Sounds impressive…

“I have much to say…but I won’t…,” said Jesus. Listen to the Father today, even in the midst of full flow when you see the next sentence that would press home a point, show the errors of others, really help a person to see truth.

We are not the Father, nor are we called to be. If we are prepared to speak as those who only speak what we hear, not all that we know, the Father will be glorified. If I am prepared to be the child, the Father will be able to show Himself as Father in me and through me.

I remember sitting on a plane to go and speak at a conference in another country and culture, feeling a bit nervous. The conference was on the Father Heart of God. I said, “Father, how can I represent you, I can’t do it…?” He said, “I never asked you to represent me. You go and be a Son, and I will be there as Father.” He made it clear that if I ever ceased to be a Son in my attitude and approach to ministry, if I ever lost the secure vulnerability of being a child, held by His hand, listening to what He is saying, He could not show Himself as Father through me. If the Father cannot reveal Himself through me, I have lost connection with the ministry of Christ.

It is a test of whether we have the heart of a son and daughter of God that we limit what we could say, subject what we know to the Father’s will. It is not an easy discipline, especially if we feel the need to win the argument, prove our point, or look good in the eyes of others.

We are followers of a Saviour who looked utterly defeated. I hope you are free from the need to look and sound good. Maybe that will be the battle we need to win if we are to win the battle to only speak what we hear the Father saying.

 

God bless

 

Kenny

Virtuoso? Me?…. Yes, You!

You have probably heard of Itzhak Perlman, the Israeli – American  virtuoso violinist. When he was young he contracted polio and since then has moved with extreme difficulty. For reasons too long to go into, a story concerning him came to my mind while driving my car today. I cannot verify details, but what I am about to tell you runs true to the essence of what I remember. He was performing somewhere, and having come on to the stage with great physical difficulty and effort, all of a sudden a string broke on his violin. He gave a sigh and sat quietly for a moment. He then reset the tuning of the remaining strings and played the piece as though nothing had happened!

That in itself shows a talent that is beyond the norm, but this morning as I thought about that incident I felt the blaze of the anointing of God, and a rise of emotion as the realisation dawned upon me, that I had, in some sense, done the same in recent years. Several strings are not there in my life that once were: parish ministry, health, etc. However, I have retuned the remaining strings and kept on loving the Lord and serving him in whatever ways seem to present themselves to me.

I do not usually write blogs that seem to pat myself on the back, but God seemed to pat me on the back  today in the car to make this connection for me, between the memory of that Perlman story and my life, a connection I would never have made, and a pat I would never have given myself. In fact it was more affectionate than a pat by far. It was the touch of consoling affirmation and admiration in the deepest part of my being, the very heart of me where issues of trust and love and hope and relationship to God, others, life, and myself are formed, are rescued and healed. I usually prefer to boast of things that show my weakness and the power of God in that weakness. I intensely dislike those occasions where one has to listen to speakers speak about their marvellous ministries elsewhere to date as it were – a boasting that is usually not verified by results from the ensuing ministry, I  have to say! However, I share my pat on the back from my Heavenly Father, in the hope it will help some of you who may have to retune your remaining strings, having experienced a few snapping at the most inconvenient times in life! It can be done.

Within that general truth, I believe there is someone who specifically needs to hear this who reads this blog. God would call you a “faith virtuoso.” First there was abuse in your childhood (round about or just under the age of 11 at some point). There was the instrument you were never allowed to master. Then there was the knock back in educational hopes. Then there was the series of broken relationships, the failure of marriage, disappointment with regard to children. But you have managed to retune  the strings so many times and still sing songs of praise and faith. “Well done, Virtuoso!” Others screech out a tune which only their Father could bear to listen to and does! But your tune has blessed not only Him. Many others, more than you realise heard, savoured and appreciated your overcoming more than you know. It has helped them. Again, I say, “Well done, Virtuoso!”

God Bless

Kenny

Shouting + Hiding = ?

I was reading John 4, the story of Jesus meting and talking with a woman at the well of Sychar in Samaria. It made me think of the Christ who comes with a winnowing fork in his hand.

A winnowing fork needs a gentle breeze to separate wheat from chaff. You could not use a winnowing fork in a hurricane. The grain would be blown away with the chaff. Everything would be lost.

Truth and love encouraged the woman out of hiding, to own her whole story. Wheat and chaff were separated within her, and the seed of further fruitfulness planted. Harshness does not bring a hiding fearful soul into the light of truth. It makes it seems as though the safer and more sensible course of action would be to keep hiding….

God bless

Kenny

Road Warning….

“Ministry” – and we all have one – can develop a life of its own. One door can open another and it is tempting just to go through them all. God may allow you to do that, at least for a while, but it is not the best way to be. If you are the type of person that says “Yes” to every ministry opportunity or invitation, something has gone wrong somewhere. Ask God to show you what it about you that is needing his insight and attention. Less is more when God is more in the less than in the more you may have become addicted to.

I felt this morning that there were some who read my blogging efforts that needed to hear this. Some of you may struggle to allow yourselves to hear what I am saying. Something in you will fight against it. That is understandable. When it is the Lord who cares about the wellbeing of His servants who is trying to speak to you, it will not go unopposed. I hope you may not throw this aside in anger and disgust, like a crumpled up letter. Perhaps though you discard this today, you might retrieve it and read it again when your hostility  (or is it a fear? Panic?) has lessened, or indeed when you have become curious about your own hostility and reaction.

This blog came about because of a dream. I could also have written it from experience of many years ministry and ministry opportunities. Looking back, I said “Yes” too often….I wish I had learned to say “No” with equal ease.

God may be warning someone this very day of the imminent danger of a crash.

God bless

Kenny

These things I call to mind….

A story came to mind tonight. I think it cane out of Revival In Indonesia, but cannot check it as it was one of several hundred books that I had to say goodbye to, after my lung condition was diagnosed. If I remember the story with any accuracy, it was about an old minister who heard himself being described in mocking terms as “the old dry stick.” He was cut to the heart, but in pain and humility sought the Lord. The Lord met with Him and now the rumour started to spread, “The old dry stick has caught fire.”

Are you criticising local church leadership? In evangelical or charismatic church settings it can, sadly, be quite common. It is as though if someone has a very definite story of meeting with the Lord in salvation or empowering, that somehow causes them to doubt the minister or the leadership or others in the church as a whole, have had as real an experience, or know the Lord as they know Him. Talk from such a spirit, usually gets back to those being talked about, and it can be hurtful.

It all contrasts so deeply with another memory this evening of someone converted in the Lewis revival of 49-52. I have met them several times. I have never met someone who carries more of God. To be in her presence has always made me cry. I would sometimes cry when I didn’t even know she was around! The presence of God would be sweet and beautiful to the point of unbearable. On each occasion, I turned around…and there was this lady! The first time I met her in her home, she was terribly embarrassed when I asked her to pray with and for me. “How can I pray for you, a man of God?” Well, she saw my disappointment and relented! I cannot begin to tell you how I treasured that simple non showy prayer, in all its glorious ordinariness!

There is a false humility, the sort of “Holy Willie” type of thing, and there is a true humility. This was true unforced humility. Meeting with God in spirit and in truth will always result in thinking others as better than ourselves, and to honour them accordingly. Even areas of actual giftedness or even expertise, if there is such a thing in spiritual life, will not prevent you from considering everyone you meet as better than yourself. This dear lady held those who lead God’s people in high regard.

What about praying for leadership instead of criticising from a place of frustration, or from a place of thinking you know the Lord His Spirit and His Word, better than those for whom God has opened the door of leadership? Listen, you may well know the Lord better than your minister, your church leadership, but if you do you will never think or feel that you do, or express to others in subtle or blatant ways that you do….nor think it privately and smugly!

…and if you are leader who humbly believes you are a dry stick, remember how bright a dry stick can burn….God bless you…real good! You have my highest admiration, even though I may not know you or ever meet you. Leading is not easy…

Kenny

At ease…

Jesus, in John Chapter 4, was so at ease with the Samaritan woman at the welll of Sychar – a despised woman in a town despised by other Samaritans and called “Drunkenness”, in a country despised by the Jews – that He told her who He was: He didn’t self disclose to any other individual in the four gospels. In the process of their conversation, she gradually got to a place of being at ease with Him. From that place, she seemed to move into a place of being at ease with herself and at ease living in relationship with others in her community.

Anyway, I am running ahead of myself…indeed a sermon is unfolding in ma heid right at this moment! I really just wanted to ask you if you believe Jesus is at ease with you today? Does He enjoy being with you? I am not asking you to spout forth the “right” answer. What do you think, honestly and truthfully?

God bless

Kenny

Sweating beneath a mask?

OK, I am a Charismatic in the eyes of others. Well, indeed I am, in terms of biblical conviction and in terms of personal experience of the Spirit. However the “culture” of the Charismatic world is not something I am always at ease with as it often runs counter to the biblical revelation of the Sovereign Lord and to my experience of His Spirit. It is a world in which there are successive flavours of the month – well flavours of the month that if marketed well run for a few years. “What God is doing” is in the hands of advertisers with a budget, who expect a profit from those who can afford their product.
I was helped to admit my discomfort with the way things have developed, or I would say regressed, in the current Western charismatic scene by thoughts from Thomas Merton. It sounds patronising in the extreme to say I do not agree with everything Thomas Merton wrote, or thought or taught, but I found this helpful:
“Perhaps if I only realised that I do not admire what everyone else seems to admire I would really begin to live after all… I would be liberated from the painful duty of saying what I really do not think.”
Merton says that when a person begins to sweat or itch under a mask or a role placed upon them by culture, which presumably includes the culture of “church” or a movement within the church, they are beginning to be free. As I read his words today, I began to see what, on reflection, is patently obvious: alienation is not only a societal or economic or political concept, but can be much more personal and spiritual than that. It begins, as Merton says, when a culture divides me from myself.
These thoughts gave me rich pasture to feed on and seemed to have the scent of Kingdom of God revolutionary air about them…. deep was calling to deep.

God bless

Kenny

“And Jesus did call apart Peter, James and John and they did enter a room and sit down….”

With the help of David Strutt in today’s comments in “Sanctuary, Moments in His Presence” I was thinking about the fact that people watched Jesus, “insidiously.” Not a nice word and not a nice experience. The amazing thing is that it did not seem to disturb Jesus at all! If we are secure in our Father’s love, these types of things are like arrows that fly over our heads but do not land!

Goodness me, how much time we waste thinking about people thinking about us! “Are they thinking about me properly, justly, are they relating to me rightly, fairly?” Give it up! Grow up even! Remember your time is actually God’s time and Kingdom time. In all sorts of ways we need to remember we are to have this mind in us that was in Christ! We are not our own, we have been bought with a price. Such concerns have no place in the life of Abba’s Child.

I honestly believe that in terms of the Kingdom, we will never reach our potential if we do not triumph over these insecurities and rest in our belovedness. For our own sake, God will limit opportunities open to us, because with greater anointing comes greater adverse and unjust human reaction. Spirituality is at least in part about learning to close the time gap between a happening and reacting to it as a child of God. It would be unkind of God to place you into a calling you feel is for you, until you get the security issue settled, until you meet injustice against you unfazed, and meet potentially insecurity inducing treatment with security.

Sadly the Church is not always Kingdom minded. It fails to see people that should have wider opportunities opened up to them and sometimes opens up wider opportunities to those who will be harmed by that and harm others at the same time. The Church, even in its leadership, does not always have the mind of Christ. Even those who often seem to have, don’t always get it right all the time. I have seen some of the most prophetically gifted leaders I know making disastrous appointments, even suggesting wrong marriage partnerships to people!

We must never become insensitive to truth about ourselves we need to see, even when it is extremely painful and may mean a whole new way of seeing and being in certain aspects of who we are not and who we are in God. But we can never become who we are meant to be if we continually need to feel we are in a safe environment, or if we do not get over reacting strongly or in a prolonged way to the negative or bad behaviour of others toward us….

It was a helpful word to think about today, based on the story of Jesus being watched closely, or insidiously at a meal in Luke Chapter 14….. How gloriously free Christ was to take his cue from His Father who loved Him…. Remember we are “In Christ” as believers, living in His belovedness, in the delight of His Father and ours. Get hold of that and you have the base established for Kingdom of God joy, unruffled personal peace about yourself, and usefulness. Set upon great security in your belovedness, we make ourselves available for increasing adversity, increasing injustice, increasing suffering, and increasing anointing. We can’t get to the last one on that list without setting out to conquer in the other areas rather than being tripped up by them. Resting in our blessedness is the place where we will conquer. From there, it will be safe for us to be trusted with the works and even the wonders of God as He calls and sees fit.

And Jesus did call apart Peter, James and John, and they did enter a room and sit down and talk in angst together: “Did you see the way they were looking at me at meal time? I am really hurt by it. It is so unfair, so unjust. I don’t know how to move on from here.”… NOT!

God bless

Kenny

“Abba!” The cry of God’s child from the nightmare…

There has been much talk since the mid 90’s on the Father heart of God. I am so glad of that as a Scot! Scottish religion has been very harsh at times and the truth that Jesus taught, namely that the Father warmly and affectionately loves us, is one that is often met with unbelief or incredulity by Scottish minds and hearts. Though we are a country with a rich heritage in God, we also carry much religious baggage, not all of it helpful or good,  which often results in the warm love of God bing pushed away when first encountered either in the preaching of God’s Word or by direct experience of the Spirit.

I am sad however, that in the renewed and much needed emphasis on the Father heart of God, there is often not a full Scriptural telling of that truth. There can be a tendency to  fall into sentimentality as the dominant ambience in which the Father’s love is presented. The witness of the Scriptures is much fuller than mere sentiment and warm glow, though as I say and stress Abba’s love is indeed warm, it is indeed affectionate. Our Heavenly Father is not cold or harsh or austere.   But, when we are assured of the Holy Spirit of God helping us to cry “Abba Father” in Romans Chapter 8, the tone of the language used there might be imagined like this: a small child has fallen on the street, and is crying out to their Daddy not to be left alone, but to be helped; a crying out from a fearful place or hurt and woundedness in faith that Daddy can be trusted. Despite the faith, the tone is one of anguish and distress.

Rowan Williams is quoted in “Celtic Daily Prayer Book 1, The Journey Begins,” in similar vein; I commend that book to you, as a resource you might like to try:

“The Cry to God as Father in the New Testament, is not a calm acknowledgement of a universal truth about God’s abstract fatherhood. It is the Child’s cry out of a nightmare. It is the cry of outrage, fear, shrinking away, when faced with the horror of the ‘world’ – yet not simply or exclusively protest, but trust as well. ‘ “Abba Father” all things are possible to Thee…’

I have mentioned these amazingly insightful words of Rowan Williams before, but visiting my Mum today in hospital drew me to find refuge in their truth  afresh this evening, hence the sharing of his words again. It was not an easy visit. It is never easy to watch someone you love suffering whether in body, mind or spirit, no matter how much wonderful attention is being given to their care. Perhaps right now, the ambience of your life is far from pleasant. You may be suffering a nightmare in some sense, perhaps it is a nightmare involving those you care about, whose circumstances you would wish to change for them if you could, but cannot. Let your cry of pain and trust, that mixture of confusion, yes even anger or outrage mixed with faith go to Abba. This cry out of the nightmare, the crying out after the painful fall, shows we really are Abba’s chldren, and  the Holy Spirit is bearing witness to that from deep within.  Cry out to Abba for yourself, for your loved ones who may be too weak to cry out for themselves, for Abba’s children lost and found…

God bless

Kenny

God has Life in himself…

It is always good to know that Satan and his hordes are not free to do as they will. They need permission. I have only seen a demon once with my eyes. It happened 40 years ago. There were a couple of incidents where my life was threatened. After they occurred I saw a demon looking to God asking for permission to end my life. Permission was not given. I have never seen a painting, even in salivating mediaeval genre that adequately expresses the horror of the figure I saw. It was not hideous in a stereotypical nightmare sense. Rather it was the epitome of non life, with an unswerving , religious committment, a sense of vow even toward its cause of non life… It is good that all our days are written in God’s book before one of them came to be!

The Father has life in Himself and has granted it to the Son to have life in Himself and to give life to those He wills, those who are given to Him. Non life is a death worse than physical…

Kenny

Dreamy thoughts…

OK, this wee post won’t interest all. If it seems to talk about things you find a bit weird, don’t bother about it. It’s about dreams – so decide to read on or not!

The fact is God speaks in dreams still. That has been part of my experience of Him since the age of 3. I had a very significant dream then, another significant dream about 30 years of my life when I was about 7, a repeating dream from 13 onwards, and another repeating dream in my 30’s. There have been loads more, but these were extremely significant and spoke of the shape of life, health, family and ministry as well as spiritual attack that would come, and were fulfilled as time passed, in each detail.

This is what I have been thinking today in the light of dreams of more recent years:

Some teach wrongly that you should only listen to dreams that are birthed from your spirit and ignore those which come from your human soul. It is actually vital to note the content a of soulish dreams. They often give insight into false identities we have taken onboard, false ideas about destiny and worth and can be an indication where we need the healing of God’s love and truth. I had many soulish dreams at the time I had to give up parish ministry. They were vital in my healing, my letting go of old things, letting go of Identities I or others would hold me to, and vital to help me take a leap into empty space and trust God to help me progress to new things in God. Don’t ignore your soul. As a guide, soulish dreams are rarely if ever colourful. That is just what I have found, but I have no basis to make that a rule though others more versed in this type of stuff seem confident to make it a rule. However, yes, in my limited experience, soulish dreams are pretty colourless.

It’s almost midnight! May God bless your dreams or give you a dream free night if that would bless you more!

Kenny

Stop whining…just lead…

If you are a leader you don’t need to tell people you are. You have either got it or not. If you have got it some will follow and some will hate you and rebel against you. Both mean you are a leader. If you have not got both in measure, at least at times, well you aren’t a leader in the Kingdom of God sense. It’s the bible way for all leaders, Old Testament and New.

Now, of course it goes without question that you ask God to show you if you have been an idiot and caused dissension by lack of love or sensitivity or wisdom, but having said that, if you want to be a leader a la bible, get over the fact that some folk will just not like you, and don’t keep complaining about it. Don’t lick your wounds and complain about injustice. Uncover the wounds in the presence of a wounded Saviour and Deliverer and Conqueror. He never told anyone of the depths of His suffering or harped on about how unjust everything had been. He left the justice of His cause in the hands of His Father. Allow Him to look at your wounds, the injustices you have met and suffered, and let Him bind them in His love and then get on with leading without referring to them publicly.

It is very boring when leaders talk about their hardships. Folk used to ask me to share a particular story of suffering: I did, but now I regret giving in to that pressure for a few years in a very repetitive way. There may be an odd occasion where we can speak about suffering for the gospel when that gospel is under threat, Paul did that after all,  but when leaders talk about such things for any other motivation some unfortunate things happen: they draw attention away from Christ to themselves which is unfortunate as they cannot really help anyone let alone save them; they usually hit the loyal and distress them; the rebels don’t hear the intended rebuke anyway, or if they do, they don’t feel any remorse: if anything, it is more likely to make them stiffen their necks even more.

Don’t try and do the Holy Spirit’s work of conviction for Him… He is better at that than you…. just get on with the “offscouring of the earth” calling to be a leader of God’s people and rejoice in all your losses for the sake of Christ.

God bless you if you are a leader. If you are not, then pray for those who are.

Kenny

God save us from highfalutin prayer!

Abba loves to hear the voices of His children! Dont get too highfalutin , too high brow about prayer, what it is and isn’t. Just speak to Abba and try and listen to Him too. Remembering when my children started to speak to me. It did not even matter one jot to me that it was not proper sentences. I did not send them away until they had learned to speak properly. Oh, how unsure we are that Abba affectionately loves us more than the best and most affectionate t of earthly fathers – whom Jesus described as evil in comparison to our heavenly Father! Just make sounds if you can’t think of the words… who knows where that may take you in the Spirit. Abba will love that sound. He is good at knowing what we are trying to say, even though nobody else listening in would have a clue. There are times when what is happening is just between you and Him.

Oh by the way, iIf you are in ministry, I hope you haven’t had Abba, Daddy, trained out of God or the child trained out of you. What use will your public prayers be to anyone if that has happened? More than one writer on spiritual life has said we are at our most universal when we are most personal. Let people eavesdrop in your relationship with Abba. That is what made the disciples say to Jesus, “Teach us to pray…”

Praying your will know the Father’s kiss and embrace invading your times with Him.

God bless

Kenny

Another wee prayer…

“Lord, they just placed him before you. Four pairs of strong dust covered hands, placing weakness and brokenness before you. Somehow they believed you would say the right thing, do the right thing…. and you did.

I can do that! I can bring brokenness, as I have seen it today, wrapped in a blanket of compassion, and lay it before you; trusting you to touch what needs to be touched, say what needs to be said and do what needs to be done.

You are helping me win the battle to simplify faith and prayer.

Thank You

Amen

Dancing Lessons…

I was thinking today in a non morbid way of losses or many different types that have been part of the reality of illness. Some of them have been hard, distressing, some of them reasonably easy to adjust to. Some  types of loss you can  possibly imagine would accompany health issues and early retirement, others may surprise you if I were to share them. What prompted my thinking along these lines were these words from Henri Nouwen: “The gift of life has revealed itself in the midst of all losses.” I prayed in  response to my thinking: once  again I wrote as I prayed. I have left our any specific references to any  of my particular personal losses, but having said that, I offer this prayer to you to share in and to use, if you find it helpful. The style is mine, so don’t be put off by that. I like words, but we are not heard by God for our love of words, or for out means of expression.  Perhaps reading my prayer will help you pray your own in the face of your own losses, in your own way and words!

“Lord, losses are real and they are painful. You know that. Thank You Lord that you sighed for the man whose speech impediment must have been mocked (a thought I read in  the reading for today, June 24th, in “Sanctuary” by David Strutt). You wept in the face of grief. You released anguish in the face of death: deep violent feeling against it, because of all it steals and destroys. You did not rush past feelings, but gave space for loss to live and breathe and speak and make its sounds too deep for words. Thank You.

As so often, I am left praying, “Teach me Your ways O Lord.” Give me your wisdom. These last few years have brought many losses, whose distress and voice I have sometimes gagged, forgetting that there is comfort that can only be found in and through mourning. It is not faith that ignores and presses on, but fear. It is not courage but cowardice to behave like that. It is not the triumph of peace but of panic. Forgive me.

Today, I feel. In the presence of the beauty of this summer day, the colour of it, the fragrances in the garden, senses are clarified and heightened. I am drawn to “feel” like bees to a flower. Beauty has awakened some remembered sorrows that I know you have now  brought me through.  But I  do remember the former things. Brightness  brought back the memory of confusion and lack of clarity; colours made me think of the grey times: more unbearable than black and white. The feeling of mourning can be felt again just as a smell can be remembered and sensed again though it is no longer present.

Yet, in the mourning remembered, I sensed the dawn that is new every second of the day and night, a dawn that penetrates the darkness and outshines the noon day sun. It is the ever fresh dawn of You, You Yourself. Under all shrouds, there seems to be a dance. You have helped me learn new steps. Mourning and dancing seem to be so linked in your presence. How horribly subtle is the serpent: causing grief but not allowing its expression, telling us to wipe out tears and dry our eyes prematurely. You call us to a grief that the evil one tries to disallow, for he knows mourning with you  is the first step in the dance of comfort. In facing  things that are no more,  You help us to find treasures that will never end. You teach songs in the night, that shine brighter than the sun in the dawn, haunting the day with their other worldly beauty, their unsung melody.

Through suffering you entered your glory. The uniqueness of your story is a pattern, a promise for all who believe. “Teach me to dance to the beat of your heart, teach me to move in the power of Your Spirit, teach me to dwell in the light of your presence.”  I am at my gladdest when moving with the Lamb who bears the marks of slaughter, yet has been anointed with the oil of joy beyond all His companions who walk with Him. You take the prize for dancing Lord, the prize for the most joyful dance learned through the most painful steps. Help me to wonder at You, watch, listen and learn. Oh, get off the floor, all you self-proclaimed  experts in God. Get off the floor, Pastor Borthwick. Make way for Jesus. Watch Him dance, look at Him go! Applaud His triumph! Give Him the glory due!

Father, may this be a day when for many, your Word will be fulfilled yet again: “You have turned our mourning into dancing…you have given me beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for a spirit of heaviness!”

In Your Name

Amen.”

“Let them off the hook.”…”Why should I?”

I read of a Christian judge saying once that what he loved about being a judge was it gave him the opportunity to be merciful. I like that. I don’t mean I like the terrible legal stupidities we hear about in terms of inappropriate comments or sentencing that inflicts further wrong on the victims of crime etc, I mean I like the idea that someone loves to show mercy. Do you love being merciful, letting people off with a debt of some sort that they owe you, for no other reason than the love of God in your heart? We don’t like the idea of “pity” these days it seems, but in Luke 18, in the story of a man in great debt whose debt was wiped out, that action is described as happening as a result of someone, the man wronged, having pity towards him and showing him mercy.

Nothing is said of how joyful the merciful man was in that story! However, we know from the Old and New Testaments, that God requires this of His people: that we love mercy. Are you glad that as God’s child, His Spirit within gives you power to walk in the mercy of God, to be like that judge, and delight in opportunities to be merciful?

Maybe you are struggling to get to that point. Maybe you want to say, “But wait a minute, the judge is not being personally wronged, hurt, etc, but I have been.” Well, forget about the judge of an earthly court. Think about Jesus. He can teach you by His Word and by His Spirit within you, how to love mercy, even when the wrong has been severe and very personally inflicted upon you.

Is there someone to let off the hook before your head hits the pillow tonight?

Oh and one more thing: I am not saying, “Do it for your benefit.” When I read about forgiving others in many Christian books, often the matter is cast in that light, the benefit it will bring to us when we forgive someone – we will no longer be held by bitterness, we will be free. I am not so sure that is how we should be thinking of mercy. It may well bring us benefit, but that is hardly Christian mercy.Rather, we are to be merciful for the good of the person who has done wrong to us. We not only release them from being in any sort of debt to us, but pray that God will be merciful and bless them, that good purpose from God will prevail in their lives. A benefit to us is a bonus, not the motivation behind showing mercy. We do not do it for psychological or emotional relief, even if that is a benefit that comes our way. We do it to be like our Father.

God bless

Kenny

Spirit to spirit…

Some people are so afraid of false fire that they settle for no fire of the Spirit at all, so sign, no wonder, no miracle, all disdained under slight of hand saying, “Of course Salvation is the greatest miracle.” Of course it is, who is arguing with that? Such fear does not bring any glory to God. In fact it robs Him of His glory.

Which is greater: our Father’s ability to answer the sincere prayers of His children when they ask Him for the Gift and gifts of His Holy Spirit or the devil’s ability to sneak in there past the Father’s watchful love as He listens and answers the prayers of His people asking in response to the encouragement of His trustworthy Word? Come on folks! Counterfeit means there is real. They can look the same. That is why we need the gift of discernment of spirits. It is impossible to make right judgement about what is happening, by any other means. Observation, common sense, accurate knowledge of the bible are all helpful, but taken all together are still insufficient to make that call. A good mind cannot work these things out either. This is a Spirit to spirit business. The unspiritual person,  who by definition has settled into living  from their soul – their  mind and emotions, their  strong will about matters – cannot receive such things.

God bless

Kenny

“Father, I ask…I pray for…”

Recently a couple of folk have shared with me how they were healed in the past when I prayed for them. I also heard of someone, just a couple of nights ago, whose condition had improved and whose pain had been lessened for a few years, which gave them much needed relief. I did not know that had happened, so it was nice to hear the news.

In the charismatic world we have made healing very complicated, usually with the best of intentions. We want to see people experiencing the healing power of God. However, these good intentions have often made it seem as though unless you pray in the right way, speak in the right way, use the correct  formula of words, then healing will not happen. The end result is that healing can focus more on our ministering method than on God, which ultimately means less healing happens., though often exaggerated claims are made. I was once at a meeting at which the speaker had a world wide repuation for a genuine healing ministry, and was teaching a “method” of praying for healing. Despite repeated requests for testimonies, there were no testimonies to healing forthcoming, but the website of the ministry involved said that loads of folk had been healed in that self same meeting.

As far as I can remember, I used no formula when praying for the people mentioned above. I simply came to the Father through Jesus the Son, prayed with the help of the Holy Spirit and left the matter there. I did not declare anything, command anything, promise anything. I believe there can be a place for commanding, declaring, promising etc., but it has become hugely overdone in my opinion and is leading to disappointment. Turning God into a technique never works.  It is not the wisest way to relate to the Living God.

Perhaps you are one who has attended courses, conferences, etc on healing for genuine reasons; you believe in healing and want to see more of it happen… but after all that you have learned and put into practice, you are still disappointed. It could be that because of that you have even retreated a bit when it comes to the whole subject of healing.

I wonder if you need to get back to an old fashioned humbler way, sometimes even taught against now in charismatic circles, or despised as showing  a lack of faith? Just come to the Father, through Jesus the Son and ask Him to heal. Leave the matter there, unless you know that you know that the Spirit is prompting you to do or say something further. Often there will be results that no one may tell you about until years later. Indeed you may not hear about them until  heaven. That is fine is it not? After all, it is for His eternal glory we do anything we do…or is it?

God bless

Kenny

Looking at the birds…thinking….of you?

Love this time of the year! The baby birds are so tame. I guess they have not learned fear yet. They soon will, for their own protection, but the fear will probably be a bit indiscriminate, in that they will become afraid of me when there is no need. I have no malevolence towards them, but nonetheless, soon they will fly away when I come out to feed them, whereas for a few weeks they are quite happy to hop around and stay put! Some in time will learn a boldness again, I guess, and quite happily hop around human beings at tables in city centre cafes, or fly into garden centres. Their fears will have become a bit more appropriate.

It saddened me to meet human beings ,when I was in parish ministry, in whom fear of people had been awakened for understandable reasons, but in whom that fear had spilled over its appropriate borders to make them afraid of almost every situation of human contact. That makes life so difficult.

Perhaps that describes you? If it does, then I pray that somehow God will help you with that fear which has gone into overdrive. There is a positive and wise caution and common sense, that can be good, for not everybody is trustworthy. It could be however, that at the moment, you feel you can only live and survive by cutting off contact with just about all people, which may be include those through whom God means to bless you and enrich your life, people who will be the channel of God releasing you from the hold of all pervasive fear.

If that is you, you have been in my prayers this morning. Can you dare to believe you will not always be afraid of people? I hope that seed of hope may be planted in you this very day.

God bless you,

Kenny

A wee extra thought, courtesy of Psalm 139…

Since I started to train for the ministry in 1979 onwards a few people have said to me something like this: “Kenny, I really want to grow in God. If you see anything in my life where you think I am going wrong I give you permission to speak into that.” I think one or two of the few really meant that in all humility and sincerity. I was reading Psalm 139 a few moments ago, in the NLT. I was wondering if I could pray and mean these words at the end of that psalm, and I guess I am giving you the opportunity to wonder about that too for yourself: “Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. Point out anything in me the offends you, and lead me alone the path of everlasting life.” “Search..test..know..point out…lead..” That really is laying it all before the Lord.

God bless

Kenny

In the wake of Hector, a memory of its Master…

Woke up early. Everything was so still. Perhaps with Storm Hector’s passing on,  the absence  of the noise of  its wind was accentuating the silence. Looking out of the window, the stillness awakened a memory of a deeper holy hush, I experienced  many years ago.

I was in the manse of a friend in North Uist at the time. I was there for a Communion Season at which I was to preach at the English speaking services while another visiting minister was due to speak at the Gaelic speaking services. It was a house marked by much prayer for Revival. Through the night, I woke up and became aware of such a deep presence of the Lord that it was tangible. It was beautiful, fearful, made me want to get out of bed and prostrate myself on the floor and also dance furiously all at the same time. There was deep awe and fear in a part of my inner being I have rarely touched, but  joy rising in my heart as well, a lightness of spirit. The simple thought  birthed in these moments was this: “This is our God and we have waited for Him.”

At first I  had no sense of wondering about the meaning of what was happening. The moment was there to be lived, survived even, whatever it led to, if anything. The Holy One of Israel was there to be worshipped, that is all. The sense was of Him filling all things. From my bed I looked out of the window. Though the Lord often speaks to me through “pictures” in my spirit, I have had very few vision experiences. This was one of them. Against the background of the darkness  of the early hours I could see two things:

The first thing I saw was  not part of the vision but an earthly observation. In the distance I could see the lights of cars going to and fro across the island. It was already the early hours of the Sabbath, and there was a sense of these cars carrying people on the same godless pursuits of the lonely and the lost as happens anywhere on a Saturday night/ early Sunday morning. My heart was hit by such a sense grief, a grief  that I knew was not my own. It was the Lord, the Shepherd’s own heart for the lost that I was touching the outer edges of. “God so loved the world….”

The second thing I was aware of was a shape moving effortlessly among the stars.  As I looked upwards, these words were birthed deep within: “Who is this who rides across the heavens in the stateliness of His majesty?” What I saw was the outline of a kingly figure. His transparent robe was made of stars and planets, that seemed to be drawn in the skirts of the train of that robe as He moved onwards with unfaltering  and unstoppable pace . It was as though the whole universe was magnetised to His glory, being taken at His will towards a destination to which He would one day bring all things.

I have never forgotten the “sight.” It left me with enduring memories and thoughts, above all this one.  What would happen if  men and women  were to  be awakened to the magnetism of Him who carries all things in his hands, and become aware of the presence of the One whom moon and stars, suns and planets obey, the One to whom all creation is calling out, “Come!” ? Folk in the cars I was still aware of would be out of them, lying face down before the Lord, unbearably conscious of the God they had ignored passing by in their midst. No one would need to tell them to cry out in the sentiments of Fanny Crosbie’s hymn,

Pass me not O gentle Saviour
Hear my humble cry,
While on others thou art calling,
Do not pass me by.

Let me at Thy throne of mercy
Find a sweet relief:
Kneeling there in deep contrition,
Help my unbelief.

Trusting only in Thy merit
Would I seek Thy face;
Heal my wounded broken spirit,
Save me by thy grace. 

In the presence of the One riding across the heavens in the stateliness of His majesty it was not hard to believe that a nation could be changed in a single day, it was not hard to believe for Revival. I suppose I hoped that Revival might be falling on the island at that moment. That did not happen, despite the earnestness of prayer of many over the decades, prayer which  I am sure still continues even today, especially  in the hearts of some of the Lord’s people for whom the islands of the West are home. However,  I believe Revival in the islands is only a matter of time. As the intense glory of the moment I am recounting to you passed, I felt  that  the whole experience was a prophetic promise of that coming revival: “This is our God and we have waited for Him.” My hope is that when that day dawns, hearts in North Uist will be among many more hearts throughout the islands and indeed the United Kingdom, magnetised to the moving of God in the midst.

As the glory further faded yet still lingered, the most natural response was to pray. I do not know what I prayed then, my words were probably few, but I know what the memory of  all of this made me pray today in the stillness of the early morning. I typed as I prayed. I share it with you. The wording may sound old fashioned and severe. It is just the way I pray about such things. The style is personal to me, do son’t trip up over that. Hopefully you may feel the urge to pray in your own way for Revival.

“Oh that thou wouldst rend the heavens and come down; that mountains of unbelief, lostness, rebellion, hard heartedness, confusion, the devil’s lies, would melt away, flow down before your presence. May that day come! Whether Scotland is the first to be awakened by your Sovereign grace and timing, or its place in heaven’s future unfolding calendar of mighty acts be marked by a  less noteworthy number in the list of nations to be revived, may the world  look with  astonishment on a Scotland awakened to You. May our humbling before you, be a sign of hope  to those who look and who hear of what you have done for us.  May other faithful souls who even now are often found on their knees and faces pleading for their own communities and homeland say with faith, “This is what God does for those who wait for Him! If God can humble the nation of Scotland which has forgotten its God, the proud leader of the march of increasing godlessness in the nations of the United Kingdom, He can save us. Revive us too, O Lord, for the sake of the glory of your own dear Son, Jesus. Amen!”

I hope these early morning thoughts bless you.

Kenny

The grinning clown, or the Father’s Face: a prayer for true “Hope.”

Sometimes I fear that the charismatic movement which began in the Spirit has ended in the flesh. The raw power of God has been transmuted into systems, processes, taught and learned but often not marked by as convincing results as claimed. I am not against learning “how to” as it were. God means His ways to be taught and learned. There are “systems” or processes taught in His Word. For example if we ask, seek and knock, He will give us His Holy Spirit. If we confess our sins He is faithful and just to forgive us ours sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. The thing is though, that God’s systems are based on relationship with Him, not merely on learning steps to a result from a motivational speaker. There is always a danger that trust in God degenerates into a series of magic chants invented by man even though using biblical language,  with the Name of Jesus attached to them, without Jesus being honoured or even present.

Today I was reading in Romans 5 about the relational, the non magical journey to hope. (maybe you should read that  Chapter before reading more of this blog!) Here are a few lines of a longer prayer I  found myself praying and writing:

“…Today Father, I read of another journey of relationship in your Word, a journey that leads to a desirable and often sought place. Your Word tells me there is a “hope” we can reach that will never be disappointed. Father, so much deadness in life, lifelessness in eyes, lethargy of limb, dull beat of heart has settled upon people through hope which has proved false and mocked its own dying, only to rise again in some other mask or guise to grin at our grasping and gasping, showing its true face: the nightmare clown.

Father, the hope you give does not disappoint us. It is secure, for it is the fruit of assured love, your love shed abroad in our hearts by your Spirit. What a prize; what a treasure:a hope that does not die because its anchor is in that love which died and never dies.

Thank you, Father, for showing me the steps of the joyful dance of hope in your Word. “Trouble.. endurance,” steps one and two. Most dances begin with finding our feet move awkwardly, and the steps are difficult. “ Trouble… endurance” seem a long way from swirling with You and all who love You on the dance floor of each new day, but your Son is Teacher, Rabboni, who knows the steps, The Way. “Trouble, endurance… and then…character.”  Lord,  this is old time religion, that modern day religions of magic chants through mics have replaced. But it was good for our fathers, good for our mothers, good for Paul and Peter, so it is good enough for me. “Trials, endurance, character…hope…,” planted in Calvary, nurtured by the continual fertile living waters of your witnessing  Spirit within.

I’ll stick with your Way, Lord, by your grace and help. I’ll  learns to dance to the steps revealed, written, recorded. Raise up a generation of Josiahs, of every age and of each gender, who discover lost words and ways, the ignored Book of God, buried in our forgotten heritage.

Amen, let it be so! Amen!”

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When the Holy Spirit whispers, “Shoosh…!”

It is curious the way no one was allowed to spread the news of Jairus’ daughter being raised from the dead. The prohibition was obviously felt to be understood as temporary: after all, I read it again today as the text for June 14th. in David Strutt’s beautiful devotional book, “Sanctuary.” (Pray for David, by the way. I have just had word from David that he has ruptured his Achilles’ tendon and his leg is in plaster.)

As I read Luke 8 afresh, I was reminded of a time when my friend Howard and I were visting one of the fruits of the Lewis Revival. In the midst of conversation this lovely old man just happened to mention a time when his daughter had been raised from the dead. He did so in an unaltered tone from the conversation that had been flowing before that revelation. Indeed, Howard and I looked at one another as if to say to one another by our glances, “Did he just say….?” Right at that moment, the phone went and this is what Howard and I heard:

“Yes, it’s yourself. I have some boys in just now. I was just telling them about the time you were raised from the dead. Speak to them.” The phone was handed over to us. “Yes, that is what happened. It was quite wonderful really.” End of conversation! The conversation moved on to our host showing us a 24 hour world clock he had received after speaking to a meeting of over 37.000 people when he was in his eighties. That is the age God allowed him to start sharing things! In his delightful island accent he said, “Yes, this clock, it is a beautiful thing, a wonderful thing really, if only I knew how to work it!”

How different the approach to God’s miracles today. When something like this happens, it is placarded across the Chritian world. The person involved becomes an object of intense interest, public property, to bolster the faith of believers, that our God is real after all and still doing wonders. They become a curiosity, used, perhpas even to the point of being abused like the elephant man or a circus freak or curiosity. The Christian world had no interest in them before and soon they are no longer flavour of the month. Today’s news, tomorrow’s fish and chip wrapping. Interest soon passes to gold dust falling somewhere or some other such phenomena, or the person tours the charismatic church scene themselves telling the same story again and again as though God had only acted one time in their life in any way that was worth speaking about. God is cheapened and so are they.

We need wisdom to know when and what to speak about God’s wonders. This incident in Luke 8 is not an isolated one. There were other times Jesus told people not to share marvellous happenings or miracles they had experienced. The reasons may have differed from case to case, but in Luke 8, I think the instruction to silence was to save the young girl from uncaring attention. Sometimes we speak as though God’s glory is His only concern. Actually that is wrong scripturally. He cares for vulnerable people. That is part of His glory. Seeking glory at the expense of others is the glory a tyrant seeks. It is not who the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ is.

Is there something to learn from all of this? We live in days when there seems to be a demand that we tell all and share all. It is probably a reaction to a time when people were told to keep silent and much hurt and harm went unnoticed and covered up. However telling of our hurts or even the wonders God has done for us does not always help, though we might think it always would.

Can God do something wonderful for you and trust you for your own sake to be silent? Can you trust God if there should come a time when you feel a check from His Spirit on what you are about to say, indicating you are to keep silent about an injustice, and not be constantly biting your lip, longing to tell of it? The reason may be because He cares for you and can see consequences of harm coming your way if you speak at the wrong time. It may be of course the other person to whom you are speaking, is not trustworthy. I have come across shocking things in the world of charismatic conferences involving world famous names. Leaders threatening other leaders that they will reveal what was spoken between them in confidence in order to bring them down. Even gifting from God – gifts of the Holy Spirit – can be abused, so never be overawed by a person’s gift into thinking it must mean they are trustworthy or that they are in a good place with God. You need to know both when to speak and who to speak to.

I happen to have a gift of discernment of spirits. It is not something I sought. It was just given when I was baptised in the Holy Spirit while training for the ministry, whether I wanted it or not. I got it before I understood it! I know the difference between  when I am thinking something and when the Holy Spirit is revealing something about what is going on in a life or situation or conversation. I cannot turn it on or off. I never quite know why it kicks in some times and not every time I or others think it would be useful! I have never known the Holy Spirit’s disceernment to be wrong when it happens! It is a difficult gift to handle. For example God showed me not long ago that a minister of international reputation was demonised but continuing to minister in the charismatic scene. I know I can never say who it is publicly, not today, not tomorrow, not ever, even after the person dies, as I believe they will within a short course of time. I hope the person lives out their remaining time in the peace of God rather than in the torment of their troubled soul, but have no assurance from God that they will. I cannot know what God has now shown. I can hope and pray, unless he tells me to stop. Accepting a gift has imitations, and staying within the bounds of its limitation and the anointing upon it, is part of the fear of the Lord.

Keeping silent can show as much of where you are spiritually as speaking out boldly and truthfully. Sometimes of course God gives the go ahead to speak out, but I wonder if in today’s climate both in the secular and charismatic world, we are not hearing God saying as often as He is speaking it, “Be silent. Trust in me.”

God bless

Kenny

Little me…

Some of ou have been blessed by prayers I have shared.  It is a mini stream in these blogs which will probably come to an end, but for the time being here is part of another…

 

“However slowly, I have come to see it, Father. Little things, little me, the little things of your little children, matter to the bigger story. You showed the Emmaus Road walkers that. The story of their sadness, did not matter to the world. Nothing stopped. The affairs of men did not alter. Rarely does anything stop to mourn our losses with us in a way that touches our pain. What distorted message such ignoring can give us about our worth, our mattering. Thank you that you take the disregarded stories and make them part of the story of your living enduring bright flame which darkness has never overcome or understood; the story of Him who has life in Himself, taking all things somewhere, even the nothings that have nowhere to go. You call these Emmaus Road mourning moments upwards, along with planets and stars into the transforming onward march of your glorious purposes which move from eternity through time to eternity.

Our sufferings find their setting in the victory of Christ, the story which rings with triumph. In theses current times stones often seem so immovable. Thank you, You have made us part of the story of the stone rolled away, its crushing weight no longer able to contain to control or imprison as a malevolent mind had purposed it should.

Father, my suffering, though at times I scarcely think it worth mentioning, matters to you and matters to the fullness of the story of Your Christ. It links me too, to the story of all humanity, to the lost world You loved when you sent forth its Lover and its Rescuer here among us. It links me to the cry I hear in the eyes of cows, in Polar bears exhausted by warm sea swims. I am one with man and beast and one with all who hope in your redeeming might: one with all which cry, bleat, chirp, croak howl and roar, “Come Lord Jesus.” These all look to you, cry to you, and so do I!

Amen.”

Caw, Caw! Tweet!

Slept well. Up early. Looking out at a beautiful morning. Wish I could sing with the lark or even caw like the crows to declare the faithfulness and compassion of God, declare it to all creation, to all things seen and unseen! Wish I had the words to declare it to you, especially if you are doubting it.

The last few years frequently brought me to places that looked like a succession of dead ends at first, physically, financially, house and home wise, ministry wise too, etc. . But there never has been a dead end. The only blocked road has been a return to the way it was, the road often tried as a first reaction when game changing happenings strike. That option, the way back, was an option I quickly came to see was shut off in the goodness of God’s will and wisdom. But often the way ahead looked as though it was blocked too. Without being over dramatic, I found myself thinking from time to time of God’s chosen people, Israel, Egypt behind them, but the Red sea before them. The verse that has been proved true to me now, probably in more ways than I have fully recognised, is Psalm 77 verse 19 in the New Living Translation “Your road led through the sea , your pathway through the mighty waters – a pathway no one knew was there!”

It is so wonderful God can see pathways through the sea and open them up for His people to walk upon. If you are standing looking at mighty waters, remember God can see a path no one else can see. In my experience of the last few years of many adjustments, the path of God for me – even though not always easy ground to journey on – has been paved with God’s Compassion and Faithfulness in all things. That has come to me, to us, through believer and non believer alike, who have shown care beyond what I feel I deserved to expect. I was reminded of that two days ago now, when I saw tears of compassion forming in the eyes of some NHS staff as they talked with me. One turned away even to hide her tears after listening to my story. I never expected that! Where you find God’s love and care threaded into life never ceases to move me.

Remember this, early on in this new day which you may be greeting with dread rather than wanting to sing like the birds: God knows the way He is taking. Walk on the path he unfolds for you. Rough terrain? At times, yes. But His Compassion fails not. His faithfulness is great.

God bless

Kenny

Mmm…..

I worked an average of over 80 hours a week over my whole ministry, sometimes much more than that. I would have denied I had any choice in the matter. In hindsight, I did have many choices, I just made wrong choices at times. Thinking of the possible effects of all of that on wellbeing as I rest in bed after yesterday’s heart procedure….Any choices you made or are making that you need to reconsider, or that you need to admit were not God, but you?

God bless your thinking

Kenny

Try this and see…

My biggest break though moments spiritually have usually rested upon the foundation of reading the bible as though I was reading it for the first time. In other words letting the text speak fully in its own right without referring to other parts of the bible or making it fit in with what I already believe. I find as I do that, so much fresh revelation comes with the help of God’s Spirit. It is not easy, especially if we like systematic theology where we like everything to fit into a neat pattern. God is non cooperative in that sense. He knows how all He has said fits together. The rest of us just have a bash at doing that. It’s best not to cut the bits off the jigsaw pieces to make them fit. Listen fully to the text you are reading as though you had no other part of the bible to refer to. Then you can stand back and see how the picture is emerging and that there is greater colour and detail in a part of the jigsaw that you had not even particularly noticed before. Listen to the text fully and live it fully. Allow fresh truth to root itself and find its growing spot in the garden of your soul. At first you might feel that splash of yellow will really clash with that sea of pink you have been cultivating for years, that is your pride and joy. In time you will see how they complement one another, indeed show one another off. Don’t spray yellow flowers pink…

God bless

Kenny

God of a thousand Bethels….

Off for the second stent tomorrow, Monday. Not feeling afraid but somehow just aware of how fragile and vulnerable humanness is. It has not been the easiest of times in the last 18 months, so much of it to do with health issues beyond my control, but  these issues have asked for a response of faith.
As I thought about these semi-turbulent times, this was the prayer I said and wrote, thinking of Jacob. By the way, I heard one of my recently written prayers was used at a Church of Scotland Presbytery event! I never expected that! I hope this prayer too might be useful to someone somewhere in some setting that is beyond my imagination to think possible. Maybe that person will be you!
“God of Jacob, thank you that  the most ordinary ground, even the most uncomfortable ground, difficult to lie down upon – far from soft feathers – can become the very “Gate of Heaven.”  The place where my head is full of adrenalin deciding  for me whether to fly or fight or freeze, the place where I can find no pillow save hard stone upon which to fall into uneasy sleep, can become the congregating point of wide awake  angels fulfilling assignments ordered by you in the wisdom of your purposes.
 
God and Father of my Lord Jesus Christ,  why should this surprise me? He came forth as a shoot out of dry ground. All His littleness and frailty  of cross to crib was rooted in the immovable stump of your eternal purposes being unrolled through your servants, time and space and earth and history. What looked improbable, happened. A Kingdom appeared on the earth which became the largest of trees; big enough for the birds of the air to find refuge in its branches. Your eye is even upon this sparrow.
 
May the gate of heaven open for me in unexpected places in my very ordinary human journey, shared in kind by so many. You have given me faith that I will come to the end of this day, and  by your grace to the end of tomorrow fully awake to your presence as I fall asleep, knowing that I will be watched over by unutterable and unalterable love. The planting of the Lord will grow in me, for me and through me for others to your glory and to the honouring and praising of your Name. I do not need to know how.
 
I worship You, God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, God of Jacob, God of so many thousands of Bethels. God of our Fathers be the God of their succeeding race. By your hand your people still are fed even in the desert wanderings through sands of both frailty or folly. From an empty sky, manna comes down. From hard rock, water flows. You know the way you are taking. “Through each perplexing path of life, our wandering footsteps guide: give us each day our daily bread and raiment fit, provide! Such blessings from Thy gracious hand, our humble prayers implore, and Thou shalt be our chosen God and portion, evermore!”
 
I am so glad you are the God of Abraham and people of faith; of Isaac and people of meekness; but today I am even more glad that you are the God of Jacob and all people of weakness, the uncomfortable sleepers and distracted wanderers. He says to me from the past that in such a place of an unfinished and uneasy journey, I am sitting at the gates of an unseen Kingdom. Your Son assures me of even more. He invites me through the gates to live in the house itself forever in His Name and grace and authority.  Such is the power of  His cross. He signed my deeds with his atoning blood. He ever lives to make His promise good! If the gates abound with angels, what riches are mine to enjoy in the house to which I belong in the Sonship of the Son for eternity?”
 
God of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, God and Father of my Lord Jesus Christ, God of angel armies, God of my Fathers:  thank you that you are my God and my children’s God. What more can I ask?
 
Amen

“To stay silent or to laugh?”: that is the question…

Confused by the Book of Job? Well, each time I read it I come away with fresh confusion! Some of what Job says seems true in the course of conversation with his “friends.” Some of what his friends say seems true to me as well! Some of what Job and his friends say makes me cringe and is plain nonsense. Some of what they say makes me want to  stop reading, close the book,  and worship with my face to the ground.

Well, whatever, at the end of the book, God throws a question into all the conversations: “Who is it that questions my wisdom with such ignorance?” That gives Job the opportunity to look back on his ramblings and say, “It is I – and I was talking about things I knew nothing about, things far too wonderful for me.”

The twists continue! God now says  to Job’s friends that He is angry with them because they “have not spoken accurately about me as my servant Job has.”

How do we square these odd twists, the apparent contradiction between Job speaking with  jaw-dropping and cringe factor ignorance (so much so that he wanted to take back everything he had said) and him now being described by God  as speaking with accuracy about Him and being His servant, a prophetic appellation, with which  James  agrees in the letter that bears his name in the New Testament?

I think the answer to the riddle is this: Job did say one accurate thing. It is perhaps the shortest prophetic ministry in the Old Testament. It lasted for one sentence to use our terminology. Newly humbled, at last he gets it! He says this: “I know that you can do anything, and no one can stop you.” Another version puts it like this: “Now I know that no plan of yours can be thwarted.”

I have been thinking of prophetic ministry that has impacted me the most over the years. I think that often we mistakenly almost submerge “Prophecy” under the gift of ” Words of Knowledge” in Charismatic circles. Of course they are both revelatory gifts, but I think that we have reserved our “wow” response for accurate words of knowledge, so much so that when true prophecy is happening without words of knowledge being present we scarcely notice it.

To be honest I have reached the stage in life, where words of knowledge addressed to me about me in the course of being ministered to, elicit no “wow” factor response from me. I know that God knows me! What does make me feel awe is the reminder of the “Godness” of God. I thrive on people telling me about God, not on people telling me about me! The Godness of God  is what prophet Job spoke of with fear and reverence with his hand over his mouth. The psalmist agrees with the content of his short prophetic ministry. Our God is in the heavens! He sits above the sphere of the earth and does whatsoever pleases Him. He cannot be packaged into lazy second hand non alive orthodoxy, and refuses to fit neatly into any system or programme that demands He be a performing circus animal  and do tricks for our delight, for which we reward Him with our spectating chattering approval and  applause.  He is God.  As a hymn from my childhood puts it: 

“Before Jehovah’s awesome throne
Ye nations bow with sacred joy
Know that the Lord is God alone
He can create and He destroy

His sovereign power without our aid
made us of clay and formed us men
And when like wandering sheep we strayed
He drew us to His fold again.

You reach a place of astounding victory when you realise with Prophet Job, “Now I know that no plan of yours can be thwarted.”  The God and Father who made us out of nothing and redeemed  us by nothing but His own grace, knows every resistance His plans will meet even in the hearts of His children, individually and collectively as the church of His Son; He knows every obstacle that will be put in the paths of His purposes being fulfilled in you and I, in the church and in the world,  by Satan Himself. However, despite all of that,  the idea that His purposes can be thwarted, is either in its utmost seriousness blasphemous,  or side-splittingly-laughable when faith triumphs and dismisses such a notion out of hand.

Perhaps tonight you can choose which response to make to  any creeping doubts you can have at the triumph of God’s will and plan  for your yielded life. Put your hand over your mouth and repent in silence because you have spoken in bitterness of spirit and experience about things you know nothing about…or holy laughter. Which?  See how the Spirit leads…

God bless

Kenny

 

 

Your back, Lord…

Thinking this morning not of asking to see Christ’s face, but the need to walk close behind his back. Again, since I am in a writing as I pray phase, at least for a wee while anyway, here is a snippet of my prayer, with slight alterations to make it easier to read. I hope it might help some of you today.

“O Christ, my elder brother, bigger than me in every way, your stripped to the bone shoulders and back, clothed in a Conqueror’s glory are my hiding place. Confined once to a cruel tree for me, they are broad enough for all the world to shelter behind from storms common to us all.

Today, Jesus, I think as ever of your face set like flint from eternity through time to eternity to a “Yes” to Abba. But this thought of your back brings such strength too. In the midst of praying, “Show me Thy face, O Lord, ” I find this prayer sounding: keep my eyes upon your back, your sheltering back, for then whatever today’s weather, I can walk on.

In the midst of wanting to see what you see for me, this thought emerges: “Could I handle that?” Help me to walk onwards in the shelter of your back, watching the ground before me, the non existent space between us, for every fresh imprint of your never faltering and never retreating Conqueror’s heel.”

Gardening styles…

For some reason, I started to jot down my prayers a short while ago. I type or write as I pray. Here is one that I felt I wanted to share with you this morning. It is really for those of you who have a tendency to be harsh toward yourself. That is my tendency too. It is not altogether bad in that it stops you from shifting blame too easily on to others or even the devil, but it certainly has its crippling side as well. Anyway, here it is:

“…in the setting of all that is me a new life grows, planted by your grace Father. One day it will be separated from all weeds, but even now I yield to the gentle regime of the Gardener, intent on bringing me to fruitfulness. I trust you to weed today where weeding is urgently needed. I trust you to prune in the right way, in the right place, so that wounding that must happen may heal quickly and well.

Your gardening in me is so much kinder than my gardening style. I weed, prune, and do whatever with a measure of anger and frustration. You prune and clear the ground around me with loving intent and patient wisdom. I see a plant struggling and you see the same, but there we so often part. I look harshly on my struggling and withdraw kindness and hope in a way that I would never do towards any other planting save the planting of grace called Kenny, refusing to glance in my direction. You look and think how to feed me, help me, shield me, support me, cover me.

Father, my Gardener, give me your patience, hope and love towards this planting. May I live this day looking upon you and upon me, not with my own version of faith, but by the faith of the Son of God who loved me and gave Himself for me.

In His Name,

Amen