A paraphrase and a hymn from the early days of my Christian life came winging their way back to me today. My conversion centered upon the cross upon this amazing truth that “the Son of God loved me and gave himself for me.” That never ceased to amaze Paul even after years of Christian living and ministry, and it has never ceased to amaze me. It is where I have lived and ministered from too, even if not in as astonishing and history changing way as Paul. I said in my last blog to this one that there is always a danger that our Christianity shifts its centre of gravity from what Christ has done for us to what we can do for Him. We have turned Christianity into a 2 letter word “DO” and sometimes forget the liberating life changing truth that the centre of Christian doctrine and living and fruitful service is a 4 letter word, “DONE!”

Maybe you need to remember that. I know that everything moves on. I love many of the new songs that God has blessed his people with in recent years. However, I must admit, I miss singing these wonderful words about the cross… I hope this is more than nostalgia, and blesses you…

The Savour died but rose again

The Saviour died, but rose again
Triumphant from the grave;
And pleads our cause at God’s right hand,
Omnipotent to save.

Who then can e’er divide us more
From Jesus and his love,
Or break the sacred chain that binds
The earth to heaven above?

Let troubles rise, and terrors frown,
And days of darkness fall;
Through him all dangers we’ll defy,
And more than conquer all.

Nor death nor life, nor earth nor hell,
Nor time’s destroying sway,
Can e’er efface us from his heart,
Or make his love decay.

Each future period he will bless,
As he has blessed the past;
He loved us from the first of time,
He loves us to the last.

We sing the praise of Him who died

We sing the praise of him who died,
of him who died upon the cross;
the sinner’s hope let men deride;
for this we count the world but loss.

Inscribed upon the cross we see
in shining letters, God is love:
he bears our sins upon the tree:
he brings us mercy from above.

The cross: it takes our guilt away,
it holds the fainting spirit up;
it cheers with hope the gloomy day,
and sweetens every bitter cup.

It makes the coward spirit brave,
and nerves the feeble arm for fight;
it takes its terror from the grave,
and gilds the bed of death with light.

The balm of life, the cure of woe,
the measure and the pledge of love,
the sinner’s refuge here below,
the angel’s theme in heaven above.

In the aftermath of the Brexit vote, however you or I voted, it is amazing how angry people can get at a democratic vote. The story is growing that the vote went the way it did because of the old, the poor and the stupid, the non thinking and the gullible…and those are some of the kinder words being used to explain the result. I find it all at least a bit cynical, and even at times sinister. I guess we all feel more fond of democracy when the majority think like me and share my convictions and stress the facts I stress  and ignore the facts I ignore and are persuaded by reasons that persuade me, if we are honest. Whatever, I am thinking of what G.K. Chesterton said once about the Church of Jesus Christ; he said it was such a true democracy that we even give a vote and a voice to the dead, to past generations of believers, in the church of the present day! Church traditions are not all bad just because they are old. Likewise, the worship songs of the past should not be thrown out because they are old or because there are wonderful and blessed newer songs around, though they should have a voice too and not be shut out just because they are new: God’s people have since bible days been called to sing new songs to the Lord about His present activity as well as old songs that celebrate the mighty deeds of God in days of old.  I am not sure how many in the church like the idea of such a democracy. Just saying… whether anyone listens or not! After all, we do live in a democracy do we not?

God Bless


I was privileged to be at Glasgow University at the time when Murdo Ewen MacDonald was Professor of Practical Theology. Without doubt he was one of the very best preachers I have ever heard. He had a fascinating life story as well, part of which involved being a prisoner of war in the Camp where “The Great Escape” actually happened. He was one of those whose responsibility it was to get rid of the earth and sand resulting from the digging of the escape tunnels. He became chaplain to the American prisoners who had no chaplain of their own. News of the war was passed back and forward between the British and American sectors in the prison camp by Gaelic! A Gaelic speaker on the side of the fence that had a radio shouted over the news in Gaelic to Murdo Ewen who then shared the news on his side of the fence. The Germans could not work out what on earth was being said!

Come D-Day, having received the momentous news of the landings in the customary enemy confusing way, Murdo Ewen simply went back inside the prison huts and announced to his fellow prisoners, “They’ve come.” There was a moment of absolute silence which was followed by unforgettable scenes: grown men were sobbing, laughing, dancing, screaming with joy. This was the effect of hearing what had been done and accomplished for them.

We must never forget as Christians what has been done for us. In these days it is great that Christians seems to be coming into a new confidence that God can use us to spread His Kingdom; a confidence that by the Holy Spirit we have been equipped with ministries and gifts with which the church and the world can be blessed. However, it is hearing what Christ has done for us rather than what we can do for Him that must always be the joyful centre of everything; all that His living, His cross and His empty tomb has done for us. D-Day has happened already for us at Calvary, where sin, guilt, shame, were carried by Him on our behalf. Enemy principalities and powers were disarmed; the decisive spiritual battle of all the ages has been won; there may still be battles but the victory of God is sure.

My experience of deliverance ministry has been very minimal. I have witnessed this though: demons go and freedom comes to troubled individuals not when someone shouts and postures and makes a great show of their ministry, but when the victory of the cross is simply announced and proclaimed with assurance and joy.

Amongst other ways that Paul described his ministry, when writing his second letter to Timothy he refers to himself as a herald. I guess a herald announces to the citizens of a Kingdom what has happened already or what is with equal certainty going to happen in that Kingdom. Whatever may be oppressing you today, you need to realise your D-Day has happened. Christ has come into this world for you, He has died for you, He has been raised for you and one day He will surely come for you, and you shall reign with Him forever. Rejoice in Him afresh and be a herald of His victory to your own self and others!

I confess a slight worry: over the years I have sought as a part of my ministry to equip people in understanding and experiencing the ministries and gifts of the Holy Spirit. I hope however that we never replace what Jesus did for us all already on the cross, which any person can access by personal God given faith, with what we can do for one another in the power of the Spirit in terms of ministry. That would be the wrong centre of gravity to try and establish. Perhaps there needs to be a redress in balance for some of us reading this blog. Maybe you have become too dependent on ministry times, prayer times, the gifts of God operating through God’s people rather than resting and rejoicing in Christ and the D-Day of the cross. Do you need to go in faith to Calvary yourself? If you do then go there, stay there, until you hear the announcement of D-Day in your spirit: “FINISHED!”

Christ and what He has done rather than church and what we can do must ever be the centre of our announcements as heralds of the Kingdom of God. By the way, whatever your ministry may be – and we do all have one – let’s never forget our prime ministry is to get people into a steady  and living relationship with Jesus, not keep then in a continual dependence upon us or  our ministry. Hugh Black always encouraged people in ministry to take people through to Christ Himself.

Just listen over the next few weeks to all that you hear in church, in your house groups, on God TV, at summer conferences or to what a book or a purchased teaching series is saying with this one central question in mind: How central is Christ in what I am being told? Am I being sold a ministry under the guise that it is indispensable for walking in victory? If so, we are being sold a lie. Christian advertising should be truthful; exaggeration is lying. Leave that ministry aside; get alone with Jesus.

I once was ministering to someone and felt God gave me a picture to help me and them. In this picture I saw the man I was seeking to help struggling to do up buttons on his shirt. The interpretation that I put on that is that if we get the first button of a shirt in place every other button will fall into its proper place. Actually the real meaning was he had a phobia of buttons which became apparent in quite a dramatic way as I mentioned the picture God had given me! However my wrong interpretation then is a permanent spiritual truth as well; getting the first button in place really does matter; Christ and His finished victory first in my thinking and my hopes: the bedrock of my trust.

God Bless


OK, the horse has maybe bolted, but…

(I thought it might be useful to put this blog out after my previous blog posted earlier today. If you haven’t read the earlier one, “Persons not Projects” if might help you to read that first and then come back and read this if you have time. I have been really moved by those who have posted me publicly or privately about your own or a loved one’s battle with some form of mental illness. I hope what follows below is helpful in carrying that difficult and distressing experience, as well as relevant to other dilemmas some of us may be living in as we follow Jesus . I felt I should not keep this back until tomorrow. Some folk need to hear this today! K)

You have maybe heard  of the book “The Theory of Everything: The Origin and Fate of the Universe,” by Stephen Hawking. That title is quite a claim! Well, not to be outdone, today  I offer you in the Name of Christ, “The Truth about Everything”  you will ever experience in life as a follower of Jesus Christ. It is not a new truth nor a new truth to my blogs: it is this; “The Kingdom of God/The Kingdom of Heaven is near.” The greatest central theme of the teaching of Jesus, His Gospel, proclaimed that in Him, God’s promised and prophesied reign and Kingdom had drawn near to people on earth. He spoke of a Kingdom that had come, that was coming and that would one day fully come. To sum it up, He spoke of “the already here not yet Kingdom of God.”

When you get hold of that you find the interpretive key by which to understand everything that happens in your life as a believer. When there is a breakthrough of the obvious power of God,well, why is that? It  is because the Kingdom of Heaven is near. When a breakthrough does not come as we had hoped, why is that? The Kingdom of Heaven is not here in its fullness and we are still waiting for the day when all sickness, suffering, death itself will be past and God will wipe away every tear. We are still waiting for the day Scripture promises when these things shall be no more. When miraculous things happen they are described in the bible as “signs.” Signs point to something, assuring us we are on the right road journeying towards an as yet not fully reached destination; the already here but not yet kingdom. However, so do “non sign” signs! When there is no rescue or healing, Christians know that too points forward to the same certain day which is still to come.

From time to time movements arise in the church which challenge the Scriptural balance by saying that we can have all of that future day now. The result is usually a small increase in the incidence of the miraculous and a huge increase in disillusionment and distress which is sadly generally conveniently ignored. When the truth believers proclaim becomes out of sync with reality, we are on dangerous ground. I have lived long enough to see several movements which have gone beyond what Scripture says, and probably they cause as much loss of faith as they encourage faith. This blog feels like it is maybe too late to help. The “Have it all Now” Kingdom horse is bolting once again and has picked up quite a speed; It almost seems unchallengeable… however, one day you might remember this blog and it may help you to  help someone who has been trampled on by that horse, and left with untended wounds.

Both healing and non healing are signs of what believers in heaven know right at this moment: The Kingdom of Heaven has not yet fully come even in heaven, let alone on earth. There are a huge throng of people in heaven still waiting for “The Day of the Lord” when injustices will be reversed. As I said before in another blog, those in heaven (with the possible exception of two or three; Jesus (for sure) and one or two others whose taking leave of this earth is a bit of an Old Testament mystery) are waiting for their sick, dead , diseased and decaying bodies which are lying in weakness and dishonour in land or sea or blown to the wind through war or atomic or terrorist bombs, to be healed and raised; the seed of what shall be raised incorruptible. The saints in heaven understandably have better theology than saints on earth have yet worked out. The saints in heaven know what some saints on earth sometimes find it difficult to accept: we are a waiting people who whatever “sign signs “or “non-sign signs’ we are rejoicing in or confused by, long for this announcement: “Now is the dwelling of God with men.” In speaking too much of faith for heaven now, we are perhaps in danger of reducing the priceless worth of  Christian hope:

Wrong will be right when Aslan comes in sight

At the sound of his roar, sorrow shall be no more

When he bears his teeth, winter meets its death

And when he shakes his mane, we will have spring again!

(The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe” by C.S. Lewis.)


Persons not Projects

I am thinking today of someone I know who has manic depression. More specifically I was thinking of the distress well meaning believers have caused him over the years. On one occasion  someone told him they had a picture of Jesus taking away truck load after truck load of his sins! I know the good intention behind what was shared but there are ways of saying things and ways of not saying things!

The other thing I am thinking of though is that he was aware he was the cause of frustration to many believers who were praying for him. Thus far there has been no miracle of healing for everyone to see. I remember however that as we walked and talked together once he turned to me and said, “Kenny my miracle is that I am still here.” That is the daily miracle of more people than we realise.

There are a couple of insights I hope you can take from that:

Number 1: Don’t get so caught up with what God has not done or not done yet, that you fail to celebrate what He has done and is doing. That man, who actually may not even have been   a believer at the point he said that to me, was genuinely grateful for God’s help in a way that few Christians around him seemed to rejoice in. Celebrating what God is doing, is not closing the door on what He may yet do.. or not do.

Number 2: Sometimes we fail to appreciate or have the insight of God’s love into what someone in need really wants or longs for.  Our need as those who pray or care, may be to see God do  particular thing. However it may be that what we long to see is not what those we pray for  are craving and yearning for. Someone wrote in response to an earlier blog, saying that the deaf community with whom they worked, didn’t really more than anything want healing as such. More than that they wanted welcome and acceptance. It is good to remember that people are not  a ministry project to prove a point, a doctrine, or our faith,  but people to be loved and understood with sensitivity. I recall the pain with which someone told me a few years back that the interest some people were showing in them felt like it was interest in a project rather than interest in a person.

Let me apply that to myself: what is the  greatest need I am aware of at this moment? Is it for healing of my lungs? Well, that is certainly a need, but it is not my deepest need and would almost be a wonderful extra blessing or bonus. My deepest need is to know that God is with me. It brings me a joy that makes me forget I have any illness when the touch of His reassuring presence is upon me. That touch often comes. May you know that reassuring presence this day. I am not sure there is any greater blessing than knowing that the God who loves us , the God who is for us not against us, is with us.

God bless


Telling myself what I have told you…

Well, just in case you get the false impression from these blogs that I sail through difficulties with great spiritual strength, today, largely through sleeplessness and medication,  I cannot focus on either praying or reading the Bible. When I read the Bible I cannot hold on to what I have read. When  I pray I lose concentration and  find out I am not praying at all. However there are truths that I have  hidden in my heart over the years and they are enough. Today it is truths from old fashioned hymns that are strengthening me: Here is a verse that keeps on coming to mind:

“We have an anchor that keeps the soul
Steadfast and sure while the billows roll,
Fastened to the Rock which cannot move
Grounded firm and deep in the Saviour’s love.”

That is what I am focussing on today. I am remembering  for myself  what I said to you in a blog a while back: “Little is much when God is in it.” I found Him today in that simple hymn and in a gentle walk with a friend and their dog.

Don’t be like a Pharisee or a Teacher of the Law and lay burdens on your back that are hard to bear. Expect God’s help to come to you in beautiful, simple ways. That is really all I can share today and perhaps all I need to share.



A Scotsman’s dream come true. At IKEA you can get coffee with free refills and 2 biscuits for 25p and sit there undisturbed for as along as you want, if you have a “Family Card.” IKEA,  consider yourself forgiven for the many miles I have walked in you over the years!

Today I went there to read, pray and notice. It is good to notice where the God who pours out His Spirit on all flesh is at work. I saw Him at work today in a young mum. I saw the anointing of the Spirit resting upon her. When I say “saw” I mean “saw.” Over the years I have seen the anointing many times. It is a shining, a glow, almost an oil that comes upon a person’s face. Sometimes it is literally an oil that you can wipe away only for more to come… and no, ye of little faith, it is not perspiration. It neither looks like it nor feels like it. The person may or may not be aware of what others can see.

So I “saw” the anointing on this young mum as she sat at a table of relative peacefulness, spoon feeding her baby. Regardless of how what I have said about oil and glow may sit with you, let me tell you of the effects of anointing. It is when people know they are doing the thing they have been made to do and are living in the joy of it. I don’t mean this in a male chauvinistic way that need cause the rising up of any hackles, but I believe that particular woman knew she had been born to be a mother. Whatever other gifts, calling, career may be part of her life, the moment I saw her was a moment when she knew that for this perhaps beyond other things she had been born. For that moment at least it was all happening with ease. There was flow as well as glow! Would it always be like that for her? Of course not! For that moment however, she was experiencing an “Eric Liddell moment.” Most of you will know what I mean: He was an Olympic medalist,who tried to explain what he felt when he was running like this: “God made me fast and when I run I feel His pleasure.” (Well, in the film version of part of his life, “Chariots of fire” he says that anyway!) Of course there was agony in that running too, however even that could not rob away the feeling of “This is what I am made to do.”

I do hope that you are able to organise your life in such a way that there is room for what brings a glow and a flow for at least a proportion of your time each day or week. There are things that all of us just have to do. There are bills to be paid, jobs to be done, responsibilities to be fulfilled whether we particularly feel like it or not!  Such things are part of the will of God for us too. However, try and make sure you have some time at least each week for where you flow and where other or even you yourself may notice the glow! If you don’t know where you glow or flow, ask the God of flow and glow to show you that place.

God bless


A strange new thankfulness…

I have been looking back over my ministry thus far, and one thing surprised me as I did that; I find myself missing those who at times I have considered pests! Sorry if it rocks your faith or surprises you that a minister should regard anyone like that, but there are people who always seem to want your attention; who tend to turn up when you are really tired; who cannot read your body language that you are a bit uncomfortable; who miss even very direct  non subtle hints that it is time for them to leave!

However, this week I saw it: below all that was annoying, the  love  of many of them for me was unfeigned and the friendliness of their smile when they talked to me was genuine. Several of them prayed for me every night of their lives. Many of them are gone now from this earthly scene: I find myself missing them very much. Their names are dear to me.

I think of one who may or may not be alive; If he is, it is a miracle; if he is not it would be no surprise. His problem was drink; well actually that is nonsense: his drug was drink. His “problem” was a horrendous life story which included being made to sleep in the coal bunker when he was a small child. He used to growl at me and was occasionally threatening. I would not have fancied my chances if he landed one of his huge fists on me. To be honest, at times I could see him far enough. From time to time though he would hug me and say, “I love you mate.” Having said that, if I heard he was in Edinburgh again… well I might just delete this blog within a day and say “nonsense” to its thoughts!

Pastor or caring Christian or both: it may surprise you that in years to come you will miss those who you thought you would be glad to see the back of because to put it mildly they were quite hard work when they were around! Perhaps though, it is no surprise:  it is Christ in you helping you to love them with His love. You know that. However, you may discover this some day in the future as well; you will look back and find Christ in you being consoled by the reality of their love and friendship towards you.

May that help you when you cannot get away from someone this Sunday!


A Word for me today that may be for you too…

This morning, between attempt  2 and 3 to get up, this thought came to me: I think it was a God thought: “Kenny, you are doing the best you can!”

I get frustrated with myself these days. My thoughts towards me would be “Is this the best you can do then?” I almost taunt myself at times as though I was a boxer fighting against myself. Perhaps there are others who read this blog today who tend towards the same mistreatment of yourself as I do. Perhaps rather than encouraging yourself in weakness, you beat yourself up.

Freely I received His encouraging word this morning and I freely give it to any for whom it may help this day: “You are doing the best you can.” Those who most need to hear this will probably fight hardest against it, wanting to give many reasons as to why God could not possibly be saying that to them. If that is what you are doing right now, I pray that after attempt 2 or 3 you will truly receive it and find rest and peace in your Heavenly Father’s encouraging love.

Just a closing thought. Do you struggle with the idea that your Father in heaven may speak such an ordinary sounding word? Do you believe He is kind?

God bless


The image that lost a thousand votes…?

Just another  brief thought about what happened in The Referendum.  I hope you can hear this as a personal, non political thinking out loud type of observation and wondering, rather than hear it as for or against what has happened. As I look back, there are one or two images that come to my own mind faster than other images of the days leading up to the vote. One is of Sir Bob Geldof putting up two fingers and using unseemly language towards fishermen, with what seemed like laughing, well to do cronies around him. I found it a disgusting image. To me it gave the impression of the rich and privileged not caring about the concerns of others. It made it look as though it was easier to care for those in need far away but not care about the anxieties or needs and fears of those we live amongst. Of course that may be entirely different from the truth, the facts, to pick up the theme of my last blog. However this is fact too, that what we see tends to trump any reasoned argument we may read or hear: “I cannot listen to what you are saying, because I see how you are behaving.”  Images are powerful. The other image is of George Osborne making predictions  of what he would do as chancellor in the event of a vote for Brexit, that had the image and tone of punishment and threat about them. No one takes well or kindly to what they perceive as threatening behavior and language and what easier way to strike back than through the anonymity of the ballot box?

I wonder if perhaps more than myself found these images distasteful in the extreme? Helen of Troy was the face that launched a thousand ships so we are told. Perhaps the images I mentioned were images that lost a thousand votes, perhaps multiple thousand votes for the Remain Campaign. It would not surprise me if that were so because as I say images are powerful things. Good reason can be wiped out by a bad image.

Remember believer that you and I are the only bible that most people around us will read. Whatever good things are in that book, whatever good things there are in Christ, well, people can be put off considering them because of a bad image that they see or meet or encounter in those  who claim to follow the Book and to follow Christ.

Image is a powerful concept from the very beginning of the bible. We were made in God’s image. As believers we know we threw away so much of that image but we also believe what the bible says, that in Christ we are being remade in the image of our Creator. What God, what Jesus do people meet as they meet you and I, as they watch us, listen to us, interact with us?

So there it is, just a thought as I look back and think things over….


Waking up today in the UK that isn’t very U…

For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.(2 Timothy Chapter 1 verse 7)

We awaken today in Britain to a divided country. To say whether I am happy or unhappy about the result would take this blog down a path that I don’t intend for it to go, and according to the statistics of the result may lose me half my friends!  The blog really is about real help for real people from a real God. Its purpose is pastoral, rather than to trumpet causes, beyond trying to help us hear with Christ’s love  and compassion the voice of the weak and the poor and the persecuted.

However, I do want to briefly speak of a regret: much of the campaign of both sides leading up to the vote was based on promoting fear rather than addressing or acknowledging or discussing facts. To me, regardless of how I or you voted, it concerns me that facts are often dismissed in a cavalier way these days, especially when they do not back up what I want to be the case.  Henri Nouwen says that growing maturity is an ability to adjust to newly discovered facts and take them on board. I am not sure we saw much encouragement to maturity of decision making coming from either side.  I cannot prove it but I wonder whatever way people voted if fear was quite a strong “reason” behind the decision they made, albeit that it might have been in there with other more positive reasons why people chose to vote as they did. By the way, I acknowledge that not all fears are groundless. Some are based on fact.

I hope you know that as a Christian it is never a good idea to base your living on fear – see the text above from 2 Timothy. I hope too that you have a faith that is mature, that is able to take facts on board as you meet them. For some this day that may be the fact of long term illness,of prayer not being answered the way we had hoped, or the fact of what is happening in your family, or the fact of what is happening in the country.

I mainly inhabit a part of the Christian world that can sometimes shun facts and stay in a place of immaturity. People that I love dearly and admire greatly have told me over the course of my illness in the face of disappointing medical reports etc that these tests and reports are lies and I am to call them such. I cannot and will not do that, for it is an encouragement  to live life as though facts were not facts, a world of immaturity of faith. (I can imagine some saying right now, “Well. there you are, that is why Kenny has not been healed!” Though it sounds arrogant, I humbly say to that on behalf of myself and the hundreds of thousands of unhealed Christians, “Rubbish!”) Truth and reality must ever be linked. We are not on the ground of faith when we call facts lies but are on a road to fantasy and possible mental illness. Faith is not calling facts lies or refusing to give them full weight. It sees the way things are, but it sees this too, that God reigns. It knows that our God is able to deliver but if He does not deliver in the way we hope, then we are not suddenly going to give up our loyalty and faithfulness to Him, nor lose our faith in Him, but will ask for His help to praise Him and trust Him still.

I hope today in the face of facts you might not give way to fear, but that the grace of God and Holy Spirit strengthened faith in Him will help you to lay hold of the power and love and sound mind that we can discover in Christ.

God bless


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On Referendum day… a few thoughts on the most important decision of your lifetime.

I was just reading a small book by Henry Nouwen today that made the obvious point that  no sooner had the Father said to Jesus, “You are my beloved Son,” than another voice said “Prove it!” Of course I had read the story of the Baptism and Temptation of Jesus many times. It is my favourite passage of Scripture in the New Testament , but I had never seen it in quite that light before, though once someone points it out, it looks very obvious: “You are the Beloved”…. “Well, if that is so you had better prove it somehow! Prove that is a right name for you, a right description of you.”

Are you living to prove something today? To prove you are a child of God to yourself or to the world, or to the church, or to God?

I cannot remember the context at the moment but I know that R.T. Kendall both said and wrote that the greatest freedom in the world is having nothing to prove.

It is just a simple fact that it was when I became secure in the Father’s love in the mid 90’s and realised I had nothing to prove that ministry stepped up a notch in terms of fruitfulness. I didn’t do anything other than live from that place of my belovedness. To do that is really counter cultural and an alternative and radical way of living. So many people in the world and even more sadly in the church seem to be insecure about all manner of things and try to gain security, affection, worth, approval and applause by all sorts of means… but never gaining it in a way that satisfies. As a result life has no rest attached to it of any lasting type, but only temporary soothings and comforts and fleeting moments of peace and rest. Many people  in and outside the church are addicted to simply thinking they need more and more of their chosen drug. There is a deep restlessness because no achievement or relationship is ever quite enough; nobody ever quite affirms me or what I do in a way that meets my core need for secure, eternal non wavering love, my need to know my worth and value in a way that is established beyond a shadow of doubt. It is a tiring thing trying to convince people and indeed ourselves of our lovableness, our giftedness, our innocence, our worth etc etc. It makes billions of pounds for many industries that trade on our insecurity by giving us many products at a price,  which do not live up to claims  as to their potential to greatly boost our feeling of wellbeing.

We need to make sure there is a secret place into which we allow no voice other than the voice of our Father in heaven tellings us in the words of Jesus that He warmly affectionately loves us that we are the Beloved. Christ came and lived and died and rose again in order to take you and I into His security in The Father’s love.

It is possible to be saved,  eternally loved and not sure of it as a believer. If that is where you are, then ask the Father to help you into assurance. He will in his own way and time by His Spirit. It took a long time for me to find that security in the love of my heavenly Father. It came many many years after my conversion, many years after meeting Christ as Saviour.  I say from personal testimony, “Don’t despair.” The Spirit does want to help you and I to cry from deep within, “Abba! Father!”

I say again: this could be our greatest witness to the world: showing we have found security concerning our belovedness and have nothing to prove; living as one  who does not see other human beings as competitors, rejoices in the successes and achievements of others without reserve, save this; that we  long for others to discover their belovedness in Christ too and live  in the freedom of having nothing to prove.

So listen for the voice that says, “You are my beloved” and ignore the voice that says repeatedly, ad nauseam, as it did to Jesus, “Prove it!” Make space to hear of your belovedness in solitude. How? Well, I am trying to write shorter blogs, so will leave that for another day.

You might have been thinking I should say something about the EU Referendum.  So I will. It matters,  so I hope you vote. However despite the claims to the contrary it is not the most important decision you will ever make or that the people of Britain will ever make. The most important decision we can ever make by the grace of God is to say “Yes” to the Father as He says over us through the cross of Christ,  “My beloved!” It is that and that alone that leads to truest prosperity that will last for eternity long after Referendum Day and its dissection and implications  have become a footnote in the history books.

God bless you… going to vote now…. and I am not telling you which way!


May the words of my mouth…

I had two incredibly encouraging meetings today. The second one was with Drew, who in September is going to be a minister in the Hebrides. It is great news that God is still calling people into the ministry of the Church of Scotland. Some who may look aghast at the Church of Scotland  in the light of some of its decisions in the past decade may find it difficult to believe that God is still calling people into the ministry of that denomination of which I am an ordained minister still. He is: it is simple fact. Facts are powerful if at times inconvenient things.  May God bless that new ministry in the Hebrides.  May He bless one of our own members, Brian,  who has just heard he has been accepted for training. Incidentally, he is from the Hebrides.  May He bless another of our members Scott,  who is already well through his training. Speaking with Drew brought back memories of our early days in Orkney, and good memories they are, as well as warm thoughts of friends who have ministered in the Hebrides in the past and who have wonderfully blessed ministries there in the present.

However, it is the first encouraging meeting with a friend, Andy, over breakfast at IKEA that is the main impetus for this blog! This morning he told Morag and I something of the story of his coming to Jesus Christ in the time of my predecessor, Stan. He said that of course life got better! His lifestyle changed which meant he didn’t  need to fear people coming to his door with Samurai swords, or machetes or knives!! There was one thing that he said in his humorous way that made me both laugh and feel sad at the same time. He said that in the church he discovered that Christians can have “Samurai tongues! He told us that when he took courage to pray out loud for the first time, someone came up to him afterwards and said, “Andy, Jesus is King of kings and Lord of lords, not Lord of lords and King of kings.” The fact that he can remember being spoken to like that in his early days as a believer so long after they were said to him, shows the power of words to harm. Of course they can bring life too.

I think it is wonderful that on the day of Pentecost God redeemed tongues! That part of our body that can cause damage as destructive as a forest fire according to the letter of James, was empowered by the Spirit of God to declare the mighty deeds of God. The tongue of Peter which had denied Christ was proclaiming Him and encouraging people to come to Him.

This is not a complicated blog today though it is longer than recent ones! Have our words this very day brought life or harm? The bible assures us that though mankind has trained all sorts of animals, no one has tamed the tongue. We need the help of Jesus by His Spirit. He had no fault in His speech.

The bible tells us in Romans 7 that we, as Christians, belong to Christ. The imagery is of a bride belonging to her husband. That is not a popular idea when it comes to marriage these days, that a bride belongs to her husband. Though cultural understanding of the marriage relationship between a man and a woman may have changed, and may have always differed a bit from culture to culture, changing culture does not change the essential relationship between Christ and a believer. We belong to Him. The wonderful thing is belonging to Him brings us freedoms that no other power can give us; freedom from our inabilities to walk in God’s ways; freedom from  guilt and shame. However though Christ our husband gives freedom to those who belong to Him, the greatest freedom is simply to belong to Him, to belong to His heart and love and promises and strength and to belong to His good will and purposes for us.  This is the strange thing: captivity to the will of Christ brings freedom to us to become who we really are.

Has there been evidence on our tongue today that you and I belong to Jesus Christ, that we speak in the manner He would ask us to speak with people, to people etc.? There used to be bracelets going around: “WWJD”; what would Jesus do? Well, some people liked the bracelets some mocked them. More and more I think if something helps people to live for Jesus I am not going to cynically judge it. I think however that at least mentally we could do with putting on a bracelet and looking at it in our encounters with people throughout any given day: “WWJS”: What would Jesus say?

Oh I may as well put this in here too though it makes it a long blog:  Jesus did not blaspheme His Father’s Name, nor did He use foul language. Someone who does blaspheme and use foul language however cool or funny it may seem, shows that at in the very kindest light, they have not allowed their belonging to Jesus  to influence their speech yet.

One of my most favourites stories I have ever read in any Christian book, was the account of a man  who came to Christ through the mInistry of Martyn Lloyd Jones. This man was really despised by everyone. He was simply known by the name Staffordshire Bill. However he heard Martyn Lloyd Jones’  preaching being spoken about in the pub and started to think, “Well if that man is really saying there is hope for anyone there is hope for me.” He didn’t quite make it over the steps of the church a this first couple of attempts. The next time however Mrs. Lloyd Jones invited him in and he went in and stayed. He found Christ. Mrs Lloyd Jones introduced him to someone else at the end of the service: “This is Staffordshire Bill.” He winced as she used that name and said, “That was a bad old name for a bad old man.” He had been changed by Christ. He knew it and everyone could see it.

However the weeks passed and he found himself shouting down the stairs to his wife asking for a pair of socks. The sentence he used was full of foul language. He felt a sudden despair: “Oh Lord I cannot even ask for a pair of socks without swearing.” He threw himself face down on his bed in shame and despair. Christ met him and from that moment he never blasphemed or used any foul language ever again. Not one more foul word passed his lips. That was his own testimony and the testimony of all who knew him.

Oh I  know this sounds old fashioned. Please don’t dismiss it so easily. Please don’t do what is common now, namely to dismiss the marks of a genuine Christian as being “religious talk and what we want is relationship not religion.” We have taken that truth and made it a sword which destroys so much of what it really means to be a follower of Christ. I am talking here about a genuine relationship with Jesus. Yes, I know it is cool to think that as Christians we can swear and blaspheme as good, or as bad, as the world. I have even heard ministries exalted that use foul language and crudity and blasphemy. However, at some point in our Christian journey the challenge of the King of kings and Lord of lords comes to our speech. In fact according to the bible if we live as those who belong to Jesus there, in the place of our speech, then we will find all sorts of other victories in our Christian walk. You will have won one of the main battles you will ever fight according to the bible, and you will find other defeats turning to victory in its  strong wake.

Jesus, may my speech show that I do not belong to myself. I have been bought with a price. I belong to another, to You. May the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be acceptable in your sight O Lord , my Rock and my Redeemer.

God bless you follower of the One of perfect speech.


When believers disagree…

It is strange the things you find time to follow through on the world wide web when you have got the time. Well, this blog came about a result of an email reminding those of us in the C of S that The Assembly had decided that we should all consider wearing dog collars, sorry clerical collars. Yes, they really did….

Anyway, that led me to a few sites of some Orthodox churches, and what I discovered is simply this: their teaching on what priests should wear and what they are allowed to do and not allowed to do to their hair and beards puts that mild request of the Assembly in the pale. That is perhaps the biggest understatement of these blogs of mine ever!

It was so tempting to dismiss all of it since that is not my background at all, but I became sort of fascinated and kept reading. I made a discovery: they believed they were obeying something in the bible as they talked about each detail. I am not convinced by their biblical arguments but I deeply admire the fact that they were trying to say they were advocating what they were saying in their teaching because of obedience to Scripture.

It is good to remember that when we get hot under the collar about something that another believer or another group of believers say that we don’t agree with. Mostly they are actually following something they believe the bible, or even more specifically Jesus has said. We might not agree with their interpretation, but let’s at least give them the benefit of the doubt about that. With their understanding of Scripture they believe they are following the Word of God. We might believe them to be sincerely wrong, but at least let’s not get into the business of doubting their motivation.

Hope this helps you face any conflict with your fellow believers in the right spirit.

God Bless


Be a safe place for you…

I have met Christians over the years who seem to look at any sort of writings from the fields of psychology, psychoanalysis etc. with a great deal of suspicion. My own feeling is truth is truth. Just a couple of quotes for this blog and not much else. They have come back to my mind recently as I come to terms with certain changes in capacity. It is easy for me to fall into a wrong type of disdaining of myself.

I hope what I share here may help. I am pretty sure some of us would struggle with quite a lot of what  Carl Jung says, however I hope you can hear an echo of the compassion of Christ in these  particular words , and can think of the obvious Scriptures that are relevant without me telling you. I hope they might challenge you to love the tender  and weak places in yourself, the parts of you that may even hide from you! I hope what I quote here will help some of us become a safer place for ourselves. By the grace of God and the power of the Spirit I pray these various hopes I have will be fulfilled.

Here are the quotes:

The acceptance of oneself is the essence of the whole moral problem and the epitome of a whole outlook on life. That I feed the hungry, that I forgive an insult, that I love my enemy in the name of Christ — all these are undoubtedly great virtues. What I do unto the least of my brethren, that I do unto Christ. But what if I should discover that the least among them all, the poorest of all the beggars, the most impudent of all the offenders, the very enemy himself — that these are within me, and that I myself stand in need of the alms of my own kindness — that I myself am the enemy who must be loved — what then? As a rule, the Christian’s attitude is then reversed; there is no longer any question of love or long-suffering; we say to the brother within us “Raca,” and condemn and rage against ourselves. We hide it from the world; we refuse to admit ever having met this least among the lowly in ourselves.“(By the way Raca means calling ourself “fool!”)

– Carl Jung in Memories, Dreams, Reflections

“You cannot apply kindness and understanding to others if you have not applied it to yourself.”

– Carl Jung, Letters Vol. II, Pages 515-516

Happy thinking. Allow yourself to come out of hiding and be loved by God and by you.



Perhaps you are living your life against an awareness of a background discouraging laugh: you have set your heart on pilgrimage but you haven’t got to where you know it is possible to get to with God yet. Listen, you are not perhaps yet where you want to be as a Christian, you are not perhaps even what you know you ought to be like as a Christian in some areas of your life, but by the grace of God you are not what you were and that grace is upon you child of God, this very day. Please listen to the encouraging voice of the God who is for you not against you.

Perhaps I should add this from Henri Nouwen. I know it is primarily for preachers but it has wider application for all of us who are committed to publicly owning and living for Jesus. These words helped me when I read them this morning. This dealing with retirement and illness and weakness of body and sometimes of emotions is a completely new experience for me. In R.T. Kendall’s words I want to “dignify the trial,” but sometimes don’t dignify it as well as I would wish… or perhaps I do and I too need to call mockery what it is. Anyway, here are the words from H.N:

Can we only speak when we are fully living what we are saying? If all our words had to cover all our actions, we would be doomed to permanent silence! Sometimes we are called to proclaim God’s love even when we are not yet fully able to live it. Does that mean we are hypocrites? Only when our own words no longer call us to conversion. Nobody completely lives up to his or her own ideals and visions. But by proclaiming our ideals and visions with great conviction and great humility, we may gradually grow into the truth we speak. As long as we know that our lives always will speak louder than our words, we can trust that our words will remain humble.

Be blessed as you think about this.


Warning Blog: “Watch out, Will’s about!”

I have just struck out a few hundred words of what was really just me ranting to begin today’s blog here; I should say that for years I had to do the same with my sermons each week,  so that what  was eventually delivered was the bits that I believe God had given  after my rants were scored out! Most sermons could be shortened considerably if the rants were taken out, I think…

Anyway, that could have been another rant of a few hundred words. I could feel it approaching like a non-Pentecostal  fiery hurricane! The door is now shut against it! On with the blog!

In the bible and in  my experience, Jesus has different ways of speaking to us about Himself and about His Father. Remember He spoke to people in Old Testament times as well as New. One of the ways He did that is through dreams. He speaks to you through your dreams. They are not always just a lot of nonsense as we tend to think. I believe I have a message that  came in the form of a dream.  I will keep to the central imagery. It was a dream about a  big strong looking man who in the dream was called  Will, who thought he would cut grass even though it was not his remit to do it and meant he was in a place where he should not have been. There was a place for him, it seemed to me in the dream, but it was not there.  He was out of place there and about to do what he should not have been doing. It was  a very definite  and clear dream. Like some dreams recorded in the New Testament it was a warning dream.

I have said before that I am not very good at dream interpretation. Some are and  a while ago I suggested a couple of sites to visit if you were interested in pursuing some more understanding of this way in which God speaks to his people. However I sometimes know what my own dreams mean. God is very kind to someone like me who is not very good at these things. There are certain symbols that come into my dreams again and again; so for example, grass in my dreams when it makes an appearance, is a symbol of peace; long grass means great peace. So what does a strong man called Will cutting grass when  and where he shouldn’t have been  all mean? It means  “Strong Will” can destroy peace. “Strong Will”  can be a wonderful guy to have around when allied to doing God’s Will, but when allied to doing my will, it can cause great loss, even total destruction of God’s peace, in ourselves, in others around us, in friendships and relationships, in churches, in the work place and so on. I believe that what the dream was particularly about is that “Strong Will”  can disturb even a long established peace and unity of a congregation given space. It could be the strong will of an individual, a group or even a leader.

So, I am guessing that some of us who read these blogs maybe need to look at that? Is my strong will allied to what I want to such an extent that it disregards the effect I am having on the peace of others? One of the most terrible verses of Scripture is this: “God gave them what they asked for, but also sent leanness of soul!” (See Psalm 106.)

I think I would rather be strong willed rather than weak willed if I had a choice. But strong will is neutral, neither good nor bad.  As I said before, it depends on what it is allied to: getting my way or going God’s way. If there is something here in this blog that Jesus means you to hear, then I pray for the sake of your peace, the peace of others, the peace of the congregation you are part of, that you may hear what you need to hear. It may be there is something not good that is happening around you, in your church that the strong will of someone else is causing, and you are to see it and at the very least pray about it. “Strong Will” was pretty big in the dream and to be honest surly with it, not amenable to listening. I pray that where this may touch you or your congregation will become very obvious to you. Often indeed this  is the elephant in the room of a congregation’s life, but no one speaks about it. “Big Strong Will” is there, not particularly caring that peace is being cut down. My own denomination shows in its recent history that when strong will is allied to an agenda other than listening to Jesus,  the peace of thousands can be destroyed. Maybe its time for you speak about it; begin by speaking about it to God in prayer and then see if He leads you to speak to anyone else; but please speak to Him, to God, first and foremost rather than to “Surly Big Strong Will!” You could do no better than holding yourself or a church situation before God and saying The Lord’s Prayer, pausing and repeating the line, “Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” Thy will be done, Father.

I hope this helps someone, or a congregation or two, somewhere.


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

A little extra thought on G.W.B, my Dad. Read the first version if this seems like fantasy rather than faith!

Today, Fathers’ Day, I am blessed to be getting cards and presents from my wonderful Daughter, Sarah and wonderful Son, David!  I am also thinking of my Dad, George. I am remembering how something  came to mind that comforted me when his life on earth came to an end. It was the memory of hearing a young woman many years earlier, who in the process of introducing herself to us all at the start of a talk said, “I have four children, 3 here and one who is living in heaven with Jesus.”  That came back to me with great clarity and all of a sudden I saw it: I still have a Dad! He is living in heaven with the God who said long after the patriarchs had left this earthly scene, “I AM (Not “I was”) THE GOD  OF ABRAHAM AND ISAAC AND JACOB.” To that list of names you can add many more names including GEORGE WILLIAMSON BORTHWICK! Jesus told us that “God is not the God of the dead but of the living.” So today I am thankful that I have a Dad who still lives. One day I will see him again for sure because we both put our trust in the cross of Christ.

Does he think of me? I don’t doubt it for a minute. I know one thing he will be doing for sure: he will be praying for my Mum, my sister, myself, his grandchildren, great-grandchildren and the wider family. I know that because he loved us all. In heaven he loves us no less. He always prayed for us all here so why would he have stopped?

I know something else he will be doing too: he will be singing, praising, worshipping. He loved to sing here, the only problem was though he could hold  a tune it was rarely the same tune  that everyone else was singing! His favourite hymn included the line, “For He has kindly promised that even I may go, to sing among his angels because He loves me so!” No one will be giving him side long looks any more, but will be amazed at how he loves to sing more than most.

So I know for sure I have a Dad who is living in heaven, who prays and who sings. I am confident of this too; that Jesus does not mind when from time to time I pray, “Jesus, if it is ok to ask you this, could you tell my Dad I love him and miss him?” How will Jesus do that if he chooses so to do? I have no idea. Perhaps things are just known there. Sometimes though because of the story of  Peter being miraculously released from prison, then knocking at the door of a house, and people thinking it was his angel rather than him,well, I wonder can our guardian angels look like us? Perhaps Jesus will send my  angel that looks like me to my Dad! Perhaps my angel can for a moment be sent from beholding my heavenly Father’s face,  which is the usual place you would find my angel according to Jesus’ words,  and be sent not to minister  to me on the earth, but to  my Dad in heaven. It wouldn’t take long; angels move swiftly to do their Master’s bidding. Maybe these thoughts are just the result of medication?  Are they fantasy, fact or faith? I don’t know. Please don’t scorn the idea but dismiss it kindly as the imagination of love, if you feel you must.  Perhaps “according to your faith be it unto you” applies, perhaps not. Perhaps though, before you think I have lost it completely you should remember that God is heartrendingly unimaginably  beautiful, and as compassionate to His children in heaven as He is to His children on earth.

Apart from the last few sentences, these were my early morning thoughts this Father’s Day, drinking my  cup of tea at   7 o’clock, and feeling thankful. I updated my thoughts at 2.30pm as I thought more about my Dad living in heaven… and I am still feeling as thankful as I was in the morning, and always will be.


George Williamson Borthwick, my Dad.

Today, Fathers’ Day, I am blessed to be getting cards and presents from my wonderful Daughter, Sarah and wonderful Son, David!  I am also thinking of my Dad, George. I am remembering how something  came to mind that comforted me when his life on earth came to an end. It was the memory of hearing a young woman many years earlier, who in the process of introducing herself to us all at the start of a talk said, “I have four children, 3 here and one who is living in heaven with Jesus.”  That came back to me with great clarity and all of a sudden I saw it: I still have a Dad! He is living in heaven with the God who said long after the patriarchs had left this earthly scene, “I AM (Not “I was”) THE GOD  OF ABRAHAM AND ISAAC AND JACOB.” To that list of names you can add many more names including GEORGE WILLIAMSON BORTHWICK! Jesus told us that “God is not the God of the dead but of the living.” So today I am thankful that I have a Dad called George who still lives. One day I will see him again for sure because we both put our trust in the cross of Christ.

Does he think of me? I don’t doubt it for a minute. I know one thing he will be doing for sure: he will be praying for my Mum, my sister, myself, his grandchildren, great-grandchildren and the wider family. I know that because he loved us all. In heaven he loves us no less. He always prayed for us all here so why would he have stopped?

I know something else he will be doing too: he will be singing, praising, worshipping. He loved to sing here, the only problem was though he could hold  a tune it was rarely the same tune  that everyone else was singing! His favourite hymn included the line, “For He has kindly promised that even I may go, to sing among his angels because He loves me so!” No one will be giving him side long looks any more, but will be amazed at how he loves to sing more than most.

So I know for sure I have a Father called George who is living in heaven, who prays and who sings. I am confident of this too; that Jesus does not mind when from time to time I pray, “Jesus, if it is ok to ask you this, could you tell my Dad I love him and miss him?”

These were my early morning thoughts this day, drinking my  cup of tea at   7 o’clock and feeling thankful.


Two and a half thoughts… 5 point Calvinists and Fresh Expression folk..try to stay calm as you read…

Two and a half thoughts for you to mull over that I was mulling over myself, thanks to Brennan Manning’s book, “The Signature of Jesus.”  A couple of quotes  from there  and some  Scriptures to help you with your mulling!

The criterion by which Christ measures his friends and repudiators  is still, “Do you love me?” What is the goal of bible study, reform and renewal if we forget this, even if we hold to everything else? How can anyone muster the incredible hard heartedness and the intemperate messianic zeal to inflate style and tradition, orthodoxy, biblical interpretation and right thinking into such monsters that Jesus’ question to Peter is put on the shelf?

Friend, it may sound a very unnecessary question, but is love for Jesus Christ at the centre of what you call your Christian Commitment and faith and discipleship? Is love for Jesus Christ Himself at the very centre of your ministry and is that what you hope your ministry results in: disciples who are lovers of Jesus Christ? It really is possible that Christ stands outside a church or a life that has a reputation of being on fire for Him….knocking at the door and saying, “If anyone hears me and opens the door, I will come in.”

Moving towards another Scripture and the second quote: how do I know I love Jesus? Basically He Himself tells us, we love him by obeying His word, keeping His commandments above all the New Commandment to love one another. It seems to have become very popular even for believers to be cynical about church, disillusioned and dismissive and even to enter into a mockery  about its oddities and its shortcomings in a manner that is clever and witty; at times I have spoken in such a way, but I am beginning to fear all of that has gone too far; it can break the spirit of faithful church people  who work on rather than criticise from a distance, and  I believe it breaks the heart of Christ who gave himself for the Church to be His Holy Bride. Any bridegroom who would  feel positive warm thoughts towards anyone criticising, or worse mocking his bride is not worthy to be called such.  Of course God does new things, but perhaps some of us who are frustrated with church as it is, might have a bit of repenting to do if we are going to have the attitude necessary for  the  blessing of God to rest on any new ventures we try  for longer than  a few years after the life time of the generation of the originators, or beyond the draw of novelty value. It will be humbling  to look back from eternity to a time if we mock something that has lasted hundreds of years or more despite all its faults, if what we promoted lasts  a mere 50. We need the new to succeed  for longer than that, should Christ tarry. We need the new to live under the continuing blessing of God.

So if the first Scripture to mull over is Jesus’ question, “Do you love me?”, the second  is “Christ loved the Church and gave Himself for Her….” And here’s the second quote from Brennan Manning to help you:

The Father cries out… “You go to church every Sunday and read your bible, but the Body of My Son is broken. You memorise Chapter and Verse, and honour all your traditions, but the Body of My Son is broken. You recite the creed and defend orthodoxy, but the Body of My Son is broken. You hark back to tradition and press forward towards renewal, but the body of My Son is broken…”

… and here is the extra half thought, which I may come back to if I have the courage one day! A friend asked me if Brennan Manning was a Universalist? Did he believe everyone would be saved, which of course is heresy? I can’t say I have ever thought he was, despite his amazing and to my mind unparalleled understanding of grace. However, if we have not in our longings at least longed we could be universalists then  maybe we really are heretics who have maybe never understood the heart of the Father. The Father of the way of “faith,” Abraham, got pretty near to Universalism just before Sodom was destroyed. The Lord allowed him to come close to the border of Universalism, though Abraham himself was somehow aware he should not and could not cross it.

I don’t think Jesus is calling softly and tenderly to us through this blog, though He often does I believe. I think He is saying without any messing about, “Love Me! Love my Church! Love this lost world of men and women for which I gave my life. My Father is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.”

By the way, if you don’t know what a 5 point Calvinist is or who these Fresh Expression folk are, they are good folk who love the Lord; your brothers and sisters in Christ and mine too!

God bless



Wrote this today : thought I would share it with you! I hope it blesses you and brings you hope and faith by the grace of God.

God bless



Today it’s summer but it comes every year
the thumping of my heart with sad excited fear,
just as the first fall of golden glory
becomes underfoot, disintegrating stuff of muddy slurry.
“The grass fades, the flower falls…”
The feeling of things being over;
this the fear I have, come each October.

Yet, even then the sun is there,
through all the spreading darkness and misty air;
a reminder of a continuing story,
since “let there be” first birthed its glory.
“There was evening and there was morning…”
“Morning then evening” seems easier spoken order;
faith sees the same, but announces other.

It’s been good to write that this June day,
for grey into any month can find its way.
Bloom not gloom!
Life not the tomb!
“I am He that liveth that once was dead…!”
It isn’t over till its over…
… I must remember that come this October.

copyright K.S.Borthwick

Now, why did she say that of all things?

I don’t know why it took about 40 years of reading the Easter story to suddenly be struck by this: Mary Magdalene  calls The Risen Christ; “Teacher!” Having been delivered from demonic powers, I would have thought she would have cried out “Deliverer!” Having been forgiven, I would have thought she might have cried out “Saviour!” Having realised this was not the gardener but Jesus The Son of God raised from the dead, I would have thought she would have cried out “Lord!” After all she has just referred to Him as her Lord as she had been speaking through her tears and grief, believing He was dead and gone; but instead  she cries out, “Teacher!”

To be honest I can only hazard a guess  or two as to why she chose to hail Him in that way. Perhaps as the moment of spectacular deliverance passed she wondered if she would stay free, and Jesus had taught her how to walk in her freedom. Perhaps she still had to face disapproving looks and condemnation and taunts about her past, but Jesus had taught her about the face of His Father and hers, the  Father who loved her. I am sure you can think of other explanations for yourselves and we may be right, half right or off the mark in our explanations: one day we will hear the full story; after all there will be an eternity for each one of us to meet her! Amazing!!

For the time being, I want  to focus on that word “Teacher” as Sunday approaches once more.

If you are a teacher of God’s people never underestimate the honour of that. You share the first resurrection accolade afforded to Christ. Martyn Lloyd Jones, when anyone referred to how much he had given up as a doctor in order to follow God’s call as a preacher and teacher, used to say, “I gave up nothing!” He considered it the highest honour to preach God’s Word; there was no higher calling in his eyes. When I was on the conference scene as it were, I used to meet wonderful ministers who had faithfully built up a flock over decades who said almost with a sense of inferiority that they were just an ordinary pastor,or bible teacher, or parish minister, not some high flyer! Well, in being a “teacher’”you share a title of honour with the Risen Lord. What is more you share in the genuine calling of the first Apostles: “Feed my sheep.” If you are a teacher of God’s people never say, “ I am only…” as you compare yourself with other ministries. My calling to be a pastor and teacher of a local congregation trumped any call to speak at conferences, lead CLAN Gathering, speak to leaders here and in other countries etc. It is the calling that still remains, even if now my flock in the future is likely to be one “out there” somewhere in the ether that I cannot see!

If you are not a teacher of God’s Word and of The Way, then perhaps you can think of honouring those who teach you. Sometimes being a teacher can be rewarding, but often  it can be a bit frustrating: “Is anyone getting this? Is this helping anyone? Is this getting through?” Please encourage those who teach you God’s Word. “Oh but it will make them big headed!” How Scottish is that? Any encouragement is seen as making someone big headed, any generosity is seen as “Spoiling the child!”

Teachers and taught, have a blessed Sunday this weekend.

God bless you, real good!


The Spiral Staircase….

You learn something new every day! I remember one of the helpful things that I learned while doing my Theology Degree was about the various stages of the grieving process, beginning with numbness, which gives way to anger etc etc until eventually you come to the place of acceptance and adjustment. I found that helpful over the years when helping people who did not understand what was happening to them as they mourned the loss of someone they loved.

However I was told a couple of days ago by someone who worked in Hospital Chaplaincy that is out the window now! Instead of a linear moving from one part of the process to the next, the more recent thinking is that all of these elements of grieving are in a circle. In other words you can find yourself going through the same stages more than once and perhaps can even experience the various stages running into one another or against one another at the same time.

I must admit that to me this sounds much more realistic, and as I think back it is  much more true to my experience pastorally. Numbness and anger  and an overwhelming sense of loss can return even after a person thinks they have come to a place of acceptance.

Actually, since coming to Wester Hailes, I had already changed the “model”myself before I knew of the new way of thinking amongst health and spiritual care professionals. I had already started to use the imagery of a spiral staircase when speaking with people who were struggling with grief and felt they were not making any progress.( Actually most people do make progress albeit at different rates.) As you go up or down the spiral if you look up the way to the ceiling or down the way  to the floor you might feel you are coming back to the same point because you are noticing the same features. Actually you are going higher up or lower down, and it is not really true to say you are back in the same place.

Where is all this leading? Well, the spiral staircase has got wider applications than mourning over the loss of a loved one. There can be a mourning over difficult years, mourning over all sort of losses, even mourning over what has never been. Sometimes over the years I have seen people make real progress  by the help of God in dealing with these deep sadnesses, deep wounds of one type or another, usually from childhood. There comes a point often when they seem to lose that victory and they feel they have plunged right back… but actually they haven’t. It is rather that they need and they are ready for the healing, the help to go deeper, or their victory to lift them still higher whichever way you prefer to look at it.  The feeling of being back at the same place is illusion. The progress has been real, but it is time for a deeper healing still. Damaged souls, traumatised minds, worn out or understandably rocky or sensitive emotions can no more take a whole series of operations of grace  in one go, than a badly damaged body could take a whole series of operations in a short space of time. It is a human being that God’s grace is healing, not a machine that can be fixed with no regard to how it is handling the process.  I usually saw the feeling of being back at the same place as a  sign that perhaps a person was about to experience deeper help still, which perhaps could only come as they faced a deeper horror still of what had actually happened to them.

It could be that the spiral stair case will help some reading this blog to realise with relief, “I am not slipping back.” I experience the spiral staircase in some ways myself at the moment. At times I am very accepting of having had to give up parish ministry  because of health issues; at other times not so. Sometimes fresh thoughts or sadnesses about it all come to the surface or confusing thoughts that I have not faced before, but as I do go through these days I have come to expect  a greater measure of settledness and peace  is waiting for me… and so the process goes on.  It is certainly not a straight line, or at least it has not been for me.

I actually think someone needs to hear a word from God: It is this:

God really has helped you. The healing you have experienced from trauma is real not imaginary… but the trauma was deep and there is an even deeper healing and freedom still to come.

One of the most helpful prophetic words that I was every given was one from John Paul Jackson. He spoke into a situation that was concerning me and said amongst other things, “Trust the Process.” I want to say that to someone, perhaps to more than I know, through this blog today. I  pray though it may be difficult for you, that as time passes you will be able to trust that the God who loves you has His hands on the process you are going through. Deeper healing can indeed come, even for you…may God help you even today not to give up hope for that.

May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you and with me this day and always.


I really do believe what I say here….

I hate watching myself on video or listening to recordings of my own preaching. However, I have overcome these 2 personal hates to post this  clip of me! It was recorded for Evangelical Alliance.

I have changed stances on some things over the years, but I really do believe what I say in this video… and by the grace of God I will continue to believe it…. I hope it might make you think….about what? Oh, I don’t know really, I will leave that between you and the Lord.

God Bless


Today, I am thankful for the insights of friends…

There are some insights that friends have given me over the years into the love of God that I know have become a precious part of what I believe.

The first insight was given to me by a close friend who is now in glory. He didn’t have the same stable start in my life that I enjoyed and had a very artistic personality with all the sensitivity that often goes with that. He once told me this: “It can take time to believe that the love of God is steadfast.” We know what the Word of God says, but if certain needs have not been met in significant relationships in life, it can take time to believe that God’s love will never fail us. This is not always unbelief, and should not automatically be judged as such. As I was growing up as a young Christian, there was a great emphasis on believing God’s Word. I am so glad of that and it was an emphasis that is still with me and that I share with others. However, don’t lets get too harsh in our attitude towards those who  can’t easily trust. For some of you reading this blog, maybe my friend’s insight will bring you hope, and release you from self-condemnation and allow you to dismiss the frustrated and judgemental looks of some believers: “It can take time to believe  that the love of God is steadfast.”

The second insight that I know I will carry with me through life came as our friend Laura Clegg prayed with  Morag and I last weekend. I cannot remember her exact words: it was something like, “Lord it says in your word that you take all things and work them together for good. So if we cannot see the good it is because you are not finished working with them yet.” I feel that is a life-giving phrase and it is true.

I guess the common link is that sometimes things take time. Don’t throw away the Word of God on something just because you are not yet experiencing its truth. It can take time. Read again these insights. May they help you, especially if your life has had more than what seems a fair share of “stuff” to come to terms with; may they help you onwards in believing these two truths of Scripture:

“The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases…”

God  “…takes all things and works them together for good for those who love God…”

There is all of time and eternity to believe these things more deeply still. Don’t rebuke yourself if you are not there yet.


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

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


Thoughts on “Happiness and Holiness”

I really enjoyed the film version of “Paddington” that hit our cinema screens a couple of years ago. There are few films of which I can genuinely say, “I loved every minute of that,” but that was one of them! I think what made it extra enjoyable was that seated in the row in front of us in the cinema was a wee girl of about 4 years old. She was so engrossed in the film that she was laughing uproariously, totally unselfconscious. When something disastrous was looming she would shout out loud enough for all the cinema to hear, “Oh no!!!!” It was a delight to watch her enjoyment and happiness. If it brought me joy, what must it have done to her parents to see their little one so happy?

Well, this may be stretching some of us a bit too far, but one of the times when I have been most aware of an intense presence of God was when I watched the film “Elf” last Christmas. It is a film I have tried to watch each Christmas for a few years now. It is not everyone’s cup of tea, but I find it to be a great “feel good” film and immensely funny. As I watched it last Christmas I was aware of the delight of God in my enjoyment of the film, His delight in my laughter. The God of all the Universe, my Heavenly Father was enjoying watching me watching “Elf.” He wasn’t muttering disapproval that here was yet another Christmas film that was nothing to do with Christmas. He was enjoying my laughter at a film that included elves, Santa Claus, Candy Canes, Department stores loaded with presents, unlikely romance, and the longest burp in cinematic history!

Is this the God you know? The God who is as much enthralled with you when you are watching a film as when you pray or read the bible, the God who takes great delight in our happiness? I didn’t always place such a high importance on the spirituality of happiness. In fact I think “happiness” seemed to be something that was frowned upon in my early days as a believer, because it was a light thing: as the word suggests it depended on what was happening to us at a given moment, as compared to true spiritual joy which is something that is there irrespective of what is happening. Actually that is a proper distinction, but it does not mean that God is not interested in human happiness and laughter. He likes it when His children have truly deep joy but He likes to see his children happy too, even though that may well be a simpler and lighter thing. He is just enthralled with His children and cannot take his eyes off of us.

I remember when God first taught me that lesson. We were going through a difficult time in the church I was ministering in at the time, although it was a good time too as God was moving by His Spirit in an unusual and fresh way. I used to go down to the church on a Saturday night and read over my sermon notes and pray. After that I would come home to the manse and have a cup of coffee and watch T.V. Almost every Saturday night when I sat down with my coffee I became aware of the intensity of God’s presence. When I say intensity, I don’t mean a deep, deep, awesome thing. I mean simply something that was tangible, but if anything it was very light rather than very deep. Quite often it felt as though God was running His fingers through my hair. I presumed He was somehow anointing me for the Morning Service the next day. It took a while for me to realise that was not the case. The Sunday anointing would come on the Sunday. This was for Saturday. He was just sealing my coffee and TV time, my relaxed time, with His kiss and His delight.

I don’t know if that wee four year old would have been embarrassed to find everyone in the cinema looking at her with great happiness and warmth, embarrassed because she didn’t know she was being watched. I pray that God may surprise you in the simplest of ordinary pleasures this week with an awareness that He is there and that He is looking at you with great delight. He seems to delight in me as much when I drink coffee as when I was fit enough to preach in church or pastor people. May you catch Him looking at you at times when you least expect Him to be taking an interest in what you are doing. He is “Holy, Holy ,Holy God.” “Holy” means different, separate. He is different and separate from all other “gods.” For example other gods were gods of specific places: there were mountain gods and valley gods; but Yahweh was “Holy,” He was different, for He was God of the mountain and the valley and every other corner of the universe. There were sun gods and moon gods, but Yahweh was God of the day and God of the night. Well, I can’t think of any other “god” I have ever heard of who would take delight in watching me drinking Coffee or watching a stupendously light and ridiculous Christmas film that was nothing to do with Christmas! He really is very holy, very different indeed, different even from what I was led to believe by others as I listened to them in my formative Christian years. There is no other “god” whom by the grace of Christ I can call “Abba” than the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. He is Abba in more than name to His little ones. I am so glad that He is truly more “holy” than I could have dared believe.

May the God who watches over you in the day and in the night, in church and in the cinema bless you!


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

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

Test your thoughts by this truth….

At times over the last few days this thought has come to mind:  “If an opportunity came along to preach would I remember how to do it?”  It still tries to sneak past the truth that the gifts and call of God are irrevocable. The last time I preached it ended up with me spending 32 hours in bed sleeping, dozing on and off, no use to man nor beast! I am not sure if you know how demanding it is in every way to preach? Some of you will know that because you are preachers, but if you are not, perhaps you don’t know what an exhausting thing it can be, physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. Take care what you say to a minister on a Sunday. Sunday nights and Monday mornings are days when the devil likes to try and have a field day with pastors’ thoughts! So unless it is an urgent need, leave “I must speak to him/her about this” till Tuesday at least and see if you really must!  I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that standing in a pulpit type of preaching is beyond me for the time being. Opportunities still come my way, but I know if I did try and take them up at this moment, it would be because I was moved by fear rather than faith: the fear I might lose the gift, or be judged as having buried my talent….to try and preach would be idiotic for me at the moment. It is not what my Heavenly Father is requiring of me.

Somehow it is difficult for us Scottish folk to completely shed a false picture of God. Perhaps you were told in your formative years, “Use it, or lose it! If you don’t use your talent, you will lose it, God will take it away!” LISTEN, GOD DOES NOT PUT IN THE BOOT WHEN YOU ARE LYING ON  THE GROUND, TO ACCUSE YOU OF BURYING YOUR TALENT THERE!  Who do you think does that, often using the words of Scripture in the process? There may be times when we need a challenge, but a challenge that calls us to positive faith rather than appealing to some buried sense of guilt or shame or failure or fear.

When I am thinking the wrong thing about God or more often a right thing at the wrong time, one of the life-giving words someone said to me once comes to mind: “God is not an idiot!” He is sane; He is more than humane;  He defines Love; He is Wisdom; He is good all the time and all the time He is good; He is not a thug who puts in the boot, or a thief who will steal life from you when you are knocked down and in a weakened state. The phrase might seem shocking but at times our irrational fears, the ridiculous notions that we have about God need to be shocked out of us; GOD IS NOT AN IDIOT!

I hope you are sure about that. You might need to bring one or two thoughts you are thinking to that touchstone today.

God Bless


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

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

Thoughts on rehashing…..

I am so thankful for wonderful bible teachers that are part of my past and most formative years. However I was remembering today a visiting preacher to our congregation who said that if there were any would be minsters in the gathering he hoped that 10 years into our ministry he would be able to come into our studies and ask to see our work on Romans or 1st Corinthians or Isaiah, and we would be able to bring out some folders of our work on whatever book of the bible he mentioned. He would have a hard job finding anything in my study. My “work” has gone in the skip because of the danger of paper harbouring mould spores!

Now there is a sense in which what that man said, the challenge he presented to teachers of God’s Word was a good thing to aim at, in that teachers of the Word of God are to be workmen and that means diligence, hard graft etc. However, if what it means is that  a sermon that I preached on Romans 10 years ago could just be taken out the barrel and used again today, then that is not so good. I have even heard of parish ministers who build up their stock of sermons and then have gone to way out charges so that they have time to work on their “book.”  Their flock rightly expect more and become disappointed. The sheep really do deserve better. So if this catches you just before you apply for a small charge because it will give you time to do whatever other than be a diligent, hardworking pastor….. well, think again!

When I was a student, I had a  sermon for my summer holidays that I would use around various churches. In  a sense again there was nothing wrong with that, in that it was just as true for one church as for another. A fellow student of  Morag’s passed me on the street one day and after we had talked together for a few moments he said, “Kenny it is important to give the people fresh bread.” That one remark changed my attitude to preaching and bible teaching. “One sermon fits all” had to be abandoned. Since that early day I may have used some material that I have used before but never quite as I have used it before. I may even have told you about that encounter before, but not in the way I am telling it today. There is nothing like the smell of fresh bread.

So if in exasperation you are facing some ministry opportunity, don’t think of what you have in the store and conclude, “Oh that would do for this. It went down really well last time. God blessed it.” It might be the right thing, something that God can bless again… but it might not be. Make sure the bread is fresh. There may well be something you are to add in to a tried and tested recipe to give it a new flavour.

That is not just true for ministry, it is a truth all of us need to hear. Are we carrying a living word in us that we take a bit of now and then through the day? Is my testimony up to date or do I speak about years ago with not much to share from the now?

The now word for me came today in the form of an email from somebody and a message from somebody both saying the same thing really; “He MAKES me to lie down in green pastures.” Yesterday and today have not been good days energy wise, but I tend not to lie down in green pastures voluntarily. It would be good if I learned to do that. After all these years as a believer, and certainly after a few years of not feeling so well you would have thought by now I would know when to lie down without being made to. Well, today has been a half way house. I have had to rest a bit more and so have done that semi-voluntarily.

By  the way, if I learn to lie down without being made to lie down, you might not get a blog some  days from now on. I will not rehash something. You deserve better, and I like the smell of fresh bread when I am baking it.

God bless


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

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

For those who don’t like Mondays..

For about the first 20 years of my ministry, Monday was quite often a day I felt like giving up! It could have been a very blessed Sunday the day before but guess what I remembered? The one scowling face or negative comment! That is what I woke up thinking about on Monday Morning!  Eventually I got over that sort of thing but it can still threaten like a storm cloud. Maybe Mondays are hard for you for one reason or another…

When that sort of storm cloud of a bad day is hovering, I have found it is good to return now and then on a regular basis to what brings me life and health. This is the guy I listen to more often than to anyone else in order to reconnect with what in particular brings me life!  I needed to remember this sort of thing these last couple of days. It is just a short clip and will take no longer to watch than a blog takes to read.

I hope it encourages you to perhaps get hold of some of his books and read them.

I have had to get rid of so many books because of the danger of mould spores affecting my lungs. What I keep needs to be new or newish. I don’t know what it means or says about me but many of the books in my new bookshelves will be by Henri Nouwen, Jean Vanier and this guy Brennan Manning. They have together taught more more about the grace of God and how to find God in vulnerability than anyone else. I thank God for them. They are all Roman Catholics, but sometimes I find that Roman Catholic writers are good at allowing mystery which leads to the awe of God whereas Protestant writers have everything to do with God neatly formulated and I generally come away knowing I have understood something more impressively. Awe is more life-giving.  I like anyone that seems to have humbled themselves before the greatness of God but who are completely at home in His eternal love. I like it when I meet such people face to face or encounter them in their books or some form of media.

Awe and Assurance are not a bad comination. May they bless your path this day and every day.




Ah well, I didn’t make it: Sunday P.M.

Well, it is 6.30, Sunday Evening, and yet another day when I did not make it to church, despite having an assurance I would, has come and gone. To be honest it has felt like a defeat that has some sort of mocking music going on in the background. I had a great Saturday with Morag and I being invited out to share breakfast with Ollie, Laura and the adorable Ellie – well actually Ollie and Laura are adorable too! However, Ellie has the edge on them in terms of cuteness factor!  It was a blessing for body, soul and spirit! The rest of the day went well. I knew Sunday morning would be difficult in terms of feeling well enough to manage all that is involved in a morning service; getting there, singing, speaking with people afterwards etc at a time of the day when I am not at my best, so I set my sights on Sunday night, even telling some people who I know care about me that it was my plan to see them at Holy Trinity this evening. The problem is I made a mistake in the medication I took on Saturday night… I wont go into all the ins and outs and results of that but sufficient to say come this morning it looked as though a tranquillised  but refusing to lie down bear had been rumbling about in the kitchen and living room! Half eaten food and interestingly rearranged furniture etc. show me it was a busy night…of which  remember little. I certainly don’t know for sure if I did drink a tomato juice and put food in strange places or is Morag just making that up? But then, why would she make up such a thing? The effects today were extreme tiredness, embarrassment as “I did not do that,” seems to have to yield with embarrassment to “YesI did….: Whatever, come 6.20 tonight, I knew I would not be going to church!

Well, maybe no particular thoughts to lay before you. I don’t want to become the sort of blogger who writes about and posts photographs of what they have had for their tea – I had the most delicious Spaghetti Bolognese by the way. I don’t want to write a blog like that, that is for sure. Can I say anything more useful from my today?

Maybe all I can say is it is really important if you are on your medication to take it at the right time in the right dosage…

…but then again, maybe I have something  else to say: I felt like  a useless lump all day! I don’t like not achieving what I set out to achieve. All sorts of hard, condemning thoughts wait like an avalanche to tumble in. But they can’t do it without my permission. I have been rescued by my wife who has told me these thoughts of failure are a lie, and also by a memory of something John Winber’s wife said to him. He had set off into the mountains in order to break through to God, fast and pray etc. He announced in semi-heroic tone that she might not see him for weeks! However she got a phone call from a rather dejected sounding John the very first night; he had broken his fast already and was in a “Macdonalds”  eating a “Big Mac!” She kindly said to him, “Come on home John, you can try for the higher life another time.”

Perhaps for you, today didn’t quite work out as hoped. You left undone something you wanted to do, perhaps in church or family or whatever. Perhaps you need to be kind to yourself and say, “I can try again tomorrow.” At least you tried today…

…and just as I close, perhaps another lesson is playing around my thoughts asking for space in this blog. Maybe I should listen to the letter of James more and say, not because it is a pious thing to say but because it is  something I realize  these days is profoundly true: “Tomorrow or next week I shall do this…. if the Lord wills.” Greater humility could be the fruit of a frustrating day…

So until the next blog, if the Lord will…

…but I am still not convinced I took that tomato juice…. and why on earth would any sane person think of putting cereal bars there of all places;  I wouldn’t have done that, would I, could I have….?


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

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

I am on the list of the richest pastors…

I was looking at a list of the wealthiest 25 pastors in the world not long ago. Surprisingly many of them are not based in America, though there were quite a few from there. But the wealthiest were based in African countries. Their wealth eclipsed even some of the more famous T.V. Evangelists from the USA with mere £20 – 50 million personal wealth pots, whose names we are probably familiar with. What troubled me most is that they are operating in the UK, including Scotland, and operating in some of our poorest communities, selling a message to the poor that if they sow into their ministries, oops sorry, as they “give to God” they will get more back. So while the poor give ,at the top of the pyramid is a multi multi millionaire! The occasional time that their theories work for someone, their testimonies are used to prove the “give in order to get back”  message, giving false hope to the poor and making earthly riches the focus of why you come to Jesus. So the richest few at the top get richer while the poor get poorer. To me that doesn’t sound like the Church of Jesus Christ. It sounds like the world which as Christians we are meant to be in but not of.

I never thought this would take root in  Scotland or indeed in the UK, but it has. Not every manifestation of church is healthy.  According to Reformed theology, a proper church is one where the Word of God is faithfully preached, the sacraments properly celebrated and where church discipline is properly exercised. Well, sometimes time honoured and revered theology and the bible can contradict one another, but we tend to keep going with it rather than yielding to the Word of God.  Just as fundamental a test of true church, if not more so, is the key question of whether poor people are honoured in their poverty. That is a test not only for the newer churches  which are moving in from other countries to operate in the UK, but also for the longer established churches or fresh expressions of church or mission or  whatever. Do the poor have a central place of honour, not only in terms of helping them materially with the necessities of life in whatever ways are possible, but also in terms of acknowledging we need what they know about God that can only be discovered in places of lack?

I am still fishing a bit for where this blog is leading.  I don’t really know what to do with it, so I am pausing, listening…. Morag has just asked me if I have posted the blog yet as it seems to be taking a long time…. so I type on, still feeling my way… this really is hot off the press!

As Sunday comes around I guess I could at least ask you to look around this Sunday as you meet with your fellow believers. Is it obvious as you look around that the poor are honoured, not simply as recipients of charity but as those whose ministry the church needs?

Ministry that fleeces the poor is obviously wrong but it is happening. Ministry to the poor or among the poor has merit and is happening in all sorts of ways often to sacrificial extent, but it does not show fullness of understanding of the Kingdom. Ministry with the poor is what we should be aiming at…. I have met many people in Wester Hailes who are poorer than I am materially, but they have blessed me so much with their grace, their love, their unselfishness, their prayers, their concern, their smiles and humour, their good will towards me…at times ministering and being ministered to in this much maligned community, I have felt I am the richest pastor in the land! Nothing in my experience of life suggested I would become a minister in a place like this. The call was real, but I sometimes go into a cold sweat as I think how nearly I missed it.

It may be that as you read this blog you will feel the call of God to minister or be part of a congregation in a passed over place. Indeed it  may be that that I have at last found the purpose for the blog that I have been fishing for! It could be that the poorer communities, those who live without Christ in these struggling communities, along with the churches that serve them are saying to you with the clarity of a vision, “Come over and help us.”  They make you a true promise: “Sow into us and you will get much more back!” If that is what is happening to a few of you, then please do not be disobedient to the heavenly vision. Much joy, many riches and new adventures are waiting for you. Your name could be on “The Rich List” of Pastors!”

“Look and Listen” this Sunday. That’s it! I feel I got there in the end so I will press the “publish” button. Off it goes to Morag and the rest of you…

God Bless


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

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