Thankful for the positive discrimination of the Church of Scotland

Was thinking about the C of S General Assembly. Came up with a number of witty “smart” “smarmy” things I could say as an evangelical. However “smart” on its own rarely is the guidance of God’s Spirit. Once I had got all that “flesh” out of my thinking, a memory came of The Very Revd. Leonard Small speaking at the Assembly. Bible verses quoted from the floor of the Assembly usually produce a murmuring shuffling discontent, which of course is hugely worrying, but on this occasion the quoting of this Scripture received a standing ovation: “The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me, because the LORD has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor.” I think the commitment to preach good news to the poor still counts for a lot in the eyes of God. I know it is not a question of bartering verses or priorities in that we are to live by every word that proceeds from the mouth of the Lord, but I could not help but think commitment to ministry in the poorest parishes means a lot. Whether it is the best form of ministry is another question up for debate – somewhere else not here, so comments that want to spark of a debate will be censored, unashamedly. Post your own thoughts somewhere else.

I think it matters a lot in the eyes of God in Christ that ministry in the poorest parishes is obviously a priority in any denomination or non-denomination, to be reflected in the prioritising of resources. Without that positive discrimination I know that Gospel Ministry would have suffered, for example, in Wester Hailes. Thankful for this commitment. Thankful for every ministry of faithfulness to the Gospel, but positively discriminating my thankfulness towards those who serve alongside the poorest communities, and those who enable them to do so.

God Bess

 

Kenny

Church! Is it time to return to the true grace of God?

God has more to do than just hanging around waiting to forgive me or you my brother/sister in Christ. Grace means more than that. The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ is a God of purpose who calls us to actively pursue His Will. Grace is not divine indulgence of our propensity to sin. It means that at great cost we are offered an opportunity that our sin means we could never buy for ourselves: a fresh opportunity to live our lives to God’s glory by fulfilling His Kingdom will and purpose in time and eternity.

Grace means that in the the white hot mercy of God at Calvary, we are offered more than mercy, more than forgiveness, eternally precious though that is. We are given the chance that justice alone would deny us, the chance to stop being usurpers of the throne of God over our lives and over all things. Grace awakens us to this above all; that we have not acknowledged God as God nor given Him His glory; not believed in or acknowledged the Lordship of Christ, the Son of God, over us.

Listening to an at moments wonderful Worship CD today, it struck me I would never have worked that out from what I was listening to. If I was a non believer I would have thought the eternal God’s purpose in existing was to make me feel loved and cosy and secure again when I sin, full stop. I would have been left thinking I could live as I wanted and chose and all would be well. Indeed, I am beginning to think that “There is nothing I could do that could ever make God love me more and there is nothing I could do that could ever make God love me less,” is being sung about, preached about, understood and lived out in an erroneous way that (hopefully) was never meant when that truth came into vogue in that pithy form to a fresh degree about 15 or 20 years ago.

If grace does not lead to obedience (however slowly learned) and serving the purpose of God in our generation (reluctantly or gladly), it is not the true grace of God we are talking about, nor have we ever encountered the true grace of God that has appeared to us from heaven in Christ, a grace that trains us to renounce and turn from ungodliness. We seem to have slumped so far from the biblical meaning of key words in the Christian Faith. We have kept the words and concepts but altered the meaning… but then that seems to be in vogue within secular life, even at the level of government and law making.

Fake news, false reporting and altered meanings: well if it is good enough for the world….. after all is that not the way ahead: to show the non-Christian lost world that actually we are really just like them, we talk like them, dress like them, have the same life goals as them, the same ambitions, the same hopes for our children, listen to the same music as them, drink like them, go clubbing like them, spend our hard earned cash like them, holiday like them, support good causes like them, do good deeds that they approve of, swear like them, but we just happen to believe in Jesus too? So it would seem….

Revival according to one famous definition is “a new beginning of obedience” starting among God’s people. Takes the glow and the sentimentality out of that word, doesn’t it? It also reminds us that the sovereign purposes of God are intimately linked with the hearts and lives of His people in a way that I have never quite been able to fathom and yet firmly believe. ” Everything is known “to Him with whom we have to do.”

God Bless

Kenny

Preaching that kicks the hell and heaven out of every verse…

A Facebook Post from earlier this evening…

OK, I get nostalgic these days.. but in a thankful to God way. I was just remembering after I was converted that I would listen to ministers who preached the hell and heaven out of any verse they handled along with the clear meaning to boot! Such preaching saddened me. I felt betrayed in some sense. God had invaded my life unexpectedly, the Kingdom of God had drawn near to me. Simple clear bible teaching at an S.U. camp had given me the scent of a Saviour I sought and was found by. I knew there was a hell and I knew there was a heaven. I had been born from above to live a new and eternal life to the glory of the God in Christ. (I was reminded by a friend’s Facebook post the other day that as Tom Torrance said and taught, there is no God hiding behind Jesus! Profound and beautiful as anything he ever said…. and more understandable than a lot of what he said! Would that such clarity had remained into our generation)
What I heard from pulpits as I sought to grow in my faith in the earliest year or two was dull petty moralisms, usually based more on a story than on a biblical text, that no sensible person would ever disagree with and which we hardly, it seemed to me, needed Christ to come and tell us. If it was all about little do good moralisms, the Father made a dreadful mistake sending His Son to an agonising sin bearing death when all he needed to do was get people to nod their wise heads at a few obvious truths for living. It was such a life giving joy and relief to end up at St. George’s Tron and hear the preaching of the late Rev. George B Duncan. I often sat transfixed, not really wanting to move at the end of a service because the word was so full of eternal life. I felt I wanted to bask in its effective power. The same awareness of the power of the Word when it is preached for what it is, God-breathed, blessed me too under the ministry of G.B.D’s successor, Rev. Eric J Alexander…. so grateful for these and other influences….sad for those who were brought up on preaching with hell and heaven kicked out of it. “Sheep without a Shepherd “ comes to mind…..
An odd collection of folk seem to be my Facebook friends! It may be you are not yet a Christian but you would like to find out what it is all about. Well, why not find a church where the bible is explained rather than explained away? It doesn’t really matter the banner over the door. Test the fruit if you want to know there is something life giving planted there or not. Do these people believe and live out the bible simply and faithfully, or do they question it and live in denial of what it teaches, merely following the dictates of the culture around them? If you live in a country where that is not possible for you, then I hope you may have access on line to some good bible teaching. Be discerning though. The minute it seems obvious to you that the text is being explained away rather than explained, look elsewhere, as there will be no life transforming presence of Christ to be found there. R.T. Kendall would be a good place to start. If you need more suggestions PM me.

God bless.

Kenny

P.S.

Friend, there is a heaven to be received and a hell to be shunned. Jesus died for sinners like you and me. You don’t get into heaven by being good. You need a saviour. That is why Jesus came. To bear the punishment our sins deserved and to open the door into the unending Kingdom of God to all who will repent and believe in Him. The bible says, “God so loved the world that He gave His Only Begotten Son that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but shall have eternal life.” Friend, “Repent and believe the gospel.” the Kingdom of heaven is not just future. Jesus has made it possible for you to become part of that Kingdom now. He came to tell us this good news: “The Kingdom of heaven is near.” He opened the door into that Kingdom for all by his sin-bearing death. Trust in Him and no condemnation awaits you. Follow Him as your Lord. Ask Him to bring the forgiveness which He died to make possible into your life and to give you the power of the Spirit to live a new life as a born again child of God!

Oh, I don’t know all who will read this, but I hope some actual friends  of which there are a few, who once walked with Jesus but don’t seem to be at the moment, may come back to the One who loves you and gave himself for you. Would you not rather have Jesus than silver or gold, than riches untold, than fame, than anything this world affords? I pray that a desire will be reawakened in you to follow Him. You know He is real. You once knew the reality of His love, His power, His truth, His Word, His Spirit  coursing through your veins with the joy of salvation. You once loved His people and blessed them abundantly. Remember when He broke in! Remember! It was an unexpected miracle, not expected by you or by anyone! WHAT HAPPENED? What wrong did Christ do you that He no longer has your first love? Don’t do it for me! Do it for Him! He is worthy of all your love, all your devotion. He had it once, or so it seemed. Might this be the last chance before your heart becomes too hard? God’s Spirit will not strive with us forever.

May he give you tears and words with which to come to Him, may there be a melting caused by tenderest most trustworthy love….

1

In tenderness He sought me,
Weary and sick with sin,
And on His shoulders brought me
Into His fold again.
While angels in His presence sang
Until the courts of heaven rang.
Oh, the love that sought me!
Oh, the blood that bought me!
Oh, the grace that brought me to the fold,
Wondrous grace that brought me to the fold!

2
He washed the bleeding sin-wounds,
And poured in oil and wine;
He whispered to assure me,
“I’ve found thee, thou art Mine:”
I never heard a sweeter voice,
It made my aching heart rejoice.

Oh, the love that sought me!
Oh, the blood that bought me!
Oh, the grace that brought me to the fold,
Wondrous grace that brought me to the fold!

Christ would ask someone who reads this:  “Art thou ashamed of me, the tender lover of your soul? Art thou ashamed to be counted with my people? There is a way back, beloved. The power of my blood goes as deep as the stain has gone and deeper still. You proved that once. Prove it once more! My shed  blood never loses its power!”

We reap what we sow, only more so! It’s an unalterable law. God is not mocked.

Ah well. some more suggested “constrained differences” or more accurately  constrained departures” from biblical views and practice being asked to be made allowable for those who so choose at this year’s General Assembly of the Church of Scotland.

I guess there is nothing new under the sun. Adam and Eve agreed on a constrained difference with what God meant when He had said “No” to something very clearly, resulting inevitably in a “constrained departure” from God.  I mean, they didn’t take the decision to depart from the commandment to multiply and fill the earth. No constrained difference there! They didn’t stop gardening or subduing the earth. Their departure was “considered,” and restrained.  They didn’t go wild and jettison everything God had clearly said. They set the limits to their own departure. They were sure it was a step into “enlightenment” not at all a temptation to move towards darkness. “How ridiculous that this  could be the first step on a slippery slope for us or for our descendants!” (Mention “Slippery slope” in theological debates about “Constrained difference/approved departures” and you will quickly be made to look like and sound like a naive joke who deserves to be laughed at for a few seconds before the Moderator/Chair/ Presiding Bishop/ Professor  intervenes to call everyone back to respectful debate, “whatever position may be being voiced.”

The trouble is that not only is a constrained difference/departure not the basis of a blessed relationship with God, it actually spoils everything. Whatever “subduing” meant it was harder with thorns and thistles. The very birth process of human beings,  was affected too.

How arrogantly to politely solicit “a constrained departure” from the Word of God and think we can control the consequences of that to being “constrained” as well.  Says who? What we reap, we sow, and the laws of sowing and reaping mean that you get back 30 fold. 60 fold or a 100 fold what you sow. So the wind, you reap the whirlwind. Or perhaps the redefinition of grace that has happened in many Christian quarters no longer believes that principle is there in the New Testament, not just the Old. Restrained departure sown means in time reaping a whirlwind of practices and beliefs which the polite theologically minded pleaders are sure will never happen.

Oh it is easier a bit for me to sit on the side lines and lob grenades. I am no longer serving in a parish having to cope with the pain and potential disunity and destruction of congregational life that can sometimes follow on from decisions made at the Assemblies, General Synods, Union Meetings for whatever Union of Churches,  for some congregations and their leadership and ministers. However I still care for the parishes of this land. Despite every officially sanctioned constrained difference/departure, which at the moment seem to be susceptible to the tactic of delay for a year or two but not much else, I still hope and pray that  local parish churches and churches of every denomination, traditional setups and new ventures  might be led by folk whose prayer is that God would honour His Word and His Son. I pray for every ministry which realises that God’s glory is besmirched in Scotland, His Word mocked, His Son’s cross spat upon by much that goes under the name of “Church” and  under the banner of being in some way “Progressive.” Be not disobedient to the heavenly vision given you in your call. Ask God how it is to be sustained and fulfilled. Honour the answer He gives you to that question and  seek true grace to honour those who are sure they have heard something different from what has been spoken to you.

I feel an extra level of concern for those of you who like myself knew that you were specifically called to the Church of Scotland to be a preacher of God’s Word and a pastor to His people and to share as widely as possible the gospel of redeeming love for a lost world; for those of you  who have perhaps felt grieved at the Church of Scotland’s chosen and increasingly cemented trajectory. If God is holding you to that original calling, may you discover, as I have done,  that He who calls is faithful. Know that while no longer in active ministry, you have my prayers. There can come a day when according to Scripture  God says he will not listen to His people’s prayers, even by those intercessors who have been proven to have power to truly prevail with God. I hope that day has not yet come around again.

God Bless

Kenny

“A ship that’s in the harbour, is still and safe from harm, but it was not built to be there, it was made for wind and storm!” (Ian White)

“If you could read my mind,” most mornings when I wake up you would find confusion, disorientation, and a hundred half sentences leading nowhere in particular. None of the Charismatic remedies seem to cure this, such as shouting “Hallelujah” with my first breath!  That will have to wait for a few more hundred breaths. The evangelical remedies don’t work either: I read Scripture and instantly forget what I have read. It just won’t stick…. till later in the day.

In my experience of illness and medication and medication for medication,  infused with the daily presence of the God who loves me and who heals, I have only recently learned to let this mishmash of conflicting tides spend its force and not worry.  (With limited energy of every type I need to pick which battles to fight and which to leave to burn out.)  In the settling period as the hundred half thoughts begin to lose volume, I usually become aware of one thought  quietly dominating, a thought that peace rests and grows upon.

Today the peace of God seemed to rest upon the word “receive.”  Memories were awakened of different experiences of being on the “receiving” end of being “Received.” One memory was of visiting a fellow minister who had asked me to come and see him. His wife met me at the door and said in ominous tones, “He’s in the study, just go through.” I did. The scene that greeted me was my fellow minister sitting behind a desk in front of which was a seat for me. Being “Received” was a very formal affair, stoked heavily with an awareness of being “restrained.” The conversation felt like being straightjacketed to that solitary seat by accusation and humiliation. It was not a nice experience. The relationship sadly never prospered in any meaningful sense. If I had more sensitivity to the Spirit in these days, I might have refused the invitation to meet in the first place. It was a harmful experience.  Being “received” was a euphemism (a word, by the way, which I have only heard in the last 10 years in conversation in cafe church in Wester Hailes!)  for being “controlled.”

After this memory, my mind was flooded with instances of times where my experience of being “received” was very different, a world apart. Space was made for me, rooms and wardrobes cleared for me, my personal likes and dislikes to do with food etc. humbly regarded without question, the run of the house given to me; in fact more was offered than I felt fully comfortable to receive!

In what manner have we received God, Father, Son and Spirit? That was the life-giving thought this morning. I saw myself like the headmaster behind  the desk. On the solitary chair in front of me, one person was sitting on another person’s knee, while a third person was moving around the room, like a warrior from some ancient time, disturbing book shelves, picking up precious ornaments with a sense of authority and delight, despite my discomfort.

Remember when you receive the God who is love, you are receiving a Lion to prowl around wherever He chooses. I might not always appreciate the way a room in my house looks after He has walked about it, or as He is walking about in all the rooms currently. Of this I am very sure: The mightiest of Lions is in the House; the other one, the wounded and defeated one, is outside the house; though not to be mocked as he is still dangerous and intent on devouring

Where in the rooms that make up you, would God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit seek access this day?  Can you trust Him to look with compassion and mercy into a room you hoped would stay shut to every gaze forever? Can you trust Him with being allowed to pick up the most treasured items that make up you? I hope you can. After all, the thought of a headmaster behind a desk, lecturing and trying to negotiate terms while a fully armed invading Viking warrior is freely walking where he pleases is a bit ridiculous.

Well, there’s the morning thought that stilled the storms of a hundred half sentences with the thought of a mightier storm, mightier  seas and winds and adventures to come. There’s all the difference in the world between a half sentence leading nowhere and a sentence that continues to be written and is not ended yet. Glory!

God Bless

Kenny

The prayer that comes from truly believing in The Father heart of God….

This prayer of Charles de Foucauld searched my soul and refreshed me today.  This is what being like God’Son means: The Father’s will is what  I accept and surrender to with meekness and intentionally embrace and  humbly pursue. A crucified person has no further plans of their own. They can curse God for what is happening or say, “Father into thy hands I commit myself. I entrust   to you the very depths of my being.”

…and now the prayer….

Father,
I abandon myself into your hands; do with me what you will.
Whatever you may do, I thank you:
I am ready for all, I accept all.
Let only your will be done in me, and in all your creatures.
I wish no more than this, O Lord.

Into your hands I commend my soul;
I offer it to you
with all the love of my heart,
for I love you, Lord,
and so need to give myself,
to surrender myself into your hands,
without reserve,
and with boundless confidence,
for you are my Father.

Charles de Foucauld

Is it time to “shoo” a cat away from the hearth?

Put this on Facebook but realised that “WordPress” followers would not have got it. So just for you, here it is!

Christ loves righteousness and hates wickedness. Well, that’s what it says in my bible. He looks for compassion and righteousness in and from His body, The Church. Seems to me that grace has become a word that even in the church is allowed to slay every other truth. Why has repentance been dumbed down? Without holiness no one shall see God.

Grace sophistry is a weapon in the enemy’s hand, keeping many on the broad road that leads to destruction. He uses it so often until he gets even believers to think about doing something we would never have allowed in our lives as a believer or as The Church in another day, as it is contrary to God’s Word; eventually he sows the seed of a thought, “Well, I guess there is another way of looking at it,” and waters that received and planted seed, until sin is made welcome, like a stray cat warming itself at the fireside. We begin to feel affection for what we used to resist. The camel which we allowed to warm its nose in the tent and tabernacle, has moved in! It is given rights of habitation; Christian lives become occupied territory rather than free.

Perhaps you are a Christian who needs set free from enemy occupation. Find a servant of Jesus Christ, in good standing in the church and community, preferably known to your own minister or pastor and speak about deliverance with them. If they are genuine they will help you into freedom from demonic troubling through the Name of Jesus, or on the other hand set you free from the fear there is something demonic and suggest more relevant help for your situation and need. Steer clear of those who are not part of a church accountability structure, but rather operate like lone wolves. Steer clear of those who make a song and dance of the whole thing and make a spectacle of people by ministering very publicly to make a great show of their authority. Nothing is new. Even in the bible times there were false apostles who were quite willing to hit people physically as if to make a show of authority. It still happens. We are gullible more than we realise, even those of us who think we are not. Avoid these Super Apostles like the plague. I never thought their nonsense would take hold in Scotland, but it has. Usually all they set people free from is their money….

Feeling great sorrow as I remember someone speaking as an evangelical at the General Assembly asking for evangelicals to be given more time to move away from Scripture….. that we were not there yet… Another assembly, I think the phrase was  that “Constrained departure from the traditional view” about a particular matter under discussion should be allowed. I guess the days are coming soon enough when God’s Word on a matter will be seen as  merely the suggestion of the Almighty to His people, to His Church. Commandments and obedience are so passe´ …

Some things, there is just no other way of looking at, than what God’s Word says.

God Bless

Kenny

For those leaders who have been vomited upon tonight….

You may have gathered by now that technology is not my strong point. I thought if I posted stuff on Facebook it would go to WordPress etc but apparently it is the other way round.

So for those not connected to me on Facebook, this is something  I posted earlier on Facebook… and have expanded upon here!

Looking back on being a C of S parish minister, I think I managed to cope with most things I came across by the help of God. However there is one thing above all that brought me extreme discomfort through the decades: when I came across self righteousness. I always felt I needed a spiritual bath after encountering that. It saddened me beyond words. How can people be blind to their sin? That continues to be a mystery to me. I guess it is possible to be locked in a fantasy world….

I think this attitude damaged me more than any sin of  “the body” that I came across from time to time in God’s people, though that was deeply sad too. I guess that is reflected in the story of the Prodigal Son in what we read about the elder son. An office bearer in one of my congregations sat behind someone in church one Sunday  and said loud enough for the person and anyone else to hear, “Imagine the likes of her coming into this church.” It was not said in a tone of awed wonder at God’s Amazing grace but in a tone of self-righteous disgust! I have been blessed with many very godly elders and office bearers in all my congregations, but is it just my imagination or is the Kirk Session or for that matter the Congregational Board often the place where the odour of angry self righteousness wafts into the room more often than can be coincidence?

The only meetings I have ever come home to the manse crying over were ones where proud self-righteousness ran riot. Sins of the “spirit” (if I may use that word in a colloquial rather than theologically accurate way) are so damaging to the Church of Jesus Christ, scarring its fellowship, mocking its mission.

Praying for all you ministers of Christ who this very night may have been vomited over by self-righteousness from your church leadership meetings. May the God of all comfort be close to you. May you sense His smile and know His personal embrace.

God Bless

Kenny

Uncomfortable alarm sound….don’t hit the snooze button.

R.T.Kendall’s signs of a sleeping Church. Part of an article in Premier Christianity:

sleeping Church

Here are some signs we are asleep at the present time:

  • The absence of conviction of sin
  • A lack of the fear of God
  • Little sense of outrage over the godlessness of society
  • Watching pornography and feeling justified
  • Avarice, greed and lack of financial integrity
  • No sense of outrage over the Church’s lack of credibility in the world
  • Little or no concern about people going to hell
  • Little concern about the lack of knowledge of God’s word
  • Indifference to the biblical view of marriage
  • Indifference to holding grudges and unforgiveness
  • Indifference to talking to people about Christ
  • Tolerating heresies such as open theism and hyper-grace teaching
  • Indifference to the teaching that the Bible is infallible
  • Indifference to how much time is spent in prayer and quiet time

 

Don’t hit the snooze button!

God Bless

Kenny

OK, I know this is not the cheeriest thought …

Sharing my wonderings after being in church tonight and hearing afresh in Revelation of John seeing the Alpha and the Omega who walks among the candle sticks:

When a church or even a denomination is effectively in decline management mode, is that spin for Christ removing the candlestick?  What are the marks of a line having being crossed from ill health to divine judgement?

Just wondering…..

God bless

Kenny

Amen, let it be so, Lord!

Not many blogs this week due to little energy. However, as Sunday approaches, a very short offering!

These words from the book I use for daily devotions,  struck me as a good prayer to pray for whatever place we may meet with our fellow believers in worship this coming Lord’s Day:

Lord, take this place
And fill it with your presence
Let it be a haven where the poor in spirit sing
Take this place and fill it Lord
Fill it with your praise.

Come to think of it, why confine such a simple, beautiful thought to being a prayer for wherever your fellowship or congregation  gathers? It’s a good prayer for our homes as well.

God Bless

Kenny

 

Easter Light…

An unnamed nobleman said this to Edwin, king of the land that would become known as Northumbria, after Edwin and his company had heard the gospel preached for the first time:

The present life of man, O king, seems to me, in comparison with that time which is unknown to us, like to the swift flight of a sparrow through the room wherein you sit at supper in winter amid your officers and ministers, with a good fire in the midst whilst the storms of rain and snow prevail abroad; the sparrow, I say, flying in at one door and immediately out another, whilst he is within is safe from the wintry but after a short space of fair weather he immediately vanishes out of your sight into the dark winter from which he has emerged. So this life of man appears for a short space but of what went before or what is to follow we are ignorant. If, therefore, this new doctrine contains something more certain, it seems justly to deserve to be followed.

Good words to think about after Easter!  As a song with an annoyingly cheerful tune says, “There’s a light in the valley of death now for me, since Jesus came into my heart!”  Just wondering if helping people as they live this life ( which is being done by so many Christians and ministries in so many wonderful ways and which of course we are to do in Christ’s Name)  has pushed helping people be ready for eternity into the background in Christian outreach and mission?

God bless

Kenny

Of course God cannot….

“Who is this who keeps darkening my counsel without knowing what he’s talking about?” (Job 38 verse 2.)

I think there there is a new fundamentalism arising or  perhaps I should say a new Political Correctness is arising which is infiltrating church talk about mission right across the theological spectrum. Don’t know what to call it, but it says things like, “God cannot work through that type of church” or “Of course God will not do the same thing as He did in the past. We can’t expect another… (put in here whatever move of God moment from the past you choose).., of course.”

Listen, God is God. He is in the heavens, rules above the sphere of the earth and does whatsoever pleases Him. He can move in familiar ways or new ways to honour His own unchanging Name and His own unchanging Word and His only begotten Son as well as to honour the works of faith of His church reaching out in mission.

How arrogant to form our theories and pronounce what God can and cannot do in our day!! We may miss the action of God if we insist He moves according to our preferences and predictions. We may even come near to blaspheming the Holy Spirit by speaking against His activity through channels we do not approve of for one reason or another. I think these times are crucial and nothing is more crucial than that we humble ourselves before God, listen more and speak less.

Hugh Black, one of the founders of the Struthers group of churches, used to be approached by people who wanted help from him to go deeper in God. One of the first lessons he would offer was a surprising one: “Learn to shut up.”

May God bless every work of faith in the land. That is not the same as asking Him to back us up in our pontificating or to confirm our carefully reasoned conclusions or to bless or rubber stamp works not of faith but of presumption. I once heard God say, “Kenny, this may surprise you, but I don’t believe about me all that you believe about me.” I suspect He may have said that type of thing more often than I have heard it…

God bless

Kenny

Jesus saves…even those who have no intention to be saved! Hallelujah!!

Isn’t it wonderful that God can save someone when they have no intention of being saved. He is the Lord who moves in Sovereign grace! Hallelujah!

Heard a testimony of an older man in Struthers Church, Greenock, on Easter Sunday evening at a baptismal service. He came to the church thinking he was coming to an illness management lecture for M.E. sufferers! Instead he found himself sitting in the back row of a packed church experiencing something he had never experienced before: “the beautiful presence of God.” In time he found Christ as Saviour and Lord and was baptised in the Holy Spirit. Almost as a throw away line, he added in at the end that he had also been healed of M.E.!

Heard a testimony of a young tennage boy as well. He went to an outreach meeting just so that folk would stop pestering him and he could tick the box and say he had “tried that” and it hadn’t worked for him. Well, to quote his own words to us all, “As you can see it didn’t work out that way!” He too found himself in the presence of God. The inner change in him through being in that meeting and encountering a living Christ was that having lived entirely for his own happiness, as though that was all that mattered, he found himself wanting to live for Christ for the rest of his days; again, converted completely apart from his own intention. It was evident, in a wonderful understated way, that he deeply regretted the life he had lived when he lived entirely for himself; regretted what he had done and the effects of that philosophy on other people. By the way he was from a loving but not a Christian home, which he was careful to intentionally honour as he spoke.

Pentecostals, it seems to me, are wonderful Calvinists in essence. They are just a bit more biblical about the ministry of the Holy Spirit, including the gifts of the Spirit, than many of us Scottish Presbyterian Calvinists! (Red rag being waved there! Please, Pentecostals and Calvinists, don’t lose your sense of humour and take me on…!)

By the way in case you think Pentecostals are too heavenly minded to be any earthly use, the C.A.P money course came up a couple of times in the testimonies I heard, including the testimonies from a man and a woman and their son who had all found salvation. Anyway, you know what? I don’t think I have ever come across a Christian who is so heavenly minded that they are no earthy use. I think the overwhelming danger facing the church is that of being so earthly minded that we are no heavenly use on the earth…

God Bless

Kenny

Time for “Repotting”…

We are of course to remain deeply rooted in Christ. Sometimes however that means being “repotted” to allow the roots to go deeper still. Inevitably that means disturbing rootedness taking care to avoid damaging the roots.

There are some bible verses that disturb me. There are some things Jesus said that I sometimes wish He had not. I can remain stunted or I can be repotted and continue to grow. Let’s not panic when we read bible verses that at first reading or even after several readings seem to cause a shaking of the roots. If it is the clear straightforward meaning of a bible verse that is the cause of the disturbance, rest assured it’s  The Gardener at work recognising we are growing. That is of course a very different thing from sensing the grieving of the Holy Spirit which one can feel when biblical truth is life-destroyingly distorted in the telling.

A bigger pot and a bigger Christ or a smaller more instantly palatable bible? I guess we need to choose. Am I going to be the gardener,  prune the Bible remain in a small pot, becoming root-bound rather than deeply rooted; or let the Father be the Gardener and allow His Word to prune me and set me free to grow in a bigger pot?

God bless

Kenny

Do you know the Christ Jeremiah knew?

Are we secure enough in the eternal unending love of God for His children that we are able to accept and experience His anger and allow Him to express His disapproval?

He was angry with me this weekend. He didn’t stop loving me, there was no condemnation, but He was angry. Why? I took a hissy fit against Him for something that was not His fault at all. The reason? I felt very unwell and not able to enjoy fully something I had been looking forward to. I have been ill for a few years now. Genuinely it is the fist wrong attitude about it all that I have expressed, as far as I know. Apart from this moment this weekend, I don’t think I have ever complained. How on earth could I ever complain when He has given me His only Son to save me from eternal hell and death and given me full and free forgiveness and eternal life in all its fullness, blessed me in so many ways?

The next morning I knew I had no option but to get on my knees and repent. It is what God required and there was freedom and restoration in the experience. There was no soothing offered to my bad attitude; no  explanation as to why what had happened to me was allowed to happen and  interrupt my happiness; no “There there, it’s ok, of course I understand your reaction, Kenny, my beloved child.”  For this securely loved child, there was  one thing on offer if the air was to be cleared: the grace filled  opportunity to repent of an attitude that had displeased my Heavenly Father, dishonoured Christ and grieved the Holy Spirit.

How could we ever be secure in a love that did not love us enough to express disapproval, anger etc.  at ways and attitudes which could do us great harm in our relationship with God, with other people or with myself? God is a good God all the time, He is extremely generous, slow to chide and swift to bless. He is not however an indulgent God. Much teaching today being is being marketed in books and in worship C.D’s, franchised in courses and lapped up in conferences that seem to be teaching an indulgent God rather than a good and generous God.

I am not comparing myself with Jeremiah, but it is interesting that in Chapter 15  when he took a hissy fit,  even accusing God of being deceptive, unreliable, like a brook whose waters had failed, God came and challenged him:

“If you repent, I will restore you
that you may serve me;
if you utter worthy, not worthless, words,
you will be my spokesman…”

We seem to live in days when the prevailing popular theologies have little room for fear of the Lord, despite Jesus telling us and commanding us to have that proper fear. It is as though nowadays it is a sign of spiritual maturity to rage against God. The Lord did not approve of Jeremiah’s raging or commend him for his honesty. Please remember He is the Lord. He  is never answerable to us. We are accountable to Him, now and on The Day to come.

No sermon is for everyone to the same depth, and no one blog can say it all either. I wonder though if this could help someone today? Don’t reinvent the wheel. I offer my experience in the hope that it will help the humble to learn something helpful. I am offering you insight from the Word of God and my own experience  into the ways  towards life in all its fullness that Christ offers. He withholds no good thing from those who fear Him in the proper way and walk in His ways. Fear Him properly and we lack nothing. We will always be radiant. That is what the bible says.

Oh by the way, remember that it was Christ who said what He said to Jeremiah. Please remember He is the Lord God of the Old Testament as well as the new… but that is for another blog….

God bless

Kenny

“It says somewhere…”

Well, those who know me will know that my memory is not great. Some who know me well say that is not the case and maintain that I have a very good memory but it is selective. All  I know is that more and more I find myself remembering a “quote” but for the life of me cannot remember the book it is from. I can remember a bible verse but not the numbers in terms of Chapter and verse. Given time, I can sometimes get there.

I take great comfort from the fact that some of the writers of Scripture itself seem to have had the same problem. To write, “It says somewhere” caused them no embarrassment at all! I have been mentioning quotes in my preaching for years adding, “I can’t remember who said it or where they said it.” I know it will offend some of you, but if I cannot remember where a bible verse is from, well from time to time from now on in certain situations  I might just say, “It says somewhere.” If it is good enough for bible writers, it is good enough for me.

Part of the effects of drugs I am on, to do with side effects of side effects of side effects of other medication is that I cannot even remember what I have read in the bible ten minutes after I have read it. That has been causing me a bit of upset, but here’s the thing: I have noticed that God does not seem to mind. I have prayed He will help me with that difficulty; prayed with a sense of upset.

Today, the upset flew away. The memory of chapter and verse and what I had read in my devotions this morning, did not fly in in its place. Rather, there was a sense of  divine compassion for weakness, coupled with an invitation to recognise the Presence of God in the course of a day, to have a more attentive spirit to what He might say at any given moment.

I come to the end of this day, not remembering what I read in the bible. It is not unsurmountable. Thank God that I can open it and read it again. However, I also come to the end of a day in which I have experienced the direct witness of the Holy Spirit speaking of God’s love for me in all matters. The first occasion when  I was aware of that today was when I was concerned  about the health of a plant!  The love and peace of God came and rested upon me indicating all was well. The second occasion… well I can’t quite remember just now, but it was light and beautiful whatever it was….

God bless

Kenny

It’s all Barbie’s fault!

I felt a tenderness today for those who do not believe in a Creator God: well, at least for some of them. I felt some, at least, were caught in a story they had told, that they could not see an escape from, save to their own detriment.

Let me explain: it is all due to Facebook! A toddler had painted her Barbie’s toes with nail-varnish. However the nail-varnish had not just gone on Barbie’s toes but all over Barbie and then all over sheets and blankets and  the bedroom carpet too! When asked by her Dad for an explanation, she said, “Barbie told me to!” She had said, “No,” to Barbie, but Barbie had apparently said to her a hundred times to do it… so she did! The conversation with her father went on for quite some time. She kept reaffirming the story, through snuffling upset and wavering conviction, that Barbie told her to do what she did a hundred times. Take a look and see if your heart does not melt!

I found it sort of cute. Did she really believe her own story or did she know there was no truth in it but feel that she had no option except to keep going with it? Was she escaping responsibility and accountability? In the end whatever may have been the case, I felt compassion for her and tenderness and deep love. She was lost in her own story and could not quite admit it and find a way out.

Suddenly I felt the same for those who chant the story of “Chance” to explain why there is everything  instead of nothing. It is a complete fairy tale to believe that the reason there is everything instead of nothing is nothing but chance, yet many stick to their story. Perhaps, one day, some of them they will grow up, admit the ridiculousness of the mathematical probabilities , see the video of themselves and be able to laugh at what they thought in their toddler stage, or even in their toddler tantrum stage against the clear truth of God’s being and power. Some, sadly, never will and will stick to their own story to their own eternal distress.

God Bless you; but pray that God will bless some of the “Chance” toddlers with intellectual honesty and integrity. May they escape the fairy story they keep on persisting in telling in the wavering hope that they themselves let alone others will believe it.

Kenny

Make Christ a talking point!

Heard a wonderful testimony tonight at Struthers Church, Cumbernauld from a man called Jim. It made me think that “Testimony” is one of the most underused weapons in the arsenal of a Christian.

People expect preachers to speak about God, but somehow a testimony from a person who is not a preacher disarms people as well as overcoming the evil one. It is so powerful.

As well as encouraging you to share your testimony this week when a door is even partly open, here is another idea: ask someone to share their testimony with you! We need to build up one another’s confidence in sharing the story of Christ in our lives.

I was constantly amazed in Wester Hailes by how freely people could speak about God in the setting of a small cafe church. No reserve, no embarrassment. I was even more amazed at the directness with which people would ask a new comer even on the first week they came , “So when did God come into your life?”

I  felt so worried and embarrassed for the newcomer by such a direct approach. Here’s the thing though: everybody who was asked that question, was able to give an answer, to share  about when they knew God was real; yes, everyone!  I am not saying they all could tell a story of how they became Christians. Some had still to take that step and were still facing a lost eternity – some did take that step and some to my knowledge have not yet taken that step – but they had already experienced that God was real and were aware of His help. It was an amazing thing to hear people that were still lost sharing a “testimony” with genuine gratefulness and an honest awareness that they would probably not be alive were it not for the help of God. These stories had a powerful effect on me and brought a silence over the group which I recognised as the stilling of troubled seas that happens when God is there in grace and power.

Let’s make Christ a talking point, as far as it depends on us.

God Bless

Kenny

 

Who are the movers and shakers in the land anyway? Maybe it’s you! Why should it not be?

So long as your name is loved and owned by Jesus before the Father’s face and known and hated in hell, don’t worry if it is misrepresented or ever known on earth.

Spent time this week with a lovely Spirit-filled couple in church leadership who probably don’t get asked to any gatherings of those who consider themselves movers and shakers in the land, yet they are most definitely so in the Kingdom of God. They talked about the vision God had given, a vision that is on course to establish churches. It is already well under way. Folk are being saved, filled with the Spirit and set free, one person here, two people there and on it goes; one town after another touched by the moving of God.

So, I praise God this day for every work of faith that He has established whether in a blazing spotlight of admiration or for the most part hidden from view. I thank God for the doers. One day they may silence the talkers. “Oh God, save us from all the talk, the paralysis of analysis, the endless surveys of our parishes, the fundamentalist approach to mission which proscribes what will work today and what won’t.” The days are evil. The time is short. The fields are white unto harvest. Let’s just do something for Jesus out of love for him, compassion for people and a desire for the glory of God above all else.

Posted this on Facebook earlier, but then felt I was to add a prophetic nudge: God’s eye of love and appreciation is upon someone who reads this blog whose work has been costly and overlooked (over time and in a hurtful way more recently), whose views are not asked for or sought despite you having much to contribute from  your diligent study intelligent articulacy  and practical experience. God notes the giving of a cup of cold water and so rest assured He has noticed your giving of yourself in much more costly and yet just as humble ways; mostly in ways unacknowledged by others. “Come up higher, friend.” These are words that you are sure to hear, someday, somehow. Rest in your belovedness and continue to be obedient to the heavenly vision.

God Bless

Kenny

A challenging thought for this Sunday

If you could live your life again what would you change?

I was humbled to hear that someone whom I know to have been deeply used of God apparently said towards the end of his manifestly fruitful life and ministry, “I would have believed God for more.”

I absolutely believe in the sovereignty of God in all things. Yet I am challenged by the principle, “According to your faith be it unto you.”

As this Sunday arrives and God’s people gather in thousands of fellowships across Scotland, what are you personally believing God for?

On several occasions over my years as a parish minister, I felt in prayer that certain individuals who did not come to church or who had not been for a while would be there on the following Sunday. I had no reason for thinking that, there was no cause that I could think of that was going to yield that effect. I felt God had simply indicated this would be the case. The first couple of times this happened, I could not believe what I seemed to be thinking or seeing as I prayed. Well, God is merciful, the people concerned were there anyway! God’s merciful help enabled me to believe more and to doubt less the next time I was similarly impressed in prayer. I learned not to ignore these impressions, these encouragements to believe in connection with Sunday services or pastoral visitation.

This has not only worked for me over the years but for others in my congregation. On one occasion someone told me that people who had left without explanation were about to walk back in without any explanation. They did! There they were in the Sunday Morning service which they had not been attending for about two years.

I have never quite managed to understand the mix of the will of God and our faith to produce a certain happening, but I believe it. Now in an “enforced” retirement, I feel the need to understand that mix less and believe in it more.

As I say the gospel will be preached in thousands of places across Scotland, in large city centre churches, in small fellowships of two or three believers gathered together; it will be preached to adults, preached to children and youth, preached in care homes, preached in prisons, in hospitals preached on the street, in churches traditional and mould breaking. What is being believed for in terms of the action of God in these same places?

Praise God that He is able to do abundantly beyond all we ask or think possible. “Only believe….”

God Bless

Kenny

Another one bites the dust….

So…Dr. Who the Conqueror of the Daleks loses all courage and joins the list of T.V. “dramas” that cower before the Politically Correct Brigade. The Doctor’s new assistant is openly gay. Can you believe it was Headline News tonight in the U.K., sharing the limelight with what Donald Tusk had to say? Of course the new series is being presented as being brave rather than boringly predictable. Joining the bandwagon late when it has already been rolling for a while takes no backbone. I guess it is only a matter of time before we have a politically correct remake of “Lassie” or “King Kong” or “The invisible Man.” “Spiderman” and “Superman” may be relegated to some deep vault as unsuitable material for public consumption. Not sure about “Popeye the Sailor Man.” “Swiss Family Robinson” will presumably have to go as well because of its doctrinaire version of family life.
A sad day for story writing and telling: a sad day for children that family programmes are now hijacked by an agenda. Not surprising, for Political Correctness worships itself and its own cause. It is irredeemably narcissistic. (Have you ever tried to challenge a narcissist? If you have tried, you will have met a rage second to none and may even have been on the receiving end of violence.) Political Correctness is a self appointed god and saviour which cares not one jot about asking questions about human well being. One day the agendas within the Kingdom of P.C. will clash and it will dissolve into civil war. A kingdom divided against itself cannot stand. Political Correctness inevitably paves the way for a new dictatorship of one hue or another.
“…watching while sanity dies,
touched by the madness and lies
Come, Lord Jesus, come, Lord Jesus,
Pour out Your Spirit we pray.
Come, Lord Jesus, come, Lord Jesus,
Pour out Your Spirit on us today.

God Bless

Kenny

Has God’s Word failed?

The conclusion of a conversation Morag and I were having this morning:

God’s Word never fails. Its promises are true through and through, like purest silver refined seven times. God’s Word never returns to Him void but accomplishes that for which it is sent forth.

Here’s the thing though: The teaching of man can fail us when it is the teaching of man and at variance with the unfailing trustworthiness of the Word of God. The fact that it comes from a pulpit or a conference lectern does not enable it to escape that powerlessness. That is why the charismatic scene and to a lesser extent the evangelical scene can sometimes be filled with disappointed people. (The liberal scene causes less problems in this regard because it never leads anyone to expect anything from God anyway – at best he is a God whose presence and activity is hidden, which sort of stacks the cards in favour of expecting nothing in the first place!) The teaching and programmes of man are presented as though they were the Word of God: folk  sincerely follow the teaching to the letter, but they find that often, “It doesn’t work.”

Perhaps you have followed through a course that offered you all sorts of victories in the Christian life and it didn’t work; perhaps you are part of a church leadership team that followed through an evangelistic programme or a mission programme that gave very disappointing results despite the expectation raised by the advertising blurb and glossy and persistent marketing that eventually wore down your resistance and your better judgement. Sadly I met so many Christians in the course of being a parish minister or through some of the wider ministry the Lord seemed to call me to, who were quite simply suffering through being squeezed into the mincer of some Christian sausage machine that failed to meet individuals as individuals and only offered a pre-formatted programme as the route to “more.” Over the years people have occasionally tried the sausage machine approach on me when ministering to me in one setting or another. I don’t bear any animosity to those who have treated me that way, who  made me feel I was being turned into some sort of performing monkey that must dance to their tune or school of thought, but it did feel wrong and it made me sad that trust was abused and people, me included, were turned into fodder for a method.

Has your faith floundered on the authoritative sounding teaching of a man or woman? Well, it is maybe good that it has, even if the disappointment was hard to bear. It may drive you back to saying to the Lord Himself, “Show me Thy ways, O Lord. Teach me thy paths.

If you are a preacher, make sure you are not fundamentalist in your allegiance to any given school of thought or theology, for no person including those to whom we owe much in the Lord  is without fault in what they say, including theologians who have an “ism” attached to their name from times past, or a multi-million ministry in terms of money or followers today! I pray you will have a commitment to study hard to  truly divide the Word of truth. Don’t offer the teaching of another human being to people as though it were the bread of life: offer it in very small doses that genuinely back up the Living Word of God.

Forgive me too, if I add one more thought (I know these blogs can sound arrogant as though there is no one right but me! That is not my heart. I believe time is short and the days are evil and we need to make the most of opportunities we have. If I throw a lot of my own experience into your lap, it comes from a desire to see the lost saved, the saved filled, the sick healed, the oppressed set free and the Word of the Lord coming in power more so than I have ever seen yet, or any of us have ever seen yet. At most I can speak from a background of a very ordinary ministry blessed with partial fruitfulness not all of which may pass the test of Judgement Day ).When I was preaching regularly I had an inbuilt filter  or two through which at times unconsciously but at other times very deliberately I passed what I was planning to say in a sermon.

The first filter was that I thought of someone who had known horrendous abuse and all that flows from that to damage living, trusting etc. I would ask myself if what I was planning to say not only honoured the Word of God but honoured life stories like that. Albeit the Word of God itself accomplishes that for which it is sent forth, was the way I was thinking of presenting it going to create a needless blockage: was it  a thoughtless presentation that would set up obstacles to hearing?

The other filter for me personally, is that of Christian leaders  and Christian believers all of whom  ministered and lived out their Christian witness against a background  of persecution; I met them at a conference. Trite methods promoted in self-confident sounding programmes seemed so hollow to me when I was in that setting for two or three weeks. I think of them often. It was a life changing experience that affected how I present the Word of God: would what I am preaching hold any water at all in the lands these dear people came from?

Fellow ministers, I hope you might set some filters for yourself that will help you present the Word of God in a thoughtful empathetic way, otherwise the Word of God can become a tool in the hand of the enemy to wound hope or faith; the road to recovery can be a long one.

God Bless

Kenny

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

http://www.opendoorsuk.org/scotland

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

For someone who knows they are out of their depth…

This morning a memory came back of trying to get back to the shore when I was swimming. It took real effort. OK I know it is not wise, but sometimes I like to push things. For example, I like to stand at the edge of cliffs or the very edge of a pier even on a stormy day, or drive slightly faster than I should in some circumstances. Yes, OK, OK, please don’t lecture me… I find it great FUN! Mmm…sometimes I fear I come across a lot of very serious Christians who have forgotten how to have fun, but that is for another blog.

On this occasion, I knew I had gone slightly out of my depth but felt all would be well, that nothing would happen that I could not cope with. However, either the tide changed or I hit a current. Very suddenly I was carried out further than I wanted to go. I don’t want to over dramatise the memory, but it was a struggle to get back in to safer waters. What I thought might take me about 5 minutes took about 15 or 20 minutes. Actually if that happened today, I would not have the lung power or physical fitness to get back into safer waters. That is a thought that just came this very second…quite sobering.

All I know is that particular memory came as I thought about whether I should or should not write a blog today. There is no reason why I should be remembering that incident as far as I can work out.  So I am wondering if this is a word for someone who will read this blog?

Perhaps you knew you were crossing a line; skirting close to the edge of the will of God, you crossed the line and now you are finding it difficult to get back. It is as though something not under your control has carried you out further than you ever meant to go when you took that step that day or that night. I guess it can happen to churches, congregations, denominations as well for that matter. However, I get the sense this is for very personal or individual application. Did you cross a line you set for yourself; “I will allow myself to do this, perhaps this, but definitely not that. I will draw the line there!” You crossed the line you drew. One of the most fearfully sobering verses in the bible is the one that tells us that Lot pitched his tent toward Sodom. That was the start, the first step, the first crossing of a line  in what would become  a sordid story in which Lot’s soul was tormented day after day, a story in which others of his family suffered in a dreadful and shameful way.

Call upon Christ. You cannot save yourself. You will keep breaking new boundaries you thought you never  would. We are not as in charge of ourselves as we like to think. Christ is merciful.

Souls in danger look above
Jesus completely saves
He will lift you by his love
Out of the angry waves
But the master of the sea
Billows His will obey
He your Saviour wants to be
Be saved today!


Love lifted me! Love lifted me!
When nothing else could help,
Love lifted me.
Love lifted me! Love lifted me!
When nothing else could help
Love lifted me.

May you reach safe waters once more by the mercy of Christ. In these waters you will be out of your depth in the love of God.

God Bless

Kenny

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

http://www.opendoorsuk.org/scotland

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

Why could we not…?

You can take it as fact that Thomas Chalmers believed in the Sovereignty of God when it comes to a person’s salvation. That makes this incident from his life all the more salutary.

Chalmers was lodging over night in an inn. The Lord told him to speak to the innkeeper about his soul. Thomas Chalmers reasoned the time was not opportune to do that. The Lord said again that he was to speak to the innkeeper about his soul. Again, Chalmers felt the time was not opportune. Through the night he heard a commotion going on below his room. He got up, looked out his window and saw the innkeeper being carried out in a coffin. Chalmers response was this. “The time was opportune, but I missed it.”

There is always a danger that we push a truth to the point where it becomes an error. When Jesus was asked by his disciples why they could do nothing for a demonised boy, He  did not say, “It is just the will of God that we have to accept.” He delivered the boy. He then explained the reason behind the disciples’ inability, presumably  in order that should they meet the same situation again, they would know what to do.

The fact that I remain unhealed despite many prayers of many pray-ers does not rob me of hope that I may be healed this side of a coming eternity where of course we shall all be fully healed without question. There may be a reason that I or someone needs to see that has not been seen yet. I say that without meaning to put any pressure upon myself or on anyone who prays for me. I am using myself as an example of the truth I am trying to put over: It is too easy at times to say, “It is the will of God.” There was a “because” as to why the disciples could not help the boy that Jesus could help.

Or let me put it another way. If talk about “the will of God” is sometimes pushed too far by conservative evangelicals to the point it bestows beauty and piety upon laziness and spiritual presumption,  the truth of the “Already here but not yet Kingdom of heaven” (a precious truth to charismatics in terms of  our theology of signs and wonders happening or not happening), can be pushed in error to the same result: it is easy to push the “not yet” part of that truth to the  place where again spiritual laziness takes too much yardage of comfort from the “not yet” and stops seeking for the action of God.

Is it time to seek afresh rather than settle where you may have settled? Is it time to stop hiding behind “the will of God” or “the already here but not yet Kingdom”?

I guess I am saying something very simple as someone who believes in the Sovereignty of God and  the presence of the coming Kingdom dawning now: I have this feeling indeed a belief  that more people are meant to be saved in Scotland than is happening, though I rejoice in the stream of salvations I hear about. I also think more people are meant to experience healing or deliverance than we are hearing about – I mean real healing not just claimed healing, and real deliverance rather than simply an emotional experience in a hyped up atmosphere.

Is it time to eat humble pie and come together to Jesus who is still our Teacher by His Word and Spirit and ask, “Why could we not…?”

God Bless

Kenny

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

http://www.opendoorsuk.org/scotland

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

A really short prophetic word for you….

OK then: a really short blog!

I know we know that faith without works is dead. I am glad that there is a general acknowledgement that part of serving Christ is bringing compassion and practical help in His name to situations of need and that on Judgement Day the one who has been appointed to judge the world will say, “In as much as you did unto one of the least of these etc.” and “In as much as you did it not unto… etc.” Nonetheless, I found these words of Henri Nouwen in “Clowning in Rome” hit me and held on to me. I think there is wisdom and prophetic warning here: I felt a fear for “the Church of today,” if I can use that broad phrase.

“It might be that by de-emphasising solitude in favour of the urgent needs of our world we have endangered the very basis of our lives as Christian witnesses.” (Clowning in Rome, published by D.L.T. 2001, page 12.)

I will resist all urge to say why I think these are important words to consider. Think them through on a personal level, on a congregational level or even on a wider level….

…well, I can’t resist the urge to say this: if sermons this coming Sunday just move people to get more involved with need, rather than resulting in people spending time alone with God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, then perhaps they will have been dangerous or damaging sermons, if you know what I mean. Sincere listeners may suffer and so may our communities and parishes. Nouwen says that without that solitude we can never be effective builders or enablers  of true community.. why he says that would stop the promise of this being a short blog! It’s for another day…

God Bless

Kenny

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

http://www.opendoorsuk.org/scotland

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

Thanks Professor Best!

I was sharing my testimony not long ago and thought afterwards that it is strange how God uses incidents or remarks that seem of little or any significance to further His good will for our lives.

In 1979 I was in a New Testament class. There was a bit of a battle going on between some of the evangelical students and the lecturer, Professor Ernest Best. At one point he dropped a comment, which I think was probably deliberately provocative: “The trouble with you evangelicals is you don’t actually read what the bible says!” Well, if it was intended to inflame things, it did!

Back at home that evening, I thought of the Professor’s remarks. I decided as best I could to read the Gospels and the Acts of the Apostles as though I had never heard them before or heard anyone teaching on the material. The result of that was I became a Pentecostal at least in belief though not at that point by experience; but then it is not experience that is to be the guide to doctrine, but the Word of God. So thanks to Professor Best, I ended up believing that there was a Baptism in the Holy Spirit, distinct from conversion, though they could happen at the same time; believing too that the gifts of the Spirit are for now, not just then. The bible let me see that I had to let go of the many versions of “These things are for special times or special people” that I had heard over the years.

Come to think of it, I had always believed that these things are for all God’s people in every age since starting to read the bible after my conversion at  a Scripture Union Camp. Scripture Union taught me to read the bible every day, which I tried to do. I saw the ministry of Jesus, read about Pentecost, saw the life of the early church but somehow picked up the impression that was for then and not for now. I didn’t really understand that, but I trusted the genuinely godly people that told me so.

However, the fire of desire for Pentecost never went out and within a short while of my conversion I started seeking for the life that I read of in the early believers. If I remember rightly, I had begun to flag in keeping believing for this and seeking for this. Professor Best’s remark and a fresh reading of the bible relit the fire, the hunger. I had begun to think, “Ah well, maybe I was wrong, maybe this is not for me…” but now sought with a fresh hunger a fresh thirst… and discovered what I saw as a baby Christian was indeed true.

It is amazing what we see when we put aside what we have been taught to believe and read the bible with an open mind and the eyes of a child of God. Sometimes it is a real challenge and creates a tension. However as I said earlier, as those who believe the bible is the Word of God and not any particular theological system, our approach should be to ask God to lift us up into what the bible actually says rather than make the bible fit our experience or lack of experience.

Morag has just asked me if I was wrting a blog, which I confirmed to be the case. She then asked what it was about and my reply was, “I don’t really know yet. I won’t know until it is done!” So now that this blog is nearly done, I am wondering, “What am I saying?” Am I saying that if you read the bible as openly as I did as a theology student you will all become Pentecostals. Well, I was going to write, “No of course I am not saying that…” which would make this blog more comfortable reading, but come to think of it, you know what? Yes, I want us all to become Pentecostals by conviction and experience, and I want to be more Pentecostal than I have ever been. There is always more! What blasphemy to believe we experience all there is to experience of God the moment we were converted.

Friend, will you read  in the gospels about the ministry of Jesus Himself, all that He began to do and to teach and then read on to what He continued to do and to teach through his chosen Apostles? You and I are part of that ongoing story of Jesus. I want more of the overflow of the Holy Spirit that happened around Him and around the Apostles for me, even if you are happy with where you are.  Maybe I am writing this blog to myself more than anyone. Whatever it is saying to you, it is saying to me, “It is time to seek the Lord.” I sense “deep calling unto deep” in my own spirit and pray that some of you at least may sense the same.

By the way if you want to make comments against this, please don’t waste your time. Get your own blog page. For me this is too precious a truth for debate. Oh don’t get me wrong, I love a good debate and fight about things, fuelled by an arrogance that I am of course right! However,  that is my flesh more often than not and rarely of the Spirit. If some stop reading this blog, well God bless you as you do that, just don’t join the angry folk who speak one way or other about all of this or read their unedifying and at times dishonest web sites. It won’t profit you at all. These sites will just put you further out of fellowship with part of the body of Christ, the part that you think is wrong, the part which Jesus loves as much as those circles you feel comfortable in.

Oh that someone may get on their knees as a result of this blog. Just your agreeing with anything I say, or disagreeing with anything I say is not why I write. I write in the hope that from time to time someone even to their own surprise  will start to seek the Living God of the Bible with Jacob like tenacity: “I will not let you go unless you bless me!”

I am basically a Calvinist by theology, though not where he or his followers disagree with the Scriptures as best as I can humbly and honestly understand them. However, I really do believe that each one of us is as close to God and as full of the life of God as we have chosen.

God bless

Kenny

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

http://www.opendoorsuk.org/scotland

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

Jesus can’t do that…

Sometimes I regret the way that salvation is presented; it can sound as though a loving Jesus saves us from an angry Father, that The Father and The Son have different hearts toward us, or a different attitude toward human sin. Listen, God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit are One God in every way toward us! The love of Jesus that embraced the cross for our salvation is the love of the Father that gave His only son for us, a love the Spirit wants to make real in the deepest place of each one of us, until  we are released from all deception about God or ourselves and cry out “Abba, Father!”  God is One God in Himself and One God in the life of a believer.

Friend of Jesus: there is one thing Jesus cannot help you to do this day: He cannot help you to move against The Father’s will for you. From all eternity as Son of God He said what He has said in human flesh, once subject to weakness and now risen and glorified: “Your will Father!” He says that for Himself still; He prays it for you and for all His friends this day.  Neither can any experience of the Holy Spirit, whatever we may call it, help you to move out of the will of God. Even when the will of God was most difficult for God’s Son to embrace, this is what the Scriptures say:  “By the power of the eternal Spirit, Christ offered himself to God as a perfect sacrifice for our sins.” (Hebrews 9 verse 14, NLT)

May the same Jesus by the power of the same eternal Spirit, strengthen  you and I this day to walk in the Father’s good and wise will…or even to return and embrace that will if that is what we need to do.

I have mentioned Struthers Church before in this blog, a church which blessed me in my past and still blesses me today. When I went there as  a student for the Church of Scotland ministry  about 38 years ago, there was a chorus of a hymn that was often sung.  It still has a powerful effect when I think of it:

Sweet will of God, still fold me closer
Til I am wholly lost in Thee
Sweet will of God, still fold me closer
Til I am wholly lost in Thee

God bless

Kenny

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

http://www.opendoorsuk.org/scotland

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

What is your chief complaint?

Hark, my soul, it is the Lord!
’Tis thy Saviour, hear His Word;
Jesus speaks, and speaks to thee,
Say, poor, sinner, lovest thou Me?

“I delivered thee when bound,
And, when bleeding, healed thy wound;
Sought thee wandering, set thee right,
Turned thy darkness into light.

“Can a woman’s tender care
Cease toward the child she bare?
Yes, she may forgetful be,
Yet will I remember thee.

“Mine is an unchanging love,
Higher than the heights above,
Deeper than the depths beneath,
Free and faithful, strong as death.

Thou shalt see My glory soon,
When the work of grace is done;
Partner of My throne shalt be:
Say, poor sinner, lovest thou Me?

Lord, it is my chief complaint
That my love is weak and faint;
Yet I love Thee, and adore:
O for grace to love Thee more!

William Cowper

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

http://www.opendoorsuk.org/scotland

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

God willing….

Well,  this past weekI have been asked to speak at 3 different places at various points in the coming weeks and months. Each invitation has been couched in the same terms: “Even if you only speak for 10 or 20 minutes and even if at the last moment you can’t come because of your health, that is fine.” Well, that suits me and not just because of health issues. It sounds like these places are open to God. If I turn up, praise God. If I don’t, praise God anyway! If I can preach a sermon of my usual length, praise God! If I have to stop after 10 minutes, praise God (perhaps even with added thankfulness all round)! I sort of like that.

…and something else is on my mind leading on from that. When I was a young Christian, I used to hear the old saints of God saying after announcing something they were planning to do, “God Willing.” That seems to have gone out of fashion a bit now and yet the Word of God says that is what we should say when we are talking about our plans. I suppose it is about humility, which is maybe out of fashion nowadays as well, even in the church. Time to forget about spiritual fashion and  agree with the timeless Word of God? Yes! Why not slip the concept of the will of God into conversation this week, whether you are speaking to a believer or a non believer? “If the Lord wills..” It might break an awful spirit of presumption that seems to abound in the plan-making of Christians and it might help a non-believer begin to think that there is a God whom they are perhaps ignoring, to whose will  they are giving no meaningful place in their lives.

God bless

Kenny

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

http://www.opendoorsuk.org/scotland

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

Uch! See those bleating sheep…!

“The bible is full of contradictions” say those who have not read it so they don’t have to!

Well, there are actually contradictions in the bible, most notably the contradictions of the human heart. These words from Jeremiah 6.16 (N.L.T) were in my readings today:

This is what the LORD says: “Stop at the crossroads and look around. Ask for the old, godly way, and walk in it. Travel its path, and you will find rest for your souls. But you reply, ‘No, that’s not the road we want!’

I knew well the “Stop at the Crossroads, ask for the ancient paths  etc.” part of the verse but had somehow forgotten the response that follows: “No, that is not the road we want!” My thoughts then went on to these words of Jesus from Luke 5:39 (N.L.T.)

But no one who drinks the old wine seems to want the new wine. ‘ The old is just fine,’ they say.

As I thought of these different verses, I remembered a remark Bishop David Pytches made across the lunch table at New Wine in Shepton Mallet, for no apparent reason; I guess I must have been looking or sounding frazzled from ministry:

Who would be a leader, Kenny ?

I was at a church not long ago which stands for the ancient paths, for  godly, but vibrant  and relevant and Spirit filled ways. The blessing of God is flowing there. I heard the leader say to younger members who had expressed some level of dissatisfaction about their church, “I mean what do you want me to do for you? Do you want me to turn cartwheels?”

More recently I was at a church where the congregation was being encouraged into new things, new kingdom ventures in the Holy Spirit. One could sense that not everyone would embrace the new ventures with enthusiasm. Many congregations prefer to “stick with the old wine/ways.”

It can be a frustrating thing being a leader, you know. Jesus put it like this in Matthew Chapter 11:

To what can I compare this generation? It is like children playing a game in the public square. They complain to their friends, ‘We played wedding songs, and you didn’t dance, so we played funeral songs, and you didn’t mourn.’ For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, ‘He has a demon.’The Son of Man, on the other hand, feasts and drinks, and you say, ‘He’s a glutton and a drunkard, and a friend of tax collectors and other sinners!’”

There are about five bits of advice I have kept in mind for the last few decades as a church leader. One of them comes from Rodney Howard Browne; “Sheep bleat. That’s ok! It does them no harm. It’s what sheep do”

So if you are a leader who this very day  under the guidance of God called the sheep back to the old ways or into New Kingdom Life, well done whatever you were doing. If there was some bleating in the response, well it’s what sheep do. Don’t let the bleating depress you. Pray, lead and keep going! Try and not let the bleating spoil your Sunday lunch or intrude into your family time or invade your sleep.

If on the other hand you are a sheep (and for some reason these days it is difficult to find sheep who don’t think they should be leaders or shepherds), is God calling you to the ancient paths, or to new ventures in His Kingdom in the enabling power of the Holy Spirit or to both? I hope it is both as you can’t really have one without the other, or so it seems to me.

God bless

Kenny

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

http://www.opendoorsuk.org/scotland

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