Friday, September 30, 2016

Leadership and Vision

Sydney Finkelstein has an article in the Harvard Business Review called Secrets of the Superbosses. These are leaders who building exceptional organisations by spotting, training, and developing a future generation of leaders. The are able to delegate to these people, because they understand their vision.

Superbosses articulate uncompromising visions that they expect employees to internalize and follow. During the execution of work tasks, employees enjoy extraordinary authority over everything except the vision. The Superbosses generally stay clear, intervening only to ensure that decisions employees make support their visions and don’t conflict with them.

This is yet another reason why every manager should craft a compelling vision for their teams, no matter where they are in the corporate hierarchy.
Jesus that operated is the way. He spent time with the twelve and the seventy making sure that they understood his vision for the Kingdom of God and how it will come:
  • go in pairs to a place and stay there
  • heal the sick and cast out demons
  • proclaim the good news of the kingdom
  • stay in the house until the people who have decided go follow Jesus understand the vision and the method for sharing and can do it themselves.
Once they understood this vision, Jesus sent them out to do it in pairs, with no direct supervision. They experienced great success.

Paul grabbed this vision and ran with it, without Jesus needing to control him.

The modern church seems to have lost this vision, and replaced it with control and failure.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Culture of Lies

I am old enough to remember the Soviet Union when it was at the peak of its power. The memory that stands out most is the culture of lying leaders.

When President Khrushchev, or President Brezhnev said something, you could be certain that the opposite was true. If Khrushchev reported that the wheat crop had doubled, everyone understood that that the harvest had failed. If Brezhnev reported that Soviet troops had travelled to Hungary for rest and recreation, everyone understood that the tanks had rolled in to suppress the people.

This great edifice of lies eventually collapsed, and the Soviet Union is now gone.

Strangely, a similar political culture of lies seems to have emerged in the United States. I don’t know when it began, but I first noticed it during the Vietnam War. The Gulf of Tonkin incident used as a justification for escalation of war turned out to be a false flag. “We are not bombing Cambodia”, meant that it was bombed to crap. When a new president was imposed upon the poor South Vietnamese by the US, he would be described as a perfect man. Then he would turn out to be a thief and a murderer. The US was always announcing that another battle had been won, but the war was being lost.

This torturing of the truth continued through the death of JFK, through the shooting down of Iran Air flight 655, the sinking of USS Liberty, TWA flight 800 to 9/11. Now a culture of lies seems to control Washington. In foreign policy, if the Secretary of State says that something has happened, the opposite is probably true. Victory in Iraq means destruction of political order. “No boots on the ground” means 500 special forces in Syria. Training moderate forces means supplying weapons to Al Qaida. “Fighting against terrorism” means air support for ISIS in Syria. "Building democracy" in Libya means destroying the most prosperous nation in Africa.

This strange culture has now culminated in a presidential election where the people of the United States have to choose between two proven liars. And no one seems to care.

I am not expecting this to be exposed soon. The history of the Soviet Union shows that lies can keep a rotten system going for many decades. I suspect they can keep a powerful rotten system going for a long, long time.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Spirit of Islam

Islam is not a single spirit. It is a cluster of spirits working together for a common purpose. The relative strength of these spirits differ from place to place, and they sometimes fight against each other. That is why the situation in Asia is quite different to the Middle East.

The main spirits that work through Islam are:

  • rejection
  • fear of death
  • religious spirit
  • good works
  • spiritual deadness
  • violence
  • fighting and war
Several of these spirits have a stronghold in the United States, too.
  • religious spirit
  • good works
  • violence
  • fighting and war
Wherever freemasonry has a hold, the following spirits are free to work.

The main spirits that work through freemasonry are:

  • fear of death
  • spiritual deadness
  • violence
  • religious spirit.
  • good works
Because Freemasonry is strong in many parts of the United States, these spirits are strong in that country too. This means that all the spirits that work through Islam are also strong in the United States. That leaves the the nation spiritually vulnerable.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Healing Models

I have always been fascinated the healing miracles in the gospels and the Acts of the Apostles. The way the Holy Spirit worked was really exciting. However, I was always really puzzled by James 5. I could not see how it fitted with the rest of teaching about healing in the New Testament. James message seemed so tame in comparison to Acts and the Gospels.

A few years ago, I discovered that there are two streams of theology about healing in the Bible and then suddenly everything fell into place. If we split the teaching of the scripture into these two streams, we get a clearer understanding of God’s healing. The two themes are:

1. Healing and Evangelism
The gift of healing is primarily for unbelievers as a demonstration of the love of God. A major theme of the New Testament describes how the gift of healing works in evangelism. Jesus brought good news to apostate Israel, so his ministry demonstrated this type of healing (for more see Healing and Evangelism).

2. Healing and Believers
The second healing theme explains how God’s people can walk in health. Healing is part of salvation, so it should be a normal part of every believer’s life. James is actually a key passage in the second stream (for more see Healing for Christians).

The healing of an unbeliever and the healing of a believer have a different basis in the work of Christ. One is based on mercy and the other is based on covenant. Since they have a different basis, they are appropriated in different ways. We need to understand this difference to receive the full salvation of God.

These themes are developed further in Healing: Insights for Christians Elders

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Pet Prophets

When pastors see a prophet emerging in their church, they are tempted to bring the prophet under their control and use the prophet to support their ministry. The pastor will give the prophet a platform to speak and in return will expect the prophet to speak in support of his ministry and his plans for the church, and against those who oppose him.

I call this the temptation to become a “pet prophet” or platform prophet. Pet Prophets travel with the pastor as a prop and support to the pastor’s ministry. This is a very real temptation, but it is a prostitution of the prophetic calling. A true prophet must be free to speak only what God has given them to say, when and where God has commissioned them to speak.

When a pastor gives a young prophet opportunities that would make them into a recognised prophet, it leaves them dependent on him and under his authority. A true prophet must allow God to establish them in their ministry.

This can be a hard choice for the young prophet, if their pastor, often with good motives, asks them to speak and tells them what to say, even though God has not given them a word. Refusing to do that will be costly, because it will cost them a platform that would elevate your ministry in the church.

The true prophet will wait for God to provide opportunities to speak, when he wants them to speak. It may not be as often as a pet prophet gets to speak, but it will be more powerful, because God provided the platform, not the pastor. It will take longer, but it is much better than being a pet prophet.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Money and House Prices

The average price of a house in Auckland reached $1 million last week. The largest city in New Zealand is experiencing a property boom. The average price of a house in Auckland is double what it was back in 2008.

The property boom is partly driven by a couple factors.

  • Immigration – New Zealanders returning from Australia and other places where economic prospects are not as good as here have increased the demand for housing.

  • Scarcity of Land – Zoning laws have limited the availability of land for housing.

These have a small effect, but the main cause is the Monetary Policy operated by the Reserve Bank of New Zealand.

In the past, capital controls and fixed exchange rates allowed central banks to control the supply of money. However, in a modern economy, banks have the power to create money by making loans. They can now create as much money as they like.

The Reserve Bank has given up trying to control the money supply and has adopted a policy of inflation targeting by controlling the overnight cash rate at which banks can borrow from the Reserve Bank. The cash rate is currently set at 2.0 percent.

The measure for the inflation target is the Consumers Price Index, which only measures the prices of household consumption goods and services. Unfortunately, inflation can also affect capital goods and government consumption goods and services. These are not covered by the Consumers Price Index, so the inflation target can be met, while the price of capital goods is rocketing up. (In the United States, inflation has hit the government consumption goods produced by the Military Industrial Complex, costing the government billions of dollars).

In a small open economy like New Zealand, the power of the banks to create money is amplified by their ability to import money from overseas. As long as the central banks of the US, Japan and the EU keep their cash rates close to zero, banks will be able to make a good profit by borrowing at zero interest rate and lending the money in New Zealand for 4%.

The Reserve Bank of NZ’s cannot control the money supply, so we face an infinite supply of money at very low interest rates. This would normally flow into inflation of the prices of household goods and services, but imports of cheap goods from China mean that the CPI has not increased much. That does not mean that there has been no inflation. Instead, the rampant supply of money has flown into house prices in Auckland.

In a normal market, prices adjust to eliminate excess demand. Basic economics explains that during a period of excess demand, buyers will bid up prices. However, when the price of a good rises, producing and importing it becomes more profitable, which increases the supply of the good.

At the same time, the increase in price of the good means that some people who wanted to buy it, can no longer afford it, so they spend their money on something else that is cheaper.

A rising price generally increases supply and reduces demand. Combined together these effects of the rise in prices eliminate the excess demand. Sometimes, producers and importers will supply too much and the price will fall back a little.

In a housing market with unlimited money creation by banks and low interest rates, the market mechanism no longer functions. When house prices rise, no one is priced out of the market, because banks are willing to lend more, because the value of the asset used as security has increased too. Even if they have to take on greater debt, the purchaser does not worry, because they can count on an even bigger capital gain, as long as house prices keep rising.

The supply of houses changes slowly, because developing new suburbs and building new houses takes time.
Prices go up an up, and banks lend more and more, without the restraint of the normal market mechanism. While interest rates are low, the capital gain from rising prices more than compensates for the extra repayment burden.

Of course, this cannot go on forever. Eventually the whole thing gets out of kilter and the grossly inflated housing market will collapse. That is what happened in the United States in 2008.

Various things could cause the house price spiral to collapse here.

  • A shock to the NZ economy that destroys confidence.

  • A sharp increase in interest rates (unlikely while central banks around the world are clinging desperately to zero rates.

  • An increase in unemployment that affects the ability of people to make house repayments.

  • A shock from the international economy that causes a flight of capital back to the safety of the US and Europe.

Monday, September 12, 2016

Authority

Authority is the heart of a kingdom. Many men have claimed to be king, but if their authority was not recognised, they were fooling themselves. A king without authority is not really a king.

When a king expands his kingdom, his authority grows. If a kingdom shrinks, the king loses authority. Shifts in authority change the shape of a kingdom and the status of the king.

Authority Shifts change Kingdoms

Jesus came to establish the Kingdom of God. A new kingdom brings a big shift in authority.

In the beginning, all authority in heaven and on earth belonged to God. To understand life on earth, we need to know how authority was transferred to someone else. To be part of the Kingdom of God, we need to know how he plans to get authority back. The gospel of the coming of the Kingdom implies a big authority shift on earth (Kingdom Authority p.13).
Kingdom Authority describes the nature of authority and explain how it operates on earth.

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Ascension Ministries

Much has been written and said about the restoration of the ascension ministries. Yet, most evangelists are still in para-church organisations and few churches have a functioning evangelist. Most prophets are still in the wilderness, while very few churches have an authentic prophetic ministry. Pastors are everywhere, but very few Christians are being effectively discipled (pastored). Most modern apostles look like traditional bishops, with more of the Spirit, and less of the regalia.

Being Church Where We Live explains that the ascension ministries are just roles undertaken by elders. By bring these giftings “down to earth”, they become relevant to all followers of Jesus, rather than being limited to a few superstars.

Friday, September 09, 2016

Abraham and Isaac

The incident where Abraham attempts to offer his son Isaac as a sacrifice to God concerns many Christians. God seems to tell him to offer a human sacrifice. This is strange behaviour for a loving God.

In the end, an angel points at a lamb caught in a thorn bush that Abraham can sacrifice, but that is not much better, because it suggests that God was tricking Abraham all along.

Maybe God was testing Abraham to see if he would be willing to sacrifice the thing that was most precious to him, but that is odd, because Abraham had already left his family and home to follow God’s call. God had already promised to bless Abraham (Gen 12,15), so there was nothing God could do if he failed the test.

I think we need a must better understanding of this incident. Genesis begins by saying that “God tested Abraham”. The interesting question is who did the testing? The subject of the sentence is the Hebrew word “Elohim” This word is translated as God in all translations of Genesis 22.

Although Elohim is usually translated as God, it has a number of other meanings. It can also be translated as:

angels
idols
gods
spiritual powers.
When I did a search, I found more than a hundred verses where Elohim was not translated as God, but one of these other words. Here are a few examples.
But why did you steal my gods (Gen 31:31).
You have made him a little lower than the angels (Psalm 8:5).
I will bring judgment on all the gods of Egypt (Ex 12:12)
They have followed other gods to serve them (Jer 11:10).
Rid yourselves of the foreign gods (1 Sam 7:3)
All of these are valid translations of the word Elohim and the context tells us how it should be translated. Genesis 22 makes more sense if Elohim is translated as “gods” in the sense of evil spiritual powers.
Now it came to pass after these things that one of the gods (spiritual powers) tested Abraham, and said to him, “Abraham!” And he said, “Here I am.” Then he said, “Take now your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you” (Gen 22:1-2).
Abraham had obeyed God’s call and travelled a long way to Canaan. However, he did not have the fullness of the Spirit, so he was not very good at discerning the voice of God. Speaking a false word was a good way to trip him up.

Since God was doing something special with Abraham, it was natural that the spiritual powers of evil would try to thwart him. They tried to trick Abraham into killing his son. Isaac was going to be the father of Israel, so what better way to disrupt God’s plans than to kill him.
An evil angel came to Abraham disguised as an angel of light and pretended to speak for God. He told Abraham to go and sacrifice his son to God. Abraham did not realise that he was being tricked, but thought that God had asked him to offer his son.

Abraham’s obedience to the terrible command demonstrates his character. He was so loyal; the spiritual powers of evil knew it was a waste of time tempting him to disobey God. They had probably tried that already and failed. Persuading him to obey God was a much better tactic.

Jesus warned us that that the “thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy”, whereas he is the source of abundant life (John 10:10). Abraham did not have the benefit of Jesus’s wisdom, so he did not recognise the voice of evil. He did not understand the character of God, as well as well do, but his faith in him was amazing. I presume that he believed that God could give him another son once Isaac died. God had given him a son when he was old, so he could do it again.

God did not let Abraham sin by killing his son. I think that he was testing the spiritual powers of evil. He wanted to see if they really would let Abraham kill his son. Could they be that hateful? When he realised that they were going to go all the way, he sent his angel to intervene.

The speaker in the second part of the chapter is described differently, suggesting it is a different person. “The angel of Yahweh called to Abraham from the heavens” and told him not to harm the child. The angel of Yahweh saved him from doing a terrible thing.

This is not just angel. The writer avoids any confusion by explaining it is an angel “of Yahweh” and “from the heavens.”

The contrast is telling. In the beginning of the chapter it is Elohim (the gods) speaking to Abraham. At the end of the chapter the angel of Yahweh speaks. The first is the voice of evil. The second is the voice comes from heaven, so it is the voice of truth and life. This confirms that it was the spiritual powers of evil who were trying to trick Abraham, and not God.

The incident reminds us that it can be hard to hear from God. Sometimes, the spiritual powers of evil will try to confuse us by pretending to be God. They tried to do it to Abraham. They still try to do it in the age of the Holy Spirit.

The good news is that God can protect us, even if we get it wrong, provided our attitude is right. Abraham was keen so obey God that he jumped to obey when the thought he heard God’s voice. He was deceived, because he was keen to obey, but God intervened by sending an angel to rescue him by speaking the truth.

When we hear God speak, we should obey willingly. If our desire is to obey him, he will protect us from false voices. He will rescue us, if we hear wrong. The main thing is to have a heart that desires to serve him.

The angel from Yahweh spoke God’s true word to Abraham. The angel graciously acknowledged Abraham’s obedience, even though he had got it wrong. God was really impressed with his loyalty. He repeated the promise of blessing given to Abraham earlier.

Then the Angel of the Lord called to Abraham a second time out of heaven, and said: “By Myself I have sworn, says the Lord, because you have done this thing, and have not withheld your son, your only son— blessing I will bless you, and multiplying I will multiply your descendants as the stars of the heaven and as the sand which is on the seashore; and your descendants shall possess the gate of their enemies. In your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed, because you have obeyed My voice.” (Gen 22:16-18).

Tuesday, September 06, 2016

Marriage and Violence (7)

After reading my series on Marriage and Violence, a reader asked me to comment on Deut 22:28-29.

This verse has to be taken in context of other similar scriptures. The case in Deut 22:28-29 is different from the verses that precede it where the girl is forcibly raped.

It describes a situation where a man “seizes” a girl and lies with her. He Hebrew word for seize “taphes” is not a strong word. It means to grab hold. The man has used minimal force.

The couple are discovered, so it seems that although she was seized, she did not resist strongly (as described in Deut 22:24), but goes along, perhaps out of fear.

Once they had sexual intimacy, the two becomes one, so in God’s eyes they are married. This is why the man is expected to marry the girl. The only way for the girl to avoid the marriage would be for her to divorce the man and annul the marriage.

The scripture provide the girl with strong protection. The man has to pay a penalty of 25 shekels to her father. If did not have that silver, he would have to bond himself to work for the girl’s father until he had earned.

The girl is able to divorce the man, but he is not able to divorce her. So the protection lies in her flavour.

Ex 22:10 still applies. The man would have to pay a dowry to the girl’s father in trust for her well-being. If the marriage does not work out, the girl could divorce him and keep the dowry for her financial support. She would be able to retain the penalty the man paid to her father.
God’s law puts protection in place for a girl in a situation where most cultures would have left her vulnerable.

Monday, September 05, 2016

US Election

The outcome of the US presidential election is clear. The political/media/military/security/financial establishment has already won power. Hillary and Trump are just puppets. If Hillary wins, she will be controlled by the political/media/military/security/financial establishment, because she owes them. If Trump wins, he will be tied up in knots by the political/media/military/security/financial establishment, because they are so strong. The political/media/military/security/financial establishment and the principalities and powers that control them have won.

Saturday, September 03, 2016

Spring is Here

Daffodils, Daphne and Hyacinths

Friday, September 02, 2016

Accusations (5) End Twist

Under the biblical model of justice, the person who gives false testimony against another can be given the penalty that their testimony would have inflicted on the victim of their lies.

If a malicious witness rises against any man to testify against him of wrongdoing… the judges shall make careful inquiry, and indeed, if the witness is a false witness... then you shall do to him as he intended to have done to his brother (Deut 19:16-19).
At the end of the book of Job, God restored Job because he was innocent. Since the three friends had given false testimony against Job, they could have experienced what they had allowed the accuser to inflict on him. However, God asked Job to offer sacrifices for his three friends and pray for them.
My servant Job will pray for you, and I will accept his prayer and not deal with you according to your folly (Job 42:7-8).
God heard Job’s prayer and protected them from the consequences of their false testimony. They could have been inflicted with sickness and poverty, but were kept safe.

Some Christians will be sick, because they have given false testimony against a brother and sister, and they are receiving the consequences that the person they were accusing would have received, if their testimony had been accepted. This is another reason why we should be careful about our words. A false accusation can harm a brother or sister, but it can also fall back on us, if our testimony is confirmed as false.

If the Holy Spirit convicts us of speaking words that have harmed a brother of sister, we should ask the Lord for forgiveness. We should declare to the spiritual powers of evil that we are withdrawing our testimony and that we will not testify against the person they are trying to harm.

Thursday, September 01, 2016

Accusations (4) Nullifying Accusations

When praying for people who are sick, we might need to deal with accusations that have been made against them. If someone is not healed, it might because the accuser is using accusations against them to justify the sickness. The power of the accusations will have to be broken, before the person can be healed.

The power of accusations are broken in different ways, depending on their nature.

  1. We are human, so many accusations made against us will be true. That does not matter because Jesus dealt with our sin on the cross by shedding his blood. If the accusations are true, the person accused can agree with them and declare that they are already dealt with by the blood of Jesus. They are forgotten by God. Acknowledging an accusation and covering it with Jesus blood is sufficient to break its power.

  2. Some accusations will be untrue. We can break their power by refusing to accept them and proclaiming God’s truth. For example, we can declare that we are pure and blameless, because we are washed in the blood of Jesus.

  3. If the accusation takes the form of a negative prophecy, we can declare it to be null and void, because it did not come from God. We can crush its power by declaring God’s truth. The best way to do this is to declare the promises and prophecies that God has specifically given to the person.

When Job was sick, he made and appeal to God who declared that he was not at fault. God’s testimony overturned the testimony of his friends and Job’s health was restored.

Some of the sickness amongst Christians is the consequence of Satan’s accusations against them based on testimonies by their brothers and sisters in the Lord. When we pray for them, we must nullify these accusations by declaring that their sins that they have been accused of have been covered by the blood of Jesus.

We do not need to know the nature of an accusation to deal with it. It is probably best not to focus on the accusation, as it might distract us from our true calling. It is more important to focus on the words that God has spoken about us.

Anyone struggling to be healed should seek the Lord and ask the Holy Spirit to reveal if there are any accusations against them that are holding back their healing. These may need to be broken before healing can come.

Sometimes the accusation may have been made against the sick person’s father or husband. Job’s family were afflicted when Satan was able to make accusations against him.

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Accusations (3) Idle Words

Jesus warned his followers that they would have to give an account for all the “idle words they have spoken.

I tell you that everyone will have to give account on the day of judgment for every empty word they have spoken (Matt 12:36).
On that day when we stand before the Lord, we will be embarrassed by our sins and the things that we have not done. We will be shocked most by the harm that we have done to other Christians by our idle words. These are words that we have not thought about much, but Satan had heard them and used them to accuse the person and punish them with sickness or trouble.

Idle words are spoken, or thought, in various situations. Often they are part of a conversation that turns into gossip. Sometimes they can be a response to a question about someone. Idle words can be come testimonies that support and accusation can in two different ways.

  • The simpliest idle word is an direct accusation.
    He was stingy to the poor person who asked.
    She got angry when she was challenged.
    He exagerates all the time.
    I think that she was lying.
    He always take more than his share.
  • Some idle words are actually prophecies about a person’s future.
    He will eventually lose his money
    That will turn out bad for her.
    He will lose his job
    She will not be healed
    That sickness will return.
Satan can use these words as a testimony about the person spoken about. Ideally, he needs to find three people saying the same thing. He really loves gossip, because that is a good way to get people to agree with an accusation.

Satan likes testimonies from Christians because they have more credibility. He can say, “This witness is a Christians, so their words are reliable.”

The biblical principle is that we should never say things about another person that we have not said to them. If we are concerned about something a brother or sister has done, we should speak to them first. Only if they refuse to listen should we speak about it to others.

We must learn to be more careful about how we speak about others. Idle words spoken against other believers become testimonies that Satan can use to accuse them. If he can get several witnesses to agree, he gains the right to harm the believer. Several idle words that agree can be used by the spiritual powers of evil and used to gain authority over the person accused.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Accusations (2) Three Testimonies

Satan did not make up his accusation against Job. He was just repeating the accusation that Job’s fiends had already spoken. Because they were men of integrity and authority, God had to accept their testimony. Their testimony proved Satan’s case against Job, so he was legally entitled to inflict sickness on him. The devil brought sufficient testimony against Job that God had to agree and allow him to be punished.

Satan twisted the rules of justice to do evil. God’s principle of justice is that facts are established by the testimony of three witnesses.

One witness is not enough to convict anyone accused of any crime or offense they may have committed. A matter must be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses (Deut 19:15)
Jesus confirms this in Matthew 18:16. Satan was able to accuse Job effectively, because he found three reliable witnesses who had testified against Job, without realising. This gave Satan the right to accuse Job and afflict him with sickness.

Christians need to understand the role of the accuser. He is looking for witnesses whose testimony he can use as accusations against God’s people. When we criticise other people and speak negative things about them, Satan can pick up these testimonies and accuse them before God. If he can find three people saying the same thing, he has the three witnesses that he needs to establish the accusation as fact. This gives him the right to afflict the accused person with sickness.

Many Christians are sick, because brothers and sisters in the Lord have spoken words of accusation against them and the accuser has taken these words and used them as testimony to accuse the person before God. Before they can be healed, the power of these testimonies must be broken.

The accusations of people in authority, such as parents, pastors and employers, provide even more powerful testimony. The enemy can say, “His pastor said that about him, so he must be bad; it must be true.”

Monday, August 29, 2016

Accusations (1) Job

The book of Job explains that Satan was the cause of the sickness that Job suffered. However, there are different views about why Satan was able to afflict Job with such terrible pain. Some say that Job let down his “hedge of protection”. Others say that Job succumbed to fear. Neither makes sense, because the book is clear that Job was not sick because he sinned.

A key message of the book is that his sickness was caused by the spiritual powers of evil. The reason why Job becomes sick is that Satan is an accuser. The name is a Hebrew word meaning accuser or adversary. Satan is a prosecutor who attacks God’s people by making accusations against them.

Satan accused Job of serving God with impure motives. He did not really love God, but loved the stuff that God had given him. If God took his wealth away, his true motives would be revealed. Satan accused Job of serving God for what he could get out of it. He claimed Job’s love of God was really selfishness.

By making this accusation, Satan forced God to take away Job’s wealth and health. How was he able to do this? He is a liar, but he knew better than to lie to God. So what evidence did he have to present against Job? He must have had testimonies from people who knew Job well and had influence in his life.

The answer becomes clear when we look at what Jobs friends said to comfort him. At first, they were kind, but when he refused to admit that he deserved what had happened to him, they got frustrated and revealed their true thoughts about him. They said he was greedy and deceitful.

Here is Eliphaz,

Your iniquity teaches your mouth,
And you choose the tongue of the crafty (Job 15:5).
Is not your wickedness great?
Are not your sins endless?
You demanded security from your relatives for no reason;
you stripped people of their clothing, leaving them naked.
You gave no water to the weary
and you withheld food from the hungry,
though you were a powerful man, owning land (Job 22:5-9).
Zophar agreed,
For he has oppressed the poor and left them destitute;
he has seized houses he did not build.
Surely he will have no respite from his craving;
he cannot save himself by his treasure (Job 20:19-20).
Bildad was quieter, but pursued the same theme.
The steps of his strength are shortened,
And his own counsel casts him down.
For he is cast into a net by his own feet,
And he walks into a snare (Job 18:7-9).
People so not change their opinions about other people. If Job’s friends believed these things after he had suffered, they would have believed them while he was prosperous. They might have not accused Job to his face, but they would have spoken their accusations to each other, while gossiping about him. They would have said these things to other people when they asked about Job.

When Satan appeared before God, he accused Job of impure motives. He said that Job was deceitful and greedy. This is exactly what Job’ friends said when he was suffering, and would have said earlier when he was still prosperous.

Eliphaz, Zophar and Bildad were Job’s fiends. They knew him well and had influence in his lives. This gave weight to their testimonies. Their accusations against Job, allowed Satan to make the same accusation about Job to God. Satan was able to claim it was true, because these men knew Job well and they agreed that he was greedy and deceitful.

Saturday, August 27, 2016

James Mackenzie - Full Article

Visitors to New Zealand travelling from Christchurch to Mount Cook and Queenstown, pass through the Mackenzie Country. The expansive tussock-covered plain was named after James Mackenzie, better known as Mackenzie the Sheep Stealer, who is credited with discovering this vast area of land in 1855.

The events that led to this plain being given his name are well known. A thousand Merino sheep were stolen from the Levels Station, owned by the pioneering gentry, the Rhodes brothers. Mackenzie was found with the sheep in a pass through the range of mountains which opens onto the plain that took his name. This pass was later named the Mackenzie Pass.

Mackenzie escaped, but was later captured in Christchurch. He was found guilty and sentenced to five years hard labour in April 1855. He hated prison and escaped on at least two occasions.

In September 1855, a new resident magistrate at Christchurch investigated the case, and found the trial to be seriously flawed. Mackenzie was granted a free pardon in January 1856 after spending nine months in prison. He probably returned to Australia, but was never heard of again.

I recently read a book about Mackenzie by Catriona Burnett of Mount Cook Station. I was interested in her book, because I knew her when I helped with shearing and mustering at Mount Cook Station when I was a young farmer. As the granddaughter of one of the early run-holders, she was not very sympathetic to Mackenzie.

Having grown up in the area where the events took place, I was struck by some serious flaws in the standard story about Mackenzie. Reading the account of the incident in a letter to the Rhodes brothers by John Sidebottom, the overseer of The Levels, I realised that parts of his story did not make sense.

Mackenzie Alone
The first major flaw in the standard account was that Mackenzie is said to have driven the stolen sheep from Taiko to the Mackenzie Pass on his own, with one dog and a bullock to carry his pack of food, bedding and other equipment. The legend is that his dog was so clever that Mackenzie was able to drive the flock of sheep without any other assistance.

I have driven a flock of one thousand sheep with one dog. In an enclosed paddock where the sheep know where they were going, it was difficult to keep them together, as some would be keen and move fast while the slower ones would be unwilling to move. Driving a flock through rough country that had never been grazed would be extremely difficult for a man and a dog, no matter how skilled the dog.

A modern drover would want at least three or four dogs to drive this number of sheep over rough country for this distance. A couple of them would be noisy huntaways that could push the sheep over the hill, whereas Mackenzie’s dog was supposed to have been mostly silent.

On the day that the sheep were stolen, Mackenzie is supposed to have driven them in the night up over the high ridge to the north of Mt Misery and down into Cannington by the Pareora River. Sheep do not like walking straight uphill, or downhill. They prefer to go sideways around the hillside and graze. This hill had not been grazed at that time, so it would be much rougher going than it is now. Getting the sheep over the hill with one dog, would be extremely difficult, especially when he had to lead a pack bullock.

Once Mackenzie got down into Cannington, he would probably have had to cross the Pareora River twice to get up into Mawaro. Opposite the Cannington homestead, the river goes quite close to the cliff, so it is unlikely that he could squeeze his sheep through between the river and the cliff. He would have had to cross the river before he got there, and then cross back again further up.

The river was much deeper then, because most of the flow is now taken by the Timaru water supply intake in the Upper Pareora Gorge. Sheep will cross water, but they do not like it. If you hold them close to the river and get a few leaders across, the others will follow, but this would be difficult task for one man. While he was getting the last few stragglers across, the ones that had gone first would be scattering.

As the journey progressed further, he would have had to cross half a dozen streams and rivers. Finding a place to cross would require some scouting, and getting the sheep across would never be easy for one man.

Mackenzie always claimed that he had been hired by a man called John Mossman. This was discounted by the officials, as Mossman was never found. However, given the difficulty of the terrain, Mackenzie almost certainly had assistance. Driving a flock of a thousand sheep over that country would have been almost impossible for one man. He very likely had help, or was helping someone else, perhaps the instigator of the theft.

The standard account suggests that Mackenzie planned to drive the sheep down through the Lindis Pass to Southland and sell them. This is an even more implausible suggestion, as crossing the much larger Waitakai River which would have been even more difficult for one man and a dog.

Slow Pursuit
The other odd thing about the James Mackenzie story is the behaviour of the John Sidebottom, the overseer of The Levels station. His letter to the Rhodes Brothers in Christchurch is the main source of information. What stands out in this letter is how incredibly slow he was to try to purse the stolen sheep. It was almost as if he wanted them to get away.

The sheep were grazing in Taiko. The land was not fenced at the time, so they would be put into an enclosure at night, and let them out to graze each morning. The usual practice was for two men to watch the sheep during the day and camp in a hut at night.

The theft of the sheep was reported by a Maori boy called Seventeen. It seems that he was not sleeping at the enclosure with the sheep that night, or he would have been disturbed when they were stolen. Perhaps he had gone back to the outpost at Cave for a meal and sleep and found the sheep missing when he returned early in the morning.

Sidebottom records that Seventeen came to him at Cave on Thursday morning, where he was paring the feet of sheep with footrot. Seventeen reported the sheep were gone and had been tracked to Campbell’s hut, at the foot of Mount Misery. This was really useful information, as it meant that sheep had not gone towards Timaru, or down the valley to where the Taiko stream joins the Pareora River at the foot of Mount Horrible, which would have been an easier way to go.

I presume that Sidebottom heard about the theft some time later in the morning, but he did not bother to search for the sheep that day. This is odd, because the loss of a thousand sheep was a more serious problem, whereas a bit of footrot could easily wait.

More important, he had a horse and knew where the sheep had gone. At Cave, he was much close to their destination. He could have ridden over the Cave Hill at its low point and ridden down the valley where the Cave-Pareora Road travels and be in Cannington in a few hours. By climbing up on the hills, he would have been able to see across the valley and discover where the sheep has gone. Had he taken this action, he would have probably have discovered them before nightfall.

Even if the thieves had been driving the sheep most of the night and next day, they would not only have been able to get far into Cannington. They had to drive the sheep about 7 km from Taiko, where the sheep were camped, into Limestone Valley at the foot of the hill (a direct route was blocked by a limestone cliff). They then had to drive them up over the hill north of Mount Misery and down the other side.

Getting down off the hill would have taken them at least three or four hours. I remember when my father assisted with mustering sheep at Braeval. We could watch the sheep coming down the hill from our home on the other side of the valley. It would take several hours for the flock to all come down, and that was with a good track and sheep that knew they were going to good pasture on the flatland.

The sheep would hardly have been off the hill by that time that Sidebottom heard about the theft later in the morning. However, he did nothing until the next day.

On Firday morning, Sidebottom set out with Seventeen and Taiko and they tracked the sheep over the hill and down towards the Pareora River. By nightfall, they had arrived at bush of the Upper Pareora Gorge.

I am surprised that Sidebottom had travelled such a short distance. The sheep had travelled the same route on the previous day. Sidebottom had a horse, and even if his Maori boys were on foot, they should have been able to move much faster than the stolen flock.
A thousand sheep would leave a lot of droppings and wool on bushes, so tracking them would be quite easy. So by Friday night he should have been able to catch the stolen flock, if he had been going hard all day.

On Saturday, they tracked the tracked the sheep up into Mawaro to a branch of the Tengawai River. He must have been quite close to the sheep, but Sidebottom stopped tracking and rode back to Cave to get more supplies. He had all of Thursday to prepare, so it is odd that he had run out of supplies after only one day on the pursuit.

While at Cave, Sidebottom sent back to Levels Station for more help. I am not sure why he had not done this on Thursday, because this delay allowed the sheep to travel further. By the end of Saturday, they would have been well up into the Waratah Valley. Reading his account and understanding the distance he had to travel, it seemed like he was doing his best to let the sheep escape.

On Sunday, they continued tracking the sheep, but Sidebottom deliberately delayed progress in the afternoon by sending the Maori boy Taiko to look for the men who were coming to help. Taiko took the horse, which would have delayed the speed of the tracking. He arrived back at sunset without the men.

As the end of the day, Sidebottom finally caught up with the sheep and discovered Mackenzie at the bottom of a hill watching them while preparing a meal. He captured Mackenzie and recovered the sheep. Although visibility was affected by fog, he immediately began driving the sheep through the night towards home (Mackenzie escaped during the night).

The next day they arrived back at Cave, having covered a distance of 25 miles over rough country. Driving them all through the night and into the next day without giving them a rest seemed an odd action for a man charged with caring for the sheep
The contrast in speed is astounding. When chasing the sheep, he took several days to travel from Cave to the Mackenzie Pass. When driving the sheep home, he was able to cover the distance during one night and part of the next day. If he had shown the same zeal on the outward journey, he would have quickly caught the sheep.

Large Plain
Catriona Burnett records several things about Sidebottom that I think explain why he took so long to catch up with the stolen sheep.

First, Sidebottom wrote to the Rhodes Brothers that he had seen a large plain when he had looked out from the place, where he discovered the sheep.

I should tell you I have found old sheep track (large tracks of a good mob) leading up to the same pass, therefore I have a strong opinion this is not the first mob that Mackenzie has driven off… There seems to be a fine plain just at the back of the snowy range and a fist rate pass through the mountains to it.
The first sentence can’t be true, because Sidebottom came upon the Mackenzie at dusk, so he would not be able to see track from sheep that had passed the same way several weeks earlier.

His claim to have seen a “fine plain” is also problematic. In a newspaper article written in 1917, Catriona’s father T.D. Burnett discussed the question of where Mackenzie was captured. Sidebottom said that they came across the sheep when “looking down a very abrupt hill”. TD Burnett thinks they had not reached the crest of Mackenzie Pass, but were on the Waratah side of the pass on the “little flat formed by the junction of Lockhart’s and Mackenzie’s steams. Several other witnesses confirm that they were caught in the fork of two creeks on the eastern side of the pass.

TD Burnett points out that the plain cannot be seen, except from the summit of the pass, or from the mountains on either side, so it was odd that Sidebottom wrote that he had seen “a wide plain”. The most plausible explanation is that Sidebottom had already explored the area, and already knew about the pass and the plain.

Second, Catriona Burnett reports that Sidebottom applied for a pastoral license to graze land 75,000 acres in the Mackenzie Country on 1 May 1855, when he went to Christchurch to give evidence against Mackenzie. The license was signed by William Brittain, Commissioner of Crown lands, and is labelled “Pastoral Lease No 53. These licenses were awarded on the condition that the land was fully stocked within a year. It seems that Sidebottom was unable to get sufficient sheep, so his license had lapsed by 1857, when licenses covering the same area were issued to others.

Sidebottom resigned from his overseer role at Levels at the end of the Mackenzie’s trial and took over Eureka Station in Canterbury. He died suddenly in Christchurch, two years late in April 1859, after selling a run for a considerable sum of money. He was seized with a fit of apoplexy and lingered only a short time.

Possible Explanation
The Rhodes Brothers lived in Christchurch, so an overseer had considerable freedom to get around. I suspect that that Sidebottom had investigated the area west of Cave much earlier. He was active and ambitious man, so it is natural that he would have explored further inland looking for land that was not controlled by the existing runholders. The Mackenzie Pass is visible from several places closer the coast, so if he was curious, he would have wondered where it led.

While based at Cave, he would be well placed to travel up the Tengawai River towards the Waratah Valley. When he got to the Mackenzie Pass he would climbed to the summit and seen the wide plain on the other side. He might even have ridden down and explored the flat land he had discovered.

Being the first to discover this large area of flat land, he would begin thinking about how he could get control of it. Getting a pastoral license was relatively easy. The tricky part was getting sufficient sheep to stock such a big area of land.

Small numbers of sheep had gone missing from The Levels before the Mackenzie incident. Sidebottom had probably paid someone to drive them up through the Mackenzie Pass and release them. (This is probably why his letter suggested that Mackenzie had stolen sheep on previous occasions). He may have already worked out the route through Cannington and Mawaro, and the good places to cross the rivers.

Taking a thousand Merino’s may have been the next big step towards stocking the run he planned to establish. He had probably done a deal or formed a partnership with the person who had paid Mackenzie to drive the sheep. He might have called Seventeen back to Cave, so that they were easy to take.

Once the sheep were stolen, Sidebottom moved so slowly to give them a chance to get away. Once they were up through the Mackenzie Pass and scattered across the plain, it would be impossible to find them. He could then go and apply for a pastoral license, knowing that he already had sufficiently sheep to stock the area.

What Went Wrong
Something must have gone wrong. The clue is in Mackenzie’s petition to the governor for his pardon. His submission says,

Your petitioner and James Mossman were driving the sheep three days when your petitioner became very unwell and was obliged to rest one day and immediately on the day of rest, James Moss man went to the top of the hill while your petitioner was lying on the ground unwell, but for what purpose your petitioner could not tell,, and he against after diner did the like thing, and remained till towards dusk in the evening of that day when he came running down the hill greatly agitated and exclaimed to your petitioner, “McKenzie? McKenzie? I have done a very bad job. I have stolen these sheep and the owner is coming and is close at hand and I will go away”
If Sidebottom had paid Mossman (probably his partner and not his real name) to take the sheep into the Mackenzie country, they would have agreed that he could have four days to get through the pass. Once they were on the other side of the pass on the wide plain, they would scatter out to graze and be hard to find. They would become much harder to track, so Sidebottom would be able to say that the trail had disappeared.

The problem was Mackenzie’s sickness. The drovers had arrived at the foot of the pass on Saturday night, so it would only take a few hours to travel through the pass on Sunday morning. By the afternoon, the sheep would be scattered on the plain and hard to see.

Unfortunately, Mackenzie took sick and Mossman was unable to drive the sheep on his own. The day was lost. The sheep remained on the eastern side of the pass, when they should have been spread on the wide plan on the other side.

Sidebottom seemed to have wasted time for four days to give them time to get away, but he had not counted on them losing a day. When he got near the Mackenzie Pass, he expected the sheep to be well gone. Instead, he had come upon Mossman, who several times during the wasted day had gone to the top of the hill looking for someone. They had an argument and Mossman had fled back to warn Mackenzie. He said that Mossman had a gun, so he might have pulled it on Sidebottom.

With his plans falling apart, Sidebottom had no option but to re-capture the sheep and take them back. So when Taiko returned with his horse Jenny, they carried on tracking and soon came upon Mackenzie watching the sheep. By this time Mossman had bolted, so Mackenzie was captured.

Sidebottom did have some integrity, because he bound Mackenzie loosely and he was able to escape in the fog at night. I presume that he hoped would disappear and not be seen again (as Mossman did). Unfortunately, he was captured in Lyttleton, so Sidebottom was called to give evidence against him.

Perhaps
Maybe the Mackenzie country was actually discovered by John Sidebottom, but Sidebottom Country does not have quite the same ring as Mackenzie Country. And Sidebottom Pass would be awful. It this explanation is true, Mackenzie was an innocent drover, and Sidebottom was double-crossing his employer to stock a run he planned to establish in the land he had discovered, so perhaps it is just as well that the country is not named after him.

James Mackenzie (6) Plot Foiled

Something must have gone wrong with Sidebottom's scheme. The clue is in James Mackenzie’s petition to the governor for his pardon. His submission says,

Your petitioner and James Mossman were driving the sheep three days when your petitioner became very unwell and was obliged to rest one day and immediately on the day of rest, James Moss man went to the top of the hill while your petitioner was lying on the ground unwell, but for what purpose your petitioner could not tell, and he against after diner did the like thing, and remained till towards dusk in the evening of that day when he came running down the hill greatly agitated and exclaimed to your petitioner, “McKenzie? McKenzie? I have done a very bad job. I have stolen these sheep and the owner is coming and is close at hand and I will go away”
If Sidebottom had paid Mossman (probably his partner and not his real name) to take the sheep into the Mackenzie country, they would have agreed that he could have four days to get through the pass. Once they were on the other side of the pass on the wide plain, they would scatter out to graze and be hard to find. They would become much harder to track, so Sidebottom would be able to say that the trail had disappeared.

The problem was Mackenzie’s sickness. The drovers had arrived at the foot of the pass on Saturday night, so it would only take a few hours to travel through the pass on Sunday morning. By the afternoon, the sheep would be scattered on the plain and hard to see.

Unfortunately, Mackenzie took sick and Mossman was unable to drive the sheep on his own. The day was lost. The sheep remained on the eastern side of the pass, when they should have been spread on the wide plan on the other side.

Sidebottom seemed to have wasted time for four days to give them time to get away, but he had not counted on them losing a day. When he got near the Mackenzie Pass, he expected the sheep to be well gone. Instead, he had come upon Mossman, who several times during the wasted day had gone to the top of the hill looking for someone. They had an argument and Mossman had fled back to warn Mackenzie. He said that Mossman had a gun, so he might have pulled it on Sidebottom.

With his plans falling apart, Sidebottom had no option but to re-capture the sheep and take them back. So when Taiko returned with his horse Jenny, they carried on tracking and soon came upon Mackenzie watching the sheep. By this time Mossman had bolted, so Mackenzie was captured.

Sidebottom did have some integrity, because he bound Mackenzie loosely and he was able to escape in the fog at night. I presume that he hoped would disappear and not be seen again (as Mossman did). Unfortunately, he was captured in Lyttleton, so Sidebottom was called to give evidence against him.

Perhaps
Maybe the Mackenzie country was actually discovered by John Sidebottom, but Sidebottom Country does not have quite the same ring as Mackenzie Country. And Sidebottom Pass would be awful. It this explanation is true, Mackenzie was an innocent drover, and Sidebottom was double-crossing his employer to stock a run he planned to establish in the land he had discovered, so perhaps it is just as well that the country is not named after him.

Friday, August 26, 2016

James Mackenzie (5) Possible Explanation

The Rhodes Brothers lived in Christchurch, so an overseer at The Levels had considerable freedom to get around. I suspect that that Sidebottom had investigated the area west of Cave much earlier. He was active and ambitious man, so it is natural that he would have explored further inland looking for land that was not controlled by the existing runholders. The Mackenzie Pass is visible from several places closer the coast, so if he was curious, he would have wondered where it led.

While based at Cave, he would be well placed to travel up the Tengawai River towards the Waratah Valley. When he got to the Mackenzie Pass he would climbed to the summit and seen the wide plain on the other side. He might even have ridden down and explored the flat land he had discovered.

Being the first to discover this large area of flat land, he would begin thinking about how he could get control of it. Getting a pastoral license was relatively easy. The tricky part was getting sufficient sheep to stock such a big area of land.

Small numbers of sheep had gone missing from The Levels before the Mackenzie incident. Sidebottom had probably paid someone to drive them up through the Mackenzie Pass and release them. (This is probably why his letter suggested that Mackenzie had stolen sheep on previous occasions). He may have already worked out the route through Cannington and Mawaro, and the good places to cross the rivers.

Taking a thousand Merino’s may have been the next big step towards stocking the run he planned to establish. He had probably done a deal or formed a partnership with the person who had paid Mackenzie to drive the sheep. He might have called Seventeen back to Cave, so that they were easy to take.

Once the sheep were stolen, Sidebottom moved so slowly to give them a chance to get away. Once they were up through the Mackenzie Pass and scattered across the plain, it would be impossible to find them. He could then go and apply for a pastoral license, knowing that he already had sufficiently sheep to stock the area.