to this questions impacts the way ordinary believers the world over behave and view God. Our perception of God will always be what we reproduce. We know we are to follow his lead in how we live our lives, the bigger question though is what does he look like. For me the question of whether believers are saints or sinners is more than mere semantics, it is fundamental. So what does the bible say on this topic?

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megaphoneIn the last couple of years I have encountered an aspect of faith that seemed really alien to me at first, declarations. Here at Bethel Church they are firm believers in the power of declaration and if I am honest it has taken me a while to get my head round it. What do I mean by declarations? Great question, I have come to understand declarations as speaking out truth over my life or speaking out loud what I want to see happen. My initial reservations were mainly due to a misunderstanding of what this looked like. I did not want to be the sort of person who just said positive things that felt empty or untrue. Something in the DNA of a Scot rejects strongly the idea of being a hypocrite! As I have learnt more and understood however my eyes have been opened to the weight that our words carry and the power of declarations.

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smileyMy wife and I are in the middle of a Negativity Fast for Lent! I don’t think I have ever taken part in Lent before. I guess I always thought that most people seem to miss the point. Showing you can give up chocolate for a month doesn’t normally prove much or achieve anything long term! While most of us are far removed from the original intentions of Lent, it was originally meant to be about self-denial in order to display sorrow for sins. This feels more like an old testament approach to living! Christ suffered so we don’t have to, he was poor so we can be rich, sin has already been paid for and anything we can do to earn anything is simply insulting what Jesus already did! All that said, I do think there is something really important in the process of self sacrifice and fasting can be really healthy with the right perspective. For many in the church Lent can be a time of prayer, reflection and focus on all that Jesus already accomplished. Anyway I feel I am getting distracted…

What is a Negativity fast?

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The idea of developing culture has fascinated me for the past couple of years. Not least because I am Scot living in the US at the moment. When living abroad for more than a couple of months the cultural differences begin to stand out more and more. You begin adapting to the culture you find yourself in to fit in. There are unique languages, social gestures and expectations for each sub culture. There is only so long you can take being misunderstood! We all take on the culture of where we were brought up or where we live to some degree and it often seems to happen by immersion. Culture is powerful and infectious! Long enough in an environment and people change.

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My wife Jo continues her thoughts on Favour.


Freely received, freely given

In my first blog on favour, I shared what favour is and how we grow in it. Recently, I’ve been thinking about what we do with the favour we have, why we have it and how do we really steward it.

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