It may be the steroids but I seem to be on a bit of a roll, so here’s another blog…

Just another thought: “Creative” has become a sort of in word for Christians and Churches in the UK and probably in other Western Cultures too, who give off an air of self belief that they are going somwhere, but personally, I believe from Scripture we are overdoing the “Creative” thing a bit, not only in terms of exaggerating its potential impact, but more fundamentally in this sense: in the bible only God is said to create.

The thing is when God creates He makes things very obvious – like his power and deity; you don’t need to be arty to work it all out. When we get creative what we end up doing is as likely to veil as to reveal and make things obvious. He seems quite childlike, happy to paint stars and trees and daisies, and to paint them again and again, and never get bored. We tend to create things that need a lot of explanation: “This painting is really about the conflicts that there are in the existential experience of the eschatological tension we all carry in our own being,”  sort of thing.

God is simple. He is perfectly well and sane. God’s creativity comes from wholeness with no axe to grind or point to make. Ours often comes from brokenness and can be a mixed blessing: some poems and songs  or paintings and drama come from very dark places indeed and for all their honesty can drive the listener  or the watcher into  very disturbed and dark places too. I have met someone who was demonised through watching a creative fantasy film – by the grace of God, she was set free. I write poems from time to time… not all of them would bless others. Some I would never read out loud to anyone….not because they are untrue but just because they wouldn’t really help… that is maybe the subject for another blog: just because something is honest or true does it mean it should be said and shared? Sometimes we need to be careful about what things we make that we choose to  bring out and share… what may be healing for me might depress or confuse others. Many “creative” types have a ministry in confusion, God love them and bless them! I am very confused by about a quarter of modern worship songs, both by their grammar, and by the fact that song writers seem to believe we  all simply love words that have to do double backflips and a few sideward rolls to  fit the tune…We apparently all love to sing in another accent other than our own: “intimut” rather than “intimate” is what  even those of us north of the border in the UK seem to have  to want God to be with us for quite a few years now…and we are all “gonna” do things (which at least has the saving merit of sounding as though it is vaguely and distantly related to slang Glaswegian), instead of announcing what we are “going to” do or become for Christ and the Kingdom.. AND WHILE I AM AT IT….WHO  IN SCOTLAND WOULD EVER CALL GOD “POPPA”?  We wouldn’t even call our earthly fathers “Poppa” because it isn’t a word we use in Scotland. If we did, we would get told to put aside our fancy talk, though we would be told so to do  in a less than fancy way. I wouldn’t expect American Christians to call God “Faither!”

In the Old Testament, the Hebrew word for “create” is reserved for God Himself, God alone. The rest of us according to the language of the bible simply make or do… we make with what He creates… humbling…. but then again we seem to be blurring the distinction between us and God in general. The popular teaching nowadays in renewal circles is that Jesus did the miracles as a man and not as God, so we can do them too… true and false at the same time. In the bible we are encouraged to do the works Christ did, but His miracles are also recorded as signs of His absolute Uniqueness as The Only begotten Son of God, a proof of his divinity….so that believing in Him, we might find life in His Name. Half-hearing is quite dangerous; you are more likely to get knocked down wherever you are trying to get to, albeit you are stepping out with good intention and nobility of motivation and purpose….

God bless you, especially all you who are the “making things” type: not as grand a word as “creative” but still pretty awesome… we need you…  we really do….

Kenny

Pushing things a bit further…?

Just to push the Charismatic boat a bit further out for you to think about. I referred in my last blog to supernatural fragrance. A good friend told me that one of the signs of epilepsy is that you can smell fragrances that are not there. Well, he was not dismissive at all of the claims I made, and has himself had many wonderful experiences of God and blesses me often with what he is learning about God in what is for him a difficult time… but maybe you are trying to find a rational explanation for what I wrote about?

All I know is that the fragrance at CLAN filled the whole building and was noticed and delighted in by thousands of people. Mass hypnosis? Well I guess some people have tried that argument with the five hundred who saw the risen Lord at the one time. What was particualrly beautiful was that some baby Christians from my own congregation, at that  time , St. Peter’s and St.Andrew’s in Thurso, ended up with their shirts drenched in fragrant oil. There was so much there was a pool on the floor around them. The lovley thing was they just presumed that this was the sort of thing that happened to you once you became a Christian. Oh for a generation of born again people who have not been told “God doesn’t do this, doesnt do that!”

FEAR OF FALSE OR COUNTERFEIT FIRE CAN MAKE US SETTLE FOR NO FIRE AT ALL.  IT CAN MAKE US SPEAK AGAINST THE REAL FIRE AND TAKE US PERILOUSLY CLOSE TO THE TERRITORY OF BLASPHEMY AGAINST THE HOLY SPIRIT… by the way, “Charismatics” are just as likely to tread this ground as anyone else… so much rivalry, so many movements speaking against other movements, writers speaking against other writers etc. Hope you are not frowning as you read this. Do you find it hard to believe that God can do beautiful things just because He wants to and that He can  call into being things that are not? God making copious amounts of oil seems quite biblical to me…and I don’t see why He would choose to make it to smell rancid…

Oh by the way I had a conatiner full of the oil: It is all used up now. It had no particular powers that it added to ordinary prayer; it would have been easy to assume it would have  had such powers and for superstitions to develop around it perhaps to counter the question, “What was the point of it?”   There are a lot of pointless daisies in the world.  Our God is the Lord of hosts, which basically just means “many.”  We really don’t need as many stars. We could even do with less music, colour etc. I guess God likes daisies, stars and colours a lot – he makes hosts of them.  Maybe He even likes the daisies you hate in your lawn! Why should God only make useful things? Can’t  He make something that has no other purpose but to be beautiful and make us smile?  Oil can be both useful and beautiful. In this case, it simply was beautiful…. oh yes, there was a fleck or two of gold in it as well which was quite curious…I know that one day, face to face, “We shall see the King, IN HIS BEAUTY!”

God Bless

Kenny

The impact we need…

Something I heard Duncan Campbell say once in a sermon came to mind a moment ago, so even though you should all be in bed by now (UK time), I thought I would just “blog” and share it without saying too much. He once defined revival as “the impact of the personality of Christ.” It got me wondering what a life looks like, what a church looks like, what leadership looks like, what mission looks like that has been impacted by the personality of Christ; what does it sound like, feel like?  What does it look like to have our own personalities impacted by His? As I mused, the fire burned…

I remember being in a Christian campsite once in the West of Scotland  and smelling the fragrance of Christ; I never asked for that experience, it just happened. All I know is that it was utterly beautiful, and I longed to smell it again and over the next few nights visited the same spot on the campsite, but I never did …. but then it is not an “it” it is a “Him.” “It” is one of the things that has happened in some revivals in times past, even in Scotland. I remember the late Rev.  Jack MacArthur being moved when he spoke at CLAN Gathering because he smelled the same fragrance that he had known in revival days. I long to encounter such beauty again! The impact of the personality of Christ whatever else it may invovle, is an impact that makes you long above everything else for Him, just for Him above every other aspect of Christian living and Service; beyond even every God given vision and calling that we may be faithfully attending to:  He makes everything that the world and a worldy church with worldly ways and methods  and goals chases after seem so lifeless, dead and pointless and even rather ugly looking by comparison.  “Oh when shall I behold Him?” He really is, as we sung a few years ago now, “beautiful beyond description, too marvellous for words, too wonderful for comprehension, like nothing ever seen or heard…” I found myself singing that as I walked on a quiet beach not long ago. It seemed to say what I was longing to say. It seemed to keep me out of the picture apart from saying, “I stand, I stand in awe of you…” Oh at times I have hated the focus of attention that  being a minister/leader/conference speaker/CLAN leader brought to me…WHEN, WHEN, WHEN WILL WE GET OUT THE WAY ENOUGH TO LET THE PERSONALITY OF CHRIST IMPACT US ALL? GOD DELIVER US FROM OUR FASCINATION WITH PERSONALITIES OTHER THAN THE PERSONALITY OF CHRIST.

Bruce Collins, one of the very best church leaders I have ever met, used to lead the International work of New Wine and is now deeply invovled in New Wine Wales. He said in a sermon once that Jesus is the most beautiful person he knows. He said it with a voice slighly breaking with emotion.  I have never forgotten the simplicity and the integrity of that moment. The impact of the personality of Christ….

My Dad used to  love Harry Secombe’s singing voice; indeed he thought he was Harry Secombe! I remember hearing Harry Secombe singing a song on a rather scrathcy LP that seemed to be played ad nauseam in my childhood home: “The Lost chord.” It was about an organist who struck a certain magnificent chord while playing randomly and feeling weary and ill at ease… and he could never find it again. I wonder if there is a lost beauty in Christ that we are in danger of forgetting about in our modern day church angst about church, and where it is heading and how it needs to change and so on…

Let me ask you if you are a parish minister, do you know enough about the beauty of Jesus to speak about him every Sunday Morning of your ministry, or do you need to fall back into using (misusing?)  Sundays to  mobiize the church towards something other than Jesus Himself?

I am still frightened of a vision I had once before I spoke at a conference of Jesus “waiting in the wings” while everyone and everything else took centre stage and took the applause. I know when a vision comes from God and not just from myself; I cannot change it, no matter how hard I try to imagine it differently: I have never been able to change this awful sight of  of Jesus in the wings and everything being brought to an end before He was even allowed to come on stage. Maybe the problem is that if we let Him take the highest honour, no one would want anything but Him. Our ministries, our worship leading, our preaching  would not be as sought after, in fact we might not be able to minister, we might be out the picture, no part to play, forgotten about. Our theories and talk might look a bit like the Emperor with no clothes. When I was involved  along with others in leading CLAN Gathering, we had some unspoken rules that guided our invitations to speakers: they had to have scars; in other words they could not just be speakers, but needed to be people who had done the stuff and paid the price; they couldn’t just be experts going round the conference scene with wonderful sermons and stories and some theories to share. I had another rule which I kept a little more secret: I would only ask speakers who in my heart I knew would not mind if they spoke or not during the week when they were with us. Many wonderful speakers were never asked to CLAN, though their presence and names on a programme could have boosted the numbers! If Christ’s personality impacted a meeting, all eyes would be upon Him, everyone would desire Him and fall at his feet overwhelmed….or hate Him with deadlly, jealous, all consuming hatred. By His impact the hearts of many are revealed…

God Bless

Kenny

 

The Abba cry….

We were sorting through Christmas decorations the other night. My mind went back to this time of the year many years ago in my early childhood. I held in my hands on that occasion a tiny house with bright baubles for slates, frosted walls, beautiful red glass windows, and I said to my mother, “Would you like to live in a house like that?” “Oh yes,” she replied, “I would love to live in a house like that.” Well, that evening as usual I was being tucked up in bed, prayers were being said and my mother left my bedroom to go downstairs. The nightly ritual at that point was that I shouted out “Night night!” She replied, “Night night!” Then I would shout out as she got further down the stairs, “God Bless!” “She would reply, “God Bless.” If it was my Father that had tucked me up in bed, the same conversation ensued. However from the day of that passing interaction about the little Christmassy decoration of the  beautiful house, I added another shout to my mother, “You won’t go away to another house, will you?” To which she replied, “I won’t go away to another house!”

The thing is, I was such a secure child, deeply loved and I knew it. However it did not mean I didn’t need to hear that reassurance that I was loved, that I would never be abandoned. Did that extra question represent loss of faith in my mother’s love? That would be a harsh verdict to pass on our night time conversation. It simply represented humanness.

Today, I read a verse in Psalm 138 that greatly blessed me. In verse 8 of that Psalm, the psalmist says, “The Lord will perfect that which concerneth me: your steadfast love, O Lord, endures forever.” However that assurance does not stop him from voicing the words that follow: “Don’t abandon me…” Was that a denial of his previously stated faith? No, it was just humanness.

At times I used to get myself tied up in knots about the whole faith thing, It happened increasingly the more I listened to “faith” preachers. Some charismatic teachers seem to unhelpfully confuse biblical and true faith with psychological certainty, so if, for example, you have prayed about something once with true faith, you never need to pray about it again, for that would represent you didn’t really have faith in the first place! At times, this psychological certainty view of faith is represented as not being double minded, which of course Scripture tells us we are not to be. Indeed, Scripture tells us if we are double minded we will receive nothing from the Lord. However absence of psychological certainty is not what being double minded means. To suggest it does mean that is bad Scriptural exegesis… but more of that another time…

There are forms of Christianity that are violent to humanness. However the Lord is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love. The Lord knows out frame. As a Father pities his children so the Lord pities His children who are seeking to walk in His ways. He remembers that we are dust.

If you need to cry “Father, don’t abandon me!” you might be nearer true faith in God than you realise. In Romans 8 we read about the Spirit helping us to cry out, “Abba Father.” There has been a lot of teaching in the last decade about the Father heart of God, much of it very good, but some of it not so. The prevailing impression is that God wants to bring us to some dreamy, balmy assurance that we are loved by the Father, that our heavenly Father is some kind of Disney-like Papa (if our God is British) or Poppa (if God is American) or whatever. However Romans 8 envisages something very different. It speaks about crying, “Abba Father.” I remember hearing Dr. Sinclair Ferguson preaching many years ago now in my own home church in Glasgow saying that the imagery here was of a child who had fallen in the street crying out for help! “Daddy, help me! Daddy, don’t leave me.” Rowan Williams puts it even more strongly. He says “The cry to God as Father in the New Testament …is the Child’s cry out of a nightmare…It is the cry of outrage, fear, shrinking away, when faced with the horror of the “world” – yet not simply or exclusively protest, but trust as well: “Abba Father, all things are possible to Thee…” (Quoted in “Celtic Daily Prayer” Book One, Copyright The Northumbria Community Trust, page 28.)

If you feel you need to cry out today, “Daddy, don’t leave me!” then do so. It does not mean you are weak in faith. It is what God birthed and true faith sounds like in a human being. The cry will be heard. It will not be disregarded. It will not receive harsh judgement. When a father hears his child crying because they have fallen, if he is worthy of being called “Abba” he picks them up, helps them, consoles them with reassuring love and helps them to their feet and to have confidence to walk again; when he hears a cry out of a nightmare, his compassion runs towards the sound. Well, how much more our Heavenly Abba….

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.

Never forgotten words….

Looking back over the years once again….

… I have always wanted something more than the brilliant logic of  The Apologist, which if there is nothing more, leads to winning and belittling smugness on the one hand, or alienation and humiliation on the other; a clapping Christian crowd applauding their champion fighter and a defeated foe who of course may have asked  their “question” or made their case with or without genuineness, but whatever, is still made by God and sought by Him. Apologetic debating victory when it comes from and by the grace of God may indeed save some and “Hallelujah” does indeed do so, but when it is mere cleverness rather than the wisdom from above, it can send many a prodigal still a great way off back to the far country to feed themselves on pig swill, feeling more lost and wretched than ever, mocking themselves for ever hoping that a kind or welcoming rather than a publicly shaming and condemning God might be there after all…

…I have always wanted something more than to be someone who teaches accurately, though I hope I have correctly divided the Word of Truth over these last decades as part of my calling to be a parish minister. If there is nothing more from the pulpit/lecturing lectern, that accuracy can turn a listener’s soul into a dry and arid place built on sand even though it seems convinced it is providing good grass which the sheep will eat, or offering bread for the soul and rock on which to build a storm-surviving life and a judgement-surviving eternity. Orthodoxy without the Spirit’s fire (and by that I do not mean anything to do with style or delivery or emotionalism) may fill the preaching centres to the rafters but it stunts the church it thinks it feeds and also delights the devil, for it can hinder the expansion of the Kingdom of God into a lost world…

… I have always wanted to be more than a strategist who can enthuse people with a vision – in fact come to think of it I have never remotely wanted to be a strategist at all… Vision Sundays are a close second to Stated Annual Meetings in my book for the most dreaded Should do/Must do occasions in the church diary!  I am glad I had a team at Holy Trinity who I  could get roped into such things along with somehow managing to manipulate the Preaching Rota so that I hardly needed to do a children’s address for 11 years!  My Session Clerk realised when I said to one or other of the Ministry Team at our weekly Team Meetings, “You would be terribly good at that,” it was meant but it was not the whole motivation behind what I was saying! Strategy is good and I praise God for those who are gifted in this way even if over the years I have made them feel I am disinterested in what makes them tick and  deaf to what they want to enthuse about and have perhaps even studied or thought about  and prayed about for years. Strategy and Vision may lead to influence and impact of to varying degree, but if that is all there is, it has a limited life span, a firework sort of life for a few years or a decade or two:  it may greatly excite and mobilise some of God’s people but it will also wear out some of God’s people; it may unintentionally alienate other faithful believers who battle just to get to church themselves in the hope that there might be something said or sung that might give them fresh hope and energy to live. The keener someone’s gifting in Strategy, the more easy it is to walk along the knife edge of putting something helpful into the heart of the church and the risk of placing, however unintentionally, “The Vision” or “The Project” or “The Movement” or whatever, higher than “That I may know Him, and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His suffering…” from which every lesser vision (that sometimes thinks itself grander) must spring.

I have, however, always wanted this: fire-words. I still do … and I want it for you too dear zealous Apologists or Apostles or Evangelists or Entrepreneurs;  I want it for you dear listening-to-God Prophets and devoted Teachers or Transformational Strategists; I want it for you my fellow pastors and for all of you, my dearly beloved Brothers or Sisters in Christ, whoever and wherever you are. Tonight I simply offer you this poem that I have never forgotten since I first read it. When ill health is making itself felt, or when energy is low as it was unexpectedly for me today, well, to be honest, I forget this is what I want at times … but then I remember. The Poem is  by Amy Carmichael, a missionary of the 19th. Century whose life story and books are well worth reading.

Fire – Words

“O God, my words are cold:
The frosted frond of fern or feathery palm
Wrought on the whitened pane –
They are as near to fire as these my words;
Oh that they were as flames!”  Thus did I cry,
And thus God answered me:  “Thou shalt have words,
But at this cost, that thou must first be burnt,
Burnt by red embers from a secret fire,
Scorched by fierce heats and withering winds that sweep
Through all thy being, carrying thee afar
From old delights.  Doth not the ardent fire
Consume the mountain’s heart before the flow
Of fervent lava?  Wouldst thou easefully,
As from cool, pleasant fountains, flow in fire?
Say, can thy heart endure or can thy hands be strong
In the day that I shall deal with thee?”

“For first the iron must enter thine own soul,
And wound and brand it, scarring awful lines
Indelibly upon it, and a hand
Resistless in a tender terribleness
Must thoroughly purge it, fashioning its pain
To power that leaps in fire,
Not otherwise, and by no lighter touch,
Are fire-words wrought.”

I still want this….I think…I still want to ask for this with trembling faith…I think….

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.

No need to exaggerate the God of the bible…

​A lot of you liked a post I put on here saying spiritual exaggeration is lying. If you don’t know me you might get hold of the wrong end of the stick. I believe God is who He has always been and does what He has always been doing. I know a man who was transported supernaturally from one place to another a couple of times, who has seen a few deliverances and healings, who has known seasons when God came down, who has known other biblical experiences of the one holy, true and living God.. if I wrote about that man’s experiences I would not be lying or exaggerating..but as for me I will only boast of my weakness….

God bless

Kenny

The “Oh God…” note.

Somebody who reads my blogs sent me this quote from Duncan Campbell. It brought back memories of a time when I had made a long journey to  go to a meeting where I believed genuine healing was happening through a visiting evangelist. Perhaps it was, I cannot say one way or the other, but there was so much hype that I felt deeply grieved in the core of my being. It left me so so hungry for the Living God by comparison. Fortunately there was a Christian bookshop nearby where I found some tapes by Duncan Campbell, tapes which include the words quoted below. It was like Manna to my soul and I wept with relief and joy as I listened to them back in my B and B. The disappointment of the meeting was entirely undone. I was reminded of God.. not man…God. I hope these words create a spiritual thirst in you for true revival as compared to revivalism or renewal.  Have we any idea what it would be like to be where “God came down”? Are we praying for a day when we will say in  the words of Scripture, “This is our God and we have waited for Him”?

Dr. Martin Lloyd Jones mentioned in a recorded sermon I listened to once that the “Oh God” note needs to come back into our praying. I think I know what he meant. I hope this creates an “Oh God” longing in your heart. Let’s not settle for smoke which does at least show something is happening, but go after the fire!

“There are two things that I would like to say in speaking about the revival in the Hebrides. First, I would like to make it perfectly clear that I did not bring revival to the Hebrides. It has grieved me beyond words to hear people talk and write about “the man who brought revival to the Hebrides.” My dear people, I didn’t do that. Revival was there before I ever set foot on the island. It began in a gracious awareness of God sweeping through the parish of Barvas.

Then I would like to make it perfectly clear what I understand of revival. When I speak of revival, I am not thinking of high-pressure evangelism. I am not thinking of crusades, or of special efforts convened and organized by man. That is not in my mind at all. Revival is something altogether different from evangelism on its highest level. Revival is a moving of God in the community, and suddenly the community becomes God-conscious, before a word is said by any man representing any special effort.”

God bless

Kenny

Could you pray “Hineni” tonight?

What if “more of God” lies in the very place you wish you were not in and are trying desperately to get out of prematurely…? Can you pray tonight in surrender, trust and peace, “Hineni”: Hebrew for “I am here, I am ready,” Lord?

When the Son of God came into the world, He said to His Father, “Here I am.” The outworking of everything  depended on Him saying that. Will you ask Jesus to help you say to His Father  and yours what He said?

God Bless

Kenny

A lament: to the tune of “Hope.”

Can healing be rescued from inflated claims and exaggeration? Can Prophesy be rescued from meaningless generalities? Can being slain in the Spirit be rescued from being dependent on pushing? Can…oh well, I will leave it there for tonight…Friends don’t worry for me. I am still a charismatic by belief, conviction and experience. I am not spiritually depressed, but am sick of charismaticism. I still believe in Revival but not revivalism. I would rather do without that and wait upon God even as I do what I can as at this point in my journey with God. The good thing is, it is making me pray…Longing as much as ever I have for the real… for me as much as anyone, for all God’s people whatever the label, for Scotland. I want to beleive for Isaac rather than settling for Ishmael….

God bless

Kenny

A Plea to the Prophets…

Please, please, please  tell me/us something more specific than “there is a new season coming…” I already know from nature that our God changes seasons, it is just part of what He does. Fortunately when He changes seasons, I can see clear signs that the seasons have indeed changed and so can everybody else. When many prophets tell us in the Name of the Lord, “Lo, I tell you, you are about to enter a new season. I say to you that it will not be like this last season…” I feel confused. I have no idea what the last season was, no idea from what is prophesied what the new season will be like.

If I were Pope, I would put out either a Papal Bull or Encyclical (I guess if I were Pope I would know which it should be) banning certain phrases from being used in prophesy: In addition to a ban on unidentifiable unprovable “change of season” prophecies, the following would be banned: “God is moving us up to another level.” (Worse still, “God is going up a level!”) “This is a time of transition…” (Well, nothing very prophetic in that: the whole of life is permanent transition.)

I love real prophecy just as I love real anything that is from God. It brings the awe of God and causes strength to arise in the hearts of God’s people, but non specific stuff all the time is not helpful; in fact while it causes fires of hype to burn higher, it destroys rather than encourages faith. Why have we dumbed down the gifts? Prophecy has now become quite confused with the gift of the word of Knowledge. On the other hand it has become so heavily weighted to ‘forth-telling” or speaking the Word of God into a situation (which is indeed an element of prophecy), that there is not much of the foretelling element, indeed that is usually just dismissed with a brief nod of the head. In the bible, prophetic foretelling is a sign that we worship the one true Living God, the God who announces things before they happen. This genuine gift is of course found in counterfeit form in the occult as are the other gifts and experiences of the Spirit God gives. They may look the same but they are not from the same source: this is a very basic and simple mistake people make when writing or speaking against charismatic gifts. By the way, it is not just prophecy that has suffered this dumbing down. Healing has now become a “Where on a scale of 1 – 10 is the pain?” (Usually and embarrassingly asked when someone is standing in front of a crowd of people…) As I hinted at in another blog recently, I believe that a dumbing down has happened to the gift of “The Apostle” as well; basically that has become dumbed down to being a spiritual entrepreneur or pioneer.

I know, I know that this sounds cynical. Actually it is not. Limited energy, which I am experiencing at the moment, tends to make you want to separate wheat from chaff in terms of what you give time to or pursue; it makes you more honest about what is good and helpful for you and what is not and can be left aside. I love it when God is in something and feel disappointed not just for myself but for God’s people when He is not. I am disappointed when for example the charismatic contingency in Scotland gets excited about some visiting prophet from somewhere or other who basically comes claiming to carry a significant word for Scotland, and actually says next to nothing, despite building up to this revelation for an hour or so in talking. The ensuing conversation in the car or bus afterwards between people goes something like this, “So, what did he/she say? Did you get it?” “Mmm… I am not sure….I think they were meaning….” “Oh…did they say what that would look like?” “Mmmm…not really. I think they were maybe meaning….” “Oh….oh well… it’s cold tonight isn’t it? It feels quite wintry almost, doesn’t it?” “Yes it is, I think the seasons are changing…”

I have been on the receiving end of wonderful prophecies from people. The real thing is awesome even fearfully so. The real thing really does exist and it changes lives and even saves lives, quite literally. I personally have received revelation to give to people on 2 occasions which if I had held back may have led to their death.

The wonderful thing about the gifts of the Spirit is that they are for all of God’s people, even the youngest believer: as John Wimber famously said, “We all get to play.” However, please don’t play with my emotions and hopes and fears and the secret struggles and longings of my heart that need strengthened encouraged and comforted by a true word from the Living God.

Let’s go after the real….

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.

In Praise of Liturgy…

I think I have said before in my blog pages that since having to battle with health issues, retirement and the effects of a plethora of medication, at times the way I used to read the bible and pray is a physical and even an emotional or spiritual impossibility at the moment. Realising that makes me wonder if in my preaching in the past I have  been guilty of the sin of spiritual guides contemporary to Jesus who we meet from time to time as we read the gospels: loading burdens on people’s backs that are heavy to bear? What might have seemed at times a reasonable ask for me to issue to folk, some of whom were struggling with dear knows what,  I now see could have been insensitive to some weakness, tiredness, depression or just plain “worn-out-ness” that some of those listening had  not chosen but were having to learn to live with.  If we are preachers,  what we think or hope is inspiring folk to better things, encouraging a greater devotion and zeal for the Lord, His Church, or His mission in the world,  might be crushing  and demoralising at least some who hear. I was constantly and consistently amazed in each charge I was called to, Eday linked with Stronsay in Orkney, followed by Thurso in Caithness and lastly Wester Hailes in Edinburgh as well as in my  prior Assistantship at St. Michael’s in Linlithgow all the way back in 1982 , at what some people  may have to struggle with in their lives,  in order to appear at church. Some of those who sit in a congregation on a Sunday should be applauded just for turning up, even if they don’t manage to stay for the whole service. I could of course go moralistic and religious, and talk about those who struggle with far less and don’t even try to get to church!  Indeed, ever since Linlithgow onwards I have often witnessed some of the so called “Housebound” people on a church role apparently miraculously restored to strength enough to contend  with a force 9 gale, leaning at a 90 degrees angle to get to the Bingo! To use the Charismatic term, they apparently did not manage “to hold on to their healing” until the following Sunday.

However in this blog, I want to stop the slide into compounding the afore-mentioned  preacher’s or pastor’s  sin through not lifting a finger, at least, to help you or to help you help others.  The help I offer comes from a terrible confession I have to make as a Presbyterian: I have been finding Liturgy helpful! I have been using a Book called “Celtic Daily Prayer. Book One: The Journey Begins,” and finding it to be help from heaven. There are daily prayers for morning, mid-day and evening, along with 3 Scripture readings, a mediation, encouragement to pray and on some days all of that can be augmented with learning about Christians in the past. You can even end the day with Compline… no, not Complan, though if that helps too…!

I know that Jesus warned against vain repetition, but for me this is fruitful, not vain repetition. When my concentration despite my best efforts is all over the place, I find it  a tremendously strengthening and joy giving focus to say each morning, “To whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, and we have believed and come to know that You are the Holy One of God.” Even though it is “I” who am coming to Christ, using the word “We” has been a beneficial “put a smile on my face” thing each morning!  That little, seemingly insignificant word,  reminds me that I am part of a world wide community of people who follow Jesus; I am not on my own, fighting my battles alone, stubbornly persisting  and insisting to my palpably weakened  body and soul that doing my own thing in terms of daily devotions is somehow more meritorious. At Midday, it is helping me to set aside a few minutes to say among other things the words of Scripture, “Let the beauty of the Lord our God be upon us. Establish Thou the work of our hands…” That helps me on days when I question the worth of my contribution to life. In the evening I can say, “In the shadow of your wings, I will sing your praises, O Lord. I believe I shall see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. O wait for the Lord! Have courage and wait, wait for the Lord.” These verses as well as being to all  God’s people remind me of something I believe the Lord promised me  quite specifically at a vulnerable time when I was feeling very unsure indeed, for good reason, about how things were looking for me health-wise.

Perhaps one day I will get back to my old way of praying, which seemed to be about remembering to tell God as much Scripture as I could and preach to Him about Himself. Actually, I know that sounds as though I am mocking my old ways and maybe even a way of prayer that is life-giving to you, but I am not. I love reminding myself of who God is, what He has promised etc. At the moment though, this simpler shorter repetition of beautiful Scriptural verses, this guided , perhaps what at first seemed to me to be  a less spontaneous type of daily devotional practice, is bringing life to me. I may stick with it even as health improves. It may prove to be a new spiritual home for my devotional life. Whatever, for the time being, I cannot tell you the pleasure and excitement I feel as look forward to saying the Daily Office whether Morning, Midday or Evening! I have released myself from “oughts” and “shoulds” that have been helpfully/not helpfully imposed/self-imposed upon me: I have found fresh life in praying in what is a new way for me and in reading the bible in a manner different from what had become my norm.

I guess I am trying to free at least some who may read this from guilt in the area of personal devotion and urging you if within the body of Christ  you seek to encourage others in their walk with Jesus, not to load heavy devotional burdens on people even if it is out of the best of intention. Perhaps I am also suggesting to you something very simple: a change is not only as good as a rest, it may be the very will of God for you right now.

God Bless

Kenny

P.S. Perhaps if you are able so to do, you could buy the book I mentioned above for yourself or for someone else this Christmas? No “should” or “ought” just a “could?” 

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.

2nd thought about Exaggeration…cause and effect.

​Exaggerated spiritual claims are not only lying and bearing false witness to God, they are almost  converting me to find refuge and strength in  monkhood!…to  seek with fresh delight the God who does not lie but is always true to Himself and to the humble community/communities of His watching/waiting/worshipping/working/welcoming witnesses to another Kingdom….

God bless

Kenny

To speak or not to speak, that is the question… which is nobler?

I miss the generation who possessed the art of noiseless speaking. Do you know what I mean? Conversation would be going along quite normally but then all of a sudden certain words would be mouthed rather than spoken. Les Dawson was brilliant at it! Some had a greater noiseless vocabulary than others extending to a whole host of topics and words; to talk with them was like trying to follow the conversation through a microphone that intermittently cut out without warning which was tedious and for me at least, resulted in curiosity giving way to no listening at all! Leaving aside those who over tested my lip reading skills, when such ability was called forth, I always thought when a word was spoken without sound I was on holy ground. Something was being spoken about that was to be considered with reverence. At times of course this art of noiseless speaking could create a sense of shame; when it was used like that, well, I don’t miss that at all. It wasn’t so used in our family. I was brought up in a large extended and genuinely Christian family and the feeling noiseless mouthing of words from my elders left in me, was that whoever that noiseless word was being spoken about , they were struggling with something beyond the norm. Usually afterwards there was complete silence with not even lips moving or being read before the conversation moved on again. I actually quite often felt the presence of God in that silent aftermath: it felt like a silence that God honoured with His own presence; I would have liked to have stayed there pondering it for longer.

So many people carry such hidden shames or pains that I guess it is good that we live in more open times…but…I regret it in a way. Things that are the cause of deep pain and human struggle are now spoken about so blithely and freely that it reduces struggle to gossip, or at best to mere information. I guess I am saying something that makes me sound older than my 58 plus years: “Is nothing sacred any more?” Coming into the open about some experience when I am being drawn that way by God and His Word and His Spirit is one thing, but the modern force of an across-the-board, inviolable commandment attached to doing that, is quite another: it is devaluing the human condition. Sometimes I face something of that struggle in writing my blogs: I want to be open about “me” when it is helpful, but that does not require that I tell everything about “me.” There is a time when it is wrong to cover things up, where revealing will bring much needed release and healing to oneself or others, but there is a time when grace allows us to cover things in silence; it is best for me and it is best for others. Remember that God has put two rows of bars in front of our tongue; our  teeth, and if they are non-existent or have a few gaps for unwise verbosity to escape, our lips.

Open sharing of everything under the sun can put a burden on me rather than bringing relief and it can put a burden on those who hear as well, that they need not have been forced to carry. I think of some of the stuff that nursery school children are supposed now to be taught in Scotland: our love of openness which is meant to produce a generation of children who carry less shame and put less shame on others may well bring up a very troubled and mixed up generation indeed; robotic conformity  mantras with no freedom to think otherwise, seems an odd method of education to use; it is in fact child abuse by the state. In the name of “Diversity” straightjackets of forced “Conformity”  are being imposed upon even the very young in a thoughtlesss and merciless way.  I am praying as I write for those of you who will be worried for your own children or grandchildren because of  militant secularism and increasingly “big government” that we are seeing trying to assert itself  in Scotland, as freedom to think differently is under attack or at least only allowed within increasingly proscribed and at times even policed  limits.

“How did this blog come about?”, you may or may not be asking! Well, I found myself reading part of the story of Ruth. I was thinking about the fact that nowadays it is more common to hear reference to Esther than to Ruth. When I was strictly conservative evangelical (still am basically), Ruth was often referred to; since I added in charismatic belief and circles to the mix  (still held basically), I seem to hear much more about Esther. I will come back to thoughts beyond the ones in the next paragraph, about why this is, another day…perhaps.

Esther certainly appeals to a love of the dramatic with it’s “being brought to the Kingdom for such a time as this” feel. It is a magnetic story for  “World Changers” which is what we are usually encouraged in charismatic circles to think everyone has to become (no comment, for now!) Actually Ruth was a world changer too; it’s just there is not an obvious or loud  and dramatic “World Changers” verse to quote!  It is a quieter story centering around the beauty of someone who was not even by birth  one of the people of God; Ruth was by birth a foreigner, though seems to have absorbed by contact something of what it meant to behave with honour as one of His people.  The setting of Esther is that really she was a backslidden member of the people of God living where she should not have been living, as the story begins. I know that takes the romance of the story away a bit! Sorry if you got a shock just now! Here is another shock: It is the only book in the bible where you cannot find the word of God being mentioned at all in any shape or form. Karl Barth who emphasized the primacy of the word in his theology was once asked where the word of God appeared in Esther: He said hat he was still looking for it!

Perhaps the lesson of Esther is that even when you are a backslider living with backsliders, when you are living in a place a child of God should not find themselves in among people who never even mention the Word of God to one another, the God of grace is still there in mercy, faithful to His covenants. Humility is a quality in God Himself and part of humility is behaving the right way even if others have not treated you the right way and doing so without  making a song and dance about it.  With Christmas coming within shouting distance, we should remember that Jesus came into a rebellious world  – where  the earthly king of God’s covenant people has to ask for  a search and an answer to be made to find out  the answer to such a basic question as to where the Word of God said the Messiah was to be born –  as the God who humbled Himself (See Philippians 2). Astonishing; a reason to be lost in wonder, love and praise. The story of Esther works out as it does not simply because of her beauty, but because of the mercy of an ignored God. Without His presence, we would never have heard of Esther  or the Jewish contemporaries whom she lived among,  save in some sort of Psalm, either of “lament”, or even of “warning” type: “This is the disaster that comes on those who forsake God. Look, read and consider their fearfully tragic end and learn wisdom.”

The Bible is often quite open about people’s struggles and even their sins, however not so with Esther. Is the writer whitewashing her story by not giving us the true setting or so as not to take the gloss off the romance of the story? I don’t think so. The silence of the writer gives us such an important lesson to consider: Not everything needs to be brought out into the open all the time. Paradoxically, I felt I had to write about that today and about the true setting of Esther to make that point.

You may be feeling a relentless pressure to speak about something, not because you want to but because it is the mood of the times. Well, moods are not helpful. Fortunately we worship a God who does not have moods good or bad  and who gives us strength not to be ordered about by our moods or others’ moods or by changing moods of culture. Why not take time alone with Him today and ask a question, “Is this something, Lord ,that it would be helpful to bring out into the open, or is your grace allowing me to cover it for time and eternity and move on?” If it helps to speak out, then speak to someone who you know will revere the sacred quality in what you are doing as you speak out; but perhaps this blog is giving you the liberty to think, “Do I need to tell someone this… or do I have your permission, Father, with joy and relief to bury this deep in eternal  and merciful silence and  there let it be transformed by your grace?” The advice is often given, “You really need to speak to someone about this”. Often that is advice from God and needs to be heeded… but it ain’t necessarily so. Just saying…

God Bless

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.

However imperfectly I have prayed for you this night….

Just a short blog tonight. My own bible reading today took me to Hebrews Chapter 11. In that chapter in verse 7 we read of Noah: “It was by faith that Noah built a large boat to save his family from the flood. He obeyed God who warned him about things that had never happened before…” I seem to remember Dr. R.T. Kendall saying almost in passing at CLAN Gathering that everyone that we read of in Hebrews 11 faced things that had never happened before. They could not look back in their experience or even in the experience of others in the family of faith to know how to walk a new path. I just wanted you to know if you read this blog, that I have prayed for those of you who are facing things that have never happened before to you or those you love up until this point in your life. May God be with you and your loved ones. I pray that He will guide you step by step as you negotiate territory that you have not passed through before but are facing right now.

God Bless

Kenny

The Grand Nationals 2016…

We’re annoyed at the form of “Democracy’s” feet,
From the starting box “Anger” has come  pounding out,
In corridors of power or out on the streets
“Shout” strains with “Whisper” to beat “Blasted Result.”

“New Saviour and Hope” tells what we need,
“Evangelist”, mane shaking, has started to neigh
at those who won’t yield and give up their creed,
” Just admit it, this is why you voted this way…”

“Marriage” or “Gender”, “Him and/or Her”
What meaning will win is anyone’s call;
Will “Person of Person” beat “Son of the Father”
“Redefined Word” make  nobodies of all?

With unwavering pace, runs “Sown and Reaped”
So  Cannabis from Budgie seed  at times can spring;
Of what freedoms do mind altered winged birds dream;
Do they crawl like slugs or dine with kings?

The sweat of the race flies round like dung falling,
Landing on territory so fought for and won,
Usonlya” is the name of the strong plant that’s thriving,
“All Count” just in front from “Heil to the One.”

2 – Are there Apostles around today?

Further to my last blog, I would read a book on Apostleship right to the end if it did not mention non-biblical clothes it wants to drape upon that word: “entrepreneurial, strategist, pioneering.”  We need entrepreneurial, strategic and pioneering folk desperately but I think an Apostle in the bible’s terms is something other than that, and they may have or may not have some of the above mentioned abilities. Perhaps we need to learn from our brothers and sisters who officially recognise Apostles within their denominations from biblical conviction and have done so for decades before the rest of us caught up with them and muddied the waters with well meaning, but non biblical clutter and values. Sorry to offend, but it alarms me that in some Christian circles all sorts of folk are being called “Apostolic”, every Christian is being called a “leader”… I could make a list of such things but most of them have such a head of steam to them already…..the horse seems to have bolted.

I should say I have met people over the years and the only word I can use for them is “Apostolic.” These encounters have been very few and far between, and I could not even tell you what it is about them that makes me feel it is the right word to use about them. I wish I did. I have found that most books on the gift of being an Apostle tend to rely on other books on the same subject. The claimed authority seems to be a circular footnote in one book referring to a footnote in another book, but no authoritative source outside the world of footnotes to footnotes. I wish someone would tell me what the bible actually says about it, though as far as I can see  there is probably not enough there to write a book or hold a conference me thinks…. but then that is probably true also of most of the things we turn into courses or conferences these days… what Jesus said about them would hardly fill a postage stamp…. but it’s Sunday night….

It seems to me in the clearest/most scary/most prophetic  moments I experience in these days of not so good health and medication,  that Jesus is no longer even allowed to be Teacher of His people and that the Word of God is no longer the supreme rule for faith and life and the source of true doctrine and practice, even in reformed/evangelical/charismatic circles…. but apparently Jesus laughs when we get it wrong and encourages us to laugh now instead of expressing extreme frustration and talking of our “little faith.” Despite being told by Jesus to “call no man ‘Father'” or whatever there seems to be a cult of greatly admired individuals arising especially in the charismatic scene, but all our idols have feet of clay.  I have to say whenever in the past  I heard my name being associated with something good that was happening, and heard that association being made too often, I knew it was time for me to move on for my sake and for the spiritual well being of others; I am not saying that needs to be a rule for everyone, but it was what the Lord required of me and I felt I had to share that with you!  Today’s popular Jesus would certainly not say to error and those who make it, “Get thee behind me, Satan!”… but rather would laugh and say “Well done for trying.” By the way He most certainly does say, “Well done for trying” at the right time in the right circumstances, but we seem addicted to the teaching of men and women, so addicted that when it is in error people can get very angry when error is pointed out, the same way an addict would be if someone withheld their drugs or the so called replacement for their drugs, “methadone.”

Even though I once helped to lead conferences and spoke at them throughout the UK and in other lands for many years, I have not been to many lately… I might though, if it was about something that was a priority in the life and teaching of the Jesus of Matthew, Mark, Luke, John and of the first Apostles and was more than words and claims…. I would even go to a postage sized one on the gift of “the Apostle” for then I would know it was probably going to be biblical.

By the way, I felt I was to write about this just the same way as  I have felt with other blogs. If you want to know more of my way of operating over the years, well I wait for the butterfly wing of a thought from God from whatever the passage of scripture may be that I am looking at , and then prepare a framework for that one central thought by the Spirit’s grace and help. Sometimes I do not know the full reason why I have to write/speak about something, but sometimes I sense a troubling in the air that goes beyond something I may or may not be feeling strongly about….I take a leap of faith when that familiar thing happens that the Lord wants to speak. No doubt by the time what He wants to say is filtered through me it means  there will be stuff for you to filter out, but my plea is that you don’t throw out the baby with the bathwater. I believe there is something of God in what I am writing, though probably postage stamp sized or less. That “something” may or may not be listened to…

God Bless

Kenny

Are there apostles around today?

I put this on Facebook and I am blogging it here. It might annoy people but it might just save the growing interest in the “Apostolic” ministry from disaster.

“The essence of Apostolic leadership? Not strategy or seeking influence…just leaders in washing feet….time to get back to Jesus example for our definitions I think…”

Time to take off the worldly clothes of our own making that we have draped upon this word.

God Bless

Kenny

Time to say “Goodbye”……?

All sorts of good thoughts going through my mind today. Was blessed unexpectedly with a beautiful meal in “The Balmoral Hotel” in Edinburgh. Before I share anything else, they say there is no such thing as a free lunch but there is such thing as a free dinner when there are generous and kind Americans around! Thank you…you know who you are… you fed me even though we may disagree about Trump!

Well, a couple of simple thoughts for tonight from many thoughts. These are the two that seem to be coming to the surface. Thought number 1: the Saturday of Holy Week has become incredibly important to me since retiring, in a most helpful way. To be honest there are some things about being a Church of Scotland minister that I am glad to be free from now, but at the same time this has been for me a time of grieving at the loss of ability to do things that were life giving to me. In times past I have always thought of the Saturday between Good Friday and Easter Sunday as a bit of a non-event. From a watching the story point of view, there seems to be nothing interesting happening compared with Christ offering His life as the once for all Sacrifice for sin on Good Friday and the joy of resurrection Sunday. However over this last year I have come to treasure the Saturday. You could look upon that Saturday as death increasing its hold and destructiveness of Christ or you can look at it as the womb of His resurrection. At times since retirement I have concentrated on the hold of what was being taken away through ill health, but I am choosing to look upon this time now as the womb of resurrection – to what? I am not sure yet… I would encourage you to look upon dark times you have as the harbinger of resurrection even though at times it may feel as though it is darkness asserting its power. Being an “Inbetweener”, living in the Saturday rather than the Friday or Sunday as it were, is not always easy… that thought has just led to many more which I will leave for the time being….!

Second simple thought. For me it has just been a fact that what has come to mind most readily without any encouragement over this last while have been the harshest interpretations of Scripture that I have heard preached and taught over the years. Today it was, “Do you want to get well?” This was the question Jesus asked a man who had been ill for 38 years in a place where healing miracles happened regularly. I have heard this preached upon several times with a harsh interpretative key, I might even say a right-wing political interpretative key! It goes like this: “Jesus was wanting to know if the man really wanted to get well, because if he did well he would have to earn a living and face up to responsibilities, instead of living by begging and charity” etc. Unexpectedly, I felt the grief of God earlier today that his Son and His compassion has been so misrepresented by those who claim to be preaching the Scriptures. If I had asked my children when they were younger, “Do you want to go to the cinema tonight?”  – which, when we were living in the far North, was a rare occasion, and costly in terms of money and time as it meant a  roundtrip of over 200 miles from Thurso to Inverness and back, and prior to that 2 ferries, Stronsay to Kirkwall and back, overnight accommodation bills etc. – there would have been no thought in my mind that I was challenging them to get a Saturday job rather than simply offering them something joyful that they could never do for themselves! (Incidentally that has just reminded me of many secret trips of made at this time of the year, up to about 600 hundred miles to get the “must have” Christmas presents!) I would ask that question about the cinema with delight in my heart, despite knowing that I would have to endure “Happy Meals” at Macdonalds in Inverness! I was  offering something without demanding anything in terms of changed lifestyle. The very question would be to inspire hope, joy and faith;  since someone who loved them had asked that question and said what I had said to them, it was about to happen… if I as an earthly father…HOW MUCH MORE our Father in heaven…So earlier today I said goodbye to the nagging and tormenting  question, “So many people have prayed for me, do I really want to get well?” I simply rest in the nearness of Christ who cares with great compassion for my well being and who recognises my not wishing some aspects of ministry back is a sign of perfect sanity rather than malingering! Of this I am certain.

What sermons have you heard that secretly have been a persistent  source of condemnation to you? If they are a source of condemnation, even if they seemed to be an explanation of Scripture, they did not come from Christ. He is for us not against us in all our struggles and our weaknesses, our sinfulness and our vulnerability of body, mind or spirit. When there is truth that really does need to be faced up to he helps us do so straightforwardly rather than with riddles: “You have had five husbands and the man you are with now is not your husband”; “Go sell what you have and give to the poor.” More importantly He offers hope should we choose to accept it, the hope of the offer of living water to quench every thirst and the hope of treasure in heaven if we leave what He asks us to leave in order to follow Him. Anyone can offer condemnation and guilt. A Saviour offers hope. So, “Goodbye harsh Christ! ” was what I found myself saying to a devil masquerading as the Christ of light and love today. Perhaps you need to say the same. You will not lose the real Christ if you say such a goodbye…

Well, it is very late, but I guess if you are meant to see and read this, you will.

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.

Time to redeem “apathy”?

This blessed me a lot. I hope you find it helpful. It is quoted with very kind and generous permission, as I acknowledge later,  for which I am very grateful.

“ … routinely, am I capable of looking at how I’m thinking and how I’m feeling with a bit of distance, a little coolness? Am I capable of taking my intense feelings, positive and negative, out of the depths of my guts for a moment and putting them where I can look at them – and where Christ can look at them?

It’s what the ancient spiritual traditions mean by ‘dispassion.’ It’s a terrible word, and it’s not much better in Greek, because apatheia sounds remarkably like ‘apathy’ and it is indeed the source of our English word. But dispassion, apatheia, in the spiritual understanding of the early Christians, involved exactly that capacity to stand back a fraction from how we are feeing, what we think we are wanting, and what other people are wanting. We are saying, “Just a moment – can I make some space around these feelings, these instincts, these emotions, these desires? Can I create a bit of air around them and not allow my reactions instantly to be dictated by them?’ And that applies equally to feelings of enormous ecstasy and enthusiasm as to resentment or misery. Stand back a little, give those feelings room to breathe; give yourself room to breathe. Look them in the eye and say, ‘Now come on, how real are you? What’s this really about?

Self-awareness, and this rather alarming word ‘dispassion’, are to do with developing some sense of freedom from the projections, the expectations, the busyness, that constantly threaten to hem us in. And we only really get that when, in our prayer and in our life generally, we make enough space to hear our name spoken by God…To sustain ‘life in the Spirit’ under pressure, we need to retain the ability to say to God, ‘Tell me who I am.’ Because I’m not going to settle with what everyone else is telling me – I’m not even going to settle with what I am telling me. I need to hear it from God, the God who tells me. Because then I know that I exist, I live, I flourish, simply because of his speaking. ‘I have called you by name,’ says God, ‘you are mine’ (Isaiah 43.1).”

(Taken from Being Disciples (pages 77-79) by Rowan Williams, SPCK, London, 2016 used by permission. For more information please go to  http://spckpublishing.co.uk/product/being-disciples-essentials-of-the-christian-life/”

Some of you might even want to gently sing these words from my childhood and perhaps from yours as a prayer; the words come from the hymn, “O Jesus I have promised…”

O let me hear thee speaking
in accents clear and still,
above the storms of passion,
the murmurs of self-will.
O speak to reassure me,
to hasten or control;
O speak, and make me listen,
thou guardian of my soul.

God bless you with true apatheia! Dispassion is s as much needed for spiritual health as passion it would seem…

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.

Holy Darkness

I am learning a lot about spiritual life since I retired. I am also learning about depression. I have not sunk into that by God’s mercy, but I have skirted the edge of it now and then, and have dear friends who have to cope with that on a year in year out basis, who are incidentally, lovely, filled with the Spirit Christians, some of them engaged in powerful Christ honouring ministries; they have shared much wisdom with me in the last few months especially.

I believe that depression is an illness like any other and those who suffer from it should be regarded with the same compassion and love we would have for anyone in any other type of suffering – only perhaps more so, for it carries  stigma that is sometimes more cruel in the church than in the world. For me, part of the walking the edges of that has been that for reasons of physical lack of energy and health and capacity, I could not go back the way to what was; certain things are cut off from me now, whether permanently or otherwise I know not. The problem is that though I know I cannot go back the way in terms of life or ministry, I am not yet into the future, whatever that may be, and that can carry a certain amount of angst. A journey has started but I don’t know where it is going yet. I see now that many who go through a certain type of true depression are by no means weak: they are courageously trying to make a move on from the “past” forced or chosen, gladly or reluctantly; a past which may have been good or horrific, which held many good things or on the other hand harmful or destructive things. For all sorts of reasons continuing or returning to the past is not an option for them; it is not the answer…but they are not sure how to make the journey, or where they are going, but they are moving somewhere…it takes courage to make such an uncertain journey that you perhaps cannot see an end to.

You know probably that I am charismatic by scriptural conviction, belief and by experience – though not as much experience as would wish; but it has been real. I find that by dreams, God often confirms or highlights for my blessing themes that are there in Scripture. Putting together a few dreams I have had lately, I know God has confirmed for me that returning to previous ways of living or ministering are not His will for me. In these same dreams I have seen well meaning friends treating me with real honour and trying to help me get back into the same type of ministry I had, to bring that to life again, but not managing to do that successfully. However a theme that comes through time and time again is that this phase is meant by God and that at times I am fighting against that simple fact. He shows me in beautiful ways what the Scriptures promise about the people of God; His wings are over me and there is shelter there. In His hands there is not only shelter, but air to breathe and a safe place from which to see. This is not a shelter that smothers, but one in which there is light and air and vision as well as safety and rest and nourishment.

I guess I am just sharing that because some of you might have to accept where things are at this moment. Sometimes we are fearful of saying we accept something not pleasant in case it shows we have no faith for a change, and some well meaning believers will probably  barge in and say we must not accept such things and if we do we are cursing ourselves!  It doesn’t mean that at all; but you can find God there, for sure, even if it is not the place you would have chosen for yourself to find Him or the place you will be in for all time! We sing about God wrapping Himself in light, and that is a wonderful truth, but the bible also tells us that our God wraps Himself in “deep darkness.” Joyce Rupp says that there is a “holy darkness,” and I think she is right. There is a dark darkness which seems to be dominated by the enemy’s intention, but there is a “holy darkness” where God can seem to be absent in familiar ways, but He is there with some treasures He wants us to discover that perhaps we would have never come to know save through walking through this valley of holy darkness. Well-meaning and loved and lovely supportive friends tell me that my ministry is needed still – the extent to which they feel it is needed varies in scale from a parish to the whole world!!  Anything like that sounds too daunting as at this moment! I am grateful for their encouragement, but for the time being, I know this is a time for me to be consciously under His wings, and trying to accept with joy the goodness of His will, His presence and His blessing. My ministry is not as needed as my need for God in this place where I am beginning to find Him in a new way. I think there are beauties to be discovered here and perhaps shared one day. I have started to ask each morning that I might see the beauty of the Lord. Since I started asking that, something good seems to be rising up.

So, I am asking you, could it be that some of us are going into or through a holy darkness, when at first we thought it was a dark darkness? There is a joy and a hope that comes when we can truly say we think that is the journey we are on by the grace and help of God.

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.

“Lord, help me to be consistent…”

​Just wondering if those Christian leaders in the USA who could not vote for Clinton – and in my opinion rightly so –  will not only speak up for the voiceless in the womb, but the victims of gun crime who cant speak for themselves because they are dead. Will they speak with courage for a properly and fairly financed health scheme for the poor?

This is not a taunt, but we can all be so selective in how far and to whom we extend our principles, including me. I can believe in the worth of a child and pass by a smelly homeless man or woman in the Princes Street in Edinburgh without concern and often with a hint of judgmentalism trying to make itself heard from somewhere, a part of me where there are a lot of things I don’t like about me that as yet have to be brought fully into the light of Jesus. Defending the unborn – again, rightly so –  and glorying in a personal gun collection numbering over 500, to think of one Christian leader seems strange. If we value human life let’s make sure we are as consistent with that as we can be – not just in the USA but here in the UK too…. anyway, just thinking…. 

…and while I am at it, to go off at a bit of a tangent, I feel like I need a spiritual and moral bath after this last few days of world goings on. So much slime, filth and brutality, so many clothes of thought draped upon Jesus.. I am  longing to hear the tone of the Jesus I read about in Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. Oh yes, I know charismatic teachers are saying these days that now we can know not just that Jesus but the risen and glorified Jesus. They usually base it on an erroneous interpretation of Paul saying that he didn’t know Jesus after the flesh as once he did.  Usually such teaching is greeted with roars of approval and applause. But the glorified Jesus is the Jesus of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John…only more so. He has not changed in character, personality or tone. Thankfully, yet fearfully, He is wonderfully, perfectly consistent…”Lord Jesus, have mercy upon me and help me. ‘LORD SPEAK TO ME THAT I MAY SPEAK, IN LIVING ECHOES OF THY TONE…'”…” I haven’t got as much energy as once I had, due to health issues,  but if a leader, a book, a teacher, a conference, church or movement doesn’t have the smell, the sound, the fragrance and the tone of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, well, my limited energy can’t survive or thrive in that air. I am longing for the fragrance of Jesus…. tone, not just truth matters…

God bless

Kenny

P.S. I have no control over any adverts that may appear on my blog! K

I don’t have an answer…does anyone?

The briefest of blogs today. Earlier today I opened up a message on my phone to read of a wonderful answer to prayer for someone that Morag and I and many others have been praying for, an answer which was described as  “nothing short of a miracle.” It concerned a little one whose life was at risk.

It made me think back to little ones over the years that have been prayed for with equal love, intensity and faith, for whom there was no miracle… and I had no answer. Even after Toronto, Bethel etc., I still can’t explain why miracles come and why they don’t… I have not heard any bible teacher or even those used regularly in healing whose teaching satisfies me on this one – so although you would mean it well, please don’t send me a link to someone teaching on this!! The saving grace is that at the point of extreme need, or even extreme disappointment and anger against God that one can encounter in pastoral situations, sensitive presence, kindness and compasion and an offer to pray are never out of place and more often than you might realise are appreciated more than asnwers. Suffering is not ground for excited, assured, cold or for that matter warm theological suggestion or speculation.

Friends, we all have to live with these mysteries and at times it is very hard to do just that. I am no longer a parish minister, but I particularly want to ask you to remember that your minister of pastor finds it just as hard to hold these mysteries. I found myself thinking  today how over the years I have stood at a lot of gravesides, too many in fact: babies, young children or adults killed in road accidents, those who perished in house or car fires, children murdered by their father; I thought too of precious human beings who died by suicide, some I knew old and young who had drowned, those who were the victims of violence or who lived for decades with the trauma of abuse, those who suffered from wasting diseases, those suffering the hell of addiction and mental illness or watching those they love “live” and die with such things. I am sure I could add to the list, but do you get the point? I could be very graphic about things I have seen or ministered into over the years. I have seen some things that I wish I had never had to see and will never forget. I could also go on and tell you about times I have been physically threatened and attacked by people and bitten by dogs during pastoral visits!! I experienced many of these situations within the first 10 years of ministry while I was still young. I knew no more than anyone else what to say. I had no pre-prepared answer, in fact I hate pre-prepared answers. I simply had  a sense of call, the same bible as you do, the same God to pray to and the promise of His presence and His grace as I went into situations in His Name: a presence that I occasionally felt, but more often  than not had to believe was with me by faith.

I think I want to ask you to remember what I have shared whenever you choose to speak to your pastor or minister or perhaps a chaplain in a health care situation. Think of what they may have had to carry that day or that week, the traumatic things that have multiplied in their experience and memories over the years. This very week they may have stood beside a tiny white coffin, or may have listend to a story of intense suffering that has been shared with no one but them. Remember too that they may be in a personal or family or financial struggle,  as well as carrying the pastoral situations they have been called into. Remember all of this when you are tempted to gossip or complain or criticise. Perhaps instead of doing that you should pay for your pastor to have a holiday. We have been blessed in that way several times over the years.  Perhaps you should encourage them to take a sabbatical – something I was encouraged to do but never did! I heard someone else say in jest the other day that other folk don’t get sabbaticals in their jobs…. true… but if you are tempted to sort of angrily agree with such a thought… well, I am glad you were never in my congregation…you just don’t understand.

I guess I am wondering why I am writing this today? Perhpas someone reading this was just about to give their pastor a mouthful of complaint or opinion, or to share details of a petty quarrel with someone in the church that as an adult you should just get over and seek to  make your own move towards reconciliation? Perhaps God wants you to pray right this very day for your pastor or minister. I really don’t know why I felt so strongly I had to write this today, but if you feel in any way that the cap fits…

God bless

Kenny

Thoughts of a Bible believing Christian on November 8th. result…

Some more  personal thoughts on waking today to America’s choice of President:

I totally understand why many  in many countries and in the USA itself will feel horrified, and many would have been equally/slightly-less/slightly-more/a-lot-less/a-lot-more-horrified if it had gone the other way… but I am not sure why this was so unexpected. There’s something in the air….not saying whether it is good or bad, I am personally unsure, but time will tell… but “there’s something in the air”….bigger than America… And while I am in song quoting mood, remember God is God: I am not saying peace peace where there is no peace, but am singing along with Bob Marley, “Don’t worry about a thing, everything’s going to be alright…”  (Don’t worry about me either – I am not a Rastafarian and never will be; someone my height would not get away with hair like that).

Whatever mixture of judgement and grace may being outworked at the moment or in days to come, ultimately it works out. God is God and there is no other. Remmeber the comfort and challenge that the God of Jeremiah 18 and the potter’s wheel is still true to Himself. Even if we are faithless to Him, He remains faithful to Himself for He cannot disown Himself or His promises as revealed in that true for all and for all time prophetic word. Final song: that thought brings me hope but “sometimes it causes me to tremble, tremble. tremble…”

God Bless and God Bless America.

Kenny

8th. November: A Charismatic Christian thinking some thoughts, sharing some memories….

Just looking at prophecies about who will win the election in the USA – some big names in that scene, some not so well known, some very bold, some speaking double-talk so they can’t be pinned down… well, we’ll see… they were wrong about year 2K, but no apology for getting it wrong was offered then, and that didn’t seem to bother folk who continued to support their ministries, buy their books, watch their T.V. shows and fund their lifestyles. Ah well, at least rice sellers made some business out of it…

If they are right, well it is hardly noteworthy since there are only two main candidates, but I guess we will hear about their correct “one out of two” choice, as satelite T.V digs out the clips…but if they are wrong this time round, will they admit they have got it wrong? Is it only the political scene that is corrupt and politicians that can be unaccountable? As a charismatic who blieves in Prophecy and has been on the receiving end of being powerfully and accurately ministered to prophetically, this type of thing worries me….Looks like the bulk of them think God by political persuasion is…well, watch the clips and you will soon see….

Jeremiah 23 comes to mind….. it would be more profitable to read that and tremble than to watch the prophecy videos. By the way, this is what it means to break the commandment against taking the Lord’s name in vain; attaching His Name to our thoughts and pronouncements…. it is serious. Lest you think this is anti- American, let me assure you it is not. Some of the godliest, loveliest most sincere and sanctified Christians I ever met are American, Republican and Democrat by genuine persuasion: working at their marriages, living out the bible, caring,  generous in the extreme, courteous to all and holy in a most beautiful way. I should also say that some of the humblest and most accurate prophets I have ever met come from the good old U.S of A, prophets who helped me stand in awe of God, or more accurately to lower my head  and weep in His holy presence; the same applies to Bible Teachers and Church leaders  from America who have blessed me greatly and continue so to do. I think about them often, and the very memory of them refreshes my soul.

By the way, any adverts that appear on my blog, don’t come from me….just in case you think I am luring you into gambling or even worse….! I want to scream at  the folk at WordPress, “Get them out of here” and “Shut up”  and “nasty” and “lock them up”,  which seem to be  current”in” phrases. I could get rid of them by paying something…but I am not only a Charismatic Christian but a Scottish Charismatic Christian, so sadly, the adverts stay, unless one of you wants to prophesy otherwise…

God bless…”and please God, bless America and the American Church.”

Kenny

 

Aberfan…

I like blogging! It is sort of different from preaching. I don’t feel the need to defend my thoughts, dot all the “i’s” and cross all the “t’s.” I am quite happy to share things that I am trying to get hold of myself even if what I share leaves many questions unanswered. I am quite happy to live with that. I guess all of that is by way of defence of what follows:

Not long ago I listened to what is undoubtedly one of the most amazing musical compositions I have heard, “Cantata Memoria”, by Sir Karl Jenkins which remembers in an astonishingly moving way the disaster at Aberfan back in 1966. Along with many of you, I can remember the sense of horror that gripped us all when the dreadful news broke. The opening moments of Sir Karl’s work are an incredible painting in music of the lightness and carefreeness and playfulness that is meant to mark childhood combined with a sinister and foreboding sense of looming disaster. It is sheer genius. Later there is a disturbingly beautiful moment where the names of those who perished – so many of them children – are read out followed by the line, “Buried alive by the National Coal Board.” I am glad that simple truth is acknowledged in these few horrific words. Justice demands that fact should not be whitewashed. It almost was 50 years ago. It is so stark, so beautiful and yet so disturbing that I am not sure if I could listen to it again. That section may well have had more impact upon me even on one listening than any other music I know of. It is fittingly honouring to those it remembers, and yet it may prove to be a musical moment that I will listen to the least. If you can bear it, why not take a listen to the whole thing? I want to stress that the work ultimately ends with a moving from darkness to light, lest what I have said might make you think you don’t want to hear it! You can access it on line in various ways…

The next morning was Sunday Morning. Something happened that has not happened to me often over the years. The Lord put a name on my spirit: “Sophia.” When in the past I have experienced something similar, I know I have to be on the look out for someone by the given name. I went to church where there was a student minister, who incidentally preached a very good sermon indeed! He introduced himself and his wife and then his little baby daughter. Her name? Sophia.

I can’t tell you how I know what God was trying to show me, but I believe I do know. The name “Sophia” means “Wisdom” and somehow I knew that God was wanting me to think of what is said about Jesus as a child, namely that He grew “in wisdom, in stature, in favour with God and man.” I can’t prove this rigorously for the theologians among you – that doesn’t bother me at all –  but I do  know what God said to me was that His good and perfect will for childhood was not that it would be ended or cut short by Aberfan or by a thousand or more other heart-rending alternatives. He is a good God who cares for the sons and daughters of men and women. He wants children to grow in wisdom, in stature, in favour with God and people.

It is good to know that our God does not have only earthly time to work out that plan for childhood. Psalm 8 tells us that our God is the One “ whose glory above the heavens is chanted by the mouth of babes and infants…” Personally I believe the children of Aberfan continue to grow in the ways God intended and will continue to do so in even greater fullness when Christ comes again to bring fullness of salvation in every sense to spirit, soul and body. I believe right now they sing of God’s glory and over the last 50 years have become wiser than any who are reading this blog. That thought may be of particular comfort to some of you who have faced sadness beyond the norm that few have to face… if you are among such, may the God of all comfort, the God of all consolation, the God of all hope be with you, now and forever.

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.

Ordinary…Aaahhh, thank You Lord… what a relief….

Went for a walk on a beautiful early evening on a quiet beach not long ago. As I looked across the sea I could see the Bass Rock: it brought back memories of my grandparents, parents, family holidays etc. I started to think of all the people down the centuries who had walked on the beach before me looking at the same view; perhaps they knew peace, perhaps they knew fear as their eyes searched the horizon for a boat which never returned. I looked up into the night sky and saw the constellations so clearly; I felt so small (no jokes from those who know me, please!)

I came home from that walk thinking about the generations past and to come, the vastness of everything, singing a hymn and an amended version of a chorus: The hymn: “The Lord is King life up your voice, O earth and all ye heavens rejoice…” The amended chorus, “I am ordinary and God has loved me and He gave the very best thing that He had to save me…”

I am saddened by the insistence in the modern church in trying to make everyone believe they are special which removes the delight and relief found in being ordinary and like everybody else. It results in an X factor church generation with Christ waiting in the wings while the stars take the stage. It is the essence of Phariseeism and a religious outlook: “I thank thee Lord that I am not like all other men.” It is the source of racism, genocide, terrorism and hostilities within and between churches. I shudder when I hear in recent weeks, “America is the only country in the world that is founded….etc.” I shudder when I hear an American preacher say that only 600,000 lives were lost in the world wars and wars of recent times: presumably American lives are more special than others: other lives lost apparently don’t count…well, that was what it sounded like, even if he didn’t mean it. Teachers and preachers will be judged more strictly because like the rudder of a ship, their words, their tongue, can have a huge influence in terms of the direction that an individual, a church or an even wider body of people decide to take.

Christian living and ministry comes from this joyful place: I am ordinary, I am like all other people and God has loved me…. so many people need to know the peace that comes from this.

We might have to wait a couple of decades for the pendulum to become more balanced again and the superhero, superstar outlook and teaching to bite the dust. I think revival is further away than it was in Scotland, if you know what I mean…so much is being made of men and women and methods…so little space for God…. and yet there is hope: maybe when things are wrong is just the time revival comes….

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.

Beauty…is powerful…

At times over the last year or so, the bible has been a dry book to me; my prayers have been those of one who knows not how to pray; I would have been embarrassed if any of you could have heard their brevity and simplicity and feebleness. At such moments “beauty” has been a powerful peace-bringer through the Holy Spirit; a couple of days ago it was a tree in all its Autumnal glory that brought stillness and peace and a tangible sense of the nearness of God to me; not so far from “Consider the lillies,” I guess. I stopped short of speaking to the tree the way that Spurgeon used to speak to the flowers to find rest for his soul….. but then I’m not a Baptist, I am a Presbyterian, of sorts!

Remember, those of you who preach and who are called to pastor souls, or those of you who are seeking, perhaps right now, to help a friend or loved one, that what may seem reasonable advice or the most lenient of encouragements to spiritual activity or discipline, can seem like a huge demand to the hearer; way beyond reach, possibility or capability. Why not try the Jesus way; an invitation to consider something beautiful? His way works… so let’s let our words be few….

…and remember, laughter can be a powerful medicine too… skateboarding dogs and Kung-fu cats  on “Facebook” have blessed me more than many zealous Christian sites…more of that another time.

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.

Oh God,Oh God!

​So James Dobson, if what Donald Trump has admitted doing is not considered sexual abuse what is? Or are you just using sophistry when you say he is not guilty; in other words he has not been found guilty in a court even though he has admitted “wrong” in a totally non regretful way? Sad beyond belief that an evangelical leader who cares about “The family” should inflict such pain on millions of women struggling to get free from the effects of sexual assault or abuse.  Why not break down in tears and invite the Evangelical constituency to seek the face of God to show America where His controversy is with the U.S? When democracy produces a choice between Clinton and Trump, then democracy has lost its marriage with goodness, indeed it has entered into a marriage with something insidious.  Poor, poor America….

Holy God…holy people…

Found myself reading Jeremiah today and thinking about the word “holy.” What does it mean to call God “Holy God”? Well, the word “holy” really means “separated.” God is separated from all other “gods.” They had to be fashioned out of wood or stone, covered with gold or silver, fixed to a base etc. The true God is holy, separated from all these gods by virtue of the fact that He is unmade and Living. All these other gods, so called, tended to be gods of specific places who aggressively defended limited territory , perhaps the mountains or the valleys, but God is “holy,” separate and distinct and different, because He is God of the mountains and of the valleys and can win His battles anywhere: everywhere is His territory, the earth and all its fullness belongs to Him as do the highest heavens. The other gods were dumb and could not speak to predict events long before they happen, but God is Holy, different, separate from these gods who know nothing, in that He makes His will known to His servants the prophets before it comes to pass. So God is holy, separate, distinct, set apart as different from all other gods in these ways as well as in a host of other ways, but perhaps I have said enough to illustrate the point.

However, as I was thinking these thoughts I was remembering the odd paradox that formed in my mind when reading Rowan Williams book, “Being Disciples.” I want to quote quite a lengthy extract from it. I have written for permission which has not yet come. Without quoting directly then, but rather mixing his thoughts in with my words, Rowan Williams writes about Jesus speaking of consecrating Himself in John’s Gospel, setting Himself apart, making Himself “holy” as His death approaches, indeed making Himself holy through that death. The paradox is that the God who separates Himself from all other gods, shows Himself holy in such ways as mentioned in the first paragraph of this blog, makes Himself different from them in this way too: He does not set Himself aloof and separate from human beings and their need, but comes right into the deepest of human need, vulnerability, weakness and sinfulness to live in it as one of us, to  carry it and touch it with divine mercy and love and help. The paradox is that God’s Holiness, being separate, is shown by Him not being separated from human beings. He comes close, dives right in to where help is needed, even when it is needed by those who have offended His ways and spurned Him.

That leads to this application: Christian holiness involves being in the world but not of it to be sure; part of living this out involves entering into its need in love and practical compassion, to do what we can do by the help of the Holy Spirit of the God who is near, whose Kingdom is at hand, not distant or all for a future time, not in some far away place, but here; here now, as well as coming.

I have more time now to read the Bible and pray and think than I once did, which I guess is a good thing – not that I make as much use of that time as I want to yet. In itself none of that would make me holy in the Jesus sense of that word. I enter into His holiness not through separation from people on some ascetic spiritual pursuit, though spiritual disciplines are most definitely needed. I miss the ready made bridges afforded to being a parish minister, but I guess this will be an exciting time too as I learn to make new bridges. Hold on to this paradox: holiness cannot be achieved in separation from people. Whatever can be achieved by separation it is not “holiness’ in the Jesus way. Well, I guess I am looking back over my day wondering if I have touched holiness today…how about 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.

Thank you Jeremiah…I think…

Well, some thoughts that arose through reading Jeremiah today. This is what God says about His own daughter Israel/Judah; even if two of the most famous, effective and powerful intercessors in the history of people of God, Moses and Samuel were to join their voices in united prayer, God would not listen or change His mind concerning a coming judgement. Even if Jeremiah, one of the greatest prophets was to add his prayers to theirs so that 3 were agreeing in prayer, the prayer would not be heard or granted. This is a bit uncomfortable for those who pepper their prayers with “Lord Jesus, you have promised where 2 (or 3) of us agree on anything in prayer, we can have it!”

This is such a corrective to the present trend on a “how to” approach to everything to do with God and His Kingdom which brings a lot of disillusionment though promising so much; verses and promises from within the context of being honest about a relationship with God or its lack are turned into formulae; if we learn a certain formula or approach to some blessing, or repeat a certain verse of Scripture often enough, “Shazaam!” it will be done: indeed God must do it, He has to, He has promised, and He has to fulfil His promises, doesn’t He? The fact is that every “how to” whether it is to do with healing, prayer, mission, revival or whatever is subject ultimately to the will of God. So when two (or even three) ask for something, or agree on something in prayer, the question still remains; is what is being prayed for the will of God from hearts that seek His will to be done? If it is not, then we can agree all we want, claim by faith all we want, to no avail. God is not a puppet to the shouting and proclaiming or the activity of His people no matter how confident, loud, passionate or convinced the sound we make; it may be that such declared assurance is merely confidence in our own loudness or passion: an unquestioning slavery to our own conviction about the rightness of our convictions. We do seem to live in days where there is a lot of passion about being passionate resulting in “feel good” meetings with exaggerated claims but little true testimony as to the activity of God in these meetings beyond the occasional lengthening (or shortening!) of a leg – though I believe that happens at times, it is rather depressing that after all the moves of God and centres of renewal that have arisen since the 60’s this is still given such prominence so often in a meeting as a testimony to the God who heals…. while many who really need healed go away trying not to be disappointed…. or maybe I am just reeling from the tailoress in Rose Street a week ago announcing under her breath in a beautiful but concerned continental accent, lest others should hear what I already knew and have lived with without difficulty for 58 years, “three quarters of an inch difference in the legs…” I said equally quietly in a slow Scottish accent, “Yes, it’s ok. I know that…”

I had a dream not long ago about the hacking of my navigation system. For all that I am grateful for the insights of the charismatic movement into the bible, I am not so grateful for any school of theology or approach to church life or mission that seems to suggest that if we follow a “model” then we will get a desired result, as though relationship with God or seeking to know and to pray for His will is irrelevant. It is hard to be involved in present day Christian or Church talk without yielding to the relentless pressure that somehow we can control God to give us a desired result; systems become more important than relationship and can even replace that relationship. I am also grateful that I read in Jeremiah today about how to recalibrate the navigation system. “Stand at the crossroads and ask for the ancient paths…”

The ancient paths: whatever that may mean for you, for me it means remembering what I was taught at the beginning of my Christian life: the importance of prayer; the bible; meeting with God’s people every Sunday at least; valuing the insights of those who had followed Jesus more years than I had been alive; seeking to live out “the Jesus life” in relation to anyone I may meet under any circumstance in the course of any given day. I seem to remember a time when these simple things mattered, when Christianity and Church were about such things… but maybe it’s  just my medication….

God Bless

Kenny

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