How to make sure the devil leaves you alone…

Christian! Want to escape spiritual battle live unruffled  and never encounter the demonic? IT IS EASY! Compromise your testimony and disobey God’s commands… the devil will not look your way at all….
“The dragon was angry at the woman and declared war against the rest of her children–all who keep God’s commandments and maintain their testimony for Jesus. Then the dragon took his stand on the shore beside the sea.” Revelation 12.17- 18.

God bless



“God isn’t speaking to me!” Good!!

Some of you have expressed concern about the fact that there have been fewer blogs from me lately and have been wondering if that is a sign I am feeling more unwell! That is so kind of you. It shows you care about me and value the blogs, which is good to know.

I have been wondering myself why the blogs are less frequent than they sometimes are. It is not just to do with steroidal fluctuations though I do struggle with some of the effects of medication. Let me tell you part of what is going on. It may sound odd, but I will take that risk. So here goes…

I have told you that from time to time there is a “picture” that I find helpful. I see myself going down into a cellar, a secret quiet place in the foundations of my life. I imagine Christ is there waiting for me. I come before Him and ask Him if there is anything He would show me to strengthen me, comfort me or encourage me. In other words I allow Him to speak prophetically His “now” word for me, His word for that precise moment. Usually He shows me that “word” in the form of a painting which He unveils and invites me to consider. However just occasionally there is more an “action” involved.

Recently, I went into the cellar. I did not need to ask my usual sort of question. Christ was there and He was already active. He had a megaphone and was calling out in every direction words which I could not hear. What was He saying? I have no idea. I just had “a knowing in my knower” that He was speaking in the spiritual realm on my behalf. Was He interceding for me? Well, I am sure that was part of it. My “knower” however told me there was something else going on as well. He was declaring and proclaiming the good purposes of God for me. There was a serious focus evident in the way He was going about this. For me to speak while He was doing what He was doing would have been wrong. It would have been wrong to even ask questions for the sake of clarification. There are secret things that belong to the Lord our God and there are things revealed to us that belong to us and to the coming generations forever. We  know what we need to know. In the cellar that day a  holy thing was happening and I was not privy to the full content or significance of what was going on. I know God was speaking to God for me. I know too, the  voice of God was sounding into the spiritual realm being heard by ears  friendly and hostile to my well being on every level.

I found all that I saw in the cellar that day extremely strengthening. Indeed, it t helped me to see something very clearly.  It is wonderful when Christ speaks to me in thoughts, in Scripture, through dreams, “pictures”, through others, etc. However, there are times when I need to remember something that is perhaps even more wonderful:  Christ is speaking loudly for me, on my  behalf. It seems to me that though He may have been speaking less “to” me recently – hence fewer blogs worth sharing – He has been speaking loud words that I cannot hear:  words about me; words that sound clearly in the ear of the Father and result in the action of the Holy Spirit; words that are frighteningly loud to the demonic realm; words that result in clear commission in the ears of angels; words that are somehow picked up too by people who love me and pray for me.

When God seems silent to you, it may be that the voice of Christ like the thunderous sound of many waters is sounding more loudly than you could bear to hear. Hold on to that thought and be encouraged by it.

God Bless


Tired? Do something about it then!

Sorry to use worldly terminology, but I think the recipients of the letter to the Hebrews were beginning to fear they had backed the wrong horse in spiritual terms. After all the temple and all its comings and goings were still functioning despite what Jesus had prophesied. Had He got it wrong, had they got it wrong by trusting Him? What was there to show for the choice they had made to follow Him as Lord? They had left vibrant, visible observable and  tangible worship ritual. They were obviously beginning to experience persecution, or at least exclusion from their previous circles of familiarity. For what? The result was that some had given up meeting together, others had turned away from the Christian community and from Christ completely, and many who had not succumbed to either of these temptations were just feeling plain weary.

It is that last category or grouping  I am thinking about tonight: the weary. If you were a pastor I wonder what you would write to encourage weary people to keep going? Well, listen to some of what the unidentified writer of the Letter to the Hebrews says. They do not absolve the  weary recipients of the letter from accepting responsibility for their spiritual walk. Listen for example to Chapter 12:12 – 13:

So take a new grip with your tired hands and strengthen your weak knees.  Mark out a straight path for your feet so that those who are weak and lame will not fall but become strong.”

God is not harsh or cruel. When He says things like this to us in Scripture when we are feeling weary then by His grace they must be within our reach. I find these verses have meant a lot to me in this phase of my life where I often feel weak. Certainly that is true physically, but we are pretty much wired, spirit soul and body, so I have known emotional and mental weakness at times since taking ill and at times even a spiritual weariness has crept in. What do the words quoted above mean when heard in the tone of the one true and living God, the Saviour of men and women who meets us in such kind love in Jesus Christ?

Well, I find it helpful to go back to earlier verses in the Chapter these words come from. There, the writer tells us to lay aside not only the sin that drains us of ability to run the race for Christ, but also to lay aside every weight. Not every reason for weariness can be traced back to sin or to some sort of backsliding. Sometimes there are realities in our lives that are better thought of as being weights rather than sins. All of us have these weights, they are easily picked up, it is part of being human. They get there somehow because of our life story, because of just living in this world, because of our personality. The causes of human weariness are manifold and not all of them are because we are backslidden or because we have sinned in terms of breaking God’s commandments.

What weights might you be carrying that makes it a wearying thing to run the race for Christ, what thoughts, what attitudes what pains, or burdens that are not sinful but do make the going diffiuclt for us, is the question I guess I am asking you to consider. For myself, I have seen one or two weights that I am trying to put off my shoulders, or untie from my legs as i seek to live for Jesus and walk a path I have not had to walk in life before. Little energy has this positive effect: it forces to the surface an obvious question: “What am I mean to do? What is the will of God for me to bear and to do? What would He not have me carry?”

Let me share one such weight that has come into sharp focus for me. I have carried it for years both as a person and as a pastor but somehow less energy helped me to see it and to face up to the need to do something about it. For as long as I can remember I have felt a sort of responsibility for everyone’s happiness. In a sense there is a good side to that, but for me it somehow became something that passed from something good into something destructive of my own well being. Bit by bit God has been helping me to dismantle this over sensitive sense of responsibility. It has not been easy to get rid of that weight and to learn to carry only responsibility that God wants me to carry and that alone. Some  situations and some people I need to leave by faith and trust  in His care and accept I have no further part to play in the matter other than that.

There are other weariness causing weights that God has been encouraging me recognise, name and acknowledge and then lay down and I may speak about them some other time. For now, I wonder if you know what weights may be tiring you out? You could become less weary, the grip of your hands stronger, and your joints stronger again if you laid whatever it may be aside. It is strange how we fail to see things which once we do see them are glaringly obvious, but that does seem to be the case very for so many of us if not all of us at times.

Will you ask God a simple question? “Lord, are their weights I am carrying that you never asked me to carry? Please help me to see them and enter into the rest of Christ whose yoke is easy and whose burden is light.”

May God bless draw near with insight and revelation as you hold that question before Him: expect Him to answer.

God bless


Oh to be awful!

To be honest it amazes me when people refer to things I have said in sermons or talks from some time back. I remember very little of sermons I have heard, and cannot particularly remember my own for that matter. However some truths I have heard over the years seem to stay with me with the passing of those same years. Today I was remembering Rev Eric Alexander speaking about resisting temptation. I have a feeling that he was probably speaking about the temptation of Jesus in the wilderness. He asked a question: In a tug of war who is it that feels the full strain of the fight and the battle? Well, of course, the answer to that is the winning side. The side that falls to the ground have resisted the strain, but not for as long or as fully as those who have stayed on their feet. No one therefore understands the full power of temptation other than Jesus Christ, for as God become fully human, He alone in the history of humanity stands without sin.

I have not written a blog for a while. A few people have been asking the reason for that break! Part of the reason is I feel I owe it to you not to write a blog when I feel my mind is palpably under the influence of some of the medication I am on. As well as that, my own spiritual life has seasons as does yours. For me my illness makes my mind and body tired at some times more than other times, for reasons I don’t fully understand. I have been finding this is a season for my spirit being built up through worship and praying in tongues, so my mind has not been as fruitful to say anything intelligible to you!

However another reason is some of the conversations I have had lately with some believers. From these conversations it seems that for some Christians the idea of “Yield not to temptation” is thought of as being a bit passé. It is as though such a note is considered a bit old fashioned, just a tad religious. In these conversations a cliché is often voiced; “We are only human,” as though holding to any standard of what it means for someone to truly be a follower of Christ is a bit unreasonable, a bit religious or legalistic. To be honest, such conversations have depressed me, genuinely depressed and saddened me, and it has taken a while to get over it.

I am not officially a pastor of any congregation any more, but I still am by calling. My blogs are pastoral in their intent. Paul spoke of the travail, the pains of childbirth he felt as he longed for Christians to come into a place of maturity in Christ. It is a pastoral sort of thing! I don’t know how to put this without it sounding judgemental or naive, but I did not know that much of the church of Jesus Christ was in such a bad way when it comes to living in God honouring, Christ enabling holiness and obedience. As Christians we are not only baptised into the name of the Father, into who God is as Father, but we are baptised into the Son, into the sonship of Jesus. He helps us, gives us the power, the right, the authority to live His life, as sons and daughters of God, through being baptised into the Name of the Holy Spirit, into who The Spirit is as the One who indwells believers and seeks to share His passion with us, namely to bring glory to the Lord Jesus Christ.

Today I read this astonishing verse in Hebrews Chapter 12: “After all, you have not yet given your lives in your struggle against sin.” (NLT) Older translations speak of having not yet shed our blood in our struggle against sin. Whoever the writer of Hebrews was, he or she clearly saw it as the norm that a Christian should sooner die than give in when fighting temptation, particularly the temptation to give up on The Way, which is Christ.

Last night I heard in church a phrase in the sermon that has stuck with me. “You are the battleground.” I so want to keep that phrase in mind. It matters who I side with. It matters, the choices I make each day. I wonder if we take seriously and practically the truth that there is a God who is for us but also a devil who is against us and who is out to steal kill and destroy all that is of God within our lives? Each of us is a battleground. Whether we enter into our full Kingdom inheritance here on earth depends on a day by day choosing to stand firm in Christ, resisting temptation. Is there no forgiveness if we fall? Of course there is, but that should not make us accept falling as the standard we are aiming for! “But do you not fall yourself, Kenny?” Yes, but my longing is that by the powerful life giving grace of God and the Spirit of God, my life will become more and more  like  crystal clear water  for Jesus glory. At my best moments I know I want to be as holy as it is possible for a redeemed Kenny to be this side of eternity. “A holy minister is an awful weapon in the hand of God.” So said Robert Murray M’Cheyne. It is true. It  is true for all of us, for all of us are ministers of Christ in some shape or form, if we are born again of the Spirit.

So I guess I leave you with three phrases to think about:

After all, you have not yet given your lives in your struggle against sin.

A holy minister is an awful weapon in the hand of God.

You are the battleground.

God Bless




Thinking of Alisdair R….


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

God Bless


“What and Who Lord?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

God Bless


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

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

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

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

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


God Bless