A few folk have been in touch to say that Lockdown is somehow magnifying aspects of yourself that you do not like, that may indeed be harming yourself or those near to you. Thought it might be good to do a few wee vlogs about that subject. This is the first one. Hope it helps those of you who may be feeling that way at the moment. Kenny
Conquerors look like conquerors and you see reasons why they have conquered. We are not called to be easily explainable. We are not called to be Conquerors, but “More than Conquerors.” That sort of victor is not explainable in terms of the trappings of power, or ability, or natural authority. He or she confounds the world, unsettles the world so deeply that along with all things truly carrying the presence of God’s immediate confrontational presence, they may become a sign spoken against, like Jesus, who was not just a king, but the King of kings. A “More than a Conqueror” is an uncomfortable enigma to the world, so uncomfortable, they have a history of being expunged from the face of the earth down through the centuries, singing praise as they went to earthly obliteration, sometimes at the hands of a godless and Christless Church.
These sorts look weak, vulnerable. It is easy to mock them, mistreat them, scoff at them, point to how pathetic they seem, dismiss claims of their God and their relationship with Him, mock their speech, their knowledge, their thinking and their message. Cutting it short … their keeping going with living, believing, serving and worshipping is inexplicable, save in terms of miracle. More than Conquerors often look so drained, so close to a point of inevitable collapse, that a feather might knock them over…but when the frequent storms come and pass on, there they are, still standing while a thousand of the world’s strong, the great and the good, have fallen to bits at their side.
If you feel the stuffing has been knocked out of you once too often, this may well be your moment to be claim the honour of your membership of “The More than Conquerors Club.” Get rid of the idea that you should look like Charlton Heston’s Moses at the Red Sea, or today’s “Woman of Power and Significance” equivalent. Weakness is the sure foundation to being strong in the Lord, to inexplicable conquering.
In Thurso, a young single Mum told me that she played recordings of my sermons to her fractious toddler at night… to put her off to sleep! This is offered with the hope it will have the same effect upon you! God bless.
It is possible to miss the moment. I remember a dream I had in the 90’s in which Renewal of God’s Purposes in Scotland was represented in the form of a lion. The lion walked into one of the biggest churches in the city. The congregation fled and only returned when the lion left. They picked up their hymn books and started to sing at exactly the point they had been at before the lion came. Meanwhile the lion moved on to other more welcoming gatherings. The moment of renewal in that confident church was missed, indeed fled from, in favour of “no change, business as usual!”
I am not suggesting Coronavirus represents God renewing the Church, but it would be really sad if we all picked up our hymn books and sang from where we left off as it were once this is over, as though that somehow represented faithfulness that merits a pat on our backs from ourselves. This really is a season when new things can blossom that maybe would not otherwise have come about. Of course there are those who wax in learned tones as to why we should not change this or that as though a change represents a denial of our heritage.
Have the courage, humility and joy not to be one of those voices nor to pay greater homage to them however illustrious than to the Word and Spirit of God. Sometimes aspects of our heritage need to be left behind in favour of a truer faithfulness to the Christ of Scripture rather than the Christ of a particular theology, or the practices of a particular time that were perhaps one way of being faithful to Christ at a given moment, but not the only way for all time.
Dave Rankin, a fellow Church of Scotland minister, is doing a series of interviews in these days of Lockdown. This is but one example of creative ideas for ministry, mission and building one another up in the faith, that seem to be flourishing. This is the interview with me! Sorry that my face goes light and dark in the bright sun sun and fast moving clouds of the afternoon!
I should perhaps say that there was no prior knowledge of the questions, but I felt God was in the questions, and, dare I say it, in the answers I found myself giving. No prior warning is the way I prefer it.
Anyway, here it is. If you want to know what makes me tick, you might find some understanding of that from what follows…
…because of Psalm 101, my thoughts went wider than myself. What influences do you need to tear off and say “Goodbye” to, once and for all time?
Meant to post this on WordPress on Easter Evening for those who do not use Facebook. Kenny
“Finding the right question is as crucial as finding the right answers.(Henri Nouwen.)
Jesus asked questions that exposed the persistent secular or false understandings of “self” and worth in the hearts of his disciples. He did that before His dying and rising: “What were you talking about together?” (They had each been presenting to each other their reasons for believing in their superior greatness within their circle.) He did it after He died and rose: “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?” (Peter’s security was once based on such a claim.) Hearing Jesus question was hurtful but necessary for Peter’s peace and progress.
In our secret place with God, let’s listen for Jesus asking us those questions which will bring us into rest from our false identities, the drivers and compulsions ( which may at times seem religious, moral, biblical and Christian) that perhaps even since we started to follow Jesus have been our hidden and our never satisfied task masters.
Thought I should just bring the links for “Shotts Thoughts” together in one post. Pray for Prisoners and Staff as you watch…Thanks. Kenny
This is a sermon I recorded for this Easter Sunday for Storehouse Church in Kilsyth. It covers “Good Friday” and then goes on to the story of the risen Jesus talking with Simon Peter as they walked beside the Lake together. It is full short sermon length, about 30 minutes, but you may like to listen to it at your leisure over this Easter weekend. God bless. Kenny.
“In that day,” declares the Sovereign Lord, “I will make the sun go down at noon and darken the earth in broad daylight.”
I have usually used the language of the Father turning His face away,” to describe the cross. That, however, in the light of the revelation of God in the Old and New Testaments, and in the light of Jesus own revelation of God, is only half true. The Father’s face was turned away in terms of comfort, but it was also turned towards Jesus in judgement, a judgement so full that in Gethsemane, Jesus, the Holy One, shrank from becoming sin for us and bearing it. While we are tempted because of our sinfulness, it was Jesus holiness that made him recoil from embracing the cross. That hour was fast approaching. It was the hour of the cup of God’s simmering wrath at human sin boiling over in righteous judgement for love of sinners: Judgement Day breaking into time and history. “Lest I forget Gethsemane, lest I forget thine agony, lest I forget thy love for me, lead me to Calvary.” Only Jesus understands that calling on the mountains and rocks to fall on us is preferable than facing the Day of Judgement without a Saviour. For anyone else to say it, it would just be words.
It was no light thing for the Lamb of God to take away the sin of the world. I want my response to reflect that more and more. I don’t follow the Christian year with any great diligence but I am glad for Holy Week.
My wonder at what Jesus suffered for me has never left me since the day I heard at SU camp that, “All we like sheep have gone astray, we have turned everyone of us to our own way, but the Lord has laid upon Him the iniquity of us all…He was wounded for our transgressions, bruised for our iniquities…it was the will of the Lord to crush him.”