Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Peter Moves to London!

Posted: September 20, 2018 in Uncategorized

After five years of leading, loving and lecturing students at Mattersey, I am sad to say I am leaving the area on 30th September and relocating to the London School of Theology, full-time, for at least one year. Yes, I am swapping the teacher’s role for that of the student, as a full-time researcher on their PhD programme. My thesis proposal has been graciously accepted by the department at LST, where my principal supervisor will be senior Pentecostal lecturer, Dr William Atkinson. My paper will focus on the inspiration of the Holy Spirit in the teaching gifts of 1 Corinthians 12-14.

Peter at LST


Seeking work

‘At the present time your plenty will supply what they need…’  2 Corinthians 8:14

Here’s a question for everyone who feels called to the ministry: How exciting would it be to be hired by a Christian organisation? Doesn’t that sound just great? Imagine being paid to do just what you love, what you would do for free if you could, and what you feel called to do! Paradise, surely? Well, in many cases, absolutely yes. But there is another side. In fact, experience suggests that this is not always the best thing that could happen, long-term at least, to someone who feels the call of God. Let’s talk.

I have been a Bible College lecturer and Campus Pastor for a number of years. I have loved my students and wanted the very best for them and for the God they seek to serve. However, a significant danger occurs when they begin to get themselves ready to leave the College: the need to be seen to ‘go into the ministry’ in some way. This is not just about pride or position: it can be a quite understandable pressure. The student may have come to Bible School under the shadow of disapproval, perhaps from a parent or peer, and the need to show that all this time, investment, stress and money has actually led to ‘a real job’ can be a issue. Other times, it may be centred around insecurity or a perceived lack of employable skills. After two or three years of theology, a student can feel ill-equipped to do any other kind of work. Then, of course, there is the motivation of ego that besets all of us from time to time: a need to have succeeded and to be seen to have done so. Something to put on Twitter. #livingthedream

There are, potentially, many problematic outcomes here. I want to highlight just one. What happens if the called-by-God-person takes up an employed-by-the-church job that is not really suited for him or her at this particular time? It was just there: an open door of opportunity, which was a well-meaned but delicious enticement rather than a divine entrustment. Don’t be cross with me, but let’s just tell the truth. Christian jobs are invariably poorly paid – minimum wage or not much more. The income of the church or Christian organisation is usually low, so we are not talking about elders being mean or stingy, just what is practical and possible for a project or fellowship with very little resource.

Furthermore, these jobs tend to be called part-time (say 12 hours or so a week, perhaps 18), but the level of commitment anticipated is often full-time, especially where the worker might be reasonably expected to show up at regular church events, as they were before, but now as an unpaid staff member, setting an example of on-going voluntary service. It is not that this is wrong, merely that a part-time wage cannot usually pay anyone’s full way and so the necessity to find another part-time job (with perhaps an equally burdensome flexibility) kicks in. And that other job might well clash with lifegroup, prayer meeting or music practise.  It’s tough, I should know, I have done this twice in my life – with both of my ‘masters’ thinking that I wasn’t giving 100% to them. I pastored a church while working many days and evenings a week cleaning a cinema. The stress levels can rise, as can the debts.

Then, to top it all, the ministry job may not really fit the applicant’s skills or aspirations. Most part -time, churchy jobs almost always involve all the dull admin and odd-jobs that no-one else wants to do. Who can we pay to do this stuff? asks the eldership board. And you pop along! Many churches seek to be ‘Family’ or ‘Community’ centred but are desperately short on volunteers, so there is often some responsibility for youth, children and/or Foodbank, Debt Counselling, included somewhere in the mix. It is not that this cannot be enjoyable or rewarding for some, but God’s eager servant may need to think carefully. How many red-hot evangelists have been killed off, nailed to an office chair, for a few tenners a week, just so they could be called ‘Youth Pastor’ or ‘Community Worker’ on Facebook? How many preachers in the making get burnt-out on perusing health and safety policy documents or arranging insurance for the keyboard and drums? Or how about those who are called to serve the margins on the streets of poverty, finding themselves designing newsletters and crèche rotas, or worse still, preaching on Sundays? A side-effect of being poorly paid, scrimping and saving, and over-worked in two jobs can lead not just to stress and strain. Not just to debt. Worse, it can lead to resentment. A growing unhappiness with the very people or group you have agreed to love and serve.

God is calling many to serve Him; many into ministry. I am deeply passionate about this and I believe the Holy Spirit is too. I give altar-calls in the hope of altering calls. But perhaps being legally contracted is not the best plan, at least, not for everyone. So what is the alternative? There is one which, where possible, and under God’s blessing, can be a better and much more successful route into authentic ministry. That is: don’t seek for those ‘church jobs’ and go get yourself, where possible, a well-paid, secure secular position of employment. Yes, a proper job, in most cases! This may seem counter-intuitive, perhaps even like you are turning your back on God’s service in favour of money, ease or twenty-first century security and comforts, but for many people in varying scenarios this could honestly be the very best way to establish a life-long fruitful ministry. Let me explain.

Imagine being able to serve God in your carefully arranged spare time – to do exactly what you feel equipped and called to do for Him, nothing more or less – and not to be seeking to fill your precious spare time with other frustrating, part-time work. Imagine not being broke! A temptation of the devil? I don’t think so. There are a number of practical reasons why not being short of money is a good and godly idea, if you can do it, and none of them are about loving wealth or wanting to be a millionaire. For example,

  • Home. Those with a reasonable income are usually able to rent or buy a property, useful for meeting people, running lifegroups, being hospitable for pastoral care, or simply and unashamedly having a pleasant place to live and rest away from the demands of church work. I have lived many times in a single, rented room. It’s fine. But you can’t build a marriage or a ministry in it.
  • Transport. A Christian who isn’t broke all the time can get around. He or she can purchase, tax, insure and run a car: a pretty essential asset to twenty-first century living and making one mobile to attend all the meetings and events that make up contemporary ministry.
  • Generosity. You can tithe or give to the local church’s vision, for sure, but you can also be generous beyond Sundays! You’ll be amazed at how many visits to Costa you’ll genuinely need to make in ministry, meeting people and (being British and Christian) you’ll almost always pay. This could be a small fortune just on coffee alone, not to mention when they want tiffin cake too. God is a generous God so it is always helpful if we are able to model this with others.
  • Stress. How about having a quality of life that’s free from constant anxiety, often revolving around money or how the rent or gas and electric bill are going to be paid this month? While some may preach this as a spiritual virtue, causing the penniless church worker to ‘rely on God’, the reality for most is that worry and burden are not assets to abundant life. Most marital disputes are about money, so not having enough of it won’t help relationships either.
  • Mission. Thinking bigger, there could be flights in aeroplanes to book. Many churches are now engaging with Short Term missions, and these trips need quality Christians to make them happen. Of course, it’s not a holiday but even if your accommodation lacks glamour when you land, there are no missionary-rates on flights that I have seen lately. You might even want to go on holiday occasionally too, but don’t tell too many people about this wild extravagance!

Let me be clear. I am not making a case for a middle-class comfortable life as the only way to live and minister today. No-one should be serving God for money (Matthew 6:24). But surely, elements such as stress, anxiety, resentment, a constant struggle for financial resource and a severe lack of time are the kinds of things that could paralyse or terminate anyone’s ministry, especially after the enthusiasm of the honeymoon period is over. So let me encourage you! Where the Spirit of God opens a ‘you-shaped’ door into paid ministry, that is just wonderful. Give 100% and then some more. Of course, you should go through such a door and, if it is not sufficient income, let God help you to some how make things work! He is faithful! I have seen this happen for me. But don’t just take a ‘Christian job’ hoping to climb the ladder of success, cement a social media status, or to placate your family. If you really want a ministry, and for a long time, so that you can impact many people’s lives, maybe the secular job route is much smarter. The Bible says that we give out of abundance, not lack (2 Corinthians 8:14).


New BeginningsOver the last few months, I have found myself advising some of our amazing Bible school students about leaving college and handling the big question of “What do I do with my life next?” It is no small decision and one that I had to grapple with over twenty years ago. I had no ‘Christian job offer,’ no potential in the pipe, no plan and no last minute prophecy. I packed up my college room and went home, straight back on to the overhead projector from whence I’d come three years earlier! Square one. Here is a brief summary of some of these recent discussions, with particular reference to the calling and ministry of the Apostle Paul.

  1. AT THE END OF THE ROAD… You may well be called to ‘Rome’ (Acts 23:11) but in most cases it will be via ‘Straight Street’ (Acts 9:11) first. Forsake the notion that the next move must be accompanied by ‘you have reached your destination!’ Some of those dreams and visions could be decades away from fulfillment and, relax, that’s perfectly ok with God. It doesn’t mean that you’ll never see your ‘Rome.’
  2. BE A BRICK. Every ‘sent one’ needs an Antioch (Acts 13:1-2) – a fabulous local church. Paul was a hard working local leader and Antioch was not just his base; he was part of the brickwork! It was through serving locally that the Holy Spirit ensured he found both the right task and the right time: both are crucially important in order to be in the centre of God’s will, not our own. Look at the titles of the New Testament books: God is big on speaking to churches, less so to individuals. If you don’t take root you can’t bear fruit.
  3. PAY FOR GUIDANCE. No, I don’t mean rent-a-prophet. Notice the double mention of fasting and prayer as Paul and Barnabas are launched out (Acts 13:2-3). Prayer ensures you find your true calling in Christ, not a temporary career in Christianity. Authentic divine guidance is always expensive and arises from prayer-filled fumes. No smoke, no fire; no fire, no light. Lots of Christians with ministry potential have been guided by bushes that weren’t ablaze and ended up with a powerless staff.
  4. PLAN TO DO ‘THIS AND THAT.’ I have never been a fan of the phrase ‘God’s got a plan for me’ – surely that should read in the plural? ‘I know the plans…’ says Jeremiah 29:11. Acts 1:8 is clear that we have to do this AND do that. Galatia, Corinth, Philippi, Thessalonica: Paul had divine work to do in all sorts of places and I can only assume that is true for us today. Arriving in Rome may have been one of Paul’s goals, but there was no ‘big time’ in the kingdom of God. We serve God in the minutes not just the milestones.
  5. KNOW YOUR PLACE. Be real about yourself and about ministry life! You can’t really be team leader until you’ve been on the team for a good season (Acts 12:25). Initially, Barnabas would appear to have been the one in charge and it would be a while before Paul would become team leader, even though he was perceived to be the gifted one on Twitter (Acts 14:12). If called to pastoral or public ministry, sometimes the greatest thing you can be is a terrific Number Two; not temporarily, or strategically, but forever. You’ll only be happy and fulfilled if you’re exactly who God made you to be, and when.
  6. SQUARE ONE CAN BE A WINNER. Here’s a thought that helped me twenty years ago. Don’t be ashamed to simply ‘go home.’ Notice that the apostles’ first port of call was Cyprus (Acts 13:4). Question: Did the Spirit supernaturally lead them there, or was it that Barnabas knew the area well (Acts 4:36)? When you don’t know where to go, go where you know. It worked for me.
  7. BE OBSESSED WITH JESUS. Finally, despite our remarkable God-ordained differences and varying gifts and talents, our callings are ultimately all the same. We are called, in the words of Mark’s Gospel, to be with Him (Mark 3:14). Paul’s clear obsession was the Master not the ministry (Philippians 3:10). If called to Him, He will send us out to preach (Mark 3:14). He can’t send us if He can’t see us, and proximity to God is a human decision. Let history record that we were ‘heaven sent’ rather than we ‘got up and went.’

The Lord be with all our amazing students this summer. Blessed are the feet are those who bring good news!

How Can I Know who to Marry?

Posted: April 7, 2015 in Uncategorized

Who does God want me to marry?
How will I know when ‘the right person’ comes along?
Is it God’s choice or mine? What if God wants me to be single?
What does it mean to be unequally yoked?
Which Scriptures can be used to guide me?

The question of who a devout Christian person should marry is a difficult one, especially in Western contexts, as the Bible world was most often a place of ‘arranged marriages’ making direct advice on dating and marriage choices very rare in the Scripture. But it is not all bad news! There are a number of great wisdom tips in Genesis 24 – the story of Issac and Rebekah – which can guide this important life decision. This message was recorded live in front of the student body at Mattersey Hall, the National Leadership Academy (AOG). While some of the examples are based around college life, the principles will apply to any serious minded Christian seeking both God’s call and God’s partner in his or her life. Enjoy!

Hot on the sandy heels of Hollywood’s ‘Noah’ epic comes ‘Exodus: Gods and Kings’ – ostensibly about the life of Moses as described in the first dozen chapters of the Bible’s second book. I went to see it this evening and, boy oh boy, it was certainly epic. Epicly disappointing.

Now, I wasn’t naive enough to think it would come, word for word from the original Masoretic text. I understand that Hollywood reserves the right to have artistic license and to add light and shade to a narrative not necessarily designed for a movie audience. But the story in this film deviates so far from the Bible as to make it quite unpalatable at times and the essential ‘tone’ of this movie even borders on the offensive.

Is it based on the Bible account? Well, where do we begin? It’s quite understandable that the producers drop the eighty year old age tag of the protagonist Moses. Christian Bale’s young face will sell the movie. But unfortunately, the script portrays Moses as a violent soldier, devoid of any actual personality or religious conviction/experience. The holy and loving God of the Hebrews is depicted as an impetuous child, appearing like a ghost or demon, guiding (and occasionally rowing with) a secular and sceptical Moses. The burning bush is especially ambiguous, perhaps deliberately so, suggesting that the whole experience is a mild mental breakdown on the part of Moses, due to a timely bump on the head. The plagues of Egypt, most of which are explained scientifically, are complimented by violent acts of terrorism against the Egyptians by the Hebrews, led by a Jihad-driven Moses. God, if he exists outside of Moses’ mind at all, is a mysterious impersonal monster. Any hope that this could be partially redeemed by the dramatic crossing of the Red Sea at the end of the movie is without foundation. The scene hints at supernatural activity for sure but no more than a hint and the kind that one might find in a horror flick. We are left imagining that the Hebrews crossed in shallow waters while the Egyptians are killed by a storm and a rock fall. The earlier scene where the infant ‘God’ shouted in rage for revenge left me wanting to leave the cinema. I probably should have.

Ironically, I’m normally a fan of director Ridley Scott but despite the superb production values, CGI special effects and no doubt a shed load of money and work, the whole thing falls flat at first base with the script. Moses and Ramases shown as ‘brothers’ was the creative non-biblical element that added soap opera to ‘The Prince of Egypt’ and does the same here. Neither of these two lead actors persuaded me they were real people. At times, Bale sounded like the real ‘actor’ wasn’t on set and he was a stand-in reading the lines for a camera rehearsal. But the misrepresentation of God’s character is the unforgivable ingredient which I suspect will have Christians and those of other faiths like Judaism and Islam seeking an early exodus from ‘Exodus.’ Wasn’t the original story exciting and compelling enough for Hollywood this time?

I suspect, however, for those of us who love and cherish the biblical text, there could be some good news. Back in the early eighties, George Lucas and Steven Spielberg turned the Ark of the Covenant into a fantasy film too (‘Raiders of the Lost Ark’) that caused me as a curious teenager to read the Bible for the very first time. Let’s trust this movie does the same and I am optimistic enough to believe it will. Devout ‘Hobbit’ fans are encouraging us that the recent film franchise is nothing ‘compared to the book.’ That seems like excellent advice here too. Thinking of seeing ‘Exodus’? If you like big blockbusters, you might like it, but I’d pass-over this one if I were you. And if you want the original and authentic story found in the Bible, I’d avoid this movie like the plague.


Sustaining a Spiritual Renewal

Posted: October 31, 2014 in Uncategorized

Many churches and individuals experience a move of the Holy Spirit that sadly doesn’t last – a time of spiritual renewal that comes to an end. This will often happen when we enjoy the Spirit but neglect obedience to the Word. This is demonstrated by the story of the man who died by the Ark. This challenging message, brought to the student body, was recorded at Mattersey Bible College.

Living the Dream

Posted: November 5, 2013 in Uncategorized

Joseph‘Living the Dream’ has to be one of my pet hates when it comes to a social media status update. Perhaps I am just jealous, thinking others are having a better time than me! But living his dream is something that the Old Testament prophet Joseph did, even when he thought he was in a nightmare. I am sure there is a phenomenal amount we can learn about living the purpose-filled life from him. Here are a few ideas:

1. Make sure your dream really is from God. It may be exciting for you (Genesis 37:6-11) and others may endorse that God is with you (Genesis 41:38-39) but will the outcome of your vision be of benefit to others? This is often the litmus test of whether we  are on track with heaven (Genesis 45:7).

2. Be careful who you share your dream with! Joseph’s brothers were supremely unimpressed (Genesis 37:5-11). Heavenly business is not everyone’s business and sharing too much may lead to arrogance or self importance – this was Paul’s concern too (2 Corinthians 12:1-7). Best to take a leaf out of Mary’s book and keep things hidden in your heart (Luke 2:19).

3. Accept that God may need to ‘edit you.’ The Joseph narrative has him lose his robes again and again (Genesis 37:23; 39:11-13). For some of us, every time we work out who we are and what our work is, we find ourselves being remoulded for the next season. Slap bang, back on the potter’s wheel, just when we had established life’s future shape. Each robe Joseph wore was a containment that just looked like a blessing. Let God edit, painful though it may be. While the Lloyd-Webber show ends with Joseph asking for his ‘coloured coat’, in fact it wasn’t for him by then. We often have to ‘move on’ in God’s plan.

4. Serve the vision of others. Before he ruled the planet, Joseph ruled the prison and Potiphar’s place. Before his dream came true, he interpreted the dreams of his fellow ‘waiting room’ companions (Genesis 40). It’s rare to meet someone who has found success in ministry and service to Christ, who has not first served wholeheartedly the vision of their local church or leader. We are not the centre of the universe, just a link in a chain.

5. Pass the character tests. Most of us are aware that we face tests but those who find God’s greatest blessing are those who realise that these are tests to be passed! Joseph was hated, abused, attacked, sold into slavery, tempted with sexual activity, falsely accused, wrongfully imprisoned, forgotten by a vital government department… the list goes on. Perhaps the biggest test was that he was later given authority – the power to deal harshly with everyone who had wronged him. He forgave with joy and thanked God for the journey. Keep a good heart, otherwise your dream is just a fantasy.

6. Praise God even if the dream seems to die. The vision of being the sheaf of corn that rose above them all must have seemed absolute folly as Joseph entered his third year of dungeon time. What he couldn’t possibly have known was that each ‘negative’ step was taking him closer to the day of its fulfilment. Sometimes we have to let a dream go and accept that we have got it wrong; other times, we need to rejoice. The sovereign Lord is taking us to a great place, even if we wouldn’t have chosen the route ourselves. We may be nearer than we think.

I love how the story concludes. The character-tested dreamer has not had his faith stolen during the process and he has clearly held on to God through it all, rather than just the dream. He says to his rogue brothers: “You intended to harm me but God intended it for good, to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives” (Genesis 50:20). If God has spoken to you, even if you are a thousand miles from any sense of fulfilment, watch out – you may in fact be living the dream after all.

People whom God trusts

Posted: April 15, 2013 in Uncategorized


Amazing to meet worship leader and prophet Richard Lewis over the weekend. Richard and his sons Matt and Ben were our guests at King’s Church for a worship concert on Sunday morning. It is so refreshing to meet genuinely gifted people who have retained all the humility that makes Jesus so attractive! Like the “John the Baptist” family or the daughters of Philip the Evangelist, here we have a whole family of Spirit-filled people, with teenager Matt (17) as strongly prophetic as his father. Knowing the private lives of many of the people over whom they spoke, I could only be amazed at their prophetic accuracy as they ministered to different ones after the concert was over. Richard had no knowledge naturally but the Holy Spirit was clearly giving insight and he and Matt had learned to hear Him carefully. Great to meet people whom God feels He can trust! If you are a church leader who loves the move of God, especially when handled maturely, touch base with Richard Lewis. We are in discussions with them about a return visit – perhaps a special one day conference in the future.

True prophecy gives hope for the future and leaves me knowing that God knows me! That’s how I left church on Sunday.