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.