Mulled wine recipe….

A couple of thoughts to spark off your own thinking. No need to post your thoughts unless you want to!

Many churches think about John the Baptist at some point in Advent:

Firstly: John the Baptist, according to Jesus, was greater than anyone else born of women, including all the prophets, yet he performed no miracles unlike Elijah in whose spirit and power he had appeared and lived and ministered. There was something about him more important than miracles ( as indeed there was about Elijah) that merited honouring from Christ. What was it?

Secondly: John was greater than anyone born of woman but, according to Jesus, the very least in the Kingdom of God, the Kingdom of heaven, is greater than he. What is that greater greatness? Again it cant be anything to do with miracles as John was considered greater than any of the miracle working prophets, or those who had taken remarkable steps of faith in the Old Testament. So what is the greater greatness of the children of the Kingdom?

…maybe a 3rd. question, just for free!

Thirdly: According to Jesus, his disciples (and their successors) would do “greater works” than the disciples had seen him do up until the moment he made that prediction? What are the greater works? “Greater” is an interesting word in John’s Gospel. Maybe you will find clues in your thoughts about question 1 and 2. I have also thrown in a clue in the way I have framed question 3.

Happy Advent Mulling and Christmas Cogitating!

 

God Bess

Kenny

Holler or Heal? That is the question.

Was challenged by a phrase in a book of Advent Readings by Thomas Merton. When we meet or discern error in a church setting can we confront that without being “rebellious or indiscreet” ? Perhaps as evangelicals our zeal for truth sometimes results in our being too ready to shout out about the errors of whatever church, denomination etc. we belong to. That may bring us a certain admiration in the small pond in which we are considered to be a big champion type of fish but doesn’t do much beyond that small pond of preening and mutual admiration.

If we see a wound in a church setting, let’s ask God what we can do to heal it in His grace and by His wisdom.

God bless

Kenny

Shrug off the snake’s slivering insinuation, Man of God, Woman of God!

Over my years as a parish minister, people often spoke with good will into my situation who were not in my situation or in the place of my calling. (Incidentally I had not usually asked them to speak into my situation. Occasionally I had the courage to calmly and politely tell them so, which shocked  and unnerved them!) Sometimes their thoughts truly helped me, often they were pretty useless and unhelpful. When they were unhelpful, it was usually because they were programmatic and glib as though the recipe for “success” being offered was fail safe and unquestionably true for every situation.

These thoughts were awakend this morning, by a book of daily readings I have turned back to many times over the years by E. Stanely Jones. His thoughts for this day were based on Luke Chapter 4 and on two verses which are a mere ten verses apart. In verse 4 of that chapter we read of Jesus being full of the power of the Spirit. In verse 24 we read of this same Jesus announcing a truth that a prophet (himself) was not always welcome in his own country.

The soil matters. I hope that encourages those of you who are maybe in church settings that you know the Lord has called you to, but there is not much fruit to show. You have maybe felt condemned by the implications of some people that there must be something wrong with you, your spirituality, that you are lacking in the Spirit’s fullness or whatever.

The soil matters. It does not all depend on you, man of God, woman of God, tested in the wilderness and full of the Spirit. Don’t allow a charge to rest upon you that is unjustified. May God assure you this weekend that you are in the place you are meant to be and even  in the condition you are meant to be in.

God Bless

Kenny

Are you living in the kindness of God toward you?

I have no idea who Kevin O’Shea is but I read something he said and I like it. It helps me be honest about whether or not I am living in “the wisdom of accepted tenderness,” (Brennan Manning).

Here is the quote:

“One rejoices in being unfrightened to be open to the healing presence, no matter what one might be or what one might have done.”

Today, may the God whose kindness and love appeared in the world in Christ to save us (Titus 3:4) help you, whoever you are, to be able to replace with conviction “One” with “I” in the quote. May the church fellowship to which you belong be able to replace “One” with “We.”

God bless

 

Kenny

Journal – 30th. November…

Slept really well! 5.00 am wake up. Feeling as fresh as a daisy, having felt extremely exhausted throughout yesterday, for reasons unknown. Was praying a bit, wondering a bit. I believe I heard this from God: “Kenny, others make the assumption that healing would be the best thing for you.”

Well, that released a stream of life and hope, which I may try and blog about soon….but for now, almost an hour of thinking later on, it is a useful thought for anyone of us to to carry in to today: the danger of assuming we know what is best for somebody; somebody whose story, “hopes and fears,” God given dream and sense of Kingdom purpose are perhaps unknown to us or assumed and misunderstood by us as we look on, even with good will in our hearts towards them.

11.00 am: OK then. The early dew of morning is passing away towards noon. 5 am burst of energy giving way to more familiar physical realities. Two thoughts:

1: The contrast is very real. The “condition” I carry becomes so routine to me that I forget the strain it must be putting upon my body and mind. I need to treat myself with a measure of care. That is not self indulgent but is necessary. “Pummeling” myself may have good biblical backing and suits that part of me that is Presbyterian and austere and reflects that part of God’s being that is austere (though not necessarily Presbyterian}. However, even as I am aware of wonkiness returning, strangely enough that very return helps me to remember I am also fearfully and wonderfully made by a Creator God of delicacy, wonder, extravagant variety and unecessary detail and subtlety: an Artist. I need to treat myself as His workmanship, body as much as soul and spirit, with more tender appreciation, interest and attention.

2: The energy burst may be fading, but the truths realised at that moment are still shining bright and true! Glory all the way!

God bless

Kenny

How you can help the church be the church of Jesus….

I find that I want to write about many matters to do with Christian truth and experience, so from time to time I try to refocus by asking,”What is my primary purpose behind my blog?” Well, looking back, I was first prompted to begin it when weakness, caused by a physical condition I still have despite much prayer by many faith filled people, made it impossible to continue to be a Parish Minister. However, it was not begun from a negative reaction to that experience, but rather as a desire to share what became very precious, namely the tender presence of God in the midst of frailty and fragility.

On one level that is hardly an earth shattering revelation, in that God coming into our weakness in love is the essence of the story of Christmas which we shall shortly be celebrating. There is of course huge comfort in the fact that God Himself in Christ has been touched with the very feelings of our infirmities. There is within God inside knowledge of what it means to experience human weakness within the limitations of human flesh. That truth wedded to a trust in the atoning power of Christ’s sacrifice and shed blood means we can have a confidence that when we are honest enough to bring our frailties before God we will be met with empathy. It was required of earthly priests under the Old Covenant that they were gentle in their dealings with people. There is a kindness in the merciful love of God that is very real.

However, the reality I have discovered through ill health is that there is a vast underbelly within the Christian Church whose experience is that weakness is not prized or honoured in present day church life and mission. There is a long history to that sad reality. In a faith that claimed to have found the one who was the World’s Messiah and Saviour, the Apostle Paul often seemed to find that with various congregations and individuals his constant moving from weakness to weakness as he was paradoxically being transformed from glory to glory, he was in fact a bit of an embarrassment. Imprisonment, beatings, starvations, shipwrecks, his times of experiencing lack, his being treated as the offscouring of the earth seemed to make a bit of a mockery of the idea that Jesus was Lord and God is Love. Paul had to actually say to someone he was very close to, namely Timothy, “Don’t be ashamed of me.”

Most of my readers will be within the Charismatic fold of the church. In such a fold, illness that seems to not respond to prayer can be a cause of unease, yes, even embarrassment. It can even become a cause of accusation of lack of faith or prayer, or persistence, or insufficiently robust a doctrine of healing. What is true of illness in this respect is true of other forms of weakness too; those whose marriages are failing; those whose children have gone astray; those who have no financial miracles to report in the decade long struggle to make ends meet; those who frequently do not have the confidence to come to a church service or become involved with church activities; those who struggle with depression etc.

You may not like to read this, but there are huge numbers of people, struggling with weakness of body, mind and spirit, who do not feel the Church of Jesus is as safe as Jesus is for them. Yet the truth is that without an honouring of weakness in others and an open owning of our own weaknesses before others, there can be no true fellowship, no true expression of church.

One of the basic teachings about the church of Christ in Paul’s letter to the Corinthians is that the “weak” parts of the body of Christ are essential not only to its health but to its very life. This is a message that the most overtly charismatic church described in the New Testament had to learn. There was a thread of sickness running through its life which could be described thus: “I have no need of him or her.” Sometimes that manifested itself in despising the spiritual gifts of others as being of little, lesser or no importance compared with other gifts. Sometimes it became obvious in other ways. For example, at the gatherings to share food and the Lord’s supper the better off Christians went ahead without waiting for the poorer Christians, the slaves etc., to finish their day’s “work” and come and join them. They ate and celebrated the Lord’s Supper without them. In effect they were saying, “We don’t need the poor.” Some were beginning to feel no need for input into church life in Corinth from an Apostle with a thorn in his flesh, but preferred the theatrics of those who made a great show of their spiritual strength and authority and vitality  by even striking people in the face.

I will expand on this another time, but let me just state it for now:  the church cannot be the church without the honouring, the treasuring, the welcoming and acceptance of human fragility that seems to be an embarrassment to the message that the Father hears and answers prayer, that Jesus is Lord and His followers are more than conquerors, the most truly prosperous and fully alive human beings on the face of the earth.

Your weakness is the most precious gift you can offer to the church for it to become the Church of Jesus Christ. Believe that, whether you are able to get that weakness to  the gathering of the church or not and whether or not it is welcomed when you do.

God bless you

Kenny

Don’t be hasty in the laying on of hands…

Having heard so many stories of the spiritual and church havoc that having an unconverted organist or choir leader can cause in more traditional churches seeking to be true to God’s  Living Word and His renewing Spirit, why is it that some of us in churches of more modern approach have unconverted people in our praise bands?

In my thinking, right or wrong, sung/instrument accompanied worship is just as important if not actually more so than preaching, though if one sees preaching and listening to God’s Word as part of our worship in more than the technical sense, then I guess it all rolls into one.

Would these same churches have unconverted preachers in their pulpits or unconverted people leading prayer ministry or leading their youth work or mission endeavours? Actually, come to think of it, I know of some churches which have the name of being evangelical or charismatic who do have unconverted people invovled in the leadership of these areas of work, or people who may be converted but as at a given moment are living non Christian lifestyles quite happily and even at times boastfully  rather than living humbly in obedience to God’s commanments in Scripture and in Christ  as saved sinners and born anew children of God.

By the way, having converted organists, choir leaders and praise band leaders can create problems too – but they are problems of a different sort with different spiritual fruit and consequences. People are people, even when redeemed.

God Bless

Kenny

The Kindling and the Spark…

Behind much talking that gets the attention, there is so much wonderful kindling being put in place by humble believers all over Scotland from whatever denomination or no denomination, in and through traditional congregations and in and through new ventures that honour the Blood, the Word and the Spirit. Sometimes in some places, situations, parishes, there are only one or two setting the kindling in a sea of compromise and unbelief, battling with discouragement in the face of an unbelieving and bible defying leadership and a non praying congregation; but it doesn’t take too much to start a fire.

 

When the spark of heaven comes, what a fire will burn! Keep placing the kindling even if there is no one else in the fellowship God has called you to belong to doing so, keep calling for the spark which only God can give…Why is it being withheld? I have no idea, well actually I don’t know why I just typed that as I have lots of ideas from the bible as to the answers to that question, which people may sincerely agree with or disagree with, but none of my thoughts on that matter would make very popular Facebook posts in the prevailing spiritual winds in the charismatic and evangelical church. Whatever, keep setting and keep calling.

God Bless

Kenny

Autumn clear up in the garden of your mind?

I have shared on my blog before that from time to time, especially when I am confused about what is happening in my life, there is a spiritual imaging picture that I step into in faith. The picture is that I imagine myself going down into a cellar away from surface noise and clamour. In that cellar Jesus awaits me. Having taken that first step of imagination by faith I then ask that by the Holy Spirit I may see what Jesus is waiting to do, waiting for me to connect with in terms of His purposes for good in my life.

Today, I had all sorts of thought flying around my mind that were not leading to anywhere in particular no matter how much time of day I gave them. There is such a thing as Rumination OCD: thinking a lot about thoughts that never get you anywhere, that reach no conclusion or destination. Well, I am not there thankfully, but I do think that lots of us get on the foothills of that affliction. I felt the Father asking me to gather these type of “round and round getting nowhere” thoughts, tie them up, fling them into the flames  of the God who is “everlasting burnings” and get into the cellar to hear from Christ. When I got there, I heard from Christ.

It is not what I heard from Christ that I want to share, but really just stress the preparation for hearing from Him: that gathering of the unhelpful thoughts and giving them over to the flames of God. Don’t worry about what He will do with them. Trust that if there are any of these thoughts you need to retain He will restore them to you to pick up again. The reality is that after meeting with Christ, usually there are very few of these thoughts, if any at all, that need to be thought again, or given a home in your mind any longer.

God Bless

Kenny

God has a silencer in His weaponry…

The perversity of sin seems to have found its shout, sometimes even an aggressive and blasé form of its shout in our day. The danger is that those saved from iniquity, seeking to humbly honour  the Lord by walking in His righteous ways, will be intimidated into silence.

Here are the opening and closing words from Psalm 107. Worth thinking about and worth a living reponse, don’t you think?

“Give thanks to the Lord, because he is good.
His faithful love continues forever.
Let those who have been set free by the Lord tell their story.
He set them free from the power of the enemy…

…The godly will see these things and be glad,
and all iniquity (perversity) shall shut her mouth.
Those who are wise will take all this to heart;
they will see in our history the faithful love of the Lord.”

The Messiah according to the Scriptures has several different types of “silencer” in His weaponry.  Here is one of them: your story and mine.

 

God Bless

 

Kenny

 

It is important we be scientific….

We like to tie things up neatly, but the grace and wisdom of God are not open to our counsel. For example, I have heard it preached so many times that, “Just because we are forgiven does not mean there will not be consequences to work through.” True, but not universally so. The prodigal son could have been treated like a hired servant upon his return to help him meditate upon the error of his ways and learn wisdom, but he wasn’t. Sometimes the right fear of the Lord means I come to Him and say, “You know whether it is best to release me from the consequences of the sinfulness and stupidity of what I have done or help me to learn through them. I would like the former better than the latter, I really would, but I trust your righteous, wise and merciful grace either way, Father…but if it is alright, I just stress my preference….”
Or what about “God will never withdraw His love from His people,”? Well, He will and does. Look at Jeremiah 16 verse 5, where God says to those who by grace He has chosen as His people: “I will withdraw my unfailing love.” It does not mean He has stopped loving in his heart. His love is aways safely kept there as are our names. His love and our names are from eternity to eternity intertwined there. However there are times when God’s people on earth look and cannot see signs of that love resting upon them in blessing and favour. Oh by the way don’t write to tell me that it is different now as we live under the grace of God. The people of the Old Testament were redeemed by grace too, just as we are. They were set free from Egypt before the law was given. Their eternal salvation was based on the fact that the Christ who died for us in our past would come and die for them in what for them was their future. They just had the tedious business of living in the shadow lands until that moment came, having to repeat sacrifices and works of the law until Christ would fulfil the law and set every priest and person among the people of God free from that endless, non satisfying, non effective way of relating to God.
The danger of tying God down to a truth that has become very dear to us: It happens all the time, no matter how noble and true the truth may be; “The goodness of God,” “The Father Heart of God,” The Kingdom of God” are a few that people have tried to make the unifying principle in y experience of Church life since the 70’s onwards, but particularly the 90’s onwards. You might want to say. “God is love,” is surely unquestionably the unifying principle, however the Apostle who wrote that, John, also said, “God is Light.” When we build our lives and even our ministries around one particular truth rather than the whole counsel of the Word of God, something usually comes along to spoil it all: a circumstance, an inconvenient Scripture….good to be scientific and honest and accept our theory needs tweaking rather than tweaking the evidence to fit the theory.
God Bless
Kenny

Ritual…the lost sign and wonder?

Well, I got up early deliberately, to see Jupiter pass in front of Venus, or was it the other way round? I can’t remember now, nor did I see it. It is not that the sky was not clear but it was that I got distracted by the wonderful teaching of Angus Buchan on TBN. At some point as I listened I realised that what I was hearing actually interested me, thrilled me more than the prospect of seeing a planetary happening, and so I stayed put and listened on.

There was so much about the sermon that I was listening to that was speaking powerfully to me. Hardly surprising, in that it was peppered with direct references to Scripture. The seed of God’s Word fits the soil of the human situation so perfectly – which of course is  not the same thing as saying it will always be received. This week has been a week of more than customary weakness for me physically. For reasons I don’t fully understand I have been struggling more than usual with the medical condition I live with at the moment, both its symptoms and the whole raft of medication is has led to, including medication for medication! Activity of any sort has been more limited than I would have liked and to be honest may be so again today. Angus Buchan’s style and personality and drive is not something I would have expected to come to my aid as he is so forthright and so “demanding” in many ways. If you know of him you will know what I mean. Yet, I was helped by what he was saying.

However, it is not what he was saying that I want to share on this occasion. Rather it is what he did at the end of his speaking that I want to share. He was standing on his own farm land as he preached, out in the open air. When he stopped teaching, he simply took off his hat and bared his bowed head, before he prayed. That is what got to me more than anything. That mark of respect for his  Heavenly Father. There is so much  talk of “Abba Father,” these days. Sometimes  much of that talk reduces the status of our  Father to the status of  being nothing more than our “chum.”  I found it refreshing to see in Angus, a child  of God secure in the joy of His Heavenly Father’s love showing the Father an outward sign of a deep inner respect. In fact it stunned me into a fresh awareness of the greatness of God.

“If I am a Father… where is the respect due to me?” (Malachi 1 verse 6.)

What I felt as I saw that simple taking off of a hat reminded me of another preacher not long ago, the epitome of up to date fashion in dress and presentation who said that he liked using the words “Thee and Thou’” when praying to His Heavenly Father in private. Now there is no linguistic rationalisation nowadays for claiming such words  are more respectful than using the word “You.” For that preacher however, “Thee” and “Thou” was one way of showing His Heavenly Father due honour and respect. I am not mentioning his name as I think his teaching is fundamentally not sound. Despite my opinion and belief on that score, I have no difficulty in believing in the humility of his heart before his heavenly Father.

As I write I remember a mistake I made in the culture of another country. I was speaking to a group of pastors there and thought nothing of putting my bible on the floor beneath my seat when I first came in to the gathering and say down. The gracious and kind but courageous bishop in charge of the gathering, picked it up and put it on my lap explaining that in his culture to put a bible on the floor was to show it huge disrespect. You live and learn. For myself, in the church culture I mix with most, i would still think nothing of putting my bible down on the floor in a meeting as it would not trouble anyone, but I love the idea of not putting the bible on the floor as a sign of respect as well.

Oh I know that obedience is a much more important way of honouring and respecting God our Father than any of these outer things and yet, I felt strangely drawn to ask you this question. In an age when a casual sort of approach to  God seems to be the essential mark of security with the Father, are there any outward signs of  humble respect and honour towards Him that are important to you? It might be a physical sign, a verbal sign, or some other sort of sign. They may not be a law you would impose on anyone else but for you they are meaningful. Don’t throw them away under the growing tyranny of demand that we be “cool” and “casual.”  Yes, we can pray and chew gum at the same time, but we don’t have to if we don’t want to, or if it does not sit comfortably with us.  Don’t  alter “ signs of respect” that are meaningful to you, unless it is to replace them with another outward sign of respect that seems to fulfil that purpose better for you.

On holiday in Fife not long ago, I found myself bowing my head and simply praying after the benediction. I felt a sudden pang of pain and joy as I did so, asI realised that was a habit I had lost somewhere along the way: perhaps in the rush for the “ministry time” or  the obligatory cup of tea or coffee that seems to be increasingly all pervasive at the end of every Christian meeting.

In the face of the increasing use of a not fully biblical soundbite, “Christianity is not a religion it is a relationship,” there is a place for meaningful ritual, whether personal or corporate, private or public. Appearing cool and casual may not always be a sign we are secure with the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. It may be a sign we have neither seen Him nor known Him, but are worshipping a projection of the spirit of the age.

Remember, it is not a law… but maybe today at the end of Morning or Evening worship with your church family you could bow your head and pray briefly before the rush for the coffee. That silent moment may be meaningful for you and indeed for others who might happen to notice.

God Bless

Kenny

The New at best is The Old…

Was very blessed through reading Ezra 3 this morning. It was the Scripture reading for for today in David Strutt’s book, “Sanctuary.” Take time to reread that passage soon. As I read about the people of God rebuilding the altar of God, establishing the foundations for a new temple, observing in their own land an obedience to old commands, it gave rise to the folliwing thoughts which I share with you here, thoughts to do with the interconnection of “old” and “new.”

Thought 1:

Moving into something new with God is really going back to discover somewhere or other something in Him we were never meant to have lost or to have left behind just because it was old. It is, for example,  discovering in our now when confronted with  an impassable  desert, the God who of old once made a path through an uncrossable sea for others.

Thpught 2:

A  new beginning of obedience to timeless commandments breathes fresh emotions of joy mingled with weeping into the experience of salvation by grace. When we are excited to obey God’s laws we are living in the  flowing,  sparkling waters of the true grace of God rather than paddling in circles in  the stagnant pond of cheap grace.

Lost a sense of wonder? Rediscover the light footed happiness of the early days of your born again life:   experience the laughter of a 3 legged race of obedience with its spills and thrills, its bruises and triumphs,  bound at the leg  by an inseverable heaven tied knot to your enduring childhood friend called Grace.

God bless

Kenny

To truly appreciate this jigsaw, refrain from using Scissors and glue…

My theology would be so beautifully systematic, were it not for those bible verses that don’t quite fit.
 Maybe  I should allow myself to do a Luther and dismiss them  as straw….Then again, I am remembering the humility of a liberal lecturer when I was at Uni whose lectures could occasionally be a deliberate red rag to the Evangelical bull: “I need the Bible.” His comment silenced me then. Stopped me in my arrogant tracks. The memory of his words have stayed with me.
So I guess I will just have to allow those pieces of the jigsaw to stare at me as I stare at them. I want to be the one who blinks first. My fear is that I will shut my eyes before the stare out has done its work….So for tonight Isaiah 45 verse 7 and I continue to stare at one another since reading it recently: “I create light and I make the darkness.  I send good times and bad times.”
But, wait a minute! I  know, I will check all the translations until I find one that sounds nicer!
“KJV”…bad idea, not helpful at all. Lets see then, what  else?​…”Young’s Literal Translation”…. should have known better…..The Amplified….the…
God bless
Kenny

Breaking News! Announcing a New Christian Venture.

Maybe We should launch the following…
“K.I.T.T.E.N.S.  Keeping It True To Experience Network, Scotland:

A new gathering place for Christian  Lions to find their  deepest roar yet. Especially helpful to those promised much of “Kingdom Now” by many sincere people on many occasions, but who seem to be experiencing more frequently  “The Kingdom still to come,” though still walking with a limp  in faith, hope and love discovering what “More Lord” may yet mean for us here on earth.

No flowing mane or glistening fangs necessary. Only qualification for joining is scars, healed or non-healed  as at this present moment,  picked up while hunting for space  in which to live out the true grace of God,  as taught in His Word and found in His Son,  towards  friend and foe alike.

We recognise and honour wounds in one another but discourage wound comparison and  wound licking at our public meetings as highlighting the gore can be sickening.  We also note continuing in such practices publicly can become just a tad  repetitive, morbid, self indulgent and tend to cause reinfection rather than redirection. 

However, helping you find the  right time and place for helpful and purposeful wound tending practice  is something to which we are committed. It is a responsibility we have sometimes allowed ourselves to ignore in our youthful days, thus opening the way for quacks and the emergence of practices on which you will spend all you have going  hither and thither and be no better, but rather be worse. For this insensitivity toward those affected by it we unreservedly apologise.

Our aim is to  learn together to honour the Wounded Lamb who in His weakest moment  defeated and healed us all and dealt a death blow  beyond healing to that species of prowling lion dedicated to His and our extinction from the face of the earth and lands beyond. The wounds of the Lamb  are proving to be both our healing  and  the path of restoration for our tired and padded paws into our God granted right of grace to roam  in the territory of His inheritance.”

Just dreaming….

God bless

Kenny

Are heaven and earth singing from the same song sheet?

“Willow”…”Wren”…”Rhubarb.” 3 words that are being culled from some Dictionaries for children. Should we not be a bit sad about that, in that it shows a growing disconnect with nature? I guess it happens through increased interest and fascination with fantasy, computer based play and other such things that keeps children and their play more indoors and screen based. It may be happening for other reasons too. Do we accept that as a done deal, or do we seek as a society to help children to reconnect with the world of nature? That was an aspect of my own education that I enjoyed very much and stays with me in some shape or form until this day, enriching my life.

Wondering what words have fallen or are falling into non use in Church life and worship? I have heard that some churches in prioritising mission no longer allow songs with “concepts” or “metaphors” dear and central to Christian belief because they are deemed to have no connection with non believers. Are songs to and about The Lamb of God, the blood of the Lamb etc. outlawed in heaven now or in the new heavens and earth to come? They have not been sung in some churches for decades, and indeed would be mocked and sneered at: I know that from personal experience of decades of ministry in the Church of Scotland. Will we have to go through an education programme when we arrive in that future glory so we can join in with the worship of the elders, the angels, the living creatures around the throne etc? Are the church at rest and the church in its labours singing from the same song sheet this Lord’s Day?

 

Had ended this blog at this point, but then started remembering the week of my conversion about 45 + years ago at Scripture Union Camp. Words that meant nothing to me at the start of the week meant everything to me by the end of the week. Every word and line once meaningless had become life changing, life directing, life supporting, adventure calling, purpose giving…

“There’s a way back to God from the dark paths of sin,
There’s a door that is open and you may go in
At Calvary’s cross is where you begin
When you come as a sinner to Jesus.”

This one too:

“Cleanse me from my sin Lord
Put Thy power within Lord
Take me as I am Lord
And make me all Thine own
Teach me day by day Lord
Underneath Thy sway Lord
Make my heart Thy palace and Thy Royal Throne.”

And these Scripture words:

“All we like sheep have gone astray,
We have turned aside every one of us unto our own way,
But the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.”

Education as to what words and concepts that meant nothing to me could mean for me was part of the work of the Holy Spirit in  my conversion.

So glad my ignorance was taught into and not allowed to dumb down the truth of the Christ I knew was calling me to Himself.

 

God Bless

Kenny

To shout or not to shout?

Note to shouting preachers. Your flock can take it. They have probably been shouted at many times throughout the week in various settings. They are used to it. It happens in the world a lot. It happens behind the closed doors of homes a lot within marriages and family life. Some of your flock, more than you may realise, remember shouting parents awaiting them on return from their day at school with shouting teachers. Oh yes, they can take it alright, but maybe it would be nice to come to Church and get a rest from being shouted at? What do you think?

You have probably got a mic. so shouting is not really required. Perhpas you are confusing shouting with anointing and authority? To your ears, shouting emphasises a point. To battered people or people carrying the nervousness and jumpiness that follow traumatic experiences of personal relationships, used to it though they may be, it can feel like something very different, the verge of something very nasty indeed. Just saying. I know personalities differ and that is wonderful. I am not advocating becoming something different from who you are. I am certainly not advocating any style and most certainly not my own. Just saying though… take stock and take care.

This practice of mine, I do advocate: I regularly bring my preaching before the Lord and ask if there is anything I should be changing. Sometimes He tells me there is. Sometimes I am a bit afraid to ask Him as I am scared that an oldish dog will not be able to learn new tricks. Sometimes it seems circumstances have conspired to force a change, which has usually resulted in blessing.

Thinking off the top of my head, in the gospels it is clear that Jesus knew when and how to shout, that’s for sure. It’s good to learn from Him when it is necessary and do it and when it would be counterproductive and damaging to the prospering of spiritual life. It is important to know when passion has turned into something approaching anger (which may have grown from understandable frustration) whether shouted out or whispered in a tone of simmering quietness which can be just as menacing if not more so.

God bless you

Kenny

In case you really can’t get to sleep and there is nothing of interest on the Telly and you can’t be bothered praying…

…..here is another one I prepared earlier on Facebook!

Jesus never sought influence with those who were seen as influential… that is not the way to take the mountains, one or seven, or make them move.

We need to be careful how we receive the teaching about “The Seven mountains of Societal Influence” much lauded in some Christian Circles and promoted therein by self appointed “Generals” of Global Mission. If it is not spoken about with care, it can easily become a time wasting band wagon of diversion at least or a Christ obscuring diabolical heresy at worst, promoting worldly ways of conquering and a departure from the Spirit of Jesus Christ.

Respecting authority does not mean we are never allowed to question the wisdom of “Generals,” those with huge influence over sectors of the church on a translocal scale. I respected my Head Master, but went to him in fear and trembling once along with a friend, when we felt something wrong was being done that needed to be challenged. I respected a head of Department in those same school days but felt I had to challenge them about the dreadfully humiliating way I saw them treating another teacher. At another point, at univesity I challenged authority in a wrong and disrepsectful way and I regretted it that I let Christ down publicly by the way I behaved and spoke. Challenging  properly does not mean disrespecting who or what you are challenging! We are not even to disrespect Satan when challenging his activity according to the bible. The attitude in which we do something must pass some tests.

I think some of the ‘Generals” some Christian leaders, especially in the Charismatic Sector of the Church of today are getting it wrong but it is difficult to receive challenge when attended by certain measurements of success. Why should they listen  when they have so much fruit to point to? Scripture says not many of us should desire to be teachers, because our words can start a forrest fire….

 

God bless

Kenny

 

Naaman – mmm… a bit awkward!

Bedtime Reading for tonight?

Interesting to note that Naaman’s intended action which could be interpreted as “compromise” was met with a “Go in peace” from Elisha the prophet and man of God. Not what one might have expected.

If you don’t know what I am talking about, well, check it out for yourself it you are interested and I think you will see what I mean…. (2 Kings Chapter 5). Chewing it over… lots of thoughts sparking off, to do with being more undestanding towards Christian politicians, more supportive of Christians involved  in some aspects of the NHS etc… but not sure they would be considered Kosher by those who tend to read my ruminations regularly. Why not ruminate about it yourself if you have a spare five minutes? I do know, by the way, that there is such a thing as “Ruminations OCD” ….so only ruminate if you think it will lead you somewhere useful or if it will help you to nod off and sleep well!

God Bless

Kenny

I still believe in healing….

For the avoidance of doubt and for the sake of clarity, let me say I do believe in divine healing and have experienced it more than once. Nothing I say below should be takn as my having given up on that belief. My concern is that not all ministry practices that result from the belief that God still heals miraculously today  are helpful to people, though these practices may not in themselves be  wrong.

As I say I have experienced divine healing myself and seen it happen for others, but I have also experienced non-healing when it was declared over me “right now” many times as has my wife from ailments much more painful and limiting than mine: tinnitus, arthritis, extreme pain in her feet and hands to name but a few of the things she struggles with on a daily basis. I get a lot of sympathy because in a sense I am a more “public” figure. She gets virtually none, yet suffers more than I do every day of the week, just more privately, as do tens of thousands of Christians in Scotland alone, whether they be cessationist or charismatic with regard to gifts of healing. She does not blog about it and neither do they! Neither do they speak about it in public. Few, even within their own fellowships would know of their struggle with illness or pain over perhaps many decades, but may criticise their non invovlement or non appearance at churchy things.

My concern is the damaging effect of a command of healing which is not backed up by a result, followed by a more forceful assured and louder command and a still silent heaven. In some charismatic quarters it is now taught that it is not right to pray for healing, it must be commanded as that is what Jesus did. I simply observe this: when Jesus commanded it happened, “right now.” In fact I cannot think of any time when healing did not happen either “right now” or very soon afterwards as in the case of the man who saw trees walking or the ten lepers.

Despite being charismatic in belief and experience, I have come to think that just as many people are healed through believers humbly bowing together in a prayer meeting, or being blessed by a minister or a priest in some routine but believing regularly available Sunday Service method, as are healed through people commanding it. It is not unbelief to ask rather than command. Asking rather than commanding, for some at least, is a geuniune expression of humility before the Sovereign God witnessed to in the pasges of the Bible and the mystery of His already here but not yet Kingdom.

Of course, commanding does not mean a person lacks humility either, I am not judging anyone’s heart or motive here. Neither am I saying that commanding does not have a place and cannot claim Scriptural warrant or genuine good result. I am speaking from the place of pastoral concern. The power is not in the method. It is possible that out of a genuine desire to see more people genuinely healedby God, we bring the very thing we seek into disrepute and set things back while thinking we are taking things forward.

 

God Bless

 

Kenny

“For your sake Lord, just as I am, I step out into this day…”

Try saying, “For your sake, Lord” as you step into the day.

As one who lives at this moment with a certain degree of weakness of body and the spill over now and then into weakness of mind and emotion, I have decided, for myself at least, to rescue the “thorn in the flesh” theme from the debate as to whether or not God means to heal everyone, and/or argument as to what Paul’s thorn was. I have my own thoughts about that particular question and of course they are the right thoughts (Ha Ha).
.
Paul said that for Christ’s sake he delighted in his weaknesses/infirmities, for he had made this discovery: “when I am weak, I am strong.” In areas where you are carrying weakness/infirmity today, seek grace to carry it for Christ’s sake and life can flow in a way that will surprise you. I have learned precious truths by experience to do with the love and faithfulness of God even just recently as I step out in weakness to live or speak or serve or do something for the sake of Christ. 3 days of rest were needful after 3 talks at Kingdom Gathering on Skye, for example, but I rejoice in the memory or every moment of my time there. I would not have missed it for the world!

I want to say something that will make the blood of some of my friends, some of those who pray for me continually and some of my fellow charismatics boil: The experiences I have known of the help and tenderness of God in these last few years have been so real and precious, I fear losing them if/when physical healing happens. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak….

Would I be able to say all of this if the level of infirmity I carry was greater, indeed if it was the magnitude some of you have to live in right now, this very day, and have had ot live in for many years? Well, I can’t say, nor do I mean what I am saying from a place of low level infirmity become a yoke for anyone else. I do hope though in some sense this day you can make Paul’s discovery a chosen principle for your life.

I don’t particularly want you to comment on there being reasons you can see in what I am saying this morning for why I have not been healed, though I can’t stop you doing that if you choose. Sometimes though we stamp all over what people say with big clumsy boots in the belief we are being biblical when in fact we should be recognising when we stand on the ground of people’s weaknesses we are standing on holy ground and should take off our shoes, and listen more than talk….

God Bless

Kenny

Power over your enemy?

OK, it is possible to find backing in Scripture for just about anything and it is also possible to find a text that seems to advise the direct opposite of another text. That is why time and place and situation, in short, context matters. It’s why we need to be careful of rolling out a “one size fits all” approach to matters such as healing for example: sometimes what is taught as a process from one part of Scripture is not all that there is to be said on the matter. The same is true of some truths and scriptural insights which have wrongly been turned “one size fits all” doctrine binding for all for all time, though unalterable doctrines do exist that are not conditional on any changes in time, place or circumstance.
Whatever, I woke up at about 5.00 am feeling I had slept very well indeed, with the stories of Elisha going round in my mind, for no reason that I could think of, so got up and read some of them. My attention seemed to be drawn to a part of 2 Kingd 6 where some of the enemies of Israel have been delivered miraculously by the prophet into the king of Israel’s hands:
“My Father, Elisha, should I kill them? Should I kill them?”
 
“Of course not!” Elisha replied. “Do we kill prisoners of war? Give them food and drink and send them home again to their master.”
Sometimes it comes around that you are in a place of power over those who have treated you wrongly. Elisha didn’t always behave in a way that we would think of adopting as being the right way when he was in a place of power over those who wronged him, but there is something about the behaviour advised in this particular incident that is echoed with approval in other parts of Scripture.
If it happens to you this very day, that those who wronged you are, for want of a better phrase, “at your mercy,” remember this story… remember Joseph….remember Jesus….the Jesus whose life is in you.
It is strange how often it happens that God gives opportunity to put a truth into practice soon after He has alerted our attention to it. It would not surprise me if some of us find ourselves in a situation very soon where we are given opportunity to put something of this into practice… me included.
God Bless
Kenny

I Am…

Part of the sense of the meaning of the Name “I AM” is of active, present reality. In other words we know who God is by what he does. I think when I was growing up as a believer all the emphasis seemed to be on knowing God’s character, but the link between His character and the acts which revealed that character was not always stressed. I was to learn His character through the bible, which I have no argument with, but it was not always obvious in the way the bible was preached that the bible is the book in which we read of God revealing Himself by His deeds, that God is “I AM,” active, present reality.

Accordingly, there was little room for the activity of God’s Spirit in my life post salvation  other than to help me know the characer of God in the bible and to help me become, in turn godly. I am glad for that emphasis. It blessed me a lot. However it was lopsided. I grew up with little expectation of the intervention of God, little expectation that He still shows who He is by what He does in present day faithfulness to confirm in our experience the unchanging words and works of Jesus Christ.

Be on the look out for “I AM” confirming  the biblical revelation of Who He is as present active reality through what He does in your life and circumstances and in the wider world.

God bless

Kenny

For you?

Felt this quite keenly as a word to strengthen, encourage and comfort somebody. Put it on Facebook but someone suggested I put it in a blog too, so I have obliged! There may be elements in it that will bless more than one of you. However, I always feel with a word from God that there are probably also elements in it that narrow it down a bit in terms of who it may be for in a very specific way. Anyway, this is what I posted…

 

A Word for someone: I think you are male 45 or 50+ but youthful for your years. Have not got faith to say it more accurately.

I think God wants to say to someone that his purposes are about to accelerate. You know that already and God will confirm it for you with a sale of your house that goes beyond market trends and the collective comments from those around you who have continually challenged your optimism by saying with worldly wisdom based on facts and figures, “It is taking a long time at the moment to sell houses.” Get the sound of the speed of the wind around you and enjoy the speed boat of God’s purpose cutting through the water. Others who deem themselves wiser than you will talk as though a crash is inevitable, but you won’t crash. You are young compared to the negative voices but the few decades you have been alive in Christ (30 or 40 years + since a young age) have given you the humble wisdom of an elder gained by faithful following in hidden places when the eyes of man have not been watching. You can be trusted not to forget the Lord like a friend you know who did just that when things started to go well for them in the land….

God Bless

Kenny

Confession is indeed good for the soul…

So many thoughts and memories from “Kingdom Gathering” in  Skye. Through everything though, there seemed to be a theme of simply being honest before God. Let me share one precious moment:

It was the end of a meeting and someone came up to speak with me. I know vaguely, but know from others I trust, that he  a godly man and a servant of God. They wanted to confess a problem of pride. The paradoxical and wonderful reality of our time talking together, is that as they spoke about their struggle they did so with the most astonishing and God glorifying humility! It was a holy moment blessed by the presence of the Lord.

I am not sure why that should surprise me so much. The holy, holy, holy  God of Israel said He would speak to His people from the mercy seat. When someone like Isaiah confessed his sin He was immediately met by the touch of mercy and cleansing.

I will always treasure that sense of mercy in that holy and honest moment. I am not sure whether that gentle and godly man was aware of it, but I pray that he will be in a time, in a place and in a way that will be meaningful to Him. I know there is mercy and help from the Lord for him. It was sent as a present in the very moment of confession. “May the intended recipient open it with joy Lord.”

Perhaps tonight before you go to sleep you need to enter into the fresh air  that confession brings:

 “Happy are those whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. Happy are those to whom the Lord imputes no iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no deceit. While I kept silence, my body wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was dried up as by the heat of summer. (Selah) Then I acknowledged my sin to you, and I did not hide my iniquity; I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord,” and you forgave the guilt of my sin.” (Psalm 32; 1- 5 NRSV)

God Bless

Kenny

Obadiah’s dilemma.

In 1st Kings 18, Obadiah, a righteous man, voiced a fear to the Prophet Elijah. Elijah has told him to go to King Ahab, who has been searching for Elijah for years, and tell him, “Elijah is here.” Obadiah expresses his fear  that the Spirit of God will take Elijah off somewhere else so that when Ahab comes looking for Elijah, he won’t be there anymore. The consequences for Obadiah could be severe! However, he is given the assurance that Elijah will indeed appear before Ahab that very day.

Obadiah understood this: the wind of God’s Spirit blows where He wills and can catch people up as He does so, setting them down again where neither they nor others could ever predict. He can do that phsyically, or spiritually to a person.

These thoughts that came to me this evening, set me thinking about a familiar verse in John’s Gospel in what will be an unfamiliar translation to most of us:

“The Spirit where he willeth doth blow, and his voice thou dost hear, but thou hast not known whence he cometh, and whither he goeth; thus is every one who hath been born of the Spirit.” ( John 3 verse 8 in Young’s Literal Translation)

There is unsearchable, inexplicable mystery at the heart of being born again, or born from above. Regeneration is not under our control. I wonder though if there is something in this verse that would speak to us of a principle in born again living , not simply in born again beginnings: are you and I willing to be like a leaf in the wind of the Spirit? Or having been born anew beyond our control, do we then seek to harness the wind of God’s Spirit to our to our convenience, control or commanding rather than be blown not knowing whither, save that we trust the Father by whose love and will we were conceived is working out His loving will in us day by day, moment by moment?

Life in the Spirit is not  always “safe.”  It may be that from time to time, in our lives, we need to tear down the idol of safety and predictability. It has a remarkable way of setting itself up again and again.

God Bless

Kenny

The ancient path to victory today…

Henri Nouwen’s writings have helped me more than any other since I took unwell. I am grateful for his insight into the Passion of Jesus Christ: the word Passion means “undergoing” and is related to the word “passive.”

Have you ever noticed that Jesus’ glory burst forth at the point where he was betrayed and bound? From that point in the story onwards there is a change. Prior to this Jesus was the one who did things: he healed, he delivered, he taught, he took the bread and likewise the cup, he handed over the sop to Judas, he took a basin, girded himself with a towel and knelt and washed his disciples feet. But now he is the one who has things done to him, all of them unjust. He is the one who is betrayed, wrongly accused, flogged and crucified. He could have called legions of angels but he did not and would not, for his delight was to do the Father’s will. Jesus knew this was the beginning of the Father answering his prayer to glorify him that he might glorify the Father. At the precise moment that his Passion, his undergoing, his passivity begins, His glory is revealed in a mighty way. He announces that He is “I AM” and the glory of God is made manifest causing all around him to fall back, fall down.

This day you may be undergoing things you would prefer were different. Can you believe as you walk trustingly and obediently to the God who is working out His will in your life, even using the wickdness of man and the hatred of the evil one to do so, the glory of God can break through in you in a way visible to all?

Did you pray a prayer for the glory of God to be revealed in your life? Well Jesus prayed that prayer too. But remember how the asnwer unfolded for him…

Perhaps you and I will need help from heaven this very day to receive this truth and live in its victory.

God Bless

Kenny

Old or Ancient?

Today I was remembering being at a conference in Skye back in the late 90’s. I met many wonderful people there who gave me more than I gave them. The memories are very sweet…

One of the greatest blessings of that whole time was the times of worship led by Dave Bilbrough. As I think of Kingdom Gathering happening on Skye this weekend (almost  20 years after the days I am remembering), under the leadership of that wonder of grace, Stevie Boyle, I find myself thinking of a line from a Dave Bilbrough song, “In these days of Impartation…” 

“Make me a prophet of my God not a king of nostalgia…”

There is all the difference in the world between asking God for the ancient paths, which we are to do, and wishing simply for old days we have enjoyed to return again.

I simply offer more words from the above mentioned song in the hope that they will bless those of us who are seeking a fresh touch from the God who is who He has always been and who does what He has always done.

In these days of impartation
I want to carry Your Spirit Lord
You have weakened me over all these years
Now I’m ready to hear Your call
Sometimes I don’t see clearly
There are shadows all around
But I’ll follow this voice that is leading me on
I’m heading up not going down

Give me dreams that shape tomorrow
Give me vision for today
‘Cause I’m tired of duplicating
All my old familiar ways
I’m not a captive of my past
But I believe I have a future
Make me a prophet of the Lord my God
Not a king of nostalgia

Don’t let my pride or reputation
Hold me back from seeking more
For there are many who have looked at the ocean
But never gone beyond the shore
It’s a time of new beginnings
Where You’re preparing me for change
Lord do something new within me now
So that I’ll never be the same again

God bless

Kenny

 

Monday Morning Blues?

My pastoral advice for some of you this Monday morning? “Get out of your head today.”

No, not an ivitation to get drunk! Rather an invitation to get out of living in the world of your own thoughts. It is so easy to get trapped there, especially if there are unresloved conflicts in our lives or we are struggling with anxiety or whatever. Our thoughts can become our world.

Has it been a while since you noticed the grass is green or the sky is blue? Has it been a while since you registered a breeze on your face or looked into the jewellery of the night sky and marvelled? Has it been a while since you gave any true attention to what others are saying to you? Has it been some time since you opened the bible and allowed its truths to stretch your thoughts into the mind of Christ and bring you the scent of a Kingdom other than the small but jam-packed and intense world inside your head?

I do pray that you may indeed get out your head today. It may be you will even find time and space to get together with a Christian friend or two and get out of your heads together!.

God Bless

Kenny

Sunday afternoon retired rumination….

Just a throw away thought as I think about the church circles that I have been nost used to church wise, namely evangelical/charismatic:

It is good to think about why a bible text is given as it is and not use it to prove our already existent point of view or force it to back up our agendas and priorities. For example the gospels were not written to prove everyone gets healed today. We may believe that, but it was not the purpose for which the gospels were written. Nor were they written that we might know how to gain material prosperity or success or influence in the business world , nor were they written to justify bizarre ministry practices – e.g. based on Jesus smearing mud on somebody!

We seem to have a very keen ability to find a text to justify and back up everything we think ( 3 fingers pointing back at moi!), but that does not mean that what we are advocating is biblical. Quoting a text along with its reference does not mean we have the backing of the bible any more than a church where the bible is preached accurately means that church is a biblical church.

Word of warning while I am in this sort of mode: if somebody you are listening to teaching the bible thinks they have seen something about a biblical text that no one has seen before in the history of bible interpretation, it is probably wrong. I have heard some ministers actually say, “What I am going to tell you is something that no one has seen before. It is something that God has been teaching me personally.” Sometimes they will spout the most ridiculous nonsense about Hebrew or Greek to back up their point, usually preceded by a phrase, “Watch this! Watch what I am going to show you here. Watch this now!” Usually the material that is given a build up to expect a dramatic rocket type firework to explode into life and colour is more like a damp squib despite dramatic build up at the start and the asked for clapping and Hallelujahs at the end.

Reformation type Scriptural “Breakthrough” moments are relatively rare… Heresies claiming biblical revelation have been common place and continue to be so….

God Bless

Kenny

“There’s a van outside my house…the driver isgetting out…they’re carrying something…wonder what it is…”

“Jesus took the five loaves and two fish, looked up toward heaven, and blessed them. Then, breaking the loaves into pieces, he kept giving the bread and fish to the disciples so they could distribute it to the people.” (Luke 9:16)

“Jesus kept giving…so the disciples could distribute…” The miracle is always the Work of the hand of Jesus, the Son of God. Disciples’ hands distribute in His Name.

Every true ministry happening this day is really just a distribution and delivery service, whether it be local ot international. Remembering the distinction between who gives in the origin and source sense  and who distributes,  might help close the gap between grand proclamations and the works of God actually being made manifest among and through His people.

I always feel excited when a van driver arrives outside my house, parcel in hand….

God Bless

Kenny