Tuesday, February 09, 2016

Loss of Sovereignty

Protesters against the TPPA are concerned about loss of sovereignty. I am not sure whether the benefits bought by free trade will outweigh the negative effects of the investor/state dispute settlement process, but I am more worried about the loss of sovereignty to the state than to the TPPA.

Modern governments claim absolute sovereignty. They claim authority over every aspect of life. That authority is more dangerous than the TPPA.

Monday, February 08, 2016

TPPA Protests

The TPPA was signed in New Zealand last week. Large crowds marched in the streets to protest against it. Their main concern seems to be loss of sovereignty, due to the investor/state dispute settlement process provided by the TPPA.

The problem with this concern about sovereignty is that we do not have any sovereignty. We lost our sovereignty a long time ago.

Sovereignty is authority. At the beginning, God gave authority over the earth to humans. However, the first humans rejected God, and by default, gave authority over the earth to the spiritual powers of evil. That is why the wold is such a mess.

Jesus defeated the powers of evil on the cross and took back the authority (sovereignty) that they had stolen. However, most humans ignore Jesus, so they lose the benefit of the authority he restored, enabling the spiritual powers of evil to continue exercising authority on earth.

The protesters are angry about the economic poverty and related social problems. They blame the government, but they are looking in the wrong direction. They should be blaming the spiritual powers of evil, who have stolen sovereignty on earth and used the authority to wreak havoc on earth. Unfortunately, they just ignore protests, or stir them to achieve more evil.

Saturday, February 06, 2016

Waitangi Day

Today is Waitangi Day in New Zealand. Our nation was founded by a covenant, not by an invasion. Unfortunately, it did not continue the way it began, and the government resorted to legal manipulation and war to get control of land for European settlers. God takes covenants seriously, so breaking this covenant has created problems. Fortunately, recent governments have looked for ways to honour and fulfil it, but there is still a way to go. More at the Treaty of Waitangi.

Friday, February 05, 2016

Hierarchy

Large human organizations need a hierarchy of authority to transmit information and to direct actions. Messages and instructions pass down through the hierarchy to the people on the bottom. Reports go back up in the same way. Hierarchy also allows decisions to be made at the appropriate level. The person at the top sets the general policies and rules, but delegates simple decisions down the hierarchy to an appropriate level of responsibility. Difficult or important decisions are delegated back up to the top. A hierarchical structure is very effective, but it is also dangerous, because it concentrates power in the hands of a few people.

Satan is a major user of hierarchy. He probably invented it, because he had no other way to control his empire. He is confined to one place in space and time, so he has to communicate and implement his decisions through a hierarchy of demons and evil spirits (Ephesians 6:12). His problem is that many of them are deceitful and rebellious. They disobey him frequently, so his will is not always done. When reporting about events in the world they often lie, so he is often in the dark about what is going on. Satan is at the top of a large, unreliable and unstable empire. He is a finite being, so he has to use hierarchy to control his organization.

God is not constrained in this way. He is omniscient, so he knows everything that is happening, everywhere in the universe, all the time. He is not dependent on reports up a hierarchy. God is also omnipotent, so he has the ability to decide what should be happening in every situation in the universe at the moment it occurs. He can speak to any person in the universe, whenever he chooses, so he does not need to work through intermediaries. Therefore, God has no need for hierarchy.

God does not need hierarchy in the church. He knows what is happening to every Christian all the time, so he does not need anyone to report to him. He has a personal plan for every Christian, so he does not need to delegate decisions down to a church leader. The Holy Spirit lives in every Christian, so God can communicate his will directly to any one he chooses. He does not need to speak through a hierarchy. If every Christian obeys the voice of the Spirit, God’s will will be done, without the need for any intermediaries.

Being Church Where We Live, pp.46-47.

Thursday, February 04, 2016

Preparing for Victory

We are living at a pivotal time in history. While things are going badly for the church, the situation is even worse in the world. You don’t have to be a prophet to see the dark clouds on the horizon. The kingdom of man has over-reached itself and is rotting from the inside.

Christians should not be pessimistic about the future. God is in control and is working out his purpose. He is refining his church into a holy and beautiful bride. He is shaking the nations, so his people can establish the Kingdom. We can share in that victory, if we understand his plans and get ready for battle.

The shaking of world system will be a great opportunity for the church. In times of crisis, power flows to those who understand what is happening and are ready for action. Joseph understood what God was doing, so he was able to use the seven good years to prepare for the seven bad years. He rose to power during a crisis, because he understood what was happening and knew what had to be done.

The times are urgent. We should be using our time to prepare for the political, economic and social upheaval that is coming. We should be joining together, so we can advance God’s Kingdom when the kingdoms of the world collapse and fall. Radical change is needed, so we can shine brightly in the darkness and share in the victory that God has planned.

Being Church Where We Live, p.6.

Monday, February 01, 2016

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Hydrangea

Authoritarianism

Matthew MacWilliams claims that the common characteristic of Trump supporters is authoritarianism.

That’s right, Trump’s electoral strength—and his staying power—have been buoyed, above all, by Americans with authoritarian inclinations. And because of the prevalence of authoritarians in the American electorate, among Democrats as well as Republicans, it’s very possible that Trump’s fan base will continue to grow.
While its causes are still debated, the political behavior of authoritarians is not. Authoritarians obey. They rally to and follow strong leaders. And they respond aggressively to outsiders, especially when they feel threatened. From pledging to “make America great again” by building a wall on the border to promising to close mosques and ban Muslims from visiting the United States, Trump is playing directly to authoritarian inclinations.
It is time for those who would appeal to our better angels to take his insurgency seriously and stop dismissing his supporters as a small band of the dispossessed. Trump support is firmly rooted in American authoritarianism and, once awakened, it is a force to be reckoned with.
Authoritarianism has always been a strong force in the US, but it can be very dangerous.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Summer Colour

I planted this lily in the spring.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Belloc on Islam (2)

In his book The Great Heresies Hilaire Belloc explains that Islam spread because the social conditions were right.

Both in the world of Hither Asia and in the Graeco-Roman world of the Mediterranean, but especially in the latter, society had fallen, much as our society has today, into a tangle wherein the bulk of men were disappointed and angry and seeking for a solution to the whole group of social strains. There was indebtedness everywhere; the power of money and consequent usury. There was slavery everywhere. Society reposed upon it, as ours reposes upon wage slavery today. There was weariness and discontent with theological debate, which, for all its intensity, had grown out of touch with the masses. There lay upon the freemen, already tortured with debt, a heavy burden of imperial taxation; and there was the irritant of existing central government interfering with men’s lives; there was the tyranny of the lawyers and their charges.

To all this, Islam came as a vast relief and a solution of strain. The slave who admitted that Mohammed was the prophet of God and that the new teaching had, therefore, divine authority, ceased to be a slave. The slave who adopted Islam was henceforward free. The debtor who “accepted” was rid of his debts. Usury was forbidden. The small farmer was relieved not only of his debts but of his crushing taxation. Above all, justice could be had without buying it from lawyers... All this in theory. The practice was not nearly so complete. Many a convert remained a debtor, many were still slaves. But wherever Islam conquered there was a new spirit of freedom and relaxation.
It was the combination of all these things, the attractive simplicity of the doctrine, the sweeping away of clerical and imperial discipline, the huge immediate practical advantage of freedom for the slave and riddance of anxiety for the debtor, the crowning advantage of free justice under few and simple new laws easily understood— that formed the driving force behind the astonishing Mohammedan social victory. The courts were everywhere accessible to all without payment and giving verdicts which all could understand.

But there was another— and it is the most important cause. The fiscal cause: the overwhelming wealth of the early Mohammedan Caliphate. The merchant and the tiller of the land, the owner of property and the negotiator, were everywhere relieved by the Mohammedan conquest; for a mass of usury was swept away, as was an intricate system of taxation which had become clogged, ruining the taxpayer without corresponding results for the government.

The success of Mohammedanism had not been due to its offering something more satisfactory in the way of philosophy and morals, but, as I have said, to the opportunity it afforded of freedom to the slave and debtor, and an extreme simplicity which pleased the unintelligent masses.

Many Christians in America are scared of a take over by Islam. They assume that it will succeed by force. What they do not understand, is that if society continues in its current direction, Islam might be welcomed by people who have forgotten Christianity. Many of the conditions that Belloc described, already exist in the Western world.
  • Justice is very expensive and only available to the wealthy.
  • Many people are in bondage to debt.
  • The precariat are slaves to zero-hour uncertain contracts.
  • Taxation is excessive for everyone.
  • Theological arguments seem distracting and pointless.
  • Many Christians in America are more committed to military force and the right to bear arms than to the the incarnation and the Trinity.
The gospel has been ineffective against these things. Unless there is serious change, Islam might be welcomed in America, as it was in its early days in the Middle East.

Friday, January 22, 2016

Belloc on Islam

Although born in France, Hilaire Belloc was was a prolific writer in England during the early twentieth century. His Catholic faith had a strong impact on his works. One of his most important works was the The Great Heresies, published in 1938. One of the heresies that he discusses is Islam. His unique perspective was seeing Islam as a Christian heresy.

Mohammedanism was a heresy: that is the essential point to grasp before going any further. It began as a heresy, not as a new religion. It was not a pagan contrast with the Church; it was not an alien enemy. It was a perversion of Christian doctrine. Its vitality and endurance soon gave it the appearance of a new religion, but those who were contemporary with its rise saw it for what it was— not a denial, but an adaptation and a misuse, of the Christian thing.
Belloc suggests that Islam teaches the main Christian doctrines in an oversimplified form.
The very foundation of his teaching was that prime Christine doctrine, the unity and omnipotence of God. The attributes of God he also took over in the main from Christine doctrine: the personal nature, the all-goodness, the timelessness, the providence of God, His creative power as the origin of all things, and His sustenance of all things by His power alone. The world of good spirits and angels and of evil spirits in rebellion against God was a part of the teaching, with a chief evil spirit, such as Christendom had recognized. Mohammed preached with insistence that prime Christian doctrine, on the human side— the immortality of the soul and its responsibility for actions in this life, coupled with the consequent doctrine of punishment and reward after death.

He gave to Our Lord the highest reverence. On the day of judgment, it was Our Lord, according to Mohammed, who would be the judge of mankind, not he, Mohammed. But the central point where this new heresy struck home with a mortal blow against Christian tradition was a full denial of the Incarnation. Mohammed did not merely take the first steps toward that denial, as the Arians and their followers had done; he advanced a clear affirmation, full and complete, against the whole doctrine of an incarnate God. He taught that Our Lord was the greatest of all the prophets, but still only a prophet: a man like other men. He eliminated the Trinity altogether.
Mohammed never dealt with the inconsistencies that this produced.
Mohammed’s teaching never developed among the mass of his followers, or in his own mind, a detailed theology. Simplicity was the note of the whole affair. But the resemblance to Christianity was one of the reasons for its success.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Right Attitude in Prophetic Ministry

Prophecy must be delivered in the right attitude. We must speak the truth in love. A wrong attitude nullifies the truth of the word. Many true prophecies have been made false, because they have been spoken in a harsh or critical attitude.

All prophets should note God’s response when he saw the sins of the people who lived during the time of Noah.

The Lord was grieved that he had made man on the earth, and his heart was filled with pain (Gen 6:6).
God’s heart was “filled with pain”. A prophet cannot represent God during a time of judgement unless his heart is filled with pain.

Some Christians say, “A prophet’s job is to say what God says”. This is correct, but it is only part of the truth. A prophet’s job is to say what God says in the right spirit. Many prophets have spoken a true word without it being heard. Sometimes the true word was not received because the listener’s heart was hard, but more often it was not heard, because the spirit of the prophet was warped.

I remember a woman who was really upset, because her pastor had not received a word that she and a friend had given to him. She could not understand why this had happened, because the word was true. Her word rung true to me too, but I could tell from the tone of her voice why she was not heard. She oozed bitterness, hurt and frustration.

The hard truth for prophets to accept is that being correct is not enough. A true word from God can be nullified by a wrong spirit. In the spiritual dimension, a true word spoken wrongly is exactly the same as a false word. When God’s heart is “filled with pain” (Gen 6:6), he cannot be represented by just the truth. Jeremiah was a powerful prophet, because he felt the pain on God’s heart.

Truth without love is not truth.
Most prophets put a lot of effort into hearing what God is saying, but few put the same effort into keeping their spirit right. A prophet can never just say, “I spoke God’s truth, I have done my bit”. Every prophet should be asking, “Did I speak God’s word in God’s way?”
Prophetic Ministry, p.110).

Tuesday, January 05, 2016

Prophetic Ministry

Prophets can minister at different levels.

1. People
Some prophets specialise in speaking to individual people. Personal prophecy provides:

  • guidance
  • correction
2. Church
Other prophets speak primarily to their church. Prophets provide a church with:
  • guidance
  • vision
  • warnings
Loren Cunningham said that pastors are like wet cement. They are very accepting and draw everything together. He said that prophets are like reinforcing steel. They give the concrete strength by keeping it pure. A strong building needs both cement and steel.

3. The Nations
Some Christians will be called to be a prophet to their nation. They may also develop the ability to speak to other nations. A prophet to a nation provides:

  • advice to rulers
  • interpretation of God’s law
  • warning of judgement
(Prophetic Ministry, p.63).

Sunday, January 03, 2016

Great Depths

When I wrote Kingdom Authority, I realised that some of the spiritual powers of evil were locked up following the flood (1 Pet 318-19; 2 Pet 4-5). But I did not understand why was God able to do this after the flood, when he could not do it before the flood? The penny has now dropped.

The reason is as follows. God gave authority over the earth to humans. They had authority on earth and over the earth, but they did not have authority over the depths of the earth and the structure of the planet. God retained control of the planet itself.

When Adam rejected God, and submitted to the tempter, he placed himself under the authority of the spiritual powers of evil. They gained authority over the earth. The powers of evil had authority to be there, so provided they remained in contact with the earth, God could not touch them. If they had attacked the spiritual realms where God dwells, they would have been defeated in a minute. As long as they worked upon the earth, they were safe.

At the time of the flood, some of the spiritual powers attacked the depths of the earth and broke them up.

On that day all the fountains of the great deep were broken up (Gen 7:11).
When some of the spiritual powers of evil attacked the great depths of the earth, they moved away from the place where they had authority upon the earth. God was able to send a host of angels and take them captive, so that they could not work on earth any more. God had authority to do this, because they had moved to a place where they did not have authority.

Saturday, January 02, 2016

Noah and Spiritual Power

The story of Noah is wonderful. He demonstrated great faith, and God completed an amazing work through him. However, his life has a very disappointing end. Noah got drunk and cursed one of his sons.

If we understood the nature of spiritual warfare, the reason for Noah’s failure would be obvious.

Where were the spiritual powers of evil before the flood?

They were spread out across the world causing the people to sin and do evil.

Where were they after the flood?

Some had been captured and were bound, but the rest joined together to attack Noah. Under such a staunch spiritual attack, he did not stand a chance, as he was totally outnumbered. We should not judge him for his failure.

God waited for another opportunity. By the time of Abraham, the population of the world had massively increased, so the spiritual powers of evil had to spread themselves out across the world. God called Terah and Abraham his son. Because they were moving away from the centre of political power in Ur, they were not noticed by the powers of evil.

Thursday, December 31, 2015

Spiritual Powers

The population of the world is greater than it has ever been, more than 7 billion people. The number of evil spirits at work in the world has not increased, since their rebellion at the beginning of human and a large number were locked up at the time of the flood. Because their number is fixed, they should now be weaker than they have ever been, as they have to spread themselves more thinly across the world.

However, they have amplified their limited authority by aligning themselves with political power. Because political power is more controlling and more widespread than it has ever been, this strategy has more than compensated them for their limited numbers. Consequently, they are probably more powerful than they have ever been. By supporting political power, we have strengthened the powers of evil, when they should be weak.

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Whose Government?

The government shall be on Jesus’ shoulder.

For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given,
and the government will be on his shoulders….
Of the greatness of his government and peace
there will be no end (Is 9:6,7).
So what do Obama, Vladimir, Fran├žois, David, Malcolm and John think they are doing? They obviously do not understand who Jesus is.

Mary understood what the prophecy meant.

He has brought down rulers from their thrones
but has lifted up the humble (Luke 1:52).
We do not understand who Jesus is, because we still want to raise power men on thrones to rule over us.

Monday, December 28, 2015

Practical Gifts

When we give a gift, we give something that the person does not have that we hope they will like.

The gifts given by the wise men were not this type of gift. The wise men were providing Mary and Joseph with material support.

The gold, frankincense and myrrh were portable. They were easy to hide under a garment when travelling in dangerous places. The wise men have been carrying them so they could buy what they needed on their travels.

The gold, frankincense and myrrh were divisible. They could be sold one bit at time to meet their needs as they arose. They were saleable anywhere. The wise men were travelling through strange countries, so they carried wealth that could be sold wherever they went.

God knew that Mary and Joseph would need to flee, so he prompted the wise men to provide them with the necessary support. He then told Joseph in a dream, to flee to Egypt. Being a foreigner there, he would find it difficult to obtain paid employment. The same would be true when he returned to Nazareth, where he would be a stranger with no contacts.

Mary and Joseph were able to sell of the gold frankincense and myrrh one piece at time to support themselves during this unsettled time.

Thousands of sermons have been preached about the meaning of gold, frankincense and myrrh, but the most important thing is that God provides for his people. He provided material support for Mary and Joseph and their baby, before they even knew they would need it.

Friday, December 25, 2015

God became Human

God created the heavens and the earth, so he had authority over them.

He created humans and gave them authority over the earth. Once he had given up that authority, he could not take it back, even if humans mucked things up.

And they did. They surrendered to the tempter’s advice, so authority over the earth passed over to the spiritual powers evil.

No human could take that authority back, because sin had made them captive to the powers of evil.

God could not take the authority back for them, because he had given authority on earth to humans.

The only solution to this dilemma was for God to become a man, because only a man was entitled to authority on earth.

Jesus could have taken authority for himself and ruled the earth, but that was not enough for a loving God. He wanted to redeem all humans from the power of sin and evil. So Jesus died on the cross to set all humans free from the curse of sin.

But none of that could have happened, if God has not becomes a man in Jesus, because only a human has authority to do anything on earth. So Jesus had to be born as a baby, and grow to be a man, because only someone who has lived as we live could be truly human and therefore have authority on earth.

This is why we celebrate the birth of Jesus, not because a baby was born. Babies are born all the time. But because God became a human.

That has only happened once in human history. And had it not happened, the authority over the earth that God gave to humans would have been lost forever.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Beaten by a Stable

The spiritual powers of evil knew that a deliverer was coming to Israel. They probably knew the time was getting close, but they did not know where or how he would come. So they concentrated their power on Herod’s palace and Jerusalem. They have always had an unhealthy fascination with political power, so they always followed the power.

The angels were led by the Holy Spirit, so they all went to Bethlehem. They didn’t go there to sing songs. They went there to protect the baby Jesus from spiritual attack. This was probably the most dangerous time in history. If the powers of evil had managed to destroy Jesus when he was a baby, God’s plan to recover authority on earth would have been foiled.

The conception by the Holy Spirit was less risky, because the Holy Spirit could come when no evil spiritual powers were around. God just had to find a young woman and a man who were not under spiritual attack, because they would have given the show away. That was probably hard, but Mary and Joseph were so insignificant that they powers of evil took no notice of them.

In contrast, a baby could not be born in secret. People would know that a baby had been born, even if they did not know it was special. However, the powers of evil did not turn up, because they just could not conceive that a messiah or king would be born in a stable. They were hanging around the palace, so their attack never came, and there was no battle

The angels were so glad that they did not have to fight that they could not help bursting into song and praising God’s wisdom.

Glory to God!
What amazing wisdom and humility.
There was peace on earth at that place at that time.

A short time later, the powers of evil stirred up Herod and he killed hundreds of boy babies living in the vicinity of Bethlehem. Sadly, peace was gone, but that is what happens when the powers of evil are given a free hand.

However, Jesus and his parents had gone too, so peace and safety remained with them.