Monday, March 31, 2014

Bloodlands (2) Spiritual Persepctive

Timothy Synder is a secular historian, so in his book called called Bloodlands: Europe between Hitler and Stalin, he attempts to explain these terrible events by examining the political and social events of the time. He concludes that the worst killings took place in areas that were invaded by both Stalin and Hitler, so that was the cause. Because he focusses on the physical world, and ignores events in the spiritual realms, he fails to understand the real cause of this terrible death and destruction.

When Jesus had finished challenging the Jewish leaders, he gave a terrible prophecy.

Look, your house is left to you desolate (Matt 23:38).
The cause of this desolation is rooted in the covenant. The Jewish people have a marvellous covenant with wonderful promises, but they are incapable of fulfilling it. Jesus satisfied the covenant by living a perfect life, but the Jews rejected him so he could not impute his righteous to them. Worse still, they have no way of dealing with their sin. The sacrifices of the covenant worked in OT times because they pointed to Jesus, but once the temple was destroyed, there could be no sacrifice for sin.

The Jewish people are now stuck on the wrong side of a good covenant, under the curse, rather than the blessings. The spiritual forces of evil, who are expert accusers, demand the right to enforce the covenant against the Jewish people. The Jews have no spiritual protection, because their covenant, agreed by God, gives the powers of evil authority to inflict the evils specified in the curses of the covenant (Deut 28). Although Jesus defeated the powers of evil by dying on the cross, they still have authority to attack those who have chosen to live under the old covenant, but cannot fulfil it.

Their only source of spiritual protection is people under the blessings of the covenant because they have the righteous of Jesus imputed to them under the terms of the new covenant. Unfortunately, Christians have been better at persecuting Jews than praying for their spiritual protection.

So whenever the powers of evil want to do great evil on earth, they attack the Jewish people, because the old covenant gives them authority to act on earth. Throughout New Testament history, they have used this last vestige of authority to do great evil in the world.

The worst killing in the Bloodlands described by Timothy Snyder was centred on Poland and Ukraine. These were the two countries with the largest population of Jews. This is why the terrible killing took place. The spiritual forces of evil gathered in huge numbers in this region. They raised up and empowered two terrible political dictators: Stalin and Hitler. They infused the people with hatred and callousness. They inspired others to kill and destroy. The result was the worst killing and death that history has known. The powers of darkness were able to achieve this terrible destruction by using authority claimed under the old covenant.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Bloodlands (1)

Last year I read the book by Timothy Snyder called Bloodlands: Europe between Hitler and Stalin. He tells the story of Eastern Europe between Germany and Russia during the period between 1930 and 1945 when 14 million civilians were killed. This number of deaths is probably unmatched in human history.

The killing began when Stalin starved the people of Ukraine by stealing their grain to pay for the industrialisation of the Soviet Union. Nearly three million people died in three years. Many more people died when Hitler and Stalin divided Poland between them. When Hitler invaded Russia, his troops slaughtered thousands of civilians and even more prisoners of war. Nearly a million died. In the areas that Hitler’s forces controlled, millions of Jews were killed, by bullets to the head, starvation in work camps, or gassing in death facilities. When Stalin’s army defeated Hitler’s forces and pushed them back into Germany, many more people were killed or died of starvation.

Hollywood gives the impression that the Second World War was won by British airmen lying Spitfires and the American army invading France. This book is and important counterpoint. Snyder show that that the real war was fought and won on the Eastern front.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Spiritual Perceiving (11) Environment

Some Christians are developing an ecological worldview and taking up responsibility for caring for the earth. This is good, but something important is missing from this understanding.

The group that is most serious about polluting and destroying creation are the spiritual powers of evil. They hate the good world that Cod created and want to destroy it. They have already had a good go.

Therefore it is not surprising that when people pursue the things of the world (1 John 2:15), they also harm the creation. They are being led by the world system and the spiritual powers of evil without knowing it.

The people of the world are now really stirred up to care for their environment. This is good, but the environmental movement will fail because they do not understand what they are up against. They only see the physical, so they are not taking into account influences from the spiritual dimensions. Because they do not have victory over the forces of evil, their efforts are doomed to failure. They will often make thing worse without understanding why.

On the other hand, Christians should be embarrassed that they have been so slow to grasp the importance of caring for the created world. Those who have been rescued by God should have understood how much he loves the earth that he created, and how upset he is done at the harm done by the powers of evil. Unfortunately, Christians have often been the worst at destroying the creation, because they did not understand what was happening in the spiritual realms, and who they were working for.

When the gospel has gone into the world and Christians are full of the Spirit, prophetic people will begin speaking healing to the earth. As the sons of God are revealed, the powers of evil will be exposed and pushed out of the physical realms. The Holy Spirit will begin to restore the creation. God’s people will work with him to liberate creation from bondage into glorious freedom (Rom 8:21). We should be working towards that now.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Prophets and Healing

In the scriptures, the ministry of the prophet and gift of healing go together. Elijah and Elisha both healed people who were sick. When Jesus healed a young man by raising him from death, the people just assumed that Jesus was a prophet.

They were all filled with awe and praised God. “A great prophet has appeared among us” (Luke 7:16).
So although I am keen to see the prophetic ministry restored, I strongly believe that we need to see the gift of healing restored too.

I am intrigued that my book on the prophetic ministry sells three times more frequently than my book on healing. It could be because it is better, but I do not think so. Strangely enough, I think the latter is more prophetic than the former.

So here is a question.
Can you be true a prophet, if you do never minister the gift of healing?
Or to put it another way.
If you are standing in the council of the Lord (Jer 23:13), won't he sometimes give you the key to someone’s healing from sickness.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Spiritual Perceiving (10) Sickness

Luke says something interesting about sickness.

Those troubled by evil spirits were cured (Luke 6:18).
Those “troubled” by evil spirits were “cured”. The word “troubled” in the Greek is “ochleo”. It comes from the noun “ochlos”, which means crowd or multitude. This noun is used in both the previous and subsequent verse to describe the crowd. The implication is that those troubled or vexed by evil spirits were “crowded” or “thronged” by evil spirits.

Luke does not say that those troubled by evil spirits were delivered or set free. He says they were cured. The Greek word is “therapeuo”, from which we get the word therapeutic. This implies that these people were cured of sickness or disease. Luke realised that many of the sick were actually harassed by evil spirits. This aligns with his statement about sickness in Acts 10:38.
God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power, and how he went around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil, because God was with him.
Those who are sick are under the power of the devil.

We have accepted a materialistic view of sickness. We assume it is caused by a virus or a bacteria. Cancer is cell tissues that are out of control due to a genetic defect. We have this distorted view, because we are stuck in the physical realms and have forgotten that they are just a small part of reality.

If we could see into the spiritual realms, we would have a very different view of sicknesses. Viruses are entities that were created by the forces of evil to harm our body. Cancer is a timebomb that evil spirits put into human bodies to destroy and kill them. If we understood this reality we would stop trusting chemical and physical solutions that only half work, and seek after the solution that Jesus demonstrated.
The crowd all tried to touch him, because power was coming from him and healing them all (Luke 6:17-19).
More here.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Jesus is the Same?

Last week, we heard that a person we had known for many years has been in hospital dealing with cancer in the lungs and liver. She is a Christian and belongs to a good church. The generally response is that it is sad for someone of her age to have such a serious sickness. I was not sad. I was just angry, wondering what has gone wrong with our gospel.

I have been reading through Luke’s gospel. That evening I arrived at Luke 6.

Jesus went down with them and stood on a level place. A large crowd of his disciples was there and a great number of people from all over Judea, from Jerusalem, and from the coastal region around Tyre and Sidon, who had come to hear him and to be healed of their diseases. Those troubled by evil spirits were cured, and the crowd all tried to touch him, because power was coming from him and healing them all (Luke 6:17-19).
I was struck by the huge different in Jesus’ gospel from what we have today. A great multitude of people had come and he healed all their diseases. He was able to do this because power was going out from him. I presume this was the Holy Spirit who had anointed him. We like to quote the promise that Jesus is the same, yesterday today and forever, but we do not believe it. Our Jesus cannot do what Luke’s Jesus did.

Saturday, March 22, 2014


In a previous post, I suggested that Crimea could be the second rib in the mouth of the bear. After more reflection and study of the verse, I think I was wrong to see the ribs as sequential. Daniel saw four terrible beasts coming out of the sea. The first was an eagle attempting to get free from a lion. The second beast was a bear.

And there before me was a second beast, which looked like a bear. It was raised up on one of its sides, and it had three ribs in its mouth between its teeth. It was told, “Get up and eat your fill of flesh!” (Dan 7:5).
In this series of visions, nations are represented by animals, so a rib is not a nation, but a region of a nation. The bear had three ribs in its mouth. This describes an empire taking control of three regions of another nation (or several nations).

A bear is a commonly used a symbol for Russian. For a long time, I thought that Russia was too weak to be a fulfilment of this vision, but that now seems to be changing. Russia is now growing in strength towards the west (one side). With the collapse of the Soviet Union, Russia lost territory on its western flank. Some of the ribs that protect its central organs were ripped out of its side.

The boundaries between Russia and the neighbouring republics were formed quite arbitrarily by the leaders of the Soviet Union, so they do not reflect historical population and cultural patterns. For example, Eastern Ukraine includes areas, which were traditionally part of Russia. President Putin is leading a resurgent Russian culture. He will take every opportunity to restore these lands to Russia. Crimea is the current example.

As the Red Horse goes to work in the Ukraine, racial and religious differences will tear the nation apart. This disunity will present an opportunity for Russia to seize back the lands that Russians believe to be part of their nation. The provinces with the significant Russian population are Kharkiv, Luhansk and Donetsk. I suspect that at some time in the future, Russia will get an opportunity to take these regions back. When we see these three ribs being chomped up at the same time, the vision will be fulfilled. This is still in the future.

In Genesis 2, Eve was formed from a rib taken from Adam’s side. The Russian Orthodox Church was established in the area around Kiev, so this area is like a rib of Russia. The bear will eventually want to get this rib back into its side.

Daniel heard the bear being told to “Get up and eat. The nations of the West should be careful, because God has given the bear permission to “get up and eat its fill of flesh”.

God will allow this to happen as judgement on the Western nations that have forgotten him and focused on feeding the flesh. He has allowed Russian control over a significant share of the world’s oil supplies to shake the western economy. This will lead to the third seal of Revelation. The solution is not belligerence towards Russia, but repentance towards God.

The regions of Kharkiv, Luhansk and Donetsk are not strategically important in themselves. The main issue is the impact on Western Nations. This Bear and the Leopard release the Terrible Beast of Daniel’s vision.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Spiritual Perceiving (9)

When Jesus began his ministry, he read of Isaiah 61:1-2.

The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
because he has anointed me…
to proclaim recovery of sight for the blind (Luke 4:18-19).
The Holy Spirit anointed Jesus to restore the sights of the blind. He confirmed this by opening the eyes of those who are physically blind. However,the promise is much broader than this. All humans had been blind since the fall. They could not see into the spiritual realms. This is a serious defect, because it means that we can only see a small part of reality. It makes spiritual warfare difficult, because we cannot see what we are up against.

Jesus came to open the eyes of hearts so that we could see into the spiritual realms by faith. When he began his ministry, the evil spirits began to cry out in his presence. The anointing of the Spirit on him caused them to expose themselves and the people began to see the work of the forces of evil much more clearly.

The anointing of the Spirit on our lives can assist us with spiritual warfare. We need Jesus to open our spiritual blind eyes to see what we are up against.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Spiritual Perceiving (8) Fighting Blind

Before they disobeyed, Adam and Eve could see into the spiritual world, so that when they drew near to God, it seemed like he was walking in the garden with them. They were able to see the devil when he came to tempt them. This wonderful situation did not last long. When Adam and Eve sinned, their sight was changed so that they could no longer see into the spiritual realms. Sin placed an enormous dark barrier between them and God.

The Bible says their eyes were opened, and they realized they were naked (Gen 3:7). This statement is a huge irony. Their eyes were actually closed to the spiritual realms. When they could see the brilliant glory of the heavenly realms, their observation of the physical world was dimmed, and they did not notice they were naked. Once the light of heavenly glory was turned off, their view of the physical world was greatly intensified, so they realised for the first time that they were naked.

Losing the ability to see into the spiritual realms was a serious problem, because they could no longer see what God and the angels were doing. Worse still, they could not see what the spiritual forces of evil were doing. This put humans at a terrible disadvantage in spiritual warfare.

Evil spirits could attack people and work in their lives without being seen. No one would see these attacks coming, or the good angels supporting them. They would not be aware that they had been attacked until the change began to show in their life. If a spiritual attack came at a traumatic time, they might blame the changes in their circumstances for the change in their life, and not be aware of the source of the attack. Fighting an enemy that you cannot see is really difficult, so spiritual blindness gave the powers of evil a huge advantage.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Gordon Homer RIP

Gordon Homer died last week, over ninety years old. His wife Joan had died a couple of weeks before. They had married when they were twenty. I guess the Lord took them home together, because their work on this earth was complete.

Gordon and Joan became Christians during a Billy Graham crusade. He made to visits to New Zealand in the early 1960s, which had a huge impact on the church here. Many of the leaders of the next generation came to faith during these crusades.

Gordon applied to the Presbyterian Church of NZ to train as a minister, but they turned him down, because they did not think he could manage the academic study. But they forgot to tell God, because he gave Gordon and Joan a ministry anyway. They travelled all over Otago and Soutland sharing the gospel and teaching about life in the Spirit. Hundreds, maybe thousands, of people received the first touch of the Holy Spirit in their lives through the ministry of Gordon and Joan.

When I was a student studying theology in Dunedin, a fairly dry spiritual experience, it was the Prayer and Praise meetings in their home that kept us going spiritually. You did not always know what would happen at these meetings, but you could be sure that the Holy Spirit would turn up. Gordon always encouraged us to be dissatisfied with what we had, and seek more of God in our lives. He was always game to try something new, if he believed that the Spirit was leading.

Gordon and Joan were great intercessors. If they were praying for you, the struggles of life went better.

Gordon often talked about multiplication. He was definite that addition was not enough. Their ministry is not complete. It will not be finished until each person touched by Gordon and Joan, has multiplied what they received in the lives of the people that they meet.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Spiritual Perceiving (7)

The Holy Spirit is lives and moves in the spiritual realms, but he can take a physical appearance. When Jesus was baptised, the Holy Spirit descended on him. Luke tells us that he came down in a physical form.

The Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily form like a dove (Luke 3:22).
The Holy Spirit is a spirit, so he would not normally seen. In the situation, he deliberately took a physical form. I presume that he did this to authenticate Jesus ministry.

Luke says that the Holy Spirit looked like a dove. A Holy Spirit in physical form is a bit of a contradiction for human eyes and human minds. The best that could be done to describe his appearance was to say that it was like a dove.

Luke does not say who saw this physical appearance of the Holy Spirit. It can be assumed that Jesus perceived it. John’s gospel tells us that John the Baptist saw it too. John the Baptist said,
I saw the Spirit come down from heaven as a dove and remain on him (John 1:32).
It is not clear if the other people who were present saw what John saw. John may have seen more, because the Spirit had been upon him since his birth (Luke 1:41).

Saturday, March 08, 2014

Dangerous Prophets

Judging from the internet, the United States probably has more Christian prophets than any nation in history.

  • Most of these prophets want a strong president. They slate President Obama for being weak. They admire Putin’s toughness and decisiveness.

  • Many of these prophets think that the United States should control events in Eastern Europe, and other parts of the world. (This seems to be empire thinking).

I wonder how they would respond if the Beast of Revelation emerges in their midst.

Friday, March 07, 2014


Some things about recent events in the Ukraine that are not widely understood.

  • Russia has suffered three terrible invasions from the West. The French armies burned Moscow in the 19th century. Germans armies invaded twice in the twentieth century. In 1941, the German armies reached Moscow and the Russians took a million casualties defending their capital. The United States got paranoid when a building in New York was destroyed in 9/11. Have foreign armies invade the heartland your nation three times and besiege it, would really affect your psyche.

  • In Hollywood, the United States won the Second World War. On the ground, the USSR was the major winner. More than 20 million Russians died driving Hitler’s Nazi forces out of Eastern Europe (US deaths were less than half a million). Naturally, they are not happy when Western leaders encourage the far right leaders back into the Ukraine again.

  • Lenin and Stalin believe that the Communist Revolution would triumph throughout the world. So in a sense they wanted to create a world empire. Therefore, when they won significant territory in Eastern Europe, they stayed. Putin is far more realistic. He understands how weak Russia has become and that a Russian empire, even in Eastern Europe is not sustainable. His focus is on defending and building up the Russia homeland.

  • Millions of Ukrainian civilians were killed during the battle between the Nazi and Soviet forces between 1933 and 1945. Many were killed by other Ukrainians. This has had a terrible spiritual effect, and many spirits of hatred and violence have made there home there. Many memories of violence and injustice are still strong. The associated guilt and hatred makes Ukraine a happy hunting ground for the Red Horse.

  • Russia needs a warm water port to avoid having supplies cut off during the winter. This why Catherine the Great seized Crimea in 1783. The harbour at Sevastopol in the Black Sea gives Russian trade access to the Mediterranean Sea. Just as the US would never allow Canada to seize control of the St Lawrence Seaway, Russia will never give up control of Crimea. That is why Putin acted so quickly to secure it.

  • Two of the richest Ukrainian oligarchs, Rinat Akhmentov and Dmitry Firtash, controlled 90 seats in the Ukrainian Rada (parliament) between them. They were cronies of President Yankukovych and he had looked after them. They saw the writing on the wall and switched their support to the opposition. This gave the Rada the majority it needed to depose the President. This was not a people’s revolution the media dream about, but oligarchs changing sides to protect their power and wealth.

  • Putin is unlikely to invade Ukraine. He knows that is an economic basket case and would not be silly enough to take responsibility for it. The Ukraine needs access to Russian markets for its production. The Ukrainian economy needs discounted natural gas from Russian to survive. The new Ukranian leaders will have to beg for help from Putin, so he does not need to invade it.

  • Many Ukrainians would like to part of the European Union. This is not because they are hankering for democracy. They have had democracy for twenty years, and all it has given them is poverty and corruption. The GDP of Ukraine is now 20 percent less than it was when the Soviet Union collapsed. They look at the relative prosperity of Poland next door and want some of it. They do not understand that their economy could not compete with German industry.

  • The United States has offered a $1 billion dollar loan. That is not much help for a nation with debts of $30 billion that have to be repaid. The IMF is going to help too, but all it has to offer is austerity policies. The western powers will not be able to save the Ukrainian economy.

  • Far right groups are emerging all over Europe. One of the groups leading the protests in Ukraine is Svobada, which has 36 deputies in the Rada. It began life as the Social National Party of Ukraine and has strong links with other far right parties in Europe.

  • There are reports that some of the protesters were shot by radical members of far right militants, but this is already forgotten by history. It will record that the protestors were slaughtered by the Ukrainian security services, because that is what the western media wants to believe.

  • Russia has suffered far more casualties to Islamic terrorist groups than the United States. So they are puzzled when John McCain pledges support for extreme Islamic groups in Syria and embraces far right groups in Ukraine.

  • The National Endowment for Democracy (NED) spends $100 million dollars a year supporting democracy all over the world, but when push comes to shove, the United States ignores democracy. President Yanukovitch is a dodgy character who has lined his own pockets (like many politicians), but he was elected in a fair election in 2012. A greater percentage of the population voted for him than voted for Obama or George W. His part won a majority in the parliamentary elections in 2012. Yet the American government now supports his overthrow. So much for democracy?

  • The British tried to invade Crimea in 1853 and failed. Now the UK foreign minister William Hague struts around Europe proclaiming what should happen in Crimea in his whining pompous voice. No one cares what the British thinks. Someone should tell him that he lost his empire in 1940.

Ukraine cannot be restored to peace and prosperity by political or military power. Only the gospel of Jesus can break down the barriers and only a vision of the Kingdom of God can restore what has been lost.

Thursday, March 06, 2014

Another Rib for the Bear

In 2008, George W Bush, who was skilled in starting wars that he could not finish, encouraged Georgian President to seize control of the independent enclave of South Ossetia. Vladimir Putin gave him a bloody nose and George W was powerless to help. At the time, I wrote these words in a series called What Happens Next.

Daniel foresaw these events in a dream. He saw four terrible beasts coming out of the sea. The first was an eagle attempting to get free from a lion. That has already been fulfilled. The second beast was a bear.
And there before me was a second beast, which looked like a bear. It was raised up on one of its sides, and it had three ribs in its mouth between its teeth. It was told, 'Get up and eat your fill of flesh (Dan 7:5).
For a long time, I thought that Russia was too weak to be a fulfilment of this vision, but that now seems to be changing. Russia is now growing in strength towards the west (one side).

With the collapse of the Soviet Union, Russia lost territory on its western flank. Some of the ribs that protect its central organs were ripped out of its side. These ribs are now being recovered. The three ribs being crushed by the bear’s teeth probably represent three nations, with Georgia being the first. The other possibility is that the three ribs are Abkhazia, Georgia and South Ossetia. These territories are like three ribs in a row.

The bear was told to “Get up and eat”, so we can expect to more to follow. I am not sure which territories they are. One possibility is the Eastern Ukraine, which has many Russian speaking citizens. The other possibility is Crimea, which is important for control of the Black Sea.

NATO is currently intent on stirring up the nations on Russian’s western flank. In response to the Georgian saga, the union of states has established missile bases in Poland. NATO pressure leaves Russia vulnerable to attack, so it is not surprising that the bear is fighting back. NATO should be careful, because God has given the bear permission to “get up and eat its fill of flesh”.

God is allowing this to happen as judgement on the Western nations that have forgotten him and focused on feeding the flesh. He has allowed Russian control over a significant share of the world’s oil supplies to shake the western economy. This will lead to the third seal of Revelation. The solution is not belligerence towards Russia, but repentance towards God.
The US Ambassador Victoria Nuland has poked the bear again. If Abkhazia and South Assetia was the first rib, Crimea is the next rib to be crushed by the bear’s teeth. I am not sure about the third rib.

Wednesday, March 05, 2014

Women in Ministry (3)

The New Testament gives a broad range of roles to women. The first person that Jesus entrusted with the message of the resurrection was a woman (John 20:2). If Mary had obeyed the modern teaching, we would not know about it because she should have remain silent. Or do we assume that her husband or father gave her permission to speak. That would be pointless, because no one was there to confirm what she saw.

Junia was an apostle, despite the best efforts of the translators to give her a sex change (Rom 16:7). Priscilla is another important leader in a NT church (Rom 16:3).

NT Wright points out that Paul entrusted a woman called Phoebe a minister in the church of Cenchrae to deliver his letter to the Romans (Rom 16:1). She would probably have read the letter out to the gathered Roman Christians. Some would have asked her questions about what Paul meant when he wrote some things. So the first person to do expository preaching on the book of Romans was probably a woman.

If people want to be biblical, they should be asking why they are not “loving one another”. A study of the NT demonstrates that loving one another in the New Testament church was quite different. We have nothing like that in our modern churches.

Tuesday, March 04, 2014

Women in Ministry (2)

The modern role we call “pastor” does not exist in the NT Testament. It is much closer to the role of CEO or managing director in a public company. Labelling the role “pastor” does not change its essence. Funnily enough, the role pastor does not seem to have existed in the NT. Pastor is only used once as a noun, apart from references to Jesus as the head shepherd. Pastoring is a verb in the NT and something that many people did. And there are no direct references saying whether a person shepherding should be male or female. There were plenty of female shepherds in biblical times, so there is no reason why we would deduce that it should be exclusively male. Anyway that it is beside the point, as the modern role is totally different, so any NT rules would be irrelevant, even if we apply the same label.

The other funny thing is that more of the real “shepherding” in many modern churches is done by the pastor’s wife, even though they are not given the label.

The modern task of preaching an instructional sermon to a group of Christians or leading a bible study does not really exist in the New Testament. Therefore scriptural rules about NT teachers are not really relevant, because the roles are quite different, even though we give them the same label.

Monday, March 03, 2014

Women in Ministry (1)

I see the modern approach to women’s ministry as a problem of false labelling.

We take the label given to a role in the NT church and give it to a role in our modern churches and assume that it makes them the same. That is illogical. I could give my dog the name “prophet”. I could then deduce from the scriptures that my dog is a false prophet, because only false prophets bark. This would be nonsense, because changing the name of my dog has not changed him. He is still just a dog.

The roles in the NT church are very different from the roles in a modern church. Giving them the same names creates the illusion that they are the same, but this is wrong. The NT church was a relational church, led by relational leaders. I have described how this works in my book Being Church. I think that a relational church should be our aspiration today, but that is beside the point here.

The point is that in a relational leadership model, cross-sexual relationships can become a problem. Men should not disciple women and woman should not disciple men. Jesus did choose twelve men, because men because men were superior, but to avoid the problems that would have arisen if he had a mixed team. Paul would not have taken Barbara with him, if Barnabas could not go, because that would be asking for trouble. It seems that some married apostles did take their wives and that was fine.

The modern church uses a managerial model. It is much closer to the model used in most businesses, than to anything in the New Testament. Giving these managment roles labels from the New Testament does not change anything, except it makes the roles seem different from what they really are. The elders of a modern church act more like the board of directors of a public company. Calling them elders does not change that. There is nothing in the NT Testament about how a board of directors should operate so trying to apply principles from there is pointless (apart from general guidance about good behaviour).

Saturday, March 01, 2014

Summer Classics

Over the summer, I have read a couple of classic novels for relaxation.

Les Miserables by Victor Hugo.

The Count of Monte Christo by Alexander Dumas

Both these novels are more than a thousand pages long, but they are really gripping stories.

They come from a different time. The striking thing is that everyone believes in God and that faith colours all human activies. The main character in each novel triumph over terrible adversity by allowing their life to be changed through encounters with men of faith.

Victor Hugo’s novel is known through the stage show and movie. The novel has much greater scope and provides much deeper insight in the the lives of the characters and the events and people that influenced them. Hugo also gives powerful descriptions of the effects of the grinding poverty of post-revolutionary France on the lives of women and children.

Each author offers great wisdom about life as they tell their story. Here are some quotes.

From Alexander Dumas:

God is always the last resource. Unfortunates, who ought to begin with God, do not have any hope in him until they have exhausted all other means of deliverance.

Moral wounds have this peculiarity – they may be hidden, but they never close: always painful, always ready to bleed when touched, they remain fresh and open in the heart.
From Victor Hugo.
M Myiel had to undergo the fate of every newcomer in a little town, where they are many mouths which talk, and very few heads that think.

Let us never fear robbers and murderers. These are dangers without. Let us fear ourselves. Prejudices are the real robbers. Vices are the real murderers. The great danger lives within. What matters it what threatens our head or our purse. Let us think only of that which threatens our soul