So thankful!

Well, H.T. put on a wonderful “leaving bash” for Morag and myself last night. It was humorous, warm, moving and generous in every possible sense of that word. On special occasions my late Father tended to write poems which he insisted on reading! We all groaned but secretly loved them. Well, I guess it’s in my blood and it seems to be in my daughter’s blood too! So, here is a poem I wrote to read last night. I was thinking of what I would want to tell my successor as Parish Minister, or as I liked to remind folk from time to time when everyone  was needing kept in order, “Senior Minister,” which bascially means, “The Auld Yin!”

I couldn’t have had  a happier evening to mark 11  very fulfilling years. I hope the poem reflects in a tiny even though inadequate way, something of why that has been such a  happy and fulfilling time. Anyway, here it is:

A note from your Predecessor

My dear fellow Minister, my chosen successor
Worry not “What would Kenny think?” I’m not your assessor!
But just a few words, I hope you don’t mind
To tell of some things you will most surely find
In what is called by most, “H.T.”
This aptly named place, “Holy Trinity.”

You’ll find the Love of the Father, the Grace of the Son
The Holy Spirit helping all to be one
A sense of guilt may soon creep in;
“Should I feel so happy, or is it a sin

to enjoy being a minister every new day,
to those whom God brings across my way?”

You’ll find pearls of great price, blood-bought ones of Christ
Drawn from darkness into marvellous light;
Warmth mixed with kindness, true joy and smiles
Shining through wounds that eclipse yours by miles;
They’ll help you to see the true Face of God
And hug you right in to Love’s truest fold.

You’ll find salve for your woundedness, rest time for tiredness
God helping you know the meaning of wellness
You’ll find space to grow and more fully discover
The God who  saw you before your mother
You’ll find truest you, you’ve had no chance to know
As preaching and pastoring to new places go.

You’ll find laughter and loyalty, shed tears at lost dignity
Pains will be shared that will cause you dismay
As you raise empty hands praying, “What can I bring?”
You’ll hear a reply, “ Without me, not one thing!   
Go, ask, seek and knock at heaven’s near door
Know your emptiness filled, hear the promise of “more.”

You’ll find old souls of faithfulness, their faith filled with youthfulness
Battling through storms and taking their places
Be amazed as you hear what they may not tell
Of how they were saved and have served long and well
You’ll think to yourself as you’re blessed by their eyes
“Such bright glowing embers…unquenchable fires…”

There are young saints emerging, so say things encouraging
(Not their heads, but your tongue, may sometimes need biting!)
God’s love’s been long-suffering to you and to me
With no patience in heaven where would we be?
Praise each movement Godward in young lives begun
May it not be unseen, let it not go unsung.

You’ll meet mighty prayer warriors, and find gifted leaders
Hearers and doers and  generous givers
Folk your superior in all sorts of ways
Who serve to God’s glory and lighten your days
“One Man Band” times now are over and past
Part of the body, you’ll feel freed at last.

You’ll sense yourself often on holiest ground
As Yahweh draws near upon worship’s sound
You’ll meet God in weak places, He’s more where there’s less
In the soil of lack, His Kingdom grows best
You’ll see Jesus kneeling to wash soiled feet
In cafe, in sanctuary and on the street.

Not everyone will clap at all that you do
But they’ll scratch out eyes when ill’s spoken of you
They’ll tell only about the blessing you’re bringing
They’ll  speak of you well, your ears will be burning
So,God bless you my fortunate Friend of the King
A chapter is ending, let the next one begin!

Kenny Borthwick

P.S. – You are very welcome to enjoy these blogs and share them with anyone “without money or price!” However, if you ever feel grateful for these blogs and are able to do so, then please make a donation to Open Doors, Scotland. Their website is

http://www.opendoorsuk.org/scotland

In case you have not heard of them, Open Doors works to help our persecuted brothers and sisters throughout the world.

 

Some more “Leaving Laughter!”

Thinking again of my leaving weekend. A couple of “leaving speeches” came to mind that I hope will give you a laugh today.

Story 1: I have been part of the most wonderful Ministry Team in Holy Trinity. I know that Wednesdays for a long time will be associated with memories of “Team Meetings” and the laughter, the decision making, the breakfasting together and praying together that went on there. These were times of warmth, genuine friendship and encouragement.

Teams are not always so harmonious! There was an assistant minister leaving a church where his relationship with the senior minister had been rocky:  The senior minister spoke first at the “Farewell Gathering,” selecting words from John 10 verse 15: “The hireling fleeth, because he is an hireling…  However, the assistant had also done what all ministers do from time to time but are not supposed to do: he had searched his concordance to find a verse he could select some words from to hang his thoughts upon, and he found one! He took some words from Genesis chapter 22 verse 5: “Abide ye here with the ass. I … will go  yonder…

Well, I am glad to say  the congregation of Holy Trinity is being left in the most wonderful hands, indeed in the hands of folk who are my superior in so many ways in terms of gifting and ability.

Story 2: A minister was saying farewell to the Presbytery of Edinburgh a few years ago. He was a truly dignified man who was hugely respected by many, and rightly so. In his speech  to us all, he referred to a celebratory evening in the pub with some of his friends. A member of his congregation had come up to him the following day and said, “Minister, I was sorry to see you leave the pub at quarter to eleven last night.” The minister replied to him, “Yes, I was sorry too, but you have to leave sometime!

Oh for words to dumbfound the religious!

God Bless

Kenny

He is The Lord!

Just a short blog as my focus is on this coming weekend!

I’ve been reading in Proverbs today in the N.L.T. I began at Chapter 21 verse 1 and only managed to read 3 verses. That was a solid enough meal.

I love that the bible is so politically incorrect, that our God is so politically incorrect! 3 things to think about:

1 – He does not regard our freedom of choice as sacrosanct: “The king’s heart is like a stream of water directed by the Lord; He guides it wherever He pleases.” (Proverbs 21 verse 1.)

2 – He looks for something more than people doing what they feel  and think is right: “People may be right in their own eyes, but the Lord examines their heart” (Proverbs 21 verse 2.)

3 – He is not impressed by any religious observance so long as it is sincere: “The Lord is more pleased when we do what is right and just than when we offer Him sacrifices.” (Proverbs 21 verse 3.)

Who does He think He is? God, I guess.

God Bless

Kenny

P.S. – You are very welcome to enjoy these blogs and share them with anyone “without money or price!” However, if you ever feel grateful for these blogs and are able to do so, then please make a donation to Open Doors, Scotland. Their website is

http://www.opendoorsuk.org/scotland

In case you have not heard of them, Open Doors works to help our persecuted brothers and sisters throughout the world.

Laughter… and now Song!

My blogs lately have been a bit nostalgic. I am glad to say I am not in my dotage yet nor (God save me and you from it)  in my anecdotage! I believe in a God who always offers a future and a hope at every stage of life and beyond. It is best, as a rule,  to be onward looking. However inevitably as I face my last weekend as minister of Holy Trinity, I have been looking back over my time there and right back to when my ministry began in Linlithgow in 1982 and even back further than that to 37 years ago, 1979, the year in which I did my first church placement as a student as part of my training with the Church of Scotland.

As I have looked back I have laughed and smiled a lot ( see yesterday’s blog, “Looking back and laughing.”) but I also find myself doing some pondering. This is what I have been thinking today: at times,  whatever we see as our ministry, can get in the way of what matters most; it can get in the way of intimacy with God without which the proper balance, the proper  shape of life with all its varying  God gifted enriching elements  seems to elude us. It can become more important than the more or most important things. Praise God if you have never fallen over that cliff. By the 90’s I realised I had stepped over that cliff edge somehow, probably a long time before I was consciously aware of doing so. Though others may have seen signs of that for some time, they would have had a hard job convincing me of what I eventually came to see. If you think you may have done the same, then let me tell you the words of a very simple song,  which came winging its way to me over the years today.  It brought me the blessing of God in the  season when God rescued me and brought me back to my first call, simply to be a child of God by the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ. Everything flows from there….

I sing a simple song of love
to my Saviour, to my Jesus,
I’m grateful for the things you’ve done
my loving Saviour, precious Jesus,
My heart is glad that you’ve called me your own,
There’s no place I’d rather be
than in your arms of love
than in your arms of love,
Holding  me still, holding me near
in your arms of love.

(Craig Musseau, © 1991 Mercy/Vineyard Publishing)

God Bless

Kenny

P.S. – You are very welcome to enjoy these blogs and share them with anyone “without money or price!” However, if you ever feel grateful for these blogs and are able to do so, then please make a donation to Open Doors, Scotland. Their website is

http://www.opendoorsuk.org/scotland

In case you have not heard of them, Open Doors works to help our persecuted brothers and sisters throughout the world.

Looking back and laughing!

Well, I am already thinking towards the couple of times I will speak this weekend if God wills, that will mark not only the end of my time as minister of Holy Trinity in Wester Hailes, but also my official early retirement from full time parish ministry as it is commonly understood in the Church of Scotland. To be honest, that is drawing the focus of my attention rather than the blog and probably will for a few days. However I find myself looking back over 34 years and laughing a lot at some precious moments: Let me share them with you. If you like blogs to be serious, well best not read on.

Best comment made to me after a sermon: “Utter madness!

Best question before a baptism: “Do you mind if I take the vows and don’t mean them?

Most inappropriate song at a funeral: “Lay your head upon my pillow, place your warm and tender body close to mine…

Most schoolboy laughter inducing moment at Presbytery: “Moderator, I don’t think it’s wise for me to press my motion too hard.

Most welcoming comment from a Session Clerk to a newcomer: “Clear off! We don’t want the likes of you here.

Best imitation of me reading the intimations, by a  would be 3 year old minister, said while she was standing on a box with her family listening attentively in rows in front of her: “The evil service will be after I’m in bed.

The kid I most wanted to strangle at  a time when I was trying to encourage charismatic worship: Me; “Why do we raise our hands in worship?” That blasted kid; “Is it to show off?

Best vision statement of a person applying for a church job while being interviewed by me over lunch in a hotel: “Well Kenny,  I think in these days God is turning the farts of the hathers towards the children.

Quickest response to a question intended to catch me out: “Minister, you said in your sermon you like whisky. Does the bible not warn against strong drink?  Me;“Yes it does.” The trap is set: “Is whisky not a strong drink? “ My escape; “Not to me it isn’t!

Best quote from a fellow minister when he realised we were watching him eating his 4th. chocolate pudding at an in service training event: “Yes, I do hide my asceticism rather well.

Best contribution in Cafe Church: “I know about Easter. There were a few hundred people and one shouted out, ‘I’m Jesus!’ Then another  person in the crowd shouted out. ‘I’m Jesus!’ Then another shouted out, ‘I’m Jesus!’ They just went ahead and  killed them all!”No,” said another at the table, “that wasn’t Jesus. That was Spartacus.

Most withering comment and most “I wish the ground would open up and swallow me” moment: while walking  as a school chaplain into a 3rd year class for the first time: “I didn’t know E.T. carried a brief case!

Most difficult “keep a straight face on a serious occasion” moment; asked by an elder just before communion: “Minister, when do you want us to bring in the linaments?

Most unusual re-telling of the story of Jesus by a 5 year old:“Jesus was good but they killed Him.” “That’s right,” I said encouragingly. “Do you know how they killed him?” “Yes, they pushed him off the Empire State Building.

Best interruption of preaching in an old people’s home; “Oh for goodness sake, come on, come on! I’ve got to get a bus!

The loudest comment made about me in a quiet room: “My, what a small man!

Phrase I wish I had heard more often: “Minister, I think we will have to cancel the service because of the weather.

Most repeated and recurring and deflating and hope and joy killing  moment: “Minister you have done so much to help me. I want to give you this gift of money…. put it towards whatever work in the church you want it to go to!

Comment I should have resisted but didn’t;  spoken to a millionaire who said very grandly he wanted to give some money to the church and made a great show of handing over £10: “Thank you so much, even small amounts are appreciated.

Most awkward moment with an organist who was unquestionably sabotaging the service: Me; “It was this tune I was wanting for that hymn, please.” The reply said in a “Now I will watch the minister squirm” tone: “That’s the one I was playing.

Remember, laughter is good medicine.

God Bless

Kenny

P.S. – You are very welcome to enjoy these blogs and share them with anyone “without money or price!” However, if you ever feel grateful for these blogs and are able to do so, then please make a donation to Open Doors, Scotland. Their website is

http://www.opendoorsuk.org/scotland

In case you have not heard of them, Open Doors works to help our persecuted brothers and sisters throughout the world.

 

“The Lord told me…”

For me, there are some very simple guidelines  to work out whether or not the Holy Spirit really has shown me something or spoken to me through some other means than the Bible – which is, of course, all God-breathed. Number 1 rule is does it tally with what the Bible says? If it does not, then for me there is no other option but to dismiss it. We do not know God simply by what seems right to us or to our intellect or what seems right or wrong according to the culture we are part of in any given place or time, but by revelation. God has revealed Himself in his Word and supremely and finally through His Son, Jesus Christ: so when I hear someone say, “God has told me that…” followed by something  that I know is contradictory to Scripture then I feel at leave to draw that to their attention; although it is never easy to challenge someone who is saying to you almost in defiance of allowing you any opinion, “The Lord told me,” or one of its equivalents! We are sadly faced with a divorce in the church at the moment. Increasingly there are those who have been brought into the Kingdom of God who right from the start have an openness to things charismatic that was not common going back 40 years in UK church life,  but often there is little Bible awareness by which to test what is truly of the Lord. However such things must be tested. (By the way, again, I won’t enter into debate via my blogs with those who think things charismatic died out with the early church. Am I too, therefore, guilty of saying, “The Lord told me” and allowing no alternative opinion? NO! I am simply saying what the Word teaches beyond any shadow of a doubt, not something the Spirit revealed to me separate from the Word! I cannot debate the Word. To do so is irreverent to the point of blasphemy in my eyes. It may be right for some to debate such things but for me it would be sin.)

Well, I love it when Word and Spirit come together in obvious ways to bear witness to a truth. Let me give you an example: last night I had a dream which I believed was given to me by the Holy Spirit. There are certain signs and symbols which have become part of my dream language. It would take me too long to explain why certain occurrences in dreams are symbols of something else to me, and it would go beyond the purpose of this blog which is to encourage you to look for Spirit and Word confirming one another. In my dream, I was speaking to a dentist: for me, that represents learning about wisdom and is usually a bit of a warning when I am in danger of losing some wisdom on a matter. The dentist  was explaining to me that I needed an operation to my ears in order that certain things could drain away so that I could hear what I was meant to hear more clearly.

I knew that was a relevant dream. One of the battles of this last year has been to let go of misbeliefs about my worth or my usefulness or lack of it because of having to give up parish ministry. It has been easy at times for words like “useless” or “failure” to gain my hearing  and attention and at times to sound convincing. I know these are lies from the Father of Lies, but at the same time a lie has to suggest itself as true to have a chance of succeeding. I knew the dream was about  lies  I teeter on the edge of almost believing at times that are needing to be drained out of my spiritual ears to the last dregs as it were, in order to hear more clearly what God is speaking into my current situation and into the approaching future which is getting ever closer:  this coming weekend is officially the last weekend of my being the senior minister of Holy Trinity, in Wester Hailes, though I have been off work for almost a year.

Well, I opened my Bible this morning to read from the Book of Job where I had been reading from in recent days. I soon came across these words in Chapter 12 verse 11: “The ear tests the words it hears, just as the mouth distinguishes between foods.” (N.L.T.) I felt that was confirmation that the dream had indeed been a warning dream from the Lord. I know it shouldn’t amaze me, but it still does amaze me when confirmations like this happen. Simple things amuse (and amaze)  simple minds I guess! In fact maybe simple things SHOULD always amuse and amaze me come to think of it!

As well as being an example of Word and Spirit not being opposed but being in harmony, I am sharing this because often the enemy of our souls uses a very predictable range of weaponry against God’s children. He is subtle, but he is not a creator. So I guess I am wondering, do you need to test what you are hearing and maybe even believing? It may be you need to test what others are saying to you. It may be that you need to test things you say to yourself about yourself.

A suggestion: try and get hold of persistent thoughts about yourself that you find yourself thinking about a lot. Did that thought come from the lips of our loving heavenly Father revealed in His Son, our Saviour, Jesus Christ, as recorded in the pages of the Old and New Testaments (remember Jesus is not just in the New testament)? If so, then hold on to it with all your strength and don’t let it be stolen from you. If not, then it does not come from the Holy Spirit of truth no matter how much it tries to present itself as true.

In fact let me refine all of this a wee bit more: I hope this  doesn’t complicate things for you needlessly; I think this needs to be said too. One of the things I realised when reading Job today, is that often his so called “comforters” and friends are speaking things that in other contexts would in fact be true, but with reference to Job in his circumstances were not true. A truth at the wrong time or used in the wrong occasion or circumstances can be destructive, which at the right time would be life giving. I have actually found in this transitional time in my life, that at times people have well-meaningly quoted the Bible’s truth to me but not a truth that was relevant to my situation no matter how well intentioned. There was something missing in Job’s comforters which led to them speaking some nonsense, but also led to them speaking truth that was unhelpful and irrelevant to the moment into which  they spoke it. Perhaps it is best summed up by Job himself: “Honest words can be painful, but what do your criticisms amount to? Do you think your words are convincing when you disregard my cry of desperation.” (Job Chapter 6 verses 25-26 N.L.T.) I have to say that on some occasions the words of non-believers have been more helpful than when believers have well meaningly spoken to me in my journey through this transition time, though of course many believers have helped me as well. Just sometimes however, they have applied a truth that is not relevant to the situation. What was said seemed a bit glib, and seemed not to come from empathy. I guess in some ways this is taking me back to the theme of a previous blog about “tone.” I am more certain than ever of the tone of my Father’s voice because this last year or more. I know where I have found Him and truly heard His voice.

I wonder if someone has told you a verse of Scripture but tried to apply it wrongly to your situation? Does that sound familiar? It is what Satan did in the wilderness with Jesus. Jesus however had heard His Father’s voice. It is not beyond the realm of possibility that the enemy may have tried the same tactic on you. Is there a verse of Scripture which you have been finding gives you a level of torment since a fellow believer mentioned it to you? Of course God can convict through His Spirit and HIs Word, but conviction that is heavily tinged with strong condemnation without the offer of opportunities to repent, to receive help, to find a way on does not come from the Father of mercies revealed in Jesus Christ. Is it time for you to test a word your ears have heard? Please remember the devil is an expert at quoting the wrong scripture perfectly in any translation you care to name as  being the most true to the original text. With him, Word and Spirit do not coincide.

God bless you this day, this night and always,

Kenny

P.S. – You are very welcome to enjoy these blogs and share them with anyone “without money or price!” However, if you ever feel grateful for these blogs and are able to do so, then please make a donation to Open Doors, Scotland. Their website is

http://www.opendoorsuk.org/scotland

In case you have not heard of them, Open Doors works to help our persecuted brothers and sisters throughout the world.

We have the technology to remake that preacher….

Have just written to Rev. Ian MacDonald, the wonderful Associate Minister at Holy Trinity in Wester Hailes to thank him for his sermon tonight, which was top notch in every way.

Just wondering, if you were blessed in church today by a sermon you heard, did you let the person who was used to bless you know you were blessed by them? Did you say, “Thank you,” not just to  God but to the person? I can guarantee if their preaching is preaching blessed by God, telling them so will not make them big-headed. It may well just stop them from getting a common disease that attacks preachers; the Monday Blues. Here are the symptoms of that disease that a preacher, pastor, leader can experience:

1 – an intense need to scrutinise adverts for jobs to see if there are any that a B.D. is required for, followed by;

2 – a facing the fact that a B.D. is the most useless degree imaginable when it comes to job seeking, apart from your M.A. in Philosophy and Religious studies; this results in feeling you are serving a life-sentence from which there will never be clemency; no escape from this  sentence to be a preacher that is possible practically and financially up until you are of retirement Age after which living will still be financially difficult.

3 – a tiresome repetitive asking of the spouse, “But, was the sermon really ok, yesterday? You are not just saying so are you, to try and cheer me up?”

4 – despite many reassurances from the aforesaid spouse, never being reassured.

5 – the feeling that a delusion is being unmasked and you are actually the worst preacher alive.

6 – a creeping suspicion that Mrs. MacClutchbutt was right after all when she said 2 months ago, “You are the worst minister this church has ever had!”

7 – a persistent depressing thought, “Maybe I was never called to this in the first place.”

8 – a growing conviction that nobody loves me, everybody hates me.

9 – the draw to add a Masters in Hebrew to the aforesaid B.D. followed by a realisation that such a notable achievement will not greatly add to  your prospects of finding alternative employment.

Folk in the pews: I now sit there with you and want to say this to you: we have the technology to remake such preachers: the tongue in our head speaking  forth strengthening, encouraging and comforting words from the heart of the Father.

God Bless

Kenny

P.S. – You are very welcome to enjoy these blogs and share them with anyone “without money or price!” However, if you ever feel grateful for these blogs and are able to do so, then please make a donation to Open Doors, Scotland. Their website is

http://www.opendoorsuk.org/scotland

In case you have not heard of them, Open Doors works to help our persecuted brothers and sisters throughout the world.

Understanding the story…NOT!

Today I am remembering my first contact with the so called “Toronto Blessing.” I am remembering my scepticism being met with conviction of sin which was unbearable, which was followed in turn by my being flung through the air by the power of the Holy Spirit without any human hand touching me and landing, without any damage, on the ground. I lay there being deeply healed of a success driven outlook on myself and life and ministry. Jesus was bringing me into the rest of soul He promised He could give by doing what only He can do: revealing His Father to those who respond to His invitation, “Come to me.” (Matthew 11: why not make some time soon to read of Jesus explaining the process by which He leads us to rest of soul?)

Having shared that, let me issue a couple of warnings. Number 1: I don’t want to turn this blog into a debate about whether or not the Toronto Blessing was good or bad, from God or not.  That would soil  and pollute this blog and its intention with ugly things and bad smells that would linger. If you want a debate about that, there are ugly websites by the score where you can find support for your point of view one way or the other, though if you have any sensitivity to the Spirit, you may well find yourself longing to take a shower after you have read them, to get rid of a sense of slime clinging to you. As I have said before, these blogs are being written simply to share where I have found bread. Number 2: Please don’t think there is anything wrong with you, don’t be insecure, if you have not had a similar experience. I think I really needed that to happen. There are many folk who are much deeper in their experience of life in God than I am for whom such a thing has never happened.

What came to mind today though, was the reaction of a ministerial friend when I shared my experience: He said, “In the Bible folk who met with God always fell on their faces not on their backs. Evil people fall on their backs in the presence of God.” I think he misunderstood that falling on your face is what you do to hide yourself as best you can from the glory of God lest you perish. Falling on your back and being completely exposed to the eyes of God face on, unable to turn over and try and hide yourself to give yourself a chance of not perishing  is the most vulnerable place to be. I was fully clothed but  I felt completely naked in the presence of God. I was being completely undone by the Spirit of God. Would this God bless me or kill me? I was in the grip of limitless power against which I could do nothing. Fortunately limitless power had come to bring me rest in limitless love which I had never quite found. My first cry when it all happened was “Oh no!” It was followed by “At last.” Something was killed, something  did die that day: the  belief that God would love me “if” or “when” I reached a certain mark. God’s mighty spear was thrust into that lie! Hallelujah!

I know as a pastor how it is possible for me to misunderstand people and their behaviour. It is easy for me to make up a story of why someone is the way they are. Indeed sometimes I try and help a person make a story from the varied facts and experiences of their lives that they cannot make sense of by drawing all the data of their life together in a coherent way. I have become more and more cautious of doing that. I may be offering a wrong story. Sometimes there is no coherence to a life and to try and draw a thread of purpose through everything can be deeply wrong and can stop in someone’s throat the cry of pain about the irrationality of it all, the senselessness of it all, finally being released into the hands of the eternal  love of God.

Have you made up your story about your own life or someone else’s life quickly  but erroneously? The cross of Christ reminds us it is possible to do that. It was possible to look at the cross and see there a blasphemer with whom the  just judgement of God had finally caught up. Indeed according to Isaiah chapter 53 that was what the most obvious interpretation of the cross of Christ. However it was a wrong  interpretation, a wrong story. The fact is that He was being wounded for our transgressions, not His own. The punishment He was bearing was to bring us peace. His wounds were for our healing. Actually this was not a blasphemer. Has ever a story been so wrongly read? The will of God was prospering in Christ’s hands even when the blood stopped flowing from them and death came.

Be slow to make up a story of your life or anyone else’s life. Only God knows all the data. We need His revelation. Best just listen and observe until that revelation comes, if God so chooses.

A closing thought: if you are hurt because you know people have the wrong idea about “you,” have got hold of the wrong end of the story of “you,” then may you think of Calvary, may you find refuge in the love of a misunderstood Jesus. It’s not pleasant to say so, but some folk may just always misunderstand you. It’s a fact of life. Don’t waste time, perhaps many years even,  fighting that fact, or  trying to get them to see the truth. If that happens it happens, but it may not. Don’t let it  build up as anger or rage within you. Don’t let it spoil God helping you into being the “you” He created and redeemed. As believers in the Kingdom of God we know there is a day coming when “all truth shall stand revealed.” That day is not yet. Until that day, some people may always see your limp but understand nothing about the stone in your shoe. It’s just the way it is.

God Bless

Kenny

P.S. – You are very welcome to enjoy these blogs and share them with anyone “without money or price!” However, if you ever feel grateful for these blogs and are able to do so, then please make a donation to Open Doors, Scotland. Their website is

http://www.opendoorsuk.org/scotland

In case you have not heard of them, Open Doors works to help our persecuted brothers and sisters throughout the world.

Thankful for one midge, though I could do without the rest….

I don’t really keep to many of the “rules” that those who write books and give advice on preaching say should be observed  when delivering a sermon. It is not that such books are not helpful, indeed one is pretty foolish not to take some sort of advice or at least put some thought into what makes communication effective. However, there needs to be room for individuality. I am afraid to say my preaching would not pass the mark of style snobs, who seem to see sermons as works of art.

Well, the same is true of my “poetry,” only more so. I have never studied poetry in any depth and don’t know anything about the rules for writing a poem – thought I did win a prize at school with the grand title, “The London Prize for English”! Like my sermons, they tend to be just an overflow of something I myself have come to see or realise, something that has brought life to me, especially at moments when like a hungry beggar who hasn’t managed to eat for a while, I have been longing for a fresh taste of the Bread of Life, a fresh taste of Christ. As with my sermons, I know my poems would not please those who know a thing or two about the “do’s and dont’s”  of poetry.

Well, I want to share another poem today. It was yesterday’s blog that brought it to mind. I talked in that blog about the “tone” of Jesus: how He spoke to the woman at the well, how He knocked at the door of the church in Laodicea and how He looked at Simon Peter who had just denied Him three times. It was when I wrote about  Simon Peter, I remembered that a few years ago I wrote a poem about him. I know poets are maybe not supposed to explain their works, but I am not really a poet. I just write words and rhythms that please me, just for my  personal enjoyment rather than with any thoughts of sharing the end result. However, I do want to explain the origins of this particular poem. I was sitting in the garden; it was a beautiful cool evening at the end of a beautiful  summer’s day. Suddenly a midge landed on my hand. What amazed me was that I registered something so tiny and light, that I could feel it landing on me at all. It didn’t bite me; it just landed and then took off again. Somehow or other the sheer lightness and gentleness of its touch upon my skin led to a poem about “tone,” about Jesus and Simon Peter.

The only other thing that possibly needs explanation is that in the garden that day I had been reading a wonderful book by Henry Drummond in which he used a lovely phrase, “The Gospel of The Face.” It is a wonderful phrase. In the wake of Mrs. Trump’s alleged  plagiarism, I thought it best to acknowledge that phrase is not “all my own work.”

Anyway, here it is. If you enjoy poetry, you night enjoy this, but then again maybe not. On the other hand if you don’t like poetry you might enjoy this as I don’t know if it merits being so called!

Of course having read this far you may decide you are not going to read the poem but are going to sign off right now. Well, may God bless even you, “Ya Philistine!” (explanation for those South of the border between Scotland and England or from overseas:  the pejorative use of the word “Philistine” probably needs no explanation as it is used cross culturally to imply lack of learnedness. “Ya” is one of the Glaswegian alternatives to the word “You.”  In some parts of Glasgow instead of “Ya” the alternative “Yu” is used, thus, “Yu Philistine” – pronounced phonetically (from modern Latin, “phoneticus”). It must not be pronounced with an “oo” sound, as Glaswegians are very particular about pronunciation,  so we ur, by the way. Get the pronunciation wrong and they/we might well batter “you” or more likely “battr yi.”  as in the phrase, “See me, (confusingly sometimes “see you,” pronounced with an “oo” sound), Am goiny  (“oi” as in “phone”) battr yi.” Yous (pronounced “yoos” with an “oo” sound) have been tellt, so goiny jist readit (occasionally “readut” with the phonetic pronunciation of “u” being mixed with a peculiar “i” sound and said as though the whole world is against one and treating one with gross unfairness)?

Kenny

To A Midge,  by Simon

The flying preacher has just flown on
leaving the thought of “Sense and Sensitivity.”
Your life, now over, for sure,
but your life’s work for me, done!
Your landing and leaving,
uninvited, unselfconsciously bold,

– no teeth bared
my blood spared –
Remind me of the approach of One who is of old.

I suppose you can be measured,
but in the great scheme of things
You are not sought or treasured.
A mouse inspired an affectionate ode,
and some distant cousin of yours, loathed,
was not considered beyond the artistic pale.
You have been the author of many an oath,
but a thousandth of an ounce, less or more,
You brought eternity to my skin and spirit’s shore.

You have reminded me you see,
– listen well those who speak of Heaven and of Hell –
I respond to gentle touch
– “The New Male” is not!
We have always run to hide from the breath of even,
It was softest footfall we could not bear to hear.
When spoken to in thunder I remained inert,
When warned of falling and cockerels crowing, I heard no alert,
but..lovely phrase… “The Gospel of The Face…”

No words at all, no throwing of the book,
He turned and looked…
I went and wept…

Copyright K. S. Borthwick

P.S. – You are very welcome to enjoy these blogs and share them with anyone “without money or price!” However, if you ever feel grateful for these blogs and are able to do so, then please make a donation to Open Doors, Scotland. Their website is

http://www.opendoorsuk.org/scotland

In case you have not heard of them, Open Doors works to help our persecuted brothers and sisters throughout the world.

Memories of a Broadwood piano…

I think my favourite story in the bible is Jesus talking with a Samaritan woman at the well of Sychar. You probably know it, but if you don’t, you can find it in John Chapter 4.

The Samaritans were despised by the Jews. However Sychar was a Samaritan town despised by the Samaritans themselves – the name probably means “drunkenness.” So in a town that was despised by the despised, Jesus talks with a woman who was despised even by Sychar: she was the despised of the despised of the despised! Did you know that she is the only individual in the gospels to whom Jesus reveals Himself as “I AM,”  as God in the flesh? I find that an amazing thought. Indeed it is such a beautiful thought I find I cannot think of it for too long. Some things are just too beautiful to look at for too long.  Jesus told us that flesh and blood, our eyes, ears, our minds and hearts , our whole being  and frame as they are now, could not dwell in the presence of God in the fullness of the Kingdom of Heaven without being changed. We could not bear the weight of His beauty.  God once touched me with overwhelming love and grace. I knew it could not last for long or I would die. I knew that at that point flesh and blood cannot inherit the Kingdom of Heaven in its final fullness! The beauty of the Lord would be too much to bear. Remember God had to hide Moses as He passed by and displayed and declared His goodness. Even God’s goodness is so extreme, the sight of it full on would kill us. We need new bodies to enjoy Him forever, and praise God we will have them one day, and be able to dwell with our God who is like  everlasting burnings. When I read John 4 and think about it, I have the sense of a prophecy from Isaiah being fulfilled at least in part: “You shall see the King in his beauty.”

I have been thinking today of the tone in Jesus voice, when Jesus said to the woman, “You have had five husbands and the man you are living with is not your husband.” He did not shirk from saying what was true, but the woman does not run away in shame; quite the opposite.  When she did run from the well, it was with huge joy and excitement to excitedly speak of Christ to those who had previously despised her and to invite them to meet Jesus too! His voice is a Saviour’s voice.

That thought made my thoughts wander to the next:  It is not a new thought to me but it came to back to the fore of my mind this afternoon. “Would you open the door to an angry knock?”  In Revelation Chapter 3 Jesus knows there is much wrong with the believers in the church of Laodicea and says so. As in John 4,  He does not shirk from saying it like it is, nor does He hide the truth of what happens when there is no willingness to repent. The emphasis though is that He is knocking  at the door, willing to come in if anyone in the Laodicean church will open the door and ask Him in. I ask again, “Would you open the door to an angry knock?” Even in the midst of tough no nonsense truth talking, Jesus knows that the people behind the door are people who need Him, who are poor, wretched, pitiable naked and blind. He comes offering salve and sight and clothing and the promise of a shared meal. The “tone” of the knock has a Saviour’s touch.

Well, let’s make it like a 3 point sermon (it’s quite a while since I preached one of those)! Jesus talking; Jesus knocking; lastly, Jesus looking. I am thinking now of the “tone” of how Jesus looked at Simon Peter after he denied Christ. Again, truth was not fudged for there was something in the tone of the look that made Peter go away and weep bitterly. We don’t help people by making out that wrong does not matter; wrong does matter, and love which keeps no score of wrongs makes a space for it to be faced up to, for love also delights in the truth. However though truth was not fudged, there must have been something about the look that spoke not of condemnation but hope, a hope confirmed by meeting with the risen Jesus, a hope that was so strong that as Christ crucified and risen stood on the shore, Peter jumped from a boat into the water to meet Him ahead of anyone else: His eyes are a Saviour’s eyes.

I guess we are talking about truth and grace, not surprisingly. All of us need Christ to save us from sin, but I am wondering if some reading this blog are needing to meet Him as the one who carries our shame away as well? It may be that for you, whoever you are, there is a point of failure or compromise or disobedience that you cannot deny but you cannot seem to get over. That event or happening or deed  holds on to you somehow in a way that other transgressions don’t. I pray that you will make space and time to let Jesus draw near as the One who never denies truth but who is full of grace. You might despise yourself for something you did. You know the blood of Christ paid for “it” whatever “it’ may be, but you despise yourself, nonetheless. Why not have a conversation with the One who spoke in truth and grace to the despised of the despised of the despised? You may think you could not cope with Christ looking into all the rooms of your life. Some rooms of course you have allowed him to clean out and redecorate, but not “that” room. Well, His arms are laden with good things He wants to bring into that room if you will allow Him in. Perhaps this is the day for bitter weeping to end and to look by faith into eyes of no condemnation; time for what has been an enduring sorrow to give way to a new morning of joy.

I am thinking of an old piano in my chiildhood home. It was a “Broadwood,” and it had the most beautiful tone of any piano I have ever heard. I had a white Yamaha piano of my own later on. It looked much more modern, indeed it was beautiful. It got damaged by the effects of mould as did my lungs. `For the sake of my lungs, it had to go; fortunately my lungs are still there, functioning well enough for me to enjoy life! I loved my Yamaha but I have to be honest and say though it had a beautiful tone too, the oldfashioned battered “Broadwood” had the edge there. Do you know what I long for in the pulpits of Scotland? Something more than biblically accurate preaching and sound teaching; something more than oratory or a stand up comic routine; something even more than a vision that I can give myself to.  Biblical truth and accuracy, accessible delivery  and something I can aim for and live out matter, but that is not what my spirit aches for when I sit in the pews, a new experience for me! I am longing for the sound of  “The Broadwood Tone!” I long for the sound of preachers who more than their abiblity to relate bible truth to modern culture, have seen the beauty of Christ; who have never forgotten it; who haven’t quite got the words to preach Christ as they would long to do and may even invent words  and write or talk long sentences like this with awkward structure,  just like Paul did in his letters,  as they try and put living , tumbling out, overflowing thoughts into some sort of communicable form… but whatever, the tone of incredible beauty  comes through: a beauty so extreme that to borrow a phrase from C.S.Lewis, it breaks and heals hearts. I long for pulpits to be filled again with “the old, old story, of Jesus and His love!”… and not just pulpits, but the streets, the mountains, the valleys, the schools, the supermarkets, the oil rigs, the opera houses and the cinemas, the hospitals, the airports, the railways stations and whatever other place you can add to the list! May it be so, Lord!

God Bless

Kenny

P.S. – You are very welcome to enjoy these blogs and share them with anyone “without money or price!” However, if you ever feel grateful for these blogs and are able to do so, then please make a donation to Open Doors, Scotland. Their website is

http://www.opendoorsuk.org/scotland

In case you have not heard of them, Open Doors works to help our persecuted brothers and sisters throughout the world.

God of the bus-stop!

Well, slowly I am learning to live within my capacities, which means realising I have to plan my day a bit so that I don’t get too tired by trying to do too much. That is actually new for me. I never gave any ground to feeling tired before I had to stop work. In 33 years I hardly ever said “no” to anything or to  anyone who asked anything of me as a minister, even if it meant really having to push myself to do something way beyond what might reasonably be asked of me.  I always worked hard , very much so,  though I don’t think I was ever a “workaholic.” However, I know I took upon myself a false responsibility: if I said “no” at all, someone would feel rejected or uncared for. So realising I have to say “no” to something each day now in order to be able to do other things that matter is slowly becoming a new way of thinking, though it is not yet completely natural to me and is still attended by a quiet background tune of “guilt,” which is mercifully becoming quieter by the week. I think God honours my new approach to me and is much more approving of it right now than I am yet.

Not so long ago, I was due to meet someone for a coffee in Brown’s next door to 121 George Street (The offices of the Church of Scotland) in Edinburgh. This person has been an immeasurable help to me in recent months helping me think through some of my feelings about early retirement, my reactions to coping with ill health, etc. They have shown me huge kindness and I have benefited from their godly wisdom and thoughtful listening and interventions into my verbal ramblings.  They have given and still give of their time to me so freely and generously. I knew it would be a blessed time. However as I waited at a bus-stop to head off for that meeting, I saw  someone who is very friendly and chatty waiting for the bus too – nothing to do with  any church I might add. I hid in the queue from them and hoped they would not see me! I knew that I just would not be able to chat all the way into the city centre of Edinburgh without risking losing some of the benefit of the meeting planned for Brown’s. I felt guilty, weak, pathetic and slightly cowardly for being that way. I never prayed about the situation in a direct way. I simply said, “Lord, you know I just cannot cope with friendly but lengthy conversation and chat right now. I know I have not got the strength or the energy  for that today.” The very next minute I saw the person walking away from the bus-stop and they never came back!  I have no idea why! One day I may have the energy to talk to them and ask them… but then again…maybe not the best idea!

Listen, I try and steer miles clear of “using” God for my advantage. I would never have prayed, “Move that person away, Lord.” I simply expressed how I was feeling to my Father in Heaven. For some reason Psalm 33 has been meaning a lot to me lately. It tells me that the unfailing love of the Lord is everywhere and that He is my shield. Somehow I knew that unfailing love had been shielding me. I also felt that unfailing love could be trusted not to manipulate that other person.

I honestly think that incident at the bus-stop was God giving  an “Amen” to the new way I am learning to give regard to myself, in terms of capacity and limitation. I think it honours Him as the Father who cares for His children that I am learning to treat myself as someone whose wellbeing matters. I have been slow to believe that. For me now,  it is getting to the stage where I know it would be a sin against God to disregard  this human being, Kenny, as much as it would be to have no care for another human being.

In the past I knew there were times I could push myself with no drastic results and times when I pushed myself to my own detriment. I pushed against this lung condition to the point where I had pushed too far, though always keeping  a smile on my face. Now pushing even slightly beyond capacity can make me feel worryingly breathless, shaky and out of sorts for longer than seems to make sense to me. There seems to be a very thin line between managing and not managing and I have not yet worked out in every situation where that line is and can suddenly hit a wall. However what happened at the bus-stop helped me to believe that God honours me when I try and treat myself with consideration. He cares for us. We matter to Him.

So, a question or two:

1: Do you realise you are allowed to say, “No,” to people or even to what seem like good opportunities to which a good Christian worth their salt should surely say, “Yes”? There may be someone or something that needs you to speak your “No” this very day or night without you feeling guilty as you do so.

2: Are you being kind to yourself? I am not talking about being kind to our sinful inclinations by indulging those inclinations; Paul told us that such things are to be disciplined and kept under control with the strictness of someone who fights or runs to win.  I am talking about honouring your own God made humanity, acknowledging where you are right now in terms of  your actual levels of energy and health of body, soul and spirit. Live up to that as fully as possible, but don’t make a habit of pushing beyond that or allowing even well intentioned friends or even Christian leaders to push you beyond that. You might momentarily please someone else, but sooner or later it will lead to a collapse of your  body, soul or spirit, or even  a crash of all 3.

There was a slight fear in me as that person walked away from the bus stop. I knew somehow it was because God cared for me, but somehow it made me fear Him too, in the right way. He is really close and actively involved in our lives, knowing even our thoughts. He really does act and intervene on behalf of his children. He is not a force or spiritual power or energy flitting about somewhere. He is Abba, Father. Later on in the day, I looked back and was wondering yet again if I had strayed into manipulation (which is really witchcraft of sorts), somehow wanting to control “God” to my benefit, regardless of other people. Right at that point I felt His gentle, familiar presence and peace and reassurance, which has surprised me so often in this phase of my life. I still don’t have a complete theological framework to work out what happened. Whatever I try and write about the bus-stop seems wrong in some way to my theological sensitivities! I do know as I have already said that  it happened that way because of the unfailing love of the Lord; because that love is the shield that surrounds me and everyone who trusts in Him. It happened because My Heavenly Abba is more in tune with me, with His beloved child,  than I am with me: He cares for me with a  greater compassion than I can yet freely and easily offer myself… but at least I am on that journey! Are you?

God Bless

Kenny

P.S. You might want to read Psalm 33 sometime soon. I can’t say I ever rated it as one of my favourite psalms, but it is becoming so. May you be blessed if you choose to read it. How could you not be? It is God breathed.

P.P.S – You are very welcome to enjoy these blogs and share them with anyone “without money or price!” However, if you ever feel grateful for these blogs and are able to do so, then please make a donation to Open Doors, Scotland. Their website is

http://www.opendoorsuk.org/scotland

In case you have not heard of them, Open Doors works to help our persecuted brothers and sisters throughout the world.

A couple of testimonies. ENJOY!

A couple of testimonies for you to enjoy – one to watch and one to read!  These are testimonies that have stood the test of time. I have a sort of unspoken principle that it is good to wait for a while before sharing a testimony. I am not sure I have any biblical backing for that, but experience tells me it is not always the best thing to placard soemone’s testimony all over the place right away. It sometimes puts a pressure or an expectation on them that they don’t handle well. I have seen too many people held up as examples of salvation who a year or two down the line are nowhere to be seen,  who may indeed no longer be living for the Lord at all, so that is why I am cautious about the sharing of testimonies. Time shows the genuineness of some things and some genuine plantings of the Lord need time to grow and become established; Paul had some hidden time in Arabia remember.

Andy’s and Jackie’s stories are testimony to the fact that Jesus revelation of His Father’s love and the nearness of His Kingdom’s power and presence was not just for people “then” but  for people “now.” In the precious Name of  Jesus Christ there is real help and real love from a real God for real people with real needs. Hallelujah!

Just click the links!

ANDY!

http://holytrinitywesterhailes.org.uk/Andyhttp://holytrinitywesterhailes.org.uk/Andy

 

JACKIE!

http://www.holytrinitywesterhailes.org.uk/Jackiehttp://holytrinitywesterhailes.org.uk/Jackie

I hope you were as blessed as I was when I watched and read all of this today. If you have been, or even if you haven’t been, here are the words of an old song I remember hearing in my Granny’s house! It was sung by Jim Reeves!! Cheesy? Yes. Sentimental? Undoubtedly… but just because something is cheesy or sentimental does not mean it isn’t wonderfully God honouring, Christ exalting, hope producing and true! The Christian scene is in danger of becoming too cynical and “cool” these days, well that’s what I think anyway, and it’s my blog! So especially for the cynical and cool, the slick and the sophisticated… may you find  your toes uncurl, your fingers unclench…

The chimes of time ring out the news, another day is through
Someone slipped and fell, was that someone you?
You may have longed for added strength your courage to renew
Do not be disheartened, I have news for you

It is no secret what God can do
What he’s done for others he’ll do for you
With arms wide open, he’ll pardon you
It is no secret what God can do

There is no night for in his light you’ll never walk alone
You’ll always feel at home, wherever you may roam
There is no power can conquer you while God is on your side
Take him at his promise, don’t run away and hide

It is no secret what God can do
What he’s done for others he’ll do for you
With arms wide open he’ll pardon you
It is no secret what God can do

God Bless

Kenny

P.S – You are very welcome to enjoy these blogs and share them with anyone “without money or price!” However, if you ever feel grateful for these blogs and are able to do so, then please make a donation to Open Doors, Scotland. Their website is

http://www.opendoorsuk.org/scotland

In case you have not heard of them, Open Doors works to help our persecuted brothers and sisters throughout the world.

Where did the story of “you” really begin?

( N.B. Re-post of an earlier blog: it seems sometimes some don’t receive posts first time round when they are sent – sorry if it is duplication for you!)

The Revd. Eric J. Alexander, in my opinion and in the opinion of many one of the very finest of Scottish expository preachers, used to address us all in my home congregation of St. George’s Tron in Glasgow as “Beloved.” That is one of the very best words he could have used to address believers in Christ. One of Paul’s favourite ways of describing a Christian is that they are people who are “in Christ.” If I am “in Christ,” then what is true of Christ is true of me and true of you if you are in Christ too. So, if He is declared the Beloved, well, in Christ I am the Beloved too, by God’s sheer grace that draws us into Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit. It is nothing to do with my deserving to be called that! The foundation stone of Christianity is Christ and what has been done for us through Him, more than it is about us and what we do.

We seem to be a society which loves to get things the wrong way round: e.g live together and then get married, rather than get married and then live together. Well, in the church I attended before I was converted and decided to go to St. George’s Tron with my school friend Graham Black and my newly converted sister, Sandra, I think they got things in the wrong order too! The preaching seemed to suggest to me as a listener, that Christianity was all about what we were to do. It sounded as though Christ was somewhere vaguely in the background, taking second place in terms of emphasis to teaching about how we should be living in our community, among our neighbours and in the wider world, with all its issues. What the Living Christ is doing now seemed to get scant mention. It didn’t sound as though He existed apart from in His people’s activity on earth in any meaningful or useful sense. Nor did I pick up anything about what He would do in the future, any hint of what is promised in the Bible that on a day the date of which we don’t know, He is going to do something that will make even those considered great in the world ask for the rocks to cover them and hide them from Christ’s presence and activity. As well as not being told what Christ is doing or would do in the future, I certainly was never told of what Jesus had already done, the salvation Jesus had accomplished for me through being wounded for my transgressions. I am not sure why I was never told that; it dumbfounds me and deeply saddens me to this day when I think of it. Perhaps the idea that we are all sinners who need saved, not good people whose goodness gets us into heaven was not thought to be intellectually credible or socially polite. I guess it is pretty offensive to human pride that our sin is so serious in God’s eyes that it required to be paid for by a sacrifice and that we cannot pull ourselves up by our own bootstraps into divine approval and favour; pride of course is the very thing above all things that God says He resists and stands against.

Anyway, in that particular church the emphasis was on us being good people and doing good things. The sad thing was I was not reading the bible in these pre-conversion days. I didn’t even know I was meant to, so I did not know I was listening to very sincere, well prepared but non-biblical baloney from an extremely nice person about whom there was much to admire and respect. I assumed ministers spoke truth from the bible from pulpits and that you never needed to check it out! It was a powerless gospel I heard in these days that had no impact at all upon me, for it was cross-less and therefore Christless in the deepest sense, devoid of the power of God unto salvation. It told me what I was meant to do in terms of living, but never had the courage to tell me I could not do that without a Saviour, without Christ in my life, because only He could rescue me from my sinful nature. It put the cart before the horse. The order of things matters. It is when I know that in Christ I am the Beloved that I will begin to learn to live as such in the world more and more.

I hope you know that God’s Beloved Son has always been God’s Beloved Son. He did not become such when He was born into this world; He did not becomes such at His baptism in the Jordan as some ancient and early heresies taught. God’s Son has always been for all eternity the One who said “Yes” to the Father’s will. As God the Son, He has always brought God the Father great joy. When He came to earth, as George MacDonald put it, He came to do in His outlying provinces through humiliation and suffering what He had always done at home in His heavenly realm, namely to say “Thy will Father, not mine, be done…” Well, according to the Bible, just as Jesus was always the Beloved Son, so in Him all who would believe in Him throughout time, were chosen in Him in eternity before anything was made to be holy, blameless, beloved, before we were ever here or had done (or not done) anything at all. The story of “Kenneth Samuel Borthwick” did not begin 9 months before 27th. September 1958 (well 6 weeks less than that as I was six weeks premature). My story begins in the eternal belovedness of Christ.

I mentioned finding coming across a notebook a couple of days ago, and it has been really interesting to read what I wrote two or three years ago. Let me quote some more sentences from that notebook:

“Jesus seemed to treasure human beings as though they were His lost treasure He came looking for, or a priceless pearl He knew could be sought and found, even if the cost to Him was unfathomable. I guess I want these notes to be about Jesus uncovering the treasure of a human being and showing that to me. Perhaps if I can align myself with His desire to show to me the treasure He finds in this human being, Kenny, I can better help others to allow Jesus to uncover the treasure of their Christ made and Christ redeemed humanity as well. Belovedness is how the score for the dance of creation and time and space began. My belovedness and my being chosen by my Heavenly Father were there before sinfulness. Of course they were, for the One in whom I am chosen and accepted, Christ, was eternally the Chosen and the Beloved of God, the ‘Darling of Heaven.’ Belovedness has always been, for belovedness is an eternal person, Jesus Christ, the Son of God. From this belovedness came everything, for without Christ, the Beloved, was not anything made that has been made.”

“BELOVED!” Have you discovered that word is more than a preacher’s term for addressing his or her flock in sermons? My brothers and sisters in Christ, it is the first word in the story of “you.” Is it the foremost word that you use to describe yourself yet? Paul taught that the promises of blessing God spoke into the world to Abraham came centuries before the laws given through Moses, that of course we all break. However Paul says the promises were there first, not the law and our breaking it! What we need to do therefore, is go back in time beyond all our breaking of the law, of which we are all guilty, to the first word in the story, the word of our belovedness. Have you claimed that “First Love” with which God has loved you? That word before the start of anything cannot be altered. It still holds! I have just read this evening in Psalm 33 verse 4 that “the word of the Lord holds true!” and in verse 10 that “The Lord’s plans stand firm forever; His intentions can never be shaken.” Before the words were uttered into space time “let there be light” there was another eternal word: “Beloved!” It was said of Christ and of you and I in Christ. It holds true! Is it time to stop allowing yourself to be mesmerised and held in chains of condemnation by your own sin and failure or for that matter by the sins and failures of others in relation to you? Why not ask your Heavenly Father to help you to be set free to live as His beloved son or daughter?

All this may sound a bit too theological for some… and no doubt not theological enough, or theologically accurate enough for others! (Just make sure you check it against the bible and not against your theology!) If I have lost you, don’t worry – I have almost lost myself, it is such a long blog! It all leads me to this point and you can hopefully pick things up again here: if you were to write the story of You, would reference to yourself as the Beloved of God occur before any other description of yourself? Paul did not think his testimony concerning Christ began on the road to Damascus. He knew that encounter would never have happened had God not set him apart before his mother knew him, before the world was made. That is where the story of Paul the Apostle began and in Ephesians Chapter 1 he reminds all Christians that is where our story begins too. Why not read that chapter sometime soon?

So, once again, does your understanding of your story begin with your belovedness? Maybe “belovedness” is just as meaningless a word as “love” to some who read this blog. Sadly such is the case for a surprisng number of people from all types of background. If that is true of you, well, it is immensely sad… but it’s ok, you don’t need to despair of ever understanding such concepts and truths by personal experience. Christ knows what love is and He knows what belovedness is. You don’t need to be your own saviour and rescuer. Ask Him to uncover the meaning of these words for and indeed in “you” who, remember, are the treasure and the pearl of great price Jesus looked for and found. If it seems right for you, why not call on His Name and speak with Him about thoughts, emotions, disturbances, thankfulness, joy, doubts, despair or longing that may have arisen as you have read this blog?

God Bless

Kenny

P.S – You are very welcome to enjoy these blogs and share them with anyone “without money or price!” However, if you ever feel grateful for these blogs and are able to do so, then please make a donation to Open Doors, Scotland. Their website is

http://www.opendoorsuk.org/scotland

In case you have not heard of them, Open Doors works to help our persecuted brothers and sisters throughout the world.

Enthralling….

I just loved this when I saw it. I hope it blesses you. Everything springs from knowing I am accepted and loved.

By the way if you want to read an excellent book that relates the bible to our day, get hold of Professor John Lennox’ book on Daniel, “Against the Flow.” You won’t read better!

God bless

Kenny

Where the story of “you” began…

The Revd.  Eric J. Alexander, in my opinion and in the opinion of many one of the very finest of Scottish expository preachers, used to address us all in my home congregation of St. George’s Tron in Glasgow as “Beloved.” That is one of the very best words he could have used to address believers in Christ. One of Paul’s favourite ways of describing a Christian is that they are people who are “in Christ.” If I am “in Christ,” then what is true of Christ is true of me and true of you if you are in Christ too. So, if He is declared the Beloved, well, in Christ I am the Beloved too, by God’s sheer grace that draws us into Christ by  the power of the Holy Spirit. It is nothing to do with my deserving to be called that! The foundation stone of  Christianity is Christ and what has been done for us through Him, more than it is about us and what we do.

We seem to be a society which loves to get things the wrong way round: e.g live together and then get married, rather than get married and then live together. Well, in the church I attended before I was converted and decided to go to  St. George’s Tron with my school friend Graham Black and my  newly converted sister, Sandra,  I think they got things in the wrong order too! The preaching seemed to suggest to me as  a listener, that  Christianity was all about what we were to do. It sounded as though Christ was somewhere vaguely in the background, taking second place in terms of emphasis to teaching about how we should be living in our community, among our neighbours and in the wider world, with all its issues. What the Living Christ is doing now seemed to get scant mention. It didn’t sound as though He existed apart from in His people’s activity on earth in any meaningful or useful sense. Nor did I pick up anything about what He would do in the future, any hint of what is promised in the Bible that on a day the date of which we don’t know, He is going to do something that will make even those considered great in the world ask for the rocks to cover them and hide them from Christ’s presence and activity. As well as not being told what Christ is doing or would do in the future,  I certainly was never told of  what Jesus had already done, the salvation Jesus had accomplished for me through being wounded for my transgressions. I am not sure why I was never told that; it dumbfounds me and deeply saddens me to this day when I think of it. Perhaps the idea that we are all sinners who need saved, not good people whose goodness gets us into heaven was not thought to be intellectually credible or socially polite. I guess it is pretty offensive to human pride that our sin is so serious in God’s eyes that it required to be paid for by a sacrifice and that we cannot pull ourselves up by our own bootstraps into divine approval and favour;  pride of course is the very thing above all things that God says He resists and stands against.

Anyway, in that particular church  the emphasis was on us being good people and doing good things.  The sad thing was I was not reading the bible in these pre-conversion days. I didn’t even know I was meant to, so I did not know I was listening to very sincere, well prepared but non-biblical baloney from an extremely nice person about whom there was much to admire and respect. I assumed ministers spoke truth from the bible from pulpits and that you never needed to check it out! It was a powerless gospel I heard in these days  that had no impact at all upon me, for it was cross-less and therefore Christless in the deepest sense, devoid of the power of God unto salvation.  It told me what I was meant to do in terms of living, but never had the courage to tell me I could not do that without a Saviour, without  Christ in my life, because only He could rescue me from my sinful nature.  It put the cart before the horse. The order of things matters. It is when I know that in Christ I am the Beloved that I will begin to learn to live as such in the world more and more.

I hope you know that God’s Beloved Son has always been God’s Beloved Son. He did not become such when He was born into this world; He did not becomes such at His baptism in the Jordan as some ancient and early heresies taught. God’s Son has always been for all eternity the One who said “Yes” to the  Father’s will. As God the Son, He has always brought God the Father great joy. When He came to earth, as George MacDonald put it, He came to do in His outlying provinces through humiliation and suffering  what He had always done at home  in His heavenly realm, namely to say “Thy will Father, not mine, be done…” Well, according to the Bible, just as Jesus was always the Beloved Son, so in Him all who would believe in Him throughout time,  were chosen in Him in eternity before anything was made  to be holy, blameless, beloved, before we were ever here or had done (or not done) anything at all. The story of  “Kenneth Samuel Borthwick” did not begin 9 months before 27th. September 1958 (well 6 weeks less than that as I was six weeks premature). My story begins in the eternal belovedness of Christ.

I mentioned finding coming across a notebook a couple of days ago, and it has been really interesting to read what I wrote two or three years ago. Let me quote some more sentences from that notebook:

“Jesus seemed to treasure human beings as though they were His lost treasure He came looking for, or a priceless pearl He knew could be sought and found, even if the cost to Him was unfathomable. I guess I want these notes to be about Jesus uncovering the treasure of a human being and showing that to me. Perhaps if I can align myself with His desire to show to me the treasure He finds in this human being, Kenny, I can better help others to allow Jesus to uncover the treasure of their Christ made and Christ redeemed humanity as well. Belovedness is how the score for the  dance of creation and time and space began. My belovedness and my being chosen by my Heavenly Father were there before sinfulness. Of course they were, for the One in whom I am chosen and accepted, Christ, was eternally the Chosen and the Beloved of God, the ‘Darling of Heaven.’ Belovedness has always been, for belovedness is an eternal person, Jesus Christ, the Son of God. From this belovedness came everything, for without Christ, the Beloved,  was not anything made that has been made.”

“BELOVED!” Have you discovered that word is more than a preacher’s term for addressing his or her flock in sermons? My brothers and sisters in Christ, it is the first word in the story of “you.” Is it the foremost word that you use to describe yourself yet?  Paul taught that the promises of blessing God spoke into the world to Abraham came centuries before the laws given through Moses, that of course we all break. However Paul says the promises were there first, not the law and our breaking it! What we need to do therefore, is go back in time beyond all our breaking of the law, of which we are all guilty, to the first word in the story, the word of our belovedness. Have you claimed that “First Love” with which God has loved you?  That word before the start of anything  cannot be altered.  It still holds! I have just read this evening in Psalm 33 verse 4 that “the word of the Lord holds true!” and in verse 10  that “The Lord’s plans stand firm forever; His intentions can never be shaken.”  Before the words were uttered into space time “let there be light” there was another eternal word: “Beloved!” It was said of Christ and of you and I  in Christ. It holds true! Is it time to stop allowing yourself to be mesmerised and held in chains of condemnation by your own sin and failure or for that matter by the sins and failures of others in relation to you? Why not ask your Heavenly Father to help you to be set free to live as His beloved son or daughter?

All this may sound a bit too theological for some… and no doubt not theological enough, or theologically accurate enough for others!  (Just make sure you check it against the  bible and not against your theology!) If I have lost you, don’t worry – I have almost lost myself, it is such a long blog! It all leads me to this point and you can hopefully pick things up again here: if you were to write the story of You, would reference to yourself as the Beloved of God occur before any other description of yourself? Paul did not think his testimony concerning Christ began on the road to Damascus. He knew that encounter would never have happened had God not set him apart before his mother knew him, before the world was made. That is where the story of Paul the Apostle began and in Ephesians Chapter 1 he reminds all Christians that is where our story begins too. Why not read that chapter  sometime soon?

So, once again,  does your understanding of your story begin with your belovedness? Maybe  “belovedness” is just as meaningless a word as “love” to some who read this blog. Sadly such is the case for a surprisng number of people from all types of background. If that is true of you, well, it is  immensely sad… but it’s ok, you don’t need to despair of ever understanding such concepts and truths by personal experience.   Christ knows what love is and He knows what belovedness is. You don’t need to be your own saviour and rescuer. Ask Him to uncover the meaning of these words for and indeed  in “you” who, remember, are the treasure and the pearl of great price Jesus looked for and found. If it seems right for you, why not call on His Name  and speak with Him about thoughts, emotions, disturbances, thankfulness, joy, doubts, despair or longing that may have arisen as you have read this blog?

God Bless

Kenny

P.S – You are very welcome to enjoy these blogs and share them with anyone “without money or price!” However, if you ever feel grateful for these blogs and are able to do so, then please make a donation to Open Doors, Scotland. Their website is

http://www.opendoorsuk.org/scotland

In case you have not heard of them, Open Doors works to help our persecuted brothers and sisters throughout the world.

Shall we dance?

The Church of Scotland in Caithness is pretty short of parish ministers at the moment. There were about 13 of that breed when I answered the call to be minister of St. Peter’s and St. Andrew’s in Thurso in 1989. When I left to come to Edinburgh in January 2005, the shortage was already making itself known. I think there are now only 2 parish ministers one of them being my wonderful long term freind, Rev. David Malcolm whose  Word and Spirit minstry (in my former congregation) is being blessed with the life of God.  I love to hear of God being at work in fresh ways there! The good news  is that there are other forms  of recognised ministry well established in Caithness now as well; the bad news is that they like parish ministers are equally stretched to the limit! These realities made  for an increasingly hectic life towards the end of my time  as a minister in Caithness! One particularly busy week  in 2004 while I was driving to somewhere or other to visit somebody or other, I drove past a man simply sitting in his car in a quiet country road eating his sandwiches. He looked very relaxed, indeed annoyingly relaxed!  The place where he had parked his car had no particular scenic beauty. Somehow there was a pang released from deep within me as I thought of the glorious freedom of driving to no destination; the freedom of not having to get anywhere by a particular time for a specific purpose, but rather enjoying any given moment of the journey fully.

As I look back on my recently rediscovered notebook that I came across and mentioned in yesterday’s blog, I can see that what I felt all these years ago, clearly persisted as a spiritual desire into more recent years and indeed into the present. Here is an excerpt from my notes, amended a bit to help more than me to understand my thoughts:

“I think I want this notebook to be filled with thoughts from times in which my heart and God’s heart have danced together, run beside each other, not needing to get to any conclusion or finishing line, for the dancing  together and the running together are a sufficient end in themselves. I suppose the notebooks of ministers should be full of thoughts about God, but I think these notes will be more about my trying to find out what it means to be truly human by remembering times when God seemed to draw near to help my human feet to dance, to run, to walk, to  rest and to recover.  At some such times of revelation and understanding I have felt “I could have danced all night”;  at times  the steps have been painful as I seek to follow the lead of God in the dance of true humanity. However, if I think about that properly , the discovery of what it truly means to be human should lead to know God better and to being lost in wonder, love and praise, for as Irenaeus said, ‘The glory of God is a human being fully alive.’ The knowledge of God and the knowledge of me are linked.”

Are you a stranger to you? I’m not sure how many people truly know me; maybe you have felt the same about yourself at times. However, neither  am I sure  that I truly allow God to help me know myself.  I somehow think I know more about Jesus than I know about me. At times I know Paul’s thoughts on things with greater accuracy than I know and understand my own mind.  He is less of a stranger to me than I am to me in some ways at least. I am sure  of this however: I am not the only one who could use  Paul’s words, “I do not understand myself.”

I guess that in some shape or form ministers often ask the question, “Do you know God?” It’s the sort of predictable  thing that ministers like me ask.  I think I want to ask you today, “Do you know yourself?” Neither of these questions can stand alone. May our knowledge of God and our knowledge of ourselves run together.

By the way, I hope you believe that you are worth getting to know.

God Bless

Kenny

P.S – You are very welcome to enjoy these blogs and share them with anyone “without money or price!” However, if you ever feel grateful for these blogs and are able to do so, then please make a donation to Open Doors, Scotland. Their website is

http://www.opendoorsuk.org/scotland

In case you have not heard of them, Open Doors works to help our persecuted brothers and sisters throughout the world.

I like what I found on “Page 3.”

I came across a notebook of some thoughts from 2 or 3 years back. It interested me that its opening pencil written pages chime with what I think I am trying to do in these blogs, although these blogs were never even on the horizon of my thinking at the time. Maybe seeds were being planted for a new form of ministry. Reading what I wrote back then clarified things for me and helped me to understand the chapter in my life I have now reached. As an Evangelical I think a lot about salvation through the cross of Christ. As a Charismatic I think of how the Kingdom of God might break into a life or a situation through the ministry of the Holy Spirit. However, without  abandoning either of these theological camps, I do feel there was something lacking in how I carried their truths. I am not sure there was enough place in my thinking for “Humanness”. On page 3 of the said notebook I found I had written this phrase: “The unearthing of our belovedness is the birth of truest humanness.

I think that perhaps for a couple of blogs I will retrace my own thoughts and how I got to that thought on page 3, unless I sense the Wind blowing in another direction.  It began with the notebook itself. It was a gift from my daughter Sarah. I liked everything about it; its colour, the spacing of its lines; the off white-pages; it’s unusual size; its newness; its quality feel. Here is the interesting thing: my delight and appreciation of a notebook seemed to release a whole stream of thought about God. I reached for my favourite pencil and started to write and the thoughts continued to flow and flow. I sensed the Holy Spirit. I sensed His joy in what was happening.

I don’t know quite how to put this accurately, but I know the thoughts I was thinking had their source in the Word of God (I was reading John 4 at the time) and the help of the Holy Spirit. However I am 100% convinced of this too: these thoughts would not have flowed as easily if I had not been holding my favourite pencil and writing in my lovely new notebook whose empty pages I was beginning to write on with trembling excitement. It was as though the Holy Spirit was sharing in my delight at such things. It actually seemed as though He was enjoying my delight in my new notebook. I wrote this: “Perhaps my galloping thoughts are being carried along by the wind of God’s  laughing delight in what I am finding delight in. The joy I feel, feels way our of proportion to the pencil and notebook. It is the joy of The God of Life being with a human being enjoying being a human being with particular quirks and eccentricities. He seems to be here with me, rejoicing in such simple delights which were they shared or expressed with another could lead to warm laughter or cynical ridicule, depending on the heart of the listener or observer.

I hope that as I share my quirks and eccentricities with you they might be met my your warm laughter. If they make you cynical towards me, then a suggestion: don’t read my blog any more.

This is a blog for those who acknowledge human sinfulness, human fragility, human capabilities into which  the Living God of mercy comes, who rejoices in saving human beings and revealing to them their belovedness. It is about a God who laughs with warmth at the fact that a new notebook helps a man and a minister think thoughts about God with a greater flow of Holy Spirit joy and freedom than would happen with a different pencil and different paper.

A notebook, a pencil… (an electric bike)… these open new vistas for me. They are life giving. Do you even know what is life giving for you? Are you in touch at all with the quirks and eccentricities that God put in you when He made you and which He delights in even if others might find them a bit odd?

Someone asked me a very helpful question on Monday of this week: helping me think towards my official retirement date, which is coming along on the 1st. September, they asked me what sort of things I would like to do come September. I confess that question caused a seismic shift in my thinking which I have not yet fully processed. Up until that wise question was asked, my only thoughts had been what I “should” or “ought” to do or “might be able to do” come that  date. What I might “like” to do was not really in my thinking: I had to honestly say that I could not answer their question because I had not thought in these terms. Sad! It is starting to strike me though, that I might get to know God more deeply by finding His joyful presence and warm laughter in me being my created and redeemed me and doing things I like doing, “against which there is no law”… that nobody but Him may quite get.

Friend have you lost touch with the “you” God made and redeemed you to be? Is life all “oughts’”and “shoulds”? You may even be in full time paid ministry and read this blog; is there space in your week for doing what you ‘’like” doing, the things that would be true re-creation, because the God who created you for His good pleasure waits for you there… and He loves you and even likes you?

God bless

Kenny

P.S – You are very welcome to enjoy these blogs and share them with anyone “without money or price!” However, if you ever feel grateful for these blogs and are able to do so, then please make a donation to Open Doors, Scotland. Their website is

http://www.opendoorsuk.org/scotland

In case you have not heard of them, Open Doors works to help our persecuted brothers and sisters throughout the world.

“God made me, but he also made me slowish…”

I have mentioned before I have an electric bike. A “normal” bike is beyond my capacity. However my joy in riding it, is tempered by an overwhelming need to explain myself every time I pass someone I know who knows I have stepped down from being a parish minister. I feel I have to stop and explain my healthy tan is partly not healthy but medication caused, explain it is an electric bike, explain it is much easier than walking, following that up with an explanation of hypersensitivity pneumonitis and its effects and what I can and cannot do because of it. Well, (drum roll and trumpet) I have decided I am not going to stop and explain myself any longer. “Fear of man is a snare.” The Bible tells us that so it shouldn’t surprise us  that it is true! It not only stops us from obeying God but even enjoying God. You see, to parody a famous line from a famous film, “God made me, but he also made me sort of slowish, but when I am whizzing along effortlessly on my electric bike, I feel His pleasure!” I enjoy Him enjoying me on my bike which His goodness has provided. Is the fear of man ensnaring you and stopping you enjoying God in some way or another? If it is you have forgotten why you exist. As every Presbyterian knew 2 or 3 generations ago, at least by rote if not by experience, “Man’s chief end  is to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever.” I love these first words in answer to the first question of the Shorter Catechism. It soon gets a bit heavier, even though it tells us helpful truth, in what it means by enjoying God! You will not read a mention of enjoying God while on an electric bike, or drinking coffee and reading a book in Starbucks.

These thoughts, along with the previous blog, “It’s raining!”are being written  on a day when I feel God has been setting me free from wrong thinking about God, about me, and about other people. Please don’t be offended if I whizz past you without explanation. While I am at it, I  changed my car about six months ago. I now have my retirement car, an Alfa Romeo. I may just zoom whizz past you in that too. If I see you looking with the merest hint of disapproval or sense the questioning you may have about that, I will just slip it into “dynamic mode” and zoom past you all the quicker. Perhaps when I do, I will sense not only God’s joy but even His laughter.

God bless

Kenny

P.S – You are very welcome to enjoy these blogs and share them with anyone “without money or price!” However, if you ever feel grateful for these blogs and are able to do so, then please make a donation to Open Doors, Scotland. Their website is

http://www.opendoorsuk.org/scotland

In case you have not heard of them, Open Doors works to help our persecuted brothers and sisters throughout the world.

It’s raining!

I guess what you notice in the Bible can change according to what is going on in your life at any given moment. I remember a time when I was very aware of the joy of he Lord and found myself at a ministers’ fraternal where one of my ministerial brethren remarked to us how he had been reading  the Psalms  and how full of mourning and lament they were. I had to stifle a nervous inappropriate laugh because I had been reading Psalms too at the same time and what I was noticing was how full of joy they were! So, what we are living through can influence what the Holy Spirit brings to our attention.

Well, I noticed something yesterday that I know I have  read many times before but never noticed. In the book of Ezra we read of a serious breach of God’s law. Ezra the scribe has gathered all the people before him and telling them what must be done in order to show repentance. In Chapter 9 verse 9 we read this of that gathering: “They were trembling both because of the seriousness of the matter …and because it was raining.” If it was not such a serious moment that last phrase is almost a bit Monty Python-esque. Once that thought had entered my head I almost found I had to quench a nervous inappropriate laugh yet again as I imagined a thin and bedraggled spokesman of the people nervously speaking to the fiery Ezra, saying in the words of verse  13, “This isn’t something that can be done in a day or two…. and this is the rainy season so we cannot stay out here much longer.

The interesting thing is though, that this was not dismissed as an illegitimate thought in the face of the serious business with God that had to be done. There is something in me that expects Ezra to say, “Stay in the rain, you rebels and law-breakers. How dare you even notice the rain when you have done what you have done!” As I write that I remember reading accounts of people standing in the rain in times of Revival to listen to the Word of God, or lying face down in ditches full of snow, afraid to move because of the presence of God and the conviction of their own sinfulness. There are times when that is a right response. However, in this instance in the book of Ezra, the simple fact that it was  very wet was taken into consideration.

I noticed that and I am glad I did because of my own story of the last few years. I am growing to appreciate more and more Almighty God’s regard for humanness in both its capabilities and its vulnerabilities. In fact in many ways I am more tough on myself because of human realities than God is. He regards my struggle with health issues, my struggle to come to terms with change with great tenderness: of that I am a hundred percent sure. I get frustrated with myself, and am quite liable to speak harshly to myself in contrast to God’s incredible kindness to me. My attitude to me does not always help me progress through this time of transition.

So then, a question for you to think about with me today.  Do you need to be kinder to your humanness? Do you need to give up unwarranted self criticism or condemnation?  I am so grateful for three folk who helped me  onwards in that very journey today; they inpsired this blog (thank you A, M and L.). Without their words to me, you would not be reading these words. They all gave me life giving thoughts to think about. Through God helping them to help me I hope this blog might be God helping me to help you.

God Bless

Kenny

P.S – You are very welcome to enjoy these blogs and share them with anyone “without money or price!” However, if you ever feel grateful for these blogs and are able to do so, then please make a donation to Open Doors, Scotland. Their website is

http://www.opendoorsuk.org/scotland

In case you have not heard of them, Open Doors works to help our persecuted brothers and sisters throughout the world.

Slow to learn…

Well, a brief blog tonight.  Some of you will have prayed for me today! Please don’t worry if you haven’t. Don’t feel remotely accused! However, because I shared in a blog yesterday that I was going for routine tests today, I know from responses  that some of you did pray and probably more than let me know. Two precious friends also prayed with me this morning. How blessed I am! I cannot think of any greater blessing than knowing you are being prayed for by somebody somewhere. Thank you! Well, God was indeed with me in my visit to the hospital for the said tests. I know He always is but He helped me to be  tangibly aware of His presence, which doesn’t happen to me every day. It was precious.

I find these regular  breathing tests remind me that all is still not right with my lungs, so on the day when they come around yet again, I do feel a bit vulnerable. The amount of breathing in and  out I have to do as various measurements and volumes etc are taken, make me feel quite tired and a bit shaky. Well, they did so again today, but right at the point I was aware of the onset of that weakness and the feeling of fragility that goes with it, I was very aware of the presence of God; His powerful and yet gentle presence. I wondered if I was imagining it. Fortunately that wondering was not judged as unbelief, as the same blessing came again 5 seconds later. The sense of tiredness and weakness still persisted, but the felt love of God toward me was so reassuring.

I know that God was yet again showing me what has probably been my most oft repeated message in these blogs;  that you and I can find His presence in weakness. I am saying nothing new in this blog and yes, I know all believers in Christ know that  truth in theory, but I can share through the experience not just of today but of the last year or two that it is really really true. My good and godly friend Rev. David Malcolm shared a dream with me on Monday, part of which was God just running His hand through my hair in a reassuring way. When he told me that on Monday  morning, I felt the same presence as I felt today. I think despite many opportunities, I am still learning what I have been learning for months. Maybe it takes time to learn some precious truth; maybe I am a slow learner; maybe it just takes time to learn to walk a new path; just maybe it is to become my new main message to share in days to come, however that sharing happens.

I leave you these words from Psalm 139 verse 5, which  I love. Perhaps you should read them a few times and think about them in the private place of your own heart:

“You go before me and follow me. You place your hand of blessing upon my head.”

God bless

Kenny

P.S – You are very welcome to enjoy these blogs and share them with anyone “without money or price!” However, if you ever feel grateful for these blogs and are able to do so, then please make a donation to Open Doors, Scotland. Their website is

http://www.opendoorsuk.org/scotland

In case you have not heard of them, Open Doors works to help our persecuted brothers and sisters throughout the world.

A question to consider…

It is late at night. It would be wiser of me to leave posting this blog until tomorow to ensure more people read it, but tomorrow has got me thinking. I head off for some routine tests at the hospital and then a week from now have a consultant’s appointment. A doctor in our congregation gave me this good advice over a year ago: “When a consultant or a doctor asks you, ‘How are you?’, they are not just extending a greeting! They really want to know and need you to tell them.” Being a typical male, I really needed to hear that obvious truth and since then have tried not to give an evasive, polite or useless one word answer in response to that question when it comes from a doctor or a consultant: “Fine.” I try and remember now what is truly behind the question.

Thinking of that, I was remembering Dr. Jack Deere saying that when God walked in the garden and called out “Adam, where are you?”, He was not asking for directions! There is more to the question than that, for after all you don’t need to tell an omniscient God where anybody is!

“Where are you?” I guess there is a link with the thought of yesterday’s blog about keeping in step with the Holy Spirit. I found myself today feeling sad about people I have known over the years who once did exactly that, but something happened. There is probably no greater sadness for a pastor.  Did they lost their first love? Were they ever born of the Spirit? Did they begin with the Spirit but through some spiritual influence or other, return to the flesh or even to a fleshly religion – a religion of rules, and formalism with no living relationship with the  Life-Reorganising-Disturber-of-false-peace-and-quiet Holy Spirit? I don’t know, and fortunately it is not for me to say, but it is sad. Indeed it is more than that. It is tragic. I feel so bad not only when I think of such people but even more  so when I meet them as I do from time to time. I find it difficult to know what to say to them….

“Is Kenny  thinking of me when he writes that?” Well actually I am thinking of about 8 people by name. You might well be one of them but please don’t write and ask if you are one of the 8!

I leave you and myself with this  simple yet cavernously deep question found on the lips of God Himself: “Where are you?” Perhaps through this blog, deep will call to deep.

Kenny

You can miss a moment that may never come again…

Woke with a thought that had a sense of urgency attached to it. Simply this: the Bible tells us that we are to keep in step with the Spirit. The Bible does not say the Spirit will keep in step with us. Grace enables us to move with God as He leads us , it does not make us presume God will move with us as though we were in charge of Him.

It is possible for us to miss moments of opportunity by presuming they will come around again. Blind Bartimaeus was given a window of opportunity to cry out to Jesus. He took it with gusto and was healed. Jesus never came that way again.

These thoughts are not shared to panic you, but to remind us of the need to be  humble, meek and alert. I look back and see moments of opportunity that I let pass and they never came again. I find that a fearful thought, but let me remind you that fear of the Lord is good, it is the beginning of wisdom. Be alert to God. He is God, you and I are not. To borrow a thought from Dr. R.T. Kendall, adjust to The Dove and don’t presume that  The Dove will adjust to you. Keep in step with the Spirit today. Move at His pace and in His diretion,not your pace in your direction, or even your pace in His direction. It does worry me a bit, that some of the stuff I see posted online sounds very nice and is said with great authority and conviction and sincerity but has not one shred of biblical backing and yet thousands “like” these things!

I don’t judge anyone’s heart but sometimes when I hear  some preaching which squares with nothing in the Bible,  I wonder if the person preaching  has ever really met with Almighty God as He is rather than a God they have constructed according to their own life story or constructed according to their own image or their own needs. The true God is the God who has revealed Himself through creation, through conscience (though conscience is not always reliable for our conscience can be seared), but supremely through the Biblical events and writings surrounding the Jewish race and in and through the Lord Jesus Christ and His personally appointed Apostles rather than any Apostles who came after them but who may carry that title and gifting. That revelation must be the standard by which I judge everything I say about God if I teach in His Name and everything I hear as I listen and every spiritual experience. To speak about God is an awesome responsibility. Basically, the heresy of the day seems to be it is all about me and God accomodating Himself to me for my needs sake. Well, He has indeed accommodated Himself to us. He became a human being. He cares and understands human needs and can indeed say to us as to Bartimaeus, “What do you want me to do for you?” Remember though, He is the Lord and you and I are not!  So much that I see and hear these days seems to have no regard for the Sovereignty of God: God has to hang around making no demands upon us; He must always tell us we are in the right and is not allowed to tell us when we are in the wrong.

It may be we have to wait a generation before the wrong emphasis dies out, which is sad, but it may be realistic, given the hold of all the lovely soft and squidgy marshmallow me-centred theology and preaching and an emphasis on creating atmosphere and the emotional release all of that can bring – which is actually quite a good thing, but does not necessarily mean that anything worthwhile has happened spiritually. Reading the Bible does not guarantee we will keep in step with the Spirit, but we can’t keep in step with the Spirit without the Bible’s truth. Remember the Holy Spirit is not the only spirit around. It is possible to listen to a spirit other than the Holy Spirit and be content with a spirituality that other spirit may offer to us. Please don’t replace your own responsibility to learn what God’s Word teaches and settle for spoon feeding by those who may or may not be good teachers of the Word of God. Billy Graham’s ministry changed lives because he could say with great conviction, “The Bible says…”  My life was impacted in the days leading up to my conversion because leaders at an S.U camp told me bible verses I had never read or heard before.  I heard them for what they were. The words seemed to carry unquestionable power and authority as I heard them. I received them for what they seemed unquestionably to me to be,  the Word of God.  For me, as I listened it was a bit like what happened to Lydia as she listened to Paul: The Lord simply “opened my heart” to the words I was listening to. I received them “with power and in the Holy Spirit and with much assurance.” I remember them to this day. It was wonderful to hear from one of my congregation of more young lives being deeply impacted at S.U. camps this year.

Sadly one can listen to many preachers in the liberal wing of the church but also in the charismatic/evangelical sectors too at the moment and actually in a whole talk they never refer to the bible but just to their own beliefs and home spun ideas about God or God’s Kingdom.  Yet such teaching is often given more authority than the bible. They are their own authority for what they say, which is exceedingly dangerous ground. The bible tells us that not many should desire to become teachers, because teachers will be judged more severely than others. A teaching gifting which becomes a role in the church  is something that according to the bible requires hard study so that the word of truth is correctly divided for people. Let me ask you: do you remember a single bible verse from last Sunday at church, or a gimmick, an atmosphere a story  and a soundbite? I was really blessed to be at Holy Trinity, Wester Hailes, yesterday (Sunday) to hear Rev. Shirley Fraser preach and teach the Word of God. Today I am remembering what she so wonderfully and clearly taught and helped us to apply to living from the Sermon on The Mount, but I am remembering too the very words of Christ that Shirley’s teaching was based upon. Thank you Shirley! Your faithfulness to the text of the Bible will help me  and others to keep in step with the Spirit in the days of this week and beyond.

Keep in step with the Spirit. I hope and pray that I do too.

God bless

Kenny

P.S – You are very welcome to enjoy these blogs and share them with anyone “without money or price!” However, if you ever feel grateful for these blogs and are able to do so, then please make a donation to Open Doors, Scotland. Their website is

http://www.opendoorsuk.org/scotland

In case you have not heard of them, Open Doors works to help our persecuted brothers and sisters throughout the world.

We have all said it….

We all say it; it just slips out even if we know we shouldn’t say it: “I know how you feel. I remember when I went through….I felt just like you.” It is a sort of well intentioned but fateful phrase. The trouble is that even if we have been through something similar we don’t know exactly how a person with another make up or another life story feels when facing something that perhaps does indeed look and sound similar.

Is this going against the accepted and precious Christian truth that what we go through in terms of difficult experiences can help us to help others? Not at all, that is biblically true; but we need to clarify what we mean by that. We do not mean that someone else’s pain makes an opening for me to speak of mine to them…that may add another burden on to an already burdened person. Rather, the way it is meant to work, is that we carry this attitude: “I have tasted the fragility of the human experience, and that experience means I want to offer my life as a place of hospitality to you; I clear my stuff out of the way, to allow you room to unpack yours. I want my life to be a safe place where you can speak the unspeakable and say what you have never felt it was safe to say.”

It is not surprising that in the gospels we find some wonderful examples of this in the life and ministry of Jesus, the Saviour. He shared our fragility; He had to bear many wounds before the wounding of the cross; yet somehow that experienced fragility and wounding created a safe place for the woman at the well to say, “I have no husband,”; space was cleared for Zaccheus to say, “If I have wronged anyone out of any money….”

I am not asking that we de-skill ourselves of what life in Christ and indeed Christ in life has helped us to learn, but it is how we use that skill and learning that matters. Elihu, the youngest of Job’s “comforters” says to him, “Job, you and I are the same…” I don’t think so! Had Elihu lived as long as Job; had he seen as much of life; had he lost a wife; had his children been wiped out by sudden tragedy; had he become covered with agonising sores; had his suffering become the object of theological debate; had he been accused wrongly? There is no evidence that Elihu had shared any of these experiences that Job had lived through.

I think it was Henry Nouwen, drawing on an old legend,  who said that you would recognise the Messiah and be able to distinguish him from other people by this; He would be unwrapping His wounds one by one and binding them up, ready to put himself and His woundedness at the service of others. “We may not know, we cannot tell what pains he had to bear…” partly because the cross is unfathomable, but partly because He carries that pain in precisely the right way; to make a safe place where we can uncover our wounds.

May God bless you and I to put the stories and the story of our life to use by allowing God to use it all in the right way to  bless others.

…and to all to whom I personally have said too quickly “I know how you feel”… please accept my apologies.

God bless

Kenny

P.S – You are very welcome to enjoy these blogs and share them with anyone “without money or price!” However, if you ever feel grateful for these blogs and are able to do so, then please make a donation to Open Doors, Scotland. Their website is

http://www.opendoorsuk.org/scotland

In case you have not heard of them, Open Doors works to help our persecuted brothers and sisters throughout the world.

Let me share a prayer…

I am not sure why so often we have to go to rock bottom in someway or other before we discover God, or before we experience His help and touch in a fresh way. It is not mandatory!  Sometimes over the years I have seen people preventing a family member or just someone they care about from reaching there, but there are times when actually stepping in can stop a person coming to a place of reality they need to come to. There are times when the descent seems to need to happen before a person “comes to themself” like in the story of the Prodigal Son and faces truth. We can discover God on the heights  of joy and thankfulness as well as in the depths  or indeed anywhere inbetween, and we need to remember that. However, finding God at rock bottom is a common experience.

The thing is, we cannot pretend to have reached that point. I’ve tried to pretend I am there when I have almost been there because of some issues or circumstances, but you can’t fool God by using the right words!  Equally and sadly I have seen people bringing great torment  and degradation upon themselves and harming those around them and have thought, “Surely they cannot go lower than this” only to be proved wrong. They could indeed sink to a lower place still and did so. Sometimes in some circumstances over the years I have said to God “I can’t take any more of this.” Actually in all but one or two occasions I knew that wasn’t true! On the one or two occasions when it was true and I genuinely  was at the place of being able to take no more, He really did step in to show Himself as Almighty God. What He did was so fearful and dramatic on those occasions that I can hardly tell you about it.  If I did tell you about it, well, it just would not come across right. Suficient to say I have discovered that God takes His own Word seriously, when he says, Touch not my anointed ones: do my prophets no harm!  (Psalm 105 verse 15.) He always remains faithful to the values of His own word.

God knows when we are mouthing the words, “Lord, I am at rock bottom” and when we really mean that – even without using the words.

I found a prayer in my notebook which I had copied down, probably a year or two ago, but sadly did not write the source of it. I felt I was to simply pass it on in this blog. Please don’t rush to reassure me as if this prayer is representative of where I am at this moment. Actually, at this moment, I am not at rock bottom, and hopefully many of you are not there either. I could not get away from this prayer though as I thought about today’s blog. It is specifically for those who have come to rock bottom concerning their own selves:

Self importance? Self worthlessness? I’v covered both boxes today. In fact I’ve rounded them several times, and yes, they both have everything to do with me and nothing to do with you. I confess to you, Crucified One, that I’ve grown really tired of myself. Like a sponge that’s reached its limit, I’ve absorbed too much of myself: I can’t take any more. Yet, here in this bog of isolated alienation, You love me. Give me strength to let you love me. I really can’t take any more of myself.

Spiritually this describes a place that is painful and yet holds such promise.

You might not need to pray this prayer today, but tuck it away; it may come in handy one day.

(Thank you to Brenda Robson who has written to say the prayer is from “Dear Abba, Morning and Evening Prayer” by Brennan Manning)

God Bless

Kenny

P.S – You are very welcome to enjoy these blogs and share them with anyone “without money or price!” However, if you ever feel grateful for these blogs and are able to do so, then please make a donation to Open Doors, Scotland. Their website is

http://www.opendoorsuk.org/scotland

In case you have not heard of them, Open Doors works to help our persecuted brothers and sisters throughout the world.

You can’t make me do it!

For some reason today I found myself thinking tonight about what Christ alone can do for us. When I look around the Christian scene today I see lots of interesting work going on which probably falls into the category of being salt and light in the world in some way; it is about extending  the influence of Christ and Kingdom of God ways to bless human life and community and society and endeavour. In a way that I don’t remember being quite as obviously the case back in the 70’s when I was saved, look around and you can find a Christian somewhere or a Christian ministry either overtly or covertly offering a course on anything from healthy living to helping you to be a better leader or businessman.  There are  marriage courses and parenting courses and money handling courses which are Christian in basis and operation but which will enrich the lives of non Christian marriages and families too.  I am all for that.  They should be part of the life of a congregation or Christian group  within their community. It is all part of God’s common grace towards a world that has lost its way. I genuinely think it is great that such things are happening.

It is aways good though, to keep the main thing the main thing. What is it that Christ alone can do for us? Was it His priority to teach about the sorts of things mentioned in my opening paragraph?  God cares about all aspects of living and Christ enriches every good and worthwhile and righteous human endeavour, but one does not need to be a Christian to thrive in these areas. So what is it that Christ uniquely came to do in lives that have received Him, regardless of the ways in which we may then serve Him in the world around us?

Well, I can think of several ways of answering that question: He came to reveal His  Father and said no one but He could do that; He  came to be one with us in our humanness; He came as an offering for human sin and to bear the punishment that would bring us peace; He came to give us everlasting life here and now and to conquer the grave.  He is unique in all these ways. My concern is that the main things become put on the back burner or are even concealed by other good things.

What I was most thinking of today however, in terms of the uniqueness of Jesus Christ, is  the fact that having been a slave of sin, according to the clear teaching of the bible, through Christ Crucified and Risen  I can become a slave of righteousness with no obligation at all to my old sinful nature to walk in the ways of sin. Jesus makes it possible not only to be forgiven, but to walk in victory over sin’s power. Sin can claim no entitlement from me which I am obliged to give. I don’t need to sin. This is the freedom released at the cross of Christ, where I was crucified with Him. Jesus gives the power to live as a child of God.

It is easy to look all around these days and see a culture of entitlement destroying people’s human dignity. I absolutely believe in the Welfare Sate and deplore the remotest vilification of those for whom such a thing literally is a god-send in the face of such things as unemployment or insufficient income or in the face of sickness or disability of one kind or another.  I am glad too that we still have a National health Service and would hate to be part of a Britain where that was a thing of historical memory only,  where medical care was dependent on you being able to pay your way. However, there is no doubt in my mind, especially since I came to Wester Hailes that living with an entitlement outlook is not a good thing. It can be a crippling thing. If I feel entitled, then there must always be those who I feel are obliged to supply that entitlement.When that becomes our way of living it is so easy to live as though the world owes me, or somebody owes me, or the church owes me; that can lead to huge bitterness, rage and frustration. It can stop a person taking responsibility for their own life.

If anyone is in Christ, then in union with Him they have died to sin and been raised to a new life. We no longer owe sin or the sinful nature our service. I wonder if that is a truth you need to put faith in as much as that Christ died to pay the penalty of our sin? Christian life begins at the point of realising Jesus died for me, that we are saved not by what we can do, by being good, doing good works or even doing a better than average job at keeping God’s commandments, but by what He has done. If you have persevered with reading these blogs at all, you are probably among those who can say, ”Yes, I believe that. In fact I am staking all my hopes of eternal life upon that.” However have you believed with equal faith that at the cross you died with Christ and rose with Him to a new life where sin shall no longer be your master? I think what I am encouraging you to do is to ask your Heavenly Father to help you believe that and to help you live it. Sometimes it seems that sin has a rampant power in our lives. I have found it to be simply but powerfully effective to remind myself, “Kenny, you died. You do not need to do this.” That truth when I remember it has a power like an emergency brake on a runaway train.

Child of God, are you facing strong temptation right now, whatever shape or form that is taking? It may be that there is a strong pull on you to do something this very night or day that you know a follower of Jesus should not do.  Does it seem to you an inevitability that you will give in? YOU DON’T HAVE TO. Announce to yourself and to the temptation and to whatever or whoever may be behind that temptation that actually you do not need to do this.

You have probably looked to the cross of Jesus and seen Jesus dying for you as your representative and substitute.  Is it time to look at the cross again and see you dying there in Him?

Be sure of this, if you refuse to feed and clothe sin, if you refuse to give it a home, that is only right. You have no obligation to feed, clothe or warmly welcome it at all.  It may be when you try and resist, sin will cry out all the more fiercely, ‘’Feed me, water me, pay attention to me.” Refuse to listen to its angry or even its pitiful cries. I say again, you  and I have no obligation to sin; it has no entitlement it can claim from someone who is born again to a new life in Christ. We do however have an obligation to the One who loved us and gave Himself for us, who can train us and help us to walk in His righteousness and victory.

It has become a sort of mantra today that the prophetic role of the church is to speak truth to power. I think that is true , at least in part. However, let’s  not just do that simply in terms of speaking truth to governments, or society or national life:  the Christian church can be quite good at doing that, especially when on the bigger world scene it has such leaders as the present Archbishop of Canterbury or Pope Francis. Let’s remember to bring that principle of speaking truth to power much nearer home.  May God help us speak the truth of Christ our Liberator to the sinful nature, our former dictator, telling it that it has been slain in my life. Let’s remember too that in the bigger scheme of things, sin itself is on the way out for we are heading towards a new heaven and a new earth where righteousness dwells. 

It might be you would find it helpful to follow up this blog by reading Romans Chapter 5 – 8 in the near future. Ask God for faith to believe what you read about yourself there.

God Bless

Kenny

P.S – You are very welcome to enjoy these blogs and share them with anyone “without money or price!” However, if you ever feel grateful for these blogs and are able to do so, then please make a donation to Open Doors, Scotland. Their website is

http://www.opendoorsuk.org/scotland

In case you have not heard of them, Open Doors works to help our persecuted brothers and sisters throughout the world.

“PRAY IT WON’T HAPPEN IN WINTER…”

Sometimes these blogs arise out of simply musing on something that I feel the blessing of God resting upon on any given day, but sometimes I do feel God indicates with real clarity what I have to write about. I am part of the charismatic tribe, though there is much talk at present in that fold that I cannot hold my hand on my heart and agree with. As charismatics we can often erroneously think that with the help of the gifts of the Holy Spirit we should be able to see everything clearly, but Paul in the context of teaching about spiritual gifts and encouraging us to seek them, says in 1st. Corinthians Chapter 13  that even with all the gifts we see as in a mirror (in those days, polished metal or a piece of glass which gave at best a partial reflection). Real clarity does not seem to be the norm; clarity  about some things perhaps, but not always about everything. Truest and fullest  clarity lies beyond this life.

I have known a few moments of astonishing clarity when God has told me people’s names by the Holy Spirit on rare occasions or on equally rare occasions given me a sort of video clip in my mind’s eye of something that a person I am speaking to may have been doing earlier on that very day. (To be honest, such clarity scared me whatever it did to the folks I was speaking with!) Such clarity seems to come when it comes and not always when I wish it would – in fact it hardly ever comes when I wish it would and has usually come at times and in settings where I wish it wouldn’t, as I know it might not be well received. Such moments do not thrill me, but rather give me another grey hair. I have however said to God back in the mid 90’s, “Whatever, with whoever, whenever and however You will, work in me by Your Spirit to bless people.” Makes me think we should be careful about what we vow or ask; that could be the subject of another blog someday. Some of you might find your  minds drifting now to the disturbing story of Jephthah in the Old Testament; if they haven’t gone there, leave finding out about him until another day. Actually, I felt the fear of the Lord after writing that last comment; but I will leave it in so that you know my thinking is imperfect and sometimes wrong. I have no right to counsel delay, so I will just give a warning if you feel drawn to that particular story by God’s Spirit: if  you read it, it may shake you and disturb your peace: there are some disturbing stories in the bible which of course is all God-breathed through the varying contributions of its writers.

I guess if there was clarity all the time, then our relationship with God would suffer. There would be no need to trust, no need for faith. Our relationship with Him could become impersonal and robotic and our “spiritual lives” would shrink. I felt however today that when I asked the Lord about the blog, He took me back a few years to my Father’s death. In the year or two preceding his death there had been several times when it looked as though the end of his life was near, only for him to rally again. However the time came when driving to Ayr once more,  I really did hear the Lord with clarity: He simply said, “Kenny, I am sending you to close your Father’s eyes.” I knew that it was time for my wonderful Dad to leave us and go and be with Jesus; the Jesus whose sin bearing death He loved to sing about; the Jesus about whom he had borne witness to hospital staff even a day or two before he passed away, asking them, “Do you know Jesus? You can know Him too. He wants to be our friend.”

Why write about this? Well, I think what my Heavenly Father wants me to share is this: the fact that on that occasion God spoke to me with unusual clarity about His will and purpose for my Dad, did not mean there was nothing for me to do. It did not mean there was nothing to pray. Along with other members of the family I prayed  for the peace and the presence of God to be with him, and when the end came it was very quiet and very peaceful, a sad but holy and precious moment.  Knowing God’s Will is not meant to produce inactivity. “The Will of God” is not the same as fatalism which makes our activity and input irrelevant.

I noted not long ago that when Jesus spoke in Mark 13 about the judgement that was coming upon Jerusalem, He added this word of counsel: “Pray that it won’t happen in winter.” (Mark Chapter 13 verse 8.) In the purposes of God, judgement was coming, but that did not mean there was no room for people to pray. Jesus was saying that people’s prayers could affect how and when the will of God, and the purposes of God were worked out. God wills it to be so. I find that amazing!

I hope you are living by active faith in the will of God and are not guilty of the charge of believing in “fate.” Accepting the will of God is not fatalism. In fact I believe there is no place for a belief in fate when we have a relationship with a Living God and a Living Saviour to whom we have become family and friends by sheer grace and the cleansing, atoning power of the cross. God’s children, the people of Christ, believe in the purposes of a God with whom we can have a relationship, in which our thoughts, behaviour, actions and prayers have huge influence and significance. Divine sovereignty and our responsibilities are somehow linked. That wee phrase on Jesus lips in Mark 13 proves that link. I am not saying I fully understand it, but it is there.

There are times in the bible where after many pleadings and warnings God says that even if the champions of intercession in the Old testament were to pray  for a coming calamity for Israel to be averted, it would make no difference.  For example, Jeremiah in Chapter 15 of the book that bears his name said, “Then the LORD said to me: “Even if Moses and Samuel were to stand before me, pleading for this people, I would not help them. Send them away from my presence! Let them go!”  Again, this is a million miles away from  “fate.” It is said in the context of an announced purpose of God to which Israel refused to respond in repentance and in renewed loving obedience to their God and to His ways. There are of course times when God makes an oath about something, and that does bring a certain unalterability into the equation, but that is a subject for another day.

“What is the point in praying any more about this?”Are you feeling  such sentiments  about some situation right now? Beloved, there is every point. May God encourage you to be involved in how He fulfils His plans and purposes in, for and through you, His beloved child.

Working with my Dad in the years when he was a baker in the family business, “Kelvin Dairies” in Possilpark, Glasgow, are some of my most precious memories. I hope you will enjoy being with and working with your Heavenly Father today and every day.

God Bless

Kenny

P.S – You are very welcome to enjoy these blogs and share them with anyone “without money or price!” However, if you ever feel grateful for these blogs and are able to do so, then please make a donation to Open Doors, Scotland. Their website is

http://www.opendoorsuk.org/scotland

In case you have not heard of them, Open Doors works to help our persecuted brothers and sisters throughout the world.

Morning breaks…

There is a growing list of things, sort of cliches that draw applause in the Christian scene, which I don’t think I will be using in the future. Things seem a bit different when you are in a place of illness and weakness, so much so that spoken words that are meant to encourage and inspire, can actually feel like condemnation whatever the good intention and “truth”  behind them. Today it was the phrase, “Christians don’t retire, they just re-tyre!” that was wearisome to me. Now I know the truth behind that but at the moment for me that is not a helpful thought actually, in fact it is easy to receive it as cruel and insensitive. Indeed, I had  a passing thought today that even preachers who steer clear of the heresy of the Prosperity Gospel, sometimes preach to their congregation or audience assuming a certain level of health and wealth in what they are offering to or demanding from their listeners. I have tried over the years not to speak about experiences or opportunities that are beyond the financial or physical reach of some of the congregation, unless assistance is part of the deal.  Lately I have refused the offer of being sent  to an exclusive place of health and healing that other Christians leaders have been helped by, an offer which has been made more than once. It involves “sell your house” type costs. On principle I could not accept something that is unlikely to be offered to some of the financially poorer members of my congregation and parish, many of whom have no house to sell even if they wanted to. There would be no peace in it for me and no blessing. I wouldn’t be doing it in faith but against my conscience, so what might be right for someone else to do would, according to Paul, be sin for me to do. That is an inviolable spiritual principle: act against your conscience and what might be ok for others is  sin for you.

The problem with the “retire/re-tyre”  cliche seems to suggest we are never allowed to slow down, that we are never allowed to cut back etc etc.  There are times though when people have to and need to be told it is allowed. Church leaders like myself often encourage people to do more and be more involved, but church leaders should also be saying just as zealously that it might be God’s will for some people to do a lot less than they are doing, or give a lot less than they are giving, in terms of time, energy and even money. The truth is that I have had to cut back on what I do very considerably through retirement coming early on health grounds.  To be re-tyred without being re-lunged  and de-fatigued would be a mocking thing!  (Rant mode: don’t bother reading if you are pushed for time: there is too much  too fully realised eschatology around and inflated claims from those who are guilty of that as to what our bodies should be capable of in the here and now. None of us have our resurrection bodies yet – not even believers in heaven!  So please when you teach upon  “On earth as in heaven” if you were to follow that through accurately you would actually be telling us it is time not so much for our bodies to be healed, but time for them to go beyond that and  to die of something or other just like those in heaven right now once died of something, and for our spirit  to part company with our body and go and be with the Lord! … and while I am in rant mode, here’s another thing: Worship leaders or “Lead Worshipper” which  I think is now the Christian PC term (silly and presumptive and judgmental of others though such a term may be) ; allow us to sit down when we have to, rather than angrily telling us that we won’t get tired in heaven, so to stand up again! Even undertakers have the humanity to say to a congregation “Would you please stand if you are able!”  And here’s my final rant: if I go to a church and hear “It’s your breath in our lungs” being sung one more time, then I will know I am not paranoid instead of wondering if I am!  It really is sung every time I go to church!  Rant mode over!) However, I mean it all in a non-ranting way, even in a loving sort of way like “Dame Edna!”

Back to the “retire/re-tyre”  blow earlier today: It is quite easy to fall into the doldrums about that. I can look back to a year ago and summer conference season and the blessed experience of being part of the  Urban stream of New Wine at Shepton Mallet.  My mind then wanders to other similar summer memories in different places and countries, and then starts to think of a conference I had to withdraw from this Summer. Now, to be honest, as at this moment, whatever may happen in the future, attending a conference would be too much, let alone teaching at it. It is not easy to adjust.  I don’t know why, but some days thinking about all of that gets me down. It is not that I need to preach in terms of feeling secure in the love of God, nor do I need appreciation from people to feel secure and worthwhile,  nice as it is when it comes. I don’t  believe my identity is tied up in what I do  but I do want this phase of my life to be able to stand the test of divine fire and not be shown up to be stubble or hay. I so much want to be able to present some precious stones at least to the One who loved me and gave Himself for me, from hereon. I don’t want to be useless…I hope it helps rather than puts a burden on any of you to hear such honest thoughts.

Well, today, feeling a bit under the weight of such things, the cliche about retire/re-tyre didn’t help when it came to mind. However once again, God came to the rescue with what for me in recent times has become two of the most notable characteristics of His Love: His kindness and His gentleness.

In the midst of feeling a bit useless, I had a coffee in a place miles from home – I felt today I needed to be alone, where I would not meet anyone I knew. When I sat down with my coffee, I was blessed by the two people sitting at the next table who fortunately didn’t know me. They were encouraging one another in God, in a very natural and loving way; there were tears, smiles, hugs and love going on. They noticed my bible and started to talk to me too. It was all very light and smily and nice, nothing too deep but it was a gift from God that blessed me. Somehow I saw He is  everywhere; I saw that He has His people all over the place, which then made me see afresh how those who don’t know the love of Christ are everywhere around us as well, all the time. I need never be useless. Retiring does not mean re-tyring but nor does it mean redundant. “The earth belongs to the Lord and all that it contains” was the line from childhood singing that came to mind.

The second way that God’s kind and gentle love came to me was as I was driving home. I don’t normally do this but I listened to some sort of Anglican “thingy” on Radio 3. I am sure there is a technical word for it, but being a Presbyterian Charismatic I refuse to learn it and use it!  It is not the usual sort of thing I listen to, nor does it reflect the style of Christian worship that I am most at home with, or like the most – who knows, I may like it better in “retirement!”  There were no prophetic words, no announcements of the next coming move of God or God moving “up a level” in what He is doing. However the bible being read blessed me with the same sense of wonder as any miracle and the bible being sung blessed me by its non-smoke-machine and non-coloured-flashing-light beauty. I was built up by joining in with the prayers for the world too as I drove, and even felt moved by the dignified and formal prayers for the Queen! It all felt like a breath of pure fresh spiritual air. It was a million miles away from what I would have been doing at New Wine last year, but somehow it helped me realise on a day when I was struggling a bit, God has His way of knowing where to find us, finding us where we are, and helping us with something more than a soundbite  cliche of doubtful wisdom. He is so beautifully, tenderly, gentle and kind.

Well, that’s my rantings and musings from this day. It took until later on in the day for morning to break, but it did. “Thank you Lord.” God has no favourites; that is a soundbite that is in the bible. I am no more loved than you; we are all His specially loved children. (What about John, “the disciple whom Jesus loved?” I will blog about that another day!)  I hope morning may break for some of you who read this today before the sun sets. If it doesn’t, remember that in God, “Morning” can break any time, even in the darkest moment of the night.  Almighty God knows where you stay. Rest in His gentleness and kindness that He draws close to offer you right now.

God Bless

Kenny

P.S – You are very welcome to enjoy these blogs and share them with anyone “without money or price!” However, if you ever feel grateful for these blogs and are able to do so, then please make a donation to Open Doors, Scotland. Their website is

http://www.opendoorsuk.org/scotland

In case you have not heard of them, Open Doors works to help our persecuted brothers and sisters throughout the world.

“Trembling” and not just for me…

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(Short update on previous blog)

Was going to write a blog but one of my congregation posted this. Not sure I know of any preacher who makes me tremble more and sweeps away compromise like Leonard Ravenhill did and still does through his books and recordings of his  sermons. Don’t feel I need to say any more today. In fact I feel the fear of the Lord and somewhat stunned into silence by such words as these. I hope you have not forgotten how to tremble in the presence of the Lord. To fear Him is to find ourselves at the beginning of wisdom.

After posting the above, yesterdy, my bible reading this morning was from Galatians Chapter 1, where Paul says this:

6I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: 7Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. 8But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. 9As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed. 10For do I now persuade men, or God? or do I seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ. 11But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man. 12For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ.

Sobering words. It made me remember a minister who said once with great pride that one of his aims in preaching was to destroy the idea that Jesus bore the wrath of God against our sins on the cross. The foundation stone of Christian belief is now quite cynially and blasphemously presented as child abuse that the Father would do such a thing  to his Son, even from pulpits. What have such preachers got to offer anyone, since they shut the gate of heaven in folk’s faces, the gate that opens to the Father’s eternal love, for there is no other gate than Jesus, the Good shepherd who laid down His life for the sheep?

God Bless

Kenny

P.S – You are very welcome to enjoy these blogs and share them with anyone “without money or price!” However, if you ever feel grateful for these blogs and are able to do so, then please make a donation to Open Doors, Scotland. Their website is

http://www.opendoorsuk.org/scotland

In case you have not heard of them, Open Doors works to help our persecuted brothers and sisters throughout the world.

TREMBLING…

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Was going to write a blog but one of my congregation posted this. Not sure I know of any preacher who makes me tremble more and sweeps away compromise like Leonard Ravenhill did and still does through his books and recordings of his  sermons. Don’t feel I need to say any more today. In fact I feel the fear of the Lord and somewhat stunned into silence by such words as these. I hope you have not forgotten how to tremble in the presence of the Lord. To fear Him is to find ourselves at the beginning of wisdom.

After posting the above, yesterdy, my bible reading this morning was from Galatians chapter 1, where Paul says this:

6I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: 7Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. 8But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. 9As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed. 10For do I now persuade men, or God? or do I seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ. 11But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man. 12For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ.

Sobering words. It made me remember a minister who said once with great pride that one of his aims in preaching was to destroy the idea that Jesus bore the wrath of God against our sins on the cross. The foundation stone of Christian belief is now quite cynially and blasphemously presented as child abuse that the Father would do such a thing  to his Son. What have such preachers got to offer anyone, since they shut the gate of heaven in folk’s faces, the gate that opens to the Father’s eternal love, for there is no other gate than Jesus, the Good shepherd who laid down his ife for the sheep?

 

 

God Bless

Kenny

P.S – You are very welcome to enjoy these blogs and share them with anyone “without money or price!” However, if you ever feel grateful for these blogs and are able to do so, then please make a donation to Open Doors, Scotland. Their website is

http://www.opendoorsuk.org/scotland

In case you have not heard of them, Open Doors works to help our persecuted brothers and sisters throughout the world.

..to sleep, perchance to dream…”

So, ( as seems to be the cool but grammatically unusual way to begin a sentence these days) the dream I mentioned in yesterday’s blog; there were bits personal to me but I think there were bits in it too that are a word from God for more than myself to hear. Unlike the quote from Hamlet that is the title of this blog, in which the dreams being talked about were the dreams that might haunt one in the sleep of death, this was a dream full of life!

The setting of the dream was a large conference of the sort I used to speak at regularly for about 17 or 18 years alongside my prime calling to be a parish minister. Health or rather its lack at this present time, means both parish and conference ministry are beyond me. However, in the dream I was no longer up front (Hallelujah! I never ever wanted to be!), but rather I was sitting among the people of God. I still had a microphone in my hand, which indicates despite changes I still have a voice and a ministry to fulfil among  God’s people. As I spoke, Paul Cain, whose prophetic ministry is the most astonishing I have ever witnessed, was turning up the volume of my mic. I guess it is that which makes me think what I am saying through this dream is perhaps prophetic in some sense. It was, more than anything, a warning dream.

The message I spoke through the microphone in the dream was very clear and was in two parts:

Part 1: I seemed to be issuing a challenge to people (many of them young adults) in that setting of big numbers and celebration to make sure that they did not simply delight to be in the company of Christians but were in fact following Jesus. “Being in the company of believers is enjoyable, being in a larger gathering is exciting, gathering with your own peers is a justifiable need and pleasure, but you can have all of that but not actually be following Jesus” was what I seemed to say in one form or another for what seemed like twenty minutes. I remember one odd sentence in particular, which I think draws on a favourite paraphrase that was part of my childhood: “ To be in the company of Jesus is wonderful, BUT HAS JESUS CHRIST BECOME YOUR CHOSEN GOD?” There was a sense of God’s presence within the dream, and the person leading the meeting jumped up, even though I had not given part 2 of my message and encouraged everyone to come to Jesus. The choir broke into a beautiful Spirit inspired song about the love of Christ and there seemed to be a general appreciation of the message thus far and an obvious and positive response.

Friend, you may like these blogs, but the fact that you read Christian truth or have Christian friends whose company you enjoy, whose values you may even admire proves nothing very much spiritually. Judas, at least for a while liked the company of the disciples and being part of a group surrounding Jesus. Have you come to Christ for yourself truly? Is following Him as He shows us the ways of God’s Kingdom my prime pursuit that influences my behaviour, my thinking, my plans and any sense of purpose every day?

Part 2: Please remember that many things in dreams are symbolic, otherwise a good proportion of you will be offended needlessly by what I am about to say! I noticed that the people leading the meeting were all bald including the person who shot up to encourage people to come to Jesus. For me, IN MY DREAMS ONLY, baldness is a symbol of lack of spiritual strength and anointing, a lack of being truly set apart and consecrated to God. It worries me that at the moment there seems to be a fad for “teaching” leadership even when there is no God-given gift for that evident, rather than looking for the anointing of leadership, a gift from God which can be nurtured. Basically the man , who from outward appearance was conducting things well and admirably, was almost going to end the meeting prematurely before the message had finished. In the dream I felt distress and grief and lifted the microphone to my mouth again at which point Paul Cain turned up the volume some more. When I started to speak it was in these terms: “What disciples of Jesus are to take to the world to share according to Jesus in Matthew chapter 28 is an experience of being immersed in God as Father, Son AND HOLY SPIRIT. This is the essence of discipleship, being immersed in God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Without that, there can be no disciples making disciples!” I then just kept saying again and again, “Please don’t forget the need for a baptism in power from on high!” It was difficult to be heard as everyone was having such a great, wonderfully happy time of exuberant praise. The volume being turned up tells me this is a message that people find difficult to hear and to receive. I know that is true for I once found it difficult to hear and receive myself. By the way, I still need to hear it because there is always “more” whatever we mean by that.

So, where do we stand people of God, in terms of the baptism in the power of the Spirit that Jesus told His church to wait for, an experience as powerful as being plunged into a fiery hurricane?

I awoke from the dream slightly fearful although feeling that my sleep had been pleasant to me too, just like Jeremiah said on one occasion: fearful because of the continuing attempt by good hearted, cheerful, smiling, well-intentioned leadership to shut down the meeting before all the message was given; fearful that the church would become just a huge get together in which the main focus was simply that, instead of commitment to the ways of Christ; fearful too that many in the Church of Jesus Christ in Scotland are beginning to warm to the thought of trying new ideas for church life and mission, which without the baptism of the Spirit will simply have the lifespan of the attention and curiosity that people give to new idea but no effect on church or nation beyond that.

Out of the love of the Father then I ask you, are you immersed into the security and obedience of God the Beloved Son of the Father, and have we got the humility to pray, to ask, seek and knock continually for the gift of the Holy Spirit whom the Father wants to give according to Luke 11? “Father if there is anything more for me to receive in terms of the baptism or the filling or the good gifts of the Holy Spirit, I ask you to lead me into all that you have for me.” I prayed a prayer roughly like that for about seven years after I was converted simply because I wanted a true biblical Christianity and a true biblical experience of God and saw that the disciples experience of the Holy Spirit seemed to much more vibrant than mine. It is always a good principle to ask God to lift us up to the full experience of what the bible describes and offers us through the grace of God in Christ, rather than disempower the bible by bringing it down to the level of our experience or lack of it, or make it fit how we see Christianity. Don’t too easily dismiss things as being not for you because they have not happened to you. There was nothing to keep me going in praying for seven years for a mightier experience of the power of the Spirit other than my own reading of the Word of God backed up by the testimony of people I had every reason to trust. That experience effectively keeps me still praying with varying degrees of tenacity and faithfulness with spells of almost complete indolence and indifference for “more,” a prayer which has brought blessing form heaven to me and to many of God’s people more than once.

Please don’t dismiss what I am saying here because you don’t like the terms I use. I pray that your hunger for God will keep you in the place of praying, “Spirit of the Living God, fall afresh on me.” I pray that God will keep me praying the same thing until that day when I shall no longer know in part.

God Bless

Kenny

P.S – You are very welcome to enjoy these blogs and share them with anyone “without money or price!” However, if you ever feel grateful for these blogs and are able to do so, then please make a donation to Open Doors, Scotland. Their website is

http://www.opendoorsuk.org/scotland

In case you have not heard of them, Open Doors works to help our persecuted brothers and sisters throughout the world.

Trailer…

Have been very blessed with sleep recently! Obviously that is a blessing in itself and brings huge benefits, but one of the benefits for me is that I dream more and often God speaks to me in my dreams.

I will share one of my recent  dreams soon….but not today as my mind is not at its clearest due to medication! In the Old testament it is forbidden to minister while under the influence of strong drink, well today I am under the influence of some pretty major additional medication! I might regret what I write and confuse you and dishonour the Lord, if I say too much today!

This then is just a trailer advertising a dream. However, just as my sleep has come under attack so, so, often over the years, I wonder if the ways that you hear from God are under attack. Does there seem to be a strong force keeping you away from reading the bible? If you are the  solitary contemplative type, is time for that under pressure? If you pray when you walk the dog have you found your walks getting shorter and therefore the prayer more rushed? Just have a think of the ways in which God speaks to you. Is that contested territory at the moment? If there is contested territory,  I hope victory comes in some shape or form quickly. Whatever else spiritual life is about it is about hearing and being guided by the Spirit of God. May your ways of seeing and hearing the Spirit be protected and blessed this day and this coming week.

God Bless

Kenny

P.S. – You are very welcome to enjoy these blogs and share them with anyone “without money or price!” However, if you ever feel grateful for these blogs and are able to do so, then please make a donation to Open Doors, Scotland. Their website is

http://www.opendoorsuk.org/scotland

In case you have not heard of them, Open Doors works to help our persecuted brothers and sisters throughout the world.