Sharing the joy from the beach…

Some more thoughts from the beach…Oyster Catchers and smoke alarms  needing their batteries replaced sound very similar…just thought I would share that discovery with you all… Also I have been trying to work out whether six poodles I saw having the time of their lives were running or flying by their ears….

Whatever sort of day you are having I pray you might notice something that will allow you and Jesus to smile and laugh together… like He and I did when a black Lab ran 200 yards across the sand to meet me like a long lost friend, sat quietly on my feet, looking out to sea with me and then lay down on the sand for a tummy tickle… and when an older dog breathlessly waddled 20 yards to do the same…. the owners seemed genuinely surprised and amazed and confused at their dogs’ behaviour…can’t prove it to you but I was singing a made up song in tongues at the time..I think the dogs were a sort of God thing happening…

God Bless you with simple and lovely  “happenings” that make you happy.  Oh yes, I know, I know, don’t bother writing to me to tell me it is “Joy” that endures that a Christian should treasure, happiness depends on what is happening and comes and goes etc… sigh, sigh, sigh! Poodles, Labs, other unidentifiable doggie mixtures with wagging tails, well we will just have to agree to disagree with you today on the austerity of your theology…

I was reminded of a poem about thankfulness that I wrote a while back, inspired by other dogs on another beach and the story of the one thankful leper out of 10  healed by Jesus on an occasion recorded for us in the gospels… Just sign off now if you don’t like poetry (I won’t know and I would not be offended if I did!). In fact, come to think of it,  skip it if you really do like poetry, for this follows no rules, follows nothing but my own thoughts. It makes me happy to write such things and to remember…


For eight-some reels
And twin making waters,
For swimming dogs
And staggering toddlers,
For day-shared thoughts
And songs in the darkness…

Thanks rise … from where to where?

Internal Evangelist
Mostly despised
One falls to the floor,
a leper no more
Nine dance through the door
Eighteen darkened eyes.

God Bless


Addiction to sadness?

Was greatly helped by God through a simple word from His Word this morning. Yesterday was a glorious day, weather wise, as warm and bright as mid summer . I was thanking God for all His blessings as I walked on a beach, when a familiar shadow began to settle on me. I am not sure if it comes from being a pastor for many years and hearing so many stories of people’s struggles and pains or if it is just an awareness of the injustices that so many face throughout the world, but from time to time the thought of human pains seem to settle upon me in a way that makes it difficult to continue rejoicing: it would feel selfish, unfeeling, to continue with happiness, enjoying the beauty of the moment.

To cut a long story short, I asked God to help me. Today I picked up David Strutt’s book, “Sanctuary” and turned to the back pages to find the Scripture reading for the day. It was Acts Chapter 9. I read this word: “Meanwhile…” My prayer on the beach was answered. I was helped. Acts Chapter 8 tells us the story of a wonderful move of God in Samaria and a conversion on a desert road that opened up the possibility of the gospel spreading to another nation, namely Ethiopia. Glorious spiritual sunshine! Then the word, “Meanwhile…” At the same time as the glorious events in Samaria and a desert road, there were still murderous threats being breathed against the church.

“Meanwhile’ reminded me of the “Already here but not yet” of the Kingdom. Blessing and struggle, deliverance and waiting, well, they are like parallel tracks on the bigger scale and in the bigger scene of the worlds’s happenings: they seem to go hand in hand. There is always the “meanwhile” of conflicting experience to my own happening somewhere. Indeed, even in our own life, there can be an experience of “meanwhile” happening; great blessing in one aspect of life but great struggle in another area at one and the same moment. There is almost always a “meanwhile” going on. It is the way it is…

I resolved this morning, to live the moment with God and receive God’s good gifts with joy and enjoy them fully. Sunny days, both in the ordinary sense and in the spiritual sense, are good  and should be enjoyed fully and without guilt. If for some reason you are someone who feels for the struggles of others in an acute way, remind yourself you are still allowed to know joy and laughter. Don’t get addicted to sorrow and sadness. When happiness from God knocks at the door, don’t push it down. Allow it in. Let it run riot in every room and rush after it and play with it in the sun.

At times our “meanwhile” will be “Out of the depths I call to Thee…” at other times it will be, “The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places.” It is the same for others. Live your “meanwhile” well, and help others to live theirs too as you have the opportunity. Remember though, you are not their Saviour and they are not yours.

God bless


Thoughts from a cave…

I loved being in the cave of St. Fillan in Pitenweem earlier today.  I managed the walk down to the cave reasonably easily but the climb back up was a different story in terms of my lungs.  That is an understatement: I felt so wiped out! However I don’t regret the struggle at all.

There are stories of miracles associtated with St. Fillan which I guess we can never fully prove or disprove. Somehow though as I spent time in the cave meditating a bit and praying, I found myself mulling over some  familiar thoughts.

Whatever we make of the storeis of miracles surrounding St. Fillan, it is clear from the bible that God works wonders. I would hazard a  guess that much preaching that happens in churches on Sundays is to try and help people believe in God when He seems to be silent and not obviously active. Such teaching can be very helpful however I cannot help but wonder if there is a need to redress the balance. We need to believe  with equal clarity and conviction that God is a God of wonders, a God  who really does do great and mighty deeds.

I was given a present of a five year journal for Daily Reflection  for my birthday,  “Living Well One Line A Day.”  It is a journal type of book but entries are to be limited in length  to one or perhaps two written lines a day. . The book makes suggestions  in its opening pages as to what could be included in such daily entries. Fo rmyself though, I think I will use it  in this way: out of all the many houghts I have every day, what short sentence would sum up the truth I feel I don’t want to forget because it carries “Life” within it? After visiting St. Fillan’s cave in Fife I wrote this:

“I want to read the bible with this in mind: God is who He has always been and is doing what He has always done ( as John Paul Jackson said at CLAN Gathering).”  I want to believe for the Action of God.”

I simply leave that with you to mull over should you wish so to do.

God Bless


Birthday thoughts from the beach…

I think I should be allowed a mystical thought on my birthday.

Was walking on the beach. Later on was remembering the walk in a quiet moment in God’s presence. Saw a divine hand coming down and picking up a thread from the sand. As the thread was pulled, flags started to be drawn up from beneath the sands, flag by flag, until there were hundreds, thousands, tens of thousands, indeed an inumerable number all strung together like celebratory bunting.

Do you know that one day your story and walk of faith will adorn the proclaiming of Jesus as Lord in a beautiful way? Some of these flags on the bunting were marked by bright laughter. Other flags were shining with a light that sparkled through tear drops. Such contrasts were obvious as I had walked on the beach; laughing children, people deep in thought, a lonely lady (a widow?) sitting on a bench and looking out to sea with her memories as her dearest bittersweet companion.

Your story and walk of faith is not forgotten. What a day it will be when all these diverse stories will be honoured, and rise from the sands of time to cry “Jesus is Lord!” So much sand on the seashore. So many stories. One Lord trusted, who has treasured our joys and gathered our tears in a bottle..

I should be allowed an eccentric thought on my birthday should I not?? Chidren and dogs on the beach reminded me of this old Shaker hymn. Love it even more  when I learned that it was maybe originally a dance!!! (Info from Wikepedia!)

“Simple Gifts” was written by Elder Joseph while he was at the Shaker community in Alfred, Maine. These are the lyrics to his one-verse song:

‘Tis the gift to be simple, ’tis the gift to be free
‘Tis the gift to come down where we ought to be,
And when we find ourselves in the place just right,
‘Twill be in the valley of love and delight.
When true simplicity is gained,
To bow and to bend we shan’t be ashamed,
To turn, turn will be our delight,
Till by turning, turning we come ’round right.

Several Shaker manuscripts indicate that this is a “Dancing Song” or a “Quick Dance.” “Turning” is a common theme in Christian theology, but the references to “turning” in the last two lines have also been identified as dance instructions. When the traditional dance is performed properly, each dancer ends up where he or she began, “come ’round right.”

Hope you have a great day coming down to where you ought to be. That’s the only way to be lifted up to where you belong!

Tis a gift to be eccentric too!! Make my birthday complete by allowing me to imagine some of you dancing this out in your own living room!


God Bless


Let me explain…

For some reason I am thinking about Church leaders who are seeking to humbly lead congregations into renewal. I am not prioritising such ventures above pioneering ventures, it is just that I have no experience in starting something from scratch and my ministry has always been in already existing congregations. In that setting I have always sought to listen and to follow the Holy Spirit and tried to encourage as many as possible on that journey. For me that has meant being willing to not rush ahead with those who “get it” fastest. Do that, and you get an enthusiastic fringe and a dissatisfied and Fire resistant congregation when with patience it could have been otherwise.

When I say all this I am not talking about hampering the Holy Spirit at all. I am rather thinking about times when the Holy Spirit has moved in fresh ways in my experience within the mix that makes up a typical Church of Scotland congregation. Such times required explanation. I have never felt the need to defend God even when there are unusual manifestations of His activity and presence. However, I have often felt the need to explain. Peter did something like that on the day of Pentecost. He explained what was happening by reference to the Scriptures. That explanation was part of a day that saw thousands coming to faith and being baptised.

How does this work in practice? Well, some examples. Often over the years I have felt there comes a moment when God wants to give a prophetic word. It does not offend the Holy Spirit to give an explanation of what is happening when there are people there who may not be familiar with that sort of thing. Hopefully will enable more people to benefit from what is happening rather than being confused by what is happening. Sometimes when I knew the Holy Spirit was resting upon a song or a silence or whatever, I would just give an explanation as to why we were pausing at that moment, altering the order of service or whatever. On another occasion I invited someone to minister through whose hands the most beautiful fragrant oil would flow. Explanation meant such an unusual manifestation of the Holy Spirit was well received and a blessing. When we keep knowledge of what is happening to ourselves or the fringe supporters who get it, well knowledge puffs up, but love builds up. Mind you, I don’t want to give to rosy a picture. There have been people who opposed what I felt was God and continued to do so all the time I knew them. It will be the same for you, whoever you are, however skilful and loving a leader you may seek to learn to be.

I have made mistakes over the years in my pastoring and leadership, of course I have. I am not blowing my own trumpet here by any means. I just have the feeling that a few people reading this who are involved in ministry or leadership of one sort or another need to hear what I am trying to say from my heart in a stumbling way: be humble enough to give explanation; it will not dampen the Holy Spirit or quench His fire; it may help more people to make moves along a path of renewal who otherwise would just have left confused and uninvolved. Get rid of needless mystification that people might encounter the true mysteries and wonders of God.

So, don’t take lack of involvement or response as always indicating resistance to you or to the Holy Spirit.  Never apologise for or defend the action of God but be humble enough to explain in as far as explanation can be given. Oh it can mean at times the path can be a bit frustratingly slow, but it is Christ like to seek to take many with you into the good things of God. It is a sort of tiny reflection of Jesus will one day get all of his flock into  His Father’s house, saying with joy, “Well here I am Father. And look, here are all the children you have given me. Not one of them is missing!” Some of those He gets there will be at this moment among those we have perhaps classified as dead wood.

Anyway, just some thoughts I wished I had thought earlier on in my ministry and with greater conviction than I did.

God bless


God bless your dreams…

Read Pharaoh’s dreams today as the reading in David Strutt’s beautiful book, “Sanctuary: Moments in His Presence” which I commend to you if you are loking for a daily devotional type book. Pharaoh’s dreams are a Hebrew student’s dream of a translation exercise! The same story repeated again and again and again! Seriously now: recurrent dreams are interesting. They can mean a few different things. It can mean you are seeing something that is more like a vision of something that is going to happen: it is fixed. What God is showing you will indeed happen. It can also mean there is an insight you need to learn and have not got hold of yet, a victory you need to win but have not won yet.

I used to have a couple of recurrent dreams that seemed to conincide with singificant onward moves in God’s purposes. One of them showed an insecurity with God that He wanted to do something about. That one recurred every so often for about 20 years or more until it was brought to an end by a prophetic word through Jim Graham and a fresh encounter with the Father’s love. The other recurred over a few months and showed a fear that only went when I envetually stayed in the dream and confronted and unseen enemy in the Name of Jesus Christ. I woke up in a cold sweat but rejoicing! Victory in Christ! The result was a time of great blessing and persecution started to roll out.

Dreams matter. I am not sure we pay them sufficient attention in spiritual life. I don’t think I have been paying sufficient attention. Looking now for a new light up pen to make notes of what I dream about when I wake up through the night, instead of trusting it to memory!

God Bless



Some wee snacks for you

Dear Word Press followers. Have put together in this blog various bits and pieces of my Facebook activity from today for you to take a look at. Pick and choose!


1:The strengthening truth behind “there is nothing I can do to make God love me more and nothing I can do to make Him love me less” that blessed the church with release from condemnation and religious legalism for years when It was first penned and proclaimed with joy, can become a tool in the hand of the devil to immobilise the armies of God and render our witness to grace and to the Saviour of the World and liberator of human beings ineffective. Well, if Satan can twist the truth of Scripture, he can certainly do it with our soundbites.


2:Reading Hebrews 7 and 8 today. Alarmed still at false understanding of the grace that has come to us in Christ being popularised today by voices of powerful influence. The aim of the Old and New Covenants is the same according to the Scriptures: a people walking in obedience to the Living God out of gratefulness for all He is and has done by His redeeming love being His light in the world: impossible when all that is on offer to help us is works of the law and commandments unmet by inner willingness or power to obey: possible through the provision and power of the grace which appeared in Christ – the once and for all sacrifice on the cross and an eternally alive and interceding Priest.


3:If only we could stop theorising God, stop philosophising God and everything about Him be it grace or mission or a thousand and one other things; it leads to vanity and division on the whole despite the odd bit of good fruit here and there in smallish doses. Better to manifest Him in faithfulness to the Written Word of Scripture as incarnate in the Living Word, Jesus Christ, the Son of God…


4: What God has joined together let not man put asunder: Grace and truth? Repentance and forgiveness? Resurrection and the cross? Mercy and Judgement? Old and New Testament Scriptures? Holiness and Mission? Grace and Obedience? Personal faith and church commitment? Word and Spirit? Father Son and Holy Spiri?


5: The devil often quotes the bible to Christian believers in order to back up the lie he is hoping to get us to entertain or fondle. Test all things. Of course he does the same with non believers: “God is love” to back up all love must be God; grace verses to drown out repentance verses…


6: Prophetic Word or Scatter Brained Steroid talk? Well, it’s up to you to decide and to decide whether this if for you or someone else. Woke up earlier thinking someone needed this encouragement from God: “It can be hard to get rid of some bad smells. Remember though, their source is no longer present. Don’t be afraid or intimidated by the stubbornly persisting smell that lingers. Breathe the fresh air of a near and all pervasive heaven: there is a rose that blooms for you with rare fragrance.”

Hope some of this blesses you.

God bless



Marriage according to God’s plan and purpose…

What God has joined together let not man put asunder: Grace and truth? Repentance and forgiveness? Resurrection and the cross? Mercy and Judgement? Old and New Testament? Holiness and Mission? Personal faith and church commitment? Word and Spirit? Father Son and Holy Spirit? Suffering and glory? Humility and divine indwelling?

No doubt you can add to this or for that matter may feel you want to subtract from it.  Let God guide the meditations of your heart.

God Bless



Never self conscioulsy try to impress as a Christian minister (whatever your ministry may be)  in terms of content, learning, or delivery, though do not self consicoulsy hide any abilities God has given you. Those ready to meet the living God don’t need to be impressed. It won’t help those distant from God either though it may keep them comfortably far from Him.

Tell me the old, old story,
Of unseen things above,
Of Jesus and His glory,
Of Jesus and His love;
Tell me the story simply,
As to a little child,
For I am weak and weary,
And helpless and defiled.
Tell me the old, old story,
Tell me the old, old story,
Tell me the old, old story,
Of Jesus and His love.
Tell me the story slowly,
That I may take it in—
That wonderful redemption,
God’s remedy for sin;
Tell me the story often,
For I forget so soon,
The “early dew” of morning
Has passed away at noon.
Tell me the story softly,
With earnest tones and grave;
Remember I’m the sinner
Whom Jesus came to save;
Tell me the story always,
If you would really be,
In any time of trouble,
A comforter to me.
Tell me the same old story,
When you have cause to fear
That this world’s empty glory
Is costing me too dear;
And when the Lord’s bright glory
Is dawning on my soul,
Tell me the old, old story:
“Christ Jesus makes thee whole.”

 God bless


Take care how you hear…

Always check your favourite writers, preachers, conference speakers align with the Word of God. No one gets it right all the time, not even your own much loved pastor or minister. Though they will have definite influence upon you that you are conscious of or unconscious to, don’t try and become them, don’t start to speak like them or copy their mannerisms. Their mannerisms are not their power and won’t be the power of God in you! Absorb their partial truth into your God created and redeemed self that it may help you become a unique channel of the Word of Life.

God bless



At the end of the day….

When I feel as much wonder reading Jesus words as when I read of miracles I have truly met the one they called Jesus of Nazareth, now risen forevermore.

When I am as thankful for toasted cheese as for angelic rescue, I am learning that God is my God in all things

When God helps me sing songs in the night not just in the day when I can read the notes I am making first steps in the faith of Christ.

When I can say “The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away. Blessed be the Name of the Lord!” I am in good shape.

When I delight when God prefers someone over me, I might at last be ready to be used for His glory…

Heavenly angels are real and you have probably met them…

The majority of you who read my blogs will have met angels. I don’t mean human beings who “behave” as angels, wonderful blessing though that may be. I mean heavenly beings who appear as they appear in heaven or in human disguise. If in human appearance, probably we did not recognise them, though we may have wondered.

I think for example of a time when my friend who was disabled and myself went off the road in his adapted car. I got out the car, but he had to stay in the car which was in a ditch. Within less than two minutes an enormous man arrived on the scene. He said nothing to either of us. he simply got down in the ditch and with his bear/bare hands lifted the car out of the ditch on to the road again and then went on his way, still without saying a word. As far as I know I have only met heavenly angels on one or perhaps two other occasions.

I have found over the years that people from earlier generations than mine have remarkable stories to tell of divine encounnters, but are less at ease telling them than my generation or younger. Thinking tonight of Murdo from Thurso. Along with a fellow POW in Italy he made his escape one night. They simply ran towards the gate not really knowing what they would do. At the gate there was a very tall soldier in immaculate uniform. He sprang to attention saluted them both and then opened the gates for them and beckoned them through. Another few hundred yards away from the camp and they were greeted by two beautifuly dressed women, each carrying a basket of food, one for each of the prisoners. In the basket were all sorts of lovely fruit, including grapes. It was not the season for grapes. He didn’t say it, but I knew Murdo was trying to say he thought he and his fellow POW had met angels that night – not human agnels, but heavenly ones in human disguise. I think he did too.

May we become aware when angels have drawn near, flames of fire swift to do their master’s bidding, no less, no more. Please don’t warm me that in the bible there are those who got puffed up by such things and lost connection with the head, Jesus Christ.  I know that bible verse. Telling the odd angel story, or even the odd odd angel story now and then is hardly making a religion out of it all…

God bless.



From survival (miracle enough!) to life in all its fullness…

OK then. Nothing new in this blog, but though some people may find my  topic  mix and choice random and scatter brained, I have to go with what I believe God gives me when He gives me it these days. Concentration is difficult for me, so I have to trust God in the immediate moment and “put it out there” when something comes to be that I believe is to help others via this blog. The result is a soup of a few hundred blogs at constantly ready to eat, which you can taste from as little or as much as you choose whenever you wish. I trust God the right ones will find their way to the right people on the right day. Simple faith!

I was thinking about how when we are at the receiving end of  a nasty, humiliating or vicious  comment, however that comment comes,  be it public or private, the  effect can last for days. Being a Christian helps us through that process, but it does not eradicate the process, as being a Christian helps us to be more human and humane and to feel more keenly rather than making us less human or robotic or stoic.

Well, this seemed to be the thought God gave me as a useful one to carry to wherever you gather with other beleivers this weekend. If one comment can affect us so much, what about when someone has faced continual comments every day throughout their childhood and young adult life? What about someone living in an abusive marriage where confidence dstroying and humiliating comments are deviously slipped into conversation in heavy doses? What about someone who is carrying the dark shadow of bullying all through their school years?

I had this awareness earlier: some of us who are keen on seeing church grow and mission happen can become frustrated when we see people in church who seem to contirubute little other than to be there to worship God. “Why are they like that? Can’t they see how tired those who do stuff are getting and offer to help?” Well for some at least this is the reason: the effect of continual daily year in year our nastiness on the tongue of other people. In saying that I have not even mentionined the effect of horrible deeds which some have also faced being carried out against them on a year in year out basis. It is a miracle that they are in church at all. They don’t need to feel the poisoned air  of your furstration being breathed forth upon them; feel it they will I can assure you. Don’t think you can hide it behind a cheery “hello” and a nice smile. Pretence in such manifest ways is no barrier to the powerful poison of what is in our hearts spreading beyond our control!

“Be patient with one another…” “Encourage one another……”

Perhaps you are thinking that you had a pretty rough time and you came through it with the help of Christ, so “they” should be able to be like you? Make sure that the story of your victory in Jesus does not become a bigger burden on others who are struggling to come to victory beyond survival for themselves. No two stories are the same. No two people are the same. It is just fact that levels of reslilience differ for a host of reasons. Equal faith but different reslilience in the face of much the same story in terms of chapters past  can result in different chapters present and future. Don’t judge. In any case, what do any of us have that we did not receive as a gift when it comes to victory in Christ?

Switch off the judgement. Switch off irritation. Switch off the lovelessness of seeing only what a person does not do which you wish they would do. They are not you. You are not them. Perhaps if we breathed forth the unseen pure air of the love of Christ on one another a miracle of survival would lead to more miracles of life in all its fullness, not for the sake of church work or church mission but for the sake of those whom Jesus loves. Why not pray that tomorrow in your church gathering that because of your repentance after reading this blog, someone will know from you that you are just delighted to see them? Someone you may have sent home with a heavy cloud resting upon them each Sunday, may go home tomorrow with an awareness that the Sun/Son of Righteousness has indeed risen upon them with healing in His wings and believe for a new day. You yourself will be able to go home and for the first time in many a week be able to enjoy Sunday dinner without the sauce of accusation and frustration being poured out yet again.

God Bless


Are you being taken along a new path?

Well, yesterday I shared a couple of prayers from the Psalms and from a  Devotional Book I use, “Celtic Daily Prayer.” Today I want to share another one. A beautiful book arrived, as a gift, at our front door yesterday: “Sanctuary, Moments in His Presence” (Malcolm Down Publishing) by a Facebook friend and great encourager, David Strutt. I say beautiful, because that is what it is on every level: beautiful to look at, beautiful in use of language, beautiful in tone. I am looking forward to using it and finding Christ in its words.
However today it is simply a prayer in the Introduction of the book that I want to share. Why? I guess it spoke to me as someone who not completely willingly or easily but through ill health has had to learn to walk a path with God that I did not expect to find myself on, meaning among many other changes, giving up being a Parish Minister, having to find a new home etc. I am not saying I have lost hope or faith for healing, but at the same time I want to say something that may well make some of you think I have! Whatever the source of the illness, I have found this new path to be a gift from God. I have discovered fresh ways of serving Him that I would never have discovered otherwise; learned by experience many truths about God or discovered familiar truths in new depth on this unfamiliar path; received the love and wisdom of God throughHis People. Indeed, there have been blessings of many types on a path that I would not have been able to freely choose at its starting point.
If I had known the prayer I read in David’s book it would have helped on that journey and I know it will help me from this point on, however the Lord leads. I trust it will help some who read it this very day. It is the prayer of St. Brendan:
“Help me to journey beyond the familiar
and into the unknown.
Give me faith to leave old ways
and break fresh ground with You.
Christ of the mysteries, I trust You
to be stronger than each storm of life within me.
I will trust in the darkness and know
that my times, even now, are in Your hand.
Tune my spirit to the music of heaven,
And somehow make my obedience count for You.”
First written 1500 years ago, yet so modern and up to date. Of course it is. God is always calling us to follow Him. Our Shepherd leads us from one pasture land to the next. Give up fear! Take up faith! Follow Him!
God Bless


Thin places…

Be alert to when you have come to a thin place and a thin moment. Drop everything, get alone and be still until you sense the stillness lifting! If you do nothing, say nothing pray nothing that is fine. Simply drink in the One who is in the stillness. Something will have happened in that moment, something will have shifted in you or around you to the glory of God, even if you are not sure what. It will be made plain in time.

When the shadows fall upon hill and glen;
and the bird-music is mute;
when the silken dark is a friend;
and the river sings to the stars:
ask yourself, sister,
ask yourself, brother,
the question you alone have the power to answer:

O King and Saviour of all,
what is Thy gift to me?
and do I use it to thy pleasing?

From Hebridean Altars

Hope this blesses you as it blessed me today when I read it in “Celtic Daily Prayer”


If only we asked how to use a gift…

Thinking about the tone or fragrance of Christ.

Was reading the work of A Scottish Christian writer today. Will not say who in case it puts you off reading their work should you come across it. As I read, I thought of these lines in my daily readings book:

“…what is thy gift to me
and do I use it to Thy pleasing?”

The writer I referred to above is brilliant with words, that is why I like looking at his writing from time to time…but the tone? Regularly inhumane and angrily judgemental, even cold and cruel with regard to his analysis of  human suffering. Sad… sad for him too. One day he may yet humbly ask God, “Why am I like this. Help me.”
How we use a gift matters: “Do I use it to Thy pleasing?”
Tone matters , it matters a lot. If we have a gift of teaching or preaching or some other speaking gift such as prophecy or interpretation of tongues and use that gift this coming Lord’s Day, let’s remember that.  For a lesson in tone, read the encounter between Jesus and the woman at the well. What did Jesus voice sound like when He said, “You have had five husbands and the man you are living with now is not your husband,” ?

God bless


The two sides of the coinage of the Kingdom of heaven: Emptiness and Fullness

I have been thinking more about the whole idea of trying to hold before God a blank page or keeping open a place of silence so that by the gifts of the Holy Spirit, such as those we read of in 1st. Corinthians Chapters 12 – 14, we might be enabled to hear something God wants us to hear, see something God wants us to see, speak something God wants us to speak or do something God wants us to do in order that another person may know that God is close to them and in the midst of His people, and at work through the gospel of Jesus proclaimed in Word and Deed.  (Whew: a long sentence: Considered seriously bad form, I know, like using the wrong case when you text!!)  Of course there are other lists of gifts in the bible other than the list now being referred to, none of which are exhaustive in my opinion, but for some reason it is the gifts mentioned in 1st. Corinthians, manifested in the ministry of Jesus  and entrusted to the church for her strengthening and mission, that are rarely talked about in many churches within Scotland; sadly they are sometimes not wanted or even believed in as being authentic manifestations of the Spirit for our day. 

The gifts of the Spirit are of course often counterfeited, whatever list of gifts you draw from in the New Testament. There can be genuine speaking in tongues and prophesy or counterfeit versions of the same. There can be genuine teaching , or counterfeit and false; there can be a genuine gift of leadership or its counterfeit,  namely a demonic spirit of control.  Because of fear of false fire against which plentiful and fear-filled or angry warning is given instead of the biblical injunction to simple awareness and alertness, some of God’s people have been unwisely corralled and herded  into a place of settling for no warming from the gifts of the Spirit at all, other than perhaps the gifts of teaching or pastoral care. Silence in these matters  has meant that for many years in Scotland, many Christians in many settings and denominations desiring to honour the command to earnestly desire the gifts of the Spirit, were not sure how to move from earnestly desiring to receiving and using/being used in these gifts. In that regard the situation is better than it was back in the late 70’s and 80’s. There has been a lot of good teaching available to local churches to  help God’s people into a place of moving in the reality of the gifts of the Spirit. Anyway, this is not a history lesson so I don’t want to expand on that last sentence at all, but stick to the point. (Steroids make me want to make a hundred points at once!)

For the last few blogs I have been trying to help those who may find themselves in the situation of wanting to be used in the gifts of the Spirit but who are perhaps in a church setting where they are getting no help in that matter and are even meteing discouragement. How do we receive the good gifts of God’s Spirit, the Spirit who is in Himself the gift of the Father promised to us by, in and through Jesus? Take  time to read to read these words of Jesus from Luke Chapter 11:

And he said to them, “Which of you who has a friend will go to him at midnight and say to him, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves; for a friend of mine has arrived on a journey, and I have nothing to set before him’; and he will answer from within, ‘Do not bother me; the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot get up and give you anything’? I tell you, though he will not get up and give him anything because he is his friend, yet because of his importunity he will rise and give him whatever he needs. And I tell you, Ask, and it will be given you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. 10 For every one who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. 11 What father among you, if his son asks for a fish, will instead of a fish give him a serpent; 12 or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? 13 If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”

There is so much to learn from these words that is relevant as we think about how to open ourselves more and more to the Gift and the gifts of God’s Spirit, abilities, “gracelets,” “spirituals,” that are received from and understood by the Spirit in our spirit (which is of course not the same as our mind or the ways in which our mind learns).

The Motivation:  I want to know the reality of the Spirit and His gifts and power for this purpose: There is someone who I am speaking with, sitting with, someone I know, someone I am praying with or for,  who is wearied from their journey in life and out of friendly compassionate love, I want to help them.

The Realisation: My cupboards are empty! I feel that the help this person needs is beyond my abilities to help, despite the love I bear toward them.

The Solution: I will go to my friend whose cupboards are always full, on behalf of this empty one who needs help. I will stand in my emptiness at the door, asking, seeking and knocking.

The Conclusion: The story that began in emptiness and powerlessness ends in fullness. The help receive is ministered and passed on. What was freely received has been freely given.

The whole drift f the story, is that at the start we read of two empty people, at the end we read of two full people. The catalyst is the willingness to move in emptiness on behalf of another’s emptiness  to the one whose hose is full of that which can bring the much needed help.

I am not sure I know much more than this  when it comes to how we make ourselves open to receding and ministering in the Spirit’s power and gifts than this: we go to God and say with the urgency of friendly and caring and non-judging love toward the needy “A friend of mine has arrived, wearied from a journey. I have nothing to set before them. Help me so I can help them!” As we do so in contrast to a reluctant and grumpy neighbour, the God and father of our Lord Jesus Christ opens the door of access to His Kingdom of Heaven cupboards and says, “Take whatever you need to help them, to help the weary ones! Take my seeing, my knowing, my wisdom, my power, my speaking, my eternal love and go to that weary one again. I offer it all to you!” The best place to begin to minister from, the best place to begin to experience the operation of the gifts of the Spirit is  in a fresh awareness of our emptiness and powerlessness in which reality  the love of God refuses to go unheard and unnoticed, refuses to be silent or inactive,  but drives us to the riches we know are God’s to give.

In short, emptiness mixed with the propulsive power of God’s love for a needy world is where we begin in this journey of earnestly desiring  the Holy Spirit in His diverse ministries that all bring glory to Jesus as the Eternal Son of God  and the only Saviour of the World

So here is the preparation: Be scrupulously honest; don’t pretend. Have I reached the place of emptiness, genuinely so, in terms of realising that without the Spirit of God,  I will experience the truth of what Jesus said, “Without me you can do nothing”? Is the love of God a constraining pressure upon me that is driving me heavenward in a paradoxical mix of desperation and faith to ask, seek and knock? We cannot pretend to be there. We are or are we not….

The journey towards being more full, begins at the place of being more empty.

God bless you as you obey the command to earnestly desire the gifts of the Spirit because you are obediently seeking to pursue love. God bless you as you ask, seek and knock at the door of your Father in heaven who loves to be generous in the measure of His giving to His children so that they may be blessed and bless others.


Church: The order of the kindergarten or the order of the cemetery?

OK., all of us get stressed and can have off moments, so no judgement implied. HOWEVER, I found myself overhearing a conversation between a married couple. Arrangements for the evening meal were being made. She was laying down the law. He didn’t sound very happy. Well, she shook her head and rolled her eyes, sighed, glared, dismissed his remonstrations with a look that could have felled an elephant at a hundred paces and then said, “Well, I am telling you the way it is going to be. I HAVE GOT A KIRK SESSION MEETING TONIGHT!”

Their grandchild was with them. There was a similar laying down of the law for her as to how and what she was to eat on this fun outing, even though at that time of the day there was no Kirk Session to which to go! Ever wondered why some folk’s spouses or the up and coming generation might want nothing to do with Church?

Let’s hope it was just an off day… but have to say I have my doubts about that, sadly!

I have often pondered over the years why it is that Kirk Sessions are sometimes are often full of good people but also seem to have more than their fair percentage of the most angry, irritable, frustrated, legalistic people you could find anywhere. Also, why is it elders are often innovative or supportive of innovation but have more than their fair share of those who resist every change as their prime calling within their ranks as well? At a Kirk Session meeting, I heard a minister say in the midst of life giving changes that were not meeting with universal approval, that “everything being in order” could come in different guises. There is order in the cemetry and the order one finds in the kindergarten. They look and sound quite different!( I think it was a John Wimber quote.) I heard an elder stand up and say, “Let’s be clear about this minister! It is the order of the cemetry we want in this church.” Thankfully, in one sense, that person’s earthly remains are enjoying the order of the cemetery, at least for the time being. A terrrible disorder will come to the cemetery they lie in one day, Scritpure tells us, which will cause to pale into insignificance the upsets, the black and purple faces that occur in discussions over CH4 or Mission Praise, or Common Cup or individual glasses, or where a banner hangs on a wall, or….! By the way, thankfully too that church is experiencing the order of the nursery once again after a lifeless hiccup period; new life and obvious blessing.

God Bless


Another Lesson from the Kindergarten


God is always on speaking terms in the land of grace, but there are times when He chooses not to say anything. If ever folk are looking for a Word from God from you, If He is silent, don’t make something up. Be honest. Share a truth from the bible that is relevant but do’t make up a prophetic word just to “help” or to please people, or for that matter to look good in front of them! God is not interested in ministry being about helping His ministers to look good in front of folk!

In the era where Hyper Grace teaching is popular and sadly welcomed and applauded as true, leading many away from Scripture and from God Himself while claiming to be Scriptural, let’s remember that humility and integrity matter. The true grace of God in the Lord Jesus Christ, does not excuse us from establishing both in our lives. Without humility and integrity our lives will go askew and our ministry will be harmful to ourselves and others. They are part of the foundation stone which is Christ Himself.


God Bless


Lessons from the Kindergarten (2)

Ah well… with the luxury of time on my hands these days, some more lessons from the Kindergarten… read the blog prior to this one, first of all !

Last blog, I was talking about the importance of learning how to hold a blank page before God  upon which He can choose to write in order to bring revelation, or to change the imagery, holding open a silence for Him into which He can speak. The purpose of the blank page or silence place in terms of these couple of blogs is revelation, a knowing that comes from God: hearing what God wants us to hear or seeing something He wants us to see, which we could not hear or see without the Gift and gifts of the Holy Spirit.

If you want to argue for the non existence, in our day, of the sort of gifts written about in 1st Corinthians Chapters 12 – 14 and manifested throughout the gospels in the ministry of Jesus then this blog page will probably make little inroads to that belief. This is to help those who believe in such gifts. That in no way is to suggest those who believe in the gifts of the Spirit are superior than those who don’t, for gifts are just that; gifts are gifts and not a reward for reaching some sort of maturity.  In saying all this I am simply recognising  that not everyone who reads my blogs believes the same about charismatic gifting;  If, when I blog on this type of subject, you feel challenged or uncomfortable that could be  good! If it causes a needless level of distress or unsettling of your faith, that is bad and not my intention: just pass over blogs on this type of subject and look at some other blogs I have written. There are a few hundred to choose from at

OK then! Following on from the last blog; another lesson or two from the kindergarten from which I have never graduated and in which there is still much for me to learn from God and from others. A bit more about the blank page or silent space approach to receiving and knowing the operation of the gifts of the Spirit in us and through us.

I have spoken at dozens of conferences in many different places and countries. in days of better health. What would you do  if you were in that situation when a fellow speaker or leader says something with which you profoundly disagree? I have never quite worked that out. It has happened to me a couple of times. Once in this country and another time in another country which I will not name! In that other country I decided just to say what I would have said if I had not heard that other wonderful and godly minister and church leader saying what they said and leave it with folk to work through any conflict to come to a place of peace. God can be trusted when there is sincere disagreement handled  in genuine humility.

Where we disagreed was how gifts of the Holy Spirit in terms of hearing about what you could not see or hear without God’s immediate intervention  works. The person with whom I disagreed seemed to all but take the “gift of God”  and immediate element out of the equation . They said that of course you do not start with a blank page or empty mind. You use your wisdom, our learning, your knowledge about a situation and ask God to bring that together in a way that will help people hear and see what God is trying to communicate. Of course God can speak in that way, but when He does it may be a blessing but it is not, in my understanding,  a charismatic gift in operation of the type Paul writes about in 1st. Corinthians Chapters 12 – 14.

Let me illustrate. How does the charismatic gift of discernment work for me? It comes as a gift from without myself each time it happens,  rather than something that is in my own possession or  arises from my own feelings or from my own learning. It is something that God’s Spirit does to me. over which I have no control other than offering or withholding that blank page or silent space which He may or may not use.  The Spirit of God is within me of course, but this has the quality of coming down from heaven for a specific time and moment. Then the gift lifts until the next time.  It does not happen the same way for everyone, but for me this element of bringing nothing but a blank page, not listening to my own mental processes or feelings is actually the necessary and vital beginning that separates natural discernment from the charismatic operation of discernment. It is felt as the operation of the Spirit of God upon my body more so than arising in my mind or from my feelings which would be the normal places I would discern things by human means; it is a knowledge that does not come from me, that may be indicating something quite different to what my mind would think or conclude or my feelings feel. In many circumstances, this latter type of what I would call reasoning discernment which leads to a chosen conclusion  is the correct form of discernment to use and is not to be despised or downgraded and indeed is commended in certain places in 1st. Corinthians Chapters 12 – 14 , but it is not the gift of discernment of spirits spoken of in these chapters.

Let me, hopefully, make this a bit more concrete for you: I am remembering a time when someone just in passing conversation  told me a report of a place where apparently God was moving, HIs Spirit being poured out. My mind hated what I was hearing, my own inner gut thought it was all wrong, but the gift of discernment indicated what I was hearing was of God, and more than that it was something God delighted in with great joy. I am glad I did not go with my own mind or deep feelings, otherwise I would have cut myself off from the blessing god planned for me and through me.

So, blank page, silent space, learning to quieten my mind and feelings: Lessons from the kindergarten. If you want to know some tips on how to get that blank page, again, go to the previous blog.

God bless


Kenny’s Kindergarten…

Was thinking something through today as I was ambling along; felt I had reached a conclusion; asked God was I right or wrong in the way I was thinking. A that point I glanced to my right and there I saw a wall covered with brightly coloured ticks, the sort of tick a teacher would put beside a correct answer. “Cool,” as others than myself would say!!

This whole business of confirmation and fleeces etc need to be handled with care. What do I mean? Well, it would obviously be wrong of me to go and visit that wall again when I was looking for confirmation to do with something I was planning! That would be stacking the odds in my favour. It would also be wrong to  go that wall looking for confirmation if God had already spoken to me very clearly on something. If He has spoken with clarity and without any chance of error such as He does in the bible, well I don’t need to look to the right or to the left for confirmation. I just need to obey. Ask Zachariah: he would tell you he learned the hard way to ask no questions when God has sent a clear message!

It can be difficult to keep open a blank page for God to write on, a silence for God to speak into however that ability can be both gifted by God and learned and accessed by certain disciplines.  Let me use myself as an illustration of this sort of learning that I am talking about. I find that God speaks to me a lot in terms of  revelation of one sort  or another in pictures. It might be a prophecy He is seeking to give for someone or for a church meeting, or a word of knowledge or a word of Wisdom. He spoke to some of the prophets in bible days in that visual way and to Apostles like Peter. I usually know when it is God but when I am not sure, perhaps because of tiredness or medication of just some sort of loss of clarity spiritually for whatever reason, I try and check if what I am seeing could be the product of something I have read or seen in recent times. If it is, it still may be God, but He is patient, and  I humbly ask Him to speak the same message a fresh through some picture that has no obvious ink to anything I have been looking at in recent days.

Keeping a blank page open for the God who speaks. All of us can learn our own ways of doing that. I have shared just one pointer, but it is not a rule. We must not make our way the norm for everyone otherwise the Spirit will be quenched. My learned way of going about these things is far from being the only way of hearing and seeing, but it may be a help to some who feel they are making no progress. I guess I just am hoping you will take this matter before God and find your own way or ways into that stage of true open mindedness to the God who speaks, who reveals mysteries and loves to give HIs Holy Spirit to His children who ask Him for good things.

I may well follow this up with a blog soon about gifts of the Holy Spirit. That is where my thinking is going now as i write. We shall see… Enjoy the Kindergarten I go to still. Relax. It is meant to be fun to learn. Mind you some kindergartens are strict places. In the one I went to when I was phsycially young, they even used to give the belt to children who attended! Odd mix. The Tufty Club (which taught me a lot I use to this day!) and the Belt! Well, in the spiritual kindergarten I have a life long membership of,  it is mostly  Tufty Club, sometimes straightforward talking Green Cross Code type learning, but never the belt. In my Kindergarten you don’t get marched to the front, scolded before others and belted when you get it wrong!! It is a safe place to be and to learn and to grow…the great thing is, I never reach an age where I have to leave for the big school….

God bless


Have heard some sad news…

What is on my mind? Feeling a bit sad to find people writing to me after a recent blog to say they have been told by their pastors that their depression is a sin. If you have been told that, please know it is rubbish. Not only that, it is cruel rubbish. If that is the persistent teaching on the matter, you should probably not try and dignify such madness with a conversation. You would probably be better off in a church where the leadership understands human fragility. Pastors don’t always like it when people move church. Sometimes it is the right thing to move even if the pastor throws a fit and puts pressure on you to stay…though if you are in perpetual motion that is a different matter! Settle somewhere, where the fellowship is supportive and you find good spiritual bread on offer that strengthens you, even strenghtens you to offer yourself to bless others in your brokenness.
Jesus still remembers a time when he was so sorrowful he felt he could die on the spot. I hope you hear the tone of his voice and heart speaking to you somehow this day. Remember too that same heart and voice is praying for you in the same tone. He ever lives to make intercession for you and for me… and even for the folk who have distressed you with their condemning words….
Actually I have come to see that those who have entered into depression are often the bravest of souls. Pstorally I have so often found it is the road from a past to which one cannot return or had to move away to a new place, a new state not yet arrived at emotionally, mentally, spiritually or even physically. However you found yoursef on that road, be it for reasons of chemical imbalance, or chldhood trauma, for reasons of circumstance or for one of many other reasons, may you know the empathy of Jesus. He is now annointed with the oil of joy. He got there! He has faith for you. If your faith has dried up, somehow may the faith of the Son of God ,who loved you and gave himself for you, be yours this day.
God bless

2nd hand prayer sometimes fits us well…

Over the years I have met believers in Christ who have gone through times of  deep depression. Are you in such a time right now? It is not a sin to go through times like that. Perhaps you need to hear that and allow yourself to put aside the biblical and intellectual ignorance of those who have added to your pain by suggesting. Perhaps allowing yourself to dismiss their comments as ignorance may help you to also gradually put aside their insensitivity and lack of compassion toward you. Ultimately those who speak in such terms are to be pitied  for their  lack of true heart knowledge of the surpassing wonder and beauty of Christ and His tenderness towards human fragility. Not all fragility is sin. Jesus was not sinning when He said He was so sorrowful He could have died right there and then. He still retains “a fellow feeling for our pains” as an old hymn puts it and “still remembers in the skies His tears and agonies and cries.

I read these words from Psalm 143 today. They record the prayer of someone who felt depressed, who felt their spirit within them was failing. It can be difficult to know how to pray at such times. Why not let the psalmist help you? I am sure that he wrote these words to help others as well as to worship God. Use them. Is everything he asks for legitimate for a Christian to ask for? To be honest I am not completely sure. But the words are real whatever else they may be and that means a lot to the God who hears and answers prayer. We can trust Him to hear and answer rightly.

Come quickly, Lord, and answer me,
for my depression deepens (my spirit fails).
Don’t hide your face from me,
or I will die.
Let me hear of your steadfast love each morning,
for I am trusting you.
Show me where to walk,
for to you I lift up my soul.
Rescue me from my enemies, Lord;
I have fled to you for refuge.

Teach me to do your will,
for you are my God.
May your good Spirit lead me forward
on a level path.
 For the glory of your name, O Lord, preserve my life.
 Because of your faithfulness, bring me out of this distress.
 In your unfailing love, silence all my enemies
and destroy all my foes,
for I am your servant.

God bless


A headstand in the morning and before bed is good for you!

I was never very athletic (Understatement!). I did like sports like tennis, squash and golf etc, in days of better health, but gym stuff was never my cup of tea at any age or  stage of life. Cartwheels, Kenny style, were less than graceful and smooth. Handstands were out. Headstands however, were ok. I could get into that pose, and stay there comfortably for a long time, actually.

Well, I guess I am inviting you to make a  headstand through this blog, if you need to! I came across a line out a poem in my readings from “Celtic Daily Prayer” today in the readings and comments  set for 18th.September in the St. Aidan Collection of readings. The line was in a mediation, poem by Laurel Bridges:

“pour down blessing
on the detail of our days.”

For me this was an encouragement to stand on my head faith wise and to bring me back into line with Jesus. I think I can have a tendency to think that it is up to God to take care of the really big things in my life, but details are either incidental or are to be taken care of by myself. Actually Jesus encourages us to do life differently. He says to us, “You take care of the big things by your decisions and leave the details to me, to your heavenly Father who loves to give good gifts to His children.” Is that not what He told us to do? “Seek first the Kingdom of God and his righteousness and all these other things, the details of every day life will be given to you.”

I was thinking today for someone in whose life I see this happening. I have observed that they have taken responsibility for the big direction of their lives, namely to honour Christ. As they have set themselves to do that I occasionally see that they seem to give scant regard to details that I think should be attended to in what they are about in their day to day living, leisure etc., though they are by no means disorganised or lacking in thoughtfulness or organisational ability But here’s the thing: details that I would have spent a lot of time attending too seem to fall into place for them with unfailing regularity! In the process of that happening, they are much more free from angst than I would be if I were to be approaching the same issues or circumstances.

It is so possible to get absorbed in details that we get distracted by the one thing needful at any moment. Jesus made that clear too.

Perhaps like me, you need to be challenged to stand on your head. If you are a natural worrier, or an anxious person, or a person who needs to think through every detail of an issue etc,  why not put fresh faith in the God who wants to pour out blessing on the detail of life? Try and go for a day or two without thinking about the details. It is enough for you to think about the one thing needful at any moment. That does not mean being thoughtless or stupid about the way we go about things. It means that my faith believes that God is with me not only in the big things but in the details. “The good person’s steps are ordered by the Lord.” As I think of the person I mentioned above, I see that verse being fulfilled. May you see it fulfilled for you.

God Bless







Get rid of the scissors…

I could tell you quite a few verses/incidents/teachings in the bible that make me uncomfortable because their clear meaning is straightforward and unavoidable. Over the decades since my conversion I have sometimes “wished” they were not there. But they are still stubbornly there. Now, with the passing of the years, I am grateful that they are there; some, as I have regularly re-read and rediscovered them in their uncomfortable clarity have helped me see truths about God or about me.  Others…? Well, they are still there and they are still the Word of the God who is a God of faithfulness, without injustice, to whom I ascribe greatness; the God who is perfect in all of His ways. The one approach I can never agree with is dismissing such verses and cutting them out to make God in my own image, whose ways are subject to my permission and approval. Put down the scissors. It’s a humility sort of thing….

“Oh, how great are God’s riches and wisdom and knowledge! How impossible it is for us to understand his decisions and his ways

For who can know the LORD’s thoughts?

Who knows enough to give him advice?” (Romans 11; 33 and 34.)


God bless



An Idol and the Living God can seem similar without true discernment…

In the bible, a god who never speaks or intervenes is called an idol. When training at university, I picked up from some ministers and some ministers in training, thankfully not all, that this was the god they believed in and prayed to and preached to others. In the same bible it is a cause of concern to the people of the true and Living God, a time for searching their hearts, when He stops speaking and intervening in observable and desirable ways. Such concern can be the beginning of revival: “Where is the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob? Where is the Lord, the God of Elijah? Where is the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ? Where is the God of the Apostles?” Well, He is where He has always been and can be found in the way He has always been found. He never changes and has never moved the goal posts.

So when heaven seems as brass it is good for God’s people to humble themselves and ask “why?”. It may be that they will find out all is well and  simple trust is required. It may be they will find that all is not well and repentance is being awaited.

God Bless



Partial or Selective Hearing can be dangerous….

You will probably know that the Books of Kings and Chronicles in the Old testament contain the histories of many rulers of Israel and Judah, and quite a mixed bag they are! A considerable number of them walked in rebellion against God and did what was evil in His sight. However in Judah especially there were some good guys (which interestingly enough seems to be becoming a generically neutral word)! One of the good guys was Josiah. He became king when he was just eight years old. I guess there is nothing surprising in that. Many monarchs have technically and in actual fact  become king or queen at that age or younger throughout history, some of them a lot closer to home than Israel. However what is noted in a particular way  about Josiah in the text of the bible, as though it was a bit unusual and worthy of comment,  is that from a very young age as a teenager he set himself to seek the Lord, and to honour the Lord in the way he reigned. He did pretty well in that pursuit.

You can trace that success  in 2 Chronicles Chapters 34 and 35 to the fact that he honoured both the Word of God  and the Spirit of God. During his reign and the building renovations he undertook, the Book of the Law of God was discovered. That probably is a reference to the Book of Deuteronomy but we cannot be certain about that. Whatever, it is a bit of a shameful thing that the Book of the Law of God had been lost in the first place by God’s people and had to be found again. In fact it is quite an appalling indictment against  God’s people.  I could digress here in the light of the present state of the Church in Scotland and the UK and North America  judging by decisions taken at the highest level of several denominations to depart from the text of God’s Word, but I will resist! Maybe one day the Church will rediscover the bible, effectively in many quarters the Lost Book of God. To Josiah’s credit when the book of the law was discovered he set to work to bring Israel into obedience to that law in its commands and rituals and festivals. He honoured God’s Word.

Josiah also honoured God’s Spirit. He allowed the prophetic word to be spoken into his life through and into his times through Huldah. It was not altogether a rosy picture that was spoken prophetically, but Josiah honoured it and received it, and did not go into the huff about the unpleasant parts of the prophetic word but served the Lord even more so.

However, every one of us has a weak spot. Though the bible  says there was never another earthly King of Judah like Josiah before or after he reigned, though of course he was not perfect. Yes, he was open to the Word of God, he was open to the Spirit of God, but where he fell down was that he was not open to the fact that God could speak to him through the king of Egypt! Knowing the history of the Jews that is perhaps not surprising, but nonetheless because of his failure to listen to the word of God through the King of Egypt, Josiah died as a result of wounds in a battle.

Is there someone God is using to speak to you, but you cannot recognise it? It might be because of past history either with that individual or just the past story of your life that makes you think the God who loves you would not speak to you through them and thereby cause you needless confusion or distress. It may be you think God could not possibly use someone whose theology is as wonky as theirs is in your view! It could even be that there is a slight racism we can be guilty of: e.g.  “If God is going to speak to us here in Scotland he will do it through a Scot! We don’t need these folk from South of the border or from across the pond or from Africa or from somewhere in the East, thank you very much!” Perhaps you find it difficult to hear the Word of the Lord through someone who is poor or uneducated, or on benefit, or who falls into all 3 of these categories. Perhaps you are guilty of inverted snobbery and cannot hear the Word of the Lord through someone who is rich or educated or successful or all 3!

Is there a limitation on who you will receive the word of the Lord through? Well, He may well humble you and ask you to hear him through a donkey: in fact that is a prophetic word for someone specifically even if it has more general application. You have  sarcastically called someone a donkey recently; better listen to the donkey if you want it to go well with you.

God Bless



Should you be reading that?

The charismatic gift of discernment of spirits helps you to know what spirit is behind a message. Originally and indeed still today that is useful in knowing whether a so called prophetic message comes from God or just the person’s own soul, mind and heart, or perhaps from a demonic spirit. Its operation has nothing to do with intellect or reason, but is as much a spiritual gift independent of these things as any other gift such a gifts of healing, gifts of knowledge, tongues and interpretation of tongues. It has a knock on benefit when considering what books to read.

Some of the most recommended “Christian” books of today have their origin in the spirit of anti-Christ and yet seem to be commended by Christian leaders of influence as must read books that anyone interested in the church and its mission needs to read. I once experienced the gift kicking in when holding a book by a well known theologian; the book and its author were highly commended on the front and back pages by some influential figures in the Christian “scene.” The manifestation of the gift of discernment told me this was not of God neither was it merely human. Because the writer was greatly respected in academic and church circles throughout the world, I nonetheless bought it. I stopped reading it after 3 pages as there was a sense of spiritual death that engulfed me. The cost of disobedience to the Spirit was £14.99. By the mercy of God other deeper costs of my disobedience were met and covered.

It is good to ask for God’s help to be discerning in what we read in terms of what is on offer or being publicised in the “Christian” book world,  rather than just to read so as to be thought of as up to date in our learning and in our studies. Secular books with obvious limitations are much less dangerous to our well being than many Christian works of fact, fiction, or fantasy.

God Bless



Sitting on a pin?

God sometimes demands entrance into our lives at the thickest walls of resistance. That is something I have discovered over the years as a pastor. If we give Him entrance there, then I guess He has our lives, our hearts. When I was a younger minister I often casually dismissed people’s difficulties or reasons for reluctance in coming to Christ, in order to “help” them do so. For example, if  they raised smoking  or drinking  as a reason why they could not come to Christ, I would knock that out of the way as a non valid and unnecessary reason for hesitation. I would tell them that Christ was far more interested in other aspects of their lives than that. These could be taken care of in due course. I have come to believe that though on occasion my approach may well have been right, it was probably wrong more often than I realised. Christ may indeed have been knocking on the thickest most well barred door of defiance and resistance which I was dismissing as an irrelevance. They realised it and I did not. What seems a non issue for one person may be a very real issue for another.

I found myself thinking tonight of the same sort of thing in relation to those who are already on the road of Christ. The beginning of next phase of divine purpose for us, in us or through us, may well depend on us dealing with something in our lives that even other believers would dismiss as an irrelevance, and put down to us having an over sensitive and faulty conscience. They might even  sincerely try and “help” us by suggesting we were suffering from the influence of a legalistic spirit of religion,  which we should not listen to and resist in the Name of Christ.

Believer, is Christ standing with a fresh commission, rivers of renewal, fresh purpose in His hands outside a well defended door? Don’t presume that you can invite him in through another door. You cannot tell Him which door you want Him to use. He is the Lord of the manor He has been gifted  by the Father and has also bought with His own blood. We are doubly His and doubly not our own. He decides what door to use. Don’t presume either you have the luxury of time to answer His call, “Open to me.” You may rise to open the door and find that the One you genuinely love is gone. The moment has passed and you may have to go searching and seeking for what He was offering. That can mean a purpose being delayed for years which could have been fulfilled in days; all because of what happened in one moment of choice concerning one issue that seems not to bother any other person close to you, but for you has felt like sitting on a pin.

I found myself strangely challenged by these words from Psalm 119 verse 50 a day or two ago:

“I have chosen to be faithful.”

God Bless