Thinking of Alisdair R….

 

I mentioned to you before a book that was recommended to me: “The Way of The Dragon or The Way of The Lamb?” by Jamin Coggin and Kyle Strobel. I recommended it on the basis of reading one chapter! My mind on steroids makes concentration difficult; it always seems to be wanting to rush to the next sentence before I have had time to absorb the one I am reading. However today, I picked up the book again and found I was able to read it for a couple of hours. Somehow it was so interesting that it overcame the steroidal effect, which was both unusual and encouraging! Not sure what that says about other books I have tried to read recently….

The subtitle of the book is “Searching for Jesus’ Path of Power in a Church that has Abandoned it.”  You can probably predict or work out that its main theme is that Jesus’ path of power is the path of weakness; a path that is not always or obviously embraced or modelled within the church in the developed world. I have noticed for example that when I speak in a blog about the Kingdom of God having a bias towards the poor that some object and immediately respond by saying that every sector of society, every social class or division needs the gospel, not just poorer communities. Well, I confess I wonder how folk can read a post and not read it but instead allow a self created over sensitive trigger to set off the blue touch paper of their anger or hobbyhorse. Obviously every sector of society needs the gospel! That goes without saying. However those considered comfortable or rich by the world’s reckoning of things, need to realise that it is a Kingdom that flourishes in its truest form amongst the poor and the weak. Oh, already I can hear, “Kenny, there are other forms of poverty other than material poverty you know!” Actually if you say that, I want to say, “ Believe it or not I actually know that,” but I also find I am asking “How thick can a person be and yet still be breathing?”  (Yes, wee smiling Kenny can have such thoughts!)

It may make you feel uncomfortable,  and go all defensive for yourself or your church, but accept it! Jesus taught it. The gospel is Good News to all, but primarily to the economically poor. Why? Because it tells us that God’s Kingdom is interested in justice and fairness and opportunity which the poor are often denied, and it also bestows a worth on those considered of no worth in a material sense or in terms of a certain type of achievement or success valued and rewarded, sought after and applauded by the world. It seems to me that Justice and Resurrection are the two prime evidences of the arrival of the Kingdom of God, not some of the lesser signs much favoured in charismatic circles, though they matter too and according to Jesus are indeed signs of God’s Kingdom in the midst of us. We seem to go round and round the roundabout of healing continually as one renewal centre or church reaches ascendancy for a few years only to go into the shadows in the emerging bright blaze of the next band wagon. Perhaps one day we will show we are beginning to understand the Kingdom when we go by the thousands to conferences organised by churches that have been channels of justice for the poor, or who have a good track record at raising the dead.

One of the things I confess I find difficult in the increasing middle class dominance of church life (and I speak as a middle class type of person) is when people within churches are effectively valued according to their usefulness to the cause, valued for their gifting, valued for what they can contribute, valued for how they can expand the business and the share of the spiritual market. This reeks of worldliness. “Are you saying that it is wrong to be gifted or for folk to use their gifts in the service of Christ?” Again, wee smiling Kenny is thinking,  “How thick can a person be etc….?” I am saying that this is how we know we know we have got hold of the love of Christ and the values of the Kingdom of God: we treasure the treasure the world might overlook or perhaps never see in a person.

In the book I referred to above, Coggin and Strobel paid a visit to James Houston one of the founding fathers of Regent College. James Houston’s wife, at the time of the interview, was suffering from dementia. It was at a stage where sometimes it was not obvious and sometimes it was. Towards the end of the interview/visit, James Houston was asked this: “Where have you learned most significantly that strength really does come in weakness?” Just as he was about to answer, Rita said quietly under her breath, “I could tell you after a few years.” Then James, looking over at his bride, said this: “You see Rita is worried that as she loses her memory, she will forget Jesus.” Then James turned to his interviewers, but continued to talk to Rita: “So I remind her, what matters is not that you remember him but that he remembers you.

Already  over the last year, I have had time to test a thought that has come to me quite often since retirement on health grounds: will I still be looked on as being as valuable to the church of Christ as I was in days when health allowed me to preach every week and speak at conferences and retreats in many settings? Am I as valued now that I cannot necessarily guarantee I will turn up at the engagements I agree to? Just being honest: I have had cause to wonder and be uncertain… the jury is still out… I say this not for the sake of pity, nor am I looking for sack-loads or an “Inbox” full of affirmation! Nor do I need preached at that my security should be in the love of God. I know that, and it is!

As I bring this already over long blog to a close, I am thinking about the increasing number of people who are afflicted with mental illness of one form or another, the increasing number who will suffer from dementia, Alzheimers etc. Do we still believe they have treasure to offer to the church and to bring forth from the church? In church circles which treasure doctrinal allegiance,  do we believe that a person who can no longer seem to believe, or remember what to believe, or a person who has perhaps never even had the capacity to believe in Jesus show more clearly than a person abounding in health, strength and giftedness, the revolutionary message of the love of God in Christ?

“He remembers you!” Should the day come when His Name means nothing to someone you know  and is no longer the sweetest Name they know, hold on to that, as one day someone else may hold on to it for some of us reading this blog right now. “Remembering” is a loaded word in the bible. It is a word that finds its meaning in “covenant.” God remembers those He has entered into covenant with in Christ Jesus. He never withdraws the “I will” promises He has made, sealed by sacrifice and remembered in the covenant meal.

This brought me great comfort today as I thought about a dear member of my former congregation, Holy Trinity Church, Wester Hailes. The last time I saw Alisdair, he could not remember the church, the Praise Band that he loved, the tambourine he loved to play, the bible verses He had memorised, the concepts that were precious to him. He was still being faithfully visited by a few people from the church. The most distressing thing to me was that he did not particularly seem to remember his Christian faith or at least not always consistently or obviously. Mention of it seemed to bring a blank look more often than light across his child like countenance. It is wonderful to know that even if it is as I at times feared or suspected, Jesus remembers him. He has lost no value in the Kingdom of God. He is a living embodiment of what matters most; Not our health, not the operation of our gifts, our ability to contribute practically and physically or emotionally, financially or prayerfully to a vision or a mission or a church project or venture; but rather, above all other things, that we are remembered by Jesus, by a covenant making and keeping God, who values what the world and even the church may overlook and fail to see. His memory for remembering sins we have confessed is appalling. He just cannot remember, just cannot do it. His memory for those with whom He has made a covenant is astounding. It simply never falters.

God Bless

Kenny

“What and Who Lord?”

I so  appreciated a sermon I heard this week from Andrew Jewell at Struthers August Church Camp at Gartmore House. He contrasted two kings we read about in the bible, namely, Hezekiah and David. Hezekiah, though he did much good in terms of spiritual reformation of the nation seemed to have no concern beyond his own times. When he heard judgement was coming, he was simply relieved it was not going to happen in his life time. He seemed to show little concern that even his own sons were going to be directly affected. David on the other hand thought beyond his own life time. He gathered resources which would enable his son, Solomon, to build the temple. Andrew then went on to talk about the treasures we have gathered in the Lord being not only for ourselves but for the next generation.

For a few days before hearing that sermon I had been thinking about Jesus saying in John 17 verse 19: “For their sake I consecrate myself…”  Jesus was praying about the disciples who would still be in the world after His dying and rising as  He prayed these words. I know there is an application that is unique to Jesus – and thank God that is so. However, I had been thinking over these words as a helpful principle for my own self: for whose sake do I consecrate myself?

The alternative translations would be “for their sake I sanctify (set apart) myself” or “for their sake I sacrifice myself…” I guess many of us who are married or are parents or grandparents could identify with that principle. But single folk can surely identify with this too in the area of deep and committed  friendships. There is nothing we would not do for the sake of those we love who are concerned.

How about going wider than that circle of intimacy as we think about these words? I was challenged for example by Andrew’s emphasis in his sermon. How much do I think about the younger generations in the on going story of the Kingdom of God? Is there any thought in our hearts about consecrating ourselves for their sake? What about the lost with regard to the same question. What about our place in the fellowship of believers? “For whose sake do I consecrate myself” is the question I guess I am asking us to think about. Jesus did not only look after his own interests.  Collectively of course the church should be thinking of the up and coming generations. It may interest you to know that the spiritual education of up and coming generations is one of the main entrustments to the Kirk Session in the Church of Scotland set up. It may seem obvious that should be so. What are we sacrificing, in what ways are we consecrating ourselves on their behalf?

However, this morning, as I write, I am thinking more  about us as individual beleivers within the setting of the life and witness of the church: have we got a clear idea about who the “they” are for whom I consecrate myself this day and each day? It may indeed be the young; it may be the lost, it may be the elderly, it may be the abused, the lonely, those weakened in some way in body soul or spirit; it may be a country overseas, a people group, a minority of some sort, the persecuted church; it may be your neighbours, your work colleagues. I suppose for me, in this more individual sense of calling, I am still trying to work out who the “they” are in this phase of life with its opportunities and limitations.* It was easy to see who they were when I was a parish minister. It was the congregation and parish primarily. It was easy to see when I was part of the leadership of CLAN Gathering. It was the hundreds of churches and church leaders who looked upon that as a time of refreshing and encouraging and even equipping for many years. But what or who now? That is beginning to become a bit clearer but it is not as clear as I hope it will be as time passes.

So will you give thought to how these words of Jesus might apply to you? “Father, for their sake, I consecrate myself…” ?

God Bless

Kenny

*” Limitations” is not a negative concept. Limitations are like the banks of a river that give it force and direction and stop it meandering all over the place like the real Meander River actually does! Try and see your limitations as part of the guiding hand of God into His good will for you; they are part of the answer to the “What” and “Who” questions.

The “myth” of the 5 fold ministry… it is just bad bible exposition….

The problem with the pendulum swinging too far and the vast weighting of thoughts of “destiny” being on the ministry or gifting side of things, is that we can have a ministry in which the Holy Spirit is active but be eternally lost. Jesus makes that clear.

I think R.T. Kendall talked once about going for the anointing that rests on character not just the anointing that rests on gifting. Our supreme calling put into place before the world was here is to become like the Son of God. If we only could get hold of that we would see that nothing and nobody external to us could ever frustrate our highest calling. Sadly folk focus so much on destiny in terms of gifting and ministry that they find themselves frustrated at many turns; by so doing we make ourselves manouverable, frustratable by what others may or may not do toward us; others can help us or can seem to get in the way; church encourages or seems to create no opening or give no support….plus we are in danger of doing what the secular world does; raising false confidence and hope as we train lots of folk for non existent or at least non supported (at the moment) openings….It is a bit cruel and demoralising and perhaps even a tad dishonest.

Aim for being like Jesus and we will fulfil our highest unifying God ordained calling  and other subsidiary callings in terms of ministry and gifting will take care of themselves. Right now, I have no idea what I would call my ministry gifting or calling, and don’t feel I need to give it a name, but it happens all the same. We protest at the clergy laity divided that is thankfully now lessening, and yet have introduced more divides more hierarchy with a wrong interpretation of the so called five fold ministry by which we have turned the description of the historical foundation of the church (the foundation of the Apostles, Prophets Evangelists, Pastors and Teachers) into a series of titles and ministries which somehow the rest of us are to support with our gifting. It is presented as the missing and necessary formula for church effectiveness. In Ephesians it is neither of these things. I cannot understand why ministers and teachers I know who normally preach the bible accuratley go haywire when it comes to what the bible actually teaches about “the five fold ministry”: in fact Scritpure teaches nowhere on the five fold ministry as being the key to “doing church” as we are in the horrible habit of saying today….

 

God Bless

 

Kenny

For You?

OK… a word from the Lord, for somebody? it could of course be generally helpful, but the person it is specifically for will recognise a detail that allows you to know and believe it is for you. It may be this is not for you at all. Don’t let it confuse you….

“You have it in your mind and heart, ‘This is intolerable, I must speak to that person today. this can’t go on!’ WAIT! HOLD BACK! Speak to that person and you will be getting ahead of me. Trust me and a solution will arise without the fall out your intended intervention will bring, a solution that is kind and will allow that other person to save face. Wait a little longer…not easy, but I will help you.”

 

Just a few thoughts:

I was thinking in the early morning how it is easy to get pressurised by the sense of time passing into doing something unwise. There have been several times throughout the course of my ministry when I was almost at a point of addressing an issue or a person in a way that could have led to World War 3 in the congregation. Right at that point God stepped in with His way forward, which was kinder than my desperation, and preserved peace.

It is easy to get lost in our own sense of the brevity of time. Of course there are times when we must do something and do it right away without any procrastination. Having said that we should try and be like David, who having served the purpose of God in his generation, fell asleep. The purposes of God kept on unfolding….

God bless

Kenny

Stay Calm…

Remembering a time in the Presbytery of Orkney when someone was pushing for something that I felt was very wrong, full of human cleverness and sincerity, but godless. I was getting very fretful within. I am not good at debate and felt powerless. All of a sudden I felt the Spirit of God pouring calmness on my soul and body very physically. This assurance was planted in me. “What is not of God will fall….” Yes, I know it is in the bible, but it is so kind of the Spirit to remind us of what we need reminded of.

Perhaps today you may need to hold on to the same truth…what is not of God will fall…it might take a while….but stay calm, don’t waste energy on unnecessary fighting…wait upon the Lord…patiently….. He will act….

By the way, the master scheme being rolled out that day came to nothing….

I think I will remind myself of this truth before I get involved in a Facebook scrap!

God Bless

Kenny

Come Clean….

Found myself thinking of this revival story, from the island of Lewis, as related by Duncan Campbell:

Some of the office bearers of the church in Barvas, had felt the call to pray for revival, like a covenant made and accepted before God. While they knelt in prayer before God in a barn, as they had been doing for about a month and a half,  a young man, a deacon of the church,  arose and read Psalm 24:3-5: “Who shall ascend into the hill of the LORD? or who shall stand in his holy place? He that hath clean hands, and a pure heart; who hath not lifted up his soul unto vanity, nor sworn deceitfully. He shall receive the blessing from the LORD

Having read these words, he looked at those praying with him and said, “Brethren, it seems to me to be so much humbug, met as we are met, to be praying as we are praying, if we ourselves are not rightly related to God!” He  began to pray thus: “Lord, are my hands clean? Is my heart pure?” He and the others praying with him fell to their knees in the straw, in what they called “A trance.” At that moment, a power was let loose which shook Lewis. The effect?  “God seemed to be everywhere!”

“GOD SEEMED TO BE EVERYWHERE!” Of course He is everywhere, the whole earth is filled with his glory. Revival is the scandal of particularity of Christ being repeated. God is everywhere, but He became incarnate in Bethlehem in Jesus. God is everywhere, but in revival He comes in extraordinary power. His glory is everywhere, the whole earth indeed is filled with his glory, but in revival people become awakened to the knowledge of the glory of God everywhere in a glorious, fearful and inescapable way. They are on God’s earth, breathing God’s air, working, praying, sinning, repenting in His presence. In gatherings of the church, He is there. On the hillside, He is there. In the home, He is there. In the work place, He is there, not just as a theological truth, but as palpable immediate presence which men and women must wrestle with in a mixture of agony and joy.

But note the beginning of things.”Lord, are my hands clean? Is my heart pure?”  You can be sure if or when Revival happens,  someone somewhere alone in private or together with others has asked that question.

God Bless

Kenny

Extremely Urgent for some… this may save your soul, your marriage, your family, your ministry ….

You will know by now that from time to time I get what I consider are “words” from the Lord that are to be passed on. They feel very different from any guidance to write a blog. They sometimes come when asked for and sometimes completley unbidden. It is not my main ministry by any means but it is part of what has been entrusted to me and therefore something for which I am accountable. Well, for want of a better word, one such word has just come to me. It is for any who read this who may have a ministry that involves spending time away from your spouse, your family, loacl church; perhaps some sort of itinerant ministry, conference speaking ministry etc. Part of my ministry was just that, in days of better health.

Well, this is the word. or actually a question: “Why do you take with you on your ministry travels those you do take with you?”

I have wondered tabout hat in the past with some fellow speakers and looking back, regretted I did not have  the courage to ask them…. some seemed to make excellent choices,  others…..

God bless

Kenny

Asked for and Commanded Blessings…

I have been thinking about the blessing of God, which all of us need!

Two thoughts have been running through my mind:

Asked for blessing:

In Zechariah 10 verse 1, we read these words; “Ask rain from the LORD in the season of the spring (latter) rain, from the Lord who makes the storm clouds and He will give showers of rain…:”

I love this verse: It reminds us that our God is faithful to His ways and His promises and yet it also reminds us of our need to ask, seek and knock. In one sense it seems odd to be told to ask for rain in a season of rain, but God is sovereign and faithful, not a robot. The fact that He has created seasons, does not absolve us from the need to work and pray that the blessing from heaven that each season needs will be given. It is called relationship.

What season are we in at the moment in the spiritual sense? Well, it may well be that we are in a season as a nation, or even as a church within a nation and we need to learn to read the times and the seasons to know what God is about and what appropriate in season blessing to ask Him for. I personally think there are sounds in the air as it were, but for me they are not so definite that I can say what God may be doing in Scotland with any degree of certainty…more an inkling! However I am more interested that we think of this personally or in terms of our immediate fellowship. Ask for what is needed for your situation, which may be different from another church in another setting. I find it fascinating, the stories of differing individuals and congregations. There is a history, a flow. There are seasons: seasons of blessing, seasons of drought, of direction, of wandering etc etc. What season are you and the fellowship you are part of in, right now?

Many churches, perhaps quite rightly from time to time, undertake a community or parish review of where they have been placed or felt called to worship and to  witness. There is indeed some benefit in that with regard to making sure that mission is relevant. But  such things are  of limited Kingdom of God use, on their own. What matters is what season are we in with God, and what is the appropriate blessing to ask for? Sometimes we spend so much time describing the horizontal season, our “parish” and our relationship to it,  that we fail to put a finger to the wind and find out what direction God is moving in inviting us to follow, or where the cloud and fire of His presence would have us rest and remain and live in for a while.

For instance there is no point planning for some grand mission if in fact there are signs that God’s hand of judgement or discipline is upon a congregation or a denomination and will remain so until that is acknowledged. That means in God’s reckoning we are in a season of needing to ask for the grace of repentance. Or looking at it another way: there is no point restructuring for the umpteenth time the leadership group or the house group set up,  if God has indicated that right now the fields are white unto harvest and what is needed are reapers to be sent into the harvest, before the harvest is lost. An ingathering  beyond  a sheaf or two would probably mean a restructuring with purpose rather than routine to its name will probably emerge quite naturally.

Obviously there is overlap, there can be unseasonal weather (was today really summer?).  I am simplifying things greatly, but I hope you get the point. Asking for revival  while ignoring  a God indicated need for a season of repentance and prayer to be lived through as the herald of its beginning, or asking for effective outreach when the reaching out congregation is diseased with lack of unity and love, or whatever, or  has no standards of  biblical holiness or purity it seeks to live by,  is asking for the wrong thing at the wrong time.

Do you really know what you need before God? Do I? Do you really know what your congregation or gathering needs? Did I when I was involved in leading differing congregations with different stories in different settings? Do you know what your ministry really needs? Ask the God of the Seasons to help you get an awareness of  the real spiritual  season He sees you are in and to help you ask for  the blessings you need in that season. It might be much more fertile than you would realise by human observation, or indeed it might be much more dry than things “going well”  might suggest.

So I have been thinking of “asked for” blessings: rain in the rain season, but I have also been thinking of …

Commanded blessings:

Earlier today, my mind went to one of the most famous example of commanded blessing:

Psalm 133

Behold, how good and pleasant it is for God’s people to dwell in unity!
 It is like the precious ointment upon the head, that ran down upon the beard, even Aaron’s beard: that went down to the skirts of his garments;
As the dew of Hermon, and as the dew that descended upon the mountains of Zion: for there the Lord commanded the blessing, even life for evermore.”

I have lived long enough, been round the block enough times, to see this being fulfilled in the positive and the negative: great blessing falling on loving united pursuit of the glory of God: blessing evaporating, as unity gave way to attitudes within God’s family that the Father could not bless.

Oh, I could preach, but you don’t need spoon fed with what you might want to do with all of this even before gathering with God’s people this Lord’s Day.

God Bless

Kenny

Methods, Motives etc…

I mentioned in a previous blog how greatly blessed I was by listening to a cassette tape of Duncan Campbell speaking about revival, at a time when I was spiritually downcast and disturbed through a meeting I had been at.

There was one thing he said however, that cut across the whole refreshing experience, at least for a few moments. Without mentioning him by name, at one point in the tape he is clearly speaking about Billy Graham and large scale Crusade Evangelism. He more or less likened that type of evangelism to an attack of a  cloud of poisoned gas, that it was deadly.

Whether you or I may be for or against Crusade evangelism is neither here nor there with regard to the purpose of this blog. Rather, this wee blog is  about the setting up of a warning bell in our own hearts. I suppose for decades now, I have longed to see revival, in the truest sense of that word. I have prayed for that with intensity for seasons. I think I have actually stood on the foothills of the foothills of the real thing. However, I know in my own heart, because I want to see this so much, there can be in me a tendency to dismiss the worth of anything that is lesser than this, rather than blessing God for every way in which the His Spirit  is working through people to bring glory to Christ.

I have been reading a book on revival, “In The Day Of Thy Power” by Arthur Wallis, a book which Duncan Campbell commends in the Foreword. I wonder what Duncan Campbell thought when he came across the following words, in the pre-publication manuscript of the book which he must have have been sent to read? They occur in Chapter 2, a chapter he specifically commends in his Foreword:

“Let those who yearn for that deeper and greater work of revival be careful not to criticise what God is pleased to bless. While God is smiling, who are we to frown? It is not a question of whether we approve of every method being used but whether we have hearts as large as Paul’s, who could say, ‘In every way…Christ is proclaimed; and therein I rejoice, yes, and will rejoice’ (Phil. 1: 18). If the apostle could do this even when motives were doubtful (1:17 – 18), how much more should we when it is merely a question of what we judge to be doubtful methods.”

These are words of wisdom and grace I need to keep in mind and be challenged and corrected by. What about you?

God Bless

Kenny

The accelerating pace of UK insanity…

(I posted this on Facebook earlier re choosing our gender: I believe David Robertson has posted some much lengthier and weightier writing on this and offer material should you wish to write to an MP, MSP etc. What is posted here are just my gut reaction rumblings.)

Our Government: leading our children to go deeper into an increasingly enforced insanity: “You can change your ascribed gender just by saying so.” Wait for the explosion in mental health problems among children and young people and in the funding necessary for family counselling. The tip of the iceberg has already been sighted. It belittles and turns what can be a genuinely confusing and distressing experience and battle for some into a choice suggested and planted in vulnerable minds by the fundamentalist proselytisers of the religion of political correctness. Wicked and heartless. The tail continues to wag the dog….

Watching while sanity dies, touched by the madness and lies…

Help us bring light to the world

Come Lord Jesus!

Do you want a “Refresher” ?

Most of us will have heard of the outlook and belief of Hedonism. In case you have not,  let’s just leave aside its history and origins and say it means as the Cambridge Dictionary says,  “living and behaving in ways that mean you get as much pleasure out of life as possible, according to the belief that the most important thing in life is to enjoy yourself.”

I am by nature quite a cheerful person. I can think and sink deeply, but I enjoy life and enjoy life in God. Most of my best thinking in private takes me up the way into freedom and hope and gives me the seeds of something life-giving to share with others I speak to or meet. I am not morose: I look upon people and treat people  with the mercy, kind and steadfast love and grace of God that I have received in Christ. I am optimistic. I can be militaristic and simplistic.  At times, grumpiness and irritability are clothes that I seem to want to slip into more than I want to if you know what I mean, though it is often a bit of a put on act! However, basically, I smile a lot and it is genuine. It reflects what is going on inside me and how I am looking at what is happening around me.

I also love the Church: well to be honest I love some of it and tolerate some of it. I like being with God’s people: well to be honest I like being with some of them and …well you can complete the sentence. I need to keep working on that one. Nonetheless, there is a thought that is going through my mind often. It just seems to be there and it won’t go away but runs like an underground current of concern. I could sum it up in the form of a question: is legalistic religion being replaced by hedonistic religion?

It has become a bit of a catchphrase that as Christians we do not believe in religion we believe in relationship with God. I will let that go for a moment. (It is not quite biblical, but to take it on can wait for another time, if that time ever comes at all and if I feel there is any point in trying to stop a runaway train with a full head of steam). However getting rid of legalistic religion does not mean I get rid of God’s commands. There is life in the commandments of God, they are good and are for our good. As those who have trusted Christ we know we cannot find salvation through our keeping of the commandments, but that does not mean we are to jettison them. Yet, I find increasingly that even among my brothers and sisters in Christ there is a tendency to dismiss any reference to what God says in His Word about how  human beings in general and His covenant people in particular  are to live and conduct themselves, as being legalistic. Pleasurable spiritual experience seems to be the more foundational pursuit now for many, rather than God’s word and ways. That pursuit is often underpinned by a theology of discipleship and mission based on hyper-grace, or cheap-grace; the unholy reaching out to the the unholy and staying unholy together rather than spurring one another on to live out what it means to be saved.

I would go further. Legalism is being replaced by Hedonism. It is as though  Christ is excitedly regarded as a means to live out  a deeper belief without the need for self examination or accountability: He is in my life to bring me pleasure and enjoyment and that is about it. Remember the definition of hedonism at the start of this particular blog? “Living and behaving in ways that mean you get as much pleasure out of life as possible, according to the belief that the most important thing in life is to enjoy yourself.”

Probably all of us have been infected by this outlook in some way.  “Search me O God and know my heart,” is a good  prayer to bring to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Here are some words from Psalm 19 that I hope will help us all to think about the refreshing there is to be found in thinking upon and living out what God says:

The law of the Lord is perfect,
    reviving the soul;
the testimony of the Lord is sure,
    making wise the simple;
the precepts of the Lord are right,
    rejoicing the heart;
the commandment of the Lord is pure,
    enlightening the eyes;
the fear of the Lord is clean,
    enduring for ever;
the ordinances of the Lord are true,
    and righteous altogether.
10 More to be desired are they than gold,
    even much fine gold;
sweeter also than honey
    and drippings of the honeycomb.

11 Moreover by them is thy servant warned;
    in keeping them there is great reward.
12 But who can discern his errors?
    Clear thou me from hidden faults.
13 Keep back thy servant also from presumptuous sins;
    let them not have dominion over me!
Then I shall be blameless,
    and innocent of great transgression.

14 Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart
    be acceptable in thy sight,
    O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.”

If you want a “Refresher” or two, take a commandment or two and taste them in the presence of  Jesus, the One and Only Saviour, who wants to help us “glorify God and enjoy Him forever!”

God Bless

Kenny

 

Words and Warnings born in the experience of Revival…

I can’t particularly help it. I just feel so uncomfortable in Christian meetings where there is what I consider unecessary hype and showiness in ministry. I recall being deeply disturbed in one such meeting.  It is not that I think the ministry that disturbed me was not genuine, this was not judgmentalism kicking in, but I was unsettled in a not good way. I could find no solace for my spirit, soul and indeed body, until I went out to a Christian bookshop in the town I was visiting, and bought a cassette tape in which Duncan Campbell was speaking about Revival. He put God back at the centre of things and refreshed my soul! I felt relieved to hear of God being given His glory for His awesome deeds. I need to hear about God to be well spiritually, but it has become a bit of a habit to talk at Christian meetings of anything other than God Himself. You are just as likely to hear a plan for the church, a blueprint for mission or a motivational talk which would be fully at home in the secular world many Sunday mornings in many churches as you are to hear from the Scriptures in preaching or teaching or communication in some shape or form anointed by the Spirit about God, about Jesus Himself. Again, I need to hear about God, about Jesus Himself on a Sunday. I thirst for that. Without being renewed in the  truth and life of God HImself, I have nothing, not one thing to offer to anyone.

Today, I was reading “In the Day of Thy Power” by Arthur Wallis . Duncan Campbell wrote the Foreword to the first edition back in the 1950’s.  He says this:

“How many of us are really prepared to face the stark fact that we have been outmaneuvered by thestrategy of hell because we have tried to meet the Enemy of human levels by human strategy? In this way we have succeeded in making people church conscious, mission conscious or even crusade conscious without making them God conscious…” He then goes on to write about his hopes for Wallis’s book: “This book, will, I trust, act as a corrective to help to bring the church back to a true recognition of the basic fact that revival must ever be related to righteousness, and that the way to a revivied church is still the way of repentance and true holiness.”

Relevant words at a time when the Church in its liberal, evangelical, charismatic, high church  and Celtic appearances is speaking more about  relevant mission (a good thing it is!)  than at any other time I can remember in my Christian life…

God Bless

Kenny

SOMETIMES GOD SHOUTS!

Before taking not well and even afterwards I seemed to have a remarkable ability to keep going. That is not an unmixed blessing. Eventually God was shouting “REST” in the tenderest tone if that is not a contradiction. It is the only way to describe what I experienced.

A lot of Christians ignore the principle of Sabbath.  I don’t want to get into an argument about Sabbath Day observance. I do want to stress this:

Almighty God rested….even when He didn’t need to. The ability to work on doesn’t mean you should. It is good to observe “rhythms of rest and work”, even when the idea of rest does not sit easily with your personality or physical or emotional DNA. Better in the long run. Probably better for those you love and others you mix with as well. They won’t feel so condemned for their lesser levels of energy.

So, when you don’t feel you need to rest but do, you are truly showing yourself to be made in the image of God. This is not an encouragement to laziness. It is to encourage the above mentioned “rhythms of rest and work,” which I think was a phrase a well known Scottish minister, Willy Still, used.

God bless

Kenny

Righteous or self righteous?

I tead these words today in Psalm 25:

The Lord is good and does what is right; he shows the proper path to those who go astray.”

There is all the difference in the world between self-righteousness and true righteousness. Self-righteousness smells of pride and looks down on people who are judged not to have  made the grade in some way. True righteousness results in wanting to help people find God’s path no matter how far they have slipped from it.

As Sunday comes around, I pray that where Christians gather together the helpful, kind, compassionate and true righteousness of God will fill the atmosphere; that those who feel they have lost the way, be they Christian or not,  may find their hope being renewed. 

God bless

Kenny

…and so to rest….

Was just thinking today that the culmination of the Creation story is not really the creation of men and women, but the establishing of a day of rest. I don’t want to get into the whole business of the Sabbath Day in my blog as that would lead to controversy that would take things away from where I think things are to go. Rather I simply want to ask is the Sabbath Principle built into your life?

This is an area that I did not pay enough regard to when involved in Parish ministry. I wonder too, if it is something that often those in ministry do not give enough regard  in terms of the well bing of others in the overall planning  of church life, meetings etc. Could say more, but it is after midnight, so it would be a bit hypocritical to continue!

Good night folks!

God bless

Kenny

“Maybe I have been a bit extreme…”

I recall hearing A.W. Tozer speaking of an occasion when he  visited a congregation one Sunday morning to preach; it was part of what would probably be called a “holiness” movement. As well as seeking to obey Scripture they also had historic  man made rules from their foundational years as a movement, to do with dress and other non central matters. However, the leadership, humble men of God,  had been doing a rethink. They thought it was maybe time to change some of their standards, as they seemed a bit out of place and unnecessary for the times. They asked Tozer for advice, as to what they should change as they felt rules had been taken too far in these early years. Tozer’s advice was this: “Change nothing. I am tired of churches that have not gone far enough.”

Having retold  the story, Tozer went on to suggest that if we had to build a nuclear shelter and built to 6 storeys depth underground but after an attack discovered that 4 storeys deep would have been enough to survive, it was unlikely that we would feel any regret we had gone further than necessary.

It is a worthwhile thought to think about in days when there is a strong pressure  even from within the “church” towards denouncing historic standards in the church,  long and humbly held to,  as legalistic religion, unnecessary, hypocritical and self-righteous by nature, and to only go as deep with Christ as we really have to in order to be saved. We are called to love Him with all our heart, soul, mind and strength.

Kenny

The Spirit resting upon someone….

Grateful for a conversation I had with Rich Johnson earlier today. He spoke of Isaiah 11 where we read about the Spirit of God resting upon Christ… the conversation set me thinking!

In the New Testament we read of the fruit of the Spirit in terms of Christlikeness of character that shows in behaviour: love, joy,  peace etc. You know the list! If you don’t look for it in Galatians Chapter 5.

We also read in the New Testament of the works that are the fruit of the Holy Spirit resting upon Christ, all the different aspects of His ministry. If you are not sure of what Christ’s ministry was about, well again, look for yourselves. Pick a gospel and read it… better still keep reading the gospels on a regular basis…all 4 of them.

The passage in Isaiah takes us into the innerness of Jesus, to the very springs of a human life on which the Spirit of God has come to rest. Isaiah often does that. One of my favourite parts of Scripture are the Servant Songs, Songs about Jesus that were written about Him centuries before  the Incarnation of the Son of God. They take us into the innerness of Jesus. They are quite fascinating. I might write upon them in a blog sometime soon. You can find them in Chapters 40, 42, 50 and the most well known to Christians, 52-53.

Well here are the words from Isaiah 11, some more words on what we might call the inner gifts of the Spirit to a  human life on which He is truly resting. I will just leave you to read and to think of Christ in you, for remember, if we are believers, we are in Christ, He is in us, and we are to abide in Him! The Holy Spirit makes that possible!

11 Out of the stump of David’s family will grow a shoot—
    yes, a new Branch bearing fruit from the old root.
And the Spirit of the Lord will rest on him—
    the Spirit of wisdom and understanding,
the Spirit of counsel and might,
    the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord.

Amazing words follow that describe the outworking of these verses in the public ministry of Jesus, a ministry that He calls s to share, but it is these early verses I leave with you for tonight. In Jesus, the Spirit of the Lord gave rise to wisdom, understanding, counsel and might, knowledge of the Lord, fear of the Lord… depths here that I am not sure I have ever thought through fully. So thank you Rich Johnson, for the rich vein of thought I know you have opened up for me as you do for many through your web site and writings on  “Christian Mindfulness.”

God bless

Kenny

Revival!

Back in the late 70’s and perhaps early 80’s, I heard Arthur Wallis speak several times. If you can get hold of his books it would be worth your while doing so. He was a true pioneer of God with regard to things charismatic and one of the best bible teachers of the early days of charismatic renewal. He wrote these words. I have always loved them since I read them in his book “Rain  From Heaven.” I think they express what I think of, what I long for, when I use or hear the word, “Revival!”

 “We must appeal to the people of God of bygone years who used the word with consistency of meaning down the centuries until it began to be used in a lesser and more limited sense in more modern times. Numerous writings on the subject that have been preserved for us confirm that revival is a divine intervention in the normal course of spiritual things. It is God revealing Himself to man in awful holiness and irresistible power. It is such a manifest working of God that human personalities are overshadowed and human programmes abandoned. It is man retiring into the background because God has taken the field. It is the Lord making bare His holy arm, and working in extraordinary power on saint and sinner.”

God bless

Kenny

The essence of God’s holiness?

I have been thinking about God’s holiness today. That is one of these words and concepts that we use a lot in the Church, but what is it?

Isaiah liked to call The Lord, “The Holy One of Israel.” That is hardly surprising, when you consider the nature of his call in Chapter 6 of the book that bears his name. In the presence of  the Holy God he immediately becomes convicted of sin: in his case it was unclean language that he was convicted of. However his lips were touched with a coal from off the altar. There was mercy to be found in this Holy, Holy, Holy God. Indeed there was so much mercy that when, the very next minute,  God was looking for a spokesman to deliver His message to His people, Isaiah felt his lips had been burned so clean that he had no hesitation in saying, “Here am I Lord! Send me!” The Holy One did just that.

In fact I would say this: the essence of God’s holiness is His mercy. Holy just really means separate, in the sense of being different or behaving differently or being set apart from other things, whatever the context may dictate as to what these things are that are being spoken of as holy or unholy; it could be food or people or behaviour etc.  In Chapter 55 of Isaiah that thought is expanded like this: in the face of the sin of the people of God over the centuries, The Holy One of Israel says through Isaiah the once foul mouthed but now cleansed lip prophet with a message aflame, entrusted to Him by God:

Seek the Lord while you can find him.
    Call on him now while he is near.
Let the wicked change their ways
    and banish the very thought of doing wrong.
Let them turn to the Lord that he may have mercy on them.
    Yes, turn to our God, for he will forgive generously.

“My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the Lord.
    “And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine.
For just as the heavens are higher than the earth,
    so my ways are higher than your ways
    and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.

10 “The rain and snow come down from the heavens
    and stay on the ground to water the earth.
They cause the grain to grow,
    producing seed for the farmer
    and bread for the hungry.
11 It is the same with my word.
    I send it out, and it always produces fruit.
It will accomplish all I want it to,
    and it will prosper everywhere I send it.
12 You will live in joy and peace.
    The mountains and hills will burst into song,
    and the trees of the field will clap their hands!
13 Where once there were thorns, cypress trees will grow.
    Where nettles grew, myrtles will sprout up.
These events will bring great honor to the Lord’s name;
    they will be an everlasting sign of his power and love.”

In the face of persistent sinfulness there is a promise of a future marked by joy and peace, clapping and singing. This is how God shows Himself to be the Holy One. He is different from the other “gods” in that He forgives those who rebel against Him and offend Him. He is different from people as well. Human beings find it difficult to show continuing mercy in the face of continually being wrongly treated and despised.  As David said to Gad the prophet when confronted with his rebellion, “I am in deep distress. Let me fall into the hands of the LORD, for his mercy is very great; but do not let me fall into human hands.”

It is interesting to note too, that if there is any sense of progression further away from God intended in what Paul says in Romans 1, then the furthest away we can get from being like God is when we are without mercy. Read the chapter when you get a moment and you will see why I say that. Sinning in other ways is the start of the journey that leads to that place of being so distant from the heart and will of God that we are ruthless and heartless without mercy toward our fellow human beings. Jesus taught more than once that to withhold mercy is a sure way of stopping the life-giving flow of God’s grace in our own lives.

If you want to mirror the essence of God’s holiness, show mercy to someone, even before this day is over. There is probably no way to come closer to mirroring the heart of Christ on the cross…

Some words from Malachi Chapter 3  to think through:

I am the Lord, and I do not change. That is why you descendants of Jacob are not already destroyed.  Ever since the days of your ancestors, you have scorned my decrees and failed to obey them. Now return to me, and I will return to you,” says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies.:

God Bless you and I with his grace that we might be Holy as He the Lord our God is Holy.

Of course, it might be you or I that needs not just to show mercy, but to receive mercy from this Holy God for ourselves. Don’t stay away from Him. His desire is to abundantly pardon, to forgive generously! The cross of Christ tells us you can be sure and confident of that, so come to Him boldly for all the mercy and grace you need! Drink deep.

Kenny

Ask in faith, receive by faith , pass it on in faith….

OK! I have learned it is best to go with God even when you cannot fully understand what He is saying. On one occasion while I was praying with someone, the Spirit of God seemed to give me a picture of a door wedge. I asked the person I was praying for if that meant anything whereupon they produced a door wedge out of a bag they had with them! They had bought twelve of them only the day before! Step by step we got to what God was wanting to say and do.

On another occasion the Holy Spirit seemed to show me a single roller skate. Well, you have to step out in faith. I asked the person being prayed for if that meant anything. It did. The day before, they had met up with a childhood friend. When they were young together, they used to share a pair of roller skates and wear one each. What followed on from that bizarre picture was a bit more inner healing.

I am not sharing this to make out I am special in any way, but to say this: all of us can hear God’s voice in this way. Sometimes we just need to learn to recognise how and when He is speaking. Here is what I have come eventually to believe: when I ask God in simple faith if there is anything He wants me to see and hear, well, however ordinary or however unusual, if something comes to mind after praying that prayer I usually by faith believe God has spoken. Sometimes we have not because we ask not. Ask and believe. What comes to mind after that asking and believing, is probably God answering and responding favourably to the faith you have just exercised.

Of course there are times when God may have nothing particular to say in that sort of manner about any given matter. That is fine. There is no cause to worry. Don’t be tempted or pushed into making something up. I have stood on platforms as part of ministry teams where other members of the team are getting prophetic words and in front of hundreds of people simply had to say, “I don’t have anything to share.” It was difficult and embarassing to “admit” that the first few times, but it is good for humility and you get used to it by the time it happens 30 times. “Have you noticed that wee  chap from Scotland  never seems to get anything? What is he up there for?” The temptation to make something up can be strong!

So, I am basically trying in a small way to encourage you if you are praying about a situation or for a person to ask God in simple faith if there is anything he would have you see or hear that would be helpful.

You are maybe wondering why God might choose to speak in such a cryptic way at all. Well, it is biblical. Even with Scripture and all the gifts of the Spirit Paul tells us in 1st. Corinthians that until the Kingdom of heaven comes fully, we see in a glass dimly. We don’t always see as clearly as we would like! It’s the way it is. We see in part. We prophesy in part. We need all the help God gives through all the means of grace Hs offers us and we need the insights He may give to others around us too.

Well, I want to end by practising what I preach. Facebook is one of my main ways of ministering at the moment! I asked God if there was something I was to say as I close. Iasked in faith, heard by faith and I offer it in faith:

I think God wants to say to someone who reads this, “You used to find it funny when the dog chewed your shoelaces…” That is about it! I think He want to promise something: “You will laugh again you know. Even simple uncomplicated things that made you smile or laugh once seem to bring forth no joy. You WILL be OK! You will laugh again!”

May it be so Lord! Amen and Amen!

God bless you… real good!

Kenny

For you today?

Is this for you from Jesus?

“Your boat is still there. Her sails are set, the wind is blowing. I say “YOUR” boat, as you have walked well, we have run together across the waves of My Father’s purpose for you and I together. You prepared your heart, kept clean while involved with the muck and mire of precious lives. But you are not at the wheel. Why did you leave your boat?  Would I regard lightly your following over the years? She is still there. The swim out to her is not as far as you feel. In your floundering, don’t panic. Be calm and swim, breathing  my loving kindness and compassion in and out and in and out. The sails are set. The Wind blows still.”

There is a time for everything under the sun…a time to be forensic and a time to feel…

Watching  Eugene Peterseon interviews from the last few years. Didn’t know this 84 year old was as frail ad his years should have alerted me to, nor of his strong sense of submissionto his denomination.  He is retiring from public life. If public Christian life was a kinder place to be, maybe he would not have had to. Nuggets are worth looking for.

God help us all if we are only felt to be worth listening to when our thinking is clear. The profoundest moments of the story of Jesus came as usual clarity became dimmed. Out of the heart rather than out of the head comments seem to matter come The Day. Reason sometimes has the time and wit to dress up a bit depending on wanted or feared results: both clarity and confusion have their good points but obviously their limitations as well when it comes to encountering or describing the divine action or its apparent lack.

God bless you…and Eugene Peterson.

If you don’t know what this is about, well follow it through if you really want to. Watch the interviews for the beauty of Christ in weakened humanness. By the way, his books are well worth reading.

Kenny

Time to stop digging?

Let God lead you back through the corridors of time to painful experiences when it may be necessary. Don’t go wandering there alone at the provocation of your own distress or strong feeings or the provocation of other people. Same with self. Don’t go digging or you will never feel you can stop. Let God’s Spirit do the unearthing. 

God bless

Kenny

DRINK!

Dear Word Press Followers

A wee extra for you to think about. Posted this on fcebook earlier, but thought it might be worthwhile putting it on here as well!

Fellow Christians. Given the increasing number of believe​rs for whom being set free the destructive hold of alcohol is part of their story of encountering Jesus, would you be willing not to drink alcohol so as not to ever risk being a cause of their stumbling or downfall into that darkness again? You don’t need to reply. It is more a rhetorical question. Is our heart weighted to what I am free to do, or weighted towards a care for my fellow believer?Fellow Christians.. Given the increasing number of believe​rs for whom being set free the destructive hold of alcohol is part of their story of encountering Jesus, would you be willing not to drink alcohol so as not to ever risk being a cause of their stumbling or downfall into that darkness again? You don’t need to reply. It is more a rhetorical question. Is our heart weighted to what I am free to do, or weighted towards a care for my fellow believer?

I will just add one thing to all of this that I did not write on Facebook: Note well your instant reactions. If they are strong one way or another, why?

God bless you in your thinking

Kenny

“Suddenly!” A forgotten word in Christian Vocabulary?

Tonight I heard a sermon by Miss Jennifer Jack, a wonderful woman of God who has impacted my life more than she knows. I had not heard Miss Jack preach since the 1980’s. Her testimony that I heard in these years has remained one of the top ten influences upon my life, if you can easily number such things. As I listened all these years ago to her give testimony to the Lord’s work in her life, she had used a phrase about “shutting the back door” on sin. That shook me then, 35 years ago or thereabouts, and shakes me still. It is powerful imagery that exposes the secrets of the heart.

The title of the sermon I heard tonight, was taken from the title of a book, “One Divine Moment,”   a book which I have never read, which apparently details the history of a Revival. Miss Jack talked about Calvary, talked about the Resurrection, talked about Pentecost, as well as other moments from Scripture as being divine moments where everything changed. Each time she mentioned a phrase to do with what God could do in a moment, when we are touched by the power of the now Resurrected Christ, I physically felt the anointing of the Spirit come upon me. I had not intended to be at the meeting but decided to go at the last moment. Morag, my wife had a conviction that I was to go as well. I needed to hear that recurring phrase. The anointing of God, the witness of the Spirit internally and even physically upon my body, indicated to  me that this truth of a divine moment that changes everything  was something God wanted to draw to my attention, to really take note of. I felt I wanted to draw it to your attention to.

I could not do full justice to the wonderful teaching the whole sermon contained, but on the drive  back home afterwards, I was mulling things over. I think we have become so used to emphasising the “journey” side of being a Christian that we have almost forgotten what Christ can do in a moment. I was remembering a couple of pastoral visits  years ago when I had prayed with people: Something similar happened to the individuals concerned on these two particular occasions . Well, I say I was praying with them, but I never actually got to do that! Before praying, I gave a sort of “hedging my bets” talk! That is not very spiritual language, but effectively that was what I was doing, as I went into an explanation about how God sometimes answers immediately, sometimes there is delay, sometimes He answers in another way than what we were expecting…YAWN! I have given that talk so often I am bored with it myself! Was there wisdom and truth in what I was saying? Yes, there was, along with pastoral care too having seen the damage that comes to those who are promised before prayer that a lot is going to happen “Right Now” and hasn’t. However on these two particualr occasions when I was giving this preamble, God stepped in and did something, there and then, suddenly! My “hedging my bets” wisdom was interrupted by the people having to meekly listen to it all saying to me, “Something is happening to me, right now!”

As I was nearing the end of the drive home tonight, I also started to think about  a time when I was talking to my congregation in an after-meeting at church about a touch of God’s Spirit that I and two other members of the congregation had unexpectedly received, almost against our better judgement! I felt the experience was to be shared in some sense. At the after-meeting, we worshipped, I talked, we worshipped some more, I talked some more, we then sang… you could not call it worship any longer! Having begun in the Spirit we were wearily trying to continue in the flesh! I heard God say, “You are just singing, because you are afraid if you pray for these people now, nothing will happen.” Well, surprise, surprise, He was right! He had read my mail, which seems to be the “in” phrase these days… when did “Has the post been yet” become “Has the mail arrived”? The mysteries of life! Well, whatever, we  stopped the “singing” and prayed. Immediately there was evidence of God moving. One divine moment! The “Suddenly” of God! It ushered in a period of real blessing.

I hope you are not so wedded to the truth that there is a journeying involved in being a Christian, that you have almost excluded the idea that God can indeed meet you suddenly and what He does in a moment can change everything. Godfrey Birtill, who has written many wonderfully prophetic songs that carry the Lord’s presence, including  one with the opening line, “The ‘Suddenly of God.’” I love that line! Be open to the possibility of God interrupting you: interrupting your  preaching, your praying, your talking, your long wait, your long journey in the one God glorifying direction you have set your face and your feet to walk in, with His “Suddenly.”

Just an after thought… it may be that you have adopted the long sweep in approach in your personal witnessing  in the hope that the mills of God will grind away slowly and the person at some distant point will perhaps become a fellow believer. Be alert to the “Suddenly” of God, the “One divine Moment” moment, in that setting too. There can come a moment in time when you sense that Christ is there in a palpable way. That can be the moment to say to someone you have been witnessing to, praying for, “You could become a Christian RIGHT NOW!” Sometimes, people are almost waiting for a signal from the person speaking to them about Christ that such a thing is possible. Be empathetic and aware of the pause in the conversation that seems to be full of the presence of the Risen Saviour who has drawn near and is ready to pick up His lost sheep and carry them home rejoicing! Rejoice with Him and with the angels in heaven who seem to be eagerly looking out for such moments to come along, for when these moments arrive, they are a signal that sounds throughout  heaven, announcing loudly, clearly, joyfully,  “It’s party time!”

God Bless

Kenny

Preacher, do you have the blood of your congregation on your hands?

I read tonight in the last Chapter of the bible a word that I find the most fearful  in the whole of Scripture: “Outside!” Exclusion from the blessedness of the Lord’s presence forever! Oh that some brands may be plucked from the burning this Lord’s Day and bear the marks of a story of salvation for all to see so that many looking on those newly born from above may ask themselves, “How could a person once so badly burned be so alive now?”

In my present state of limitations on health, I  have no excess physical or mental energy for excess fight. I have not the energy to be part of a church congregation for example  where the Baptism in the Holy Spirit and the gifts of the Holy Spirit are not believed in or sought in obedience of Scripture.  I can be one with Christians who disagree with my stance on these matters, and indeed can be one with Christians with whom I disagree over many things. I know this however: I cannot pretend to be one with those who do not believe in the atoning power of the blood of Christ and the need for every man or woman born to be born again if they are to see the Kingdom of God. God is a God who excludes as well as includes. If preachers do not make that clear they have the blood of the unsaved on their hands according to my bible.

Preacher, are you yourself saved? How can you be if you hide the way of salvation from others? “Repent and believe.”  Would a lost man or woman in your congregation this Lord’s Day know with a clarity the answer to their lostness? Or have you merely become some wise commentator on the age we live in, and/or an expert in talking on issues facing the church  and forgotten all about eternity?

… but then I ask, how deeply do I believe? Tonight I heard someone praying in distress and compassion for the lost in a way that I never have…God have mercy on me…

God Bless

Kenny

PS. News Update: These lost people I heard someone praying​ for? The praying person  had a vision of gospel seed being sown among them by a specific person. Have just heard  that has just been fulfilled this very night! It all happened just as had been prayed, just as had been “seen.”

So… back to Elijah.

The common theory is that after contesting with false prophets and running before Ahab’s chariot (1st. Kings 18), the reason that all of a sudden the incredibly bold and apparently fearless Elijah ran for his life at Jezebel’s murderous threats (1st. Kings 19) was that He was tired, exhausted and burnt out. No doubt there is something in that, as God’s immediate attention to him came in the form of rest and food. When God’s Spirit falls upon someone, they are capable of extraordinary things, but nonetheless, those who do extraordinary feats for God are still human beings.

There is a great danger when we are ministering at a time of being aware of the presence of God’s Spirit being with us, opening doors of  opportunity and favour etc. that we forget our humanness. I did that at a time when many doors of favour were opening up for me to minister. I said “Yes” to every invitation and said “No” to no one from anywhere in the world! External work to the parish was done in my own time, days off and annual holidays etc. It was not uncommon for me to travel to a meeting, a five or six hour car journey away, preach, minister, drive back, and feel so alive that I would write a sermon, and work a normal full day following. On some occasions I would come home from another country having perhaps done more than a dozen talks, to conduct a wedding and then preach the following day.  The result was about 15 years of severe insomnia.

During that insomnia, I was driving back to Thurso up the A9  when I was hit with incredible tiredness. I knew it was not safe to drive on, but I did. As distinctly as I have ever heard the tender voice of God in my current illness, I felt and heard his anger there and then: yes, I know He loves me and that is why He was expressing anger, but please don’t take away from the seriousness of this. I experienced His anger. “Pull over now!” I did so with a  degree of reluctance. I felt a command to rest and set my phone alarm to do so. The space between waking and falling asleep is where I often here God clearest. He simply said to me, “You have broken your sleep switch.” It was not up for discussion. It was simply stated as fact.

I don’t believe this is the full reason for the state we find Elijah in in 1st. Kings Chapter 19, a state which eventually leads to us finding him in a cave at Mount Horeb. However, the fuller reason found its entrance through exhaustion, or so I think. I will go on to that another day. In the meantime, learn from my mistakes. If you are in a time where you are very conscious of God using, or wishing and striving and praying in a barren time that He would use  you to bless others and to further his Kingdom, don’t assume you should say “Yes” to everything. In mercy God may cover your back as He sees the intention of your heart, but it cannot go on forever. A diary with no spaces marked in for holidays or days off is a sign of disobedience to the God who made us and made us human, though I found many of my fellow ministers in the Church of Scotland seemed to think it somehow validated their usefulness. (By the way, feeling useless and redundant and not wanted or needed is a part of Christlikeness and a vital experience for  effective Christian ministry, but more of that another time.)  It is a sign of lack of love for Him in that it disregards the principle of Sabbath and a sign of lack of love for those who look on and are concerned at what they see happening to you, and a sign that you do not love yourself with the love and care of God.

I wonder if some of you reading this may even be suffering from insomnia that is the consequence of a good heart toward God, an enthusiastic spirit  but an unwise head? Have you broken your sleep switch as a consequence? I pray God will be kind and have mercy upon you and restore to you His precious gift of sleep and rest. Simple as that.

 

God bless… and sweet dreams… and what are you doing reading this at this time of night anyway…!?

Kenny

The God who made the Platypus

Do sparrows ever self-identify as goldfinches? These are the sorts of things I wonder about with more time to stand or sit and stare and think. It brings back an old question I used to think while driving down the A9 regularly: does a sheep ever think in a sheep way, “That is a really nice view on this beautiful day”? Howard Espie and I talked about such things for many a mile together!

Somewhere these​ eccentric thoughts are connected with the core of my faith: God became a human being.

I cannot remember who said it, but even though God understands all things,  it is reassuring to us that He understands from this inside as it were, what it means to be human.

God bless your eccentric thoughts too. The God who made the Platypus is probably very much involved in them!

Kenny

If you want your visit to us to be fruitful…

Note for Conference Speakers, Visiting Speakers etc.  for  this Summer Season:

Be Sensitive to what God was doing before you visited and try not to leave too much mess behind you after you go.

Ask God how to make the Kingdom of God core of your ministry accessible in the culture of your listeners. 

Method is not power, so be adaptable.

Just saying, in Scotland we honour people by quiet thoughtful listening. Any insisted on other expressions of appreciating what you are saying will be very weak and somewhat reluctantly given and leave you more insecure.

Don’t put exaggerated reports on your Ministry web page when you get home: others were there and may start to get confused and think they were not there after all.

Honour in Christ those who honoured you with an invitation into the fold or field committed to their care,  in the Name  of the Good Shepherd.

In some cultures your self advertised chuminess with God will prevent humble souls from entering into true intimacy with Abba.

If you intend to harangue us about a poverty spirit before the love offering, could you take a love offering at your congregation to bring to Scotland? Perhaps you could preach on the verse, “Blessed are those who have the spirit of the poor, for theirs is The Kingdom of Heaven”

Pastor Kenny, MA, BD, Ordinary Pastoral Diploma in Clearing Up.

Short thoughts for the life long walk…

Tonight, where are you brother, sister, beloved of the Father?

 

“As close to the edge of the cliff as possible” or “as far away as possible”?

 

“Where I could comfortably take Jesus,” or “Where He would take me”?

 

Saying to your own soul, “I would not feel awkward to watch this, listen to this, with Jesus beside me” or “I have made a covenant with my eyes…my ears…my tongue not to look upon…not to listen to…not to utter…” ?

 

God Bless

 

Kenny