“…go together like a horse and carriage…”

“Because of your unfailing love, I can enter your house; I will worship at your Temple with deepest awe” Psalm 5.7.

True intimacy with God, security in His unfailing love, does not take away deepest awe and reverence.

I worry a bit, not a lot but a bit, about the assumption that casualness should be the tone of a church gathering which is sure of the Father’s love and an inviting and safe space for seekers.

Old fashioned? I probably am in some ways, but I have never felt I can wander in and out for or with coffee in the presence of unfailing divine love.

Nostalgic? Probably. I have come to the stage where I would prefer a good old fashioned call to worship with words of Scripture, rather than the now familiar waffle full of questionable teaching ending with the not very inspiring required formula, “Why don’t we stand…?”

Formal? Mmm, perhaps a bit. It may surprise you, but because in the charismatic world casualness has passed from being a not thought about incidental, into being a requirement to be put on display, I would almost rather see a preacher in clerical robes, suggesting at least a Holy calling affirmed by the church, rather than someone dressed in the latest trend of what gym buffed orthodontically enhanced stars of stage and screen are meant to look like, though of course heart is more important.

Yes, it is, it really is. Heart is more important. No question. I know that…I really do, but still…

I actually think a day will come when casualness in its deliberate , chiselled and expensive designer form in the church in the West, will lose its appeal. It will not satisfy those who are looking for something radically different from the world who will become disappointed to walk into a church to find Christians still in love with what they have left behind.

Ah well, that is what I think…

God bless

Kenny

Old truths ever New

Had such an enjoyable meeting with a fellow Church of Scotland minister today. I was reminded of two truths from two giants of the Faith.

Firstly, I was reminded of what David Watson said: true fellowship begins at the point of weakness, when we kneel at the foot of the cross, on level ground, in the place of healing and grace. Personally, I think that often fellowship is ruined when we try and meet one another in a competition based on our strengths.

Secondly, I was reminded Of something C. S. Lewis said: fellowship begins when all of a sudden one says to another with delighted discovery, “What? You too?” That discovery cuts through the need to know endless details about one another. Plenty time for that whenever, if ever…

God bless

Kenny

Angry at Generosity?

Remembering a solid Christian angrily asking me what use the gift of tongues was to anyone. Well it has its uses for sure, but what a horrible view of God, that He only does what is useful!

I wonder what sort of gifts that person gave to their nearest and dearest? Only ones that would get the response, “Thanks I was needing that,”? Did they never give something to a loved one that caused uproarious laughter when opened? Did they never give a personalised symbol of love forever treasured as priceless by the recipient, a cause of warmth and joy, but confusing, meaningless or ridiculous in the eyes of everyone else? Did they never give to excess to the accompaniment of universal condemnation but with disregarding laughter in their Remembering a solid Christian angrily asking me angrily what use the gift of tongues was to anyone. Well it has its uses for sure, but what a horrible view of God, that He only does what is useful! I wonder what sort of gifts that person gave to their nearest and dearest? Only ones that would get the response, “Thanks I was needing that,”? Did they never give something to a loved one that caused uproarious laughter when opened? Did they never give a personalised symbol of love forever treasured as priceless by the recipient, a cause of warmth and joy, but confusing, meaningless or ridiculous in the eyes of everyone else? Did they never give to excess to the accompaniment of universal condemnation but with disregarding laughter in their own spirit?

Never despise the generosity of God. Why are you uncomfortable if He chooses to be generous to anyone…to you?

God bless

Kenny

That thing we call “Church.”

A couple of bits and pieces that have moved me in recent days; worth sharing I think.

“If this is not a place, where tears are understood,
Then where shall I go to cry?
And if this is not a place, where my spirit can take wings,
Then where shall I go to fly?
(Ken Medema)

“Let light spill out of heaven
through my life,
dispelling mediocrity and silent blame,
Too many people, guilt stricken, wounded,
walk in regret,
feeling bad about failing,
apologise even for breathing.”
(Andy Raine)

Worth thinking about as we think of “church” and our place in its life and mission, don’t you think?

(Both quotes come from “Celtic Daily Prayer, Book Two: Farther Up and Farther In.” You might find that is a helpful book if you are looking for a new approach to your devotional life. I do not take to the Celtic approach to spiritual life naturally myself, but I have found it an immensely enriching discipline to use this book)

God bless

Kenny

Is the answer you are looking for really that complicated?

Feeling stuck or unhappy about where you are spiritually and asking God about it in this New Year? I wonder how we would react if Jesus were to say to us, as He did to a couple of questioners in the gospels, “What do the commandments say?”

Sometimes we make an awfully complicated meal about things. “Oh well, it’s complicated…” Often it isn’t. In fact usually “it” isn’t really that complicated. How can we reach contentment and peace within as children of God if we are ignoring His will about how to do life, how to seize its opportunities and how to cope with its at times seemingly intolerable pains and tragedies?

There is so much ground of human experience covered by God’s commands in the Old Testament: they are His gift of love to a people, Israel, whom He redeemed in grace, but they are for us too living under the New Covenant, as of course are the commandments on the lips of Jesus and the first Apostles. Psalm 19 likens God’s Law to the life-giving light and heat of the sun from which nothing is hidden (Why not take a few moments right now to read it?). Keep it simple. Did you complicate a choice by seeking and following the advice of your peers or even a well meaning Counsellor who told you to go a different way from the commandments of God? Well, take responsibility for your life, forgive anyone for the advice they gave that got you in a mess (maybe they feared your reaction if they told you the truth!), and take a fresh step of obedience.

Have you prayed, “Send Revival, and let it begin in me?” With God’s help, answer your prayer: there is biblical precedent for such an approach to prayer. Personal Revival always looks like a new beginning of obedience somewhere in our lives…

God bless

Kenny

Calling all heroes!

At this time of the year, if you have any affinity to the circles of spiritual emphasise I have lived in and ministered in over the years, you will probably be being subjected to the most amazing prophetic interpretations of the number 2019! I will leave it to you to work out which, if any, have the word of God for you somewhere in the midst of all the complicated and mysterious calculations.

In the mean time, I believe that 2019 just as 2018, and 2017, and 1831 and any other year you can think of,  is “The Year of  the Heroes!”

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God bless

Kenny

Learn from the Rose…

I love the poetry of George Mackay Brown. I guess that living for a few years in Orkney and ministering there meant I would look at his writings, but it was actually long after leaving there that I did so.

One of my favourite poems goes under the name “Prologue.” I think it got that unusual title partly because it sums up what is the core of the inspiration of his poetry and its aim and purpose, but also because it was the first poem in an early book of his published work. You might have heard of its opening line: “For the islands I sing.” You might have heard another famous line from the same poem: his description of Scotland as “the Knox-ruined nation.” That is not a line that has endeared him to many Calvinists or historians for whom facts matter!

However at the start of a New Year, it is something he says about roses that I want to leave with you to think about:

“Go, good my songs,
be as gay as you can.
Weep, if you have to,
the old tears of man.

Praise tinker and saint,
and the rose that takes
its fill of the sunlight
though a world breaks.”

The world which we wake to on New Year’s Day 2019 is a world of the most appalling suffering and need in so many places and so many lives. Your life or the life of someone you love may even have been visited by sadness, loss, betrayal or disappointment of one type or another in the closing days of 2018, and the effects of that are still there, deeply felt on this January morning. It is so important to allow ourselves and discipline ourselves to see, receive and drink in the goodness of God, just as the rose does the sunlight. Roses exist with all the beauty of their perfume and colour. God does not ban them as though no beautiful or joyful thing should be allowed in a world where darkness damages and destroys so much.  Along with many other beautiful things they can be reminders, signs and teachers, pointing us to God in His goodness, awakening a capacity for gratefulness and even celebration in the midst of life as it really is.

However you wakened on the first day of this New Year, whatever thoughts or experiences are lying heavily upon you, make time to drink in God’s goodness. Train your heart not only to “weep the old tears” that are part of the human story through the centuries, but to take your fill day by day of “the sunlight” of God’s goodness.

Oh and by the way, don’t be angry or offended if in the face of your difficulty or sadness someone says to you in a cheerful way, “Happy New Year.” Perhaps they are being a bit thoughtless, but just maybe they are a teacher sent by God to help you out of a rut in which you could easily get stuck…

God bless

Kenny