Monday, June 26, 2017

America's Cup

New Zealanders love a David Goliath challenge. Taking on Larry Ellison and Oracle is about as good as gets, even if Emirates are the main sponsor.

Huge numbers of people in New Zealand are getting up at 5am to watch the America’s Cup on television. I presume that most Americans do not even know it is on.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Loss of Truth

Last week, I listened to a talk called The Loss of Truth by Ravi Zacharias. He describes how Western Culture has lots its way by ignoring God.

During the talk, Ravi read a poem called Creed by Steve Turner. It cleverly illustrates the futility and folly I have trying to live in God’s world while pretending that he does not exist. The poem is funny and disturbing at the same time.

Creed
We believe in Marxfreudanddarwin.
We believe everything is OK
as long as you don't hurt anyone,
to the best of your definition of hurt,
and to the best of your knowledge.

We believe in sex before during
and after marriage.
We believe in the therapy of sin.
We believe that adultery is fun.
We believe that sodomy's OK
We believe that taboos are taboo.

We believe that everything's getting better
despite evidence to the contrary.
The evidence must be investigated.
You can prove anything with evidence.

We believe there's something in horoscopes,
UFO's and bent spoons;
Jesus was a good man just like Buddha
Mohammed and ourselves.
He was a good moral teacher although we think
his good morals were bad.

We believe that all religions are basically the same,
at least the one that we read was.
They all believe in love and goodness.
They only differ on matters of
creation sin heaven hell God and salvation.

We believe that after death comes The Nothing
because when you ask the dead what happens
they say Nothing.
If death is not the end, if the dead have lied,
then it's compulsory heaven for all
excepting perhaps Hitler, Stalin and Genghis Khan.

We believe in Masters and Johnson.
What's selected is average.
What's average is normal.
What's normal is good.

We believe in total disarmament.
We believe there are direct links between
warfare and bloodshed.
Americans should beat their guns into tractors
and the Russians would be sure to follow.

We believe that man is essentially good.
It's only his behaviour that lets him down.
This is the fault of society.
Society is the fault of conditions.
Conditions are the fault of society.

We believe that each man must find the truth
that is right for him.
Reality will adapt accordingly.
The universe will readjust. History will alter.
We believe that there is no absolute truth
excepting the truth that there is no absolute truth.

We believe in the rejection of creeds.


Steve Turner

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Vision of Cracks

I was struck by an article published on the Elijah List by Lana Vawser at the end of April. It was thrown out so nonchalantly, I wondered if she understood the implications of the vision she shared. Here is what she saw.

I watched as angels of triumph that had been positioned all across the United States began to stomp upon the nation with their feet. As they stomped their feet and the intercession of the people of God were rising up to heaven, I saw a great and mighty shaking that was happening and increasing in the nation.

Yet as these angelic hosts stomped their feet on the land, I saw cracks in the ground beginning to appear, and all the hidden things were being brought to the surface and exposed. What I noticed about these cracks is they spread far and wide all across the United States, but what struck me was the DEPTH of the cracks. As far as they were spreading wide, they were going deep. The shaking was going deeper and deeper and deeper and I heard the words “I am going to the foundations. I am going to the roots. I am uprooting and exposing the weeds and the snares in the foundations. I am uprooting and exposing the weeds in the roots and foundations.” As this shaking was taking place, and the people of God interceding for the nation, I watched as the Lord began to breathe down the generational line, and I saw curses that were established and spoken over the United States being broken. The shaking was revealing the curses and the poison and it was all coming to the surface and another level of the breaking of generational curses of the nation was happening.

I watched this shaking taking place and it was like an earthquake. Many of God’s people were feeling unsettled, some were feeling fearful and discouraged, and I heard the Lord say “Do not mistake the shaking! Do not mistake the shaking! Do not mistake the shaking! The shaking is leading to another level of the chains breaking. The shaking is leading to another level of the chains breaking.

Lana saw cracks spreading far and wide across America. She was stunned by the depth of the cracks.

I do not know how it feels on the inside, but looking from the outside this seems to be a good description of the United States. The nations with “United” in its name seems to be divided in so many directions.

  • political
  • religious
  • racial
  • north-south
  • east-west
  • urban-rural
  • fresh water v blue water economists
  • Progressive Christian v Evangelical Christian
  • 90% v 10%
  • security organisations v political authority
  • Washington elites v the rest
  • financial sector v productive sector
In the vision the cracks went down to the foundation. I presume that this is part of the problem. The cracks and divisions that are currently manifesting are rooted in cracks that were built at the beginning.

While there was a strong Christian influence at the foundation of the United States, there were many other influences all bound together.

  • enlightenment philosophy
  • Greek political thought
  • Roman law
  • free masonry
  • mercantilism
  • slavery
  • deism
  • faith in political power
  • faith in military power.
If I understand the vision correctly, God is allowing the surface cracks to manifest, so that the cracks in the foundation can be exposed. This suggests that the United States is in for some serious shaking.

Lana said that the Lord is declaring “Triumph”, but I am not sure what that means. In my view, the outcome of shaking depends on whether the people of God are prepared.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Gospel Keys (5) Place

Matthew 18:18-19 contains important insights about the Kingdom of God. Jesus promised that his followers will be able to bind the spiritual powers of evil and release angels to do his work.

Truly I tell you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in the spiritual realms, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in spiritual realms (Matt 18:18).
Yet, we are not seeing as much of the spiritual powers of evil being bound as we should expect given Jesus’ promise.

Jesus gave the condition for his promise in the next paragraph.

Again, truly I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything they ask for, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. For where two or three have gathered together in my name, there am I with them (Matt 18:19-20).
The condition for the victory Jesus promised is two or three disciples gathering together in his name. We assume that if we get together for an hour on Sunday morning or Wednesday evening that is sufficient for Jesus to be present and give the victory promised. I suspect that Jesus had something more permanent in mind.

The first Christians were together in one place.

All who believed were in the same place (Acts 2:44).
Because they had come together, they had strong spiritual protection, and were able establish victory over the spiritual powers of evil.

In contrast, modern Christians are content to live scattered all over the place. Gathering together is limited to an hour on Sunday. This reflects a lack of understanding of the spiritual battle that we are engaged in.

In a war, gathering together is the best defence. The same is true in a spiritual war. Serious defeat of the spiritual powers of evil that Jesus promised, will take more serious gathering together.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Gospel Keys (4) Power Pairs

When Jesus apostled his seventy-two disciples, he sent them out in pairs.

After this the Lord appointed seventy-two others and apostled them two by two ahead of him to every town and place where he was about to go (Luke 10:1).
We tend to assume this is optional, but it was an essential aspect of Jesus gospel strategy. The early Christians carried it on after Jesus has ascended.

John had been with Jesus for three years and understood his ways better than anyone. He had experienced the outpouring of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. If anyone could operate on his own, it would be John. Yet when he went up to the Beautiful Gate of the temple, he paired up with Peter.

By operating as a pair, and accompanied by the Holy Spirit, a crippled man was healed. They proclaimed the gospel boldly to the religious authorities (Acts 3).

Paul always operated in a pair with another person who could compliment his ministry.

To see the gospel advance rapidly, we need to learn how to operate as pairs. For more see Power Pairs.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Gospel Keys (3) Go and Stay

When Jesus apostled the seventy-two disciples, he told them to go to the place he was sending and stay there.

After this the Lord appointed seventy-two others and apostled them two by two ahead of him to every town and place where he was about to go. He told them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few.

Stay there, eating and drinking whatever they give you, for the worker deserves his wages. Do not move around from house to house (Luke 10:1,2).

Jesus told them to go to where the harvest is ripe and stay there.

This instruction has been mostly ignored. The church tends to settle down where it is. People are invited to come to the church and attend a meeting. Sometimes Christians visit the place where they think the harvest is ripe and invite people to come to their church. This is the wrong way round.

If the gospel is to advance powerfully, there will have to be a lot more going and staying.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Policy Design Fault

Chris Floyd notes that in this century alone, the US and UK have helped destroy two largely secular, multicultural regimes that had stood as bulwarks against the Islamic extremism peddled by allies such as Saudi Arabia, namely Iraq and Libya. A third such country, Syria, has been the target of an ongoing regime change war in which the West and Saudis are openly backing al Qaeda allies and other extremists.

Given that the leaders of the UK and US claim have declared that Islamic terrorism is the primary threat to our civilization and thus counterterrorism is an overarching priority, he asks why they have adopted policies that undermine their objective.

  • If countering Islamic extremism is your priority, then supporting Islamic terrorists in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and Libya is, to put it mildly, the wrong policy.

  • If it is your priority to combat Islamic extremism which threatens to radicalize citizens of your own country, then giving massive, continuous, unquestioning support to the brutal tyrants who have exported extremist Islam all over the world for decades is, to put it mildly, the wrong policy.

  • If it is your priority to defend your civilization from radical Islamic extremism, then launching war after war after war in Islamic countries with secular governments — and aiding extremist militias in those countries, like al Qaeda, al Nusra, ISIS, and the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group, founded in the 1990s with support from the West to launch terrorist attacks against the Gadafy regime — are, to put it mildly, the wrong policies.

  • If it is your overarching priority to prevent the spread of hatred, radicalization and revenge, then committing mass murder in drone strikes on villages, weddings, farmers and children is, to put it mildly, the wrong policy.


Saturday, June 10, 2017

Gospel Keys (2) Go into the World

In Mark 16:17-18, Jesus promised that signs and wonders would follow those who preach the gospel.

These signs will follow those who believe: In My name they will cast out demons; … they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.

The question we need to ask, is “Where will they follow?”

Jesus gave the answer at the beginning of the message.

Go into all the world and preach the gospel (Matt 16:15).
Deliverance and healing will follow believers when they go into the world.

The church in the west has tended to keep the gifts of healing and deliverance at the front of the church, ministering to long lines of believers. This is the wrong way round.

The gift of healing is for unbelievers, so that when they hear the gospel, they will know it is true. It belongs in the world not in the church.

We all want to see the Holy Spirit healing the sick, but we forget where it happens.

And wherever he went into villages, towns or countryside, they placed the sick in the marketplaces. They begged him to let them touch even the edge of his cloak, and all who touched him were healed (Mark 6:56).
As a result, people brought the sick into the streets and laid them on beds and mats so that at least Peter's shadow might fall on some of them as he passed by (Acts 5:15).
Large numbers of people were healed in the streets and the market place. This is where the Holy Spirit prefers to work. I suspect that he sometimes gets bored with our meetings and longs to get out into the public places and heal the sick. If we want to see him doing this, we should follow him.

Friday, June 09, 2017

Gospel Keys (1)

Jesus instructed his followers to take the good news of his Kingdom into all the world.

Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation (Mark 16:15).
He also gave a very clear strategy for how this should be done.

Unfortunately, there are a few parts of his strategy that the church has fairly steadfastly refused to adopt.

1. Wait for the Spirit
Jesus told his disciples that they should wait until they received the power of the Holy Spirit.

Stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high (Luke 24:49).
This is fairly basic. The gospel cannot be proclaimed effectively without the power of the Holy Spirit, because the gospel needs to be confirmed with healings and deliverance that prove God’s love and mercy and confirm that the spiritual powers of evil have been defeated. The good news of Jesus death, resurrection and ascension if incomplete without the power of the Holy Spirit.

Powerful preaching, clever visuals, smart programs and great music will never fill the gap.

The fields are still white, so we desperately need “power from on high”.

Thursday, June 08, 2017

Gospel is Real

Many evangelical believers prefer Paul’s letters to the gospels. I can sort of understand why. Paul expects us to believes that Jesus died and has risen to God’s right hand. In the abstract, these truths are easy to accept.

I have just been reading Mark’s gospel. It is full of healing and deliverance from evil spirits for ordinary people in the midst of everyday of life. If these things are not part of our every day experience, this is quite confronting.

Wednesday, June 07, 2017

Religious State

The Iranian philosopher Abdolkarim Soroush said something like this.

In a religious state, religion becomes vulnerable to politics. To criticise the state is to criticise the religion. If the critics of the state are right, religion could turn out to be flawed, even endangered. If religion could not be blamed, critics of the state must be apostates who cannot be tolerated.
The United States has had a religious state, but the last sentence in the quote did not apply. Criticism has been tolerated. However, the first part of the quote does apply. The failure of the state blackened the reputation of Christianity.

Now a new secular religious state is emerging in it's place. The last sentence in the quote does apply to the secular state.

Monday, June 05, 2017

Pentecost

Yesterday was Pentecost Sunday. All over the world followers of Jesus longed for a fuller experience of the Holy Spirit.

The songs pleaded for the Holy Spirit to come. Prayers implored him to come and refresh us.

The motives behind the songs and prayers are good, but I wonder if we have this the wrong way round.

The prayer and the songs make it should like the problem is with God, and that he needs to do something.

He poured out the Holy Spirit at Pentecost and he has never called him back. He has already done his bit.
That means that if our experience is below par, the problem must be with us, not with him.

Perhaps we should be asking if we have grieved the Holy Spirit, and what we need to do to put that right.

Friday, June 02, 2017

Kingdom Authority

Authority is the heart of every kingdom. If there is no authority, there is no kingdom. Therefore, to understand the Kingdom of God, we must understand how authority works, in heaven and on earth.

Everything in this universe is shaped by authority. In the beginning God said, “Let it be” and it was. He had authority over everything. Two chapters later, God said, “Let us give authority to humans”. Why on earth did he do that? When Jesus was being tempted, the devil said, “I have authority over all the kingdoms of the world”. How did that happen? When Jesus preached the gospel, the people recognised his authority. Who gave him authority? By the end of the gospel Jesus was saying, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me”. How did that happen? The Book of Revelation says that Jesus has authority to open the scrolls that release God’s activity on earth. How does that work?

My book called Kingdom Authority describes the history of authority in both the spiritual and physical realms. It explains the big authority shifts that have had massive impacts on earth. Most theologies jump from the fall straight to the cross, without much need for the stuff in between. That is a mistake, as if we ignore the events described in the Old Testament, we will fail to understand everything God is doing, and the big authority shifts that have constrained him.

If we do not know about authority, we will not understand why evil has been so active on earth. God gave authority over the earth to humans. The forces of evil have been active on earth, because humans gave them authority, while God did not have the authority he needed to deal with evil. It took a special human do that, and until he came the powers of evil had a ball.

Big Questions
Jesus preached the gospel of the Kingdom of God. This raises a couple of serious questions.

Jesus prayed that God’s authority would be done on earth and it is in heaven. How did the God who created the universe end up losing authority over the earth? What happened on earth and in heaven that meant his authority on earth has to be restored?

Why has God taken so long? Things went wrong on earth right at the beginning. Yet God let thousands of years go by before he sent Jesus to put things right. Why did he let evil go on for so long, before something about it?

To understand these questions, we must understand the working of authority and the big shifts in authority that have shaped history on earth. The big shifts in authority are described in Kingdom Authority. This book is a prequel to a book called The Government of God that I will be publishing in June. It will show how the principles in Kingdom Authority are applied in practice.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Seeking the Spirit

About a year after I chose to follow Jesus, I was feeling really frustrated. I felt like I had not made much progress in learning how to follow him. It felt like I had not changed enough.

I talked to the young woman who led the study and fellowship group we belonged to. She had been a Christian most of her life, but she did not give me answers. She wisely suggested that I read the book of Acts and see if I could find out what made a difference for the new believers in the church (Thank you Airini).

I quickly read right through the book of Acts looking for the thing that made a difference. The answer jumped out from every page. Things happened and people were changed because the Holy Spirit was active. I realised that I desperately needed the Holy Spirit in my life.

The next Friday night, I went to town and visited a Christian bookstore. I bought three books about the Holy Spirit. One of them was the The Holy Spirit and You by Dennis Bennett. He was better known for Nine O’Clock in the Morning, but I did not notice that one.

On Saturday morning, my wife went to work at 6.30 am. I did not get up, but stayed in bed and read the Holy Spirit and You. By midday, I had finished the book. At the end of the book, Dennis Bennett referred to a promise in Luke 11. I got my Bible and I read it carefully.

Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.

Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him! (Luke 11:9-13).
As I sat in my bed, it seemed obvious. I needed the Holy Spirit. The Father had promised that if I asked, he would give him to me.

So I asked.

And the Father delivered on his promise.

The Holy Spirit filled me with his presence. I began to speak in a language that I did not know (a spiritual language has been an important part of my life ever since.) It was like in the book of Acts, but in my bedroom.

About a week later, I felt led to pray for a member of my family who was sick. I just knew that if I laid my hand on her back and prayed, she would be healed. When she went to see a medical specialist a few days later, he could find no trace of the problem.

I have always said that once you have seen the Holy Spirit heal one person you are ruined. You can no longer say that God does not heal people anymore. You cannot say that the Holy Spirit does not want to heal people, because you have seen it with your own eyes.

I gained the joy of having the Holy Spirit in my life, but I gained the frustration of knowing that he could heal, but was not seeing enough of it.

When we moved to Dunedin, we belonged to a group called prayer and praise. The Holy Spirt was moving and we often prayed for people who were sick. Being a curious person, I got a notebook and listed every person we prayed for and what was wrong. The following week, I would check up and see how the person was.

After a couple of months I was surprised by the results. About a third of cases were uncertain. For example, a person had a cold and a week later, they were better, but it was not possible to definitely attribute that directly to the prayer, because they would have gotten better anyway. For another third, nothing happened. But the remaining third were clearly healed, and it seemed like it could only be the Holy Spirit who had done it. Over those few months, a dozen people were healed of sicknesses.

That experience set me off on a searching path over many years. I was puzzled why some people were healed and others were not. It was not because the Holy Spirit is not strong enough to do it. There had to be other reasons and I wanted to know what they were.

So I dug into the scriptures and looked for patterns. I investigated every healing in the Bible and studied every passage that dealt with healing. I discovered some real insights. Five years ago, I put everything I have learned in a little book called Healing. It does not contain all the answers, but the book does have some important insights.

In some ways this is the most important book I have written, yet is actually the least popular. I suspect that it because many Christians have given up on the gift of healing and just accepted sickness as a normal part of life. That is sad, because Jesus was beaten for our healing, so it would be a pity if his suffering were wasted.

Jesus told his disciples to heal the sick and preach the good news of the kingdom. That is what he did. We tend to preach the good news, but we do not bother about the other bit. But Jesus never said it was optional. The best proof of the reality and love of God, and his power to rescue, is someone being healed. In this secular age, the good news of Jesus will only be successful in the way we want it to be when it is accompanied by the gift of healing.

My prayer is that followers of Jesus will press into the Holy Spirit and discover more of the gift of healing that the Father promised.

Monday, May 29, 2017

Saudi Arabian Folly

I don’t understand why the leaders of the powerful G7 nations committed themselves to fighting terrorism, yet continue to cosy up to Saudi Arabia.

Donald Trump travelled to Saudi Arabia to offer a $110 billion arms deal.

In recent months, British Prime Minister Teresa May has signed special deals with Saudi Arabia to sell weapons and provide training for their military and security forces that keep the ruling family in power.

Why do these leaders support this autocratic nation that is the sponsor for terrorism all round the world. The Wahhabi sect of Islam that inspires terrorism first emerged in Saudi Arabia. From there, it has been exported all over the world.

The wave of terrorism that has engulfed the region when it ultimately emanates from one small but immensely influential Sunni sect. One of the great cultural changes in the world over the last 50 years is the way in which Wahhabism, once an isolated splinter group, has become an increasingly dominant influence over mainstream Sunni Islam, thanks to Saudi financial support. (Patrick Cockburn in the Indedpendent)
Mark Curtis explains that Wahhabism is an ideology promoted by the ruling family in Saudi Arabia.
The Saudi role in exporting Wahhabism is surely well-known by now. In the past few decades, the Saudi regime has spent billions spreading its extremist interpretation of Islam worldwide, funding mosques and free madrassas – religious schools – supplying them with imams and textbooks.
Curtis explains that the is activity is well understood by UK and US leaders.
The British elite is perfectly aware of the insidious role that Saudi Arabia plays in fomenting terrorism. In October 2014, General Jonathan Shaw, a former Assistant Chief of the Defence Staff, told the Telegraph that Saudi Arabia and Qatar were primarily responsible for the rise of the extremist Islam that inspires IS terrorists. He said:
“This is a time bomb that, under the guise of education, Wahhabi Salafism is igniting under the world really. And it is funded by Saudi and Qatari money and that must stop.”
He noted that UK/US bombing of IS would not “stop the support of people in Qatar and Saudi Arabia for this kind of activity” because:
“It’s not addressing the fundamental problem of Wahhabi Salafism as a culture and a creed, which has got out of control and is still the ideological basis of Isil – and which will continue to exist even if we stop their advance in Iraq.”
Curtis warns,
All the while the Saudis have been exporting Wahhabism and backing Islamist groups and terrorists, they have enjoyed a special relationship with London and Washington. The history is so long and deep it is hard to summarise: basically the relationship is characterised by extreme sycophancy, total military support, constant apologias and carefully-controlled media lines that serve to keep the public in the dark about the true extent of relations and the nature of the Saudi regime. It is hard to pinpoint whether Saudi Arabia is a client of the UK or the other way round: probably both, since both set of elites have been happily joined at the hip.


Saturday, May 27, 2017

Good News

When Jesus died on the cross, the spiritual powers of evil thought that they had defeated him. But God had the last laugh. He raised Jesus from the dead. He appeared to many of the disciples.

The spiritual powers of evil were totally defeated, because they had used human sin to gain authority over the earth. Jesus’ death and resurrection dealt with the sin problem, so the basis of their authority was undermined.

Forty days after Jesus rose from the dead, Jesus ascended into heaven. God seated him at his right hand, far above all spiritual power and authority.

He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, far above all above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in that which is to come. And He put all things under His feet (Eph 1:20-22).
Those who give allegiance to Jesus, are seated there with him.
God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus (Eph 2:6).
Jesus was inaugurated as king of all creation. He must remain at God’s right hand until the Holy Spirit, working through his followers, has established Jesus rule on earth (Psalm 110:1). He does not do this with military force, like other kings. The Holy Spirit convicts people of their need for Jesus, he teaches them how to love him and how to obey him. Jesus kingdom comes, as people listen to the Holy Spirit and obey Jesus.

The Holy Spirit is wiser and stronger than the spiritual powers of evil. He will be victorious, and Jesus reign in the spiritual realm will becomes a reality on earth. We can choose to be part of that victory by giving our allegiance to him.


Thursday, May 25, 2017

Patterns

Reviewing numbers was a key role during my secular employment. I discovered that I have an ability to spot patterns in numbers that other people often miss. Sometimes it would be a discrepancy. Other times, it would be a common pattern in data that seemed to be disconnected. This ability more than anything made me good at my work.

This ability translated over to my study of the scriptures. For the first twenty years after I chose to follow Jesus, I read the Old Testament through every year (two chapters and a Psalm a day gets it done). My mother had read from Egermeier's Bible Story Book when we were children, so I began with a good understanding of Biblical history. I read the New Testament as well.

During my reading, I discovered patterns that other people did not see. I saw important connections between the Old and the New Testaments. I began to understand that God was not working by trial and error, but had a plan to restore the world and his people, right from the moment when Adam and Eve messed things up by rejecting his wisdom. He is still working on that strategy.

Soon after I chose to follow Jesus, I read a book called The Late Great Planet Earth by Hal Lindsay. Everybody was into this book at that time. It explained that we were in the end-times and that world is stuffed. Jesus would return soon to rescue his people. This escape message was popular at that time (more time has proved it wrong).

I initially accepted the message of the book, but wanted to check it out against the scriptures. I was stunned when I did this, because when I examined them carefully, his teaching was just not there. He had wrenched a few verses out of their context, and turned them into a gloomy prophecy for the future, whereas the scriptures are full for hope.

I wanted and understanding of history and God’s plan from the future that was consistent with the broad and deep hope of the scriptures. So I studied the book of Revelation in detail and began looking for patterns. I searched out all the images in Revelation that described the same event and put them together to see how the account of God’s plan unfolded.

I also looked for patterns across the Old and New Testaments, and began to see how they all fitted together. I discovered that God has a plan and purpose for the earth that is far more wonderful than the doom and gloom of Hal Lindsay’s book.

I discovered that the next big event is not a secret rapture in which God takes all the believers out of the world, along with his Holy Spirit. (Why would he do that if he cared about his creation.)

I discovered that the God plans to establish the fullness of his Kingdom here on earth as the Holy Spirit works through his people.

I discovered that the next big events in human history are the Jewish people coming to faith in Jesus and the collapse of big government. These events will come during a time of distress. These events are pivotal, because they will remove the last obstacles to the Kingdom of God coming in fullness.

I preached a series of sermons that outlined what I had learned to the church at Waikaka Valley. Again, one of the elders suggested that I put it together in a book, so more people could learn what I had discovered. After a couple of false starts, I put this material together in a book called Times and Seasons. It explains God’s plans for history and how they will climax in the fullness of his Kingdom.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Good News

The world needs good news.

God created a beautiful world and gave it to humans to care for. They knew it would go best if they did things God’s way, but they had freedom, and they wanted to try it out.

They decided they would choose between doing thing God’s way and doing their own thing. The problem was that when they did their own thing, they were tricked by the spiritual powers of evil and surrendered the authority over the earth that God had given to them.

The powers of evil got control over the earth, so from that time on, the world has often been troubled and broken.

Although he had been rejected, God did not give up on humans, or his world. He wanted the world back, but the powers of evil demanded a high price.
The good news is that God became a man so he could come into the world. Jesus offered to die to buy back the stolen world.

The power of evil agreed, but they were being tricky of course, because they believed that once Jesus died, they would not need to hand the world back to God.

But God was too smart. He foiled their evil plan by raising Jesus from the dead. The spiritual powers of evil who controlled the world for so long were defeated.

Anyone who surrenders to Jesus has been delivered from the powers of evil. But they are still tricky. When people do their own thing, they lose God’s protection and their lives become troubled and broken.

The good news is that they can switch allegiance to Jesus at any time.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Republic?

Scott Adams has an interesting comment about the government leaks and media hostility to Donald Trump.

I also think we are seeing with the recent leaks the first phase of Mutually Assured Destruction of our government. The leaks will destroy Trump if they continue. But if that happens, no Democrat and no anti-Trump Republican will ever be able to govern in the future. Payback is guaranteed. The next President to sit in the White House will be leaked to the point of ineffectiveness. And that’s how the Republic dies.
A divided nation will be unhappy whoever is President.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Church Season

After I had completed my theological studies, I was invited to be the minister of a Presbyterian church at Waikaka Valley in Southland. It was a rural parish near Gore. Most of the parishioners were farmers, so I felt comfortable with them and understood the seasons of their lives.

When I arrived in this parish, a verse of scripture really spoke to me.

See to it that you make everything according to the pattern shown you on the mountain (Ex 25:40).
It is quoted in Heb 8:5. I probably found it there.

I knew that I needed to do everything according to God’s pattern. The problem was that I did not have a revelation of what that pattern should be. I had to work with what was already established, so I took on the traditional pastor role.

I enjoyed the preaching and teaching aspect of being a minister. People responded well to my messages, and appreciated what they learnt. However, I struggled with most other aspects of ministry, especially providing pastoral care for grieving and hurting people. The only thing that saved me was that most farmers are resilient, so they rarely go to a minister for help. I did not feel like a leader, but I was expected to be one.

I felt like I was expected to be skilled in many tasks, but was only skilled in a few of them. I was expected to be a Jack of All Trades, but master of only one. This frustration forced me to go to the scriptures. I knew it was not just me that was wrong. I realised that there was something wrong with the ministry that I was trying to do, too. So I decided to study the New Testament and see if I could find out how ministry was supposed to work in the church. I guess I was looking for God’s pattern.

What I found was astonishing. I discovered a variety of ministries that God needed in his church. They needed to be committed to each other and serving the body. I discovered the key ministry is the elder.

I preached what I had discovered in a series of eight sermons. They were quite radical, so I did not know how they would be received. I needn’t have worried, because the farmers loved them. They thought they were very sensible. One of them said, “You really need to put these sermons together into a booklet, so other people can read them”. Thanks Geoffrey Lietze.

I took his advice and I put them together in a little booklet called “The Bride of Christ”. I got a couple of thousand printed, but they disappeared like hotcakes. There was no internet back then on which to promote them, so news about the booklet mostly spread by word of mouth.
People who read the booklet wrote that the Spirit witnessed with the message. Some said that God had been saying something similar to them. I am not sure that many put it into practice, though.

A few years later, I realised that some parts of the booklet, were not clear, and that people had not understood the message. So I decided to rewrite the messages to make the meaning clearer. God told me to take all the stuff that was negative about the church out so it did not distract from sharing a clear vision. I put in several diagrams to help make the message clearer. This new revised book is called Being Church Where We Live. It is the message of my eight sermons to farmers made clearer.

When my wife was typing out the sermons for the original booklet, she said, “How can you be a minster of the church when you believe this stuff?” Initially, I did not see the inconsistency, but eventually I was convicted to practice what I preached. So in 1984, I resigned from the ministry and we moved our family to Christchurch, leaving work and home behind. God was good and provided for us in amazing ways during that change of season.

Being Church Where We Live is the most important thing I have written. It is the foundation on which everything else sits. The other writing that I have done about politics, economics, God’s plan for history, and the Kingdom of God, does not make sense if this book is not understood. They will not be practical, if they are not built on the foundation of Being Church.

More about Being Church Where We Live.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Task for this Season

I grew up on a farm beside the Pareora River in South Canterbury. It was a marvellous life, so I left school early to become a farmer. After a couple of years working on the farm, I realise that I did not have the strength and stamina that farming needs.

I was really concerned about the poverty and suffering rampant throughout the world. The problems seemed to be economic and political, so I decided to go to university and study political science and economics. By the time, I had completed four years study, I realised that I was digging a dry well. These disciplines did not have the answers to the problems that worried me.

While growing up, our family had gone to church every Sunday, but for me it was just a habit. When I reached university and studied philosophy, I decided that I was an atheist. However, I found it is hard to be an honest atheist, because life loses meaning and purpose. So I constructed a safe philosophical god that suited me.

While I was studying for a Masters degree in economics, I had a deep encounter with the living God. He said, “I am who I am. You are trusting in an empty box. If you want to follow me, you need to accept me as I am”. I surrendered to him and decided I would live by his Word and Spirit.

A few months later, I had an exam for a paper on comparative economics. The lecturer was a staunch socialist. Full of my newfound faith, I wrote in my paper that Marx has no solution to the problems of mankind and that Jesus is the answer. I gave a similar response in a second exam paper.

Surprisingly, I passed the degree with excellent grades. But they must have decided to tackle the problem, because one of my lecturers asked to meet with me. He acknowledged that He was an atheist. He said that he could not understand it, but he admitted that my faith seemed to be real.

He said it was not enough to say that Jesus was the answer. He said that I needed to explain how the answer would work out. Then he asked a telling question that has haunted me ever since. “What would the economy and society look like if everyone was a Christian”. I had no answer to that question. I knew it would be different, but I could not explain how.

My lecturer suggested that I should enrol in a Ph.D programme and he would supervise me while I developed an answer to that question. I took his advice, but after a couple of months, I realised that I simply did not have enough knowledge to tackle the problem. There were very few books or journal articles to draw on.

So I pulled out and moved to Dunedin to study theology in preparation for ministry. However, I always knew that I would come back one day and answer that important question. In this next season, my first task is to publish my book called the Government of God (it is nearly done). My main task is to answer the question that beat me back when I was a young economics graduate.

Since then I have studied and thought deeply about both theology and economics. I am now prepared to answer the tricky question. I am planning to write a book about economics from God’s perspective. I will probably call it God's Economy. I expect that it will take me at least a year to compile and write all the thoughts and concepts that I have developed.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

New Season

A few years after I had chosen to follow Jesus, I was nearing the completion of my theological studies in Dunedin. I became very uneasy about the nature of my calling, because I did not seem to fit the standard pastoral mold. One night when we were praying, a fellow student and friend had a prophecy for me that included these words.

God’s hand stretches forth
and is followed by your eyes.
The vision is his, not yours...
The way of fulfilment is his, not yours…
Those who have eyes to see
must pray to see the fulfilment.
Your ministry is one of vision
God has given you eyes to follow his hand.
Don’t be impatient.
Give yourself to him in prayer
and you will see him do works before your eyes.
His words rung a bell for me, but I was not always acknowledged in this role within the church.

It is funny where recognition comes from. The secular organisation that I worked in for 33 years recognised my gifting.

Back in 2005, a hard-nosed Australian was appointed as chief executive, the first outsider to be given the role for several decades. He faced numerous requests from managers wanting funding to undertake important projects. There was not enough money to go round, so he asked a good question. Would these projects get the organisation to where it should be in ten to fifteen years time. No one could answer the question, because they did not know where their organisation needed to be.

I was asked to prepare a paper outlining what the organisation would need to become in a decades time, if it were to fulfil its role. I wrote a paper outlining how things needed to change. I described it as an architecture for the future. Many of the things I described were already known, but they had never been all put together before, with the interactions explained. I provided diagrams explaining how everything should fit together.

When the CEO, saw it, he said, “That’s it. That’s what we need to do”. And he committed the organisation to implementing the vision. Now as I leave the organisation, more than a decade later, the implementation is nearing completion, and managers are committed to finishing it.

When I travelled to an international conference to present the paper, the secular people working in the same field made the same response. They recognised it as the way to go.

When you love Jesus and are sharing a lot of visionary stuff for the future, and the church is not getting it, you can begin to doubt and wonder if you have lost the plot. Even though the acknowledgement came from secular people, it affirmed my wisdom and insight. That was encouraging. They gave me the confidence to press on in Jesus.

Thirty years preparation is not that long. Moses had to spend forty years watching daggy sheep.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Enjoy the Season

I began 33 years of employment in 1984, when I had resigned from my role as a Presbyterian minister. We moved to Christchurch with three young children, needing a home and income. There were not many jobs going at that time, so I took the one I was offered, even though it did not seem to be right, assuming that something better would turn up.

I had resigned on principle of faith, so I presume I was hoping for something more spiritual, or more important. It took me quite a long time to realise that God had put me in this place to bless me.

Some of the things I have gained over the 33 years in employment include the following.

  • My first manager was a really good writer, something that I always struggled with. She taught me to write clearly and precisely. She showed me that using the right words is essential for communicating a message. I did not realise at the time how important that would become.

  • For ten years, I was responsible for editing many of the organisation’s information releases. I learned how to produce really tight writing, with clear, readable, concise, accurate information.

  • I learnt html, which has been really useful for building a website and putting books in Kindle format

  • I was manager of a large division for five years. I really struggled with this task, but I learned a lot about how good leaders operate and relate to the people following them.

  • Just as I had to be a pastor of a church to discover what the church could be, I needed to be part of a large bureaucracy to understand how bureaucratic organisations can lose their way. Bureaucratic or political power can bring out the worst in people.

  • I learned that the government is not the solution, despite appearances, and immense hopes.

  • For the last twelve years, my role has been advisory. I have had to learn how to have an influence in situations where I had very little authority. I have discovered that people are not necessarily persuaded by the truth or strength of your arguments. Influence depends much more on the quality of your relationships and the strength of their respect of you.

  • I worked with some incredibly clever conceptual thinkers. I learned how to work through step-by-step from first principles to realistic practical solutions. I learned how to expose implausible assumptions and false logic.

  • I have interacted with a diverse range of people. People from many nations, a variety of religions, and every other difference that you can think of. I have learned to see the image of God in people who are very different from me.

  • I discovered that if you see the best in people, they become better.

  • I have made some really good friends, and got to know some people whom I can really trust.

  • I have had the opportunity to travel to about a dozen different countries and meet with some very interesting people.

  • The income provided for the needs of my family while they were growing up. I once said that it was a good trough to have your snout in. The comments yesterday suggest that the organisation got good value for the money.

  • For the last fifteen years, I have been able to work part-time, and still receive a good income. This has freed me up to do the things that God has called me to do. I have written and published four books. I have added hundreds of articles to the Kingdom Watcher website. For a time, I assisted with the leadership of a house church. I have been able to do this and still have time for my family.

So it was a good place to be, although I did not realise it when I started.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Changing Season

For the last thirty-three years, I have been employed in a technical advisory role by a large professional organisation. Yesterday that came to an end. They called it retirement, but for me it is just a new season in my life.

I wanted to sneak out quietly, but my manager Sarah said that was not allowed. Some of my colleagues said they loved me too much to let me get away with a quiet departure. So they put on a morning tea, with a large cake, speeches, and messages from colleagues in other places who could not be there.

The following words were used:

  • wisdom
  • clear thinking
  • pragmatic logical approach
  • visionary
  • mentoring
  • thoughtful
  • clever and kind
  • encouraging
  • integrity
  • wise and thoughtful
I am pleased that some of Jesus grace has shone through for people to see.

Tomorrow, I will describe what I learned during this season.

Tuesday, May 09, 2017

North Korea (5) What Would Jesus Say

South Korea is one of the most Christian counties in the world. Nearly thirty percent of citizens claim to be Christian. Therefore, we should expect a different response to the problem in the north. Korean Christians should be asking what Jesus would have them do about this situation.

First, South Korea should stop depending on the United States for defence (the US is mostly there to intimidate China anyway). The Bible says that God’s people should not rely on military alliances for their protection, because they stop trusting in him. South Korea should ask the United States to remove all its military forces from the country. It should stop holding joint military alliances with the United States. The alliance with the United States and the joint military exercises just make the entire situation more volatile. It might weaken their protection, but it would push them towards faith in God.

Jesus said to bless your enemies and not to curse them. The Christians of South Korea should look for ways to bless the people to the north. The best way to do this would be to share their material wealth. Here are some things they could do.

  • Fill a ship with new cars and send it to the north as a gift.
  • Send a load tractors and agricultural and roading equipment to the north.
  • Send a ship load of electronic equipment as a gift.
  • If Chinese ships were chartered for this purpose, the north would not be threatened.
  • Establish places in the demilitarised zone where they can leave food, clothing and other essentials for the soldiers guarding the border.
  • Repeat these activities over and over again
  • Keep on praying. Prayer motivated by love is more effective than prayer motivated by fear or hate.
Love might break through where threats of force have failed.

When blessing North Korea, Christians should avoid trickery. They should make sure that no spy equipment is attached to their gifts. They should not accompany it with propaganda. The gifts should be given without any strings attached.

Most Koreans want the two countries to be re-united. This will be almost impossible when one economy is so underdeveloped and the other is highly developed. There will need to be a massive transfer of capital and wealth from south to north, if they are to be united. The north cannot afford to pay for this transfer, so it will have to be given as a gift. This giving might as well start now to bring peace.

Monday, May 08, 2017

North Korea (4) Current Situation

The population of South Korea is double that of the north. The GDP of South Korea is eighty times that of North Korea. The latter is feeble compared with the former.

North Korea is not a big threat to the world. It has a huge army, but it is poorly equipped with weapons dating from the 1960s. The military forces spend much of their time building roads by hand and harvesting crops, so they are not very well trained. Their air force is antiquated. North Korea would struggle to defeat the well-trained forces of their southern neighbours. South Korea has modern military and equipment and an air force that can provide close support for its infantry.

There is no evidence that North Korea has a working nuclear bomb. Detonating a nuclear weapon under experimental conditions underground is easier than building a bomb that will explode when dropped from a plane in a war situation.

North Korea does not have bombers that are capable of breaking through the air defences of the surrounding nations, so it could not drop a bomb even if it had one that would work.

Kim Jong-un has had some success in developing missiles, although most have exploded during take-off. Many of the missiles that appear in military parades seem to be fake.

Moreover, Korea does not have a nuclear weapon that is small enough to be launched on a missile. Developing a design that is compact enough to fit on a missile is very difficult.

Bullying North Korea with economic sanctions and threats of military action will not work. When you are afraid of a bully, you do not give up the only protection you have. Economic sanctions and threats of military action just confirm that the United States is really hostile to North Korea. From the Korean perspective, these threats make nuclear weapons even more essential.

Assassinating Kim Jong-un would be pointless. He does not rule on his own. He will be working with powerful relatives and key people in the military and security services. If he were taken out, one of these place would take his place, and they might be worse.

Sunday, May 07, 2017

North Korea (3) Threatened King

Commentators say that Kim Jong-un is irrational and unpredictable. They are wrong. If he is understood as a king, like the kings that used to rule most of Europe, his behaviour is perfectly rational.

Kim Jong-un is behaving as kings have always behaved, by striving to preserve his family dynasty. The Kim family has done quite well so far, remaining in power for three generations.

Some of Kim Jong-un support might be the result of propaganda, but that is only part of the story. People ruled by a king get to love him. When their king comes under attack, they idolize him more.

Kim Jong-un is not unpredictable. His response has been very rational. Any king with thirty thousand troops belonging to a powerful empire facing him across the border would be nervous. He will be especially nervous, if the empire has invaded in the past. He would look for a way to neutralise the advantage of the great power and try to prevent it from invading.

North Korea needs nuclear weapons to protect the Kim dynasty. Muammar Gaddafi and Saddam Hussein gave up their pursuit of nuclear weapons, and the Americans got rid of them. Kim Jong-un is not stupid. He knows that his nuclear capability has prevented him from going the same way.

The people of North Korea have not forgotten that the United States invaded and destroyed their country. The Americans did far more damage and killed far more people than the Japanese. The Koreans are scared that the US will do it again.

Americans think their troops are in Korea to preserve the peace and that they are not a threat to the north. However, history says that is wrong. The United States has invaded North Korea in the past and tried to destroy it. There is no evidence that the United States has given up invading countries. In recent decades, they have invaded and destroyed Libya and Iraq. So the people of North Korea are right to be afraid of a United States invasion, They look out on the demilitarised zone and see an empire that likes to invade smaller nations, and is willing to fabricate an excuse to do so. They hear politicians declaring that they want to invade Korea.

Every year, South Korea and the United States forces hold military exercises in which the practice and invasion of the north. The North Koreans do not know when the practice will turn into an invasion, so they have to prepare for defence. They see this intimidation as threatening and act accordingly.

Saturday, May 06, 2017

North Korea (2) Conflict and War

After ongoing conflict and skirmishes between the North and South, war broke out in 1950.

During the Korean War 1950-53, the United States invaded North Korea. However, the Chinese intervened and forced the US forces back to the 38th parallel. Because they were defeated, Americans have forgotten this war, but North Koreans still remember. The United States imposed terrible destruction on North Korea.

In the early 1950s, during the Korean War, the US dropped more bombs on North Korea than it had dropped in the entire Pacific theater during World War II. This carpet bombing, which included 32,000 tons of napalm, often deliberately targeted civilian as well as military targets. Whole cities were destroyed, with many thousands of innocent civilians killed and many more left homeless and hungry.”
The number of inhabitants of Pyongyang killed by bomb splinters, burnt alive and suffocated by smoke is incalculable…Some 50,000 inhabitants remained in the city which before the war had a population of 500,000.
The United States killed over 2 million people in a country that posed no threat to US national security. By 1953 American pilots were returning to carriers and bases claiming there were no longer any significant targets in all of North Korea to bomb.
In the spring of 1953, the Air Force targeted irrigation dams on the Yalu River, both to destroy the North Korean rice crop and to pressure the Chinese, who would have to supply more food aid to the North. Five reservoirs were hit, flooding thousands of acres of farmland, inundating whole towns and laying waste to the essential food source for millions of North Koreans.
There reasons for this ugly destruction have been forgotten. I presume this was the people's punishment for allowing communism to be imposed on them.

Prior to the war, Korea was a single country. Agriculture was primarily in the south and industry was concentrated in the north. The war destroyed the industrial base, so the North was left without industry or agriculture, making it very poor. The country still struggles to feed itself.

North Korea is now more hostile to Christianity than any country in the world. This is partly because their country was invaded and destroyed by a Christian empire.

The past affects the future.

Friday, May 05, 2017

North Korea (1) Past affects the Present

The history of Korea is not well understood, but the present situation is largely the result of the past.

  • Korea is an ancient culture that achieved national unity in 608 AD. Despite living in the shadow of China, it has retained its unique language and traditions since then.

  • National independence ended in 1910 after Japan invaded and occupied the country. The Korean emperor handed sovereignty over his the Japanese emperor “completely and forever.” The United States and the United Kingdom were worried about the expansion of Russia, so they did not resist the Japanese expansion.

  • Korea was controlled by Japan for four decades. The Japanese used collaborators among the Korean elite to manage their first colony. They used enforced labor to build industries to support the Japanese economy. Many Koreans resisted Japanese control, but were severely persecuted.

  • In 1907-1910, a powerful revival occurred in Korea. It started in Pyongyang, which is not the capital of North Korea. After months of persistent prayer, 50,000 people came to Jesus in one year and the entire country was set ablaze. By 1948, more than a fifth of the population of Korea was Christian. Only about 400,000 Christians are thought to remain in North Korea today.

  • Korea was divided by an agreement between Stalin and Roosevelt towards the end of World War 2. They agreed the boundary should be the 38th parallel. They were supposed to be setting Korea free from Japanese control, but the people of Korea had no say in their decisions. Their country was divided by a dispute they had no interest in, and they had no choice about which side they would end up on.

  • Elections to unite the country were supposed to be held but neither of the great powers were interested in uniting the country. Instead, they each appointed a leader over the part they country they controlled.

  • The United States put Syngman Rhee in control over the south. He had lived most of his life in the United States, so he was loyal, but he turned out to be a rather nasty ruler. He recruited his security forces from people who had collaborated with the Japanese. Thousands of people who opposed him were arrested and killed. Protests before the 1988 Olympics in Seoul restored civil liberties and direct presidential elections in South Korea.

  • The Russians appointed Kim Il-sung. He had led guerrilla warfare against the Japanese, so he had a bit more credibility with the people.


Saturday, April 29, 2017

Two villages

Imagine two villages (communities). The people lived by fishing, but they did not have much equipment, so it was a substance lifestyle.

In one village, a bold man went into the world and money by daring do. He brought a net and came back to the village. He rented it out to different people each day. He became wealthy because he had the only net and many people wanted to use it. They stayed poor, because the fishing was better, but not very profitable, due to higher costs.

In the other village, everyone saved a little, some a little bit more than others. They pooled their savings and bought a net. Different groups of people rented the each day, but they all benefited because they had a share in the net. Everyone who fished caught more fish.

Both communities now had capital. In one village, the capital was held by one person. In the other community, everyone had a share in the capital, so everyone benefited. It just took some to organise it.

The result is two different capitalisms.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Faith and Allegiance (6) Effective

Why does the blood of Jesus work for us? Why is someone else’s blood effective for me?

The New Testament says that God reckons it as meeting his requirements (Rom 4:24). But it does not explain why God was able to credit Jesus righteousness and death to us.

The answer is that we belong to Jesus. We are his property. When we give allegiance to a king, we becomes his property. The king can direct his subjects to do whatever he chooses. The king can take his subject’s property, because it belongs to him. He can send someone who has pledged allegiance to him to die in battle. The subject’s life belongs to the king. His life is not his own.

People who have given allegiance to Jesus belong to him. As his subjects, we are entitled to everything that he gives to us. Because we are his property, we are part of him, so his righteousness applies to us. When he died, his subjects died with him, because they are part of him.

Jesus blood is our blood, if we belong to him.

Giving intellectual assent to the truth of the gospel is not really enough, although it is important. It does not make us Jesus’ possession. Likewise, believing that Jesus died is probably not enough, because it does not make us his subject.

We have to give him allegiance. By agreeing that his is my king and I am his subject, I make myself his property. Allegiance makes his blood my blood, because I am committing to dying with him for him.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Faith and Allegiance (5) Sin

Sin means “falling short”… The Greek word for sin is “harmartia”. It means missing the mark. The Hebrew word is “chata”. It means “falling short” or “missing a goal”.

When Adam and Eve sinned, they were not committing idolatry, as many claim. It was not doing bad things, the more popular understanding of sin. Rather, they broke their allegiance to God. He had created them, so he deserved their loyalty. Up until then, they were on God’s side. They had been with him all the way.

By listening to the serpent, they were choosing to be free agents. They would give casual allegiance to the one who offered the best deal. Unfortunately, in a spiritual world, it is impossible to be a free agent. By making a decision to withdraw their allegiance to God, they submitted themselves to the Satan.

If sin is withdrawing allegiance from God, then falling short or missing a goal is a good way to describe it. Adam and Eve did not go all the way with God. They fell short, by withdrawing their allegiance to God and listening to the serpent.

Therefore, when God offers to restore us back to the position we lost, switching allegiance is the appropriate thing to do. Just believing that Jesus died and rose again is not enough (although it is important). Humans withdrew from allegiance to God, so they need to switch allegiance back to God to regain what they lost.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Faith and Allegiance (4) Switching

Matthew Bates has a long discussion about the link between continued allegiance and good works. Good works is expressed allegiance.

I think that there should have been more emphasis on the act of giving allegiance. We become a Christian by switching our allegiance from the world to Jesus. We are actually switching from unwitting allegiance to the spiritual powers of evil to allegiance to Jesus.

A switch in allegiance is a pivotal moment with permanent consequences. Once Simon the Zealot switched his allegiance from his zealot group to Jesus, he could not go back. If he had tried, they would have perceived him to be a spy and tried to kill him.

If a soldier in Saul’s army went to live with David in the Cave of Adullum and switched allegiance he could not go back. If he tried to meet with his old friends in Saul’s army, they would kill him because he was a traitor. If he were a senior officer, they would have tried to kill him anyway, because he would know too much.

Switching allegiance is a life and death issue.

When give allegiance to Jesus, we are withdrawing our allegiance to the spiritual powers of evil. They are not happy.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Faith and Allegiance (3)

Allegiance is a good word, but unfortunately, modern people are not familiar with the concept.

American Children make a pledge of allegiance to the US flag. Unfortunately, a flag cannot issue commands. so this pledge can be made without any need for obedience.

The flag represents republican government and the US Constitution. The republic is considered to be of God, so pledging allegiance to the constitution does not conflict with any allegiance to him.

However, the constitution provides liberty. It provides people with freedom to do what they like. It does not require obedience to God.

This vague allegiance to a flag is totally different to allegiance to an ancient king. Once you gave allegiance to a king, he owned you. You became his property. He could make you do whatever he chose. He could send you on a mission that would result in you being killed.

The king owned everything. You could only hang on to your property, if he allowed it. He was free to take the best of your property, if that suited him. Samuel described this well in his warning to Israel (1 Sam 8).

If you withdrew allegiance to a king, he would probably kill you.

Allegiance is a serious business. It is quite different to standing in a circle under a flag.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Faith and Allegiance (2)

The Greek word translated faith is “pistis”. The related verb is “pisteuo”. It is often translated as “believe”. In his book called Salvation by Allegiance Alone, Matthew Bates explains that the word “pistis” is much broader than faith, although it sometimes does mean faith. He explains that the pistis has three dimensions.

  • intellectual agreement
  • proffessed fealty
  • enacted loyalty.
Bates says that intellectual agreement with the gospel is not enough. God expects allegiance to Jesus.

I would put it this way. The Greek word for faith included the following elements.

  • Intellectual assent to the truth of the gospel
    Jesus is the son of God.
    He died on the cross,
    rose from the dead
    and ascended into the spiritual realms.
    He is now seated at the right hand of the father,
    far above all spiritual authority.
    The person choosing to follow Jesus must believe these facts about Jesus are true. This is belief.

  • Trust in the reliability of God
    We decide to trust God
    He can be trusted to do what he says he will do.
    He is good, so he will do good things.
    He has the power to do what he says he will do.

  • Transferring allegiance to Jesus
    We are saved by giving our full allegiance to Jesus.
    We renounce all other loyalties,
    to the world and to the spiritual powers of evil.
    We give ourselves to be be subjects of Jesus.

We can give allegiance by declaring, “Jesus is Lord” or “Jesus is King”. This is a bit problematic, because the words “Lord” and “King” do not have much content in the modern world. We also declare our allegiance by baptism. That is why baptism is so important for getting free from the spiritual powers of evil. A person being baptised is renouncing any loyalty to them. They are declaring to them that they now fully belong to Jesus.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Faith and Allegiance (1)

When I wrote a summary of the gospel last year I used the word allegiance to describe our relationship with Jesus. Here is the good news in in my words.

Good News
God has installed a new government. Jesus came to earth and lived a good and generous life. He amazed the people with his wisdom and healed broken lives, but he was killed by the political and religious leaders. However, God raised him from the dead and gave him a place of supreme authority in the spiritual world.

Jesus new government is different from any government that we have known. Human government have always exercised authority imposed from top down with police and military power. This makes them vulnerable to the spiritual power of evil, who picked off the people on the top and then manipulate them to wreak havoc on earth. This is why human governments have been so disastrous, and so many have been evil.

The government of God is based on love, not power, so all authority will be freely submitted freely from below to those the people love and trust. This leaves no room for the powers of evil to work, because Jesus death on the cross set those who trust him free from their power.

Challenge
God’s new government has come. He is calling people all over the world to shift their allegiance to Jesus, and become part of his new government that his emerging on earth.

My Response
Jesus has done a lot for me, so I have chosen to follow him and do his will by following the voice of his Holy Spirit.

So I was intrigued to see that Mathew Bates has just released a book called Salvation by Allegiance Alone. I have just finished reading this book.

I like Bates’ approach to allegiance and faith. It reflects my experience in choosing to be a follower of Jesus many years ago. I was not buying a ticket to heaven. I was switching my allegiance to a new leader. I chose to give allegiance to Jesus because I trusted what he had done and the wisdom of his Spirit.

A switch in allegiance is a pivotal moment with permanent consequences.

However, allegiance is tricky concept in the modern American world, where the predominant allegiance is to flag and the political system. Not many want to switch their allegiance from that to Jesus. Most want to serve both masters, so split allegiance becomes weak. More on this in the next few posts.

Monday, April 10, 2017

Three Things

I observed three things last week that were a little disturbing.

  1. Serious deception – Politicians and their followers will accept a lie if it will get them what they want, especially if they dislike the victim.

  2. Massive hypocrisy – Feigned outrage at an enemy that does bad things, while turning a blind to a friend that does greater evil.

  3. Immense love for bully power.

All these lead beastward.

Saturday, April 08, 2017

Territory

We should focus our prayer on the places where we have authority. We have authority in our lives and our family’s lives. We have authority in the lives of people who have submitted to us. This is why groups of believers need to submit to each other for spiritual protection. Three or for four people who are united by love and submission can be together spiritually in the same way as Jesus is with them (Matt 18:20). They can establish a spiritual space where Jesus reigns.

However, establishing spiritual space for Jesus to operate is not enough. The principalities and powers operate through the political authorities that control physical territory. To eliminate their power and replace it with the Kingdom of God, Jesus needs to extend his authority over physical territory.

Territory is important. We need a better understanding of the relationship between authority and territory. Jesus currently controls very little territory in most cities. He has authority over the homes of his followers and church building. He has authority over any businesses that are owned by Christians.

Looking down on the city from above, it would look like several thousand dots, scattered all over a map of the city (with each dot representing a family, church building or business). Between the dots would be swathes of territory controlled by the enemy.

If a general looked at this map to come up with a strategy to expand Jesus’ territory, he would say, “This is hopeless”. Jesus army is scattered and isolated. They are not a threat to the enemy, not matter how vibrant their worship when they come together on Sunday. They can be picked off one at a time, and that seems to be happening.

God’s strategy is essential. We must operate where he leads. A wise general would generate his troops together and establish a few strongholds on the ground and secure them from attack. He would then push out from these strongholds into places where the enemy is weak.

The spiritual powers of evil cannot be everywhere at once. We can overcome them by working where they are weak. They tend to concentrate on the centres of power (civic and religious), because that is where their power is amplified. They are usually much weaker on the edges of life at the edge of the city.

We should work together to establish spiritual enclaves where the spiritual powers of evil are weak. From there we can push back against the power of darkness from a position of strength. As the enclaves expand, the principalities and powers that control the city will be weakened as their authority is fragmented.

The principalities and powers operate through the political authorities that control territory. We must be ready with a system of authority over territory for when they are defeated. (I explain how this can happen in my new book called Government of God). Otherwise, an alternative political power will rise and establish imposed authority over the territory. The principalities and power will use them to recover their spiritual authority over the territory.

Friday, April 07, 2017

Praise is the Power of Heaven

A common teaching is that praise breaks the powers of darkness. This is stated as truth by many worship songs, but it is not in the scriptures.

Years ago, I attended a large worship service in the city centre. A team of a dozen musicians led the worship in a very polished manner. The singing was enthusiastic and the presence of God could be felt. As we were singing a song about the Jesus seated on the throne in heaven, the Holy Spirit allowed me to hear what the evil one was saying. The voice I heard said:

Who cares;
I am winning.
You can do what you like in here,
I am winning out there where it all happens.
You can sing about heaven as much as you like
I am winning in the world where it counts.
Praise is good. It is the right way to enter God’s presence, but praise does not change the authority situation on earth.

The principalities and powers that dominate a city or nation are there because they have been given authority to be there, by people with authority. They are quite happy for God’s people to gather and praise, because it leaves authority in the world unchanged.

We are in a season when worship has been marvellous, with great new music and songs, but the situation in the world has got worse. More of the same will not change that.

The same season has seen a huge amount of prayer, but it has not been effective in breaking the darkness. It may have prevented the situation from getting worse, but it has not released the massive victory many expected. Instead, many intercessors have been battered. More of the same will result in more of the same slow decline.

The powers of darkness are there, because they have been given authority to be there by people with authority. They will refuse to go while their authority to be there remains. No individual Christian or group of Christians has authority to make them go, because the people who let them in have greater authority in the city.

This is the challenge we need to resolve. It will take more than praise. It will require a greater understanding of authority.

Wednesday, April 05, 2017

Law and Judaism

In his book called Islamic Exceptionalism, Shadi Hamid points that the nation of Israel has shown very little interested in implementing God’s law in the political sphere.

After the second Jewish temple was destroyed in 70 AD at the hands of the Romans, Jews would, for more than eighteen hundred years, find themselves living as minorities under the rule of largely Christians and Muslim powers. This meant that Jewish law could not be implemented by the state. Judaism had to make its peace, to the extent that it could, with non-Jewish rule. Delineating between the political religious realms became necessary, sometimes even a matter of life and death. Legal thinkers had to adapt their understanding of the laws accordingly. In exile, rabbinic Judaism, particular in the Talmud and subsequent commentaries, became preoccupied with personal and communal responsibilities rather than political rule.

With the founding of the state of Israel, Jewish law and its relationship to the state became relevant once again. By the time, the Jewish states earliest citizens were just as much of product of European concepts of religion and state as they were their own. The new state, being democratic was a reflection of the preference of its citizens, and these had now been indelibly marked by secularism. Religion would play an important role in public life, just as it did in the Untied States, but few questioned the mostly secular, foundations of the Israeli state. On this there was a wide-ranging consensus, even if it has eroded somewhat with time. Meanwhile, Ultra Orthodox movements, as illiberal as they may be, have little interest in re-creating or returning to an invented past. They seek to guard, rather than dismantle, the long, rich tradition of rabbinic Judaism, a tradition that had, for nearly two years, little to say about law and governance (p.44).

Instead, Israel has copied America’s democratic militarism.

Monday, April 03, 2017

Law and Government

In his book called Islamic Exceptionalism, Shadi Hamid explains that Christians have mostly been ambivalent about law and government.

That the Christian tradition seems ambivalent about law, governance and power is no accident…When Jesus died on the cross, he, in effect, released man from the burden of law. With the coming of Christ, salvation is achieved through faith in Jesus Christ rather than through observance of the law.

Christianity’s story of salvation is one of progression, with humanity passing through different states of spiritual development. Jewish or Mosaic law was provisional, meant for a particular time and place and for a particular chosen people, whereas Christianity was universal and everlasting…. The Mosaic Law was never intended to be either universal or eternally binding.

In short, it is not so much that Christianity has little to say about law, it that this ambivalence, or even opposition, to law was a feature of Christian theology during its early development.

In later centuries, Christian no doubt played a powerful role in public life, but this did not lead to legal development. As Ralston writes, “Simply put, there is nothing resembling a developed Christian account of public law in the New Testament.” This had important implications: “Christian theology, especially in the medieval period, primarily, divides ecclesial law from civil law into distinct sphere of society. Ecclesial laws govern the church and civil laws govern the public” (p.48)

Friday, March 31, 2017

Geopolitics

Alfred McCoy has written an good article called Washington's Great Game and Why It's Failing. Anyone interested in geopolitics should read it.

The article possibly explains why Washington is so spooked by Putin and Russia.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

False Hope

I am amazed at the number of Christians who have put their faith in President Trump to rescue America.

Tiberius was a relatively good Caesar, and a great general. Jesus did not prophesy that when Paul got to Rome, Tiberius would come to faith and establish the kingdom.

Pontius Pilate was a relatively good procurator. Jesus did not prophesy that he would be surrounded by prayerful people and becomes a leader in the kingdom of God.

Jesus praised the faith of the centurion who wanted his servant healed, but he did not prophesy that the centurion would become procurator over Jerusalem and establish the Kingdom of God there.

I have no confidence into Donald Trump.

I have no confidence in the Republican party.

I have no confidence in the Democratic party.

My confidence is in the victory that Jesus established by dying on the cross, rising from the dead and ascending into heaven.

My confidence is in the Holy Spirit moving in power when small groups of people live and proclaim the gospel in Jesus name.

Monday, March 27, 2017

Territory

In Christendom

All territory belonged to Jesus, because the emperor owned the land, and he belonged to Jesus. They churches role was to teach the emperor and his people how to be good Christians.

In Post-Christendom

Jesus has no territory. All territory belongs to the spiritual powers of evil. We need to win territory for Jesus one house at a time.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Faithful Presence

I have just completed David Fitch’s latest book called Faithful Presence. He has some great insights, so it is worth reading.

However, I have this nagging doubt that presence is not enough. Jesus was not just present, he made his home here on earth (tabernacled among us). He told his disciples to go and stay in a home in the place where he had sent them.

I believe that people going out to share the gospel must go and live in a place to have real impact. That is the theme of my book Being Church Were We Live.

So I was interested to hear David say in his discussion about the Benedict Option, that when he and some of his friends planted a church in Westmont, Chicago, they decided to live within six blocks. Six blocks is probably four too many, but living close together has contributed to the effectiveness of their community.

I am surprised that David did not push this a bit more in his book, as it seems to be important. As he says,

Faithful presence must be communal reality before it can infect the world.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

MIC (9) Tough Battle

The spirit of Manipulation and Intimidation for Control (MIC) is hard to beat. Elijah had God with him, but Jezebel outlasted him.

Elijah’s front-on challenge against Jezebel failed. He stirred up a mob to destroy the prophets of Baal, but Jezebel was able to force Elijah to flee in fear (1 Kings 19:1-3). She was still alive and influential when Elijah was taken up to heaven.

When Elijah recovered, God gave him a strategy that would undermine Jezebel more effectively destroy her influence, without the need for head-on confrontation. He anointed Elisha has his successor, Hazael King of Aram to weaken Ahab’s family and Jehu to destroy Jezebel (1 Kings 19:15-16).

This strategy took time.

Hazael did not becomes King of Aram until after Ahab and Elijah had died. After ruling for a dozen years, Ahab’s son Joram went to war with Hazael. He was defeated and his injuries eventually caused his death (2 Kings 8:28-29). After Jehu became King of Israel, Hazael overpowered Israel throughout its territory, as the Lord reduced its size (2 Kings 10:32). Hazael oppressed Israel through his reign (2 Kings 13:22).

A new generation of leaders had to emerge and replace the old leadership before Jezebel could be removed. The young men surrounding Jehu were the next generation of leaders. They had lost respect for Jezebel, so they were glad to support Jehu as King (2 Kings 9:12-13).

When Jehu approached Jezebel’s palace, some eunuchs threw her over the wall and she died when she hit the ground (2 Kings 9:32-33). They had been her loyal servants and political organisers, but they switched their allegiance to Jehu. Perhaps they had becomes disillusioned with her.

Jezebel gained authority when King Ahab and the other leaders of the nation gave her authority. She could not be destroyed until the people who had given her authority had changed their allegiance. This destroyed her corporate stronghold in Israel.

Jezebel’s influence extended beyond Israel into Judah. Jehoshaphat had been a good king, but his son Jehoram married a daughter of Ahab (probably Athaliah). He walked in the ways of Ahab. He brought evil to Judah (2 Kings 8:16-18).

When Jehu killed the king of Judah, his mother Athaliah tried to seize control of Judah. She organised for all the royal family to be killed. This was the same method as Jezebel had used against Naboth. She ruled Judah for six years (2 Kings 11:1-3).

Athaliah was foiled by her niece Jehosheba, who hid a baby son of the king with the high priest. When he was seven years old, Jehoida the priest crowned Joash as king organised for the military leaders in Jerusalem to protect him. When he entered the palace and took his place on the throne, Athaliah was killed. This brought the influence of Jezebel to an end. Joash reigned for forty years (2 Kings 11).

God’s strategy worked, but it took time, and the right people had to be in place. He used external player to destroy Jezebel’s power base.For example, Joash had to be hidden until the time was right. Jehosheba was an outsider, but she was ready to act.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

MIC (8) Victory for Christchurch

God has a strategy for dealing with this stronghold over Christchurch.  He will not attack it head on, as the casualties would be too great.  He will defeat it by working from the edges and demonstrating his grace by healing unbelievers who live there.  When God heals a person listening to the gospel, it is an act of grace, so the MIC spirit has no authority to obstruct the healing.  The unbeliever is not under the authority of church leaders, so they are not bound by their commitments.

Sharing the gospel with people who do not know the Lord and seeing them healed is the most effective witness to Jesus.  Healing prayer for unbelievers is the key to defeating the stronghold that controls Christchurch.

The gift of healing is primarily for unbelievers.  It is essential for confirm the power of the gospel.  One reason that the modern gospel is so ineffective is that the gift of healing has been shut up in the church.

People with a gift of healing should focus on praying for the lost.  Praying for Christians is often messy, because they have too much junk, and need to have faith.  It also provokes the MIC spirit unnecessarily.  Prayer for unbelievers will usually produce more fruit.

God is raising up an invisible army in Christchurch that will win back the city for him.  They will gather in small groups on the edge of the city, where they will not be noticed, either by the church, or the spiritual powers of evil. 

The MIC spirit is strongest at the centre of the city where political and religious power is focussed.  This makes the city centre a dangerous place to be.  Starting there would be a mistake.

These small groups of Christians will be totally committed to Jesus.  They will be drawn together by love for him and bound together by commitment to love each other.   They will be able to support each other through the struggles and storms that come.  They will stand together in Jesus while everything around them is shaken.

These followers of Jesus will have laid aside the things of the world that would encumber them.  They will live simply on what God provides. They will share everything with each other and the people around them.

The anointing of the Holy Spirit will be upon them.  As they follow his leading, he will release his gifts among them.  They will be mighty warriors in prayer and be able to deal with anything that arises.

These people will be prepared for distress and equipped for victory.

When they share the gospel, they will pray for the sick.  When people are healed the power of the gospel will be confirmed and the love of God manifested.  Many will come to faith in Jesus.

As their numbers grow, the leaders will move out and start new groups.  Lights will come on all over the place on the edge of the city.  As the groups multiply, they will move towards the centre of the city.  They will squeeze the MIC spirit from the outside, but because they are so many, they will be hard to attack.  Because small groups are united by love, there will be no use of manipulation or control, so the MIC spirit will struggle to get a foothold against them.


Centreless City

When this invisible army is in place, the spiritual, political and business powers entwined together at the centre of the city will be swept away by an economic crisis.  Those with authority will flee, because they are scared of the responsibility.  Power structures will collapse as their resources disappear.

God will build his kingdom from the edges, as the invisible army rises up.  This will be the time for the frontal attack.  Without political, religious and business powers to work through, the MIC spirit will be dramatically weakened.  It will not be strong enough to resist the invisible army.

The people of God will move into the centre of the city in the power of the spirit.  They will care for people who are struggling.  The gospel will advance in the power of the Spirit.  Many sick people will be healed.

God’s Kingdom will come in Christchurch and will shine as a prophetic light to the nations.  All the authority in this city will be submitted to Jesus and Christchurch will be filled with his glory.  The Lord’s presence will be so strong that his glory will be visible.