I don’t know what to do with these thoughts…

Dr Johannes Tauler, a preacher in the 14th. Century, stepped out of his pulpit for 2 years as he realised he needed to die to self. Quite something.

The story: He was one of the most famous preachers of his day. His church in Strasbourg was packed out, but he stepped down. A man called Nicolaus of Basle had listened to him speaking on death to self but realised Dr. Tauler did not know that truth by personal experience. He challenged him: “ Dr. Tauler, before you can do your greatest work for God, this world and this city, you must die to yourself, your gifts, your popularity and even your own goodness, and when you have learned the full meaning of the cross, you will have new power with God and man. Get alone with God. Leave your crowded church, your admiring congregation, your hold on this city, go aside to your cell, be alone and you will know what I mean.”

Tauler, after initial anger, did just that. His friends thought he was mad. It took 2 years. There was public humiliation involved, but when he stood in the pulpit after the work of God was done, the power of God fell, and all over the congregation folk were thrown into a spiritual trance and met with Christ. He went around the congregation and led them to Christ.

Stories like that challenge me. I am not sure I always know how to respond to them, but they challenge me. There are other stories that are similar, though I cannot check precise details due to lack of books. Moody had an experience of God that changed the effectiveness of his preaching for example. He was originally angry that two women kept on coming to his meetings and said him on one occasion, they were praying for him be filled with the Holy Spirit. Praying John Hyde, I think, experienced something similar. On board a boat he opened a piece of paper that had been put into his hand at departure and read it. “We will not stop praying for you until you are filled with the Holy Spirit.” He was angry, and then realised his anger showed he was not filled with the Holy Spirit and cried it would be so. The results were asotnishing. On one occasion in a huge meeting he simply lifted his voice to heaven and said, “Oh heavenly Father” and the Spirit of God fell and through the whole gaterhing into a Holy Ghost commotion.

Do I believe that if God called me to a season of being alone with Him – it would have to be Him not me just copying someone else’s story – He would meet with me in a way that would result in more glory being brought to the Name of His Son? Nicolaus said to Tauler after the two years were up: “Now, thou art a preacher of the grace of God. Now one of they sermons will bring forth more fruit a hundred aforetime.”

Challenged, so challenged… when so much needs to be done, it is counterintuitive to take time out and go aside. When the need of the world creates so many opportunities, it is easy to hear and be obedient to the word “Go” from Christ and ignore and disobey His word, “Wait.”

God bless

Kenny

Even if you are not coming to Lewis in June… some thoughts that might bless you…

As I think about Lewis, I am challenged by what Rev. Jack Macarthur said in an interview about Duncan Campbell. He said he did not impose his style on Lewis, thinking, “we will help out these poor Lewis folk with bringing them our ways of doing things.” No, you would have thought after he had been there a few weeks that he was from Lewis, he so honoured the ways of the church there. He identified himself with their spirituality, to use another phrase from Jack MacArthur. What a wonderful spirit. I want to go to Lewis in that same spirit: honouring what God is doing there right now, not wanting in any way at all to take over and impose my ways or preferences. I want to be myself but honour those who have invited me into their setting. It is actually a very easy thing to do if humility and love are present in our hearts.

I have been in several meetings over the years where keen people took over and imposed their ministry style when given the chance and what God was doing up until they did that was ignored… and God’s Spirit was grieved and lifted, though like Samson, those responsible did not seem to realise it was so as they ventured forth in their usual style. In fact they seemed quite thrilled by what they had done and were even thankful to God for what ensued! I wanted to leave these meetings at the point of take-over. To this day I cannot decide whether staying rather than leaving was out of kindness to those getting it so wrong but believing they were doing it so right, or was it cowardice? Perhaps a mixture? Perhaps it is just my personality which sometimes is a blessing to me and other times seems a bit of a confusing and frustrating nuisance. Whatever, God loves me and loves them, even though we can all be a nuisance to His purposes from time to time.

Perhaps the lesson to draw from such times is an extension of what Paul teaches concerning other issues: all things that are lawful and perfectly acceptable may not always be helpful. In other words some right things can become wrong. It can depend on setting. I guess part of leadership is at times to say when a right thing is wrong! Not always easy when you have to say it to excited people. At times every true leader will be judged by some as being controlling and will be thought to be quenching the Spirit. The verse “Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom,” is usually trotted out by those who think anything goes at any time. Of course the verse is being misapplied.

For those coming, or thinking of coming to the Conference: let’s gather in humble awareness of the God who is at work, and tread carefully, joyfully delighting to learn from and to honour God’s people in Lewis, their ways, and God’s ways with them in current blessing.

For those not coming to Lewis, well the lesson holds good. It is good to tread carefully when we meet with one another or find ourselves in territory other than our own familiar home ground. The strange thing is when we meet in humility honouring one another, change of the right sort happens to us all, and the purposes of God advance in us all.

God bless

Kenny

The Father who speaks to his children like a child…

I have always felt like a child when it comes to understanding God and His Ways revealed in His Word, and always will I think, so I am glad when the Bible speaks about God in almost childlike ways. I love the verses I quote further down from Malachi for that reason. They speak of God noticing, listening or paying attention, and of something being written down for purposes of divine remembering, which in Scripture in the Hebrew language usually implies a day of purposeful divine action in the fortunes of His people, after a time of apparent non-activity or silence.

That imagery and language helps my simple mind, helps me to understand God. Mind you what catches God’s attention and what is written down to be remembered, is pretty challenging, again probably offensive to those considered wise, but it makes wise the simple. God’s word in the Bible and above all in the cross of the Word made flesh, has always offended the wise, seeming like folly to them, but it always makes wise the simple.

What God says in these verses doesn’t sound very on trend with predominant themes in the language of many sectors of today’s church, which is a bit worrying, since God is unchanging so presumably unchanging in what He notices and regards with favour.

“Then those who feared the LORD spoke with one another. The LORD paid attention and heard them, and a book of remembrance was written before him of those who feared the LORD and esteemed his name. They shall be mine, says the LORD of hosts, in the day when I make up my treasured possession, and I will spare them as a man spares his son who serves him. Then once more you shall see the distinction between the righteous and the wicked, between one who serves God and one who does not serve him. (Malachi Chapter 3 verses 16 – 18, ESV.)

God bless

Kenny

Are you a cult member or leader?

There are many subsets of allegiances within Christian devotion and living. Not bad in itself. We need planted somewhere or we will self destroy through proud independence and end up suffering from the self righteous, angry, rejected prophet delusion. However, never let your devotion to someone or a group, their teaching, their literature or their leaders dead or alive be greater than attentiveness of the ear that listens for the voice of Christ, the Shepherd of the whole flock, and His Spirit speaking through Scripture. If you allow that balance to settle in the wrong direction you are effectively a member of a cult and may miss the truest calling of Christ upon your love and service.

Be grateful but not blindly loyal to any body of literature ancient or modern, any theological system no matter how biblical and revered its devotee may claim it to be, any body of discipleship local or widespread, any leader dead or alive where help, love, life and guidance have been experienced. If a buy in is demanded that smacks of exclusivity or slight or overt superiority towards other approaches to Christian living, service and discipleship, it is time to look elsewhere and listen to the Spirit’s lack of peace within.

“Call no man Father” is teaching from Jesus we need to heed. It is a terribly inconvenient word for those who want a following and want to establish something new with their name attached to it…

God bless

Kenny

K.I.S.S.

A disciple in bible days was just someone who was attached to a Master and wanted to be like him. That’s all. The principle was exactly what Jesus said: It is sufficient for the disciple, the servant, to be like the Master. That’s it. Nothing complicated. Often costly.

David Ravenhill gives a good insight. He says that every believer in Jesus at the start was a disciple. They then became called Christians, first of all in Antioch. Folk saw they were Christ’s men and women. Nowadays he says we call people Christians and then add on discipleship as though it were an additional step for the extra keen. I think he is probably right. “Discipleship” has become a buzz word and a bit of a new industry.

Discipleship is simply, “Jesus, as I follow you, I want to become more like you.” Nothing more, nothing less. I have my bible, prayer, the encouragement of God’s people, God Himself who has made His home in me. “All I have needed thy hand has provided.”

My discipleship pattern that seemed to work for me at the start and ever since has been this. I read my bible, pray and try to get on with the Jesus life. I am encouraged by the teaching and fellowship of church on a Sunday. In fact Sundays, what could be called the Sunday Service, is vital to me.

Don’t make a meal out of discipleship. Read your bible, pray for help, live it out, share something of Jesus with those who don’t know him, making the most of opportunities, join with the saints to encourage them and serve them and be encouraged by them.

It all happens naturally if Christ is in you and your desire is for Him. It is not an optional course you sign up to beyond perhaps a short Beta type course following an Alpha type beginning. After that it’s just being an apprentice to Jesus: learning to be like Him because despite every stumble and every lazy day, every scared, cowardly or rebellious day, something within persists in desiring it will be so.

When I tie myself in knots in my thinking and living and praying and in anything else for that matter, I remember K.I.S.S. “Keep It Simple Stupid.” Being male it works neatly for me to translate that into the truer tone of Abba, rather than it being only an expression of frustration from myself to myself: “Keep It Simple, Son.”

God bless

Kenny

From a deep place within me…

“And His that gentle voice we hear, soft as the breath of even…” I guess control freaks would wish it so, would wish The Spirit always came as a dove, after all that was the Jesus way. The Spirit descended and remained on Him as a dove.

Well, when Jesus poured out the promise of the Father, the Holy Spirit upon His church, the Jesus way was this: “Suddenly there was the sound of a mighty rushing wind!” A violent hurricane. It reminds me of what is written of Samson: “the Spirit of God rushed upon him.”

As you know I had to throw out all my books, because of the danger they could be to my lungs, so I cannot check details, but I remember the bare bones of a story which Dr. Helen Roseveare told. One glimpse of her face on one occasion, remains one of the most significant influences upon my life and service today, 46 years on. I have never seen the glory of God on a human face in such measure before or since. As a teenager the sheer beauty of God shining upon and from her face made me weep and search the grounds of Kilcreggan House, during a Crusader Camp, for a space to be alone and offer my life in fresh surrender to the will of God. Anyway, she tells in one of her wonderful books, the story of a day during her time as a missionary in what was the Belgian Congo. There was the sound of a strong storm outside the building where God’s people were gathered. Some went to close the shutters but outside not a blade of grass was moving. Suddenly the violent wind of God’s Spirit rushed in and around the building. God had come.

With Lewis in mind, I am remembering a story that happened in Bernera the coast of Lewis. Things were tough. A fifteen year old boy (Donald, whom I met in the 1990’s in Thurso the day after I dreamed of meeting him) stood to pray. He was looking into heaven and prayed after sobbing, “O God, there is power there. Let it loose!” At that moment, the Spirit of God came down. It looked like a battlefield. On one side of the church people were prostrate before the Lord, compelled into that posture by the presence of the Lord. On the other side of the building, some had their arms flung back above their heads, holding them up in the air, rigid.” God had come.

I met the Principal of a well known prestigious Evangelical Bible College in England who was in a meeting in the late 70’s when the same thing happened as happened in Bernera. People on one side flung forward, people on the other flung back the way as the Spirit of God swept into the building. The glory of God upon him in the briefest of conversations I had with him in almost the immediate aftermath of his experience was another of those spurs to seek after Acts 2 for myself.

Well, I for one believe we need the rushing mighty wind to hit the Church in Scotland. It may be God will move you to pray for that too. It may be you even want to pray for that for yourself.

I can testify it is possible for the Spirit of God to come in such power that you can no more stand than you could remain standing in the force of a hurricane. I was told as a newly converted teenager by people of undoubted Christlikeness that Acts 2 is not for today. I never believed them fully though I respected them . It was to their credit I did not believe them! You see, they had taught me to respect the bible as my supreme authority for faith and life, and my bible led me to believe God is unchanging. It led me to pray for a personal Pentecost, to pray and seek that for approximately 7 years. In a way I never expected, it happened! Why the 7 year wait? I have no idea! But I know there came a day when all I could say in the midst of what was happening as the Spirit of God filled my study in our family home in Torrance, was, “Oh, it is real! It is all real!”

I still seek “more” whatever more may mean. Perhaps your heart is telling you to seek the hurricane and the fire. I hope your hunger exceeds your caution or your fear. God the Father who loves you, gives only good things to His children when they ask Him for the Holy Spirit. You are not deceived to ask. He will guard you against being deceived in the receiving. It is an age old problem: some believers have more faith in the devil to deceive those who are seeking God with all their hearts, than in Our Heavenly Father’s willingness to give His Holy Spirit to those who ask and go on asking, seek and go on seeking, knock and go on knocking. Ask! Seek! Knock! “Come wind of God! Breathe upon these slain that they may live!”

God bless

Kenny

A memory…

I was remembering today one of my Professors at University making fun of me for going to the Keswick convention when I was 18. He held his hand to his heart and mocked the whole thing as mere sentimentality.

Cynicism and its attendant Mockery always hangs around the edges of Life. It can even be the landing pad for a trans local demonic Principality and Power. Make sure you are not an unwitting soldier in its camp. I have heard even born again Baptised in the Spirit believers mocking old songs such as “Are you washed in the blood of the Lamb.” Its laughter is often lurking undetected in the current trend to dismiss everything that smacks of discipline, duty and requirement as a spirit of “Religion.”

Well, give me some of the sentimentality and some of the “Religion” that is mocked any day of the week, rather than the fruit that grows from the seed of pride of intellect or pride of a spiritual experience. God spoke to me powerfully last night through a sentimental sounding, nonintellectual, old-fashioned evangelical ballad. All of a sudden its half remembered words and pulling at the heart strings tune were like drops of life giving water in my spirit.

The thing is, so real is the memory of being mocked, so prevalent is cynicism and mockery and the rejection of old songs and ancient paths, I cannot tell you publicly what the song was. I may have picked up courage by the time I get to Lewis. God is moving in fresh ways there, giving new songs, but ancient songs and ways are honoured too. If you plan to come, be ready to humbly honour that life giving blend.

Actually, here it is!

Click here https://youtu.be/eG1e9KrmS7M

 

God bless

Kenny