Rekindling the fire..

Remembering as a teenager, not long converted, finding myself in a church singing the words below. I had never heard them before, but they honoured the Christ I had met, who had saved me and brought eternal life, the life of God, to birth within me. The words also reaffirmed the call of God to preach the gospel, which had come to me on the day of my conversion.

The controversy around Billy Graham and “his” gospel have reminded me “tis all my business here below…to preach in life and cry in death, “Behold the Lamb.” Does a fire need stirred up, rekindled in you?

A minister wrote to me thanking me that something I said drew them back to their roots and reawakened their evangelical faith. They had become merely a community figure, which of course has its merits, but they had forgotten to be a preacher of the gospel of the cross. Thankful they wrote to share that with me.

“And can it be that I should gain
An int’rest in the Savior’s blood?
Died He for me, who caused His pain
For me, who Him to death pursued?
Amazing love! How can it be,
That Thou, my God, shouldst die for me.
Amazing love! How can it be,
That Thou, my God, shouldst die for me?

’Tis myst’ry all: th’ Immortal dies:
Who can explore His strange design?
In vain the firstborn seraph tries
To sound the depths of love divine.
’Tis mercy all! Let earth adore,
Let angel minds inquire no more.

He left His Father’s throne above—
So free, so infinite His grace—
Emptied Himself of all but love,
And bled for Adam’s helpless race:
’Tis mercy all, immense and free,
For, O my God, it found out me!

Long my imprisoned spirit lay,
Fast bound in sin and nature’s night;
Thine eye diffused a quick’ning ray—
I woke, the dungeon flamed with light;
My chains fell off, my heart was free,
I rose, went forth, and followed Thee.

No condemnation now I dread;
Jesus, and all in Him, is mine;
Alive in Him, my living Head,
And clothed in righteousness divine,
Bold I approach th’ eternal throne,
And claim the crown, through Christ my own.”

God bless His fire within you.

Kenny

The most penetrating question I have ever been asked….

The most powerful question the Father ever asked me:

“Kenny will you be content with a secret vindication?”

If God ever asks you that same question, He will be asking it not a minute too early. It is preparation before a storm. Say “Yes” and never take back your “Yes.” Make a decision to seek the honour that comes from God in priority over the favourable glances of other people. Of course there were spells in Jesus own life where He found favour and honour from God and man coming in His direction at one and the same moment, but ever the honour and favour that comes from God has to be what we treasure most. You may have to live with injustice never put right, your name never cleared. Those are the times when we can not only rejoice but learn to leap for joy with help from heaven.

God bless you with leaping when you need to leap,

Kenny

Walk away….and win the victory.

 

The wisdom from above knows when to yield according to James. It knows when to walk away from situations and even from people. Jesus modelled it. He knew when to be silent and not be drawn into further conversation when onlookers might have thought He could have said another sentence or even a first sentence to win the day. He knew as well when to walk away from people, even lost or needy people, whom maybe others would have felt He should have run after or pursued or at least stayed with.

Wisdom in the bible is never simply an intellectual affair. It is to do with help from God to live with our humanity in its simplicity and complexity. It is about how we relate to ourselves, those around us and the world on the larger sphere. Clever people exist who are brilliant in terms of intellect but have no wisdom. Their cleverness does not  necessarily translate into knowing how to live life. In fact in the living of their lives they may be monumentally stupid, chaotic and destructive of themselves and others.

 So here is a question that limited energy and strength forces me personally to ask these days: am I fighting unnecessary battles? That thought has been playing around my head this morning, in fact playing around my spirit with regard to anyone who may read this blog, for in a sense all of us have limited resources and none of us can make a day last more than 24 hours, or halt the racing on of the years and the coming and going of opportunities from God that we may grasp hold of or miss. We can miss the battles of the Lord in the Land of Salvation because we have not learned to yield in the place of unnecessary battles which He never asked us to fight which may have turned  into a prolonged siege situation; exhausting with no forward movment. So I leave you to think of this:
 Are you wearing yourself out with an unnecessary battle? Be wise with the wisdom from above that knows when to walk away and allow others to do the same.”

 

God bless

Kenny

An extra blog…courtesy of R.T. Kendall.

Was reminded of this verse while listening to an online sermon by R.T. Kendall:

“I have set the Lord always before me” (Psalm 16 verse 8 a)

Of course He is always there, but on those days when I am not particularly conscious of His presence, I can “set” Him there before me. I can do things that help me do just that, such as reading the bible, praying etc.

When we are conscious of His presence we can change the verse as Peter did on the day of Pentecost: “I saw the Lord always before me.” These times are precious and it is the Lord helping us to experience His love for us.

However, when we are not conscious of the Lord, but choose to always set Him before us is our way of expressing  our love for Him.

Anyway, I found that helpful and thought I would share it. Hope it helps you too.

With thanks to R.T.

God bless

Kenny

Alone…in church?

(I posted what is written below on “Facebook” earlier this morning. However just before I send this blog with the same material, I heard the Lord say for somebody, You are more spectacular than you know: not boring, not slow, not plodding. You are my definition of ‘spectacular.’ I can only assume this addition is for someone who reads my blogs who might not have seen the posting on Facebook, so read what follows with that in mind.)

OK then, another “word thingy” for someone. I say someone, but it maybe is for more than “one”. I have discovered there are spiritual seasons, where what is being experienced by one is being experienced by many. Anyway, I will leave aside the mechanics by which this “word thingy” came to me, but here it is:

“You have seen many of your friends leave the church fellowship you love and speed off quite happily into what they believe will be their future in God. You have seen others stay in the church and jump from bandwagon to bandwagon with great excitement. You didn’t feel led to go on either of these types of journey with your friends. Rightly so. They are speeding into winter not into spring. You felt that was the case in your spiritual bones but their excitement already had a head of steam that could not hear your level headed expressions of concerned love. Jesus looking at the rich young ruler loved him even though he was about to make a wrong choice. You have shared in that love albeit within the context of the household of faith. However, the cost is this. You feel left alone; yes, that is so, but you carry life within you. Some of the speedsters will return to their senses and to closer fellowship with you than before, though at the moment the sense of distance is not only established but increasing, for they have ignored speed limits placed by God in His Word. You have the maturity to keep no score of wrongs when they do return. What a well of salvation is in you. Keep going, step by step. Keep moving forward into new discoveries new steps of obedience and service. The well within will deepen even more. Others will come to draw water. What a joyful day that will be.”

God bless

Kenny

When you have read this, say “Therefore…”

Looking back to the days of my conversion, I think I was probably quite an angry  and somewhat arrogantly cerebral evangelical. If people, the lost,  could not see the relevance of Jesus as the answer it was, of course, because they were asking all the wrong questions.

Well, I have changed over the years. It may be there are indeed  a whole batch of questions that a lost person cannot begin to ask until the grace of God enables that asking to happen. As believers we can arrogantly wait for people around us to come on to what we consider the right wavelength or we can humble ourselves and care about the questions, the worries, the fears, the vulnerabilities with which  precious men and women made by God are struggling. That is where mission rooted in the love of Christ could find fresh beginnings.

Sometimes, from within a church scene in Scotland that is becoming more and more middle class as a whole, I wonder if we are really aware of where many of our fellow Scots are actually living their lives? I am thinking particularly of the number of people in Scotland who fight a daily battle with the long term causes and the diverse effects of poverty.

Here I am in the doctor’s surgery. There is a woman standing talking to the receptionist who is handing her forms of one type or another explaining, in a very kind manner, how to fill them in. (“Father, bless that receptionist!”)  The woman is just beyond her middle years and has two walking sticks. She has on leggings that are ripped. She is wearing slippers with holes on a day when it has been snowing. In sub zero temperatures she has no coat. I cannot help but overhear the conversation. She has just moved out of a house full of rot and damp. In her new rented house she has no cooker, no fridge. There has been a family fall out, so she has had to leave with no pots, no dishes, no bed. She simply says, “I have nothing.” She says it again, “I have nothing, I just have nothing…”

I am thinking of where we now live in West Lothian. Within a few minutes walking distance there will be houses wihout heating, children who are not clothed adequately, who will probably go to bed tonight hungry. In Edinburgh, our manse was in Colinton, one of the most upmarket areas of Edinburgh, but a few minutes walk away was Wester Hailes. There were many people in that community who tried hard and managed well, but the overall sense of struggle was never absent.

Perhaps you live in “a desireable area,” as Estate Agents would say. Don’t let this blog makeyou feel bad about that. It is something to thank God for, if, to use the words of the Psalmist, “the lines have fallen for me in pleasant places.”  Be thankful, if that is the case. It is true however that in the vicinity, not far way from where you may be reading this blog,  the realites that I have described above exist.

Sometimes, I find the inequalities, the injustices of life too hard to think about. I think about it more and more the older I get, and yet paradoxically  I can only bear to think about it for shorter units of time as the years pass. If you don’t experience  the same paradox in yourself  from time to time, wherever you happen to live, I wonder if you have ever lived  in the vicinity of God at all.

Don’t know where this blog goes from here…. for you or for me.

God bless

Kenny

“…But they know that, Lord! I can’t just say, ‘I feel God wants you to know He loves you!’ “

“There is no fear in love; perfect love drives out all fear. So then, love has not been made perfect in anyone who is afraid, because fear has to do with punishment.”

When I woke, or more accurately woke for the second time this morning, there was a very clear image of a person, a leader, whose name is known across the Charismatic World, before my eyes. What I saw indicated that  they were sturuggling with something you would never expect a Christian leader to struggle with, namely fully living in the experience of this truth: “There is therfore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”

I was distressed by the imagery by which this inner struggle was made known to me by the Spirit of God. I will not share all of it, but simply one detail: the fear on the face of this well known leader. Instantly I was reminded of the words quoted above from 1st. John 4 verse 18. I have often felt the full meaning of these words is  missed because the context is sometimes forgotten and the verse is taken, wrongly,  as a stand alone verse. The context gives this as the meaning: it is our job as the fellowship of believers to perfect one another in the love of God.  As part of the body of  Christ we are to assure one another by the way we love one another that there is no divine punishment awaiting us when our sins are under the blood of Christ. We are indeed forgiven. Our sins have been removed from us as far as the East is from the West. If a believer is walking in fear of punishment therefore, it means that somehow the fellowship around them  is not demonstrating with sufficient strength the saving love of God.

It may surprise you if God were to show you who needs to know that assurance through you this day. The first time I woke up this morning, I read the story in Luke Chapter 7 (verses 36 – 52)  of Jesus in Simon the Phraisee’s home. Simon is thinking in his heart that Jesus allowing himself to approached, touched and wetted by the tears of a woman known to be “a sinner” cannot after all be a Prophet, never mind The Porphet for whom all of Israel had been waiting.   Have you ever felt what it must have been like for that poor woman to find herself in a tangible atmosphere of disapproving male glances? Had she been wrong to believe she could be forgiven? Had she been wrong to hope that there was indeed a love that could see all and yet not withdraw? No, she had not been wrong, but Jesus knew she needed to  be sure. He gives her that assurance twice over: “Your sins are forgiven you….Go in peace.” The unwritten hope is that she left more conscious of the love in Jesus eyes than the judgement in Simon’s eyes.

Jesus was indeed a prophet. He spoke to Simon about what He saw  in his heart.  He spoke into the woman’s heart too. You maybe think that  simply speaking assurance of God’s  love into a trembling heart  is hardly being very prophetic. It is not very specific: no names, places timings revealed as when, for example, Jesus spoke with the woman at the well in John Chapter 4. He told her she had been married five times and was at that present moment living with someone to whom she was not married as if she was. However, Luke 7 shows us a Jesus who is spot on in Prophecy as much as the Jesus of John 4. Truth  that reveals and startles the heart is the “Wow” factor in Prophecy. That revelation of truth  does not always require the revelation of names, dates etc. to convince a person God is speaking to them.

Perhaps this day God will nudge you to tell someone something that seems so obvious to you that you will be almost embarrassed to say it and will struggle to do so, especially if they are a leader among God’s people. This day you may have to fight feelings of being foolish, simplistic, because you sense God is asking you to say , “God loves you. He wants you to know you are forigven and to set your heart at peace.” “But surely they know that?” What if they need to see it in the eyes, hear it in the tone of voice that they have longed to see and hear in a fellow believer in the fellowship of the body of Christ, but never have? You could even find yourself being a prophesying to a prophet today, leading a leader into the truth of God. Don’t hold back if God calls you to do just that…though remember to do so in love and humility, giving honour where honour is due.

God bless… and God bless others through you this day. May you help someone to be perfected in the love of God.

Kenny

Look a little longer…what do you see?

Was at the GP today. Helpful visit, though not altogether good news. I seem to have myopathy, brought on by long term steroid use and the lessening of activity through my breathing difficulties. Anyway, there it is.

However, what interested me more was sitting in the waiting room. There were two young mums there. One was very actively involved with her children, speaking with them, reading to them, listening to them. They were quite animated and full of beans. The other young mum was hardly interacting with her child who seemed listless and very silent. She tried to get her mum’s attention a few times wihout much success.

I confess it was easy to slip into thinking about “inadequate parenting” and from there into judgementalism. Then I noticed something happening. As the more involved mum of the two livelier chldren started reading yet another story, the other mum started to listen to the story being read, became quite involved, laughing at the funny points of the narrative along with the children.

Truth suddenly unfolded: she was a child herself or at least there seemed to be a child there somehwere that had never been nurtured but was now expected to know how to be a parent . Approaching judgementalism seemed to scurry away in the light of truth; compassion was born. I know that does not necessarily help the wee withdrawn girl, her daughter, which is desperately sad. It is a story that no doubt is repeated throughout the land in all types of communities.

Just saying… look a little more deeply…see a little more deeply….only God knows the dividing place between personal responsibility and  an externally caused inability. Primarily we are called to love and leave the judgement calls to His kind and compassionate and understanding wisdom.

I was so glad that struggling mum and her wee girl saw the same GP as I did today. I saw from the way he looked at them, what I discovered when I followed them in to my appointment slot; he is  a person of genuine compassion and insight. Thankful to God for him.

God bless

Kenny

“Mmm…I don’t think they believe me….”

Have read accounts from some of my wacky Charismatic brethren about visits to heaven and meeting Heaven’s Finance Minister. I like wacky. I like it a lot. However, I also have my bible, which along with the witness of the Spirit  is really the only authority I have by which I can try and check out what is real and what is probably, well, just a flight of fancy.

So then, sorry, but when I read the bible, I find that Heaven’s Finance Ministers are here on earth to be seen and heard every day. I don’t read of such fellows walking about the throne room or its environs somewhere. In fact they are flying over our heads, singing their songs. I read about them today in Luke 12 and heard them singing in the garden: the birds. They tell me the manifesto of the Kingdom of Heaven: “Your Father knows, so don’t worry.”

I guess some of you may have had some interesting spiritual experiences. I have had had a few myself, which I know happened, but equally well know I could never prove to everyone else as being real events and of God. It does not put me off sharing these happenings. Others are allowed not to believe them if the only authority is my say so with no authority beyond myself. Allow that freedom. Don’t get offended or all defensive if folk look doubtfully at you when you share all your stories… and don’t try and ram your mystical experiences down others’ throats because you are upset or angry at their cool response.

In the meantime, I am grateful for Heaven’s Finance Ministers in my garden this day… who are also telling me their food is a bit late…but they are waiting, trusting…. and come to think of it, some of their antics as they do so are a bit wacky, endearingly so.

God bless

Kenny

“Yes, it happened just as you said.”

My waking thoughts today were of a time when I was spiritually abused by a Servant of God. It happens. My reading today was Luke Chapter 12, which in the midst of many other themes also highlights the possibility of spiritual abuse of God’s servants by God’s servants. It seemed to be a sort of confirmation of my waking thought as being one God was giving as a thought to sustain the weary this day.

I am not sure what to do with my thought, other than to acknowledge the pain of those of you who have been spiritually abused by those in spiritual authority over you, whether that was a collective authority carried by a group of people or an authority carried by an individual.

When I try from time to time to speak about the abuse I experienced on the occasion I am referring to above, one of several, there are always those who want to offer the experience back to me in other terms, which actually feels like a continuation or reawakening of the original abuse.

I am thinking as I write of  the powerful effect of a man I had never met going down on his knees to represent those he had never met and saying to me, “Kenny, will you forgive us?” That brought about a moment of release I will never forget, a moment I would describe as miraculous.

I hope you may find a church, a pastor, a friend, or even a spiritual stranger who truly knows the Lord, who will acknowledge your pain justly and help you into freedom.

I think I have to say to some of you in closing, “Yes, it happened, just as you have said it did.”

God Bless

 

Kenny

I have played the fool….

“Better to meet a bear robbed of her cubs than a fool bent on folly.”

Perhaps you have suffered because of the folly of others and can testify to the truth of this startling imagery from the Book of Proverbs. However, today when I woke, having slept well, I found this thought presenting itself to me: “What if the folly and its consequences are our own?”

I have been asking God to give me an instructed ear and tongue that morning by morning I may know the word that will sustain the weary I may have contact with in some shape or form that day. After all that is the insight into Jesus’ inner self that Isaiah saw prophetically many centuries before His incarnation, and we are to be like Jesus.

It may be this morning that you are facing a new day aware of your folly in some matter or another, some decision or action which  you took that you now know was wrong: “I rue the day…I could kick myself….” Do you believe that the God who has had mercy upon you with regard to your sin can be trusted to deal with your folly and its results in mercy and kindness  when you confess it to Him?

I am not quite sure what this says of me, but sometimes I feel more ashamed to bring foolish decisions or actions or words to God than those that are sinful. This morning, I am merely bringing to you the challenge I have slowly learned to bring to my personal faith. “Do I believe God will look with mercy on folly humbly confessed and discussed with Him at His mercy seat?”

It may sound a bit of an odd concept, not only to admit but also to discuss our folly with God. However, sometimes there are things we need to learn from our folly otherwise it may well be repeated. It is a good thing to wonder and think and seek insight and listen at the Mercy Seat of “no condemnation” to which we have access through the blood of Christ. Surveying an event or decision with the help of the Spirit of Truth can help me understand why I did what I did as well as helping us watch out for landing pads for similar folly in the future. In Psalm 85 we read these words: “I will listen to what God the LORD says; he promises peace to his people, his faithful servants– but let them not turn again to folly.” 

I hope there is something in all of this that will help someone who reads it.

God bless you as you uncover your folly in the presence of the Father who loves you and is for you, not against you.

Kenny

To those who have never been addicts, homeless or in prison for crime…

Was speaking with someone not long ago who was embarrassed because their testimony was too tame! It could not reference being an addict, or homeless, or spending time in prison which seemed to be the case with many of the testimonies they were hearing or reading about.

Listen! It is wonderful that Jesus helps people in all these extreme situations and that there are people who can say to those in such situations, “I have been there and Jesus set me free and can do the same for you.” Nonetheless let’s be clear about this: Jesus came to save His people from their sins. That is our primary testimony and it is something that all of God’s redeemed people can bear witness to: “I have a Saviour, Jesus, and He has brought me into the eternal love of God, freeing me from sin’s guilt and power.”

I was saved when I was barely more than a child: saved in the context of having a wonderfully loving family, a secure home and being generally very happy every day of my life. Nonetheless the conviction sin came upon me. I knew I needed a Saviour and reached out to him. My experience of being saved from sin is as real as the testimony of any other person.

Whether dramatic or not, having a Saviour is life changing and eternal destiny changing, even if you cannot give time, date and place to some dramatic moment. Share your story. Remember despite the coverage the more dramatic stories get, most folk have not been in prison, are not homeless and have not been alcoholics or drug addicts. They still need to know there is a Saviour whom they need who loved them and died for them and rose for them and is knocking today at the door of their lives.

Come on! Share your story! It is unique. It can bring a glory to Jesus that other stories do not.

God bless

Kenny

Rugby!

Just reading about David making preparations for the temple: a temple his son Solomon would build, not him himself.

It is a good thing to be always creating a legacy in God that someone else can build upon, rather than leaving behind only a monument of your completed work and ministry. Was very conscious in each parish I ministered in that I was building on the work of others and was conscious I was there to do my bit and then hand things on. I treasure a comment from one of my elders at Holy Trinity, “You have left a legacy that others can build upon.” May that be said of each of us. You may have the most wonderful ministry, but if it all dies with you, it was no more than a firework that went up, shone, and died. What are we passing on?

Oh by the way, we need to pass things on fully, not keep a controlling hand that speaks of fear rather than faith. Succession planning is one thing: Succession Control quite another. I wanted, prayed, hoped my successor in Holy Trinity would be as it has turned out, praise God. It hasn’t always worked out that way in other parishes or other aspects of ministry. Somehow though, God has a way of restoring things to their right course picking up a thread that has been lost or tangled. I can look and see that now as I look back. It brings me peace and hope for the wider scene here in Scotland. What is of God is never lost, yet it is a serious thing when someone destroys a building God has been building. Fortunately the foundation God sets in place the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross stands,  ready for a new person of peace to kneel upon with reverence and then rise to build upon, or build upon  again with living stones.

This was a good weekend for Scottish Rugby – sometimes they can be a long time in coming along! Receiving and passing on are necessary skills, whether in a game like rugby or in the Kingdom of God. How well we receive and how well we pass on what is placed into our hands  is part of the story of the  tiny seed planted by Jesus, the Seed of the Kingdom, that grows into a bush, a tree  whose branches are strong enough, leafy enough, fruitful enough to attract birds of the air seeking refuge.

God bless

Kenny

Soup and a crusty roll!

“Simmering,” was the word and thought I woke with this morning. I think it is fair to say that more often than not, that word has negative connotations and implications. We talk, for example, about someone simmering with anger or with resentment. However, this morning the word and concept seemed to be offered to my thinking as a good thing; a pot of simmering  soup, full of good things, is ready to be enjoyed.

I think God was saying to me that He wants my life to be simmering with the good things of salvation, the born again life, this day:  a source of ready nourishment not only for me but for others who “happen” to come into my life. I believe that is good imagery not only for me but for us all.

When I was struggling to come to terms with all the changes that my current health condition brought with it, God greatly helped me all of a sudden. In the midst of an awareness of  physical limitations upon me, awareness of what I could not do, He helped me see a Kingdom of God image: I could be like a tree in which birds found shelter, refuge. There was no reason why my leaves ever needed to fail, nor fruit continue to emerge. The Living water of His Spirit and His word would ensure that. “Simmering” brought that back to mind. A simmering pot of good soup on a cold day, a lush evergreen tree: to me they are the same sort of imagery speaking of readiness and fullness; a welcome sight, a welcome find.

I offer these images to you. Whatever factors limit your activities today, it is within your capacity as you go out your front door, or as you are confined behind it, to be ready to be a blessing to God, yourself and others.

There are some things you can do to help make that a real experience rather than a pious goal, especially this;  open your bible, asking God to give you understanding. I have been so grateful for David Strutt’s Daily Devotional book, “Sanctuary.” Even though we are less than half way through February it has already helped my life to simmer at the right temperature so often. The bible reading for the day, given at the back of the book, has so often blessed me before I even got to David’s comments which blessed me further still. If you have not got a Daily Reading plan on the go at the moment I commend it to you. Whatever, however you do it, find some way of allowing the Word of God to  be the continuing gentle heat that helps you simmer in a good way,  helps you be “aye ready.”

There is something better than home made soup after all: God made soup served up at just the right temperature. It somehow augments the taste of even the crustiest of rolls!

God bless

Kenny

P.S. To help you simmer, why not read Psalm 1 as soon as you get your hands on a bible or switch on your bible App.

 

Baby steps are good!

OK then, an unusually short post. It is about 3 in the afternoon. Not been the best of days, health wise., but feel I can get up now.

Was just sort of lying here, thinking, praying as I looked out the window, thinking about how useful Facebook/Blogging is for sharing good news, even The Good News. I love the vareity of people I come into contact with, the variety of journeys I get to know about. I particularly love it when I know that people are taking baby steps towards God.

I feel there are maybe a few folk our there who need to hear something very simple today: it is one of those things that is so general that on one level it needs no inspiration from God to say it, however I do think this is from God for someone, for now, so I offer it in that simple faith.  Perhaps this is for someone unsure about God but trying to take baby steps? Well done, if that is you! Keep going! Don’t be embarrassed that you don’t know more than you do, or even if you stumble. God encourages baby steps towards Him. Anyway, here is what I believe God wants you to hear:

“You have been running empty for some time, somehow taking on tiny bits of fuel and keeping on going. You have time before this day is out, time you could take, just to sit and be still. In the stillness, ask your Father in Heaven, the Father of Jesus Christ,  to fill you with His Holy Spirit. That is something you have not asked before, or even thought of asking. He is there and He is for you. Nothing bad or eerie will happen to you if you ask Him to do this for you in the Name of His Son, Jesus Christ. He only gives good gifts to His children. So go ahead, ask.”

 

God bless

Kenny

Suffering Silenced by a lie?

I remember someone who was suffering from self-pity, screaming at me in a pastoral setting, ” I mean, you tell me, who in this congregation has suffered more than me.” Well, I told them…they were not pleased.

Was I right or wrong to tell them? Was it wise or was it exasperation? Mmmm… not sure looking back. We all experience suffering differently is something I have come to understand. It is wrong to compare. It is right to want our suffering acknowledged but not to make suffering a matter of competition to establish our significance or worth, or even our greater worth over others. I have met people who seem to make their suffering their worth. It is not uncommon, perverted reasoning though it may be based upon. What they have suffered almost become their stubborn addiction, so that no happy thought, no relief, no positive experience is allowed to speak its voice. In fact happiness can be treated as an enemy of the story of their suffering, an enemy to be resisted, even fought against. Quite deliberately they can even spoil the happy moments of others, celebrations, even their friends “big days” by bringing attention back to their suffering.

Today/tonight/through the night/ early morning was a time when I realised I have an illness and from time to time the reality is I suffer from that illness. I feel so reluctant to use that word because of the wrongful intrusion of comparison. You simply would not believe some of the stories people have shared with me as a pastor, about what they have had to endure or endure still.

However in the small hours of the morning, I am aware of two things I want to share. Firstly, leaving aside the stupidity of competition it is simply true that there is always someone whose suffering is greater than ours. Secondly, that does not mean that our struggle does not matter or does not deserve to be mentioned or acknowledged. It really does matter….. don’t let the greater suffering of others make you hesitate in coming to The Father and saying, “I am struggling. I need your help.”

The condition I have, can have acute and chronic forms. Acute forms can look more dramatic in terms of symptoms, but passes. However there is something so tiring about lower grade on going effects of the chronic form of any condition or illness that just get tiring, in fact at times exhausting, as it persists over months and years.

Do you carry chronic long term low grade pain of one sort or another, of body, soul or spirit? Allow it to matter. You may have stifled its voice. It may need help from God to speak and be met with tender love. I believe Jesus is close to you right now as you are reading this. Tell him all about it, tell it like it is. That is part of worshipping in spirit and in truth. As you wait for, hope for, pray for the arrival of your healing, allow yourself to speak honestly with the One from whom nothing can be hidden.

God bless

Kenny

Fisher or hooked?

These are the sorts of thoughts that go through my head these days:

Humour based on observation of humanness in all its absurdity seems to have taken over from ‘gags” in Stand up Comedy. Has observational preaching based on a good moving communicator unfolding our humanness before our startled or moist eyes taken over from “doctrine” based on God in Christ in pulpits?

“Meology replacing Theology ? “: Remember wondering that about the first time I heard Rob Bell doing a sort of meditation on a theme type talk, when he was still the darling of the Evangelical world. It is not I felt he was not a Christian, but just a feeling that maybe, as happens, the pendulum was about to swing too far in his case away from being a preacher about Christ to almost becoming a secualr preacher of hope or motivation more appropriaate to a column in a Women’s magazine page or in a talk show setting than a preaching pulpit or  even a touchy feely smoke filled preaching platform,  or  a conference or event stage. 

It is as though nowadays  salvation  is achieved through understanding ourselves from a psychological point of view and offering settings for emotional release, sometimes indeed very public and large settings, even national settings for outpouring of locked up thoughts, feelings, responses to events in the News. Humanity discovering its shared pain for a moment is a good thing. However, Christ as the Healer? Officially barred from entrance, not to be mentioned.

The devil tsays to those who do not beleive in his voice, “Come and I will make you fishers of men.” Christians hooked mouths are being reeled in, with the bait of words like “missional opportunity.”

Anyway, just sharing my wondering,: well, not quite that innocently. My thinking is already leaning one way and I am sharing it. Don’t get me wrong. Discovery of true God leads to discovery of true me. However I don’t think that is what is happening at the moment in church scenes, conference scenes that I was and to an extent still am most aware of. 

If you are preaching this weekend, be more than a commentator on the human condition, helpful though that may be. Bring the truth of Christ to bear upon that condition. To undestand myself is one thing, to save my eternal truest self and eternal soul  through that understanding is quite another. It cannot be done. If you have the opportunity to speak publicly to any sort of group this Lord’s Day, I  hope you have the beautiful feet of thosewho proclaim good news, so that people may call, “Save Me” to the One of whom they will have heard through you.

God Bless

Kenny

Mocker? Time to eat Humble Pie?

Just read of an incredibly complex operation that someone is going through. There has been believing prayer for instant divine healing, declarations, proclamations etc. however the operation needs to go ahead. Sometimes you learn to appreciate old prayers that got mocked: “Guide the surgeon’s hands, Lord.” I cannot think of a more appropriate prayer in this situation. It does not represent lack of faith. It is not quaint. I thank God for humble prayers of old.

I thought it might be an interesting to pose this question for each of us to think about:

“What have I mocked that God may have been in after all.”

Well, I will leave that with you.

God bless

Kenny

Allowing you to eavesdrop….

I tried as a pastor to never have a routine standardised approach to people. However there were some routes I found myself using to help a person arrive at self awareness as to where a wound they carried might come from. Here is one of them:

Me: “On a scale if 1 to 10, where 1 means ‘no value’ and 10 means ‘of immeasurable worth’ what do you think a new born baby is worth?”

More than 9 times out of 10, the answer given without a moment’s hesitation was ’10.’

Me: “If the baby had this or that colour of skin, was born in or out of wedlock, was healthy or had a disability?”

“10.”

Me: “What are you worth?”

The answer was rarely 10. Often the response was a person’s eyes would look anywhere but at me. Silence or tears would flow…

Me: “So, what happened? Where did things go wrong?”

Well, it is 4 am. Just woken up feeling bright and bushy tailed as I fell asleep earlier than usual last night! I asked the Lord for a word that would sustain the weary and felt led to share all of this.

Perhaps it will be useful to you. Perhaps it will be useful in helping someone you may meet this day. Don’t overuse it, there is no ‘one size fits all’ tool for pastoring.

By the way, occasionally a person here and there stumbled over knowing whether a new life was worth anything at all….

Anyway, feeling bushy tailed is passing. Job done. Back to sleep..I hope…zzzz…..or maybe not… the thought of a Caffeine explosion via a Colombian Coffee tasted and enjoyed in the company of God  in the quiet early hours is very appealing to all my senses of body, soul and spirit! Sheer indulgence. Luxury.

God bless

Kenny

Click!

“What? You too?” C.S. Lewis says that is the beginning of truest  friendship and fellowship. I like that.

 

Sometimes there can be a loneliness even when we are part of the Body of Christ. As I was reading H Nouwen today I saw that there is a type of loneliness that can be the flip side of a sense of how God wants me as a unique individual to surrender my life, the particular mix of the God given call, gifts, hopes I carry. Even other believers may not quite get “what I am going on about” or understand my fire, nor I their particular Kingdom passion.

 

It is a thrilling moment when all of a sudden we realise within the large sphere of Christian fellowship there ARE those who “get it” or “get me” or “get what gets me!” Almost instantly a depth of fellowship forms that skips over the usual amassing of mutually disclosed personal details. I bless God for the whole body of Christ but know I could not have survived the whole body of Christ nor blessed that body, , nor they me, if along the way God had not blessed me with “What? You too?” moments and friendships.

 

In very unspiritual terms, I pray that God will help you find a few folk who will mutually say along with you, “I don’t know. We just somehow clicked.”

God bless

Kenny

The painting begins to move…

I know God is everywhere, but “When I walked in here I felt His presence…” Special moments in ordinary, passed by, even despised places. In the privacy of my own heart there are several places and times I treasure, where I have stumbled unexpectedly upon “the gate of heaven,” the Living Lord, Jesus Christ. The wardrobe led to Narnia, the sea in the painting on the wall began to move…and I was there…and so was He.

God bless

Kenny

Simple Church….

Church last night: a church where no one in ministry is paid, with a history of church planting:

A testimony: “I used to call myself a drug addict, now I call myself a child of God.”

A report about an outreach meeting in another town: A spiritualist saved. Another person newly converted bringing their friend to church; the friend loving it.

Report 2: A new venture for young folk on the periphery of the church spiritually. tailored for them. Some of them really touched by God.

A conversation over coffee: “I thought I could be a Christian on my own before I cam here. But see the first time I came here? The presence of God was just amazing! I never knew that the presence of God is so strong when everyone is together. It is amazing ( wide -eyed astonishment and amazed laughter).”

All that, plus beautiful worship and the most upbuilding, helpful and personally relevant short sermon, the laying on of hands and prayer…

So glad I was there….

God bless you this day, and God bless and renew  the Church in Scotland,  and in your land, wherever you may be reading this blog.

Kenny

Walk on the Word over the waters….

Peter first and foremost walked on the word of Jesus, and only in a lesser sense did he walk on water. Is there a word that Jesus spoke to you today in church, or maybe at home, just in your own heart without any external influence

Did He speak about your discipleship, your trust, your service, saying to you, “Come this way”? Did He call you to come to Him over choppy waters you are not sure you want to cross, perhaps, for example to meet him in the place of forgiving someone from the heart, someone who wronged you severely, or even worse, harmed someone you love?

May God give us grace to step out on His Word, His commands, His promises in the days of this week. That is what living by faith is about.

God bless

Kenny

SHOUTING? TOO RIGHT I AM! There’s a time for it…a time for whispering… a time for lightness of spirit…a time for earnest tones and grave…

Someone “unfriended” me on Facebook a few months back for SHOUTING: in other words for using capital letters! I have been “unfriended” a few times. I have no problems with that. At times I put so much out there I would “unfriend” myself if I was on the receiving end of it all!  However, that particualr reason was a first!

My prayer today is that “SUCH WERE SOME OF YOU” will be shouted from pulpits, whispered from pulpits, offered from pulpits, presented visually, protrayed dramatically, spoken through puppets, lego or talking vegetables, gossipped over coffee and biscuits, shared in testimony….whatever whatever…. that by all means some will be saved!

God bless

Kenny

Prophesy! Come on …you can do it…your “L” plates were attached the day you were born again of the Spirit of God!

I am predominantly pastoral and only a tiny bit prophetic now and then, in terms of seeing something very specific that God wants me to see or hearing what God alone could know about a situation of a person. Moses wanted all God’s people to be prophets. Paul said it was something we could all learn. So ask God to help you learn! Put into practice the steps He shows you and you will get somewhere with this, I promise you. I can’t think of another “gift” that everyone is given more Scriptural encouragement to go after and to more earnestly desire, but that is just off the top of my head as I type. I may be wrong. Quite happy to be told that.

The reality with being a wee bit prophetic is sometimes you know what people are up to in their own houses, know what they are planning, before they have told you it on Facebook! I used to find when I was travelling more to minister that God would reveal the enemy’s plans against my family back home while I was away. Sometimes He would reveal ways in which He was helping them to victory – happenings would unfold before my eyes of things that had actually happened or would happen the next morning. Sometimes he let me see happy and funny things to assure me all was well. At other times He would show me not such nice things that folk were planning, like putting burned bibles through the letter box or coming to kick our gates down; things that my wife did not even want to tell me on my return, but about which I said, “I saw such and such happening…I saw you doing such and such…does that mean anything or was it just me?”

He knows. That is the great thing. He knows. He only shows a bit of what He knows where it will encourage us or help us to pray in the victory of faith. We know in part, we prophesy in part…but part is good, so long as in humility, you know it is ‘part.’ Don’t start insisting it is all, or that you have all the interpretation or application. a bit of humility goes a L—O—N—G way.

If you are a believer, you are already a bit prophetic, anyway, and might not know it. You might never be a “prophet’ as your main ministry, though who knows, you might be. However ask God to help you be” propheticy” when He wants you to be. If humility is there in the asking, learning and activation you will bless people, no doubts about it, you will bless people. Step out!

Maybe you are a pastor, reading this on Saturday night or Sunday Morning. You can step out in your service. In your prayer times in the service jsut secrety ask God if there is anything he wants you to see or hear…and turn it into a prayer. It is a good way to begin. You will find that people, sometimes you will have seen them in your mind’s eye, will come up to you afterwards and say, “See what you said in the prayer, that really helped me…it was strange….” That will encourage you to keep taking the same steps and maybe transfer them to the realm of your pastoral visits, evangelistic encounters etc.

God bless

Kenny

 

Rescuing the rescuers…

The reason I  “blog” or “post” on Facebook is that by nature and by grace and by call I want to “Rescue.” The motivation is pastoral rather than anything else. With limited energy these days, I have found a simple way for the call to bless me rather than frustrate me: I can trust God to waken me with a word that will help someone and then share it on Facebook or in the form of a blog or both.

This morning my waking thoughts were with those of you whose make up by whatever mix of nature, external influence and grace are also “Rescuers.” The truth you have to realise is this: some people who could be rescued don’t want to be at a given moment of time and may sadly never want to be. It is the same with congregations and even denominations. Keep that in mind for your own health’s sake. Otherwise the sense of call will outlive your ability to answer it.

Learn to listen for the genuine cry for help: “Who will rescue me?” You have the answer: “God, in the Lord Jesus Christ.”

… and another thing. Rescuers are prone to guilt. For almost half of my ministry I felt guilty about visits I had not done. The second half of my ministry I never suffered from that. At some point I accepted I was not omniscient and told others the same. Many many pastoral visits did not happen because no one told me of the need: even family members and close friends of whoever was needing pastoral help did not let on!  At times there was a malicious game going on: “Let’s  discredit the minister.” You don’t need to play it. Be diligent, not omnisicent. Well, here ends the blog…at the point where it could become a rant!

God bless the rescuers!

Kenny

Time for a clear out?

Remembering visiting a lady along with a deacon. The lady was invovled in the occult without knowing it and there was resulting disturbance in her and her home – it even affected the cat who had become terrified and traumatised by what had been happening. The dear woman was flung down at the moment of deliverance. However, it can be slow for the penny to drop. When she had rested from the experience, referring to the Tarot Cards which had been the inroad for unclean spirits to her and her home, she said in all innocence, “Maybe I could give them away to my sister,”!!
 
Friends if you have any occult object in your house, it will not be harmless. Get rid of it, even if there is a story of friendship or sentimental memories behind how it came to be in your home or in your jewellery box.
 
By the way the cat was quite happy to go in the room again, once the Tarot cards had been removed and their effect dealt with!
 
Praise God for the unassailable knowledge of the absolute supremacy of the Lordship of Christ over Satan and all his works.
God bless
Kenny

Kick Yin Yang out of the house…

When Jesus cried “Finished!” from the cross, He used an end of all things word. He meant everything necesary to secure the Victory of the Kingdom of God and an ever open door to and from that Kingdom had been accomplished. That does not mean there are no more battles to be fought with darkness, but it does mean the war has been won. The Kingdom of God with all its freedoms and various liberations has been established and is on its way, unstoppably.

When I woke up this morning, I had the distinct impression that some of you who read my blogs need to get hold of a simple truth, though of course many more of you will have arleady got hold of this truth long ago without any input from me; after all it is there to be discovered in the pages of the bible itself. The simple truth some of you need to get hold of is this: the battle between light and darkness is not an evenly balanced battle. Light has won! The day of no more sickness, nor more death, where God shall wipe awy every tear from the eyes of His children is definitely coming and on its way. Nothing can stop it.  Heaven has secured its dawn among us. Getting hold of that is an important part of the victory of faith, and perhpas even faith’s victory in your life this very day in the face of something difficult to bear.

Someeimes to illustrate this truth people talk about the difference between D-Day and V day in the last world war. When the Allies secured their  immensely costly landing at Normandy, Deliverance day had come, the result of the war was assured. However some of the bloodiest battles were still to be fought.

It is important to let go of a sort of Yin Yang theology, the idea  of  a mystical balance between light and darkness, negative and positive forces. That is the defeated but furious enemy lying to you. Say with boldness over verything in your life this day, “Jesus is Lord! Christus Victor!” “Amen and Amen!”

Oh by the way if you have any piece of Yin Yang jewellery or symbolism around your house, kick it out. It will be affecting you and your loved ones more than you realise. Even if a loved one gave it to you, give it not one more day of  house room or heart room.

God bless

Kenny

 

 

Walking and leaping…or dragging your heels….just do it!

What is on my mind in my waking moments? Images of celebration! Celebration is not always presented in the bible as a spontaneous happening though of course it is delightful when it happens that way. However, in the Old and New Testaments it is commanded and takes on the status and shape of a spiritual discipline. That is clearer perhaps in the Old Testament: there were feasts, festivals for which preparations had to be seen to, food prepared, journeys undertaken etc. It is however there in the New Testament too continuing on from the the Old Testament Scriptures, in passing references to existing commanded festivals, and in admonitions and encouragements which have a command element attached to them, such as “Rejoice in the Lord always and again I say, ‘Rejoice.'”

If, as I have done, I am trusting the Lord to waken me morning by morning with words that will sustain the weary, I am trusting there is something helpful in all of this not just for me but for you. Don’t give up hope for the spontaneous eruption of celebration within your soul this day. However, remember there are steps you can discipline yourself to take towards celebration too. Why not take a step forward today? The first step might simply be making space for a “Thank you” heavenward. “Thankful for what?” might be your ruffled feather esponse from a difficult place. Well, just make a start, whether with a sweet spirit or in reluctance, dragging your heels. You will soon get the hang of it….

Click here for help to get atarted…

God bless

Kenny

Essential qualities/desireable qualities for those applying for the role of church member…

If you really want to be part of the building of a church community then offer your weakness and limitations freely and openly. A community based on the affirmation of strengths alone produces the falsity of a degraded type of Showbiz at best (the church dominated by gifted celebrities meeting for entertainment), or the evils of Nazi Germany at worst, but not the church of Jesus of Nazareth. Weakness is fundamental to the strength of the community and fellowship the Spirit of God plants and builds. Strengths are a bonus, a gift we can offer, but not as essential to life as the reciprocal gifting of our weakness to one another, a gift we honour with mutual and collective thankfulness.

So then, let your weaknessess shine before the church and the world. Don’t despise them or think your witness would be better if only God removed them. Calling the weak!

God bless

Kenny

Grateful for simple, unspectacular, dutiful and kind church…

Have been very grateful to often find people from one church or another visiting my Mum in hospital when I have arrived at the door of her ward. Simple enough but really appreciated and real church. I guess according to the bible if a church is not taking care of widows, orphans the sick, those in prison, the hungry, the poor etc etc., it is not a Church that Jesus recognises as real or one His presence is in. It has no genuine mission in His Name. If it is doing these things, whatever its shape or formation, however lively or dull its reputation, whatever the make up of its membership in terms of age or any other measure, He is there in and through it all.

I noticed that others in the ward noticed what I was noticing too. The Church being genuinely pastoral is evangelistic toward others. Can think of a few over the years who came to faith in Jesus because I was visiting someone else in hospital…by the way I hated hospital visits as a pastor, because I thought I was useless at them, clumsy, fumbling for words, inept…God has a way of turning up right when we think we are making an ass of ourselves and feel embarrassed at our own uselessness and irrelevance…

… one more thing. I hate dog collars with a passion, sorry clerical collars. However, they can be quite useful in hospitals and can lead to interesting conversations, esepcially when you are younger and folk call you over and say, “Aw Son/Missus, can I speak to you?” So, you younger probationer ministers, humble yourself and your perverse pride in the rightness of what others regard as your strange peccadilloes, put on your dog collar and get visiting…and yes I know it doesn’t need to be “the Minister” who does the visiting… but don’t devalue what a visit from “The Minister’ can mean.

God bless

Kenny