“To an unknown God…”

Read this today. It helped me to see where my best thoughts are birthed for myself, thoughts for others, for life, for a sermon, for poems (seldom to be shared).

Where is the simplest place you know? For me it is in being called, “Beloved.” In that place, Life calls from eternity into time, and from within time cries out towards eternity. It is the place where reality is faced with the faith to mourn and hope.

Personally, and I mean that, I rarely find truth in typical Christian books that is not obvious, though I am grateful for them and need them, especially when truth is expressed in new ways or illustrated from honest personal experience. I find poets speak true truth of a more primal level, even when they are not Christian believers. Paul saw that and did not share present day evangelical or charismatic uneasy qualms about that fact. Nor should he share our qualms. The fact it is so, is part of the truth that Christ lightens every person born into the world. We should always be thankful for that true light wherever we see its glimmer.

By the way, poets also often show “lostness” with clarity as well. I read a couple of poems today by Norman MacCaig. He is one of my two favourite poets but was defiantly, proudly, sardonically and angrily godless as far as I can read him from his work. I have never read a poet that can speak more beautifully about facing the sorrow of bereavement, but at the same time the bleak beauty shows a man who has no answer or hope to share. Tangent ended! Here are the lines that touched me today:

“May things stay the way they are
in the simplest place you know….
….
May nothing be disturbed
in the simplest place you know
for it is here in the foetal hush
that blueprints dissolve
and poems begin,
and faith spreads like the hum of crickets,
faith in a time
when maps shall fade,
nostalgia cease
and the vigil end.”

(Arundathi Subramaniam “Prayer.”)

God bless

Kenny

Just in case you get the wrong impression of me…

It is the danger of a being a blogger who means to be encouraging that the impression is given of being a “know it all.” Actually, I have always felt I am but a child in the things of God, but a child who wants to learn. Most of my sermons come fresh off the page that I am learning myself.

Just in case you think I never have any battles … here is a poem I wrote once. It may help you now or in a future moment. We all have battles. They may differ for each one of us, or may differ within  us at various times, but the answer is the same; the Love of God: the God who is with us, for us, who takes delight in us, and who does not turn against us when we struggle, even when we have brought our struggles upon ourselves through deliberate wilfulness or unintended carelessness.

Why to night?

Tonight, I sweat in your presence,
Overdosed on worry
Injected with anxiety
Seeing weird and distorted portends,
Confusion my only clarity
Non-happening, most obvious reality…

Tonight, regimes changed so quickly,
A day of restfulness
Marinading in joyfulness
A soundtrack of songs of simplicity,
But dark now the score
Threatening, the waterfall’s roar…

“What happened?” asks Light,
“What turned today to night?”

Tonight, arrows pierced my helmet,
My unguarded eyes
Struck, by imagination’s lies!
A voice spoke with sharpened torment
“Failure” …“Useless”…
Words  from an out of date Thesaurus.

Tonight, in my presence, my  Father sweated,
… to hold my infant hands,
… to wrap me in Love’s swaddling bands.
… He spoke gently as though I was  to Him His only Beloved
… dear as  an infant Christ,
… His utmost delight.

Kenny Borthwick.

 

Know the Victor and know the enemy….

Another dream last night which showed me this:

The devil meticulously plans his tactics, while modern Christians can often be careless and casual with spiritual things, presuming that to be roughly in the ballpark, without too much regard for the application of the clear teaching and details of God’s word on all matters, is good enough for living and moving in the blessing of God.

The dream was in the context of the present plans of the Church of Scotland for renewal of its structures and organisation, but I thought it worthwhile sharing its truth as it has wider application.

For example, one aspect of the dream was about a casual approach to filthy language, which in many sectors of the Christian world is now seen as acceptable.

Never think you will know the power of Christ’s victory over the devil, if you are not prepared to let Him help you live by every word that proceeds from the mouth of the Lord and echo those words with your lips and within your heart.

I will leave it up to you and the Holy Spirit to search together for where there may be details needing attended to that you may have dismissed as not mattering too much.

God bless

Kenny

 

Is there a hole in your pocket?

The angel said to Peter, “Quick!”  (Take time to read Acts 12 if you are not sure what this refers to!)

God’s sovereignty and my responsibility are often wrapped together as two sides of the one coin. I may not fully understand the process of how such a coin could ever be minted and long ago accepted that my willingness not to understand or adequately explain the mix may be sneered at and mocked as an intellectual cop-out. No matter: “The LORD protects those of childlike faith…” (Psalm 116). After 47 years of being a Christian and thinking like a Christian,  I am not sure that I have  gained much wisdom to shed more light on the subject or  to make myself sound more mature.

Whatever, I have found this coin to be good currency for purchasing spiritual health and victory in territories that seem like home to my soul, and in strange lands of unusual glories or daunting terrain reached by uncharted seas.

Treasure this coin. Guard it well. Has it slipped through a hole in your pocket? Think at what point you lost it, search for it and rejoice when you find it again.

God bless

Kenny

Is this warning for you?

Had a dream last night in which there was a battle against a spirit of mockery. Watch out today you do not mock Holy things, or scoff at what is beyond your spiritual understanding or experience as yet…there may be life waiting for you in the very place, ministry or truth you have so quickly and confidently dismissed.

God bless.

Kenny

A couple of thoughts…about our surprising and annoying God…

Two thoughts, similar, but from a different starting point, that I shred on “Facebook” today: shared here, for those who for many good reasons I  can think of would not touch “Facebook” with a barge pole!

Thought 1

In unexpected moments the Holy Spirit starts to dance with joy within us hand in hand with our spirit. It can happen in the midst of trial or ease, amidst a crowd or in aloneness, in our waking hours or when we are asleep. We hear the distant but distinct strains of a celebration and realise that part of our being has slipped out trough the window, escaping the brooding captivity of all that saps life away: it has already taken to the floor and its joyful whirling sends forth an invitation that the rest of our being may follow.

Thought 2

It is intensely annoying when the Holy Spirit in your your spirit is rejoicing in something  that your mind , armed with good solid biblical reasoning, is furious at. Been there so many times and have got the T-shirts in every colour under the sun…but would rather face that annoyance and its good fruit than be what I would be without it: a wee gnarled up angry Scottish Presbyterian Charismatic Pentecostal semi-retired older brother.

May my thoughts awaken and bless your own thinking.

Kenny

 

Child and Conqueror!

It is always dangerous to separate what God puts together in His written Word and in the Word made flesh, Jesus Christ.  It is especially dangerous for those of us called to preach and teach to make that mistake as servants of God in the spoken Word.

In recent years there has thankfully been an emphasis in Renewal circles on the Father heart of God. This was much needed in countries like my own, Scotland, where people have often been brought up in the remnants of a spiritual culture that seemed to major on God as judge, and a harsh judge at that; a God who wears a frown rather than a smile of welcome and mercy.

However though we can never overstate the love of God in its scope or depth,  we can misrepresent its implications. In the bible, in the life of Jesus, the declaration of the Father’s love was followed by choices made for the Father’s will in the wilderness.

When we truly receive the love of God, a desire to do His will is birthed within us along with the power so to choose. In the presentation of the gospel, the Good News that in Jesus we not only find the delight of God resting upon us  but are  also given a new nature that delights in doing God’s will,  is sometimes obscured:  one reality is presented at the expense of the other. So for example,  the hyper-grace movement leaves out the requirement and joy of repentance and obedience, while Holiness movements and churches  have often resulted in a legalism that like all Pharisaism hides the smile of God’s saving love and kind mercy behind a disapproving, judging frown of unapproachability.

The joy of Christ’s Baptism and His obedience in the wilderness go together. This is the true grace of God that comes to us through relationship with Him, through  abiding in Him. It is also the way to true joy. Nothing can interrupt the joy of those who know they are loved  by the Father and who live to do the Father’s will. This was the delight of Christ and He invites us into Him: “Come to me.” In Him we find a love that cannot be interrupted and a joy that nothing can keep from us. What is to stop any of us this day, whoever and whatever is part of our situation, from obeying the Father’s will, and finding therein our delight? Only our choice.

I have been thinking back today over those moments when I have met people who have moved me to tears with the sight of the beauty of Christ in their lives. One such person was the missionary, Dr. Helen Roseveare. I heard her speak at Kilcreggan House when I was 15 or 16. I cannot really remember what she said, but it was the beauty of the Lord Jesus shining from her face, that made me want to find a private spot in the grounds, simply to weep. Truest beauty has that effect. It was overwhelming to me. The way to that beauty somehow became crystal clear without anyone telling me; saying “Yes” to the Father’s will, whatever that meant. It was something to do with not negotiating a contract with Christ under out own terms, but surrendering everything to the will of God without a terms and conditions clause. I have never forgotten that moment.

I hope whoever you are, you are living  in the full joy of Christ.  Perhaps to do so you might need to restore a balance to what it means to be in Christ. You may need to stand with Him under the joyful proclamation at His baptism and hear these words being spoken over you: “You are my Son, my Daughter whom I love. You bring me great delight!” Alternatively, you may need to stand with Him in the lonely  and costly choices of obedience in the desert, allowing Him to help you say His “Yes” to the Father’s will.

I believe this post is offering you the pathway to joy and freedom. For some it will be the joy of standing on the mountain top of spiritual experience  lifting your eyes to the Father in clear uninterrupted skies. For others, it will be the joy of standing in the valley in the midst or in the aftermath of great battle, with your weapons held aloft, bruised and bloodied but with a warrior cry of “Freedom” emerging from the unassailable depths of your being.

May the unfettered joy of Christ, the Son and the Victor be yours this day and always.

God bless you, Child of God and More than a Conqueror

Kenny

The glory of dawn!

Do we really believe the gospel, the gospel of the already here and still coming Kingdom of Heaven? I am a Charismatic and because of what I see in the bible, always will be I believe, but I fear for the Charismatic Movement in its popular manifestation in the Western World. Current popular charismatic teaching in its almost exclusive focus on “Kingdom now” causes very real distress of mind and soul to many of God’s faithful saints, but marches on in seeming unconcern about the damage inflicted upon vulnerable and fragile people living with the mystery of suffering of one sort or another. It shares only success stories giving only the very briefest of nods towards those for whom their ministry process has not “worked” but quickly passing on. Already convinced listeners seem to happily allow this sleight of hand, but it brings the charismatic dimension into discredit with those looking on and may contribute to the demise of genuine interest and pursuit.

Exaggeration of results does not help either, whereby we speak out our best two or three stories as though they are a continual pattern. All of us can be guilty of that, charismatic or non charismatic! I have seen one of the most well known healing ministries active today in many nations say on their web site that at a meeting they were involved in in the UK, healing was happening all over the gathering. I was there. No healing happened that night. I have been at other meetings in which that same ministry was involved in which healings did most certainly happen, even to me. The fact of the erroneous report was drawn to the attention of the Ministry involved. They were asked to alter their web page. They refused to do so. It takes a steady hand to hold a full cup. Success can be difficult to handle. All our idols have feet of clay. Thankfully, God is merciful.

If we do believe in “Now” and “Still to come,” then we will help one another to understand that non healing now as much as healing, tears now as much as joy, suffering now as much as release are all affirming signs as much as obvious miracle, that our hope is true and our faith in the Gospel is the real deal. “How long?” will often be the cry of hearts that truly believe, as will be awe and wonder at the action of God in more obvious intervening power. Sickness, tears and suffering are all sure and certain signs that Christ will come again to bring us along with all things into the fullness of His victory. We believe that, believing also that miracle may break in at any moment as we wait.

An appeal to some who read this from myself, your brother who is one with you in your desire to see more of “Kingdom Now.” If you are going to command a miracle in the Name of Jesus, make sure God is going to back you up and check you are not being presumptive. The proof of whether you were right or wrong in your declaration, moving in presumption or faith is if the thing you declare happens or does not. If it does not happen, don’t be quick to blame the person you made the declaration over, in fact be very reluctant to ever go down that avenue at all. Do some heart searching and some re-examining of the teaching you have imbibed…. and humble yourself before the God who loves you and does indeed want you to learn from Him, how to become a faithful channel of the mystery of the already here and still coming Kingdom of heaven. Let’s learn to carry that mystery together, in both our tears and our joy. Both are part of our triumphal march in Christ. Let’s celebrate and let’s mourn as those who know God is with us and the brightness of The Day has dawned upon us.

God bless

Kenny

The Forgotten Four…

I am thinking today of Rev. Scott Burton, beginning his ministry in Britghtons Church of Scotland in Falkirk, and thinking too of his lovely wife, Gill, and their beautiful daughter, Hope. He is being preached in by the wonderful Rev. Ollie Clegg who was one of the ministry team at Holy Trinity in Wester Hailes, and is now Associate minister of  St. Mungo’s Episcopal Church in Balerno, with responsibilities too in St. Mungo’s in Livingston.  Ollie was a huge encouragement to Scott as he pursued his call to ministry. It made me think of how there may be many beginning a new season in ministry today who are unknown to me, but may be known to you. Jesus has promised to build His church. He can be trusted. Why not take a moment to pray for those beginning their ministries or a new chapter in their ministries today, Pray too for spouses, family and loved ones caught up in that call!

For some reason as I thought of Scott, the ramblings in the following paragraph started to bubble up to the surface. I found myself musing about ministry in a more general sort of way, and from there  my mind seemed to leap to all sorts of areas of Christian life and service. It all resulted in this:

Allowing loads of space for cultural differences, personality differences, differences in taste etc, if it doesn’t look and sound like Jesus in Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, don’t give it sway in your life… by “it” I mean the ministry of any Apostle, Prophet, Evangelist, Pastor, Teacher, etc. etc. Come to think of it, when it boils down to it, He is the model for all things; prayer, leadership, mission, faith, confrontation, servanthood, obedience, church/church planting/church discipline, spiritual warfare, healing, helping folk with a terribly wounded story, deliverance and anything and everything else for that matter. Jesus of Nazareth is what God and His purpose is and looks like in a human being. For every book you read, course you go on, take a longer look still at Jesus in Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. Have you put a favourite speaker above Jesus? A favourite writer or book above the gospels? If so, why not open them today and start reading any of the 4 or all of them? Begin at the beginning or open them up wherever you feel led to start. Don’t feel ashamed if you find the words you are reading unfamiliar or unknown to you. Just thank God for bringing you on to the right path and ask Him to forgive your folly. He will. ‘Jesus, be the centre!’ Let’s tell others to read the stories of  “The Forgotten Four.” “

God bless

Kenny

The Lord of earthly and heavenly hosts…

I know some of you do not “do” Facebook. This is a story I posted there earlier this evening as part of a thread on angelic activity.. It maybe does not make sense in a vacuum and unrelated to the Facebook activity, but I somehow hope it blesses you and encourages your faith. Whatever else they may be, angels are a sign of the gospel that the Kingdom of Heaven is near to us.

In the early years of CLAN Gathering in Scotland when numbers were still climbing towards from a few hundred to several thousand coming from hundreds of churches, a few angels appeared on photographs. I never kept them or publicised them, as I thought they would be sensationalised and used in the wrong way. I remember meeting an older lady who simply came up to me and said, “Pray for Israel.” She then walked on with difficulty of movement. In one of the photographs she was standing there with her back to the camera – at least I am pretty sure it was her in that she was wearing the same clothes and shoes – worshipping …with wings on her back. By that I don’t mean a vague glow that could maybe could be interpreted as wings at a push and with a lot of imagination. I mean wings, truly glorious wings

The appearance of heavenly host seemed to be associated with joy. I have no idea why such realities appeared on photographs, nor why other types of spiritual manifestation appeared in the tent and in other conferences I was at a few weeks later, in the sky. If their wings had been visible to the naked eye I guess they may not have got past the stewards into the tent! Anyway, there it is. It is amazing what can happen when you create a venue with no other purpose than welcoming the presence of God and wanting to see His people encouraged in the joy of knowing Jesus. I heard this week of another ministry that started through the Spirit’s inspiration working in someone’s heart at CLAN in St. Andrews that is now international in its scope and bringing life to people and glory to God in Scotland and beyond. Wonderful.

Oh for days of nameless people, of no agenda other than welcoming the presence of God and honouring The Lamb slain since the foundation of the world. So much fruit is birthed in such an atmosphere, fruit that lasts and grows even when the seed itself falls into the ground and dies. It is a Kingdom law we can trust in with absolute confidence.

God bless

Kenny

Let the Arrow Fly…

I lost my peace last night. The reason? I started thinking about someone who was needing put right in their thinking about a matter of biblical truth, in my estimation: someone who I thought needed to listen to my “wisdom.” Maybe it is a besetting sin of pastors, the flip-side of our strength and gifting. It may be birthed in our desire to help, but an unguarded strength or gifting can become a weakness, indeed it can become destructive of the very good we intend.

Well, I woke up this morning, and saw the wrong in me for what it was. I have repented and peace is restored. There is maybe a lesson in that about when to “think” about things. Mulling  over a peace destroying thought at night time is not the best idea. Things tend to look different in the morning especially if despite the troubling in our thoughts the night before, we have somehow managed to receive the gift of sleep. This morning, I did not feel any need to put the person right. I saw them for the unique person they are and felt pastoral hope and peace on their behalf. I do not need to make the remarks to them I had thought of saying, in order to “help” them!

However, that experience made me think back  to a remark made to me on Facebook by someone a year or two ago, which was viciously judgemental and was made on the basis of presumptions about me by someone who knows me not one whit. They were out to put me right in the most ungracious terms. Well, as a pastor you have to develop a sensitive spirit  skin allied to the skin of a rhinoceros , so the attack did not land ! However it made me think of the sorts of things that we often say to one another as believers on social media. My own bible readings today were all about the use of  “the tongue.” I put the following  on Facebook. I know many of you do not use Facebook, and you may be wise in that decision! However, here it is:

“One often reads such vicious verbal assaults on believers by believers on Facebook. It rarely comes in my direction but from time to time all of us will be victims or villains in such communications, or more accurately non-communications.

Listen: if I thought the same as you about all manner of things, that would not give you the opportunity to grow in the love of God fo me, nor give to me the opportunity to grow in the love of God for you. Humility would suffer as well, as would the potential to grow in truth and wisdom together.

Tuck that thought away in your spiritual quiver. Use it this day or any day when it might be the appropriate arrow to draw out and fit to your bow. Aim it in the direction of the mutual enemy of us all, draw the string back with all your God given strength and let it fly.”

God bless

Kenny

 

Poltergeist…and the Power of the Ordinary using the Ordinary…

Great testimony to the power of God over spiritual darkness, heard at church last night.

A wonderful lady, who works as a Carer, was sharing that she had really been having a rough time over the last year or so. One thing after another had been hitting her in life. She was no sooner up on her feet after one blow than she was knocked down again. It all affected her spiritually. However she determined at New Year she was going to stand for Jesus, live for Jesus, come what may.

One night recently, after settling one of those she cares for, she was aware of a dark presence in the room. She felt like phoning the pastor, who has a ministry for dealing with such things, for help…but she didn’t. She got out of bed, knelt in prayer, and read bible verses off an App on her phone that corresponded to how she was feeling. The dark presence seemed now to be standing behind her, and she was afraid to look round. As she continued to pray read God’s Word and praise God, she was filled with the Holy Spirit’s power in a very tangible way. She continued to praise God, at which point 2 pillows that were on top of a chest of drawers were suddenly swiped from where they were lying and flew across the room. She kept praising God, and all was well.

The pastor afterwards, referring to the testimony in the course of the sermon ,simply said that the lady had done the right thing; used the ordinary things: she had prayed, read the bible etc. She then said it is always tempting when we are in need to think that we need someone “bigger” or “older” in God than we are to help us out. However, never underestimate the power of the “ordinary” things that God has given to us to use.

Anyway, I came home from church, blessed by a remarkable testimony followed by a remarkably helpful sermon.

Perhaps this is a day for you to discover the power of “Ordinary” things, or to rediscover their power: things like prayer, the words of Scripture simply read and believed, and praise.

I also thought as I was in the church that God put a young man on my heart, who was sitting in the front row, as one who would grow up to have a keen eye for dealing with the demonic because he had encountered that and early victories would lead to future giftedness and service. There are people who God does mean to grow into ministries in such things as I have described, but as I say, never forget the power of what we sometimes leave unused: the power of the ordinary means of grace that God has placed in our hands. Pick up the bible today and read a verse or 2. Pray today in whatever way you are accustomed to pray. Praise God, who is God always, forever, and in every circumstance you may find yourself in this day.

Such “ordinary” things are weapons made mighty through the Holy Ghost, to the pulling down of strongholds, especially these strongholds of wrong thinking which can establish themselves in deep places within us. Remember the truth, told in a homely way, that Satan trembles when he sees even the weakest Christian on their knees! Don’t get spooked by this testimony. Rather, remember what spooks the devil!

Below, you will find a link to a song which was played so so often on Sundays in my childhood, on the type of record player that in in vogue once more only now with Bluetooth facility! It is old fashioned and might be considered to be too simple by many and dismissed as sheer sentimentality, but I am grateful its truth got into me. I am grateful beyond measure for a home where Christ was loved and honoured. I am grateful for my memories of Dad singing along in his out of tune voice, dreaming of being George Beverly Shea, causing the rest of us loving laughter, as we waited for the delicious bacon and eggs and potatoe scones he would have been happily cooking for us all at the time!  I have met and pastored so many who woke on a Sunday to threatening silence, or to voices of discord and strife, voices to be feared from people to be hidden from. There are so many who would have loved such “sentimentality” being played on a record player, crackles and all, on a record player, and to have memories like mine. I should say  with all compassion and sincerity, that I recognise that some of you may not be able to reach the place the song speaks of without first acknowledging great pain and finding the loving help of Christ to bring you to a place where the song makes every day sense as it were. I pray He will. What some of you have been through is unspeakable and you may need help before the “ordinary’ is helpful rather the cause of further pain or even mockery. Perhaps  if your childhood was stolen, you could pray for its renewal in healed shape and from, even within  your adult life. I am remembering a song I first heard when living in Orkney which could be a prayer you might want to pray. It  started with these words: “I want to be a child again, I want to see the world through five year old eyes: To walk with my God wherever He may lead, to put my trust in Him”

Well, my Dad and George Beverly Shea will probably have met in heaven now, I suspect, and are both part of that great choir where nobody hears what anyone’s voice sounds like, for all attention will be on the Lamb in the midst of the throne, listening only for that voice that is like the sound of many waters. May you hear that voice today, flowing  all around you like living water, bubbling with a healing  happiness, and  with the joy of victory.

Click here

God bless

Kenny

Honour where honour is due…

This is not mock humility, it is not hyperbole, rather it is deeply felt and, I believe, demonstrably true: the day when all things shall be made plain and surprising rewards will be given, will prove it to be so. …

I owe everything to those known and unknown who have loved me and prayed for me, not least among that number being my parents and my wife. If you have ever been blessed by God through me, thank God for the pray-ers of which you yourself may be one! The bible tells us to give honour where honour is due.

For reasons unknown I feel this so deeply this night, that It just had to overflow to you.

If you have someone who prays for you faithfully and from the love of God in their hearts for you, you are truly rich and blessed. Maybe God is asking you to hear His call to be that blessing to another?

God bless

Kenny

“…go together like a horse and carriage…”

“Because of your unfailing love, I can enter your house; I will worship at your Temple with deepest awe” Psalm 5.7.

True intimacy with God, security in His unfailing love, does not take away deepest awe and reverence.

I worry a bit, not a lot but a bit, about the assumption that casualness should be the tone of a church gathering which is sure of the Father’s love and an inviting and safe space for seekers.

Old fashioned? I probably am in some ways, but I have never felt I can wander in and out for or with coffee in the presence of unfailing divine love.

Nostalgic? Probably. I have come to the stage where I would prefer a good old fashioned call to worship with words of Scripture, rather than the now familiar waffle full of questionable teaching ending with the not very inspiring required formula, “Why don’t we stand…?”

Formal? Mmm, perhaps a bit. It may surprise you, but because in the charismatic world casualness has passed from being a not thought about incidental, into being a requirement to be put on display, I would almost rather see a preacher in clerical robes, suggesting at least a Holy calling affirmed by the church, rather than someone dressed in the latest trend of what gym buffed orthodontically enhanced stars of stage and screen are meant to look like, though of course heart is more important.

Yes, it is, it really is. Heart is more important. No question. I know that…I really do, but still…

I actually think a day will come when casualness in its deliberate , chiselled and expensive designer form in the church in the West, will lose its appeal. It will not satisfy those who are looking for something radically different from the world who will become disappointed to walk into a church to find Christians still in love with what they have left behind.

Ah well, that is what I think…

God bless

Kenny

Old truths ever New

Had such an enjoyable meeting with a fellow Church of Scotland minister today. I was reminded of two truths from two giants of the Faith.

Firstly, I was reminded of what David Watson said: true fellowship begins at the point of weakness, when we kneel at the foot of the cross, on level ground, in the place of healing and grace. Personally, I think that often fellowship is ruined when we try and meet one another in a competition based on our strengths.

Secondly, I was reminded Of something C. S. Lewis said: fellowship begins when all of a sudden one says to another with delighted discovery, “What? You too?” That discovery cuts through the need to know endless details about one another. Plenty time for that whenever, if ever…

God bless

Kenny

Angry at Generosity?

Remembering a solid Christian angrily asking me what use the gift of tongues was to anyone. Well it has its uses for sure, but what a horrible view of God, that He only does what is useful!

I wonder what sort of gifts that person gave to their nearest and dearest? Only ones that would get the response, “Thanks I was needing that,”? Did they never give something to a loved one that caused uproarious laughter when opened? Did they never give a personalised symbol of love forever treasured as priceless by the recipient, a cause of warmth and joy, but confusing, meaningless or ridiculous in the eyes of everyone else? Did they never give to excess to the accompaniment of universal condemnation but with disregarding laughter in their Remembering a solid Christian angrily asking me angrily what use the gift of tongues was to anyone. Well it has its uses for sure, but what a horrible view of God, that He only does what is useful! I wonder what sort of gifts that person gave to their nearest and dearest? Only ones that would get the response, “Thanks I was needing that,”? Did they never give something to a loved one that caused uproarious laughter when opened? Did they never give a personalised symbol of love forever treasured as priceless by the recipient, a cause of warmth and joy, but confusing, meaningless or ridiculous in the eyes of everyone else? Did they never give to excess to the accompaniment of universal condemnation but with disregarding laughter in their own spirit?

Never despise the generosity of God. Why are you uncomfortable if He chooses to be generous to anyone…to you?

God bless

Kenny

That thing we call “Church.”

A couple of bits and pieces that have moved me in recent days; worth sharing I think.

“If this is not a place, where tears are understood,
Then where shall I go to cry?
And if this is not a place, where my spirit can take wings,
Then where shall I go to fly?
(Ken Medema)

“Let light spill out of heaven
through my life,
dispelling mediocrity and silent blame,
Too many people, guilt stricken, wounded,
walk in regret,
feeling bad about failing,
apologise even for breathing.”
(Andy Raine)

Worth thinking about as we think of “church” and our place in its life and mission, don’t you think?

(Both quotes come from “Celtic Daily Prayer, Book Two: Farther Up and Farther In.” You might find that is a helpful book if you are looking for a new approach to your devotional life. I do not take to the Celtic approach to spiritual life naturally myself, but I have found it an immensely enriching discipline to use this book)

God bless

Kenny

Is the answer you are looking for really that complicated?

Feeling stuck or unhappy about where you are spiritually and asking God about it in this New Year? I wonder how we would react if Jesus were to say to us, as He did to a couple of questioners in the gospels, “What do the commandments say?”

Sometimes we make an awfully complicated meal about things. “Oh well, it’s complicated…” Often it isn’t. In fact usually “it” isn’t really that complicated. How can we reach contentment and peace within as children of God if we are ignoring His will about how to do life, how to seize its opportunities and how to cope with its at times seemingly intolerable pains and tragedies?

There is so much ground of human experience covered by God’s commands in the Old Testament: they are His gift of love to a people, Israel, whom He redeemed in grace, but they are for us too living under the New Covenant, as of course are the commandments on the lips of Jesus and the first Apostles. Psalm 19 likens God’s Law to the life-giving light and heat of the sun from which nothing is hidden (Why not take a few moments right now to read it?). Keep it simple. Did you complicate a choice by seeking and following the advice of your peers or even a well meaning Counsellor who told you to go a different way from the commandments of God? Well, take responsibility for your life, forgive anyone for the advice they gave that got you in a mess (maybe they feared your reaction if they told you the truth!), and take a fresh step of obedience.

Have you prayed, “Send Revival, and let it begin in me?” With God’s help, answer your prayer: there is biblical precedent for such an approach to prayer. Personal Revival always looks like a new beginning of obedience somewhere in our lives…

God bless

Kenny

Calling all heroes!

At this time of the year, if you have any affinity to the circles of spiritual emphasise I have lived in and ministered in over the years, you will probably be being subjected to the most amazing prophetic interpretations of the number 2019! I will leave it to you to work out which, if any, have the word of God for you somewhere in the midst of all the complicated and mysterious calculations.

In the mean time, I believe that 2019 just as 2018, and 2017, and 1831 and any other year you can think of,  is “The Year of  the Heroes!”

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God bless

Kenny

Learn from the Rose…

I love the poetry of George Mackay Brown. I guess that living for a few years in Orkney and ministering there meant I would look at his writings, but it was actually long after leaving there that I did so.

One of my favourite poems goes under the name “Prologue.” I think it got that unusual title partly because it sums up what is the core of the inspiration of his poetry and its aim and purpose, but also because it was the first poem in an early book of his published work. You might have heard of its opening line: “For the islands I sing.” You might have heard another famous line from the same poem: his description of Scotland as “the Knox-ruined nation.” That is not a line that has endeared him to many Calvinists or historians for whom facts matter!

However at the start of a New Year, it is something he says about roses that I want to leave with you to think about:

“Go, good my songs,
be as gay as you can.
Weep, if you have to,
the old tears of man.

Praise tinker and saint,
and the rose that takes
its fill of the sunlight
though a world breaks.”

The world which we wake to on New Year’s Day 2019 is a world of the most appalling suffering and need in so many places and so many lives. Your life or the life of someone you love may even have been visited by sadness, loss, betrayal or disappointment of one type or another in the closing days of 2018, and the effects of that are still there, deeply felt on this January morning. It is so important to allow ourselves and discipline ourselves to see, receive and drink in the goodness of God, just as the rose does the sunlight. Roses exist with all the beauty of their perfume and colour. God does not ban them as though no beautiful or joyful thing should be allowed in a world where darkness damages and destroys so much.  Along with many other beautiful things they can be reminders, signs and teachers, pointing us to God in His goodness, awakening a capacity for gratefulness and even celebration in the midst of life as it really is.

However you wakened on the first day of this New Year, whatever thoughts or experiences are lying heavily upon you, make time to drink in God’s goodness. Train your heart not only to “weep the old tears” that are part of the human story through the centuries, but to take your fill day by day of “the sunlight” of God’s goodness.

Oh and by the way, don’t be angry or offended if in the face of your difficulty or sadness someone says to you in a cheerful way, “Happy New Year.” Perhaps they are being a bit thoughtless, but just maybe they are a teacher sent by God to help you out of a rut in which you could easily get stuck…

God bless

Kenny

Choices…

Jesus shows us that true leadership partly means clearing space, allowing lesser matters to be dealt with by others so that you can deal with the really important stuff…the stuff that really matters, like clamouring people coming to you for the wrong reasons when you are tired, or mothers wanting their children blessed. Come on you leaders! Follow Jesus, not the World. Non accessibility and extra days on the golf course and exclusive dinners with the wealthy or powerful or influential are the world’s badges pinned to importance.

How come you found a space to arrange to meet that person who could be of strategic importance in opening doors of opportunity but have not found time for that distraught person who could do with 10 minutes of your time…oh of course, they are just your spouse…or that draining person…or the inconvenient Jesus wrapping Himself once more in ordinary unimportant guise that you can choose to ignore in favour of the important person, meeting, conference or opportunity. Where do you think He will choose to be?

The end of the year? An opportunity to think…

God bless

Kenny

Event and Process

I think “walking in victory” as a believer is a mixture of event and process. As a Charismatic/Pentecostal believer by conviction and experience, I love the “event” moments, those times where the breakthrough of God comes in an experience you can mark in the diary as it were: God did something: He stepped in: He showed Himself as the God of Breakthrough on my behalf. I love hearing of those moments in the lives others. However…daily process matters too. It actually saddens me to meet believers whose spirituality is all “event” or happening, but no “process.” Indeed they may despise “process” and dismiss it was being legalism or “religion.” The current dismissal of spiritual discipline as “the spirit of religion” is destroying the health of many Charismatic Christians and may well destroy the Charismatic movement.

If you are basically Charismatic/Pentecostal and at home in the language of breakthrough, deliverance, miracle, “overwhelming,” don’t forget “process”. Here are some things that could be helpful to do. It is not an exhaustive list, nor is it meant to be legalistic. There are just some things that are good and helpful to do if we want to grow in Christ, rather than just have a few marvellous stories to tell from a stunted soul and non-Christlike character.

Bring yourself before God daily.

Take time to praise Him and offer Him thanksgiving. Take even the last 24 hours and survey it for signs of God’s goodness. It will surprise you as you begin that thankful survey how many things you have to thank God for. ”Count your blessings, name then one by one, and it will surprise you what the Lord has done.”

Read the bible asking the Holy Spirit to speak to you as you do: remember as you do so that people felt the same amazement at the words of Jesus as they felt in the face of His mighty works. If you are more excited about a Prophetic Word than Scripture something has gone seriously wrong. Fix it!

Ask the Holy Spirit to help you search your heart and review your day as it were. Where did you act, react, speak or think in sinful, fearful, anxious, unloving, unrighteous ways. Pause where you sense the Holy Spirit pausing. Where do you need God’s forgiveness? Is He pointing out how you could have done differently than you did?

Take a look onwards into the day: what would meeting that situation, or person “in Christ” look like? “Imagine” meeting that person, that situation as the Beloved of God. As you do, you may find God lays on your heart something to say or do that was not in your mind to do at all. How could you bring “God” to light in that person or situation?

Thank God He is with you, in you, for you, and can come through you in grace and truth this very day. Go into the day “in the Name of Jesus.” That is more than a phrase. It means you are going to live every moment in Jesus as your home and dwelling place. You will look through the windows of His eyes, seeing what He sees. You will go out through the door of His purpose, come in to rest through the door of His invitation and welcome. You will be in the world but not of it. He is the home of your soul.

I hope this helps.

God bless

Kenny

To help you…

If you struggle with an overdeveloped sense of responsibility for everything and everyone, like I do, you will at times be weighed down with false guilt. I find it helpful to ask these questions that keep me in the reality for which I am responsible, asking for the help of the Spirit of Truth/Reality as I do so ( I found them in “Advent and Christmas with Thomas Merton.”).”

“How have I been unkind in thoughts, words and actions? Am I refusing to forgive anyone? Do I despise any group or person?Am I a prisoner to fear, anxiety, worry, guilt, inferiority, or hatred of myself?”

(Hope this helps my fellow believers with neurotic tendencies – and by the way, there are many of us. If, on the other hand, you are a believer with psychopathic tendencies, and I have met many of you, I am not sure I live within your skin enough to be able to say anything helpful to help you embrace true responsibility towards others… then again, that may not be worrying you! But, come to think about it, the same questions asked in the strength of the same Holy Spirit, could perhaps hep you after all.)

God bless

 

Kenny

What really matters?

Funny how what interests us changes over the years. Speaking personally, I could not care less now about what the star was or how old was Jesus when the Wise Men visited him, or was it a cave/stable etc etc., though such things drew my attention in the past. Sermons on such things bore me more than I could tastefully express. Now that frailty has truly dispelled any thoughts of being able to manage, all I care about is that in Jesus I don’t need to be afraid for God has come to be with me in grace… on this I can meditate day and night; in this I rejoice; this I experience with the wonder of a child who has stumbled though the wardrobe of my own world into another world, where how things really are in all worlds becomes clear to me.

God bless

Kenny

God bless us, everyone!

To all family and friends, long-standing and new, “Happy Christmas!”

“Immanuel,” God with us! It is more than a name…

“Jesus!”: more than a name too, even more than Name above all names…

He is “I Am!” That means He is present, active reality. He lives His Name in you and in me: wherever meek souls will receive Him still the dear Christ enters in.

God bless. Much love to you.

Kenny and Morag xx

And is it true? For if it is…

Was at the shops today. Liked watching dads obviously finished working and out shopping with their young children…liked seeing awkward lone teenagers looking a bit dazed having to shop for others but persevering all the same, out of secretly harboured but difficult-to express -love for their parents. Was blessed by little ones in nappies and tights, staggering with their new and still to be honed walking skills, with their sturdy “plonk plonk” legs and shining eyes and fine spindly hair. It all reminded me of this wonderful Christmas poem, from an era when poets and entertainers felt less need to be cynical or make political comment and could rejoice in lovely things without getting lost in an agenda. I hope it makes you feel warm… warm and cosy is good…so are thoughts of mystery and God…so is wondering worship with no other end in mind than worship.

Christmas by John Betjeman

The bells of waiting Advent ring,
The Tortoise stove is lit again
And lamp-oil light across the night
Has caught the streaks of winter rain
In many a stained-glass window sheen
From Crimson Lake to Hookers Green.

The holly in the windy hedge
And round the Manor House the yew
Will soon be stripped to deck the ledge,
The altar, font and arch and pew,
So that the villagers can say
‘The church looks nice’ on Christmas Day.

Provincial Public Houses blaze,
Corporation tramcars clang,
On lighted tenements I gaze,
Where paper decorations hang,
And bunting in the red Town Hall
Says ‘Merry Christmas to you all’.

And London shops on Christmas Eve
Are strung with silver bells and flowers
As hurrying clerks the City leave
To pigeon-haunted classic towers,
And marbled clouds go scudding by
The many-steepled London sky.

And girls in slacks remember Dad,
And oafish louts remember Mum,
And sleepless children’s hearts are glad.
And Christmas-morning bells say ‘Come!’
Even to shining ones who dwell
Safe in the Dorchester Hotel.

And is it true,
This most tremendous tale of all,
Seen in a stained-glass window’s hue,
A Baby in an ox’s stall ?
The Maker of the stars and sea
Become a Child on earth for me ?

And is it true ? For if it is,
No loving fingers tying strings
Around those tissued fripperies,
The sweet and silly Christmas things,
Bath salts and inexpensive scent
And hideous tie so kindly meant,

No love that in a family dwells,
No carolling in frosty air,
Nor all the steeple-shaking bells
Can with this single Truth compare –
That God was man in Palestine
And lives today in Bread and Wine.

Hope this blesses you as it does me,

Kenny

“To You is born this day, a Saviour…You will find a baby, lying in a manger…”

Thanking God for people and places where I have found rest for my soul. Without exception they have been broken places and people who have struggled with their own wounds, devastation, and unanswered “why?” questions. I have found grace, compassion, healing, acceptance and love there. I have found Christ there, the Christ who understands without much needing to be said, in whose presence it is safe to feel.

Christmas reminds us that the mighty deliverance of God lives and breathes in places and people we would never discover save by grace ordering our steps. I had the most secure and trouble free childhood imaginable, full of love and encouragement, laughter and applause…but amongst the broken, in lives no one would envy, in despised places, the life giving dew of God falls upon me most heavily and most lightly…

The Shepherds’ steps to finding Jesus were ordered by The Lord. May it be so for you and for me.

God bless

Kenny

Christmas: God on both sides of the equation…

If you have read more than a handful of my blogs, you will have realised how indebted I am to the writings and thoughts of Henri Nouwen. His book “Wounded Healer” was on the list of recommended reading when I first became a Candidate for the Ministry of Word and Sacrament with the Church of Scotland back in the 1970’s. It is still a book worth reading. Though some of the  cultural analysis of the times in which it was written shows that nothing stays static for long, basically – at the risk of sounding patronising –   it passes the test of time pretty well. I would encourage you to read it to find out what it means to think of  Jesus, the Messiah, as the Wounded Healer, and what it means to be involved in His ministry in the world. However I have been thinking in the last few days of a phrase that came to my own mind a few months ago: Jesus as “Wounded Traveller.” That thought came back to me with renewed force today as I was talking with my friend, Rich Johnston. I will say  more about it a bit later on in this blog.

Earlier Christian centuries than our own  were full of discussion and argument as to the best way linguistically to express the mystery of the Incarnation: how do you express that Jesus was God and Man, accurately, without diminishing the reality of His deity or the reality of  His humanity?  I have always liked the way St. Anselm expressed the mystery. He talked of “The God-Man.” With Christmas approaching, I was thinking of that ancient attempt to describe the mystery of the Incarnation, and as I did so,  I found my thoughts going beyond Jesus birth to His ministry as recorded in the gospels,  and also to consider  the way I experience Jesus personally. Because Jesus is “the God-Man,” I can find him on both sides of any human predicament or experience I may be facing. That might seem like theological gobbledygook, so let me clarify and illustrate what I mean. Take the story of “The Good Samaritan.” Although we must never forget the whole point of that parable  is “Go and do thou likewise” in terms of being a neighbour to those in need, indulge me here for a moment and let me speak of the parable in relation to my experience of Jesus. I can see Him on both sides of the main action of the parable  I could sum up my thinking like this:

At times Jesus draws near to me as the “Wounded or Stigmatised Healer” whose divine help I may accept or push away (despite my need). At times I meet Him in the “Wounded Traveller.” I can choose to stoop towards Him in compassion and care, or pass Him by.

All of this has put  a new tool in my hands in terms of spiritual discernment. Christ is fact. His presence is fact in any life or situation. Part of being a Christian is asking, “Where is the fact of Christ?” in  any given moment. Because of what I have outlined above, I can ask that in more defined terms: “Is Christ revealing Himself to me in this moment and happening as “Wounded and Stigmatised Healer” or as “Wounded Traveller?”  “The God-Man” can be either because He is  both.  In Himself, He brings the help of God to our human frailty and cries out  for God’s help from within it. He offers me the gift of  His merciful, divine love and  help for my own life,  and also calls me  to hear His cry of need from the lives  of others. He gives heavenly help, and lies on the roadside beaten and bruised. He is the Mighty God come to save, and the fragile baby who cries from a manger needing nurtured, soothed, cared for, provided for and loved.

May you and I discern the presence of  “The God-Man” this Christmas and always.

God bless

Kenny