Skip to content


Here's the poem I wrote last week performed:

Let me explain some of my thinking...

In the first kingdom everything is framed in transactional terms. There is a reward for the girl and, naturally, people want to talk about the terms and conditions. So there is a battle between legalism and licence: give the girl too much and she'll spend it on prodigal living. Impose too many terms and she's little more than a slave.

And so a debate ensues. One side may want the goodies given freely, no strings attached. The other side wants the girl to prove how serious she is about royal living.

These debates can get tiresome. But the worst development of all is the person who stands up claiming to have discovered the optimal payment structure - not too strict, not too liberal. These sanctification Goldilockses are just right - balancing license and legalism with their perfectly measured pastoral pronouncements.

But the answer is NOT to balance licence and legalism. The solution to this problem does not lie in between these errors. We need to come out of this transactional kingdom and enter the realm of gracious union. If we miss union with Christ, we miss everything, and we will be doomed to ping-pong back and forth between "grace" and "holiness" - as though those things were extremes to be avoided!

In Christ's kingdom, He marries His wicked bride - freely giving her His righteousness, graciously taking on Himself her sins. She offers Him nothing. He gives her everything.

And in that utterly gracious union, she finds herself both captive and crowned. She has a new Lord forevermore. And she has new freedoms she could never have imagined. Both. At the same time.

The bride now has everything - but not apart from her Lord. In her Lord she is free and she's possessed. In her Lord she is freely forgiven and given a new life. In her Lord, she is loved in spite of all sin and she's claimed for royal living.

If you take your eyes off your gracious Lord, you might celebrate the security of your wedding ring - surrounding you no matter what your behaviour. On the other hand, you might emphasize the seriousness of your wedding vows - binding upon you at all times. But neither focus is the Scriptural one. Look at Jesus - freely given to you in all your sin, fully possessing you for all your life.

Don't balance licence and legalism. They're both errors and the answer is not in between. In Christ we are both captive and crowned.

A repost

I preached in a pub this afternoon.  There was a gospel choir giving a concert and I said a few words here and there.  While the choir was doing its thing I spotted a pretty young blonde in the crowd eyeing up the female conductor with the kind of jealousy only a woman can muster. Men are too emotionally shallow for such mixtures of awe, scorn and terrified confusion. The conductor was dancing away, clapping and singing, leading the choir in joyful praise. The blonde looked like she just about remembered smiling, back before she renounced sudden facial movements for the sake of her plastic beauty.  Anyway, it prompted this poem:


Plaintive, Platinum, Pained
Caked in make up,
faked up, furtive,
Birdlike watching,
wild-eyed, wondring how she's watched.

Faintly feeble, restless, regal,
perched in peerless poses,
None opposes,
Female poseurs all faced-down.
No finer found
than she.
And she knows it.

Yet on this day, a blaze is lit, to flit
Upon her plastic face.  New radiant grace
descends to offend. To bend and afflict her.
Slight frowns a-flicker.
Scowls unfurl.
Lips now curl.
For here a foreign fire is set upon her world.

Another sun is risen.
Unbidden.  And previously hidden.
She hasn't sought the room's permission.
And yet she stands four square, bare foot and laughing,
Leading, clapping, stamping, shouting.
Tangled hair and hands upraised,
God praised in ways unfazed
by inhibition.

At once the made-up beauty gapes. Envy's swirled.
There's longing there, in her stare.  And rage.
And awe and shame and scorn.
This light has dawned
from another age. A distant world.

The light, for her, was meant to fall,
and she to catch its rays,
in dappled hues upon her face.
She had not thought at all
That she was meant to blaze.

But then, what Force could ever source such light?
To call it mine and free-forgetful shine.
Much safer to take flight, flee to flattering night,
ever minding others' sight.
And yet true beauty will endure,
she stands secure,
first captured by a fierce delight,
And tunes our hearts to Joy's invite.


Preacher Silhouette 2

The tune for 'Praise My Soul' works

O thou brain -- exalted, senior,
Holding forth from pulpit's throne.
Feed us with thy academia,
Meted out in monotone.
‘We could never,
‘We could never,
‘Plumb such myst'ries on our own.'

Hear the classics now recited,
Tumbling from thy tutored lips.
Nooks ignored are now ignited,
By thy Greek and Latin quips.
‘O how richly
‘O how richly,
‘Wisdom from each sentence drips.'

Teach us frames to fathom glory,
Scriptures' tale doth not agree.
Pure distil the Jesus story,
Into subtle sophistry.
‘All was darkness
‘All was darkness,
‘Till thou spoke and now we see.'

Pompous, ponderous, proud, pretentious,
Leaning o'er thy preacher's perch.
Pressing out the sap that quenches,
Thirst for knowledge, Eden's search.
‘Breathe thy wisdom
‘Breathe thy wisdom
‘Till inflated is thy church'

O thou noble mind pray guide us,
Through the darkness and the lies.
Warn us from thy foul deriders,
We shall fear, avoid, despise.
‘Raise a banner
‘Raise a banner
‘We shall chant thy tribal cries.'

How to mark our true devotion?
What could ever count as praise?
But to clone thy stale emotion,
Forced to feign thy learned ways.
‘Where's my study?
‘Where's my study?
‘I'll abide there all my days.'

Marching strong into the brightness,
Resolute, we set our face.
Staunch persistence, clothed in rightness,
Rectitude, our saving grace.
‘Call us onward
‘Call us onward
‘Grimly to our resting place.'

Then one day in vindication,
Face to face at last we'll see
Precious few in that location,
Gathered with thy coterie.
‘Now receive us
‘Now receive us
‘To thy ‘ternal library.'




preacherFor more vitrio-verse on "preaching" check out this hymn.

And here is a poem to encapsulate all that's worst about show-pulpitry...


“Tis Scripture, Tis Scripture,” he loudly proclaims
“Our rule and our guide, Our fount and our frame.
We stand on the bible, for better, for worse
But let me give vent to my own bluster first.”

“Tis Scripture, Tis Scripture, so let me digress –
To warn you of others who do not confess
Our creed guaranteed to produce a revival:
We are the ones who honour the bible.

“Tis Scripture, Tis Scripture, though some shun our scheme
Daring to preach on one verse, or a theme!
I really must warn you about all our rivals,
And then I will ask you to take up your bibles.

“Tis Scripture, Tis Scripture, and so I rehearse
Our constant insistence on verse by verse.
Methodical, logical, slowly proceeding,
This is our system, now, what was our reading?

“Tis Scripture, Tis Scripture, but don’t be naive,
The troubles with preaching you would not believe.
We must invest time in Corinthian Gnostics,
The value of genre and Hebrew acrostics.

“Tis Scripture, Tis Scripture, a difficult book,
But do not despair for to me you can look.
The dirty great chasm between then and now
Is bridg’d by my painstaking, expert know-how.

“Tis Scripture, Tis Scripture, The clock is against us!
I fear that I shan’t do this passage its justice.
We’ve only got time for a mere  bible dip,
Yet before we explore – a joke and a quip.

“Tis Scripture, Tis Scripture, but first let me quote
From Shakespeare and Churchill, a drole anecdote,
My children’s exploits and the signs of the times,
The state of the church, and, my, how time flies!

“Tis Scripture, Tis Scripture, just time for essentials,
But, wait, have I listed my many credentials?
My friends in high places, the people I meet,
The man I converted in the aeroplane seat?

“Tis Scripture, Tis Scripture, although it’s a drag
I’ll lighten the tone with a mother-in-law gag.
And stories I’ve stolen from preachers at will.
Consider it sugar to sweeten the pill.

“Tis Scripture, Tis Scripture, though sixty six books –
This story of glory’s more plain than it looks.
Distilling its filling through splendid oration,
You’ll see it boils down to this fine illustration.

“Tis Scripture, Tis Scripture, the detail’s not vital,
I’ve spent all my time on a memorable title
And quaint turns of phrase that will please only me,
And predictable points, beginning with ‘P’.

“Tis Scripture, Tis Scripture, my time is now through,
My pithy summation will just have to do.
You guessed it the moment my sermon began:
God is the Boss. Submit to His plan.

“Tis Scripture, Tis Scripture, And now let us pray,
‘I thank You my Father You made me this way,
Not like all those others about whom we’ve heard
For I am the preacher who honours Your word.’”



Will Mackerras has done a fantastic job with the Banjo Bible: The greatest story ever told, as Australian poet Banjo Paterson might have told it!  He takes you through the whole bible in the manner of a bush balladeer.

Here's a Christmas version of "There was movement at the station" - based on Paterson's original poem here.  Will's video is so authentic, he even trained flies to crawl across the lens on cue!


There was movement in the heavens for the word had passed around,
That overnight the Son of God had got away,
And then had joined the wildest mob that ever ran upon the ground –
A race of creatures fierce and feral, scorned and stray.
For he had taken on a body in a human mother’s frame,
And so the angels gathered, readied for the fight,
For any cherub loves adventure where redemption is the aim,
And all the seraphs snuff the battle with delight.

There was the Father, God Almighty, who it seemed had made a plan
For the manoeuvre many centuries ago,
For he was briefing all his minions that this little Son of Man
Would bring an end to the rebellion down below.
And then the Spirit of the overflow, the Holy number three,
Was there to muster all his power in the lead,
For with the Father and the Son he was the Lord – the Trinity,
And it was up to them to make the plan succeed.

“Now there’s a little while to wait”, the Father said in measured tone,
“For he’ll be in his mother Mary longer yet.”
“However Joseph, her fiancé, needs a briefing of his own,
For when he notices he could be quite upset.”
And so an angel known as Clancy went to make the matter mild,
And as he left the Father wore a tender grin –
He added “Clancy, tell him ‘Jesus’ is the name to give the child,
For he’ll be rescuing a people from their sin”.

And so he went; they next assembled forty weeks or so from then,
When Mary saddled up her small and weedy beast.
It had a touch of Timor donkey; three parts thoroughbred of ten –
A hard and tough and wiry burro of the east.
And it would carry her to Bethlehem with Joseph at her side,
And it was there the Saviour joined the atmosphere,
And in the firmament above, the gathered heavenlies applied
their very all to give a hale and hearty cheer.

And now from Kosciusko, where the pine-clad ridges raise
Their torn and rugged battlements on high,
To the wildly busy cities, where the lamps and headlights blaze
Into the midnight of the vast and starry sky;
Indeed wherever gospel messengers have held a little sway
Across out beautiful and well created earth,
A Saviour known as Jesus is a household word today,
And joyful millions tell the story of his birth.


You can listen to two further samples here.  The rest of the recordings will be up on December 17th.



Rich Owen has dug up a great old hymn by WC Smith, added a verse and reworked it.  I tinkered some more and we've now got two fairly majorly reworked versions.  The first is to the tune of Cwm Rhonda (Guide me O...)

Earth was waiting, spent and restless,
certain hope with mingled fear;
Hard the dying, long the sighing,
'Surely, Lord, the day is near;
Great Desire of all the nations,
Speed the hour when you appear,
Speed the hour when you appear!

In the barren streets of Israel,
where the Lord would make his home,
there a lost, rejected people
under curse and law they groan
this old world because of wisdom,
Neither Lord nor God had known,
Neither Lord nor God had known.

Then the Spirit of the Highest
to a virgin meek came down,
Mary bore the Lord's Anointed,
through the cross to claim His crown
weakness shouldered, man enfolded,
Adam's flesh became His gown.
Adam's flesh became His gown.

Earth for Him had groaned and suffered,
since the ages first began;
faithful men who longed to see Him
now beheld the Promised One
God's Salvation, Son of David,
Son of God and Son of Man,
Son of God and Son of Man.

And here's a version that departs even further from the original.  Here's one to that well known meter: 447 447 44447!

In other words it's to the tune of Infant Holy, Infant Lowly which I love (Youtube of tune).

World awaiting, fallen, fainting,
Certain hope with mingled fear;
Hard the dying, long the sighing,
'Surely, Lord, the day is near;
Come Messiah, Earth's Desire,
Hope of nations, generations,
Speed the hour when you appear,
Speed the hour when you appear!'

Dead in Adam, Israel barren,
where the Lord shall claim His own.
God's elected, yet rejected,
under curse and law they groan.
Sin abounding, hope confounding,
Wisdom darkened, hating, hardened,
In our pit He made His home,
In our pit He made His home.

Spirit sending, Christ descending,
To a virgin, meek came down.
To exchange a throne for manger,
Through the cross to claim His crown,
Sorrows sharing, burdens bearing,
Weakness shouldered, man enfolded,
Adam's flesh became His gown.
Adam's flesh became His gown.

Jacob's story, stooping glory,
To retrace the path we trod,
Heaven's Dearest, coming near us,
Bearing Man back home to God.
Loving Neighbour, Prince and Saviour,
Priest and Ransom, Brother, Champion,
Son of Man and Son of God,
Son of Man and Son of God.


First there was this extract from a sermon...

Then, the following year, we hastily filmed a poetic version. The sound didn't work at the time, which is why we had to dub the voice later...

10ofThose then released a kinetic-typographied version...

And here's a new live version:

Please share it on Facebook and/or use it in your Christmas services this year.


The glory of the bloodied God
His fruitfulness in shame
Stooped lower than all men have trod
In torment in the flame

The writhing worm, disjointed dry
Rejected from His birth
Thrust groaning into Satan's sky
Accursed by heaven and earth

Hell's blackest cloak enfolds with death
From Pinnacle to pit
To choke the Source of Living Breath
Extinguish all that's lit

The Mighty Man at war cries out
It echoes ‘gainst the sky
Resounding as a futile shout
Within a victory cry

Creation torn from Head to toe
His body out of joint
The Rock that splits is split in two
Creation to anoint

Our Jonah hurled as recompense
Into abysmal depths
The beast that swallows Innocence
Is swallowed by His death

Divine appeasing blood poured out
Divinely pleasing scent
While man appraises with his snout
Declares it death's descent

Then crowned in curse, enthroned on wood
My God nailed to the tree
The reigning blood, that cleansing flood
Is opened up for me.

Thanks to Vincent Marty-Terrain for translating!

On dit que tout là-haut vivrait un grand barbu,
Soi-disant très joyeux, mais... difficile à dire :
Je ne l'ai jamais vu, en fait, et toi non plus.
Mais les enfants y croient, ça peut bien nous suffire.

On le dit solitaire, et puis plein de mystère,
Pas le temps de parler, il a bien trop à faire !
Et s'il vit en reclus tout au long de l'année,
Nous, on est bien content qu'il se montre discret.

Quand on s'adresse à lui, pour nos besoins urgents,
Jamais de réponse : qui sait s'il nous entend ?
On veut être sages, raisonnement simpliste,
Pour mériter nos places sur sa belle liste.

Et peut-être qu'un jour, mais c'est sans garantie,
Il nous donnera tout, pourvu qu'on soit gentils.
Alors moi j'en ai marre, et je crie au scandale :
C'est un distributeur qui nous fait la morale !

Ce coup de gueule peut paraître un peu étrange
Mais c'est pas le Père Noël qui me dérange,
Aussi drôle qu'il soit, et il est bien curieux,
Je m'attaque en fait à l'idée qu'on a de Dieu.

C'est Dieu que l'on voit comme un vieux barbu distant,
Père Noël antique, invisible géant
"Il te voit quand tu dors, il te vois éveillé,
Il regarde et attends pour te voir te planter".

Comme au Père Noël, nos souhaits, on lui envoie,
On veut bien ses cadeaux, mais lui on n'en veut pas !
C'est la vérité bien qu'on ne la reconnaisse :
On peut l'embellir, mais ce n'est que du business.

Il faut que nous soyons gentils pendant l'année
Pour avoir un bonus lorsqu'elle est terminée.
“Donne-nous nos cadeaux, on a été bien sages !
Puis va-t'en, on a tout ce qu'on voulait, vieux mage!”

Car le Père Noël est piquant, singulier,
Mais personne ne voudrait qu'il reste à dîner !
Je suis sûr que c'est un hôte haut en couleur,
Pourtant nous craignons son discours révélateur.

Voilà donc ce que l'on croit du Père Noël
Et c'est l'idée qu'on a de ce Dieu dans le ciel.
Mais Noël nous illumine de son éclat,
Car voilà : le Dieu Très-Haut est né ici-bas.

Il vint en personne au sein de notre misère:
Dieu le Fils, lui, est devenu Dieu notre Frère.
Il vint à nos côtés, pour y être à jamais,
Lui, notre Emmanuel, notre Dieu incarné.

Ce Dieu né humblement bouleverse nos clichés:
Il descend de son ciel, il est destitué,
Bercé dans la paille, bébé gesticulant,
Car pour nous sauver c'est notre place qu'il prend.

Le vieux Noël donne les cadeaux et repart,
Jésus vient pour nous connaître, il vient pour nous voir;
Le vieux Noël récompense les enfants sages,
Jésus guérit, pardonne, nous sort de nos cages.

Si tu n'aimes pas Dieu, je crois savoir pourquoi…
Tu le prends pour ce Père Noël de gala.
Tu fais bien de rejeter cet épouvantail !
Mais regarde, aujourd'hui, ce Dieu né sur la paille.

Adaptation du poème de Glen Scrivener,
par Vincent Marty-Terrain.

Twitter widget by Rimon Habib - BuddyPress Expert Developer