Runner Up?

One of the deepest healings in the story of God’s grace in me, was when the love of God freed me from believing that being runner up, being second, was shameful. It was an exhausting lie to live by, but live by it I did, from the age of 7 onwards.

Thinking of “runners up” in the worlds of tennis and football this morning in the wake of yesterday’s events at Wimbledon and Wembley . I hope they can celebrate their magnificent achievements once they get over understandable deep disappointment.

I don’t want to come away with some sort of cliche about the love of God on the back of this, but the fact is it was the felt love of God that set me free from the huge burden of a deep verdict of “failure” which I carried for the first few decades of my life and more than 2 decades of ministry. Those who knew me in those years would scratch their heads in confusion to hear this, for everything about me had the appearance of an almost enviable success.

I still want to run for the prize as the Apostle Paul encourages us all to do. But I have, by God’s grace, cast off the weight that clung so closely to me for so long.

If you are still carrying a similar weight, my prayer as I write these thoughts is that somehow God will help you rest and run in your belovedness.

When you are tempted to look on someone and wish you could have a taste of the success they seem to enjoy, remember that success may be making them miserable, contributing even to depression and anxiety, sucking the life out of them. It may be killing something in them. Not all disabilities are visible.

God bless

Kenny

A Lesson Worth Learning…

Learning to recognise the peace or disquiet of the Holy Spirit as distinct from what our own own thoughts or understanding may be telling us is a lesson really worth learning. It can help us into new territory which we may be reluctant to step into for various reasons and can also warn us from entering into ventures or relationships our own understanding may see nothing wrong in.

Why not ask God to teach you this aspect of His Spirit’s work? Be warned! You may find yourself silently grieving over something others seem to be rejoicing in or celebrating what others seem to be saying is not of the Lord! Sometimes you will feel that battle within your own self. The Spirit of God can at times be rejoicing over something your mind is angry about. He can be deeply grieved over something that you would scarcely give a thought to. He reveals what flesh and blood understanding (no matter how educated or accomplished) cannot see.

God bless

Kenny

Shepherd?

It was a sort of standard party line I often heard from the pulpit: if the world was not interested in the gospel it was because they were itching in all the wrong places. In the zeal of conversion I nodded my head in agreement…

Now, I think differently having discovered over 50 years the Lord’s compassion, kindness and gentleness. I have found that the Lord is extremely interested in where human beings itch.

If you are preaching this weekend, is it connected to where people are itching? Or do you still insist on the party line: I will tell them where they should be itching!

Tell a sheep they are not itching… not very good shepherding. Rather anoint their heads with oil.

If responses I get to stuff I put out on Facebook care anything to go by, here’s what many truly faithful and wonderful believers in the flock are struggling with:

Anxiety…
Difficulty in sleeping…
Financial difficulties…
Long term family difficulties…
Loneliness…
“Unanswered” prayer…

God bless you, shepherd or sheep, or both.

Kenny

How’s your sleep?

It is 5.00 a.m. I am wide awake, enjoying a delicious coffee. I am about to read the Bible and pray and just enjoy the Lord’s presence, having slept well. But, I am remembering the 15 years and more when I was awake at this time having not slept at all, and having tried every medication the doctors could prescribe: to zero effect in my case.

In these days I sometimes went 72 hours without sleep, sometimes a bit longer. For those 15+ years, I rarely slept for more than an hour or two each night. 2 hours felt like a tremendous gift for which I was genuinely grateful. At the same time it was not always helpful when well-meaning believers told me God gives to his beloved sleep! Nor was it helpful when people suggested it gave me time to pray…

Insomnia is awful. It is hellish, and yes, I really mean to use that word. I have no other word to use to describe it.

All I know is that victory came and I now get enough sleep most of the time, though there can be the odd spell where things are not so good for reasons I cannot usually see clearly or pin down.

Why share this? Well, I don’t really know. Maybe in an odd way I hope it will encourage those who are reading this at a time they wish they could just get an hour’s sleep…

I have no easy answers. But I am in a better place now….and that you will be in a better place is what I pray you can still believe for. Hang on in there.

God bless

Kenny

Fresh Streams

Languishing in what seems to be a dry and comfortless place? That has often been the felt experience of God’s people. It needs to be acknowledged and allowed to breathe, not quickly coerced to obey the dictates of faith and be made ashamed to raise its voice.

A dear friend phoned me late last night with an encouraging word from God he had been given when praying yesterday. Part of it involved the thought of God drawing his finger in dry ground and fresh water appearing.

Today in Psalm 74, I read these words, which seemed like a remarkable confirmation of my friend’s prophetic message: “You split open springs and brooks; you dried up ever-flowing streams.”

If you find yourself in a dry and comfortless place today, it is a good thought to ponder that God may be about to draw his finger on dry ground to open up fresh streams.

Change is not always easy or comfortable. It is not always easy when streams which have sustained us dry up. I am thinking of the truth of a principle Jesus taught: we all tend to say, “the old wine is better.” Yet, as I think of this verse from Psalm 74, I am encouraged. The thought of fresh springs and brooks seems a pleasant one.

God bless

Kenny

Besieged?

I am thinking back to a vision the Lord seemed to give me in Dobbies, of all places, concerning the Coronavirus. I “saw” it, the Virus, sitting in human guise, at a table. I prayed in the vision but when I did, it seemed to know it had to leave the table it was sitting at. However, it simply moved to another. It was not completely free to operate as it chose, but it was still operating.

I believe what I was shown all these months ago was a pictorial representation of the various mutations. I think that is what the shifting tables represents. But I think too what I saw was a lesson in spiritual reality. We are never to be curious about evil, nor to mock it as Peter made clear in his second letter. However when we look at things from the standpoint of what is revealed by God in the bible, we get insight enough to know what to do.

Sometimes victory does NOT come as speedily as we desire or proclaim. To proclaim it always will is to give a false message. It is bravado rather than faith to proclaim or demand in every situation concerning every problem that everything should happen “right now.” There are times when the enemy operates against us by siege, and is allowed by God so to do, even if you or I cannot see the reason God may allow it.

A siege can last a long time, but it fails if those whom the siege is against in addition to weapons have strong defences, ample supplies of water and food etc. “There is a river whose streams make glad the city of our God.” (Psalm 46, Metrical Version)

So despite the variants pray on… but this post is about more than that specific siege.
I hope you can find hope in these same truths if you are living in a long term siege because of other realities in your life, family or circumstances than Coronavirus. A siege, by definition, is intended to last a long time. It is wearying.

Several times in the Psalms we read of God’s help coming to His people at an acceptable time. How often I have wished that acceptable time was NOW! I always want the Lord to come “right early” to borrow words once more from Psalm 46. Sometimes that does indeed happen and the siege is suddenly over when it looked as though it would be a long haul. But often the siege has continued past that point. In those moments I have been forced almost against my own inclination to discover more of the living water and bread of Christ. That sounds terrible as I write it and think about it. I am trying to be honest. There are times when I don’t want to go deeper: I just crave immediate relief.

If you are carrying the long term weariness of a siege, I pray you will discover something of the endless river of the eternal God that Psalm 46 speaks of. It would be worth your while to take time and read that Psalm.

Sometimes in my own experience a siege can last so long that when it is ended you are almost too weary to fully rejoice. In time you will, but it may take a while for weariness to dissipate and strength to be renewed and joy restored.

Why do things often work like this? I don’t know, but it is an important thread of spiritual reality woven into the Bible. The Bible teaches us the Victory of the cross over all evil was real and will be real forever, but the same Bible never encourages us to be anything other than a realist about living in the already here but still coming Kingdom the cross established. The “already here but still to come” salvation that is ours in Jesus can be a really tough mystery to live in.

I am praying today for you, if you are one of the besieged right now. From private messages I know many of you are in precisely this situation. May you somehow be able to taste Fresh Bread as you wait.

God bless

Kenny

“Kenny’s Men!”

I guess you learn something after 40 years or so in ministry in a local church setting and in a wider setting which I seemed to be called to be part of for 1 or 3 decades. Here is one thing I have learned. When people rubbish the past they rarely take anything into a better future. In actual fact they tend to undo ground patiently and unostentatiously taken for the Kingdom.I have spoken with people who saw their calling being to bring what God had blessed to an end so that the “more” could emerge. They actually told me to my face without any embarrassment, that they had been called to bring what I myself was involved in, to an end! They told me that with a straight face and no awkwardness! They told me that was their calling. But they are either no longer involved in Christian ministry or are achieving exaggerated successes, hardly moving the Kingdom on at all and having undone previous progress in order to progress the minimal advance of their own ministry.

Pride comes before a fall.

Don’t rubbish what has been gained , because of the strength of your passion for your own particular passion which makes you sneer obviously or ever so slightly with an unreal smile towards others who in your eyes are Yesterday’s men and women. They may still be standing and bearing fruit after your venture in self aggrandisement has been long forgotten.

know that will not be listened to.

My sadness is only that some of those associated with me have been labelled “ Kenny’s boys,” and dismissed as no longer relevant to what God wants to do today. Of course they were not actually mine! But they were humble and willing to learn on their way to becoming their own man or woman. I am glad that despite being dismissed as irrelevant for what God is doing now, their humble ministries are advancing the Kingdom of God in Scotland and beyond in both new ventures and more traditional ways. Both types of advance are needed. One is not better than the other! I remember in the past that people used the erroneous term “ Kenny’s Boys” in a positive way. It has not been used positively across the board. For some that label placed upon them has led to shut doors , a feeling of being dropped and being inexplicably out of favour, bypassed, no longer the favoured flavour. That is hard. But you know what? Every time I have had a true encounter with God, doors have shut before more doors opened. I have had invitations withdrawn after fresh encounters with God! Several! It seems to have been almost a pattern, if such a concept as “pattern” is not irreverent to the Living God , the God who does not hold as guiltless those who use His Name in vain, attaching it to their own plans, projects, passions, pursuits, prophecies and proclamations.

God bless

Kenny

The May effect…

Every May since 1983 I have felt like leaving the Church of Scotland due to anticipated decisions of the General Assembly. That memory and awareness came to mind in a wonderful private Zoom meeting with a younger than myself, devoted parish minister earlier today. His ministry is being blessed, but he is feeling “the May effect.” I have several such ongoing conversations. Does the General Assembly have any idea how much increasing grief, tears and sorrow it causes to the Church of Christ? Praying for you, my born from above brothers and sisters in ordained ministry in the C of S who seek to honour the plain meaning of God’s Word, who will feel you should leave this May! I am not being patronising, but I want you to know I felt, at times, intensely alone over the last 40 years in ministry. You are not and I was not. Keep your eye on your calling that people would come to the cross and be saved. Remember Elijah. He was wrong.

Again, I f don’t mean to pull out the almost 40 years ordained card, but I will! Be upset – how can you not be? – but not unsettled! If you love the Word of God you are more needed than ever, right now! I have no confidence that God may not bring the C of S to an end. Indeed He made it clear to me He will not tell me. But I know this: anything He may do is just. He does all things well. But if that day comes know this: He has recorded the names of those who fear Him and in that fear may be talking with one another in grief this very month. You will be His, still, on the day He acts! Be humbly assured of that!

To be completely honest, I am not sure I still have faith enough to pray with conviction that the Church of Scotland will be spared a decisive judgement from God that will bring it into a worse state than the present decline. I am not sure if I need God’s forgiveness and help with that lack of conviction, or if a line which mercifully I cannot see, has already been crossed from which there is no possibility of repentance thought it may be sought with tears. It may already have been decreed: “I will remove your lamp stand!” I don’t know. I do meet some who declare that they do know the future of the C of S for sure. Some are sure renewal is coming. Some are sure judgement is coming. Some are sure that both are coming and indeed are ongoing. All claim Scriptural warrant for their confident predictions. All may prove to be both right and wrong, at least in part.

Those who have zealously proclaimed there can be no blessed future for the C of S as the Word of the Lord, seem to discount the fact that God in mercy is still calling people who fear Him who are saved, washed in the blood and born from above, into the ministry of the C of S and people are still being saved, though we are very far from spiritual health in that we cannot say the Lord is adding to our number daily those who are being saved. However, those who claim our day is finished may prove to be future seeing prophets. The only thing I would ask is if such a prediction is one that makes you mourn and causes you to pray that it will not be so? Does it make you and cry out, “ Lord, may it not be so as I have declared!” or do you secretly hope you will be proved right? Be truthful about your heart and tremble before its immeasurable deceitfulness. God reads it with accuracy.

God bless
Kenny

Meekness in Leaders…

So today, as my reading in James 3 taught me more about meekness, especially meekness in leadership of a congregation, I am thinking of Bishop David Pytches. Through the “New Wine” gatherings and network tens of thousands (or more) believers have been strengthened and renewed in the U.K. and beyond, without him Soul Survivor would never have happened, people like Matt Redman would never have brought renewal to the worship life of the church.

One day at New Wine I was with him and his wife Mary as they were looking for a parking place at the Summer Gathering. A rather officious young volunteer on parking duty demanded to see their badge, told them rather ungraciously they should not be on the road they were on or the area in which they were in! I was raging and wanted to say, “ Look, sonny, do you not know without this man there would not have been car parking for you to supervise? He started this whole thing!!!” Instead David smiled and said “ Thank you so much for your help and for what you are doing. God bless.”

Later on in the same week I saw David making his way from the car park to the Leaders’ Tent in torrential rain, with Tesco bags over his shoes, as thousands of all ages thronged past him, scarcely noticing him. He didn’t seem to need to be noticed. He didn’t seek the limelight. He had a great gift of making people feel they mattered more than him and made “you” and your family and ministry the central thing in humour peppered conversation.

Meekness in practice: wider than shorthand definitions.

I saw the same thing as Tommy MacNeil interviewed Bishop Sandy Millar for the service in Martin’s Memorial a week or two ago. Worth watching if you have not done so already.

Men like this, without them knowing it, have taught me so much about how to lead a work of God and see it blessed and fruitful.

God bless

Kenny

More on Meekness…

How did we behave differently from a citizen of the kingdom of this world in our attitude and compliance with Lockdown restrictions? That may show whether God can yet trust us with Revival. It shows whether our prayers were empty passion or birthed in a desire for that “new beginning of obedience” which is one of the more famous definitions of what revival is, as well as being a sign of its beginning, and the lasting fruit it produces.

I am also thinking of another definition of Revival given by Duncan Campbell himself: “the impact of the personality of Christ.” Jesus constantly lived under restriction: the righteous Will of His Father. In His arrest, trial and judicial execution He additionally came under the unrighteous demands of unjust authority. “He opened not His mouth.” Do we really make it our aim in life to become like Him in His death more and more until the prize of the upward call? Even a sinner can be happy to be meek when he agrees with what is being demanded, is persuaded it is reasonable and fair, and sees it could bring measurable personal advantage. We should be pursuing a greater meekness than that of sinners.

Have we read the New Teatament? It holds out to us this simple truth: the Christian life is supernatural. It means leaping for joy in the face of the most unreasonable treatment by unjust authority throughout all the spheres of human interaction where unreasonable demands can be made upon us and unwarranted suffering endured as a consequence.

In the time of greatest injustice in my life, I remember my spirit leaping and dancing with uncontrollable joy! Joy was not coming from my mind, soul, heart! It was my born from above spirit made alive by God exulting with unbound freedom. Hallelujah! What a surprise! It made me gasp for breath! My mind did not catch up easily with that supernatural joy to be honest. Oh to live more consistently from the spring of Spirit intertwined with spirit as our minds play catch up to learn the beauty that resides in meekness blessed by God’s “Well done!” I never felt from that moment on to this day that I needed to win any argument or be vindicated for my benefit or to enable me to move on.

I am saying all this from having lived for many months under the severest restrictions of Shielding. I could have made it so unpleasant an experience for myself and for others who live with me and live me, were it not for meekness. It is one of the strongest spiritual weapons I know for defeating enemy intentions.

God bless

Kenny

Meekness

Without meekness we cannot be given more territory in God. We could not be trusted with inheriting the land, for without meekness it is all about “me” or “us” and not about the Lord or about others.

Have we shown meekness in the face of restrictions or fought and disregarded them arrogantly as though such things were for lesser people than me or “us”? “I” or “we” are above law, above authority, above being told what to do, a favoured exception to the rules.

Well, if this is from the Lord…

A propheticky thing that seemed to drop on my spirit with a great thud: “I have been searching the hearts of my people for meekness.”

I believe this is a word from the Lord. It may not be the sort of word we want to hear or receive.

Only those who treasure and practice daily meekness will be part of the Lord’s advance: “In your majesty ride forth victoriously for the cause of truth and meekness and righteousness…” (Psalm 45 verse 4.)

Without meekness, no revival, no matter how passionately we pray. How can we expect God to come in blessing of our hearts are defiant and rebellious?

That defiance of rules in Lockdown may be insignificant to you or to me. It may even be a laughing matter, or something of which we feel proud! Time to realise the Lord is not laughing and repent? Such are the things that show we are ready for the “more” of God, and truly desire that more, however much our pride must be humbled. The alternative is to be passed by when God moves in a day of His power, our prayers disregarded as they were not true prayer, but an insistence on our will, a cross border adventure into witchcraft to manipulate God in the direction of our will.

God bless

Kenny

Headless Chicken or Dove?

I guess it is a marketing gimmick, but best not to present a truth as THE key truth for the hour. There can be key moments but they don’t tend to come with every talk, sermon, prophecy, writing and Facebook utterance, nor are they carrying such a universal breakthrough power for “the church” in its every branch as the intensity within us may delude us into thinking. Best simply to share that part of all that comes from the mouth of the Lord which He may have placed on our heart in the hope and faith it does some good to some of God’s people and brings Him some honour. I think I am talking about a humility, reality and truthfulness that God can bless. We don’t add to the power of truth by “advertising” techniques or hype. In fact, we may dull its power by superlative claims. I believe everything I preach will carry some good if it comes from the Lord. How key it may be or may become, to what depth or scope, is not really in my hands as though I could measure it.

When we repeatedly or as a matter of course present everything we say as the “Now” word of the Holy Spirit we can make it seem as though He is running all over the place like a headless chicken rather than the Dove resting upon what He has always rested upon, or even the wild goose who knows from whence and to where He is flying without distraction or diversion. Intending to honour God’s Spirit, it is possible that we make Him seem unstable in all His ways, rather than steadfast and faithful to Himself and to us.

God bless

Kenny

Life Lessons…

I’m not being nostalgic, but I am thankful for the journey thus far. There are lessons learned that still accompany me into all that may yet be. “What would your life truths be that you would share given the opportunity?” That is a question that seemed to speak from a deep place this morning. I share it with you.

I have learned not everyone is interested in what has most impacted me. That’s ok. I have lived the born from above life long enough now to see that sometimes I need more renewing of the wine skin which is called “Kenny” to receive what I once pushed away. I remember that when what I consider treasure seems to be discarded by others as commonplace or even worthless and something to be sneered at.

God bless

Kenny

We, only we are left!

The dangers of proudly considering ourselves “the remnant.”

Prompted by listening to a YouTube talk by a man who believes that he and his church and denomination are the last examples of true Christianity in Scotland, I thought of words of Moltmann. The symptoms of such an outlook “include the preservation of tradition without the attempt to found new tradition; biblicism without liberating preaching; increasing unwillingness to undergo new experience with the gospel and faith, and the language of zealotry and militant behaviour in disputes within the church.”

As I often think when I read something or even write or preach something, “Lord, is it I?”

God bless

Kenny

Generosity of outlook…

Those who have an emphasis in their ministry that is not mine are usually genuinely following something in the teaching or life of Jesus that they passionately believe. After decades I see that, though it is not an easy or comfortable awareness to live with..far easier to arrogantly dismiss them in anger or irritation without a thought.

It’s good to take a look at ourselves and ask occasionally, “What particular word of Jesus am I living out at this moment in time with an intentionality that seems to have the weight of the Spirit in it?” It is good to make generous room for the idea that those other individuals you are looking at may be asking that very question too. By the way it is good for leadership of individual congregations/fellowships/ ministries/ para church works etc. to ask the same question and give similar generosity to leadership in other settings that they may be asking precisely that question before their Lord and ours.

This is a million miles away from “anything goes!” Like Paul we should be ready to oppose even Apostles of God when they are in error. The same should be done with Prophets, Evangelists, Pastors and Teachers or anyone else who departs from the truth of Christ. I am “happy reluctantly” to do that… have done so and will continue to be willing so to do unless,to use Jesus own imagery, it would be throwing pearls to pigs, in which case there is biblical backing in the Old and New Testament not to bother. I hope others will do the same towards me when I am in error. Truth matters.

God bless

Kenny

Who Would Have Thought?

What an assault upon human wisdom is the story of Esther! Was meant to read chapter 2 today according to my bible reading plan but could not stop there. Were it not for a beauty queen, a snooping listener to palace gossip and government leaks, and the insomnia of an emperor who effectively thought himself to be a god… no Jews, no Messiah, no salvation.

Furthermore, the story of rescue and salvation we read of in this short book happened among Jews who had shown no desire for the Lord’s city and the Lord’s temple. They could have gone back to the Promised Land to fulfil the sacred task of rebuilding, but no, they were quite happy to stay where they were. There is no mention of The LORD in the book by name. It would have been easy for those who bore the heat of the day in the rebuilding works in Jerusalem to think the likes of Mordecai and Esther were spiritually suspect and therefore did not deserve a place in the covenants of God: nominal, secular believers, like many in modern day Israel. For many in Susa that verdict may well have held some water, perhaps even concerning Esther and Mordecai. Yet, thank God there were those who did not return!

Remember today the Lord is Sovereign over all things, all places, all times, all people, all generations, all races. He can do what He chooses. Don’t try and look and work out “where” or through “who” your help will come from! Look beyond the “where” and the “who.” God is not limited to what we can calculate or think possible. Recently, I needed help of a particular sort for a looming problem I could see no solution to. Help came from a direction my mind would never have even though to look in. It came from within the problem itself! Look to the One who sits above the sphere of the earth and does whatsoever He pleases to fulfil all His promises to His broken reeds and His smouldering wicks.

God bless

Kenny

Would you have put this “first”?

Writing under a regime in which it was legal to break the backs of newly born baby girls and fling them on the rubbish heap, Paul says this as a first instruction for the life of the Church:

“First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercession, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way.”

When I was newly converted hearing this done in church Sunday by Sunday used to bore me silly. As we follow the Lord longer, by His grace we see His wisdom is better than ours in terms of getting first things first and that zeal and passion are often misguided, dismissing the power that lies in what can seem routine or mundane.

I guess if we are not doing what Paul says we can’t claim to be biblical Christians or a biblical church.

It is amazing how differently we think and speak after we have prayed for someone. It is a proof we are new creations in Christ, according to Paul, that we no longer look at people from a human point of view. Have you not found this miracle that happens in prayer? We start to see things that our own eyes have been blind to because of a whole variety of factors at play. We may see good we have not seen, or need, or faults, or unrighteousness that we have been unwilling to see. We are often blinded by our own insight or prejudices from a fuller picture. We rise from prayer changed. The person or situation we have just prayed about in the way Paul describes may not have changed but we have changed in a way that allows us to become channels of God’s purposes rather than our own.

Another interesting verse that was in my Bible a reading today, quoted in the context of being what seems like an apology from Paul as to how he had spoken to a godless former High Priest (whom he had not recognised due to trouble with his sight): “You shall not speak evil of a ruler of your people.”

How inconvenient, how ruffling the Word of God can be to the feathers of our pride.

Believe me, I am preaching to myself here. As I do, I am remembering what R.T.Kendall says about a sign of growing spirituality: closing the time gap between God speaking and my obedience.

God bless

Kenny

“Are you joking? Me?”

The first time we learn a lesson stays in our minds for ad long as memory continues to be fairly sound. The first time I saw a demon leave a person will always stick in my mind. I had no clue what to do when it was obvious there was a demon to be dealt with. Then a sentence was dropped into my thoughts which sounded a bit odd but which I knew I was to speak out in the Name of Jesus, not to the demon, but to the afflicted person. “You are the gift of God to life.” All hell broke loose and departed. The person, who was already a Christian, was free.

Satan takes delight in destroying a person’s self esteem and worth. If we really are full of God, people around us will be lifted up, aspiration of the right sort will be restored or ignited.

Perhaps today you will get the opportunity to say to someone in the Name of Jesus, “You are the gift of God to life.” Perhaps the person who needs to hear that is you? Let God be your glory and the lifter of your head.

Oh yes, another thought: Church/Congregations/preaching/teaching/ministry/mission etc. are meant to have an atmosphere of aspiration about them. Some ceilings perhaps need to be shattered quite deliberately and intentionally. Insecure leadership often tramples on aspiration and calls it sinful pride. Religion likes to keep folk in their place: under the domination of others. That sinful spirit of domination often dresses itself up deceitfully as the biblical doctrines of leadership, submission etc., but is the devil’s perversion of the life giving truth of God.

Thanks to the young black, female, American Poet Laureate, Amanda Gorman, for sparking off these thoughts…

God bless

Kenny

A precious “grace.”

At 18 years old I submitted a sense of call to parish ministry for testing by assessors appointed by the Church. I knew by the end of the residential assessment over the course of 2 days and nights that I had made a few blunders but I was accepted. Before going to the Selection School, some people out of kindness had said I was very young and not to be disappointed if it was a “no” or “wait” verdict. I am glad that a grace which looked at potential, as well as testing the sense of call, prevailed.

Perhaps today you will meet someone, speak with someone, to whom God is wanting you to show the grace of seeing and encouraging “potential.” I tried to remember the grace of potential I had been shown when in the course of time I became an assessor, for a few years. It is a rich and life giving gift to offer to people. Offer it today if you are afforded the opportunity so to do.

The story of Onesimus comes to mind…someone carrying the verdict “useless “ over their life may need you to help them and others see concerning them, that they have the potential to be a “useful” and fruitful contributor to the purposes of God.

God bless

Kenny

“Donald Trump”: my thoughts as a pastor, if anyone is interested…

I tend to look at things as a pastor which admittedly means I dont always see things from other perspectives quite as clearly. When I look and listen to Donald Trump’s statement saying there will be an orderly transition of power I feel I am listening to what I have often encountered as a pastor over 40 years: how hugely difficult it is for a person to see an alternative narrative to the one they believe. That is not easy for anyone, but It is particularly hard if there is some degree of latent or active narcissism. A person in whom this is a strong tendency may never ever consider the possibility they have read the story wrong. They may never be willing to face that possibility. They may for the rest of their lives continue to tell their narrative at every opportunity, almost forcing everyone to believe it, and will often show “violent” outbursts in which they vilify even erstwhile friends or family who give the merest hint of questioning the familiar story. They will not allow themselves to move on or others to move on. Their narrative becomes their life long obsession. Agree with them without questioning and you will be rewarded with their friendship and glowing commendation.

It does make me wonder what on earth the President’s spiritual advisors have been doing. Perhaps if they had given more time to pastoring a human being than prophesying a victory they could have made a difference: perhaps not, for narcissism is hugely resistant to challenge and even to genuine care and love. It is I believe, something only God can break.

All of this I believe still stands regardless of the truth or otherwise of illegal votes. This is not a pro or anti Trump post. It is my thoughts as a pastor about what looks like a very familiar pastoral story.

God bless

Kenny

A timely warning?

If you ever think you have got the way God works all boxed and taped, read what I have been reading this morning: 2 Chronicles 18. At a time when sycophantic prophets were prophesying success and victory for King Ahab in battle, one prophet dared to speak truth and ended up being locked up for doing so. His name was Micaiah. By God’s Spirit he saw what would happen if Ahab went into battle: all Israel would be scattered like sheep without a shepherd.
We are given insight into what was going on in the heavenliness in verses 18-22:
“And Micaiah said, “Therefore hear the word of the LORD: I saw the LORD sitting on his throne, and all the host of heaven standing on his right hand and on his left. And the LORD said, ‘Who will entice Ahab the king of Israel, that he may go up and fall at Ramoth-gilead?’ And one said one thing, and another said another. Then a spirit came forward and stood before the LORD, saying, ‘I will entice him.’ And the LORD said to him, ‘By what means?’ And he said, ‘I will go out, and will be a lying spirit in the mouth of all his prophets.’ And he said, ‘You are to entice him, and you shall succeed; go out and do so.’ Now therefore behold, the LORD has put a lying spirit in the mouths of these your prophets. The LORD has declared disaster concerning you.”
These are not easy verses to read… in your understanding or mine, is there room for the Lord sending a lying spirit into the hearts of those with prophetic gifting when their hearts are set on earthly things rather than on things above? I believe in prophetic gifting and calling because I believe the bible, but in this area as in everything else the fear of the Lord truly is the beginning of wisdom.
If we want to prophesy truly, in the light of this story we need to check our hearts to see that we are not operating with a spirit of favouritism which seeks to curry favour with anyone rather than being a channel to present the unchanging ways of a God who shows no favouritism or partiality but sees all and judges justly. James warns us of a harsh reality anyway: those to whom we show favouritism, can end up doing us harm.
God bless
Kenny

Jesus knows each sheep AND each church in His Church…

If you have a prophetic bent, remember to ask God the scope of any word He gives you. There is a lot of prophecy these days to the “Church” as though one word fits all. When Jesus spoke to seven churches which existed at the same moment in time in the last book of the bible, there were common elements in His words into each situation for sure, but there were also unique elements.
I was listening to God today for a couple of congregations that have asked me to preach in the near future and have asked me to share any “Word” I feel the Lord may give me. I found the same thing happening. There were common elements in what I believe the Lord gave to me, but there were unique elements for each congregation and situation too.
In my younger days in Charismatic religion, so many “prophets” came along telling us all that “The Church” was like the church in Sardis or the church in Laodicea. There was never any suggestion that the church could possible be regarded as being like the church in Philadelphia or the church in Smyrna! Nothing so positive. That general word struck me as false at worst, or very partial and incomplete at best. Usually it was given by people who seemed to be saying the whole “church” was in error except that part which they themselves represented. They along were the true thing, everyone else was lukewarm or dead, not sufficiently in relationship with the Lord, but just religious. They seemed to be able to judge the level of the whole church’s repentance and worship. There were many churches I knew of who were walking humbly before God, listening to His Word and doing His works. Jesus knows each church and their works.
If you are a leader, I do hope that you might listen and be able to hear what the Lord, who knows each church and its works, might be saying to your particular church.
God bless
Kenny

I know I have told you this before…

I know I have told you this sort of thing before, but it seems appropriate to say it again as we head towards the beginning of another New Year:
I have been a Christian for 50 years and was called to be a minister in the Church of Scotland the very day I was converted: though the story of all of that began in eternity when God chose me in Christ before the foundation of the world. There are some things I miss of “the old days” of my spiritual walk from back then, some aspects of church as it was in the days I was newly converted, and some seasons of God moving gloriously by His Spirit in the years since then that I yearn might be repeated, but I don’t want to be lost in a sort of spiritual pining for what God has done in my past experience. Though there are things I miss from the past and even prefer to the way it is now in church life, I want to hear His voice for this day and be shaped with new longings for Him to lead m into His present and future purposes for me on the earth. I want to help others into their future in Christ too: that is a the job of a Shepherd, a Pastor, to be future looking and take the flock into fresh pastures. You can’t be a Pastor without being future orientated and speaking prophetically of the onward call of the Lord. “Lord, help me to be a prophet of the Lord my God, not a king of Nostalgia.”
“Give me dreams that shape tomorrow
Give me vision for today
‘Cause I’m tired of duplicating
All my old familiar ways
I’m not a captive of my past
But I believe I have a future
Make me a prophet of the Lord my God
Not a king of nostalgia…” (Dave Bilbrough)
God Bless,
Kenny

The path outside that door…

Random fact of experience: I found it easier to hear God when I was on a high dose of steroids when my lung condition was eventually diagnosed! It’s not to be recommended though: I struggle just as much from the distressing side effects upon my body of long term steroid use. So, despite a fellow believer saying in response to one of my posts yesterday that I should keep taking the pills, I am glad the dose of the steroids is much lower now and additional medication does what they were doing.

The fuller truth is I learned even more about God through the illness than through steroids. As Henri Nouwen says, “What seems a hindrance becomes a way, what seems an obstacle becomes a door, what seems a misfit becomes a cornerstone.” What an amazing insight and way with words to express these insights he was gifted with! Sometimes it is good to quote people who say what you want to say better than you could ever say it. Don’t quote too much though. There is life when any of us speak of our experience of God, even when we do so in the most stumbling and halting way.

Sooner or later I pray obstacles you may be facing will become a door God opens to the sight of a fresh path to walk on.

God bless

Kenny

A Royal Tour

Had a dream last night that my car could be controlled remotely from home. In the dream I found It seemed to have a life of its own and was going where it wanted and was no longer being controlled by me! I laughed and laughed. This was not an “oh no!” moment, but a full of joy moment.

“Cars” in my language mean ministry. I think the interpretation is obvious and hardly needs a dream to teach it, but a dream was given nonetheless and I thank the Holy Spirit for it. The meaning is that ventures online for the sake of Christ whether by me or by you reach more lives and places than we would predict and have the potential to expand the truth and love of Christ into lives of people in this land and beyond with whom otherwise we would have no contact. It is certainly not a replacement to local gatherings meeting together, but it is powerful nonetheless.

In the dream I also shut an old bible in the back seat of the car. Through online ventures the truth and reign of the King can tour the land. All that is required is people willing to be a chauffeur. When you know you are a chauffeur to Majesty, well you treasure that in your heart, but no one really notices you when you open the door and the King steps out. All eyes are on him. When you have been humbled by the honour of being called and chosen as a servant to Majesty, that direction of attention away from you is your deepest satisfaction. It is why you accepted the job offer at the start. It is what you live and work to see happen.

“The Word of God is not chained.”

“Of the increase of His government and of peace there will be no end.”

“I will build MY church.”

God bless

Kenny

Grow…

There is no heavenly reason why the opportunities open to be church and the resources to enable us to take hold of these opportunities to further the presence of God’s Kingdom should contract rather than expand during current necessary restrictions. The problem is the church can be too earthly minded at times to be any heavenly use.

Being too heavenly minded to be any earthly use is a delusion. It is a mantra of the spirit of antichrist which in direct opposition to the bible’s teaching wants the mind of the church to be set on earthly things rather than on the things which are above, where Christ is seated, praying and reigning at the right hand of God. Set our minds on heavenly realities and the One whom John describes in his first letter as “The Eternal Life” flows to and through the church. The current times are no obstacle at all, but times to experience fresh life and growth.

God bless

Kenny

Who is sufficient for these things?

Reading Habakkuk this morning, as others who follow the same Bible reading scheme may have done.
The light that sometimes breaks upon me from the Bible, the God breathed Word, as I read it both as a man and as one called by God to preach and to lead God’s people (in some capacity or another), is so bright as to be utterly unbearable were it not for the blood of Christ. Even then, washed and cleansed, I am left with a taste of that day when all will be laid bare before the eyes of Him with whom we have to do, the God of the Bible, the God revealed in Jesus, who knows what is in every human being without needing anyone to tell Him. I will not be eternally condemned but I will be searched, as will every individual from every nation, and every work of man, even (especially?) the works done in the name of Jesus Christ. Uncreated light tearing through every hidden place, exposing every heart and the heart of everything. What a thought. Best let God’s Word search and judge us now and draw us to an even firmer faith and hope in God our Saviour.
I am remembering with joy and hope words from a hymn of a type we scarcely seem to hear sung any more in the sectors of the church I am most familiar with: it used to make me cry with thankfulness as a young, newly converted teenager:
“Oh how can I whose native sphere is dark
whose light is dim,
before the ineffable appear,
and on my naked spirit bear
the uncreated beam?
There is a way for man to rise
to that sublime abode,
an offering and a sacrifice,
a Holy Spirit’s energies,
an Advocate with God.”
God bless
Kenny

Lewis! Rough Seas … gently flooding memories…

Lewis today: LOVE stormy wild weather. Might have felt differently if I was on the sea instead of looking at it from land. Gutted my phone ran out of battery power so no photographs to share, but I genuinely wish you could all have sat with me in my car looking out as it shook violently from side to side! Magnificent! Downside? Might well be no bread, milk or Looroll!

The magnificent wild seas reminded me of when Sarah was 2 years old and we were living in Orkney. She heard Morag telling me the sea was too wild for me to make the sea journey from Stronsay to Eday for the afternoon service when I was minister of both islands in the 80’s. She stormed in, threw back our bedroom curtains and announced, “ Dad, there are white bits in the sea! You are NOT going on that damn boat!” When 2 women and a boatman gang up together, it is wise to concede a point.

It could be a rough crossing I should add, but the rougher it was the more I enjoyed it. I could be sick on a relatively calm day on the ferry on the Pentland Firth but never felt squeamish going between the islands on a creel boat: a different movement, easier on the stomach! It was however at times just not safe. The boatman, John, who had twice in his life been washed out of his boat and then back into it again, knew when it was not wise to go. I trusted him implicitly. There was one year where the sea between the two islands could not be negotiated for 12 Sundays in a row. By the way, one person from the powers that be in the Church Offices in George Street, Edinburgh, once asked us if we could not just use one church building in one parish and get the other parish to come there!! Mmmm… it is amazing how the lights can be on but there is nobody in…

Just memories, my memories, which warm my heart. I hope reading them might somehow bless you too. That would lift these words from being mere self-indulgence.

If the seas remain rough I will try and get a photograph or two to share with you.

By the way, this was Stronsay today:

God bless

Kenny

For the Record…

Over the lat few years I have shared in Facebook posts, blogs and vlogs, personal experience of supernatural encounters, signs, wonders, miracles and gifts of the Holy Spirit- as indeed I did in an earlier post today, which caught the interest of some who read it.

I do that not to draw attention to me, but to bring honour to the God of the Bible, by showing that He does what He has always done and is who He has always been. In the early days of my Christian nurturing it was effectively taught that was not the case at least in some regard and measure.

None of these experiences thrill me as much as opening up my bible day by day as I did this morning. Also, all of them together are not worth comparing with the wonder of this: Jesus was wounded for my transgressions: by what He accomplished through suffering on the cross, He has saved me from the wrath to come. I can more easily get my mind around God transporting me from one place to another or money appearing out of thin air ( I have experienced both and both are biblical) than I can understand His saving love towards me and His warm and joy filled delight in me.

If you pounce on this as though I am writing a post telling you Church without signs and wonders is ok, you will have not read it in the right spirit at all…and you know that, without me spelling it out.

God bless

Kenny

Just in case this may be for you…

Was aware of the Lord highlighting almost with a sense of fear Paul’s words to Timothy as I read them this morning, as words which should be given to anyone setting out on pastoral ministry with all its encounters with people in situations of vulnerability: “Do not rebuke an older man but encourage him as you would a father, younger men as brothers, older women as mothers, younger women as sisters, in all purity.”

The sense of the fear of the Lord stayed with me for hours for reasons I could not understand. Have just heard of the possible fall of another minister through inappropriate behaviour. I say it not in judgment. “Let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he falls…”

Perhaps you are a pastor who right now are on the border of inappropriate behaviour. You may have crossed the border. Come clean now… you owe it to the Church, yourself, the honour of Christ, and to any people you have wronged and damaged in the process. Don’t let it emerge after your death…it will cause even more devastation to many then than if you come clean now.

If you have not quite crossed the border, stop sailing as close to the wind as you can. Stand back from the fire before you are burned.

Perhaps you need to at true accountability in place for your own safety, not just the formal legal type that may be there in the official structures of the church you are in which tends only to swing into action after an offence is discovered. Some of those I know who have fallen sexually and relationally walked away from accountability just before their fall…

For you perhaps this may fall into the category of “Faithful are the wounds of a friend.” I hope so and yet hope not so at the same time, if you know what I mean, and you will if you know me…

God bless

Kenny