Tag Archives: Religion

Intelligence on Fire – RIP Rev. Dr. John Smith

I received the sad news today that a man I’m deeply privileged to have called ‘friend’ and ‘brother’ was promoted to glory last night. He has been affectionately called “Bullfrog”, “John Wesley on a motorcycle” and even “Intelligence on fire!” I am, of course, talking about Rev. Dr. John Smith – founder of God’s Squad Melbourne, Concern Australia, mission-troubadour and ordained-pioneer way before it was cool.

The following is an extract from a piece I wrote on him for my BA a few years ago. There’s a bit of extra pain in sharing this today, as after a lot of prayer and discernment, me and the family decided in January it was time for me to resign my membership of God’s Squad. The colours given to me personally by John Smith have gone back to the club, but the radical Jesus Movement culture we learned from him and others will stay with us for the rest of our lives. Every time I find myself in some shady bar or risky situation – I’ll be raising a glass of good scotch to you Smithy. Rest In Peace good and faithful servant.

The reason I want to share this paltry piece (alongside recommending that you read some of his own work), is that I believe Smithy had a pretty unique gift – in that he was the real-deal. A deeply faulted person, like all of us, but the real-deal nonetheless. I see a lot of Christians virtue-signalling on social media about the latest fad cause, but I don’t tend to see them in the soup-line sharing a meal with people. Smithy was different. He lived it. And he started living it in a time when it cost him his job at a Christian ‘mission’ agency, surely cost him some friends, and certainly cost him his reputation as a ‘clean-cut’ Christian minister. He was a man of his time, and some of his views might seem a little out-dated to the younger generation, but I hope you can see past this.

So if there’s one thing I’ll be taking from Smithy’s legacy, it’s this – I’m not going to try to gain kudos by talking about issues which affect people I don’t have proximity with. Smithy showed us a type of pioneering-incarnational-mission that came with blood, sweat, and tears. Literally. I hope this is an encouragement to people who’ve never heard of this great man, and comes with some comfort for those of us that are grieving. I’m glad to have been part of a culture where it’s ok for men to show their grief, tears, and affection for one another.

I might not be ok for a few days.

Continue reading Intelligence on Fire – RIP Rev. Dr. John Smith

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Pilgrim

“To be pilgrims means that men must perpetually return to the starting-point of that naked humanity which is absolute poverty and utter insecurity. God must not be sought as though He sat enthroned on upon the summit of religious attainment. He is to be found on the plain where men suffer and sin. The veritable pinnacle of religious achievement is attained when men are thrust down into the company of those who lie in the depths.”

Karl Barth – ‘Epistle to the Romans’

After a long and winding journey, I’m at one of those ‘mile-marker’ moments in life. After a nail-biting afternoon hitting the ‘Get Mail’ button on my email client every two minutes, I learned a few months ago that I had been ‘Recommended for training’ – which for non-Anglicans means I’m off to vicar school in September.

It’s probably come as a bigger surprise to me than anyone, I’d convinced myself it would be a “thanks, but no” by the time the email came through. I fondly remember many years ago when a mate from Church started going out with a young lady from my school. Somehow they realised they both new me, and when he explained how, she replied, “No way, can’t be the same guy. He’d never go to Church”. And here I am some 18 or so years later, getting ready to start training for a ministry in the CofE – like proper dog-collar and black-dress type ministry. Continue reading Pilgrim

St Paul the Rebel?

N.B. – I am no longer a member of God’s Squad Christian Motorcycle Club after resigning in January 2019 to focus on family, training and local work. I am grateful for the continued friendship and incredible ride I’ve had with some amazing people.

Back home in Blighty after a great weekend celebrating the launch of God’s Squad CMC’s new chapter in Malta. A great time catching up with club family and mates, and making some new friends too. The sunshine was an added bonus. Continue reading St Paul the Rebel?

Coming of Age

Today is a special day for me. There will be no party, no cards in the mail, no “HBD!” posts on Facebook and no rights to claim “but it’s my special day!” when it’s time to take the bins out or change a crappy nappy.

Because today isn’t an actual birthday, but maybe the anniversary of the next most significant moment in my life (after being unceremoniously torn out of my poor mother and having my heart re-started back in ’83).

18 years ago in a quiet little chapel in the Buckinghamshire countryside, with one of the worst hangovers I’ve ever had, the immanence of God exploded into my consciousness and turned my world upside down forever. I can’t really explain it, I definitely can’t find a formula to repeat it, and I’ve certainly doubted it, but it happened.

Continue reading Coming of Age

Faith Like a Child

I’m not entirely sure what the deal is with 2017 but it’s been fairly sucky for us so far. Especially the last month or two. Amongst the dramas of a car crash, tonsillitis, post-natal depression and the usual ups and downs of life, our little one has had a nasty ear infection which has given him soaring fevers and very little sleep for all of us.

Continue reading Faith Like a Child

Stations On The Way To Freedom

Latest blog post – babies, sleep deprivation, motorcycles, philosophy, and Nazis. It’s all here folks.

It’s been a crazy time. Well life is usually quite crazy for us to be fair, but particularly crazy. Our beloved 4 month old son hasn’t been sleeping much, we’ve been surviving (or maybe existing is a better word) on a few broken hours of sleep for well over a month, and it’s taken a heavy toll on all aspects of our life. Continue reading Stations On The Way To Freedom

Why We’re Baptising Our Infant Son

Infant Baptism. Few matters of contention divide Christians as much as this one.

To our great joy a son was born to us, just a couple of short months ago. So this debate just got really personal. There are myriad books, blogs and articles arguing the issue in great theological detail, and I won’t bother to repeat what has already been said. But for the benefit of those who find what we’re doing strange, I will briefly explain why we are baptising our son. (If you are looking for something a little more theological try this) Continue reading Why We’re Baptising Our Infant Son

What’s So Amazing About Christmas Anyway?

I saw the following words glitter in gold print on the wall of a Church in our beloved town of Luton this week:

“I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people”

The bibliophiles among us may recognise it from Luke 2:10. As I stared, and pondered these words, I couldn’t help but wonder what they might mean to those outside the cozy inner circle of religious adherents. That day I had spent time with a lonely immigrant from Senegal desperate for work, a serial alcoholic, a young lady who had recently found herself homeless, a young man suffering from chronic mental health problems, and an older gentleman in chronic pain after a botched medical treatment, and many others with troubling stories. I couldn’t help wonder, what about Christmas is good news for them? Where they might find joy at this time of year save from the bottom of a bottle or a used hypodermic? Even experiences in my own cushy little life had me hating Christmas until recently. Continue reading What’s So Amazing About Christmas Anyway?

Jesus Christ, Friend of the Outcast – A Reflection on my journey so far with God’s Squad Christian Motorcycle Club

N.B. – I am no longer a member of God’s Squad Christian Motorcycle Club after resigning in January 2019 to focus on family, training and local work. I am grateful for the continued friendship and incredible ride I’ve had with some amazing people.

 

They say you can’t steer a stationary ship, and those words took a deeper significance for me about 3 1/2 years ago while sitting astride my old Yamaha motorcycle. I grew up around motorbikes in one way or another, both my parents and my sister had bikes at different stages, but for one reason or another I didn’t get round to taking my test until I was well into my 20s.

Continue reading Jesus Christ, Friend of the Outcast – A Reflection on my journey so far with God’s Squad Christian Motorcycle Club

Beauty From Ashes – Finding God in the most disturbing of places

Something has changed in me recently. Massively so. I’ve become quieter, spent less time opening my mouth and more time listening (much to the delight of some folks). Only a few years ago the world seemed to fit into such nice, neat little boxes, and I had an answer for everything. And so often when you put the world into nice little boxes, what you’re really doing is putting God into a nice little box too.

Continue reading Beauty From Ashes – Finding God in the most disturbing of places

A Phoenix Poem

My Faith is a sunrise,
When the thick darkness of night clouds all,
She bursts forth and illumines my horizon.

My hope is a phoenix.
Though burned in the flames of trial,
She arises from the ashes of impossible despair.

My love is a King,
With murderers and whores in his bloodline,

Who died like a criminal.

Politics, Religion & Extremism – The conversation we’re not having, and should be.

Two articles I’ve read in the news this week have disturbed me (well probably quite a few more have but let’s focus on these two for now)

On the one hand we read of Tim Farron’s rise to the leadership of the Liberal Democrat party. The media have had a field day quizzing him over his Christian beliefs, Continue reading Politics, Religion & Extremism – The conversation we’re not having, and should be.

Streams In The Desert

I needed to read this today:

“O Thou of little faith,
God hath not failed thee yet!
When all looks dark and gloomy,
Thou dost so soon forget–
Forget that He has led thee,
And gently cleared thy way;
On clouds has poured His sunshine,
And turned thy night to day.
And if He’s helped thee hitherto,
He will not fail thee now;
How it must wound His loving heart
To see thy anxious brow!
Oh! doubt not any longer,
To Him commit thy way,
Whom in the past thou trusted,
And is “just the same today.”

From “Streams In The Desert” By L B Cowman

Falling Between The Cracks – Disillusionment With Church

I recently wrote this piece for the Fresh Expressions website, which can be viewed here. Fresh Expressions is a network of groups trying to ‘do Church’ differently. Hope you enjoy.

I love God, but I really struggle with His fan club sometimes.

I remember writing words to that effect on my MySpace page many years ago in a moment of desperation.

Continue reading Falling Between The Cracks – Disillusionment With Church

Music for Searching Souls – Strength Of My Life

(Photo taken by me at P.O.D. gig at the Camden Underworld, London) 

Off the bat let me make a confession – I’m a major P.O.D. fanboy. I started listening to their music circa ’99 when I became a Christian. Their music has been like a soundtrack of my faith, and the theological journey of their lyrics through the years is not dissimilar to my own path. Continue reading Music for Searching Souls – Strength Of My Life