what a beautiful name

January 31, 2018 /

She may live in LA. She may work with Hillsong Australia, but she is most definitely a Kiwi Brethren lass from the Hutt Valley. Her father was an All Black rugby player, for goodness sake.  What better pedigree could there be?! I remember speaking at a conference where I was responsible for the adults in…



January 10, 2018 /

With all the fire and fury, shock and shame, filling the headlines coming out of the USA these days, it is easy to forget that over there, in the footnotes, there are so many tender, inspirational stories. I’ve loved living in two of them in recent months – both related to the game of basketball…


a movie, a play – and a peace

December 17, 2017 /

The critics tend to hate it, but then I’m not one to let Rotten Tomatoes tell me what to think. Those who lived through the events tend to be annoyed by it – but then don’t they see that the ‘based on actual events’ is modified even further by ‘this story imagines’ those events? All I can…


true news

November 12, 2017 /

Earlier this month, the phrase ‘fake news’ was named by the Collins Dictionary as its Word of the Year in 2017. [Dictionaries are clearly specialists in words, not numbers – because ‘fake news’ is actually two words, not one!]. They define the phrase as ‘false, often sensational, information disseminated under the guise of reporting.’ Two months ago,…


newspapers in india

October 5, 2017 /

When it is time to leave these shores, the newspapers in India are something I will miss. I love them. We get two every day: The Hindu and The Times of India. They provide the best newspaper-reading experience I’ve had anywhere, just shading the UK into second place. Why? First, a general response. They respect my…


din and tonics

June 21, 2017 /

“Imagine the biblical writer sitting in the front row as you preach your sermon from their text. Which way is the head nodding? How would you describe the look on the face?” This is such a useful approach to take in the training of preachers. It always has an impact. A few years ago I…


after saturday, comes sunday

April 12, 2017 /

“Are you saying that Assad is NOT the biggest problem in Syria?” “Yes, I am.” “WOW.” So I took up her book and read. I’m still thinking about it! The book almost needs to carry a ‘WARNING: READERS’ ADVISORY’. It is not for the weak-minded (or the faint-hearted). I heard Elizabeth Kendal speak at a…


basis and focus

February 23, 2017 /

There are two divisions about which the preacher must be wary. One is dividing Spirit from Word. ‘In biblical thought the Spirit of God is as closely connected to the Word of God as breath is connected to speech’ (John Woodhouse). They belong together. Don’t elevate one above the other. God’s speech cannot be separated…


white mughals

December 18, 2016 /

Sixty-two. It was an impressive effort. Once I finished William Dalrymple’s White Mughals I turned to the Glossary and gave Barby the test. A bit of Hindustani here. A bit of Urdu and Persian over there. A lot of Koranic-Mosque terminology everywhere. But out of almost 140 words, she got 62 correct. Very impressive, don’t you…


the prevailing image

December 1, 2016 /

It is a principle of effective communication. Check out the Economist magazine. It is right there – always there – between the title of the article and the body of the article. A simple, single, summarising sentence. One of the secrets for TED-talk effectiveness is that a given talk can be captured in the length of a tweet.…



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About Me


the art of unpacking

After a childhood in India, a theological training in the USA and a pastoral ministry in Southland (New Zealand), I spent twenty years in theological education in New Zealand — first at Laidlaw College and then at Carey Baptist College, where I served as principal. In 2009 I began working with Langham Partnership and since 2013 I have been the Programme Director (Langham Preaching). Through it all I've cherished the experience of the 'gracious hand of God upon me' and I've relished the opportunity to 'unpack', or exegete, all that I encounter in my walk through life with Jesus.