I said in an earlier blog that if I could put a book in everyone’s hands it would be R.T. Kendall’s “Total Forgiveness.” That book arose out of a situation in which R.T. himself had to totally forgive. I think truth that is proved in personal experience has real power to help others. I was brought up in a spiritual tradition that seemed to say it was wrong for preachers ever to speak about themselves. I know there can be dangers in doing that and there needs to be some limits so that the sharing becomes a help to people rather than a burden of concern for them to carry, but I would encourage all of you, preachers and non-preachers, to share your experience of God in you. That can be self indulgent but it need not be when we are sharing to glorify God and out of love for other people. Henri Nouwen says that we are most universal when we are most personal. People are looking for something that works these days, that helps them to do life. In a sense there is danger in that, in that it pushes concern for truth and rightness aside and can lead people to embrace what seems to work with no questions about right or wrong or consequences. “Does it work?” seems to be the prime question in many people’s hearts. But behind that there is fertile ground for the gospel. We can share our story of something that has worked and continues to work in my life.
I like R.T’s honesty in his book. He speaks about total forgiveness, but then is honest enough to say that when he saw the people who had wronged him, he could feel his peace disturbed and he had to forgive them afresh to recover that peace. My thought to share with you today is simply this; is there some victory in your life that needs to be renewed? Is there some area of your well being that seems to be coming under familiar attack? Go back to what helped you and renew the victory.
I have mentioned the name of Hugh Black more than any other name in these blogs. He is in glory now but he is someone whose words come back to me often. I remember an occasion when a friend was in deep trouble and distress. He had received great blessing through Hugh Black’s ministry but at the point of time I am telling you about was not in a good place spiritually. I phoned Mr. Black and asked him to go and see my friend. There was silence at the other end of the phone and then Mr. Black said, “No Kenny, I am not minded to do that. He knows where he got help.” In other words it was up to my friend to return to the place, to the people, to the truths that had brought him help before. There was no special treatment necessary. Mr. Black was always straight to the point like that! I put down the phone in a state of shock… but within minutes I saw he was right. There were steps my friend needed to take back into spiritual health. A visit could have pandered to his unwillingness to do what he needed to do. Perhaps some pastors reading this need to take a lesson form this that will release you from guilt. Is someone in your congregation in the huff with you and shown that by stopping coming to church? Are they manipulating you by their absence, almost forcing a visit from you? “They know where they got help.”
I am presuming that most of you reading these bogs are neither preachers or pastors. You too are looking for what works, but hopefully have not abandoned the concept of right and wrong. You want to do life as a follower of Jesus. I feel I have to say to everyone today, “You know where you got help.” If that is not a relevant phrase today for you, keep it on the back burner somewhere. Today or someday all of us will need to revisit the places where we found help, freedom and peace; give up resentment and go back to the church that brought life to you; re-read the books that brought life to your soul; what truth from God brought you help before? What victory or deliverance is in danger of being stolen from you? Renew the victory in your life. Do it now and recover or re-enforce one of Christ’s most precious gifts to his disciples: His Peace. Perhaps the longer we do try and do life as a follower of Jesus while living in this world, what we value tends to change. I am not sure as a young believer I much appreciated the preciousness of what Christ was offering when he said, “My Peace I give to you.” Now, in a phase of life where I am confronted by my own weakness and fragility I think there is nothing more precious. May you seek, experience and appreciate that precious gift today.
I was going to stop writing there and sign off. However a story is coming to mind. I am remembering the testimony of someone who was resiting a move of the Holy Spirit in revival in their island community. This person and her friends did not want”it.” They did not want “what” was happening to others they knew. But then “it “happened to her, and she said to her best friend with joyful amazement, “Oh Fay dear, we have been so blind ! It is not an ‘it.’ It is a ‘who!’ It is the Lord Jesus Christ!” When you revisit the place you found help, you will discover a person, the Lord Jesus Christ. Christianity is not a “what” or a “where.” It is about a “who.” It is all about the Lord Jesus Christ. When I talk about places where you found help, I am ultimatley inviting you to a fresh discovery of Him. It is a “who” I am offering to your question as to “what” works. I am offering you the Living Bread Himself. May the mouthwatering smell of the Living Bread reach your spiritual nostrils today. May you taste Christ.
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