“And now may the grace…”

Minister! Leader! Say “The Benediction” with confidence today . That word in essence means to speak well, to speak good things over people. It is what God did to you in Christ and does to you still. In all your imperfections He looked at you in Christ and said something no one save Jesus deserved to hear: “You are my Son, my Daughter, whom I love! You bring me great joy!”

Hear these words yourself before you minister, before you do a thing, before your enemy mocks your worth or suitability or gifting to minister to anyone at all. Then say over others today, courtesy of Zoom, what is said over you. Maybe you should stop before speaking “The Benediction,” “The Blessing,” and tell those entrusted by the Chief Shepherd to your care what these last few words mean, why you can and do utter them every week.

I remember our New Testament Professor telling us how in one University he worked in at one point they decided to give slightly higher marks than the students’ work merited. The result? The work standard of the students improved.

There is a lesson about the power of blessing in there somewhere and linked to that the power of grace truly understood and truly received! The people you are called to serve will live holier and more fruitful lives, the more you speak grace in its full truth and truth with fullness of grace.

Perhaps if we really understood “The Benediction” we would not just pronounce it. We would instead shout it with the joyful shout of those delivered from the power of their enemies and set free from the snare of the fowler, sing it with joy, or hardly be able to say it without being overwhelmed with tears of wonder at the love of God…

When I had to step back from being a parish minister through ill health one of my elders said to me with moist eyes “ Kenny, could you not stay on and just come each week, and say ‘The Benediction’ over us? That would be enough for us all.” He had got hold of the importance and living power of those customary words at the close of worship.

God bless

Kenny

Say “The Benediction” with full confidence…

I am remembering a time at a Leaders’ Retreat when we prayed blessing on someone’s painful leg. It was instantly healed. Were there things wrong with the leg? Of course! We were not asking the Lord to bless that!

Some have criticised “The UK Blessing,” the song sung by singers brought together by Tim Hughes, recognised by the PM as “a point of light.” The criticism runs along the lines that there is so much wrong with the UK and the Church in the UK that we cannot possibly ask God for His blessing. This is false understanding. God can’t bless what is wrong and sinful. He can bless and make stronger that which is good, life giving and health giving. Blessing is only part of the jigsaw of the moment. It is not the only part by any means, far from it.

I loved being a minister who at the end of every service could pronounce and pray for the perfect blessing of God upon imperfect people including me. I look for that same blessing on those I pray for anytime I pray for them! I would be sunk if the blessing of God could not rest on me today because there are areas of my life still to be brought into closer harmony with Christ.

I am not a great gardener, but I know to prosper the growth of things I want to see in the garden helps to control weeds I don’t want to prosper.

Let’s pray the blessing of God to increasingly to be upon what He can bless. That is a great power for transformation he puts into our hands. It is not the only tool for these days to be sure, but it is an extremely important one. Let’s use it and see the power of blessing released in wonderful ways.

God bless

Kenny

It’s all about you, Jesus…

It is entirely possible for any aspect of Christianity to take on a life of its own with no connection with Jesus Christ: mission, evangelism, worship, giving, serving, prayer, contemplation, bible study, pastoring, leadership, discipleship, etc.

Let me extend that thought specifically to those who lead churches and therefore think about the development of its life and shape:

Someone sent me some follow on questions from the Zoom meeting with New Zealand leaders. One of them was a question as to what I was reading at the moment. Well, reading is a problem for me for two reasons. I had to get rid of my books, several hundred of them, because of my lung disease and cant really afford to replace them or buy new ones! That is not a veiled appeal for you to buy me a book, as the second reason I don’t read as much now as once I did, is that ever since I started on steroids 7 years ago, one of the weird effects is that my mind is not still enough to read! I want to rush on to the next sentence and page at great speed, the same way as steroids made me want to drive incredibly fast when I first went on them: the GP wisely took my keys away! However, I do manage to read a bit. Today I read this in H. Nouwen. If you are a leader, if church matters to you, then maybe you could do with thinking about his words:

“There was a time when I got so immersed in problems of church and society that my whole life had become a sort of drawn out wearisome discussion. Jesus had been pushed into the background or had himself become just another problem. Fortunately it hasn’t stayed that way. Jesus has stepped out in front again, so to speak, and asked me, ‘And who do you say I am?’It has become clearer to me than ever that my personal relationship with Jesus is the heart of my existence. It is about Jesus, above all, that I want to write to you, and I want to do so in a personal way.”

God bless

Kenny

Basic Map Reading: Mountains and Valleys…

Was asked to do a talk on “Suffering” for a “Youth Group.” They seemed to find it helpful, so here it is for you, if you are interested. 15 minutes is not going to answer the whole question. This is just some of the ABC’s of basic gospel map reading. As a pastor I have found that most folk’s struggles come from forgetting the ABC’s of bible truth. Anyway, take a listen if you wish! K

The Season is ripe for a Spiritual, Generational Coup…

Seasoned Servant of God! Watch out for a spiritual Coup!

Prophetic Word for those in ministry who are getting older.

This may only be for a few. It came to me in a dream, however, and my dreams seem to often show elements of what I would call a spiritual season, either of blessing or attack.

I saw a lion training a young lion. My set reading for this morning when I woke was Psalm 17. There, we read these words:”The wicked…speak arrogantly..He is like a lion eager to tear, as a young lion lurking in ambush.”

I wrote not long ago about withdrawing from Conference speaking, partly because I believe in making way for those of a younger generation. I think that was the right decision. In any case, health limitations demanded it! It was no longer truly within my capacity. BUT, this dream was about people of spiritual standing, gained over decades, being forced into a premature exit from their ministry. The eagerness of the young lion to pursue and pounce was the central thing I was to note. Though I believe in making way for the up and coming generations, beware of the pressure to do that before the right time. Beware too of what I would call “gently simmering bitterness of entitlement” from the gifted who somehow want your job, your role, your platform, and who may regard you as keeping them out and standing as an obstacle in their way.

In short, some of you are coming under pressure from younger gifted people as though you MUST make way for them! Raising and nurturing is one thing, but making way for the frustrated and the entitled is another! What a disaster can be unleashed when the entitled and gifted are unleashed upon the church in leadership roles, rather than the nurtured, the humble and the ready.

So, God wants some of you, older in years, to know this: YOU are still Today’s Man or Woman! Resist the pressure from the Entitled, however gifted they may be. Continue to nurture the gifted and humble. You have no obligation at all to pay attention to young lions being nurtured by the prowling lion who seeks to devour you.

Age and isolation of potential prey is fertile hunting territory for lions and lions in training. I think lockdown is making some faithful ministers, with a track record of decades of integrity, become potential prey to doubts about their ability, their relevance. It would be so easy to step back or step down before the time is right…

If you happen to be reading this and you are gifted and also younger than most of the folk who read my posts, be sure of this: stay humble and your progress in God will be as unstoppable as the Resurrection of Jesus! God will open every door necessary. He knows where you stay. You don’t have to force your way to the front or try and bring yourself to anyone’s attention. Don’t lose your integrity to underhand, pressurising, self-advertising ways. Stay faithful. God can and will lift you up higher. When it happens, you will know God has done it, not you yourself. That will be a treasured thought that will have great sustaining power in battles to come.

God bless

Kenny

“This is not ‘it.’”

Back in December in Glencoe I had a prophetic moment when I saw people calling on the hills and mountains there to fall on them to hide them from the wrath of the Lamb. Later on that day there was in actual fact an earth tremor in that very place. I felt the Lord saying something fearful was on the way. A few days later I had a vision of a whirlwind breaking over the land. Unlike the mountains falling which was simply a picture of terror, the whirlwind felt both wonderful and fearful. It had the feeling of both awesome revival but coming out of a fearful experience.

While in the Lord’s presence a few days ago, just wondering about these experiences as I have often done in relation to the pandemic, I believe He at last spoke into my to and fro wondering this way and that, with greater clarity. “This is not it.” We need to learn to call on the Name of the Lord before “it” does come. No medical science will make any progress when “it” arrives. No common grace blessings will be sufficient to face it or make the slightest dent in its progress. It will result not just in a huge part of the world in lockdown, but one quarter to one third dying. Only calling on the Name of the Lord will bring it to an end.

This is not “it” yet, but have we, even as God’s people never mind a lost world, learned in this pandemic thus far to call upon the Name of the Lord for mercy and help, or along with the world have believers erected a few new man shaped idols in which we trust for salvation? Have we gone beyond thanksgiving where it is due to people and to God, to worshipping the gifts of His grace to a fallen world which come in the form of knowledge and skills to relieve suffering?

I have not the slightest idea of timing as to all of this. What I have written here, is the sum of what I have been given: nothing added for effect and nothing left out to make it more palatable or less shocking. I have only very occasionally been told timing windows for God’s purposes but have not been given the slightest hint about timing in regard to what I am sharing here.

“ Cry out!” “What shall I cry?” “All flesh is like grass… the wind blows and carries it away.” “The Word of the Lord endures forever.”

Kenny

Vlog 1: The Magnifying Lens of Lockdown…

A few folk have been in touch to say that Lockdown is somehow magnifying aspects of yourself that you do not like, that may indeed be harming yourself or those near to you. Thought it might be good to do a few wee vlogs about that subject. This is the first one. Hope it helps those of you who may be feeling that way at the moment. Kenny

Your Club Membership…

Conquerors look like conquerors and you see reasons why they have conquered. We are not called to be easily explainable. We are not called to be Conquerors, but “More than Conquerors.” That sort of victor is not explainable in terms of the trappings of power, or ability, or natural authority. He or she confounds the world, unsettles the world so deeply that along with all things truly carrying the presence of God’s immediate confrontational presence, they may become a sign spoken against, like Jesus, who was not just a king, but the King of kings. A “More than a Conqueror” is an uncomfortable enigma to the world, so uncomfortable, they have a history of being expunged from the face of the earth down through the centuries, singing praise as they went to earthly obliteration, sometimes at the hands of a godless and Christless Church.

These sorts look weak, vulnerable. It is easy to mock them, mistreat them, scoff at them, point to how pathetic they seem, dismiss claims of their God and their relationship with Him, mock their speech, their knowledge, their thinking and their message. Cutting it short … their keeping going with living, believing, serving and worshipping is inexplicable, save in terms of miracle. More than Conquerors often look so drained, so close to a point of inevitable collapse, that a feather might knock them over…but when the frequent storms come and pass on, there they are, still standing while a thousand of the world’s strong, the great and the good, have fallen to bits at their side.

If you feel the stuffing has been knocked out of you once too often, this may well be your moment to be claim the honour of your membership of “The More than Conquerors Club.” Get rid of the idea that you should look like Charlton Heston’s Moses at the Red Sea, or today’s “Woman of Power and Significance” equivalent. Weakness is the sure foundation to being strong in the Lord, to inexplicable conquering.

God bless

Kenny

I hope we don’t lose what we have gained in these strange times…

It is possible to miss the moment. I remember a dream I had in the 90’s in which Renewal of God’s Purposes in Scotland was represented in the form of a lion. The lion walked into one of the biggest churches in the city. The congregation fled and only returned when the lion left. They picked up their hymn books and started to sing at exactly the point they had been at before the lion came. Meanwhile the lion moved on to other more welcoming gatherings. The moment of renewal in that confident church was missed, indeed fled from, in favour of “no change, business as usual!”

I am not suggesting Coronavirus represents God renewing the Church, but it would be really sad if we all picked up our hymn books and sang from where we left off as it were once this is over, as though that somehow represented faithfulness that merits a pat on our backs from ourselves. This really is a season when new things can blossom that maybe would not otherwise have come about. Of course there are those who wax in learned tones as to why we should not change this or that as though a change represents a denial of our heritage.

Have the courage, humility and joy not to be one of those voices nor to pay greater homage to them however illustrious than to the Word and Spirit of God. Sometimes aspects of our heritage need to be left behind in favour of a truer faithfulness to the Christ of Scripture rather than the Christ of a particular theology, or the practices of a particular time that were perhaps one way of being faithful to Christ at a given moment, but not the only way for all time.

God bless

Kenny

Some of the things that make me tick…

Dave Rankin, a fellow Church of Scotland minister, is doing a series of interviews in these days of Lockdown. This is but one example of creative ideas for ministry, mission and building one another up in the faith, that seem to be flourishing. This is the interview with me! Sorry that my face goes light and dark in the bright sun sun and fast moving clouds of the afternoon!

I should perhaps say that there was no prior knowledge of the questions, but I felt God was in the questions, and, dare I say it, in the answers I found myself giving. No prior warning is the way I prefer it.

Anyway, here it is. If you want to know what makes me tick, you might find some understanding of that from what follows…

What is Jesus asking you?

“Finding the right question is as crucial as finding the right answers.(Henri Nouwen.)

Jesus asked questions that exposed the persistent secular or false understandings of “self” and worth in the hearts of his disciples. He did that before His dying and rising: “What were you talking about together?” (They had each been presenting to each other their reasons for believing in their superior greatness within their circle.) He did it after He died and rose: “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?” (Peter’s security was once based on such a claim.) Hearing Jesus question was hurtful but necessary for Peter’s peace and progress.

In our secret place with God, let’s listen for Jesus asking us those questions which will bring us into rest from our false identities, the drivers and compulsions ( which may at times seem religious, moral, biblical and Christian) that perhaps even since we started to follow Jesus have been our hidden and our never satisfied task masters.

God bless

Kenny

Simon, Son of Jonas, do you love me … ?

This is a sermon I recorded for this Easter Sunday for Storehouse Church in Kilsyth. It covers “Good Friday” and then goes on to the story of the risen Jesus talking with Simon Peter as they walked beside the Lake together. It is full short sermon length, about 30 minutes, but you may like to listen to it at your leisure over this Easter weekend. God bless. Kenny.

The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.

“In that day,” declares the Sovereign Lord, “I will make the sun go down at noon and darken the earth in broad daylight.”

I have usually used the language of the Father turning His face away,” to describe the cross. That, however, in the light of the revelation of God in the Old and New Testaments, and in the light of Jesus own revelation of God, is only half true. The Father’s face was turned away in terms of comfort, but it was also turned towards Jesus in judgement, a judgement so full that in Gethsemane, Jesus, the Holy One, shrank from becoming sin for us and bearing it. While we are tempted because of our sinfulness, it was Jesus holiness that made him recoil from embracing the cross. That hour was fast approaching. It was the hour of the cup of God’s simmering wrath at human sin boiling over in righteous judgement for love of sinners: Judgement Day breaking into time and history. “Lest I forget Gethsemane, lest I forget thine agony, lest I forget thy love for me, lead me to Calvary.” Only Jesus understands that calling on the mountains and rocks to fall on us is preferable than facing the Day of Judgement without a Saviour. For anyone else to say it, it would just be words.

It was no light thing for the Lamb of God to take away the sin of the world. I want my response to reflect that more and more. I don’t follow the Christian year with any great diligence but I am glad for Holy Week.

My wonder at what Jesus suffered for me has never left me since the day I heard at SU camp that, “All we like sheep have gone astray, we have turned everyone of us to our own way, but the Lord has laid upon Him the iniquity of us all…He was wounded for our transgressions, bruised for our iniquities…it was the will of the Lord to crush him.”

God bless

Kenny

Shielding…alone but together.

As I awaited the arrival of my “Shielding” letter today, I was reading Psalm 133. What a blessing there is in the reality of together. I feel sad today for anyone who got their letter today, for whom there is no reality of “together.”

(Sorry for shakiness of the video posted here! New Tripod on order.)