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Preview: Life on Wings - A Tribute to Dr Ern Baxter

Life on Wings - A Tribute to Dr Ern Baxter

Updated: 2018-02-06T17:06:38.887+00:00


A Word on Bravery Certificates ...


I had another lightbulb moment today - a truly privilidged experience of "walking in my patient and their families shoes" and understanding the very importance of the impact healthcare professionals can have upon those under their care.  For a while now one of my guiding principles has been an inspiring quote by the great writer Maya Angelou.  She said:With that context in mind, for those who do not mix in paediatric healthcare circles - let me explain the principle of a "bravery certificate".  A Travel Health Nurse specialist describes bravery certificates as "one of the most popular items nurses like to use when seeing children".  It's very true.  In my 13 years qualified as a nurse, I have seen again and again how important they are to the young people and their families.  But largely within the NHS - they are often seen as a "luxury" that a nurse can only personalise for their patients if they have time.  Sadly the comment I often receive if I am taking time to colour in a bravery certificate for my patient is - "well you obviously aren't busy if you have time to do that".  I understand that comment - in an NHS often consummed with bed numbers, targets, waiting times and so on - a "little" thing like a bravery certificate is seen as unnecessary.But here's what made me re-energised in the important part they play in the overall experience for especially children and young people and their families - twice this week, and from two different families, I have been able to find the time (usually during my break) to colour in bravery certificates for my patients and have given them on discharge.  And both times I got the same comment from the families;"Oh wow - look at that "Billy" - we will frame that and put it on your wall!".Let me make it clear - I am no artist.  My colouring is poor and I sometimes step outside the line.  It is no masterpiece worthy of the National Gallery!  So why this response I wondered?My reflection leads me to believe that it is quite simply that this certificate reinforces to your patient and their family the fact that you - their nurse - have thought of them as a PERSON - not as a bed number.  The very little bit of colouring demonstrates that you have taken a little bit of extra time in your busy day (and your patients know you are busy - they are mostly watching you!) to express your admiration for the bravery they have demonstrated.  And I think that by giving them this little gift along with their discharge paperwork - you are showing that you recognise they and their families have been through a great deal in coming into hospital and going through the procedure they have or the treatment they have.My call to nurses is - it doesn't have to be bravery certificates.  It's not about "what".  It's about "how you make them feel".  It is the little action of showing your patient and their family that you are recognising they are people, they have their own individual stories and hopes and fears and aspirations.  It shows that you recognise them coming into hospital is a big deal for them (and possibly scares them rigid) and you care about that and their feelings.So don't think "it's nothing - it's not important" as yes - bravery certificates can't be quantified, and don't meet CQUIN standards for NHS Trusts.  They are important I feel, because they make a difference to the patients and their families at that moment in time, and improves their patient experience ten-fold.  And that is the one opportunity we have.  Chief Nurse of NHS England - the wonderful Jane Cummings - always says "we only have one opportunity".  And back to my opening quote from Maya Angelou;"They may forget what we said, they may forget what we did - but they will never, ever forget how we made them feel".And as nurses - our NMC Code of Conduct binds us - we MUST put patients first![...]

To Strike - Or Not to Strike? That is the Question ...


There was a fascinating discussion on the Nursing Times twitter feed today which I eagerly took part in.  It was centered around the debate as to whether nurses in the United Kingdom should consider strike action over the on-going pay dispute.For those non-nurses among us - simply put, nursing and midwifery pay in the UK has effectively been frozen for the last 5 years or so, and the small increases when they have come have been so below inflation that they effectively equal a pay cut.  To add to the anger among my colleagues - it doesn't help reading about MP's voting and awarding themselves pay rises of considerably more.  Or (closer to home) perhaps some senior NHS managers receiving also larger pay rises.  A further note of discomfort for many colleagues is that our regulator - the NMC - is consulting to raise our yearly registration fee from £100 to £120 which is mainly use to hold Fitness to Practice panels often resulting in nurses being struck off over doubts over their capability.Nurses are angry.  That is common knowledge.  But is striking the best way?  I responded a strong "NO"!  I've suffered too.  I had to take out a loan to renew my NMC registration this year.  My hero - Nursing Times Editor Chief Jenni Middleton commented this to me;It made me take a step back and think.  Am I disgracing my profession and colleagues by such a standpoint?  Should I be marching with placards out in the street?  Are the government really cackling in glee at such a "naive" view as mine?  But here's my issue.The Code of Professional Conduct - which defines myself and all colleagues as a nurse or midwife says this;"The people in your care must be able to trust you with their health and well being. To justify that trust, you must make the care of people your first concern".In it's closing statement to the "Mid-Staffordshire Public Inquiry" chaired by Sir Robert Francis, the Department of Health submitted this key statement:"The patient should be at the center of all that the NHS does".So before I personally consider strike action - no matter how angry I or colleagues may be - the patient must be considered!  Now a couple of unions have proposed variations on a complete strike.  What about emergency cover only (such as firemen often do)?  But here's the rub.  What constitutes "emergency" cover for the patients under my care?  Let me walk a few moments in my patient's shoes.What about the young person admitted to Surgical Daycare for the insertion of a Hickman line?  He has just been diagnosed with leukemia and needs to commence chemotherapy.  I guess the insertion could be cancelled - but the longer his chemotherapy is delayed, the longer the potential for spread.  I would argue that procedure constitutes an emergency for that family.What about the young person who has an outpatient appointment with a cardiologist - she's been having "funny palpitations" but as yet undiagnosed.  Without an OPD nurse, that appointment could be cancelled.  But the fears and worries for that family that their beloved daughter has a heart problem needing heart surgery would constitute an emergency in their case.What about the disabled child with learning disabilities who has been waiting months for an appointment to be fitted for a wheelchair?  They have been getting sore and uncomfortable and have outgrown their current chair.  Without that nurse-led appointment they may have to wait months more.  To that child and family - it's an emergency.I am aware this very personal view may be seen as a "betrayal" in my colleagues eyes.  I will understand if some unions vote - and indeed go on strike to protest the unacceptable pay decisions imposed upon us as a profession.  But at present - I just cannot see myself personally and professionally accepting going out on strike.  The trust of the patients and their families just mean too much to me.  I have read the comp[...]

A Review of "Little Stories of Life and Death" by Dr David Drew


I don't often review books on this blog - but this book was and is an exception.  It is very important to me personally for a number of reasons:It is about child patient safety - something both Dr David Drew and myself have dedicated our lives to.It is about injustice - something that I cannot tolerate personally or professionally.It is about endurance - the story doesn't always end with a happy ending.  But has the story ended?A few words about how I came across Dr David Drew.  I am an unashamed social media advocate.  Yes I do believe it can be used for harm, and can (like any medium) be misused.  I am grateful as a nurse - to my regulator the Nursing and Midwifery Council - for not blanket banning use of it but promoting professional use.  Any nurse, midwife, doctor or Allied Health Professional must bear in mind at all times we can be called to give account for what we say, write or do.  But the massive benefits of social media mean a far wider social and professional network beyond your immediate workplace.  So it was due to Twitter that I became familiar with the account of Dr Drew and his whistleblowing account, and difficult personal and professional experience at the hands of Walsall NHS Trust.Haven't heard of Dr Drew?  This page is the best summary with links to appropriate news articles.  The most heart breaking link is this news report concerning baby Kyle Keen.  "Little Stories" - Dr Drew's autobiography - is dedicated to the memory of baby Kyle.  It can be objectively argued that his professional difficulties began when he argued that the manner in which baby Kyle died was unacceptable and should not have happened.  But for more detail on that - you will have to read the book.Here's what struck me about the book:1.  Dr David (and all HCP's) is first and foremost HUMAN and have stories.This book is published at a time when our beloved NHS is coming under a lot of criticism (much of it deserved) because NHS professionals are sometimes not giving their human patients the respect, dignity and care that they deserve.  Much of this inexcusable care is often delivered because a basic human fundamental truth is being forgotten - PATIENTS are HUMAN BEINGS (Mid Staffs and Winterborne show an appalling demonstration of this).  But we must not forget that NHS professionals are human beings too - there's a reason why we ended up wanting to care.  And when that duty of care fails - is anyone asking why?So I urge and encourage and recommend the first few chapters of "Little Stories" because Dr David writes candidly and honestly as to how he "ended up" in medicine.  I very much found an affinity with him because like him, my parents did not actively encourage me into nursing.  I ended up in nursing quite by accident.Throughout the account of "Little Stories" - I found myself being drawn time and again to the pain and agony that Mrs Janet Drew must have gone through - living Dr David's pain as an observer.  Again it is something I am hugely familiar with.  In a way healthcare professionals families can suffer uniquely because they have to watch (and not understand) the pain their loved one experiences being mistreated at the hands of their employer.  All they can do is watch.  Their healthcare professional loved one must walk it alone!  And for that (as has been said before) Mrs Drew is very much the heroine of "Little Stories" for standing and walking by his side - what a wife!  What a hero!2.  Dr David cares passionately about his patients.Any reader of "Little Stories" - whether they be critic or supporter - cannot deny (I feel) that Dr David cares passionately about the patients under his care.  The quite incredible case of extremely low temperatures on the paediatric ward due to facilities failures demonstrates his concern greatest.  I was gripped by his account of getting up during the night and coming in to direct equall[...]

Phil Johnson speaks against Celebrity Christianity


I am not normally a staunch proponent of John Macarthur or the Shepherds Conference (see previous posts on "Strange Fire") but I am so grateful to Todd from Dubai for this.  He is right - it's excellent, and something I am becoming increasingly convinced of as a great error and problem in evangelical Christianity at the moment.  I say that as one who spent years almost worshipping "heroes" in the faith.  The whole sermon is well worth a listen to!

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May add some key quotes shortly.

Life after "Strange Fire"


I've made no secret of my struggle to maintain interest or passion in theological/spiritual matters this past year or two.  I still believe in God (not so sure about the church thanks to past experience).  But this is a work in progress - certainly not an unfinished story.  A few issues sparked my interest - for example, John Macarthur's "Strange Fire" conference of a few months ago.

A brief history with Macarthur:  As I was growing up in Dunstable and discovering an experiential relationship with God, my church and senior pastor were going in polar opposite directions.  And Macarthur's "Charismatic Chaos" was the instruction manual flogged around Dunstable for that.  I have always fervently believed my pastor Stanley Jebb's motto that; "the unexamined opinion is hardly worth holding".  So I read "Charismatic Chaos" and found it thoroughly interesting.  It didn't persuade me in the slightest of anything - apart from human beings are human beings and make mistakes.  Oh - it also persuaded me that John Macarthur was a throughly negative, unpleasant individual who was having a nasty effect on the pastor and my church - and it was something and someone I didn't want to be like in the slightest!

So the mention of "John Macarthur" usually makes me roll my eyes.  That's why when C J Mahaney started preaching for Macarthur - some reformed/charismatics were thrilled and thought it meant Macarthur was "softening" in his anti-charismatic views and maybe the bald-headed one was impressing him with his sense.  Rubbish.  All "Strange Fire" proved was that in fact Mahaney is taking the same path my pastor in Dunstable took, and is taking all possible steps to reject charismatic life in his church (apart from apostolic authority - in all but name).  A quick glance at Mahaney's "church programme" proves that - no room for the Holy Spirit there!

So I was interested today to find a You-Tube video of Macarthur speaking about the follow-up from the "Strange Fire" conference.  He has taken a lot of stick (quite rightly) for his harsh and intolerant suggestions that charismatics are not Christians.  This is his answer - and essentially he sticks by his views.  Another book is promised to answer his critics (around 26 minutes).  But what particularly interested me was Macarthur's taking on of Dr Martyn Lloyd-Jones and John Piper in particular (38:12) - namely that pastors and preachers have NO business seeking an anointing or unction from on high to preach!


Here it is;

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Sing It Louder!


I was thinking a lot about mental health issues today thanks to the great "Time to Talk" focus day this week.  One account particularly moved me - that of "Time to Talk" campaigner Johnny Benjamin - sharing his experience of how he almost threw himself off a bridge in London but was saved by a passerby.  It struck, worried and moved me how awful the reality of suicide is - and how surely it is OUR responsibility as a race to try and protect our own?  NO-ONE should feel so lost and alone that they end their lives!

So what keeps us going?  What keeps us living?

I have considered suicide myself personally this past year - I confess it.  Things just got "so" bad that it occurred to me as a distinct possibility.  I know that psychiatrists consider the risk of suicide greater if "there is a plan".  I had a plan.  I kept on living for a largely negative reason - I did not consider the cause of committing this final act "worthy" enough to do so.  It's not perfect but it worked for me!  The fact is that life serves good times and bad times.  And I have learned over the past year or two that rather than just "keep hoping that life picks up" - it is wiser to enjoy the good and use it as a foundation to work through the bad.

I got a little revelation today as to one of the reasons why I "keep going".  It was listening to one of my favourite song tributes to my adored and revered Her Majesty the Queen; "Sing".

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The lyrics in question that moved me immensely were;

"There’s a place, there’s a time in this life when you sing what you are feeling, find your feet, stand your ground, don’t you see right now the world is listening to what we say? ... You brought hope, you brought life, conquer fear, no it wasn’t always easy, stood your ground, kept your faith, don’t you see right now the world is listening to what we say?"

What occured to me is this (and bearing strongly in mind; "Time to Talk" campaign) - one POWERFUL reason to "keep going" - is that there may be others out there who are encouraged, find strength, find hope from the story that we tell.  I shared a tweet the other day about the reality of living with an anxiety-related disorder.  It's horrid.  But if by speaking out - I can encourage or remind or tell another person that they are not alone and are not alien or weird - then surely I must do it!

There is a reason for keeping on living - and keeping on going.  We do not live alone in isolation.  If we live or die - this does have an impact on our fellow human beings!  And we have the opportunity to affect the world we touch by the words we speak!  So my hope and my aim right now in life is to try and take courage and speak out honestly about problems and solutions.

If it were one day to save a life, or to even just encourage someone that they aren't alone - that would make the ups and downs of my life ALL worthwhile!

Keep singing!

How Her Majesty the Queen helped me survive these past 1.5 years.


Dedicated to every brave soul who daily choses to continue living - even if it means facing demons, hardship and heartache.  Dedicated also to the fabulous Rev Dave and CEO Lisa who together gave me the bravery to speak out and put pen to paper.It is amazing that even in the 21st century, it still isn't very easy to speak openly about mental health issues - particularly on a personal leveMORE empathetic and compassionate rather than building walls and de-personalising our patients!  Somehow anyone within the NHS, there is a ridiculous notion that "we are professionals and shouldn't struggle on this level".  But the unspoken reality is that the NHS is wonderful because it is staffed by human beings who do go through similar problems to the patients and families we see on a daily basis.  That reality should make usMy own personal background was somewhat more complicated by the fact that I came from an extremely fundemental religious background where mental health issues were particularly disapproved of, and usually put down to "sin" on some level.  When I first went on antidepressants some 10 years ago for a time, I didn't dare tell my parents for some years - as it was seen as an admission of "failure".  I have seen my General Practioner and various Occupational Health services through work pretty regularly - and the clinical feeling is that I am not "depressed" per se - I apparently tend to struggle with "chronic anxiety".  In short - I daily seem to imagine up (I have a very vivid imagination) all sorts of fears, worries and panics about what life may bring.The last year and a half has been particularly rock-bottom in terms of experience, health and work.  Two or three times I did in fact consider suicide and whether it really "was all worth carrying on".  Those low points were often prompted by events I read, such as the tragic account of the nurse involved with the Australian DJ scandal while Prince William and Kate were in hospital expecting Prince George.  Reading that account made me feel an affinity with the nurse - but in a ludicrous way, a rather morbid wondering if I also committed suicide whether the Chairman/Chief Executive of my workplace would make a statement to the press.  I decided they wouldn't bother - and somehow found that enabled me to "keep living" that particular low day.But the benefit of this year has meant that I have been forced to confront some of my worst fears headon - with no support, help or alternative.  That's a story for another time - but what I found was that actually - my imagined fears were WORSE than the reality!  But what I wanted to focus on in this post was what enabled me day by day to "keep going" this year.  And that was the person and example of Her Majesty the Queen.  Before you snigger - let me explain why.I am sure there may be psychological reasons why the Queen means so much to me personally.  I lost both my beloved Grandparents at significantly low times in my life to cancer, and both losses affected me deeply.  I guess there may be a degree to which I long for a "Grandmother" figure.  But Her Majesty's example has meant more than that this year.  It is well known and commonly cited that her life motto is;"Duty first - self second".When Her Majesty was 21 she made a monumental speech in South Africa where she committed her life to;"I declare before you all that my whole life whether it be long or short shall be devoted to your service and the service of our great imperial family to which we all belong".Her committment to duty has ruled her life and service - even if at times it has meant that her family life and personal life has been affected as a result.  Many commentators (and we never know what Her Majesty herself thinks - as she does not give interviews) suggest that call to duty is something that has re[...]

A View of Things That Matter


This blog post is dedicated in particular to Julie Bailey, Deb Hazeldine, James Titcombe, Liza Brady and Dr David Drew - among so many other whistleblowers.  It takes tremendous courage to speak out and "rock the boat" - courage perhaps more than I possess.  These people have suffered unbearably but want - only the best.  We need to hear from them.It's been on my mind to write about the last year's public opinion of the NHS for some time.  The important whistleblower revelations of Mid-Staffs, Morcombe Bay and others have broken the rose-coloured fallacy that the "NHS is perfect because it gives free care to people who need it".  That is true and it is wonderful.  But the NHS is made up of imperfect human beings from the porters and domestics who enable hospitals to run, to Chief Executive Officers who lay down vision.As is common in human behaviour, we tend to hold opinions of extremes (I hold up my hands and admit I personify this!).  If we do not love something passionately, we hate it with a vengance - particularly if wronged by it.It particularly troubled me to see the horrendous backlash against key whistleblowers such as Julie Bailey and Deb Hazeldine, James Titcombe and Liza Brady.  For those unfamiliar, these two ladies lost their beloved parents in the most appalling failures of care and were not giveNOT just treat "the patient".  That "PERSON" comes as part of a family - and care given to them (whether good, bad, excellent or dreadful) will impact upon the closest people to them.  A caveat: I can somewhat understand why a lot of the backlash comes from the people of Stafford who face losing their hospital.  They are looking for a scapegoat, and inevitably (I suppose - however unacceptable) will look to the whistleblowers.n the answers and reassurances they deserved - and so began to campaign.  The NHS and health professionals owe them a debt!  They are a reminder that we do But I want to ask - does anyone mildly rationale think these two ladies - Ms Bailey and Ms Hazeldine EVER considered "becoming campaigners" or "whistleblowers" five to ten years ago?!  We must consider why fate led them to this.1.  A Step Back and Pause for Thought:Over this past year I have had a lot of time to think, read and consider the NHS as something incredibly important to me.  The availability of the Mid-Staffordshire Inquiry has enabled in depth reading and consideration of the mistakes and errors and lapses in communication.  In particular I wanted to read the accounts of families like Julie Bailey and Deb Hazeldine to learn and ensure that in my experience - this would NEVER happen again in my human power or sphere of capability wherever I work.  I was seized by a comment Deb Hazeldine made in her testimony to the Inquiry that I think it incredibly telling - she made it early in the complaint (point 25);"If Martin Yeates had been up front and honest in the first place, I would have walked away.  I just wanted justice.  If he had said; "Hands up, it's bad" but could demonstrate in a robust way that it wouldn't happen again - I would have walked away secure in the knowledge that vulnerable people were not at risk".I would hesitate a guess that virtually all families who have suffered unjustly or through human error would be actually satisfied with a swift, sincere apology and evidence of real lessons learned and proof that identical mistakes would not be made - would be enough.  I wonder if we can allow for the fact that whistleblowers have happened - because one of the human errors of the human NHS is that we collectively haven't been good at admitting error and learning from mistakes?When I was at school (a private Christian religious school run by my parent's church) we used to have reports on our progress - both academic, but being rel[...]

Not WHAT we do but the WAY we do it


I am having a lovely relaxed New Years Day (mainly sheltering from the West Midlands grotty rain!) but hav been "seized" again by a comment made by a patient on a programme I am currently watching.  Having been away from critical care nursing for so long - it is frustratingly agonizing to watch the various ER programmes available and long to be involved!

(image) The programme in question this first evening of 2014 is "Kings Cross ER: St Vincents Hospital" in Sydney, Australia.  11 years in nursing doesn't stop me watching with my toes curled as the ER team treated a poor young man who got stabbed in a nightclub in Sydney.  An ultrasound revealed that the knife pierced the left ventricle and he was bleeding out into the pericardial sack.  The cardiovascular surgeon was too far away by car to be present to save his life so the ER team looked as though they were going to have to perform the life-saving procedure by mobile phone.  Fortunately the young man managed to cope until the surgeon arrived and he was taken to theatre.

The next programme showed our young man re-admitted with possible infection and shortness of breath - and it was a thrill to see he survived the trauma!  However I was fascinated to note the one comment he made about his awareness of the life-saving surgery he had.  He said this;

"I remember hearing the voice of a lady doctor.  She kept telling me I would be okay.  She sounded like she had the voice of an angel".

It struck me again as we enter 2014 - healthcare workers have a UNIQUE privilidge in what we do in caring for patients and families often at their lowest point.  And yes - our patients and their families arrive at the point of care needing something - the care they can only get often from us.  But my point is this - the WAY we deliver that needed care is something that will stick with them for ages to come - far more than the care they needed.  We need both!  From Chief Nurse Jane Cummings "6Cs" - care and compassion run hand in hand.

A good New Year's resolution for all of us who may have the privilidge to care for patients in 2014?!

Another Take on "Making Every Contact Count"


To those non-NHS types, forgive me for another "care-orientated" post.  Much of the last two years have been massively dominated by my nursing role and my proud membership of the National Health Service - and hence my blog does tend to represent my current passions.  I do still maintain my theological/spiritual interests and have a few subjects brewing - but this one is a post that could not wait!"Making Every Contact Count" is a very important initiative in the NHS at the moment - we are realising that as health professionals we have a unique position of serious responsibility and privilidge with the patients under our care and their families.  Mistakes in the NHS have been made in the past where care has been delivered but not in the right way.  One of my NHS heroes - Chief Executive Officer Sarah-Jane Marsh said (in a CEO briefing at her Children's Hospital in Birmingham);"It is not just what we do that matters, but the WAY we do it".Consider nervous parents accompanying their young child to have their tonsils removed - a relatively minor procedure in context.  Imagine if the surgeon did his job and removed the necessary tonsils, but their entire hospital experience was negative.  Say the surgeon was brisk, rude and dismissive and the nursing staff pre-and post operatively did their job and monitored the child but gave the parents and child no compassionate care and support.  The objective may be achieved - removal of tonsils - but the family and child could and would be scared by such a negative experience.THIS is why it is not enough to simply have competent NHS staff treating the patient.  We MUST have compassionate and caring (AND competent!) staff who support and defend the patient and family from admission to discharge ensuring the whole point of contact with the NHS is positive.  "Making Every Contact Count" is a vital initiative used in the Birmingham Children's Hospital at present; allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="//" width="420">But I did find myself wondering if many nurses, student nurses and allied health professionals like myself struggle to come to terms with what actually; "every contact" means?  Does it mean if we are simply taking our parents a cup of tea we should sit down and commence a sermon on smoking cessation?  Surely not!  So it was while thinking these matters through that a common motto came to my mind;"When a butterfly flaps it's wings in Texas, it causes a tornado in China".This is in other words known as "Chaos Theory".  It is technically defined as; "a minor change in circumstances can cause a large change in outcome".I am not entirely sure if healthcare professionals are entirely aware of the enormous potential of their actions (and contact) with patients and their families - whether positive or negative.  The Mid-Staffs scandal demonstrated the hideous enormity of negative contact - and it is a nightmare the NHS should NEVER forget.  But something the Chief Nurse of NHS England - Jane Cummings - is vitally reminding the negatively-biased media is that POSITIVE experiences also have a crucial impact.  Many nurses (and I have been guilty of this in the past) have come to work at times bringing "home life" with us.  Aches, pains, heartaches or simple headaches - have meant that we as healthcare professionals have not been "properly" operating in the "6Cs" framework we should to truly impact our patients and families for the good.  It may seem little to us - a more formal sober greeting of our families after handover and perhaps a distinct lack of smiles and easy small-talk during the shift than perhaps we may do.  This may seem like just an "off-day" to us.  But what of the impact on our patients[...]

The Human Beings Behind the Trust Boards


I am writing this short blog post inspired by a tremendous friend I have yet to have the privilidge to meet (awesome Twitter effect again!).  Rev Dave is a chaplain in Worcester and he runs an outstanding blog celebrating the good news stories within the NHS.  This is something we both feel PASSIONATELY about and have spoken of much.  Much of the media focus on the NHS at the moment is negative - and perhaps rightly so.  There have been awful cases of unforgivable poor care and we must learn, take responsibility and make every effort to ensure it never happens again - and as NHS privilidged staff we REALLY make every contact count.Rev Dave was published recently in local media writing an article about his local Trust Board that profoundly impacted me because of it's unique slant and his passionately, positive attitude shining through.  So I want to reflect somewhat similarly on my local Trust Board at Birmingham Children's Hospital FT.  I could write about many NHS Trust Boards that I have watched through the wonderful medium of Twitter and the new transparent accountability it brings (national heroes of mine include Chief Nurse of NHS England, Jane Cummings, NHS Employers CEO Dean Royles, Patient Experience Lead for NHS England, Kath Evans and of course - never forgetting Sir David Nicholson, CEO of NHS England himself - among many others such as the wonderful CEO of South Tees FT Professor Tricia Hart). But many of us in the NHS work locally, and it is therefore obvious that most of our contact and observation is to our local Trust Board.  I have been MASSIVELY privilidged as a mere Band 5 staff nurse to perhaps have a little more contact and observation from afar of the BCH Trust Board than others (mainly through the wonderful participation I used to have on the BCH Flufighter Team).  So like Rev Dave - I want to write personally as a frontline nurse on what I have seen of the BCH Trust Board and the people who carry responsibility for the hospital.One word about salaries - it is, I supppose obvious, that in the popular critical culture of media coverage of the NHS, that some spotlight is put on the salaries of Trust Boards.  This is guaranteed to raise my blood pressure and incense me beyond words.  Here's why.  A quick Google search through the Financial Times reveals that CEOs or Directors in the private sector earn ridiculously more than NHS Trust Boards.  How can you compare a salary of $4.1million (salary of the CEO of Barclays) even with the current salary of the CEO of NHS England?!  One CEO of course takes responsibility for the money passes through an organisation.  But NHS CEOs and Trust Directors take responsibility for HUMAN LIVES.  And they are paid far less for that responsibility.  I have said before - and again - I never resent them a penny, who can imagine the pressure they are under for running our hospitals?So - the Trust Board of Birmingham Children's Hospital Foundation Trust (in similar vein to Rev Dave - let me tell you some stories):Chairman Jo Davies: (I must add BCH have been ably cared for by acting-Chairman Keith while Chairman Jo was away and I understand they are looking for/interviewing a new Chairman).  But my first real contact with the pinnacle of our Trust was breathtaking in real humanity!  Chairman Jo was eager for her #flufighter jab, and I was invited to her office a few years back to give it.  I was on full, "political correctedness" mode but she breezily popped her shoulder out for me and presented, without fear!  Further contacts amazed me with her absolute fierce passion for the BEST care for the children and families coming through the hospital.  I can only imagine the tight rule she had over Trus[...]

Obamacare and Christians


This blog is a slight detour from my usual ponderings on the Holy Spirit, His Person, His work and His gifts.  It touches on another passion of mine - the National Health Service and the provision of free healthcare to those who need it.  Article 1 of our NHS Constitution reads;"1. The NHS provides a comprehensive service, available to all irrespective of gender, race, disability, age, sexual orientation, religion, belief, gender reassignment, pregnancy and maternity or marital or civil partnership status".The key principle for NHS healthcare is Article 2;"2. Access to NHS services is based on clinical need, not an individual’s ability to pay".Article 2 is a principle which our Chief Executive of the NHS - Sir David Nicholson (a personal hero of mine) has defended vigorously.  He said;"The NHS was set up to provide high quality care for patients, free at the point of need".So it is with that in mind (as my personal context) that I have followed with interest the introduction of "Obamacare" in the USA (a country very dear to my heart).  It seems incredibly similar to our NHS and is something I applaud.  The fact that individuals below the poverty line can access healthcare for themselves and their loved ones is great!  Or is it?  I have observed at times that for a reason I cannot understand - that Christians in the USA do not seem as delighted.Here's why I wrote this blog today.  President Obama was speaking about "Obamacare" and made some points that again, from my context, I would very much agree with.  He said;"Nobody should have to choose between putting food on their kids table or taking them to see a doctor".It was Christian tweeter and renowned cessationist blogger Frank Turk who responded quite quickly and got my brain whirring.  Turk said;"But they better buy their health insurance before the groceries and from the government, right?".Other bloggers responding to President Obama made various mentions to their pro-life beliefs as well - which also confused me as to it's relevance to healthcare for those who need it.So here is my question to American friends and in particular American Christians;What is the deal?  What's the problem with free healthcare to those who need it?  Can healthcare be so incompatible with Christian beliefs?  After all didn't Jesus Christ heal the blind, beggars, needy - not the rich Pharisees?  So is it so incompatible that Christianity should applaud a civil healthcare system that ensures that those who cannot afford expensive care, can still receive the treatment they need?I'm just interested - teach me![...]

Dr R T Kendall on "Why I endorse the Toronto Blessing"


I am grateful that Dr R T Kendall chose this moment around "Strange Fire" controversies - to share this video via his ministry link.

A bit of context: as I was growing up into life of the Spirit and the charismatic movement, I always tended to see R T Kendall as the "negative/reverse" to our then senior pastor Dr Stanley Jebb.  Both were amazing and outstanding teachers of the Word of God.  And both had the potential to hold the wonderful tension between "Word and Spirit" or reformed doctrine and charismatic experience well.  Dr Jebb sadly was put off by excess he saw and was revolted by.  R T Kendall on the other hand was at the same time opening up to the Holy Spirit and the variety of His work.  It was wonderful to travel down quite regularly to Westminster Chapel to hear R T Kendall's ministry during the dark days of cessationism in Dunstable.

So I am glad to hear again a message I am familiar with (having read it in Dr Kendall's books);

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The "Dangers" of Charismatic Worship!


I've still been thinking and lurking-reading the continuing "Strange Fire" and John Macarthur controversy.  I do look forward to reading the book when it becomes available in this country at some point.  But the issue Macarthur has with "charismatic" worship does deserve careful thought.  Do the songs we sing and love potentially deceive and lead us astray?  Or in fact do they bring us close to the Throne of Grace and a living encounter with the Risen Son of God?There are two scenarios I can think of in my church experience.  The more reformed/functional cessationist settings were my home church in Dunstable when Stanley Jebb had taken it out of the charismatic movement and essentially banned all choruses.  We sang hymns and raising of hands was not approved (and tongues were most certainly forbidden!).  The other reformed/functional cessationist situation was when I lived in Bristol and attended the SGM church for 2 years - and most of their SGM songs were "cross-centered".The other scenario of course has been the charismatic churches I have attended, and the glorious conferences that seek to teach the whole gospel - Cross through to ascension and glorification and outpoured Holy Spirit.  Now cessationists would shudder I am sure at the examples I present - but if you can ignore the raised arms and upturned faces to heaven - hear the words! allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="//" width="560">I love particularly;"You have overcome the grave, Your glory fills the highest place - what can seperate me now?  You tore the veil, You made a way when You said that it is done!!". allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="//" width="420"> And this amazing one; "Worthy is the Lamb! Seated on the Throne!  I crown You now with many crowns - You reign victorious!  High and lifted up - Jesus Son of God! The Darling of Heaven crucified - worthy is the Lamb".How much more Gospel-filled can you get?!  Because the fact is - the Son of God isn't hanging on a cross broken and dying.  So what is the point of "kneeling at the old rugged cross"?  Of course we will be forever grateful for His sacrifice, but like Pilgrim in John Bunyan's classic - that is where our burdens roll away!  We are then free to stand and march on towards the Celestial City knowing that one day we will see Him face to face!I would just add a final video which I think strikes powerfully at the heart of this "charismatic/cessationist" controversy.  It is by Noel Tredinnick - the Music Director at All Souls Church Langham Place (neither person nor church could be called charismatic in any way!).  But Tredinnick was speaking about worship in particular - the wonderful "Prom Praise" concerts held yearly at the Royal Albert Hall in London.  And he said this (the video is below);"Now worship is two-way.  Our hearts are being lifted through the music to Christ.  We are adoring Him - we are singing our praise to the living Saviour.  That is one way - the arrow is going up.  But at the same time there is that moment, where God comes down if you like.  The veil of His robe fills the temple - His Presence.  There is a sense of His holiness where God is coming down into our midst - and that is a very exciting moment to behold". allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="//" width="560">I would suggest that is the issue.  Cessationists want to (as it seems) put God in heaven and leave Him there.  And to suggest that He is not only willing but eager to come down and reside am[...]

A Word of Balance!


I am concious that John Macarthur and his "Strange Fire" conference has provoked me back into blogging thoughts but that I may have become guilty of becoming a "charismatic Macarthur" - i.e. I hate his absolute, judgemental and unloving language (and always have done since the days I read "Charismatic Chaos" in Dunstable).

I was determined therefore thanks to yet another sleepless night to expose myself to Macarthur's broader ministry and thoughts - of which I know not a great deal.  I found this video during a conference where Phil Johnson interviews Macarthur on a few points:

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Points of agreement:

1.  The New International Version (in relation to Macarthur being invited to write an NIV Study Bible)

PJ:  It is (NIV) not your favourite translation?

Macarthur:  It is NOT my favourite translation.  The question is ... does anyone reading the NIV actually care what it (the text) means?!

I wince at (again) Macarthur's broad suggestion that all NIV readers are ... less than theological (although I confess to laughing).  I too dislike the NIV and prefer (and always have) the KJV or the NASB!

2.  Mark Driscoll and his comments/book on marriage and sex.

I've never made any secret of being less than a fan of Mark Driscoll.  I have no doubt his unique ministry is spreading the gospel and reaching the lost in his way.  I just hate his macho-school-bullish-rude attitude and behaviour.  His recent publicity stunt at appearing at the "Strange Fire" conference less than impressed me either.  I thought it hilarious that security (he claimed) confiscated his books, but was again shocked he distorted the truth seemingly.  But also his views on the Song of Solomon and marriage - disturb me.

PJ:  You didn't make any recent comment about Mark Driscoll's recent book "Real Marriage" - do you want to?

Macarthur:  Commercialism.  There is such a beautiful dignity to the way the Scripture speaks of marriage, such a precious veiled way in which even the intimacies of marriage are alluded to in Scripture.  That maintains it's intimacy and personal nature and beauty without painting it in commonly used pornographic laungage.  I think these are things that shouldn't be said, don't need to be said and pander to interests in the part of people.  The last thing you would ever want for the people who gather before you to hear the Word of God is to have their minds filled with your sort of uncouth, unclean speech and images that go with it.

There I COMPLETELY agree!  That is the way I was brought up under Dr Stanley Jebb.  That's the way I was raised to view marriage as beautifully portrayed by my parents.

Another fascinating Q and A session I found from the Shepherds Conference focuses around John Macarthur, Al Mohler and Ligon Duncan's preference for using a pen to prepare a sermon rather than a computer!  As a geek - I stand convicted (not that I prepare sermons!).

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Excellent Robust Answer to John Macarthur - by Andrew Wilson


I was really pleased to see this robust answer to Macarthur and his "Strange Fire" silliness by one of Newfrontiers (sorry I don't know which "sphere" Wilson fits in these days!) brightest and best theologians - Andrew Wilson from Eastbourne.Here's the article:"Unfriendly Fire"Following my response to the cessationist arguments put forward at Strange Fire, here are three further comments about the content of the conference, after having reflected a bit more on the whole thing.In no particular order:“Creeds and confessions.” In his final session, John MacArthur made the extraordinary statement that cessationism is delineated in the “creeds and confessions” of the church. Well: no it isn’t. It’s delineated in some of the Reformed confessions, including Westminster (as Kevin DeYoung explains here), and there are good historical reasons, given the nature of medieval and early modern Catholicism, for the caution expressed by the early Reformers towards miraculous claims. But you won’t find it in any of the creeds: the biblical creeds, Irenaeus’ rule, either version of the Nicene creed, the Chalcedonian definition, the Athanasian creed, the Apostles’ creed, or (as far as I know) any ecumenical creed at any point in the first millennium of Christianity. So while MacArthur’s statement gives the impression of an ecclesiastical consensus stretching from the first to twentieth centuries, what he is actually referring to is a collection of sixteenth and seventeenth century affirmations - as valuable as they certainly are! - amongst Reformed Protestants. By all means, say that Calvinists have generally been cessationist, but don’t imply that the entire church has.90% of Charismatics aren’t Christians. I have no idea where this number comes from - research, intuition, the clear blue sky - but it is nowhere substantiated, extremely judgmental (what on earth entitles anyone to say that of professing Jesus-followers they have never met?), and strangely self-referential (since a huge number of those who reject miraculous gifts today are not Christians either. I feel certain Richard Dawkins does, for example). It is also a terrible way to argue: it is quite possible that 90% of paedobaptists are Roman Catholic or Eastern Orthodox, but I’m sure MacArthur wouldn’t accept that as an argument against paedobaptism. This silliness needs to be called out for what it is.Babies and bathwater. One of the dangers of responding to a conference like Strange Fire, ironically, is that its very extremism makes it easy to throw the baby out with the bathwater - which is precisely what John MacArthur himself does with charismatic gifts. Yet when we peel away the inflammatory remarks, unfair representations and (in my view) arrogant judgments which have been made, there remains an important kernel of truth to what MacArthur and others are saying. There is a lot of nonsense in the global charismatic movement. Leaders within it, myself included, do not speak out against much of it with the clarity and courage needed to identify the true from the false. The exegetical foundations for various charismatic practices are much shakier than many believe (the silly link from “they were accused of drunkenness at Pentecost” to “and therefore that legitimates any bizarro practice I feel like engaging in” being an obvious, and sadly frequent, example). The prosperity gospel is a genuine threat to biblical Christianity, and is also much more closely embedded in the global charismatic movement than many of us in the UK realise. It is common to attribute babbling, blessed thoughts and psychosomatic, temporary physical improvement to the [...]

"This Movement (Charismatic) has Diminished Music" - John Macarthur


One of the aspects of the "Strange Fire" conference that slightly staggered me and infuriated me was the utter lack of logic and consistency reported by men who proudly call themselves "men of the Word" - and indeed near the end of Macarthur's final session seems to proudly liken himself to Timothy "guarding divine revelation".  What do I mean by that?  Macarthur made many blunt and straightforward statements that many of his "spin doctor" fans sought to water down.  To be fair to Macarthur (and I respect him for it, as much as I find his sheer arrogance dislikable) - he didn't seek to do so. And he stated rather proudly he doesn't care about offending people.  So I feel little shame in joining the right and proper robust responses against him.He stated charismatics are, in his eyes, unsaved - and he stuck by it.  But even he seemed to flounder a little when confronting issues such as the fact that equally credible and respected theologians such as John Piper or Wayne Grudem would not agree with his hyper-cessationist, anti-charismatic views.  Adrian Warnock reported from the Q and A session in the conference that he seemed to bluster;"With John Piper, that is a complete anomaly. That is just so off everything else about him ... Even Wayne Grudem. I look at this as an anomaly [in his theology]. I don’t know and don’t need to know where this impulse comes from".The thrust of Macarthur's argument too about worship seems highly inconsistent.  His spin-doctor fans on Twitter seem to claim "of course he is not throwing the entire baby out with the bathwater" - apparently Macarthur likes Stuart Townend's "The Power of the Cross".  Whether he does or doesn't, or maybe doesn't realise Townend comes from Newfrontiers flagship church "Church of Christ the King" in Brighton - he is clear on his views of charismatic worship offering to the church universal.  Challies reports;"MacArthur disagrees with this opinion. He is convinced that the contemporary style of music in the charismatic movement is the entry point of false doctrine into our churches. A church rooted in historical doctrine and hymns will be reluctant to embrace this music. This movement has diminished music by taking it out of the area of the mind and reduces it to feelings of the flesh".There are thousands of songs from charismatic songwriters I could quote but as "the Power of the Cross" was cited - let's focus on that; allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="//" width="420">I love this song because it particularly highlights and preaches the power of the complete gospel.  And if Macarthur maybe would claim that this song from Townend is an "anomoly" like he sees Piper and Grudem's more charismatic pneumatology - I would rather counter that I think (I don't know - I haven't heard a testimony of how he wrote it) but actually Stuart Townend's charismatic experience and encounters with God indeed aided and inspired him to see the glorious gospel in it's entirety!A key example of this is - to me - the baptism of the Holy Spirit (and for clarity's sake - I remain Lloyd-Jonesian in my understanding of this).  Macarthur presumably would class this among other "demonic" doctrines.  But I loved the way that Terry Virgo at Stoneleigh Bible Week 2000 drew the vital paralell between the ascension of Jesus the risen Christ and the gift of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost.  For those with no time to hear the clip - here's what Terry said;"Every person filled with the Holy Spirit is a proof and demonstration that Jesus Christ is not a corpse in[...]

An Endless Optimistic/Oft Disappointed Charismatic is Grateful for Strange Fire!


I've been reflecting on and following some of the Twitter feed discussing John Macarthur's "Strange Fire" conference and I am actually becoming increasingly grateful both personally and as a church observer for what it has done.  I think initially I was furious and thought "Here we go again" - re-living his influence on my beloved home church in Dunstable and the anti-charismatic spirit it brought.But what it has done has made me reflect and remember why I AM an unashamed charismatic and STILL believe and hope and look for the encounters and interventions of God by His Spirit that the Word of God promises.  I do bitterly regret the last few years of being "prone to wander" from God and His church but my hope and longing for Him has remained unchanged.  I am aware that many of John Macarthur's spirit would immediately discount anything I have to say - "Well he's a backslider - and therefore probably unsaved anyway!".  But the benefit to being on the outside of accepted church circles is that you can say what you like and not fear the consequences of being "excommunicated"! (I'm not sure if the double jeopardy legal principle applies to excommunication - I hope so).A Small Testimony:As I said in my previous post on "Strange Fire" I have been charismatic in theology and experience since I was baptised in the Holy Spirit back in 1999.  But if I am honest I would say that while my theology and belief hasn't changed (if anything increased in longing) my experience hasn't been that much measured up to what many charismatics claim, believe or experience today.  My beliefs and theology were built upon by much reading of many books after the senior pastor Dr Stanley Jebb changed his theology and thus the church's. It wasn't long into my reading that a biographical sermon of John Piper's on Dr Martyn Lloyd-Jones led me primarily to his glorious book "Joy Unspeakable" and then more broadly into the whole published works of the Doctor and his remarkable ministry (still take pride of place in my library!).  I should add I still find it remarkable that my pastor Dr Jebb actually sat under Dr Lloyd-Jones for some time as part of his fatherly ministry to younger pastors - and I didn't seize on the link or pick up interest in Dr Lloyd-Jones over 18 years of being under Dr Jebb's ministry.I heard balanced reformed/charismatics like Dr Ern Baxter (who rapidly became my number one hero!) and taught that a "tension" MUST be held between Word and Spirit.  I think this explains my initial excitement when I first encountered C J Mahaney and PDI (now SGM) as well as of course my ongoing love and appreciation for Terry Virgo and Newfrontiers ("Fundamentally we are a Word and Spirit movement" - Terry Virgo, Brighton 2009).  To go to Stoneleigh Bible Week in 1999 and 2000 and finally in 2001 was a taste of heaven itself almost!  Heavenly worship and singing, the spiritual gifts in evidence and awesome preaching - a demonstration if you will of Ern Baxter's fervent belief that it WAS possible to experience God in all His fullness as the Word of God lays out!Seeking More:Throughout my life I have sought to look for and hunger for more, and have had the opportunity to go to many conferences or hear great or renowned men and women of God.  For example I went with my dear friend Pete Day to the Word, Spirit and Power Conference at Westminster Chapel in London in 2001.  We heard and saw Dr R T Kendall (a man I already hugely respected) but also Paul Cain - a famous (now infamous) prophet who had links back to the Kansas City Prophet mo[...]

A (?)Backslider Sorta Grateful to John Macarthur


I realised when logging onto this blog that first and foremost it has been too long since I took pen to paper (because I had forgotten the password).  And I was staggered at how long my personal "dark night of the soul" had stretched to.  I have been through two years of intense personal difficulty and professional difficulty - this has had an inevitable impact on my personal life and health.For the last few months I have been experiencing chest pain and high blood pressure.  My cardiologist explained why.  The body's "fight or flight" mechanism releases adrenaline into your body to enable you to respond appropriately to what is worrying you.  However if you are facing "chronic stressors" as I was at work through initially bullying and then professional questioning - and there is no let-up, then the adrenaline begins to convert and change and this leads to blocking of coronary arteries (as is the case with me).There have been other horrid symptoms too but that is for another time and another testimony.  What I CAN testify to is that while God has seemed remarkably absent, I am here, I am alive and I still fervently believe in Him - so it must be due to "grace that has brought us safe thus far".I would not say I am "back to normal" with belief and relationships with God, and certainly not normal relationships with His church (thanks to SGM and my experiences there).  But I am getting there!  And as John Piper said - if you are even facing in the right direction, that is testament to grace.  I thought my first blog would be a testimony to what I have experienced.  But John Macarthur intervened - by organising his "Strange Fire" conferenceBackground with Macarthur:I should explain my history with John Macarthur.  I was baptised in the Holy Spirit in 1999 just after going away to university in Birmingham UK.  A leading pastor called Nick Cuthbert (who at the time led Riverside Church) preached on this subject and asked; "Have you received?".  Although I had accepted fully the gospel 10 years earlier, I concluded I had no encounter or experience of the Holy Spirit and my faith was mainly cerebral and legalistic.  I was supremely blessed (although didn't fall over), my relationship with God soared, my quiet times became alive, my experience of "sins forgiven and conscience cleansed" was awesome.  Unfortunately (my timing always sucked) I went home to my church where I grew up - and almost at the same point my senior pastor Dr Stanley Jebb released a "booklet" announcing that although he had always taught the baptism of the Holy Spirit as I had heard it in Birmingham - he had now changed his mind and taught it was "all received at conversion".I therefore had three years while at university to examine and come to terms with what I had experienced against what I read in the Word of God - and of course had plenty of teachers of the Bible to help and aid me.  Notably Dr Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Terry Virgo (who most key - made the link between the ascended Christ and His gift of the baptism of the Holy Spirit) and so on.  John Macarthur - his book "Charismatic Chaos" was circulated widely by Stanley Jebb and his elders as "proof" of the dangers of the charismatic movement which he was dragging my church from.  Hence I read the book several times. But I must confess - the "excesses" which Macarthur ranted against, intrigued me all the more into what God in His divine sovereignity could do in His church.  Accounts of prophecies from respected Dr Jack Hayford, for[...]

Re-Visiting Terry Virgo at 2011 Brighton Conference!


I have just returned from a wonderful holiday break in my "spiritual" home in Brighton on the south coast of the UK.  What a fab city - no better way to end a day than walking along the coast watching the sun set.  One of the greatest things I have missed is the oft-annual conference organised by Newfrontiers.  It's easy to take these things for granted until they are gone!

It was a good encouragement to re-visit Terry's final session last year closing the conference "on a high";

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Recent Personal Publications


I always knew when growing up that getting published was a privilege and never a right.  The Christian book market was rapidly saturated with some good books and some not so.  My ambition was to become a reader and collector of books that interested me - and I was partially successful in this while at university.

Post-qualification, my nursing practice began to centre around critical care nursing for paediatric patients both in intensive care and in accident and emergency departments.  That grew to include Emergency Planning and Resilience looking at how governments could handle a health crisis such as the spread of a pandemic virus that could threaten the well-being of a nation.  I am and remain a firm believer in the importance of vaccines playing a role in this.  So it is of little surprise that my first publication was concerning this.

1.  "Achieving high level HCW immunisation levels without a mandatory campaign".

I am extremely fortunate and forever grateful that my Chief Nursing Officer Michelle Mcloughlin and my Lead Public Health Consultant (who works at our strategic health authority) Dr Helen Carter agreed to help me as expert co-authors.

2.  "Aiming for Flu Immunity in All".

The most recent article has just been published as the result of an interview I held with the editor of the Nursing Times (UK's most famous nursing publication) this year about conducting flu vaccine campaigns.  The interview covers some of what have and will always be the high points of my career - such as meeting and being able to immunise the Chief Executive Officer of the NHS - Sir David Nicholson.  And also being supported and encouraged by the incredibly talented CEO of my home hospital - Sarah-Jane Marsh - an incredible woman and role model.

What's next?  I have no idea - but I remain an avid reader and learner, and am keen that whatever I achieve in life - it is dedicated to improving and benefiting the well-being of patients.

Sovereign Grace Ministries, C J Mahaney and Where Are We Now?


I thought it time to post an update on my current thinking on SGM, their problems and the leadership issues that continue to beset them.  Brent Detwiler - exiled former apostle/leader - continues to faithfully (and one must admire his dogged determination to hold them to the facts of history) call SGM to account.  C J Mahaney and his elite close band seem to do all they can to evade honest response and engage in dubious behaviour such as rapidly transferring church membership (breaking previous teaching that church membership was a life-long commitment) and suddenly a Louisville church plant is planned.I admit first and foremost I have lost a great deal of interest in the back and forth of the politics.  The SGM critics (and they are many) are keeping up their commentary and criticism.  The C J Mahaney stronghold are doing their admirable best to ignore the critique, rebuff it and move forward relentlessly and presumably "hope it blows over".  And for my own sanity - I realised I had to let SGM go to a degree.  By the grace of God I sorted out my personal excommunication with the local leaders and was hugely encouraged by personal promises from the local UK leaders that they did not and would not engage in the authoritarian practices seen in the USA under the Mahaney regime.  My family seem safe - and that is all that matters to me.But decisions seem to be forcing their way forward and SGM are being forced/moved into outlining their polity.  A number of years back (2005) I predicted/prophesied that C J Mahaney's schmoozing of Reformed Big Dogs he admired/worshipped (such as John MacArthur) would result in a downgrade of the Holy Spirit in SGM.  This has happened.  I am reliably informed that while they claim to be "continuationist" (i.e. pay lip service to believing the Holy Spirit may move and distribute gifts) that there is very little manifestation of His power and presence in many churches.  I AM encouraged however to hear of key SGM churches that are actively seeking to restore this - such as Covenant Life Church and Grace Church, Bristol.Brent himself seemed to confirm my suspicions from years back with a post concerning the downgrade of the Holy Spirit and their view on apostles.  Now apostles is an interesting subject.  It's not liked or believed in among conservative reformed circles.  They ceased allegedly with the closing of the canon of Scripture (a view I do not believe in).  However this presents a problem for C J Mahaney and SGM.  If they believe and toe this line - then C J Mahaney is nothing more than a leader of a para-church organisation with no authority over the churches belonging to SGM.So Brent argues rightly - that SGM and Mahaney MUST teach a polity of apostolic authority to maintain that hold over their local churches - and continue to exercise a process of what I hear is called; "Shanking".  Or in UK terms; "Greasley-ing".  Scary.  So we shall see.  And continue to observe from a safe, interested and caring perspective.[...]

Mis-Quoting the Doctor (Again)


I came across this blog (HT: Tim Challies) written by one of the pastors at John Macarthur's church.  Rather unsurprisingly he quotes from some of Dr Lloyd-Jones writing seeking to rebuff the continuationist/charismatic view that Dr Martyn Lloyd-Jones believed in the charismatic gifts - especially that of prophecy.Busenitz uses the sermons of Dr Lloyd-Jones from "Christian Unity".  And on first reading, the quote does seem to be definitive;"A prophet was a person to whom truth was imparted by the Holy Spirit. . . . A revelation or message or some insight into truth came to them, and, filled with the Spirit, they were able to make utterances which were of benefit and profit to the Church. Surely it is clear that this again was temporary, and for this good reason, that in those early days of the Church there were no New Testament Scriptures, the Truth had not yet been expounded in written words".And this is true - Dr Lloyd-Jones did indeed argue in several places that he felt the office (or gift) of the prophet (according to Ephesians 4) was a temporary gift that had ceased.  He also argued that the apostle had ceased as per the evangelist (I wonder how Macarthur and his pastors would deal with that fact). But this writer is either ignorant or is deliberately ignoring Dr Lloyd-Jones other teaching on the gift of prophecy.  I refer to his magnum opus - the series on Romans and in particularly chapter 12; "according to prophecy let us prophesy".  Consider these quotes by Dr Lloyd-Jones;"What then is the gift of prophecy?  Well I would define it as a direct inspiration of the Holy Spirit.  What for?  It's purpose is to give a word from God or the word of God to the church ... What is the difference between prophecy on the one hand and preaching and teaching on the other?  Because there is a difference.  And I would say that the difference can be put in one word - immediacy".That is all well and good, the cessationists may say.  But that still doesn't make Dr Lloyd-Jones a continuationist.  No - and I'm not claiming he was.  My issue is with a cessationist writer claiming the Doctor was cessationist.  Later in the message, in fact, Dr Lloyd-Jones said he actually prophesied;"A preacher and teacher may also be a prophet.  I have no doubt at all about this.  I say it again to the glory of God, I think I know a little about this.  I think I know something of what it is to be preaching or teaching and suddenly to find myself prophesying".Now it is important to add he went on to add caveats of safety - for example, he firmly taught he did not believe a Christian could prophesy at will and he absolutely did not believe prophecy should include the "for-telling of events".  His passion was that the baptism of the Holy Spirit was key in the life of the believer and spiritual gifts flowed from that encounter with God."I say again, that my position is that I believe in the baptism of the Holy Spirit as a separate, distinct, unique experience.  It may be accompanied by remarkable gifts; it may simply manifest the "regular" gifts to a heightened degree.  It is not for us to say that none of these things can happen.  Anything is possible in the sovereignty of the Spirit".And that is the point.  Dr Lloyd-Jones was not a "classic charismatic" and I am not claiming as such.  But I am objecting to cessationists such as this man po[...]

Brent Detwiler and Reality in Church


Dear oh dear.

I don't really know what to think anymore with Brent vs C J Mahaney/SGM.  But one of my concerns with the huge fees paid out to Ambassadors of Reconciliation (for what really is quite a shoddy report) and now this - where is the glory to God?  And what does the watching world think I wonder as SGM ups ship and moves to Kentucky?

Here's Brent's latest blog post;

My Appeal to the SGM Pastors for a Church Court in Order to Avoid a Civil Court.

The sum total is that this incredibly focused and driven man is mustering his forces and seems intent on taking C J Mahaney and SGM before a civil magistrate for "damages".  How grieving must this be to God?  I am sure SGM-supporters would place the blame solely at Brent's door - but let us not forget that the closest C J got to an apology was retracted angrily at the SGM Pastors conference.

On another note I was deeply saddened to read about the suicide/allegations of the Voice of the Martyrs CEO.  Having experienced sexual abuse myself in our church private school, I do know how desperation can lead to suicide.  Nothing upsets me more than hearing people claim; "Suicide is the most selfish thing someone can do". The occasional times I have contemplated suicide, it is when desperation and the sickening ache of fear makes it seem as if there is no other way out.  And true - at times, the only thing that does keep me from popping those pills is the guilt of what it would do to my family and loved ones.  So my heart aches for all those involved.

My point is this - I think God is allowing His church to go through a time of transparency when it is impossible to hide the truth from the watching world.  It concerns me when people like a Mahaney or Harvey try and pretend "all's well" - when it isn't.  Let's admit it - we are human and no better than anyone.  But it is the message of the gospel that makes the difference and leads us on.

Unchanging Truth in a Time of Change


I think one of the reasons why the SGM drama/crisis affected me among so many others is that it has shaken our faith mainly in church leadership but also has caused us to evaluate what we really believe.  My church history background has been based in based in reformed/charismatic evangelicalism that emphasized most of our problems were sin-related.  We were also taught to respect and honour our leaders.  In both situations - my faith in our leadership was shaken.In Dunstable, Stanley - our senior pastor - made a major shift in his theology on the Holy Spirit and such a change unfortunately coincided with my baptism in the Holy Spirit.  However God worked this together for good - and I had to dig deep into the Word of God and such teachers as Dr Martyn Lloyd-Jones and Terry Virgo who led me to see the glorious truth.In SGM, my history and subsequent observation of C J Mahaney and Dave Harvey's behaviour as revealed by Brent Detwiler shook my faith again.  But I am believing that God is working this together for good and is leading me step by step away from this sin-focused obsession and step by step into His glorious grace.I was running on the treadmill at the gym today and by chance (I run my iPhone on shuffle) a wonderful old chorus of Dave Fellingham's came on (squashed in between Steps and Lady Gaga);"At Your feet we fall, mighty risen Lord, As we come before Your throne to worship You. By Your Spirit's power You now draw our hearts, And we hear Your voice in triumph ringing clear.I am He that liveth, that liveth and was dead, Behold I am alive forever more. There we see You stand, mighty risen Lord, Clothed in garments pure and holy, shining bright. Eyes of flashing fire, feet like burnished bronze, And the sound of many waters is Your voice. Like the shining sun in its noonday strength, We now see the glory of Your wondrous face. Once that face was marred, but now You're glorified, And Your words like a two-edged sword have mighty power".An amazing song!  But it was a tremendous reminder of the unchanging nature of the living God.  I've been spending time tonight re-visiting the past promises, dreams and visions that God has been so favourable to grant me (nothing compared to a man like Rob Rufus - but still - I am BLESSED!).  For example, I was amazed to have completely forgotten these few dreams;"Terry Virgo and Angels Snipers!!" - a dream I had back in 2009."Dreams, dreams, dreams!!" - documenting some of the key dreams I have had in my life - one back in 2001 about a call to "ministry", one involving a tidal wave of glory speeding towards Brighton in 2006 (that I shared with Terry Virgo) and another about walking in a field of corn with my dear friend Pete Day.A reminder - a glorious one at that - of the power of children prophesying - "your daughters shall prophesy!"."The tide is turning" - a prophetic promise from Terry Virgo back at the glorious Brighton conference in 2007 - is still true I think.  But tides ... who can predict when they reach fullness?  I found this quote from Jim Goll;"When God seems silent, there are several things you can do. 1. Stick with what you already know.What was the last thing the Lord said to you or told you to do? Have you done it? Why should He tell you something new until you have completed what He has already reve[...]