Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Grieving

I have been quiet on the blog for the last couple of weeks. We have been grieving the loss of an important member of our family. Our eldest son’s wife died on New Years Eve after a short, but nasty illness. Kate was just 35 years old, a school friend of our daughter, and the mother of four of our grandchildren. The youngest is 18 months and the oldest is eight and a half years old.

Her memorial service was held last Saturday. About 600 people attended, and Kate was really honored by the many people she had touched, as a friend, young mother and secondary school teacher.

Kate trusted the Father and was an amazing witness to Jesus. She had a zeal for sharing the gospel and loved praying for the sick. She wanted to be wherever the Holy Spirit was moving.

Kate had an amazing openness and honesty. Because she was so real, she had an amazing ability to see the good that God had put in people. And she had such a compelling way of saying what she saw that it just had to be true. And the beautiful thing was, that many became the good that she saw in them, because she loved them and prayed her words into life.

From a grandparents’ perspective, Kate was a wonderful Mum
Her joy in caring for her children was amazing. Seeing her singing to the two little boys in the bath was a delight. Kate’s wisdom in nurturing and training her children was special. Her ability to love her children was inspiring.
The way that she actively enabled us to be part of their lives and love them
has been precious. We were privileged to have her as part of our family and giving us the next generation.

At her memorial service, I spoke these words.

I want you all to know that this is not God’s will.
He will bring good from it,
but it was not God’s will for Kate to die.
The God Kate served is good.
He is love.
He is our Father.
He does not want young mothers to die,
because he created them to love.

It is the thief who comes to steal and destroy.

The Bible says that we are engaged in a war
against evil forces in the spiritual realms.

In every war, there are casualties.
Unfortunately, it is usually the brave ones
on the front lines that get caught.

Kate was passionate about serving Jesus
But she was willing to take a hit for him,
because he had taken a massive hit for her.
So it’s OK to feel angry.

I feel angry when I think about what we have lost.
Just don’t be angry with God.
Kate loves him, so that would make her sad.

If you need to blame someone,
be angry with the evil spiritual powers
that took her out.

But don't be angry too long
that will leave you hurt.
Do what Kate would do.
Talk to God about your anger and your pain
He is a good listener
Find his peace.
We are at peace because Kate has gone to be with Jesus, the one she loved, but we feel very sad for her children who have lost their mother, and her husband who has lost the one he loved before fourteen years of marriage were complete.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Russian Threat

I don't not understand why so many Americans are so afraid of Russia. It is like they do not realise that the Soviet Union no longer exists.

The Soviet Union was a real threat. In 1965, its GDP was almost half of that of the United States. It had 4 to 5 million troops, which was more than the Untied States.

Russia is a totally different story. Its GDP is less than a tenth of the United States. It’s economy is smaller than each of the United Kingdom, Germany, France and Italy. The economy of the EU is ten times greater than the Russian economy.

Russia has only 700,000 combat troops, whereas the Unites States has more than 1.5 million, and vastly superior equipment, and that is not counting NATO partners.

Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, Russia is no longer a serious threat to the United States, or to Europe. It is weaker than the United Kingdom. It can exert influence in its own backyard, such as in Syria and the Ukraine, but that is close to its limit.

I guess the Military Industrial Complex likes to talk up Russia , because the greater the perceived threat, the more taxpayers funds go their way.

Monday, December 26, 2016

Grace to Works

The incarnation of Jesus is a wonderful gift from God to man.

We give gifts as a way of celebrating this gift. Unfortunately, celebrating the things that God has done, by doing what he has done can become a slippery slope, where we end up trying to be god. The best way to celebrate God’s grace is to graciously receive it.

Humans have an amazing ability to turn God’s grace in human works.

That seems to have happened with Christmas gift giving. Peer pressure and television advertising has turned Christmas giving into a massive obligation.

Poor people feel obliged to buy lavish gifts that they cannot afford for their children, family and friends. Christmas adds to the burden of poverty.

For those who have plenty, Christmas giving becomes a time consuming chore that removes peace and robs us of the time to think about what Jesus has done.

This world does not need more giving as a twisted response to grace. It needs more receiving of what God has given.

It also needs more Zacchaeus giving that transfers unrighteous wealth from the rich to the poor.

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Incarnation (7)

When Mathew described the angel announcing the birth of Jesus to Joseph in a dream, he quoted from Isaiah 7:14.

The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son,
and they will call him they will name him Immanuel”,
which means “God with us” (Matt 1:23).
What a wonderful promise.

Many peoples used to carry their gods around with them, but they were tinpot gods that did nothing.

We have our God with us, and he is the God who created the universe, so there is no limit to his power. What a privilege! To have such a wonderful God with us.

Jesus came to be God with us. When he ascended into heaven, he sent the Holy Spirit, so that we could continue to have God with us.

Paul explained the incarnation of Jesus to the Colossians.

For in him all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form (Col 2:9).
John said,
The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.
We have seen his glory (John 1:14).
This Word was with God in the beginning. Everything that was made was made through him. He became flesh and dwelt among us.

Saturday, December 24, 2016

God is Watching

On earth, spiritual protection looks like a circle of protection, but in the spiritual realms, evil spirits can attack from anywhere in the spiritual world. They can operate like a tag team, swapping in and out of the attack to surprise us. The good news is that God is watching over us.

The Lord will guard you from all evil—
he will watch over your life;
the Lord will watch over your coming and going
both now and forevermore (Psalm 121:7-8).
God is watching, but he is not watching powerless from the distance. He commands a host of angels and he directs them to guard us.
For he will command his angels concerning you,
to guard you in all your ways (Psalm 91:11).
God can direct his angels to protect us from the attacks of the spiritual powers of evil. He shifts his angels around to deal with new attacks as they arise.

Friday, December 23, 2016

Incarnation (6) Illegitimate

When God became man, he did not just become a human, he became an illegitimate child.

When Mary became pregnant, her explanation was absurd. She said that the Holy Spirit had overshadowed her, and that she was still a virgin. No one would believe that story. Everyone would assume that, at worst, she had been seduced by someone, or at best, she had been raped by a Roman soldier. She could not name the father of her child, so everyone would assume that the baby was illegitimate. I presume that she went to visit Elizabeth to escape the insults.

Joseph assumed the worst. He could not marry a woman who was already pregnant, but he was a kind man so he offered to divorce here quietly. Only when an angel spoke to him in a dream and confirmed Mary’s account of what had happened did he agree to Mary her and care for her baby. Marrying Mary was a tough choice for Joseph, because everyone in the village would see that she was pregnant, but not married. He would be labelled as the man with an illegitimate son.

The label stuck with Jesus when he was growing up. When he entered the synagogue at the beginning of him ministry, the people scoffed.

Isn’t this the carpenter? Isn’t this Mary’s son (Mark 6:3).
The were offended by Jesus. They called him “Mary’s son”. That was a reminder that his father was not known. Deut 23:2 said that an illegitimate person could not enter the assembly of the Lord. They believed that he had no right to speak in the synagogue.
When the Jewish leaders challenged Jesus they threw the same insult at him. They asked him.
Where is your father (John 8:19).
They were reminding him that his mother had refused to name his father. When Jesus reminded them that they were spiritual slaves, they said,
We were not born of fornication (John 8:41).
They were trying to insult Jesus by reminding him that he was born illegitimately.
God loved the world so much that he sent his only Son. He did not just becomes man. He was born amidst poverty and insults. What amazing love.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Angels and Prayer

Daniel’s prayer was heard the moment he prayed, and an angel was sent to answer his question. The Prince of the kingdom of Persia resisted him for 21 days until Michael one of the chief princes came to help this angel (Dan 10:13).

When the Prince of Persia resisted, he was not alone. He had a host of spiritual forces with him. When Michael rescued the angel he was not alone. He would have had a host of angels with him.

Literally, they were “standing in front” of the angel. Michael came and “surrounded” (to protect, help) him.

We think in terms of physical realms. Only about four people can attack one person together. Any more attackers would get in each other’s way. The spiritual world is different. Spiritual beings can touch the same place in the physical world from different places in the spiritual realms. It seems like they spiritual realms are curved.

This means that one person can be attacked by a great host of evil spiritual forces, if they are a key player in history. It means that one person might need a host of angels to surround them and protect them.

When his eyes were opened top see into the spiritual realms, Elisha’s servant saw the hills fill of horses and chariots surrounding Elisha (2 Kings 6:17). These angelic beings were “surrounding” Elisha. They were there for one man. Elisha needed them for protection, even though he had a double portion of the Holy Spirit.

The Holy Spirit primarily operates within people who have been sanctified by the blood of Jesus. He speaks to them, so they can know Jesus will. He gives followers of Jesus gifts of the Spirit, so they can understand what is happening. He empowers them to speak with authority.

Jesus humbled himself and took the form of a man. The Holy Spirit has also humbled himself to working from within the followers of Jesus, while at the same time sustaining the universe. He teaches us God’s will. He flows out of us to touch unbelievers and heal the people we touch.

The Holy Spirit leaves responsibility for wrestling with the spiritual power of evil to the holy angels. Humans speak and remove the authority of the spiritual powers of evil. The holy angels force them to obey the words spoken in obedience to Jesus.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Yemen

I cannot understand why the Western media are silent about the atrocities being committed by an ally of the United States in Yemen. Michael Horton describes the current situation.

Saudi Arabia and its coalition partners are enforcing a naval blockade of Yemen. Yemen—already the poorest country in the Middle East— imports 90 percent of its food and medicine. Hundreds of thousands of Yemenis face starvation as food prices have soared and aid is either non-existent or slow to arrive. The United Nations estimates that more than 80 percent of Yemen’s population of 23 million are in immediate need of humanitarian assistance.

The chief executive of Oxfam, Mark Golding, stated: “Yemen is being slowly starved to death. First there were restrictions on imports including much need food. When this was partially eased, the cranes in the ports were bombed, then the warehouses, then the roads and the bridges. This is not by accident. It is systematic.”

Concurrent with the naval blockade, Saudi Arabia is waging an aerial campaign that has laid waste to Yemen’s limited infrastructure. There are few parts of the country that have not been impacted: bridges, roads, schools, hospitals, water wells and, according to some reports, even farms and orchards have all been targeted. The damage to Yemen’s infrastructure will take billions of dollars and probably decades to rebuild, if it is ever rebuilt.

However, this is only the physical cost of the war. The cost to the Yemeni people and particularly to its young people—roughly 60 percent of Yemenis are under the age of 24—is incalculable. Vast numbers of Yemeni children are unable to attend school, child malnourishment—already high—has soared, and unemployment—also high before the war—is now endemic. It is likely that an entire generation of Yemenis, who already faced profound challenges, has been further disadvantaged and made more vulnerable by a war that is even more senseless than most.

Why is they United States and the United Kingdom supplying weapons to Saudi Arabia to wreck this poor country. What on earth do they think they are achieving. Yemen is one of the poorest countries in the world. What can be achieved by destroying its inadequate infrastructure.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Incarnation (4) Dangerous

Coming to earth as a baby was highly dangerous for God. If the spiritual powers of evil could kill him before he grew up, they could foil God’s plan to rescue his people and his creation.

That is why the spiritual powers of evil stirred up Herod to kill all the baby boys living in the vicinity of Bethlehem. They hoped to wipe him out, before he became a problem for them.

An angel spoke to Joseph in a dream and he and Mary fled to Egypt. The wise men had provided them with wealth to support themselves while there.

I believe the spiritual powers of evil did not notice Jesus fleeing during the night, because they believed that they had destroyed Jesus when Herod killed the children.

Or perhaps they were so arrogant, they did not believe that a baby boy could be a threat to them.

Whatever the reason, Jesus was able to grow up to be as a normal young man.

I am sure that a host of angels continued to surround him for protection. The prayers of Mary and people like Anna and Simeon gave them authority to surround Jesus and protect him. God had to wait for them to be there, before he could send Jesus.

When Jesus was baptised, the spiritual powers of evil realised that Jews really was a threat. They went into the wilderness and tried to get him to disobey God and disqualify himself for his mission. Or to take a rash action that would result him being killed.

Jesus resisted the spiritual powers of evil and defeated them. He was then able to enter his ministry and fulfil his calling.

Although the angels were there to protect Jesus, it was an enormous risk. What if the people has stopped praying, or Joseph had ignored the angel and stayed in Bethlehem. God loved us so much that he was willing to risk his son on a mission to rescue us.

Imagine if you had rented your house out to someone that you trusted to look after it, but they let some gangsters move in and live with them. Would you send your child to live in the house for a couple of years, in order to get it back. If that was the only way to do it, most of us would give up and look for another house. We would not risk a child to save a house. But that was what God did. He sent his son, to save the world. He loved us so much that he was willing to risk his son to rescue us.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Incarnation (3)

We have heard the story of Jesus birth so often, we have forgotten how amazing it is. Imagine a toymaker making wooden dolls. If something went wrong with the dolls, the toymaker could turn himself into a wooden doll so that he was small enough assist them. This children’s story has never been written, because it is just too absurd. Why would a creative human being turn himself into a tiny wooden doll?

What human would turn themselves into an ant to rescue an ant’s nest that was in danger of being destroyed? A kind person might stoop down to look. They might try to remove the danger. But no human would think of turning themselves into an ant to live with them and rescue them. The idea is totally stupid.

Yet that is what God has done. Our creator became a human, so he could rescue us from the mess that we created in his world.

No wonder the angels went mad with Joy. I guarantee that when the idea was first mooted, some angels were surprised and said it would not happen. God would not became a human, a little lower than the angels. Yet that is what he did. That is why the angels sang, Glory to God in heaven, and Wow, the humans who messed up the earth have got a lucky break”.

Friday, December 16, 2016

Incarnation (2)

Why did God send Jesus a baby? Why did he not send him as an adult? He could have done that as he did with Adam and Eve. It would have been much safer.

The problem if Jesus had come as an adult is that the spiritual powers of evil could argue that Jesus was not truly human and not entitled to authority on earth. He had to be born helpless and grow to be a man, so there could be no argument about his humanness, and his right to take authority over the earth. He had to be a true descendant of Adam. Being born to an Israelite girl was the only way that it could happen.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Incarnation (1)

I am struck by the number of Christmas messages that end up being about the cross. It seems that may preachers do not understand the wonder of the incarnation. Let me try to explain it.

In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. He gave authority over the earth to humans. Satan tricked Adam and Eve and they submitted to him, which gave Satan and his follower’s authority over the earth.

The powers of evil had stolen God’s earth. He had given authority to humans, so he could not intervene without their permission. Humans continued to sin, which made them slaves of the spiritual powers of evil. They made sure that humans did not seek him, so God was shut out of his own creation. For a millennium, the spiritual powers of evil had a free reign to attack and destroy the earth. They did terrible harm (Gen 6:5).

Then men like Lamech, Noah and Abraham began to call out to God and invite him to get involved. Moses led the people into Canaan and established a land where God would be free to operate. However, that did not last long, because the Israelites rebelled against God and were taken into exile. The land where God should have been free to work was controlled by evil empires.

The world was a mess, but God had decreed that only humans could exercise authority on earth. But only a human who had not sinned could be free from the spiritual powers of evil and take back authority on earth. None of the descendants of Adam could do it, so the situation looked like a stalemate.

God had created a dilemma. He had given authority over the earth to humans, and he does not go back on his word. Only a human could win the world back from the spiritual powers of evil. However, the spiritual powers of evil controlled humans so, they would not let humans give God authority to intervene. God is sovereign, but because he is faithful, he honours the commitments he has made.

  • Only a human could do it.
  • No human was human was good enough to struggle free and do it.
God had an amazing solution. He would become a man. That was amazing enough, but he could not just becomes an adult man (like Adam), he had to be a descendent of Adam (and Abraham). The only way that could happen was for God to be born of a woman.

The Holy Spirit overshadowed Mary and Jesus was conceived in her womb. He was truly human, so he would grow to be a man with legal rights to authority on earth. He would live a righteous life, so he could be defeat the spiritual powers of evil and take authority over the earth back from them.

Hallelujah!!!

Monday, December 12, 2016

Really?

We just bought six small Ikea plastic bowls from the Warehouse (the New Zealand version of Walmart). They only cost a few dollars.

They are made in China, designed in France and branded by Ikea from Sweden. The safety warning is written in 35 languages.

I didn’t know that bowls are so dangerous that they need adult supervision.

I guess this warning is required by EU regulations. This is what big government delivers.

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Too Liberal

David Fitch has interesting article called, We are just Too Liberal. Here is a quote.

Because our Christianity is such an individual thing, we do not have confidence that God is working in the world. Neither do we see how the church is a way of living together that displays His Kingdom in society. We don’t see how the church lives under its political power, the reign of Jesus who is Lord and bringing in His Kingdom.
The article is worth reading.

Thursday, December 08, 2016

Modern Liberalism

Shadi Hamid wrote,

The decline of Christianity in the United States has left an ideological vacuum, and for many, perhaps most, modern liberalism is just a bit too boring to fill the gap.
Modern liberalism is also to weak to deal invading cultures. It assumes that all cultures are good. Therefore it has to accommodate every culture that enters regardless of whether it is good or bad.

Consequently, liberalism will eventually be overcome by a stronger dominant culture. That will not be decided by political war, but by what American people believe and serve.


Tuesday, December 06, 2016

Immigration

The Bible teaches God’s people to welcome stranger and sojourners in their land and bless them (Deut 10:17-19). The decisions were made locally within strong communities.

What is happening in America is a bit different. The politicians in Washington have decided that various communities should host refugees from overseas. The politicians do not receive them into their communities. They have very little to do with the refugees, unless they employ them as cheap gardeners and house cleaners.

The migrants do not change the culture in the community where the politicians live, because they cannot afford to live there. They live in separate more affordable communities.

The people living in the communities that the refugees are sent to have very little say in what happens. The migrants live among them, so they influence their culture.

Enforced hospitality to strangers is not what the scriptures have in mind.

Monday, December 05, 2016

Thanksgiving and Immigration

Ruth Ryder at the Torch has an intersting article called Thanksgiving, Christian Hospitality, and “Illegal” Immigrants.

Remember Where You Came From
Scripture is full of instructions on how the people of God are to treat foreigners. The Hebrew Bible contains several reminders that the Israelites were once foreigners in Egypt and would be still, were it not for God’s grace. Now, God tells them, true justice requires extending hospitality toward immigrants.
For the Lord your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome, who is not partial and takes no bribe, who executes justice for the orphan and the widow, and who loves the strangers, providing them food and clothing. You shall also love the stranger, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt. (Deuteronomy 10:17-19, NRSV)
This is what the Lord Almighty said: ‘Administer true justice; show mercy and compassion to one another. Do not oppress the widow or the fatherless, the foreigner or the poor. Do not plot evil against each other.’ (Zechariah 7:9-10, NIV)
There are many more examples from the Hebrew Bible besides the two I have provided. In the New Testament, Christians are similarly reminded that they were once strangers to God, utterly sinful (lawbreakers!) and undeserving of his hospitality. We didn’t first get a green card and take the Heavenly Kingdom citizenship test before God extended his hospitality toward us.

Gentiles especially must remember that they were also once “aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world.”

But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For he is our peace; in his flesh he has made both groups into one and has broken down the dividing wall, that is, the hostility between us. He has abolished the law with its commandments and ordinances, that he might create in himself one new humanity in place of the two, thus making peace, and might reconcile both groups to God in one body through the cross, thus putting to death that hostility through it. So he came and proclaimed peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near; for through him both of us have access in one Spirit to the Father. So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are citizens with the saints and also members of the household of God, built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the cornerstone. In him the whole structure is joined together and grows into a holy temple in the Lord; in whom you also are built together spiritually into a dwelling place for God. (Ephesians 2:11-22, NRSV)
Although we are now no longer strangers to God, we have become strangers to the world. We are pilgrims in this world in search of our heavenly homeland, which has become ours through God’s generous gift of hospitality (Hebrews 11:13-16). And so we are instructed that we, too, must extend hospitality to strangers (Matthew 25: 34-46; Hebrews 13:2; Romans 12:13).

Just as it is important for us as Christians to remember our past as foreigners to God and his kingdom when considering how we ought to treat foreigners among us, it is also important to remember our ethnic heritage and past in this country. Every caucasian in this country is the descendant of people who chose to leave their homeland in search of a better life. And when you consider the ruthless acquisition of land and all 500+ broken treaties with the Native Americans, America itself is a nation of “illegal immigrants.” Simply because the lawbreaking, unjust agent happens to be the government doesn’t magically make those acts legal and just, even if it absolves itself of any wrongdoing. If you’re a Christian, you should be able to recognize that there is a higher law to which even the United States government ought to submit.

Add to that irony the Indian Removal Act of 1830, which led to the deportation of the Indians living in the southeast to west of the Mississippi River. And so the original inhabitants were “legally” forced to leave their own homes and travel hundreds of miles in what became known as the “Trail of Tears,” killing many thousands along the way. Claiming the moral highground in order to expel people deemed to be inferior is nothing new. Your government might legalize its own actions, and yet they remain fully “illegal” in the eyes of God.

Follow the link above and read the entire article.

Friday, December 02, 2016

Casey on Nationalism (3)

Doug Casey on Nationalism and the State.

I think, however, that the nation-state is approaching its end game.

And almost all states in the world are on the point of failure because almost all of them are bankrupt. They’ve issued far more debt than they can ever repay. They all compel their subjects to use fiat currencies, but all of those currencies are in the process of being destroyed, since governments, through their central banks, are issuing them by the trillions now.

Governments the world over provide less and less in the way of services that people actually want and need—and most of those they’ve usurped, as they always have, from the market. Since they’re mostly bankrupt they’ll be increasingly unable to provide useful services. So I expect we’ll see more internal turmoil around the world in the years to come. And more wars, as governments blame each other for various problems. You’ll find more states going rogue for that reason.

This is all bad news. But the good news is that—possibly—we’re at the cusp of seeing the concept of the state itself debunked. And the state replaced by a more rational form of social organization.

Unfortunately, it’s likely to be a bumpy road getting from here to there. Most people have no idea how bad things can get when a government goes out of control, let alone how to prepare… The coming economic and political collapse is going to be much worse, much longer, and very different than what we’ve seen in the past.



Thursday, December 01, 2016

Casey on Nationalism (2)

Doug Casey on Nationalism and the State.

In the Kingdom phase, from around 3,000 B.C. to roughly the mid-1600s, the world’s cultures were organized under strong men, ranging from petty lords to kings and emperors. With kingdoms, loyalties weren’t so much to the “country”—a nebulous and arbitrary concept—but to the ruler. You were the subject of a king, first and foremost. Your linguistic, ethnic, religious, and other affiliations were secondary. Tribal leaders who were good warriors conquered neighboring tribes and set themselves up as kings.

Then came the nation-state, one of the mankind’s worst inventions.

It seems that most people naturally want, and maybe even need, a leader. It must be some kind of innate atavism, probably dating back to before humans branched out from the chimpanzees about three million years ago. Most people, it seems, like being led, and giving their loyalty to something bigger than themselves. Maybe that helps give their lives meaning… In any event, over the last few hundred years, it’s become fashionable to pledge allegiance not to a ruler or a king, but to something called the “State.”

Today’s prevailing norm is the nation-state, a group of people who tend to share a language, religion, and ethnicity. Like a gigantic tribe. The idea of the nation-state is especially effective when it’s organized as a “democracy,” where the average person is given the illusion he has some measure of control over where the leviathan is headed.

I think, however, that the nation-state is approaching its end game.