The two sides of the coinage of the Kingdom of heaven: Emptiness and Fullness

I have been thinking more about the whole idea of trying to hold before God a blank page or keeping open a place of silence so that by the gifts of the Holy Spirit, such as those we read of in 1st. Corinthians Chapters 12 – 14, we might be enabled to hear something God wants us to hear, see something God wants us to see, speak something God wants us to speak or do something God wants us to do in order that another person may know that God is close to them and in the midst of His people, and at work through the gospel of Jesus proclaimed in Word and Deed.  (Whew: a long sentence: Considered seriously bad form, I know, like using the wrong case when you text!!)  Of course there are other lists of gifts in the bible other than the list now being referred to, none of which are exhaustive in my opinion, but for some reason it is the gifts mentioned in 1st. Corinthians, manifested in the ministry of Jesus  and entrusted to the church for her strengthening and mission, that are rarely talked about in many churches within Scotland; sadly they are sometimes not wanted or even believed in as being authentic manifestations of the Spirit for our day. 

The gifts of the Spirit are of course often counterfeited, whatever list of gifts you draw from in the New Testament. There can be genuine speaking in tongues and prophesy or counterfeit versions of the same. There can be genuine teaching , or counterfeit and false; there can be a genuine gift of leadership or its counterfeit,  namely a demonic spirit of control.  Because of fear of false fire against which plentiful and fear-filled or angry warning is given instead of the biblical injunction to simple awareness and alertness, some of God’s people have been unwisely corralled and herded  into a place of settling for no warming from the gifts of the Spirit at all, other than perhaps the gifts of teaching or pastoral care. Silence in these matters  has meant that for many years in Scotland, many Christians in many settings and denominations desiring to honour the command to earnestly desire the gifts of the Spirit, were not sure how to move from earnestly desiring to receiving and using/being used in these gifts. In that regard the situation is better than it was back in the late 70’s and 80’s. There has been a lot of good teaching available to local churches to  help God’s people into a place of moving in the reality of the gifts of the Spirit. Anyway, this is not a history lesson so I don’t want to expand on that last sentence at all, but stick to the point. (Steroids make me want to make a hundred points at once!)

For the last few blogs I have been trying to help those who may find themselves in the situation of wanting to be used in the gifts of the Spirit but who are perhaps in a church setting where they are getting no help in that matter and are even meteing discouragement. How do we receive the good gifts of God’s Spirit, the Spirit who is in Himself the gift of the Father promised to us by, in and through Jesus? Take  time to read to read these words of Jesus from Luke Chapter 11:

And he said to them, “Which of you who has a friend will go to him at midnight and say to him, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves; for a friend of mine has arrived on a journey, and I have nothing to set before him’; and he will answer from within, ‘Do not bother me; the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot get up and give you anything’? I tell you, though he will not get up and give him anything because he is his friend, yet because of his importunity he will rise and give him whatever he needs. And I tell you, Ask, and it will be given you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. 10 For every one who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. 11 What father among you, if his son asks for a fish, will instead of a fish give him a serpent; 12 or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? 13 If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”

There is so much to learn from these words that is relevant as we think about how to open ourselves more and more to the Gift and the gifts of God’s Spirit, abilities, “gracelets,” “spirituals,” that are received from and understood by the Spirit in our spirit (which is of course not the same as our mind or the ways in which our mind learns).

The Motivation:  I want to know the reality of the Spirit and His gifts and power for this purpose: There is someone who I am speaking with, sitting with, someone I know, someone I am praying with or for,  who is wearied from their journey in life and out of friendly compassionate love, I want to help them.

The Realisation: My cupboards are empty! I feel that the help this person needs is beyond my abilities to help, despite the love I bear toward them.

The Solution: I will go to my friend whose cupboards are always full, on behalf of this empty one who needs help. I will stand in my emptiness at the door, asking, seeking and knocking.

The Conclusion: The story that began in emptiness and powerlessness ends in fullness. The help receive is ministered and passed on. What was freely received has been freely given.

The whole drift f the story, is that at the start we read of two empty people, at the end we read of two full people. The catalyst is the willingness to move in emptiness on behalf of another’s emptiness  to the one whose hose is full of that which can bring the much needed help.

I am not sure I know much more than this  when it comes to how we make ourselves open to receding and ministering in the Spirit’s power and gifts than this: we go to God and say with the urgency of friendly and caring and non-judging love toward the needy “A friend of mine has arrived, wearied from a journey. I have nothing to set before them. Help me so I can help them!” As we do so in contrast to a reluctant and grumpy neighbour, the God and father of our Lord Jesus Christ opens the door of access to His Kingdom of Heaven cupboards and says, “Take whatever you need to help them, to help the weary ones! Take my seeing, my knowing, my wisdom, my power, my speaking, my eternal love and go to that weary one again. I offer it all to you!” The best place to begin to minister from, the best place to begin to experience the operation of the gifts of the Spirit is  in a fresh awareness of our emptiness and powerlessness in which reality  the love of God refuses to go unheard and unnoticed, refuses to be silent or inactive,  but drives us to the riches we know are God’s to give.

In short, emptiness mixed with the propulsive power of God’s love for a needy world is where we begin in this journey of earnestly desiring  the Holy Spirit in His diverse ministries that all bring glory to Jesus as the Eternal Son of God  and the only Saviour of the World

So here is the preparation: Be scrupulously honest; don’t pretend. Have I reached the place of emptiness, genuinely so, in terms of realising that without the Spirit of God,  I will experience the truth of what Jesus said, “Without me you can do nothing”? Is the love of God a constraining pressure upon me that is driving me heavenward in a paradoxical mix of desperation and faith to ask, seek and knock? We cannot pretend to be there. We are or are we not….

The journey towards being more full, begins at the place of being more empty.

God bless you as you obey the command to earnestly desire the gifts of the Spirit because you are obediently seeking to pursue love. God bless you as you ask, seek and knock at the door of your Father in heaven who loves to be generous in the measure of His giving to His children so that they may be blessed and bless others.


Another Lesson from the Kindergarten


God is always on speaking terms in the land of grace, but there are times when He chooses not to say anything. If ever folk are looking for a Word from God from you, If He is silent, don’t make something up. Be honest. Share a truth from the bible that is relevant but do’t make up a prophetic word just to “help” or to please people, or for that matter to look good in front of them! God is not interested in ministry being about helping His ministers to look good in front of folk!

In the era where Hyper Grace teaching is popular and sadly welcomed and applauded as true, leading many away from Scripture and from God Himself while claiming to be Scriptural, let’s remember that humility and integrity matter. The true grace of God in the Lord Jesus Christ, does not excuse us from establishing both in our lives. Without humility and integrity our lives will go askew and our ministry will be harmful to ourselves and others. They are part of the foundation stone which is Christ Himself.


God Bless


Lessons from the Kindergarten (2)

Ah well… with the luxury of time on my hands these days, some more lessons from the Kindergarten… read the blog prior to this one, first of all !

Last blog, I was talking about the importance of learning how to hold a blank page before God  upon which He can choose to write in order to bring revelation, or to change the imagery, holding open a silence for Him into which He can speak. The purpose of the blank page or silence place in terms of these couple of blogs is revelation, a knowing that comes from God: hearing what God wants us to hear or seeing something He wants us to see, which we could not hear or see without the Gift and gifts of the Holy Spirit.

If you want to argue for the non existence, in our day, of the sort of gifts written about in 1st Corinthians Chapters 12 – 14 and manifested throughout the gospels in the ministry of Jesus then this blog page will probably make little inroads to that belief. This is to help those who believe in such gifts. That in no way is to suggest those who believe in the gifts of the Spirit are superior than those who don’t, for gifts are just that; gifts are gifts and not a reward for reaching some sort of maturity.  In saying all this I am simply recognising  that not everyone who reads my blogs believes the same about charismatic gifting;  If, when I blog on this type of subject, you feel challenged or uncomfortable that could be  good! If it causes a needless level of distress or unsettling of your faith, that is bad and not my intention: just pass over blogs on this type of subject and look at some other blogs I have written. There are a few hundred to choose from at

OK then! Following on from the last blog; another lesson or two from the kindergarten from which I have never graduated and in which there is still much for me to learn from God and from others. A bit more about the blank page or silent space approach to receiving and knowing the operation of the gifts of the Spirit in us and through us.

I have spoken at dozens of conferences in many different places and countries. in days of better health. What would you do  if you were in that situation when a fellow speaker or leader says something with which you profoundly disagree? I have never quite worked that out. It has happened to me a couple of times. Once in this country and another time in another country which I will not name! In that other country I decided just to say what I would have said if I had not heard that other wonderful and godly minister and church leader saying what they said and leave it with folk to work through any conflict to come to a place of peace. God can be trusted when there is sincere disagreement handled  in genuine humility.

Where we disagreed was how gifts of the Holy Spirit in terms of hearing about what you could not see or hear without God’s immediate intervention  works. The person with whom I disagreed seemed to all but take the “gift of God”  and immediate element out of the equation . They said that of course you do not start with a blank page or empty mind. You use your wisdom, our learning, your knowledge about a situation and ask God to bring that together in a way that will help people hear and see what God is trying to communicate. Of course God can speak in that way, but when He does it may be a blessing but it is not, in my understanding,  a charismatic gift in operation of the type Paul writes about in 1st. Corinthians Chapters 12 – 14.

Let me illustrate. How does the charismatic gift of discernment work for me? It comes as a gift from without myself each time it happens,  rather than something that is in my own possession or  arises from my own feelings or from my own learning. It is something that God’s Spirit does to me. over which I have no control other than offering or withholding that blank page or silent space which He may or may not use.  The Spirit of God is within me of course, but this has the quality of coming down from heaven for a specific time and moment. Then the gift lifts until the next time.  It does not happen the same way for everyone, but for me this element of bringing nothing but a blank page, not listening to my own mental processes or feelings is actually the necessary and vital beginning that separates natural discernment from the charismatic operation of discernment. It is felt as the operation of the Spirit of God upon my body more so than arising in my mind or from my feelings which would be the normal places I would discern things by human means; it is a knowledge that does not come from me, that may be indicating something quite different to what my mind would think or conclude or my feelings feel. In many circumstances, this latter type of what I would call reasoning discernment which leads to a chosen conclusion  is the correct form of discernment to use and is not to be despised or downgraded and indeed is commended in certain places in 1st. Corinthians Chapters 12 – 14 , but it is not the gift of discernment of spirits spoken of in these chapters.

Let me, hopefully, make this a bit more concrete for you: I am remembering a time when someone just in passing conversation  told me a report of a place where apparently God was moving, HIs Spirit being poured out. My mind hated what I was hearing, my own inner gut thought it was all wrong, but the gift of discernment indicated what I was hearing was of God, and more than that it was something God delighted in with great joy. I am glad I did not go with my own mind or deep feelings, otherwise I would have cut myself off from the blessing god planned for me and through me.

So, blank page, silent space, learning to quieten my mind and feelings: Lessons from the kindergarten. If you want to know some tips on how to get that blank page, again, go to the previous blog.

God bless