Friday, October 18, 2019

Wider Circulation of Dreams

A follower of Jesus will sometimes believe that the dream is for the wider body of Christ, or for their nation. When a dream that speaks to the dreamer is shared with the wider body of Christ the processes for interpretation and testing of the dream are different. The dream should be submitted to the elders who oversee the dreamer. In a way, the dreamer loses control of their dream.

The content of the dream cannot be challenged, because the dreamer saw what they saw. However, two questions need to be answered.

  • Is the dream appropriate for sharing with the church or the nation? It should only be circulated if the dream is from God and the interpretation is relevant to the people who will read it.
  • Is the interpretation clear and correct? The message of the dream usually comes through the interpretation, so it is important that the interpretation is accurate.
If a dream is to be shared widely, then the interpretation needs to be inspired by the Holy Spirit. If it comes from the flesh, the interpretation could lead the body of Jesus astray, even if the dream is from God. This means that the interpretation should be tested in the same was as a prophecy is tested.

A prophecy and the interpretation of a dream are both messages from God mediated by the Holy Spirit, so they can both be subject to human error. For the protection of God’s voice, they need to be tested. We must guard against assuming that because a dream is vivid and clear that its interpretation is clear.

People can be mistaken about the interpretation of a dream. The person who received the dream will be likely to interpret it through their own experience. This is fine if it is a message for the dreamer, but it is dangerous if the dream is for the wider church.

When a person gives their dream to the body of Jesus for its edification, they lose control of the interpretation of the dream. The church is responsible for ascertaining that the dream is appropriate for sharing, and that the interpretation is correct. In some cases, the elders of the church may decide that the dream should be shared, but propose a different interpretation that they believe is inspired by the Holy Spirit.

If the dreamer objects to that interpretation, they could ask the elders not to share the dream. The elders should respect such a request.

Testing Dreams

God speaks through dreams, so it is important that we understand them well. This means that interpretation and testing of dreams is essential.

Some dreams are personal. Others are for the body of Christ or for a nation.

Testing Dreams
The interesting thing about a dream is that the content of the dream cannot really be challenged. The reality is that the dreamer saw what they saw in the dream, and no one can say they are wrong about what they have seen.

The most that a friend can do is challenge the source of dream. An insightful friend might suggest that a dream did not come from God, but came from the spiritual powers of evil. They might say that it came from the dreamer’s flesh, perhaps because they had overeaten.

The other problem with the content of a dream is that the dreamer might not have recorded it accurately or clearly. They might accidently leave out some key details from their account of the dream. Gentile questions by an honest fiend might clarify the details of the dream.

Interpretation of Private Dreams
The interpretation of a dream is different, because it is a human activity with potential for error, so testing of the interpretation of a dream is essential.

If the message of the dream is personal, the person receiving the dream will often be in the best position to interpret it, because they have the context within which it was received. If the dream is for their guidance, their current situation and the experience they are going through will be important for understanding the dream.

If the person receiving the dream is unable to interpret it, they should seek advice from a friend with insight into dream.

Once the interpretation of a dream has been worked out, a wise person will seek confirmation from others whom they trust that the interpretation is correct, before acting on the interpretation of their dream.

We tend to assume that a message received through a dream can always be trusted, because the message came directly from God without human intervention. However, the message of a dream is understood through interpretation and that is a human task that can go wrong. So, testing of dreams is as essential as testing as prophecies.

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Nagel on Value

In his book called Mind and Cosmos: Why the Materialist Neo Darwinian Conception of Nature is Almost Certainly False, Thomas Nagel says that the materialist world view cannot explain human moral values.

Real value—good and bad, right and wrong—is another of those things like consciousness and cognition, that seem at first sight incompatible with evolutionary naturalism in its familiar materialism form (p.97).

Value judgments and moral reasoning are part of human life, and therefore part of the factual evidence about what humans are capable of. The interpretation of faculties such as these is inescapably relevant to the task of discovering the best scientific or cosmological account of what we are and how we came into existence (p.106).

We are the subjects of judgment-sensitive attitudes, and those judgments have a subject matter beyond themselves. We exist in a world of values and respond to them through normative judgments that guide our actions. This, like our more general cognitive capacities, is a higher development of our nature as conscious creatures (p.114).

We Know Better

Matt Taibbi gives an interesting warning in article called Permanent Coup.

I am not a great fan of Donald Trump. His morals are weak and his Christian faith seems to be convenient. Some of his business practices were probably corrupt. However, all this was well known when he was elected President, by a process that complied to the constitution, even if it was not totally fair.

So, I find it bizarre that from the day he entered office, and perhaps before, the Washington establishment and the security system were trying to undermine his presidency, as if they knew better than the people who voted. It seems like his presidency will be corrupted from beginning to end.

If they believe in democracy and a system with presidential power, I don’t understand why the political establishment would work so hard to invalidate the outcome of an election, especially when it limits the ability of the president to act at critical times.

Some of Donald Trump's policies have been unwise. He has appointed some odd people to his team (perhaps there are few with the necessary experience that he can trust). But why waste energy on a drawn-out impeachment process, when the people can decide if he is not fit for office in the election next year. Surely that is the democratic solution.

I presume that part of this hostility is payback for Obama. His presidency was weakened, not just by his inexperience, but also by accusations about his birth certificate and being a secret Moslem.

I can only presume that the next Democrat elected as president will have a torrid time, as Trump supporters go for payback too.
All this bad behaviour makes a powerful nation look foolish. Jesus said,

If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand (Mark 3:24).
Thinking about where all this rancour, lying and media manipulation will lead is scary.

Monday, October 14, 2019

Fed Actions Speak Loudly

Last week, in addition to pumping $82.7B to prop up the repo market, the Federal Reserve announced it would be expanding its balance sheet with a $60B/month Treasury buying operation for the next few months.

Sven Henrich of the Northman Trader notes that this is equivalent to $720B a year. He explains that this is more than the entire US military budget, the largest military budget on the planet.

He comments,

Take these actions and place them anywhere else in history (2000, 2007, any time) and this would be called an emergency intervention program.
This raises a serious question. If the US economy is as strong as the government is claiming, why is the Fed taking such serious actions? Actions usually speak louder than words.

Kurds and Syria

Christians who have watched a few news clips, but often know very little history, are getting stirred up about the Kurds, and claiming that Donald Trump is betraying them. They want US troops to remain and protect them.

I don’t often say this, but on this one, Donald Trump is right. Further US meddling in Syria, whatever the motivation, will just add more harm to the harm that the US has done in the region.

A few myths about Syria and the Kurds need to be exposed.

  • More of the same will not help in Syria. The UK, France and the United States got involved in Syria in another of their “regime change” plans. The game plan was for their special forces to train fighters to be paid with Saudi money to fight against the Syrian government. They allowed Turkey to channel a large number of Sunni jihadis from all of the world to support their plan.

  • Like most US war efforts in recent years, this vile plan failed when the US, French and UK special forces ended up training, supplying and paying radical Sunni Moslem groups associated with Al Qaeda. This has been a disaster for the Syrian people that the nation will take years to recover from, long after CNN has lost interest.

  • The Kurds have a long history of being manipulated and used by Western powers, and then being betrayed. Nothing has changed. The US, UK and France will no allow a Kurdish political state to be established on the borders of their NATO ally Turkey. To establish a better future, the Kurds should stop relying on fickle Western powers, and learn to live at peace with the people they live among.

  • Before the first World War, some Kurds assisted Turkey with their persecution of Assyrian and Armenian Christians. This is one reason why they are not trusted by their neighbours.

  • Donald Trump did not defeat ISIS, despite his claims. The US unwittingly contributed to the emergence of ISIS when it treated Sunni allies in Iraq really badly, by using them, and then deserting them. With more rational policies, ISIS would never have existed.

  • The United States cynically and deliberately allowed ISIS to advance deep into Syria in an attempt to bring down President Bashar al-Assad. Unfortunately, this plan unravelled, when ISIS got out of control.

  • Although not reported by the Western Media, by the time Trump got serious about defeating ISIS, most of the hard fighting against ISIS was done by the Syrian Arab Army west of the Euphrates, and Shia militias in Iraq, while the US just dropped bombs.

  • The US allowed ISIS to gain control the important Syrian city of Deir ez-Zor, by bombing the besieged Syrian defenders, then pretending it was a mistake.

  • The Kurds did not defeat ISIS, as many of the western media are claiming. They were mostly reluctant fighters. They only fought seriously, if they were paid more money.

  • Rather than engaging in street by street fighting, their tactic was to block the roads out of a town or city, and then wait while the US bombed the crap out of the people within, civilians and ISIS fighters. When the pressure got too intense, they let the ISIS forces escape in the direction that US advisers wanted them to go. This is why so many ISIS forces are still free and ready to fight.

  • The ancient Syrian city of Raqqah was almost wrecked by US bombing using this tactic. Large numbers of civilians were killed.

  • Many of the areas currently controlled by the Kurdish forces are populated by Arab peoples, not Kurds. They are being held as bargaining chips. In a few places, Kurdish forces have engaged in ethnic cleansing.

  • The Kurds have been well paid for every battle the fought. They have kept their uniforms training and massive amounts of military equipment that the US supplied them for their work.

  • Christians who are worried about the persecution of local Christians have woken up a bit later. The radical Sunni groups that the US supported in Syria have been persecuting Christians and destroying churches in Syria for years. Church’s with links back to the days of Paul in Damascus have brutally treated. I cannot understand why a Christian nation would support groups that are hostile to Christian, but the US did the same in Iraq too.

  • The Western media do not acknowledge it, but President Assad has led a secular government that protects all religious minorities. He is the one who has been seriously protecting Christians, but liberal western media are not interest in that.

The US, French and UK should get out of Syria, before they do more harm, and let the Syrian people decide their own fate. So, I am pleased that Donald Trump is at lost doing what he promised to do before the election, and withdrawing from his nation’s stupid war.
Unfortunately, to add insult to injury, the US is imposing sanction on Syria to prevent the destruction and infrastructure that they destroyed from being rebuilt. That is ugly.

I cannot understand why a superpower that cannot govern itself, and is tearing itself apart, thinks that it should decide what is good for other nations. The evidence of Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria, Yemen, not to mention Cambodia and Vietnam, show that these do-good efforts produce greater disasters, than the problem they try to solve.

According to the news today, the Syrian Arab Army is moving into areas of NE Syria to protect the Kurds from the Turkish invasion. If this is confirmed, it is their best hope. Over the last fifty years, Syria has accepted large numbers of Kurdish refugees and given many of them citizenship, which few other nations are willing to do. Hopefully, the western trouble makers will allow this to happen and not destabilise this negotiated peace to spite the Russians who have helped it happen.

Saturday, October 12, 2019

The Book Is About To Close On The Late Great United States Of America

Michael Snyder in the Book is About to Close on The Late Great United States off America says:

We live at a time when “evil” is called “good” and “good” is called “evil”, and just about every form of human degradation that you can possibly imagine is absolutely exploding in our society. For years I have been warning that if we stay on the path that we are currently on, there is no future for America. I think that a lot of people assumed that I was exaggerating, but I wasn’t. Other societies throughout human history have believed that they could stay ahead of the consequences of their evil ways, but of course the truth is that justice is a relentless predator. We have completely rejected all of the values that this nation was founded upon, we have embraced wickedness on an industrial scale, and the blood of millions upon millions of our victims cries out to us from the ground. And those that would dare to warn us to turn from our evil ways are some of the most hated members of our entire society.
I doubt that dreams shared towards the end of the article will appear on the Elijah List.

Tuesday, October 08, 2019

Nagel on Cognition

In his book called Mind and Cosmos: Why the Materialist Neo Darwinian Conception of Nature is Almost Certainly False, Thomas Nagel says that the materialist world view cannot explain human cognition and why it is reliable.

The natural internal stance of human life assumes that there is a real world, that many questions, both factual and practical, have correct answers, and that there are norms of thought which, if we follow them will tend to lead us toward the correct answers to those question. It assumes that to follow those norms is to respond correctly to values or reasons that we apprehend. Mathematics, science and ethics are built on such norms.

It is very difficult to make sense of all this in traditional naturalistic terms. This points to a further expansion of our conception of the natural order to include not only the source of phenomenological consciousness—sensation, perception and emotion—but also the source of our active capacity to thing our way beyond those starting points (p.72).

But once we come to recognise the distinction between appearance and reality, and the existence of objective factual or practical truth that goes beyond what perception, appetite, and emotion tell us, the ability of creatures like us to arrive at such truth, or even to think about it, requires explanation (p.73).

The likelihood that a process of natural selection would have generated creatures with the capacity to discover by reason the truth about reality that extends far beyond the initial appearances, as we take ourselves to have done and to continue to do collectively in science, logic, and ethics. Is it credible that selection for fitness in the prehistoric past should have fixed capacities that are effective in theoretical pursuits that were unimaginable at the time (p.74)?

Saturday, October 05, 2019

Nagel on Consciousness

In the later chapters of his book called Mind and Cosmos: Why the Materialist Neo-Darwinian Conception of Nature is Almost Certainly False, Thomas Nagel claims that the current materialist model cannot explain the human mind, consciousness, rationality or moral assessment.

Consciousness is the most conspicuous obstacle to a comprehensive naturalism that relies on the resources of physical science. The existence of consciousness seems to imply that the physical description of the universe, in spite of its richness and explanatory power, is only part of the truth, and that the natural order is far less austere than it would be if physics and chemistry accounted for everything. If we take this problem seriously, and follow out its implications, it threatens to unravel the entire naturalistic world picture (p.35).

Mechanisms of belief that have a selective advantage in the everyday struggle for existence do not warrant our confidence in the construction of theoretical accounts of the world as a whole. I think the evolutionary hypothesis would imply that although our cognitive capabilities could be reliable, we do not have the kind of reason to rely on them that we ordinarily take ourselves to have in using them directly—as we do in science. In particular, it does not explain why we are justified in relying on it to correct other cognitive dispositions that lead us astray, though they may be equally natural, and equally susceptible to evolutionary explanation. The evolutionary story leaves the authority of reason in a much weaker position. This is even more clearly true of our moral and other normative capacities—on which we rely to correct our instincts (p.28).

Our own existence presents us with the fact that somehow the world generates conscious beings capable of recognising reasons for action and belief, distinguishing some necessary truths and evaluating the evidence for alternative hypotheses about the natural order. We don’t know how why this happens, but it is hard not to believe there is some explanation of a systemic kind—an expanded account of the order of the world.

We go on using perception and reason to construct scientific theories of the natural world even though we do not have a convincing external account of why those faculties exist that is consist with or confidence in their reliability (p.31).

An account of their biological evolution must explain the appearance of conscious organisms as such.

Since a purely materialist explanation cannot do this, the materialist version of evolution theory cannot be the whole truth. Organisms such as ourselves do not just happen to be conscious. Therefore, no explanation even of the physical character of those organisms can be adequate which is not also an exploration of their mental character. In other words, materialism is incomplete even as a theory of the physical world, since the physical world includes conscious organisms among its most striking occupants.

So long as the mental is irreducible to the physical, the appearance of conscious physical organisms is left unexplained by a naturalist account of the familiar type. On a purely materialist understanding of biology, consciousness would have to be regarded as a tremendous and inexplicable extra brute fact about the world.

Selection for physical reproductive fitness may have resulted in the appearance of organisms that are in fact conscious, and that have the observable variety of different specific kinds of consciousness, but there is no physical explanation of why this is so, nor any other explanation that we know of. (p. 45).

Thursday, October 03, 2019


Our lives are affected by various types of season.

  • The natural seasons of summer, autumn, winter and spring have different effects in different parts of the world. Their impact has declined as people have moved away from rural areas into cities with air conditioning and urban transport.

  • Each life has changing seasons: birth, childhood, adolescence, adulthood, parent, grandparent, waning, death.

  • The Christian life has season: new birth, growing spiritually, mature servant of God, wise elder (1 John 2).

  • Churches pass through seasons: first love, overcoming, luke-warm, compromised lamp removed (Rev 2,3).

  • The most common pattern of seasons that nations, churches and people can pass through are blessing, forgetfulness, idolatry, rebellion, curse, disaster, repentance, rescue, obedience/blessing (Deut 8).

But one thing is certain. The Holy Spirit does not go through seasons. He does not have a season where he cannot be bothered doing anything and another when he is keen to be active. The Holy Spirit is always active, seeking to advance the Kingdom of God, regardless of what season is people are in.
For the eyes of the LORD roam throughout the earth to show himself strong for those who are wholeheartedly devoted to him (2 Chron 16:9).
If we are in a bad season, we should not be looking for the Holy Spirit to begin a new season, he does not, as he is always active. We should be striving to get back into the season of first love, of obedience and blessing, of mature servant, so he is free to work in our midst.

Wednesday, October 02, 2019

God is not Erratic

I am uneasy about prophecies that say God is doing something new, this month or this year, that he has not done before. This makes him seem impulsive and erratic, which is not true.

God is not erratic. He knows what he is doing, and he has a plan.

If God is able to do something new that he has not done before, there are two possible reasons.

  • Something has changed in the spiritual realms. For example, God was able to pour out his spirit at Pentecost because Jesus had dealt with sin and ascended and sat down at the right hand of God. Before that, he could only send the spirit sporadically. Likewise, God was able to restore Israel in the time of Nehemiah, because the seventy sevens under judgement/curse were complete. Changes in the covenant conditions opened the way for God to do new things.

  • Humans have changed their attitudes/behaviour. God was able to send Moses to rescue the Israelites from slavery in Egypt, because they humbled themselves and cried out to him for deliverance. The Holy Spirit fell on the household of Cornelius, because they turned to Jesus and sought his blessing (Acts 10:44). When humans turn to Jesus and change their behaviour, then the Holy Spirit is free to move.

We are not living in a time when Jesus had done something new (he continues to be seated at the right hand of God). We are not in a time when a season of curse/judgment on the earth is coming to an end. So if God is able to do something new in our time that he has not been able to do before, it will be due to the second reason. It will be due to changes in human attitudes or behaviour.

The implication of many prophecies is that the Holy Spirit will not move, until God has changed his mind. The reality is that he can only move in a fuller way, if we have changed our attitudes or behaviour. It depends on us, not on him.

If the Holy Spirit is not moving in the way that we would like, the problem is not with him, it is with us. He is not erratic, but we often are.

Tuesday, October 01, 2019

Thomas Nagel on Materialism

Thomas Nagel is an atheist and professor of philosophy at New York University. I have just read his book called Mind and Cosmos: Why the Materialist Neo Darwinian Conception of Nature is Almost Certainly False. The book is a hard read, but he has some interesting comments about the weakness of the evidence for evolution.

For a long time, I have found the materialist account of how we and our fellow organisms came to exist hard to believe, including the standard version of how the evolutionary process works. The more details we learn about the chemical basis of life and the intricacy of the genetic code, the more unbelievable the standard historical account becomes (p.5).

What is lacking, to my knowledge, is a credible argument that the story has a nonnegligible probability of being true. There are two questions. First given what is known about the chemical basis of biology and genetics, what is the likelihood that self-producing life forms should have come into existence spontaneously on the early earth, solely through the operations of the laws of physics and chemistry? The second question is about the sources of variation in the evolution process that was set in motion once life began. In the available geological time since the first life forms appeared on earth, what is the likelihood that, as a result of physical accident, a sequence of viable genetic mutations should have occurred that was sufficient to permit selection to produce the organisations that actually exist (p.6)?

The available evidence is very indirect, and general assumptions have to play an important part (p.7).

Doubts about the reductionist account of life go against the dominant scientific consensus, but that consensus faces problems of probability that I believe are not taken seriously enough, both with respect to the evolution of life forms through accidental mutation and natural selection, and with respect to the formation from dead matter of physical system capable of such evolution. The more we learn about the intricacy of the genetic code and its control of the chemical processes of life, the harder these problems seem.

Again; with regard to evolution, the process of natural selection cannot account for the actual history without and adequate supply of viable mutations, and I believe it remains an open question whether this could have been provided in biological time merely as a result of chemical accident without the operation of some other factors determining and restricting the forms of genetic variation.

With regard to the origin of life, the problem is much harder, since the option of natural selection as an explanation is not available. And the coming into existence of the genetic code—and arbitrary mapping of nucleotide sequences into amino acids, together with mechanisms that can read the code and carry out its instructions—seems particularly resistant to being revealed as provable given physical laws alone (p.10).

Friday, September 27, 2019


Jesus came to fulfil God’s promises to the Jews. Of course, part of that promise was that the Jews would bring blessing to the entire world. Unfortunately, most of the Jews rejected Jesus gift. However, God’s plan has not changed. The time will come when most of the Jews will come to faith in Jesus (the fullness of the Jews ), and they will then bring even greater blessing to the nations, by releasing the fulfilment of the Kingdom of God.

Thursday, September 26, 2019

Negative Interest Rates

Negative interest rates are immoral.

Interest rates are the price of the future.

Governments do not have authority to set prices. If the government tried to make me sell my house for $10,000, I would be very upset. If they set the price at which I could sell my car at $1000, I would be sure that was wrong.

Most people would prefer to put their house or car on the market and see what they could get. By forcing me to sell at a set price, the government is robbing me of the difference between that price and what I could get on the market. The ability to set prices, allows the government to rob one person for the benefit of another. Setting prices is a form of theft.

Setting a negative price for the future, governments are expressing a lack of confidence in the future.

By setting the price of money, the government is stealing from some people, for the benefit of others. By setting a negative price for the future, the government is robbing some people for the benefit of others. Debtors benefit, whereas savers suffer.

Friday, September 20, 2019

Angels and Spirits

When describing beings that exist in the spiritual world, the Bible uses words that we use to describe the physical world in which we live. It has to do this, because human language does not have words to describe the spiritual.

The word most often translated as “spirit” means breath or wind. (ruach in Hebrew and pneuma in Greek). The wind is unseen, but has a powerful effect. Breathe is associated with life. These words tell us that spirit being have powerful effects on life, but it does not tell us anything about the substance from which they are made.

The same applies to the word for angel (malak in Hebrew and angelos in Greek). These words are often translated as angel, but the basic meaning is “messenger”. Malak describes a representative or ambassador who carries a message or represents another person. Some malak are spirit and others are physical (human). Many of the malak in the Old Testament are human. See Jos 6:25, Jud 11:14, 1 Sam 11:3.

The word malak or angelos tells us what these beings do: they carry messages and represent another person. The name does not tell us about the substance from which they are made. Spiritual messengers represent God, who is spirit, so they are spirit too.

Because we have seen movies and read illustrated Bible stories, we have a picture in our minds of what angels are like. We tend to think of an angel as a man (sometimes a woman) with wings and face that glows brightly. Those pictures go way beyond what the word malak and angelos mean.

The angels in the Old Testament could make themselves appear like humans when they came to talk to people. That explains how they appeared, but it does not tell us what they look like in the spiritual world where they operate. It tells us that they can operate between heaven and earth.

The word angel tells us nothing about the moral character of a being. Paul was attacked by a messenger (angelos) of Satan (2 Cor 12:7). Angels can be good and evil.

The word “seraph” is interesting. It is a Hebrew word (saraph) with no English equivalent, so Bible translators transliterate it as seraph. In Hebrew, seraph means burning or bright. So, the word tells us that these beings are hugely different from physical beings on earth, because they appear to be brighter than any physical being.

Cherub is another transliteration of a Hebrew word – kruwb. This Hebrew word is rare and no one really knows what it means. Artists and illustrators have tended to portray cherubim as childlike creatures with wings, so that is how we imagine them, but that goes way beyond the meaning of the word.

The Holy Spirit has allowed many people to see events in the spiritual realms, but he has to reveal them in a way that can be understood by people whose minds are locked in a three-dimensional world. Humans we live in a three-dimensional world, so that is the only way we can think. So, people who see into the spiritual world see it as if was three dimensional. They see it that way, because the Spirit has to reveal it to humans that way. If we saw it as it really is, we would just see it a blur, because our imaginations cannot see in multiple dimensions.

Thursday, September 19, 2019

Why did Paul Die?

I have been reading again the story of Paul’s ministry in the book of Acts.

The thing that has struck me is that Paul was really keen to go back to Jerusalem before he went to Rome. This is odd, because I am sure he did not expect to change the minds of the people who were wanting to tag the Jewish rites onto the gospel. Or maybe he did hope to persuade them.

Anyway, as he travelled back to Jerusalem, he was warned in various places that this visit would end with his arrest and imprisonment.

And now I am on my way to Jerusalem, compelled by the Spirit, not knowing what I will encounter there, except that in every town the Holy Spirit warns me that chains and afflictions are waiting for me (Acts 20:22-23).
When he got to Caesarea, the warning was even more specific. A prophet named Agabus tied Paul’s belt around his feet, and said,
The Holy Spirit says, ‘In this way the Jewish leaders in Jerusalem will bind the owner of this belt and will hand him over to the Gentiles (Acts 21:11).
His companions wanted Paul to stay away from Jerusalem, but Paul was not dissuaded.
I am ready not only to be bound, but also to die in Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus (Acts 21:13).
Clearly, the Holy Spirit warned Paul that he would be arrested, but also encouraged him to go on regardless. Why did the Holy Spirit lead Paul into a situation where he would be imprisoned for several years? This would place a dampener on his ministry and limit his ability to preach the gospel and strengthen churches. It would prevent him from taking the gospel to Spain as he had planned. It seems like the waste of a good man.

My guess is that the reason the Holy Spirit allowed Paul to be imprisoned was that his ministry had been so effective that he was in danger of becoming an archbishop or mini-pope. He had planted numerous churches. The believers in those churches look up to him as their leader. He was skilled at resolving theological disputes. If he had continued in his ministry as it was, he was in danger of being raised up to a place that God did not want him to be, and where he did not want to be.

Once Paul was imprisoned, and eventually killed, the young church had to stand on its own feet and rely on the Holy Spirits. The numerous people who had travelled and worked with Paul had to step up and preach the gospel and share the truth in the way that he had taught them. Others would have to take the gospel to Spain.

This is multiplication. A good seed dies, so that many can be raised up. This is how the Holy Spirit prefers to work. He prefers working through a multitude of ordinary people to relying on a few superstars.

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Understanding Good and Evil

Many people have an incorrect view of good and evil, because they see the world in terms of political power.

Many Christians see the world this way.

Others see it the other way around.
These two views argue obsessively and continuously, but they are both wrong. And they both produce spiritual blindness.

The correct view of the world is the following.

Political processes empower the spiritual powers of evil.

The Holy Spirit works through his people to establish the Kingdom of God without using political power.

Do not put your trust in princes,
in human beings, who cannot save.
When their spirit departs, they return to the ground;
on that very day their plans come to nothing.
Blessed are those whose help is the God of Jacob,
whose hope is in the LORD their God (Psalm 146:3-4).

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Endless Wars

Dr Stephen Wertheim is an historian with interesting thoughts about endless war.

American war-making will persist so long as the United States continues to seek military dominance across the globe. Dominance, assumed to ensure peace, in fact guarantees war. To get serious about stopping endless war, American leaders must do what they most resist: end America’s commitment to armed supremacy and embrace a world of pluralism and peace.

In theory, armed supremacy could foster peace. Facing overwhelming force, who would dare to defy American wishes? That was the hope of Pentagon planners in 1992; they reacted to the collapse of America’s Cold War adversary not by pulling back but by pursuing even greater military pre-eminence. But the quarter-century that followed showed the opposite to prevail in practice. Freed from one big enemy, the United States found many smaller enemies: It has launched far more military interventions since the Cold War than during the “twilight struggle” itself. Of all its interventions since 1946, roughly 80 percent have taken place after 1991.

Why have interventions proliferated as challengers have shrunk? The basic cause is America’s infatuation with military force. Its political class imagines that force will advance any aim, limiting debate to what that aim should be.

Armed domination has become an end in itself. Which means Americans face a choice: Either they should openly espouse endless war, or they should chart a new course.

Rather than chase an illusory dominance, the United States should pursue the safety and welfare of its people while respecting the rights and dignity of all. In the 21st century, finally rid of colonial empires and Cold War antagonism, America has the opportunity to practice responsible statecraft, directed toward the promotion of peace. Responsible statecraft will oppose the war-making of others, but it will make sure, first and foremost, that America is not fueling violence.

Shrinking the military’s footprint will deprive presidents of the temptation to answer every problem with a violent solution. It will enable genuine engagement in the world, making diplomacy more effective, not less. As the United States stops being a party to every conflict, it can start being a party to resolving conflicts.

Hawks also warn that restraint will produce chaos, dooming the “rules-based,” “liberal international order.” Ambassador James F. Jeffrey, President Trump’s envoy for Syria, recently told a version of this tale when he pounded the table in anger at Americans’ objections to “endless war.” “Literally scores and scores of American military operations,” he said, “undergird this global security regime and thus undergird the American and Western and U.N. values system.

But there’s a reason no one can connect the dots from unceasing interventions to a system of law and order. After decades of unilateral actions, crowned by the aggressive invasion of Iraq, it is U.S. military power that threatens international law and order. Rules should strengthen through cooperation, not wither through imposition.

Monday, September 16, 2019

My Approach

I have studied the Bible intently for more than forty years and tried to absorb its message, while seeking the guidance of the Holy Spirit to discover everything he has hidden for our benefit. I prefer to read the Bible more than people writing about the Bible. Everything that I write comes out of my seeking.

I don’t develop a theme and then use a concordance to look up prooftexts to support a theory, as many writers do. I believe that is a flawed method, and dangerous too, because you can find a prooftext for almost anything if you look hard enough and are willing to twist a bit.

Accordingly, I am not very interested in responding to demands for proof texts from people who do not “know” the scriptures. I am wary of people who say “That is not in the Bible”, because that assumes that they have read the scriptures in their entirety and absorbed everything.
Nor am I interested in arguing about what I have written, because I find that it leads nowhere.

I share what I have discovered for the benefit of people who are interested in learning. I am not interested in persuading people those who disagree with me. If they do not like what I have written, they are free to ignore.

Saturday, September 14, 2019

How Evil Spirits Operate (6) Angel’s Weapons

Angels work together in unity, so they usually outnumber the evil spirits, who are always competing with each other. The angels are guided by the Holy Spirit, so they always know exactly what to do. Their main weapon is words. Due to the cross, they have authority on their side. If the people they are working with have submitted to God’s will, then together they have authority over any evil spirits that are attacking. They can speak to them and tell them, “You are not allowed to do that”, and they have to obey.

Angels also have the power to restrain spiritually evil spirits. It is hard to imagine what that is like without thinking in physical terms. It seems they can offer spiritual restraint. For example, at the flood, some evil spirits were locked up by the holy angels in a spiritual prison (1 Pet 3:19).

God sometimes get his angels to deceive evil spirits by pretending to help them. Evil spirits are mostly followers, so they are not very creative or clever. They just keep doing the same things over and over again. The angels have the creativity of the Holy Spirit behind them, so they can come up with creative new ideas, that really appeal to the evil spirits. They adopt these ideas, because they like them, but do not realise that they will actually benefit.

Deceiving angels can easily stir them up to attack nations that are opposing God, because destroyer spirits like the idea of attacking and destroying other nations. They think it will give them greater power, but don’t realise that the same thing will happen to them, and they will all be defeated.