A Person not a Project…

Job 19.22: “Why are you not satisfied with my flesh?” Job seems to be saying that his”friends” seem to be taking an almost perverse delight in his suffering rather than caring. His actual and obvious suffering is not enough for them. They are drilling into his inner being and won’t be satisfied until they expose his inner condition. They are making Job and his suffering their ministry project.

I was thinking today of someone who used to come around one of the churches I pastored. i still have contact with them from time to time, but they no longer attend that church anymore. The reason they gave for leaving? “I felt I had become a project.”

I think, sadly, with regard to the way some at least treated that person, that was so …

People who have suffered greatly are quick to see whether they are being treated as a person or a project. They may stick around for a while, but ultimately they will not stay in company whether they are treated like that. When they leave it may be a good sign: “I matter.” Spiritual gifts, programmes for inner healing mean damage when there is no love.

God bless

Kenny

Why have you put that boundary there…?

Jesus, God in the flesh, was approachable. Sinners sought Him out. Mothers brought their children to Him to be blessed. He was angered at the very idea they should be kept from contact with Him. Spirituality and Approachability are linked, I think.

I used to hate it when well meaning people at conferences used to stop people approaching me after I had spoken, or when I was hived off to some secret room. I know it was to protect me, it was well meant, but… 

Anyway, don’t over protect your space. Take time apart for sure, as did Jesus, your health and well-being matter, but remember that approachability and hospitality – making time for others in your time and space for others in your space – is part of being like Jesus. Spirituality is proved in how we are with “what” or “who” we perhaps are too quick to dismiss as interruptions, distractions to the really important matters of our life in the Spirit or our terribly vital calling.

After learning from my mistakes over the decades, I would say that boundaries are good in life and ministry as a full time parish minister in the traditional sense. But remember, if you are involved in full time ministry of some sort, barriers need to be there for two positive purposes: for your wellbeing, and to enable healthy and sustainable availability to others. They should not be put in place with the purpose and intention of putting a series of hurdles in the road of people coming to you.

I have known people in ministry who make boundary setting a bit of a professional obsession. When that happens “Keep away, I am far too busy with more important matters than you!” becomes the main unspoken message of your ministry that people will speak plenty about for sure, much more than the sermon you spend hours praying over and diligently preparing. The pendulum does so often swing too far in one direction or another.

God bless

Kenny

Then and Now…

I am waiting for the day when “Then” will become “Now.”

The following words from 1st. Corinthians Chapter 15 have meant so much to me lately in the loss of my Mum. . Maybe you have lately buried a huge part of your heart as a loved one died and their remains were sown into the earth like precious seed. From that seed sown in tears something magnificent and imperishable will grow thanks to the one who drew the sting of death on our behalf on the cross. If you shared the hope of Christ together, hold on to these magnificent words….

“For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection from the dead…”

“…what you sow is not the body which is to be, but a bare kernel…what is sown is perishable, what is raised is imperishable. It is sown in dishonour; it is raised in glory…”

“When the perishable puts on the imperishable and the mortal puts on immortality, THEN shall come to pass the saying that is written:

Death is swallowed up in victory.”
“O death, where is your victory?
O death, where is your sting?”

The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ…”

Why not take time and listen on Youtube to someone singing, “I know that my Redeemer liveth” from Handel’s Messiah. The day when “Then” becomes “Now” will come…. be sure of it. May it help you out of mourning, into comfort and even into joy…

God Bless

Kenny

“Come in! Come in! It’s nice to see you? How’s yourself…?”

In times past when I was speaking in different places and different countries more than is the case now in days of enforced truncated ministry, there was an experience I away found difficult…staying in bedrooms where no place had been made for me to unpack my stuff! It was a temporary situation, so I managed, but to find not a single drawer where I could unpack my clothes etc., somehow affected me. In fact, I am not so sure I ministered as well or as freely when and where that was my experience.

I think the effect upon me whether intentional or the result of thoughtlessness and lack of any gifting of hospitality in the so called hosts, was that I heard a message: “You don’t really belong here with us.”

After Morag and I shared a meal with a wonderful prison chaplain last night, I found myself thinking as I dropped off to sleep that the need to feel we are welcome, that we belong, that there is a place I can unpack my stuff, is very deep, very basic. It is of course part of the gospel that Jesus invites us into His living space and makes room for us; He wants us to know that the love of the Father for Him is a living space we can share in. There is more than enough room there for us. Whether the luggage we arrive with is helpful or not, there is room for it in the Father’s love. In that love we find that some of what is in the suitcases is never going to be needed again. Nurtured with the food of divine love, we outgrow what once seemed to fit us. It no longer looks right on us, feels right. It is no longer needed, but we are welcome to bring it all when we come through the door, until that realisation is birthed in unexpected joy unspeakable and full of glory as irrefutable living truth.

God makes room for us in Himself. Hospitality is a gift that comes from His own nature. 

There are many differing thoughts about Church, Mission, etc floating around today. Reflecting the Hospitable heart of God may be a a very simple key. Would people feel after spending any time with me, any time speaking to me, that a place to belong, a space to unpack is being offered?

When I was unable to do very much at all ministry wise, indeed when I thought I might never preach again, God seemed to show me a Kingdom vision for how to live my life. He wanted me to be like a Kingdom of God tree in whose shade birds of the air could find refuge and build nests! I hope I hold on to that calling of being and offering a welcoming safe space, now that by God’s grace, I am speaking again on an occasional basis. It worked without words for a long while. My prayer is it will work with words now, that what I say will not mask the simplicity of the Hospitable Christ.

A warm memory from my childhood when T.V. used to be more about entertaining before it became a vehicle for one single issue politically correct cause after another, Andy Stuart used to invite us all into “The White Heather Club” by singing with a cheerful voice and a smiling face, “Come in! Come in! It’s nice to see you! How’s yourself? ” Thousands of us believed that invitation, and waited for it with joy each week! We could do worse than learning from that.

God bless

Kenny

“Sorry, I’ll need to cancel…”

Over the last wee while, bereavement has led to me having to cancel one or two arrangements I had made with people. There were just some situations which I knew I could not handle this early on after my Mum’s death. I felt bad doing that, because I think that keeping our word is a good sign of where we are with the Lord, and breaking it for any reason should never feel like an easy thing to do even if it is done for unavoidable reasons that anybody would understand. In Psalm 15 the questions is posed, “O Lord…who shall dwell in your holy hill?” One of the many characteristics we are then told about the person who does indeed dwell in closeness to the Lord is this: they swear to their own hurt and do not change (Verse 4). In everyday, simple terms, it is good to be people who keep our word even when it is not easy and may indeed cost us a lot to do so. That is part of living in fellowship with the Lord.

Perhaps you will face a choice today: you have made a promise to someone, but something else comes up that you really want to do, or the opportunity for some advantage is offered to you that others might say you would be a fool to miss out on, or the possibility is presented of spending time with someone you really want to spend time with. What will you do? Will you keep your word, even though it is going to cost you something to do so? 

Of course in a world such as ours, in the frailty of being human, there will be times when we cannot keep our word. That is very different from not keeping our word because despite being free and able to do so we decide not to, for one reason or another. Whatever the reason, not keeping our word puts a spiritual sense of distance between ourselves and the Lord as well as probably hurting or disappointing the other person involved, who despite perhaps graciously assuring you it is “OK” will probably feel devalued. Keeping our word at cost shows we are getting to know the One who keeps His Word to His own hurt.

This is not moralism. This is about knowing who God is and learning to walk as His chosen child, holding His hand…

If you were thinking about phoning someone today to say, “I’m sorry, but I will need to cancel…,” maybe just maybe you should think again…

God bless

Kenny

Faith is not Fantasy…

Disturbing but useful dream: Was walking through various scenes in which I saw differing reactions from Christians to the realties of life, particularly its harsh realities. Some were reacting in anger against distress they had known, some were reacting by escape, some were turning to a series of emotional fripperies, some were focussing on trying to improve tiny irrelevancies… etc. The sense was I was just to observe and that trying to “help” would not have been the right thing at that moment.

The sign of maturing faith is not that we deny facts or reality as they emerge, nor shut them out, nor cope by living in a smaller and smaller world of spiritual experiences where harsh realities are not allowed to show their disturbing distressing face. Faith sees facts of all types, pleasant and distressing; sets itself to live fully in reality, in truth; refuses to create false spiritual reality into (non)existence separated off from factual reality. Faith sees the way things are. It is more aware of the way things are than the closed mind and limited awareness of facts that unbelief and atheism suffers from, for it sees – sometimes with ease sometimes with struggle – that God is, and that He always is…

If something has hit you hard in the face recently, or even this very day, Jesus is praying for you, that your faith fails not. I pray that even if it is like a smouldering wick, it will not be put out. If you are like a bruised reed, remember Jesus is there to lovingly help you not be broken as you may fear this very day you might be. Easy to say…not always easy to believe or live out…

God bless your faith and deliver us all from fantasy. May we know the difference.

Kenny

Die a little, rise a little: the inescapable law of Christian living…

Got a couple of private posts today from people talking about “mourning.” Some thoughts…

I think that one of the most common needs or difficulties a pastor comes in contact with could be put into the category called “mourning.” It may be mourning for a person who died or mourning over a person from whom we have been separated, over a relationship that has ended; it might be mourning over a lost job. An Occupational Health doctor back in 2016 challenged me with this question: “Have you ever mourned your loss of health?” I had not allowed myself to do that. Henry Nouwen says that sometimes there can even be mourning over a form of Christian devotion or worship which meant so much to us, but is now deemed to be out of date, irrelevant and not fit for the present times; what was precious to us in the formative years of our Christian experience can come to be almost outlawed and drowned out with cynicism or sarcasm as no longer fit for purpose.

Christian life in practice means a whole lot of little deaths, little mournings, followed by little resurrections. It may have been brother Roger of Taize who said that, but I am not certain. No one escapes. Leaning to mourn and move on is vital. Not only is it vital but with Jesus it is possible when it seems impossible. He helps us mourn our losses well, and then to rise to the next chapter of new life, the good things prepared beforehand for us to live in and do, when His Father chose us for life in Christ before the foundation of the world.

The evil one tells us that our life was lost in what was taken from us or never given to us in earlier chapters of our story. He tells us there is no life possible, no recovery of joy or happiness in the face of loss. Living in Christ means our truest self is never in the past, whether that was a good or dark story, but waiting for us in my present journey towards my future which God alone can unfold in time and more fully in eternity. This is called “Hope.” It meant more to early believers than to many believers now, I think. They did not make themselves as at home in the happenings of this life as present day believers. They did not look for their life in what could be taken away or had been taken away, in what can be stolen or destroyed, but in what can never be lost. Our life is hid with Christ in God. Let the glory of what you will be on That Day rise like the sun and shine in glory across the plains of time from eternity. Walk into who you are. The thankfulness of faith affirms, often through mourning and tears, that I am more me than I was this time a year ago, despite my fears to the contrary. Resurrection Hope says I am not yet who I will be, but that is where I am heading. I choose that life…

So may God help you and I with our losses when they happen (and they will) and enable us to receive His promised comfort in our mourning, and then to sense the sun rising on us as we look forward and onward.

I heard of a leader who made a huge pastoral mistake, in my opinion. After hearing someone give their testimony they stood up publicly and said, “That testimony has just glorified Satan.” The person had majored on the difficulties they had been living through. The pastor should have spoken to them privately about the imbalance of their story and what is meant by giving a testimony; it is never right to humiliate a person publicly. Even the best of leaders get it wrong from time to time. However I know what that leader meant. Take care about how you talk about your sufferings. Never give Satan the glory. Glorify the God who promises true comfort in true mourning, The God of all comfort, the God of all hope, the God of resurrection.

The Revd. John Miller, the well known former minister of Castlemilk in Glasgow, was once asked by a 6 year old, “What does a minister do?” His reply? “A minister helps people to know that there is a way to be happy even after bad things have happened.” I like that…I really do… because of Jesus, it can indeed be so… Look to Him…

God bless

Kenny

The Cross…your Future…

Spend time at the cross and you become a prophet visiting the future.

At the cross Jesus tells us, in John 12, that three things about the future were being established for certain by Him before their chronological time comes: at the cross we visit the Day of God’s judgement against all forms of human sin; we see the throwing of the devil and his angels into the lake of fire is irrevocably established; we see the people of God drawn from every tribe and tongue whom God will dwell among and from whose eyes He will wipe away every tear. Not only do we see future happening now, we taste it and start to live in it.

Are you a believer? Well, spend time in your “future now”, thanking the One who bore our judgement, defeated our enemy and will bring us home as one flock to be with Him forever!

God bless

Kenny

“O God of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Ruth, Deborah,Daniel, Ezekiel etc.. Hear my Prayer.”

It is not a bad idea when you are reading a book of the bible to turn what you have read into prayer. Keeping in mind you are going to do that when you have stopped reading is a good way of not missing what matters most as you read. So for example I have been reading Ezekiel recently and praying to the God of Ezekiel. There is a lot of what he writes that I find confusing, but there is a lot that is perfectly plain. So, as I pray to the God of Ezekiel, who is my God too, the unchanging God who came to us in Jesus, I pray to the One who:

…judges His people. Even though I am saved by Jesus from the coming wrath of God as Paul tells me in Thessalonians, I must still appear before His judgement seat to give account. I search my heart with God’s help. If I search it on my own, I would end up in despair rather than in truth.

…who says vengeance belongs not to us but to Him. One day for sure, Justice will not only be done, but be seen to be done. What does that mean with regard to those who have harmed me and my family unjustly? I shudder to think and should pray they might find forgiveness before that day in the same place where I have found it for my sins, which are many.

…who never washes His hands of His people completely. Ezekiel sees blessing in the future for the people of God facing judgement in the now. He sees God as Shepherd as dwelling with His people and being their God. I thank God that in Christ, there is always hope.

…is perfect in all of His ways. Ezekiel sees no contradiction between the God who judges and saves, the God who pours our his wrath until it is satisfied and the God who acts in astonishing mercy and grace as rescuer and Shepherd. There is no contradiction or dualism in God. His perfect holiness, perfect love, perfect wrath, perfect mercy, perfect righteousness and perfect everything else that the bible reveals of Him are in complete harmony.

…will clear His own Name in His own time. On that day we will see what sometimes it is difficult to see now: all His ways are just. We will even see He deserves praise for His judgements, that they are righteous. “Behold He does all things well.”

I worship the God of Ezekiel today because I have been reading his book. As you pick up your bible today, remember to say as you read, “I am going to pray to the One these God breathed words are revealing to me.”

God bless

Kenny

…earnestly desire… especially…

(This is long, so don’t bother reading it, unless you are interested in seeking the gift of Prophecy, which actually we are encouraged to do in the bible. All that follows on below, is really just an encouragement do just that!)

Daniel Chapter 11! In that one chapter, Daniel saw 135 events covering 366 years of world history. Everything is known by God. Because some people cannot handle that idea, they explain Daniel away: he never existed but was just a literary invention; the predictions must have been written in after they happened, etc.

I am a bit prophetic, but only a wee bit. God occasionally shows me people I have never met in dreams and then I meet them. Occasionally, a scene unfolds before my eyes, showing me something that I could not naturally know about someone. When I share what I was shown with the person, it usually helps them to receive a touch from God. But the detail and the extent of revelation from God to Daniel is astounding. Even his contemporary, his fellow prophet Ezekiel, realised there was something pretty special about him. God mentions him a lot to Ezekiel and puts him up there as a living legend along with two huge figures of Israel’s past, Noah and Job.

I am just a baby in prophetic terms, in fact compared with Daniel I have barely emerged from the womb and given my first cry. I know others who are children or maybe teenagers, and one or two, and maybe two or three more who seem to have reached maturity in this gift and ministry. There will be many more of course. I am just speaking about the circles I have mixed in. The bible says we should earnestly desire the spiritual gifts, especially the gift of prophecy. For those of you who have embarked on a journey of obedience to this scriptural exhortation, keep going!

Of course it needs to be stressed that prophecy is often speaking what only God could know into the present. It is not all future looking. Ezekiel was given knowledge of things that were happening many miles away as they were actually happening. He was told to write them down and date them. However the future looking element of prophecy that we see so strongly evident in the latter part of the book of Daniel should not be downplayed. In prophecy, the God who knows the end from the beginning, the God who knows the history of every single cell in the universe and its destiny, speaks of what He alone could know about a person or situation. He can reach into the future and into the past. He can see more deeply into our present than we can, no matter how insightful we may be.

If you want to grow in the spiritual gift of prophecy, ask God more often than you currently do, “Lord, is there anything you want me to hear today so that I know what to say to someone who needs to hear it.” Ask a similar question when you are with someone in the course of your day or when you gather with your fellow believers in Church. It says of Jesus in the Old Testament that he had an instructed tongue. Morning by morning, His Father wakened Him to know the word that would sustain the weary. It is more than a geographic note of interest when we read in John Chapter 4 that Jesus had to go through Samaria. It is a good thing to pray as followers of Jesus that God would give us an instructed ear and an instructed tongue. It can lead us to people and places we never knew or even thought of visiting.

By the way, part of learning to have an instructed ear and an instructed tongue is hearing from God when to be silent and say nothing, even when He shows you something that you might be itching to say. Prophecy is to bring honour to God, not to make you or I look impressive. Can you be trusted with something you are told by God to deal with it as He tells you to? Learning not to speak is a vital training experience if we would learn to speak in the Name of the Lord, to the honour of that Name.

All of you have made a start in this. You have all had hunches from the Lord to speak to someone, phone someone etc. We would never usually think of calling such a happenings anything to do with being prophetic, but it often is. Well, let such moments you have known help you to believe there is maybe something more for you to seek and pursue.

Prophecy, when it is the real thing and not just holy sounding platitudes that every believer knows and agrees with anyway, changes lives. In fact, it can often mean saving someone from death. I have known that in personal experience. On at least two occasions I can remember, and there may have been others I cannot now remember, if I had not given a person the word I believed God gave me for them, they could have died. God simply revealed undiagnosed medical conditions that would have killed them if they remained undiagnosed and if they had not gone to the doctor after receiving the prophecy. The doctor confirmed medically what had been said prophetically. I remember one condition was Pancreatic cancer.

Anyway, however far you get along the road, remember that Scripture encourages every believer to earnestly desire the spiritual gifts, especially that we may learn to prophesy. As Jim Graham used to say, Bible in hand, “ I am not making this stuff up! I am just telling you what it says.”

God bless

Kenny

Shepherds…

I guess every true teacher of God’s Word and Gospel gets it wrong sometimes. That does not make them a false teacher.

False teachers in seem to have at least two characteristics in the New Testament that I can think of. Number 1 they say that what you have heard before they arrived to teach you was incomplete, it was ok as far as it went, but they have some new insight that will lead you into a better understanding and a fuller experience of Christ than received teaching has brought to you. Thus with faint praise they condescendingly damn the faith once delivered to the saints and have a mission to move folk away from the true Christ under the guise of moving people on. Others nowadays for various reasons have become more daring and moved further along the road to error. They say what we have received, the gospel in which we found God’s love and salvation from our sins and the wrath to come is not just inadequate but wrong. So, for example, I think of a former leader of an organisation that reports to the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland who said that his mission as a minister was to destroy belief in the truth that Christ was wounded for our transgressions, bruised for our iniquities and bore punishment for our sins in our place. The same leader allowed the worship of idols in his church building. The seed of error planted even in New Testament times has flourished and far from being censured by church discipline is even applauded. It all fits with fallen religion in Romans Chapter 1.

However, not all the blame lies with the false teachers themselves. Yes, they will bear punishment for destroying God’s temple, the church, by not building true to the foundation of Jesus Christ Himself, but they are not wholly to blame. The bible also says that listeners have itching ears to hear something that suits them, that somehow does away with elements of Christian truth they find distasteful or elements of Christian discipleship that they would rather not be challenged by. People are innately spiritual, but are drawn to create their own god in their own image, one they can live with more easily than living with the Living God.

Anyway these thoughts were sparked off by rejoicing today that there are so many places where there are true teachers of God’s Word. Thank God it is so. Thank God for the Bible and those who seek to teach it with humility and faithfulness whatever their intellectual or oratorical skill may or may not be. What an immense blessing if you are a member of a congregation where there is a true teacher, a true Shepherd. Many congregations do not have that blessing.

By the way, part of teaching with faithfulness and humility is being able to straightforwardly admit when you have taught something that is wrong. Secure leadership can do that. It enhances credibility. Without knowing it, preachers and teachers like myself can have a loyalty to a theological system which we have found a good framework for understanding the Bible’s teaching. However there is no theological system without its blind spots, bits of the bible here and there which it misinterprets, forcing the bible text into the mould of the system rather than allowing it to speak fully and challenge fully. All of that can lead us to temporary discomfort and disturbance. It is good to acknowledge when we have been teachers that got it wrong (though if we are basically committed to teaching the Bible, that admission should in actual fact turn out to be rare and occasional, otherwise the flock will feel unnerved rather than blessed by the Shepherd they called). The result will be God will be glorified, life will flow, even though some may reject you as a traitor to the theological camp which you may well alwayslthink of as the home in which you have been born and nurtured and to which you basically still feel in a human sense you belong.

God bless.

Kenny

Disloyal to the cause? No, just thinking out loud…

I am a Charismatic in the eyes of other people, and indeed I am that in terms of Biblical conviction and spiritual experience. I feel though as Charismatics in Scotland we are maybe going round the same roundabout we have been going round for years and failing to have any significant impact for the Kingdom of God in Scotland. Our concentration on looking for more healings, more signs and wonders, is making the wrong things central. These things matter but what is God really calling His people to in these days?

Signs and wonders were there in the Old Covenant. What is the essence of the New Covenant spoken of in Jeremiah, ratified by the shedding of Jesus blood who was put forward as a sacrifice for sin by God Himself, as distinct from the accompanying signs which verified both covenants, albeit that in the New these signs accompany the many not the few, as God sovereignly chooses? I think our pursuit of more healings, more signs, more wonders, is hindering what is truly on God’s agenda.

Still thinking this through for myself, but it arises from reading a book by someone committed to signs and wonders, a truly good man, and feeling strangely empty and disappointed, feeling, as I say, that I was being taken round the same roundabout, just by another face and another name, using slightly different language…

Don’t get me wrong. I thank God for signs and wonders, healings, prophecies etc., but there is something more that God has in mind to do. He is waiting I believe for our coming into line with His desires. God’s sovereignty and our responsibility are both there in Scripture. Someone said on Facebook recently that in answer to a question about the reconciling of God’s Sovereignty and our Responsibility, Charles Spurgeon said that in Scripture God’s Sovereignty and our Responsibility are friends: there is no need to reconcile friends.

God bless

Kenny

Consecration Conviction…

“And for their sake I sanctify myself, that they also may be sanctified in truth.” (Jesus praying in John 17.}

I am so comforted and challenged try the fact hat Jesus, our great High Priest, gentle in his dealings with sinners, ever lives to make intercession for His own, those the Father has gifted to Him.

The words quoted above in particular have been playing around in my mind and somewhere deeper than my mind over the last few days, ever since Morag and I had lunch with a friend who asked me what my dreams were.

I have been thinking of some of the desires that God has put on my heart. This is the thought that challenges me as I do that: how set apart am I with regard to what I long to see? I may be set apart by God for certain purposes since before I was born, I may have been set apart by His church which has confirmed and recognised these purposes as being more than my own illusion, but by the grace of that same God, can iI honestly say, “For this I consecrate myself, for this I sanctify myself, set myself apart,”?

It has not been a comfortable question to think through, but it has led to some observations, some heart searching that has been free of condemnation, though not free from a conviction which has the feeling of fresh air and sparkling life attached to it.

Perhaps the same sort of wondering could bring fresh life to you?

God bless

Kenny

Cakes!

David Pawson once said that his favourite name/title for Jesus was “Yes!” Jesus is God’s “Yes” to all His promises. I had a dream last night in which I was looking into an oven. I saw cakes representing promises God has made, which I have depended on in prayer. The cakes were being warmed and were rising, though they were still in that process and were not yet ready. The dream greatly encouraged me. I woke up with peace in my heart concerning one or two matters in particular.

Perhaps the dream that encouraged me will encourage you too, if you are living in a “waiting” time, which of course, in the deepest sense and the most positive sense is true of every believer.

It is not quite a daily routine for me, but I often start my day by saying and declaring to myself, to God, to any spiritual force or influence that may be listening in, “I believe God.” Not just I believe in Him – of course I do that: how could I not trust the God who bore the curse of my sin for me that I might be saved? However, as well as believing in Him, I find it a good thing to say “I believe God.” I believe in what He has said and promised in the Word that He has breathed, the Bible, the only book in all of time and history that is God-breathed, the only book we can trust as a revelation of the only God. I believe God, I believe that Jesus is God’s “Yes” to all He has said about Himself and to all He has promised. Eternity will show that not one of the Lord’s good promises has ever failed.

God bless

Kenny

“Saved!”

“Saved!” Thank God. What a cost lies behind anyone being able to use that word of themselves. Paul tells us in Galatians, that as Jesus hung on the cross He was one cursed for us. What does that mean? Well instead of benediction, words of blessing from God, it means Jesus, the Beloved Son who brought God the Father such delight, coming under the opposite.

One way of putting the awful reality of that, is thinking of the opposite of Aaron’s blessing with which he was told to bless the people of God, being placed on Jesus. That is what R.C. Sproul suggests we think though in order to help us understand what our salvation meant for God, how it tore the heart of Father, Son and Spirit as their united desire to save people like you and me was fulfilled and accomplished. In effect that would mean something roughly like this is being pronounced at the cross:

“The LORD curse you, and treat you as lost to Him.
The LORD turn His face from you, and pour deserved judgement upon you.
The LORD turn his back upon you and give you torment of body, soul and spirit.”

Yet, how lightly and easily we sin. How lightly we use that now maligned and mocked word, “Saved!” and scoff at the idea of being washed in the blood of the Lamb.

This hymn meant a lot to me in my early years as a teenager saved by the grace of God.

1
O teach me what it meaneth:
That Cross uplifted high,
With One, the Man of Sorrows,
Condemned to bleed and die.
O teach me what it cost Thee
To make a sinner whole;
And teach me, Savior, teach me
The value of a soul.
2
O teach me what it meaneth:
That sacred crimson tide,
The blood and water flowing
From Thine own wounded side.
Teach me that if none other
*Had sinned, but I alone,
Yet still, Thy blood, O Jesus,
Thine only, must atone.
3
O teach me what it meaneth,
Thy love beyond compare,
The love that reacheth deeper
Than depths of self-despair!
Yea, teach me, till there gloweth
In this cold heart of mine
Some feeble, pale reflection
Of that pure love of Thine.
4
O teach me what it meaneth,
For I am full of sin;
And grace alone can reach me,
And love alone can win.
O teach me, for I need Thee,
I have no hope beside,
The chief of all the sinners
For whom the Savior died.
5
O infinite Redeemer,
I bring no other plea;
Because Thou dost invite me
I cast myself on Thee.
Because Thou dost accept me
I love and I adore;
Because Thy love constraineth,
I’ll praise Thee evermore

(Lucy Ann Bennett)

God bless

Kenny

Flow river flow…

I love the questions that some of you send to me from time to time. As I thought through one such question tonight, I was thinking about the promise of power to witness to Jesus that Jesus promised would come to the first believers “in not many days time.”

As we look at Peter after receiving the Spirit as He was poured out on the day of Pentecost, part of the power seems to have been not only a release from cowardice but a finding of a new confidence in the truth of Christ. He seems to be seeing clearly what before has been hidden to his understanding.

No doubt teaching from the Risen Lord contributed to that, but I get the feeling Peter is speaking forth revelation as he is receiving it there and then. Have you discovered that? I have discovered it when preaching. I have discovered the same dynamic happening when pastoring and even when speaking with some of you as we have talked about the things of God together! As I share what I know, more opens to my understanding even as I am speaking! It is a sort of law of the Kingdom of God. Give away what you have and more will be given to you.

Don’t hold back from speaking about Jesus till you know more. Share more and you will know more. It will kick start the anointing within you that is there within every believer according to the Apostle John. Yes, go on and learn more. The Bible itself encourages that we study with our minds, but it is not an either or. Give what you know and the Holy Spirit will show you know things you didn’t know you knew! It is a God thing! You will find yourself putting your hand to your mouth and saying with holy amazement and even fear, “Where did that come from?!” Rejoice and even laugh with God as you catch your breath again…and speak on!

God bless

Kenny

Are you holy or just odd?

How weird and unnatural we can be in church. You see it for example when a congregation looks like rabbits caught in the headlights as they panic about whether or not they should clap for people who have done something well. Should they, should they not. Is it OK, or is it sinful and worldly? Will it make folk proud? It is quite funny to watch, in a depressing sort of way!

Was thinking about that today as I remembered back to Lewis. TommyMacNeil, the minister, got folk to clap for me before I had ever spoken a word. He repeated that practice for others too. I could see some in the congregation who were uncomfortable with that happening. I can’t speak for others who were on the receiving end of such applause, but I can honestly say it was one of the most humbling experiences of my life and proved that Tommy is the God honouring and God glorying leader he is, free from religious nonsense and fake spirituality, one who seeks to honour God and God’s ways. Far from playing into the hands of sinful human pride, I was, as I say, humbled, I mean devastatingly humbled by the whole experience. It was used by God to produce a spiritual grace in me, not sin. The same happened when a huge crowd of several thousand clapped for me at the end of a week’s teaching at New Wine in England – in fact, they have done that several times over the years. Each time it has reduced me to tears at an unbearable sense of my own wretchedness coupled to an almost inexpressible sense of thanksgiving for the mercy and grace of God, that He has poured out on me, and each of His children, in abundance. It has never once made me proud or given me an inflated opinion of myself or my ministry, such as it is. All my ministry is, is sharing the freshest bread that God has most recently given to me in His Word. That is all. It is nothing special in my own estimation. It feels like sparse fare as I am offering it, but if it brought life to me hopefully it will bring life to others too, by the grace of God. When it is tested by fire, as it will be, will there be any gold, silver, or precious stones left? I honestly, gnuinely, don’t know. Judge nothing before the appointed time. 

Let me say this, there are times when to applaud a person would be entirely wrong, even when God has used them in a magnificent way. Let me also say this: believe me, I have known other treatment too because of my preaching of the gospel including physical violence on more than one occasion, attacks upon our property, threats against my wife and the severe physical and psychological abusing of my children. I have been spat upon in the street, been ridiculed in the press and on radio, been spoken against by fellow believers, ostracised by a so-called ministerial fraternal. That is part of faithfulness to a call from Christ. I do not believe we can be faithful to Christ without experiencing opposition from the world and from within the church. My preaching was even a cause of concern to a well know MP, who went on to become a “Lord”, who wrote to a former Moderator of the Church of Scotland to express concern that in his constituency there was a minister encouraging people to give their lives to Jesus Christ. Worse still, the person to whom he wrote, wrote back to say that he was concerned to hear this too. “It is a funny old world” and an even funnier old church at times.

Does your church have a culture of honour? How have you expressed honour to those who serve well, especially to those who teach well? Scripture tells us they are to receive double honour. That probably literally means double pay! However, in the unlikely event of us being willing or allowed to obey Scripture to that extent, how are you showing honour where honour is due? Not to express honour, is false piety, false holiness. It may be Scottish spirituality, but even Scottish spirituality has its faults, errors, and at times unswerving obedience to its own practices and dominant theologies even when they depart from Scripture. Holiness is true humanness, not oddity with a frowning face.

God bless

Kenny

TOILETS!

OK, some of you, dear friends, are not sure that God speaks through dreams any more. I am sure he does. So, if you don’t believe he does, stop reading this post now! If you do, then let me say that before God I have accepted that when He wants to speak to me about certain issues, there are certain symbols that appear in my dream. As with prophecy, dream interpretation is not my main thing, preaching the Word of God and especially within that the saving death of Christ as presented there in all its depth of grace and wonder is my main thing. However dreams are one of the ways God speaks to me now and then.

Last night I had a dream about a toilet! Toilets in my dreams are about cleansing, getting rid of impurities. I was asked to take a look at a toilet that was leaking. In fact it had been leaking for a while, so much so that the floor underneath was actually rotting away, which seemed to have not been noticed. A “voice” said to me as I investigated the leak, “Yes, I called to (A Church was named, but I will not reveal the name here, the Church to whom this toilet belonged) and they came and thought they had repaired the leak, but there is a leak in the leak that has not been dealt with. I gave them another call, but they have ignored it, and chosen to do nothing.”

What was meant to exist as a means of cleansing was actually now causing destruction in its own foundation because the main leak had been ignored and the repair though well thought out and undertaken had not addressed the main leak at all. It remained. Just the tiniest of nudges made the water flow out at a faster rate. The collapse of the foundation had been slowed down, but unless the main leak was addressed, the collapse, though slowed down, was inevitable.

I have no access to that Church to speak to its leadership. They are not open to the idea of God speaking through dreams, however I can pray, though I have to say the feeling in the dream was of almost a refusal to want to have to deal with the true problem.

So why share the dream with you? Well, its principle elements could apply to any congregation, any denomination, any life of an individual even, where major issues are ignored. Our lives individually and collectively as different fellowships and churches within the one Church of Christ are meant to be a purifying influence into this world because of our relationship with Jesus Christ, but when we are not allowing the living pure water of the Holy Spirit and the truth of God’s Word and the blood of Christ to cleanse us first, a rotting in the foundational purposes of God for His People is happening and a collapse is inevitable unless warning is heeded and the main “leaks” are attended to.

One of the foundational moments at the start of the 49 -52 revival in Lewis was when one elder amongst his fellow elders and his minister, with whom he had met to pray for Revival, read from Psalm 24: “Who shall ascend the hill of the Lord? Who shall stand in His holy presence? He whose hands are clean and whose heart is pure, who has not lifted up his soul to what is false nor sworn deceitfully. He shall receive the blessing of the Lord” He then said, “Brothers, it seems to me so much humbug met as se are met, praying as we are praying, if we are not rightly related to God.” He then turned his attention to God in prayer and asked, “Lord are my hands clean, is my heart pure?” At that moment the power of God fell. Several of these elders were thrown into a spiritual trance.

Asking the question that elder asked, a question furnished to us by scripture itself, is a good question to ask on a regular blessing, to ask it with honesty, but praise God to ask it at the foot of the cross, the place of God’s cleansing and grace. Is this a day for me, for you, to ask that question with integrity and intention before the Father who seeks those who worship Him in spirit and in truth?

God bless

Kenny

Scotland’s Prophetic Hetitage

“Prophecy” is one way by which God shows himself to be the One true God. He speaks of things before they happen. I have been reading Isaiah and that is a strong theme in that book of the Bible. As far as I can see from the bible Prophets either recall people in their own times to God’s unchanging ways, or speak of His action in either judgement or salvation that will break forth in the immediate future and or that will happen in a more distant time. What Isaiah stresses is that true prophecies about what God is about to do are confirmable as it were. They are not vague, but have specific details, for example names or specific events, by which they can be shown to have come to be. If you have a calling in the realm of prophecy, why not ask that God will give you some specifics so that the person(s) to whom you deliver a word from God may be able to see it is being fulfilled for them? Most of what we hear delivered as “Prophecy” is of a very general tone, sometimes frustratingly so, with no specific markers, but rather talk of “levels” or “seasons.” I am not saying these prophecies are false, they may well be true and serve a purpose, but I am wondering if some of you who move in this realm need to be encouraged to believe you can hear more specific detail, accepting that what you hear will always be in part. Even with the gifts of the Spirit, there is a certain level of clarity that will not be ours until the Kingdom of God fully comes at the end of earthly time as we know it.

“Prophecy” has never been my main thing and my faith comes and goes a bit when it comes to believing I can hear very specific detail, but there have been a few occasions when I have heard in detail, have been given names etc. One time was when I was sitting on a plane about to arrive in a certain city for a conference. All of a sudden the Lord spoke to me about “Adam.” He let me know I was to give a message to someone called Adam that I would meet and told me some details so that he would recognise it was God speaking to him. Well, the folk organising the conference met me at the airport and took me for a meal. I asked the waiter his name. His name was Adam. On the plane God had shown me that Adam was called to be a worship leader. I asked him if he was a Christian. He said he had been going to an Alpha course with his girlfriend but an aggressive Christian that was part of his group had put him off. I encouraged him t go back with his girlfriend and try the course again. I told hm the Lord had been speaking to me about him on the plane and because of that I wanted to ask him if he was musical. He said that he was and played a variety of musical instruments. I spoke to him some more and asked the organisers of the conference if they would get for him a CD of Tim Hughes and give it to him as I felt he ws to be a worship leader, or at least that is what the Lord wanted for him.

Another occasion was less happy, but brought comfort in an odd way. An elder phoned to tell me his son had been lost at sea in the Gulf of Thailand. Immediately the Lord gave me a word and a picture that enabled me to say in faith, “Your son will be found.” I obviously hoped that might mean he would be found alive, however that was not to be. However, out of all those who perished, over a hundred, his was the only body found. The rest had been eaten by sharks. I had seen a picture that showed me someone tied in ropes to a boat. That is how he was found. Somehow seeing all that helped my elder to believe his son had died in the Lord. It was a comfort.

Now, I am not saying this to boast. I hardly ever experience such detail and to be honest am terrified when He does give detail and usually end up wishing He had not! I am saying it though for two reasons. Number 1, to encourage those of you who are much more prophetic than me and who may be called to be Prophets to believe for more detail. The second reason I am writing this, is I really feel it is time for Scotland to rise up in Prophetic gifting and calling. It is very much part of our heritage. In the past it existed in our nation, in much simpler but in deeper and more profound form than we have settled for in much of the current Pentecostal and Charismatic movement on the whole. May God restore that to His people in this land. I believe it to be a key ingredient in Scottish Christian heritage, identity and in God’s still emerging purposes for us in these days and in days to come.

Let’s pray for Prophets and remember that to some extent at least it seems this is something God wants us all to earnestly desire. To be honest I have to make myself earnestly desire this, as it does not excite me as much as reading and preaching the Bible. I often can’t be bothered seeking a Prophetic word. It often seems tame to me in its present manifestation, compared with the Lion’s roar of the bible. It is not my main thing personally, but I see its vital play and its place in our heritage. I hope even in the writing of this my “ earnest desire” may increase in me as much as in any of you. Don’t despise prophecy or mock the Prophets. Some repenting necessary in that regard?

God bless

Kenny

Lewis…

I am sorry to disappoint those who hoped for a Report on the Conference on Lewis to commemorate the 70th Anniversary of the 49 – 52 Revival. I find myself not permitted by God to write anything beyond what I have written on Facebook and now copy to here. I believe the reason for that is that is was Holy Ground in a very tangible way. I have never been aware of the presence of God in such a powerful way at any conference I have spoken at, attended or even led, nor so aware of His sovereign working in people’s lives. God is still at work in the aftermath of the event. I am not comfortable about the idea of “reporting’ on such a happening. So all I offer is this:

We Charismatics have become addicted to prayer ministry time, in that we feel it must happen. What Lewis demonstrated for me afresh is the power of God released through anointed preaching of His Word. I am not boasting, just learning from an amazing weekend where I personally experienced more of God’s anointing than at any other conference I have ever been part of or attended. It was tangible. What an insult it would have been to interrupt what God was doing and how God was doing it. People were baptised in the Spirit, delivered from demonic trouble and 25 people stood to say they had asked Jesus into their lives in one of the services. I hear reports of blessing continuing to flow which is wonderful. The pendulum can always swing too far. We needed it to swing in the direction of gifts of the Spirit which now flow freely in so many settings. Maybe we now need it to swing in the direction of reverence for His Word and a confidence in its power. Maybe we will one day get the balance right. We can be so addicted to our ways that we can become unable to recognise when and how God is at work. I am glad the weekend was under the leadership of Tommy MacNeil. He knew when to allow God to minister through His Word and when the time for Prayer Ministry was right. I thank God for such God aware leaders.

By the way you can get either CD’s or download MP3 format recordings of the Conference sermons (7th and 8th June) on the website of Martin’s Memorial Church. The two Sunday Services (9th. June), R.T. Kendall in the Morning and myself in the evening, are also available on the Church Website in another section. They tangibly felt very much part of the Conference and I would encourage you if you want to get a fuller experience of the meetings, to listen to these sermons too, in that light.

God bless

Kenny

Hold! Hold!

Part of the joy and challenge of Biblical Hebrew is that there are about 2000 words at root, compared with modern languages where there may be hundreds of thousands of different words. That means you have to look at context to work out the best of several possible meanings.

I was reading the Prophecy of Isaiah over the last few days – still am! I was thinking about these words in Isaiah 30 about a coming Golden Age or time of Divine rescue of God’s people, a common theme in Isaiah: “When the towers fall.” It is not clear what is being referred to, but I am pretty sure it is not 9/11 despite it being used in reference to that horrible day in teaching and in some well l known prophetic pronouncements before the event – which is not the same as saying they were not real prophetic words, by the way! I think these words about the towers probably refer to the siege towers of Senacherib the King of Assyria. The Assyrians and the Babylonians were the first empires to use siege and siege towers against their enemies. Siege was unsuccessful against Jerusalem. The Stele of Senacherib mentions Jerusalem among besieged cities but it is the only city that is not mentioned as being captured after the siege. You can read the story of Jerusalem’s deliverance threaded through the writings of Isaiah. Jerusalem of course was subsequently captured by the Babylonians.

“When the towers fall…” As I say there is no way that you can claim any authority for saying this refers to 9/11. Nor can I claim necessarily any more legitimacy for what I now want to say!

One of the weapons that Satan, the enemy of God’s people and his demonic army uses is simply siege. He tries to wear out God’s people, just by long term standing against them. It can be difficult to cope with a long term trial that may not be severe but is chronic and continual and simply goes on and on and on and on. It could be chronic illness, that is not acute but just exhausts the body, mind and spirit. It could be a long term situation of family stress, or an unhappiness or injustice in a work setting. It may be that you are under siege at the moment. Remember that in Zion, “A river is whose streams make glad the city of our God.” Remember in Christ there is Living Water and Bread. You can survive the siege. Hold on. By God’s grace the day will come when you will see the siege towers fall.

God bless

Kenny

A seat for you!

Facebook is my main way of pastoring nowadays. Conferences are occasional. Anyway, that is really how I use Facebook: as a pastoral tool. God long ago challenged me to be open and vulnerable otherwise He could not do through me what He wanted to in order to bless others. He also made it clear I was never to hide the charismatic side of things for the same reason, so here is a bit of both!

Last night, a night after returning from a wonderfully blessed conference on Lewis, I had a dream. In it I was told it was time for a full examination. I was told to strip and put on a black robe and wait for whoever was going to do the examination. I took the robe but refused to strip and put it on, despite the surroundings being very clinical and professional. Many had put the robe on and seemed now to be living in that place permanently.

If you serve God in any way and want to serve him better always remember the devil will try and accuse you in a nitpicking way, especially in the aftermath of being blessed to be a blessing. It is easy for him to gain a hearing with us as none of us is a finished work of salvation yet, we are all works of grace in process.

Jesus refused to let the words of those who did not love Him or care for Him have any entrance into His thinking about Himself. In the dream I saw that many had never managed to shake off the dark covering of an accusing examiner.

Remember, when the Holy Spirit is doing the examining there is always hope for He highlights Jesus above all and in Him there is NO condemnation! Hallelujah! I got out of the examination centre and got on a bus (which in my dream language represents church). As we drove off, flags flying, singing about being joyful in Jesus, we left that scene of condemnation and accusation far behind. It was like being on a bus celebrating a victory, a vanquishing! Come on the bus with us, those of you wearing the black robes of the Accuser of God’s children and servants! The fare has been paid. There is still a seat for you! Run out that stronghold of condemnation! Jump on the bus with rejoicing!

God bless

Kenny

Hard to imagine, but God did it…

(This is a long rambling post. Nothing new there!! Warning you of that so you can skip it if you are not in the mood for long rambling posts. It is about children and young people and revival, but is really just me chatting about these things. You have been warned! If you do read it may it bless you and even encourage you in your prayers.) 

I recall reading reports from the newspapers of the day of a Revival in Orkney in 1861. It affected both of the islands I was minister of for five years, Eday and Stronsay in the year 1860’s. On Eday there was a prayer meeting composed entirely of children. On Stronsay there were such scenes that I could scarcely believe when I read about them. I think none of us can possibly imagine what Revival would look like if it should come to our churches and communities. On Stronsay back in the 1860’s move of God, a young girl who saw Jesus asked an older man who was in tears because he could not and did not know how to come to Jesus, “Oh Sir, can’t you see Him? Let me help you to Jesus.” Imagine such a thing being reported in a Newspaper today! Orkney farmers are wonderful, and I loved my time there, but I think even the current Christian farmers on Stronsay would agree it is almost beyond the power of imagination to think of young Stronsay farm labourers running around the Church building shouting out praise to the Lord, unable to contain the joy of their salvation, the joy of the Holy Spirit within them. By culture, they are sincere, but quiet about things to do with faith, but that is what their forebearers did when the Spirit of God fell.

I remember reading about all of this and thinking how unimaginable it was, difficult to believe it could happen in Orcadian Culture. At that point there was a knock at the manse door. It was old JIim Stockan of oatcake fame. He had come out to the island for the day and dropped in to see me – a truly lovely believer as was his wife, May. I treasure the memories I have of them and indeed of their son, James and his wife Carrie. They were all incredibly kind to me and my family both then and since my years living there. I told Jim what I had been reading, saying I found it hard to believe it had actually happened. He said, “Oh my, it happened alright!” I wish you could hear that sentence in his accent! He then told me that his mother had been a bairn sitting on his granny’s knee in a meeting in the days of the Revival, when his granny slid off her seat to the floor under the power of the Spirit when God came down, and his mother somehow managed to stay sitting on her lap! Even toddlers can recall what it is like when the Holy Spirit comes in Revival power and pass on the story of the mighty acts of God.

When I was minister there from 1984 – 1989 there was one quite unusual spell of blessing on Stronsay, though nothing comparable on Eday. I remember the night the Holy Spirit fell on the School during a Christian Endeavour Camp. Many teenagers sought the Lord, it was quite remarkable and not expected on the first night of a camp. I did not get home until about 2 or 2.30 in the morning as I was praying with some of the young people. The first I knew anything was happening after the meeting was over, was when a boy knocked on the door of the school kitchen. His question to me? “What must I do to be saved.” Unusual things happened for two or three weeks, though not in great measure numerically, and with no particular spread, but unusual all the same.

I believe the source of that blessing in the human sense was a prayer meeting made up of a few of the young folk of Stronsay who met in the Church Hall to pray. One of the young folk affected by what God did in answer to their prayers is going to the Conference this weekend. He left one of the meetings to chat up one of the island girls. However, God had other intentions. The power of the Spirit fell upon him. I will never forget his words. He said to me it was as though someone had hit the top of his head off with a great heavy wooden bat. Instead of chat up lines, he found himself pouring out words of witness to Jesus Christ! He is still standing for the Lord and serving him. It will be lovely to see him after all these years.

With those stories involving children and young people in mind, if you have a mind so to do, let me encourage you to continue to pray for the ongoing fruit from the Youth Conference last weekend in Stornoway and for any other gathering of young people the Lord may lay on your heart. Who knows what could happen if even just one or two of these young folk came into a surrender to Jesus and a desire to live and serve Him to the glory of God at a deeper level than they have walked in so far. Who knows how far the impact of such lives could reach, not only into their own generation, but into the generations of their elders and into generations yet unborn, or just toddlers at the moment, that they would grow up to praise and magnify the Lord.

Well done, persevering to the end of this post!

God bless

Kenny

The sound of knives dropping?

Read some hideous comments from one Christian minister against another on Facebook! Full of judgement and ridicule. The measure we use in judging other is the measure God will use to judge our works and service one day.. It is a fearful thought that one day many of our works may be thrown into the fire with the same dismissal we have shown towards our fellow believers and what they do for the Lord. Like Scrooge, we may well hear our own words being replayed to us at that awful moment when we see our life’s work going up in flames no matter any honour or praise we may have been given on earth by appreciative people. Oh we will be saved, but as though fire., our works and ministry unrewarded, unacknowledged., disregarded for eternity to come.

I often hear the Lord saying to me, as I begin to think negatively of another believer saved by the blood of Christ, or critically about their ministry by which they have genuinely sought to honour Him, “Could I just look into your life, your ministry, as you are doing to them, Kenny?” It makes me drop the knives very quickly. In case you think I am pleading innocence and am never guilty of what I saw on Facebook that I refer to above, through the night I found myself weeping at a bad attitude that arose towards a fellow servant of Christ. I so hate when such a horrible thing surfaces in me. I try and be quick to acknowledge it and find mercy, but will I ever reach the place of sanctification by the grace of God that such horrible thoughts will never arise again against a fellow believer and servant of God? I hope so. I still hope so, for with God nothing is impossible. I know that after almost 48 years of salvation, I still need mercy.

Maybe it is part of heart preparation for Lewis, though not just for that. Already people there are weeping before the Lord at prayer meetings in an awareness of God in the midst of their gatherings. People are praying at the meetings that have never prayed before; the work of God’s Spirit. Humble united prayer together with no sidelong swipes or darts being flung at anyone else under a cloak of false piety,; coming together before the God whose mercies are new every morning, whose faithfulness is great, who draws us to Himself with cords of compassion, seems to indeed be the place of God’s commanded blessing. My prayer is that when I go there at the weekend, God willing, I will do nothing to disturb what God is doing even at this moment as He moves among His people. I can genuinely say I would rather not go if there was any risk of that happening, though I would be sad at not being with people I love in a place I love. I have already prayed that if God would be more glorified by my not being there, that is fine by me. I think it is healthy to say on a fairly regular basis, “Use me or set me aside as you see fit, Lord, for your glory.”

God bless

Kenny

Keeping the main thing and my main thing the main thing and my main thing…

“This is what I do.” That thought came to me last night, after a few hours thinking about what God might have me say at the Conference in Lewis, God willing.

I am so conscious of “gaps,” things I cannot do, areas in which I have no knowledge or skills at all. God seemed to set my heart at ease in a way as never before, by helping me to accept that I do what I do.

I think it is important not only in a general way to keep the main thing the main thing in these days when all sorts of fads and persuasive and excited  voices blow across the evangelical and charismatic church, but to also keep the main thing the main thing in our calling and find peace and happiness and God’s smile as each of us try to do that.

I want to get better at what I do, but that thought, “This is what I do,” somehow was given by God ,I believe, and it helped me. I cannot exactly categorise what I do, but I know when I am doing it and I think I now know when distraction is happening. Usually it comes through lovely believers, eager to see God honoured. It is not easy to say “No” to lovely, enthusiastic believers. I hate to think I would throw a wet blanket over what has brought life to them in the process of holding my distance from that same thing, as it would not bring life to me or increase it within me or its flow through me.

So I guess I am maybe saying, keep your main thing your main thing. I hope you can say “This is what I do” and find peace as you say it.

God bless

Kenny

I don’t know what to do with these thoughts…

Dr Johannes Tauler, a preacher in the 14th. Century, stepped out of his pulpit for 2 years as he realised he needed to die to self. Quite something.

The story: He was one of the most famous preachers of his day. His church in Strasbourg was packed out, but he stepped down. A man called Nicolaus of Basle had listened to him speaking on death to self but realised Dr. Tauler did not know that truth by personal experience. He challenged him: “ Dr. Tauler, before you can do your greatest work for God, this world and this city, you must die to yourself, your gifts, your popularity and even your own goodness, and when you have learned the full meaning of the cross, you will have new power with God and man. Get alone with God. Leave your crowded church, your admiring congregation, your hold on this city, go aside to your cell, be alone and you will know what I mean.”

Tauler, after initial anger, did just that. His friends thought he was mad. It took 2 years. There was public humiliation involved, but when he stood in the pulpit after the work of God was done, the power of God fell, and all over the congregation folk were thrown into a spiritual trance and met with Christ. Some were lying on the ground outside the church and had to be carried in out of the cold in case they fell ill!

Stories like that challenge me. I am not sure I always know how to respond to them, but they challenge me. There are other stories that are similar, though I cannot check precise details due to lack of books. Moody had an experience of God that changed the effectiveness of his preaching for example. He was originally angry that two women kept on coming to his meetings and said him on one occasion, they were praying for him be filled with the Holy Spirit. Praying John Hyde, I think, experienced something similar. On board a boat he opened a piece of paper that had been put into his hand at departure and read it. “We will not stop praying for you until you are filled with the Holy Spirit.” He was angry, and then realised his anger showed he was not filled with the Holy Spirit and cried it would be so. The results were asotnishing. On one occasion in a huge meeting he simply lifted his voice to heaven and said, “Oh heavenly Father” and the Spirit of God fell and through the whole gaterhing into a Holy Ghost commotion.

Do I believe that if God called me to a season of being alone with Him – it would have to be Him not me just copying someone else’s story – He would meet with me in a way that would result in more glory being brought to the Name of His Son? Nicolaus said to Tauler after the two years were up: “Now, thou art a preacher of the grace of God. Now one of they sermons will bring forth more fruit a hundred aforetime.”

Challenged, so challenged… when so much needs to be done, it is counterintuitive to take time out and go aside. When the need of the world creates so many opportunities, it is easy to hear and be obedient to the word “Go” from Christ and ignore and disobey His word, “Wait.”

God bless

Kenny

Even if you are not coming to Lewis in June… some thoughts that might bless you…

As I think about Lewis, I am challenged by what Rev. Jack Macarthur said in an interview about Duncan Campbell. He said he did not impose his style on Lewis, thinking, “we will help out these poor Lewis folk with bringing them our ways of doing things.” No, you would have thought after he had been there a few weeks that he was from Lewis, he so honoured the ways of the church there. He identified himself with their spirituality, to use another phrase from Jack MacArthur. What a wonderful spirit. I want to go to Lewis in that same spirit: honouring what God is doing there right now, not wanting in any way at all to take over and impose my ways or preferences. I want to be myself but honour those who have invited me into their setting. It is actually a very easy thing to do if humility and love are present in our hearts.

I have been in several meetings over the years where keen people took over and imposed their ministry style when given the chance and what God was doing up until they did that was ignored… and God’s Spirit was grieved and lifted, though like Samson, those responsible did not seem to realise it was so as they ventured forth in their usual style. In fact they seemed quite thrilled by what they had done and were even thankful to God for what ensued! I wanted to leave these meetings at the point of take-over. To this day I cannot decide whether staying rather than leaving was out of kindness to those getting it so wrong but believing they were doing it so right, or was it cowardice? Perhaps a mixture? Perhaps it is just my personality which sometimes is a blessing to me and other times seems a bit of a confusing and frustrating nuisance. Whatever, God loves me and loves them, even though we can all be a nuisance to His purposes from time to time.

Perhaps the lesson to draw from such times is an extension of what Paul teaches concerning other issues: all things that are lawful and perfectly acceptable may not always be helpful. In other words some right things can become wrong. It can depend on setting. I guess part of leadership is at times to say when a right thing is wrong! Not always easy when you have to say it to excited people. At times every true leader will be judged by some as being controlling and will be thought to be quenching the Spirit. The verse “Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom,” is usually trotted out by those who think anything goes at any time. Of course the verse is being misapplied.

For those coming, or thinking of coming to the Conference: let’s gather in humble awareness of the God who is at work, and tread carefully, joyfully delighting to learn from and to honour God’s people in Lewis, their ways, and God’s ways with them in current blessing.

For those not coming to Lewis, well the lesson holds good. It is good to tread carefully when we meet with one another or find ourselves in territory other than our own familiar home ground. The strange thing is when we meet in humility honouring one another, change of the right sort happens to us all, and the purposes of God advance in us all.

God bless

Kenny

The Father who speaks to his children like a child…

I have always felt like a child when it comes to understanding God and His Ways revealed in His Word, and always will I think, so I am glad when the Bible speaks about God in almost childlike ways. I love the verses I quote further down from Malachi for that reason. They speak of God noticing, listening or paying attention, and of something being written down for purposes of divine remembering, which in Scripture in the Hebrew language usually implies a day of purposeful divine action in the fortunes of His people, after a time of apparent non-activity or silence.

That imagery and language helps my simple mind, helps me to understand God. Mind you what catches God’s attention and what is written down to be remembered, is pretty challenging, again probably offensive to those considered wise, but it makes wise the simple. God’s word in the Bible and above all in the cross of the Word made flesh, has always offended the wise, seeming like folly to them, but it always makes wise the simple.

What God says in these verses doesn’t sound very on trend with predominant themes in the language of many sectors of today’s church, which is a bit worrying, since God is unchanging so presumably unchanging in what He notices and regards with favour.

“Then those who feared the LORD spoke with one another. The LORD paid attention and heard them, and a book of remembrance was written before him of those who feared the LORD and esteemed his name. They shall be mine, says the LORD of hosts, in the day when I make up my treasured possession, and I will spare them as a man spares his son who serves him. Then once more you shall see the distinction between the righteous and the wicked, between one who serves God and one who does not serve him. (Malachi Chapter 3 verses 16 – 18, ESV.)

God bless

Kenny

Are you a cult member or leader?

There are many subsets of allegiances within Christian devotion and living. Not bad in itself. We need planted somewhere or we will self destroy through proud independence and end up suffering from the self righteous, angry, rejected prophet delusion. However, never let your devotion to someone or a group, their teaching, their literature or their leaders dead or alive be greater than attentiveness of the ear that listens for the voice of Christ, the Shepherd of the whole flock, and His Spirit speaking through Scripture. If you allow that balance to settle in the wrong direction you are effectively a member of a cult and may miss the truest calling of Christ upon your love and service.

Be grateful but not blindly loyal to any body of literature ancient or modern, any theological system no matter how biblical and revered its devotee may claim it to be, any body of discipleship local or widespread, any leader dead or alive where help, love, life and guidance have been experienced. If a buy in is demanded that smacks of exclusivity or slight or overt superiority towards other approaches to Christian living, service and discipleship, it is time to look elsewhere and listen to the Spirit’s lack of peace within.

“Call no man Father” is teaching from Jesus we need to heed. It is a terribly inconvenient word for those who want a following and want to establish something new with their name attached to it…

God bless

Kenny

K.I.S.S.

A disciple in bible days was just someone who was attached to a Master and wanted to be like him. That’s all. The principle was exactly what Jesus said: It is sufficient for the disciple, the servant, to be like the Master. That’s it. Nothing complicated. Often costly.

David Ravenhill gives a good insight. He says that every believer in Jesus at the start was a disciple. They then became called Christians, first of all in Antioch. Folk saw they were Christ’s men and women. Nowadays he says we call people Christians and then add on discipleship as though it were an additional step for the extra keen. I think he is probably right. “Discipleship” has become a buzz word and a bit of a new industry.

Discipleship is simply, “Jesus, as I follow you, I want to become more like you.” Nothing more, nothing less. I have my bible, prayer, the encouragement of God’s people, God Himself who has made His home in me. “All I have needed thy hand has provided.”

My discipleship pattern that seemed to work for me at the start and ever since has been this. I read my bible, pray and try to get on with the Jesus life. I am encouraged by the teaching and fellowship of church on a Sunday. In fact Sundays, what could be called the Sunday Service, is vital to me.

Don’t make a meal out of discipleship. Read your bible, pray for help, live it out, share something of Jesus with those who don’t know him, making the most of opportunities, join with the saints to encourage them and serve them and be encouraged by them.

It all happens naturally if Christ is in you and your desire is for Him. It is not an optional course you sign up to beyond perhaps a short Beta type course following an Alpha type beginning. After that it’s just being an apprentice to Jesus: learning to be like Him because despite every stumble and every lazy day, every scared, cowardly or rebellious day, something within persists in desiring it will be so.

When I tie myself in knots in my thinking and living and praying and in anything else for that matter, I remember K.I.S.S. “Keep It Simple Stupid.” Being male it works neatly for me to translate that into the truer tone of Abba, rather than it being only an expression of frustration from myself to myself: “Keep It Simple, Son.”

God bless

Kenny

From a deep place within me…

“And His that gentle voice we hear, soft as the breath of even…” I guess control freaks would wish it so, would wish The Spirit always came as a dove, after all that was the Jesus way. The Spirit descended and remained on Him as a dove.

Well, when Jesus poured out the promise of the Father, the Holy Spirit upon His church, the Jesus way was this: “Suddenly there was the sound of a mighty rushing wind!” A violent hurricane. It reminds me of what is written of Samson: “the Spirit of God rushed upon him.”

As you know I had to throw out all my books, because of the danger they could be to my lungs, so I cannot check details, but I remember the bare bones of a story which Dr. Helen Roseveare told. One glimpse of her face on one occasion, remains one of the most significant influences upon my life and service today, 46 years on. I have never seen the glory of God on a human face in such measure before or since. As a teenager the sheer beauty of God shining upon and from her face made me weep and search the grounds of Kilcreggan House, during a Crusader Camp, for a space to be alone and offer my life in fresh surrender to the will of God. Anyway, she tells in one of her wonderful books, the story of a day during her time as a missionary in what was the Belgian Congo. There was the sound of a strong storm outside the building where God’s people were gathered. Some went to close the shutters but outside not a blade of grass was moving. Suddenly the violent wind of God’s Spirit rushed in and around the building. God had come.

With Lewis in mind, I am remembering a story that happened in Bernera the coast of Lewis. Things were tough. A fifteen year old boy (Donald, whom I met in the 1990’s in Thurso the day after I dreamed of meeting him) stood to pray. He was looking into heaven and prayed after sobbing, “O God, there is power there. Let it loose!” At that moment, the Spirit of God came down. It looked like a battlefield. On one side of the church people were prostrate before the Lord, compelled into that posture by the presence of the Lord. On the other side of the building, some had their arms flung back above their heads, holding them up in the air, rigid.” God had come.

I met the Principal of a well known prestigious Evangelical Bible College in England who was in a meeting in the late 70’s when the same thing happened as happened in Bernera. People on one side flung forward, people on the other flung back the way as the Spirit of God swept into the building. The glory of God upon him in the briefest of conversations I had with him in almost the immediate aftermath of his experience was another of those spurs to seek after Acts 2 for myself.

Well, I for one believe we need the rushing mighty wind to hit the Church in Scotland. It may be God will move you to pray for that too. It may be you even want to pray for that for yourself.

I can testify it is possible for the Spirit of God to come in such power that you can no more stand than you could remain standing in the force of a hurricane. I was told as a newly converted teenager by people of undoubted Christlikeness that Acts 2 is not for today. I never believed them fully though I respected them . It was to their credit I did not believe them! You see, they had taught me to respect the bible as my supreme authority for faith and life, and my bible led me to believe God is unchanging. It led me to pray for a personal Pentecost, to pray and seek that for approximately 7 years. In a way I never expected, it happened! Why the 7 year wait? I have no idea! But I know there came a day when all I could say in the midst of what was happening as the Spirit of God filled my study in our family home in Torrance, was, “Oh, it is real! It is all real!”

I still seek “more” whatever more may mean. Perhaps your heart is telling you to seek the hurricane and the fire. I hope your hunger exceeds your caution or your fear. God the Father who loves you, gives only good things to His children when they ask Him for the Holy Spirit. You are not deceived to ask. He will guard you against being deceived in the receiving. It is an age old problem: some believers have more faith in the devil to deceive those who are seeking God with all their hearts, than in Our Heavenly Father’s willingness to give His Holy Spirit to those who ask and go on asking, seek and go on seeking, knock and go on knocking. Ask! Seek! Knock! “Come wind of God! Breathe upon these slain that they may live!”

God bless

Kenny