Thursday, May 25, 2017

Patterns

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Good News

The world needs good news.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, May 19, 2017

Republic?

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

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

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Church Season

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

More about Being Church Where We Live.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Task for this Season

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, May 13, 2017

New Season

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, May 12, 2017

Enjoy the Season

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Changing Season

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

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

The following words were used:

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

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

Tuesday, May 09, 2017

North Korea (5) What Would Jesus Say

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, May 08, 2017

North Korea (4) Current Situation

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, May 07, 2017

North Korea (3) Threatened King

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, May 06, 2017

North Korea (2) Conflict and War

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

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

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

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

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

The past affects the future.

Friday, May 05, 2017

North Korea (1) Past affects the Present

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Saturday, April 29, 2017

Two villages

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

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

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

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

The result is two different capitalisms.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Faith and Allegiance (6) Effective

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Faith and Allegiance (5) Sin

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, April 24, 2017

Faith and Allegiance (4) Switching

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

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

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

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

Switching allegiance is a life and death issue.

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

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Faith and Allegiance (3)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, April 21, 2017

Faith and Allegiance (2)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Faith and Allegiance (1)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, April 10, 2017

Three Things

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

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

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

  3. Immense love for bully power.

All these lead beastward.

Saturday, April 08, 2017

Territory

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, April 07, 2017

Praise is the Power of Heaven

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, April 05, 2017

Law and Judaism

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

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

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

Instead, Israel has copied America’s democratic militarism.

Monday, April 03, 2017

Law and Government

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, March 31, 2017

Geopolitics

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

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

Thursday, March 30, 2017

False Hope

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

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

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

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

I have no confidence into Donald Trump.

I have no confidence in the Republican party.

I have no confidence in the Democratic party.

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

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

Monday, March 27, 2017

Territory

In Christendom

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

In Post-Christendom

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

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Faithful Presence

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, March 23, 2017

MIC (9) Tough Battle

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

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

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

This strategy took time.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

MIC (8) Victory for Christchurch

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Centreless City

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

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

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

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



Monday, March 20, 2017

MIC (7) Corporate Stronghold

A corporate spiritual stronghold is put in place by civic or religious (sometimes both) submitting to a powerful evil spirit in the past, so it has to be broken by the current corporate leaders.  If the religious and civic leaders of Christchurch agreed to renounce the stronghold that is controlling their city it would lose its power.

However, this is unlikely to happen.  The religious and civic leaders of Christchurch will find it difficult to agree.  They would also have to commit to forgoing the use of manipulation, control and intimidation.  Some leaders who have relied on these tools for a long time would find it hard to function without them.  Fortunately, God had another way that he can defeat this stronghold.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

MIC (6) Protection

The key to protection from a corporate stronghold like
MIC (Manipulation and Intimidation for Control) is for two or three people in the organisation or church to stand together and resist the Jezebel spirit in unity.

The two or three must see.  They will see what the spirits are doing.  They will continue to submit to their leader, but in a different way.  They will do what their leader is asking them to do, but they will see the spirit behind his request and silently resist it.  They will submit to his requests, but not to the spirit behind them.  They will pray for their leader’s eyes to be opened, so he can see how the enemy is using him.

The two or three will agree.

Again I say to you that if two of you agree on earth concerning anything that they ask, it will be done for them by My Father in heaven.  For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them (Mat 18:19-20).

Where two or three people are gathered in Jesus name, he is there in the midst of them.  They can commit to supporting each other.  They will be united by love.


The two or three will agree to watch over each other, and if one is being attacked, they will resist it together.  They will agree that the MIC spirit has no right in their lives.  They will agree in commanding the spirit to stop harassing the one being attacked.


By submitting to each other, two or three people can create an island of safety within a dangerous organisation.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

MIC (5) Vulnerability

People who belong to an organisation in which the leaders (usually one leader) rely on manipulation, control and intimidation are vulnerable to the MIC spirit.  This is true regardless of whether the organisation is a business, a government agency, a church, the city council, or a club or society.

Any church where control and manipulation are at work is not safe, because the MIC spirit has authority to resist the name of Jesus and shut down the gift of healing.  We need to be alert,

Be alert and of sober mind.  Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.  Resist him, standing firm in the faith (1 Pet 5:8-9).

When the principalities and power have such a stronghold over a city, attacking them directly is unwise.  We need to be careful about confronting the MIC spirit (Manipulation and Intimidation for Control), because we may not have authority to deal with it, if civic and religious leaders have put it there.

In his book, “The Needless Casualties of War”, John Paul Jackson gives a number of examples of sincere Christians taking on spiritual power that they did not have authority to deal with.  Each one received a severe spiritual beating.

Jackson says that these spirits are hard to deal with because they operate in the second heaven, but that is wrong.  They are hard to defeat, because they have been given a place by people with political authority.

One young girl had seen a demonic principality sitting on the dome of the college administration building at the place where she had begun studying.  Within a week of engaging in warfare against the spirit, she was struck with chronic fatigue and fibromyalgia, and eventually had to leave her studies behind.

The management of the college had authority over it.  They had far more authority than the young girl.  They had given the spirit permission to be there, perhaps unwittingly.  To attend the college, the girl had to submit to the college management.  This put her under the authority of the spirit that controlled the college, so she was beaten up.

The city fathers and spiritual leaders in Christchurch have far more authority than ordinary Christians, no matter how strong their faith.  When Christians stand against the MIC spirit, the greater authority of the leaders who have given this spirit a stronghold in the city, nullifies their limited authority.  Civic and religious authority trumps the limited authority of ordinary Christians.

Friday, March 17, 2017

MIC (4) Mode of Operation

The MIC spirit operates in several different directions. (MIC is Manipulation and Intimidation for Control).

1. Leaders

The leader of the organisation or church can be deceived into using manipulation and control to get their vision fulfilled.  When they face opposition, they slip into intimidation to overcome it.  A leader can use their spiritual authority to intimidate people into following their guidance.  For example, they might warn the person that they will lose their “covering” if they reject their leader’s advice.  Usually it will be more subtle.

The leader’s vision is good, so they believe that the end justifies the means.  They get to build something for God, but he does not realise that he has unwittingly allowed the Jezebel spirit into the foundation of his work.  It will keep popping out to harm it.

Leaders will often get their way by sending subtle messages to the people opposing their vision.  These messages will often be delivered by loyal supporters.  For example, when a person is troublesome, the leader might say the right words to the right people, to ensure they are side-lined.  Or they can make sure that they do not knowing what is going on.

All leaders in Christchurch should look at themselves and ask if their control of people is opening the doors for the MIC spirit.  If it has been part of their life for a long time, they might not be able to see it and will need to ask a wise person who can see more clearly.  That person will not be a wise friend who only sees good in them.  It will more likely be that pesky wise person on the fringe who is often a nuisance, because they always ask annoying questions.

2. Loyal Supporters

The leader will have loyal supporters who back him.  They may see the manipulation and control, but will turn a blind eye to support the cause.  They will sometimes be able to dampen down the worst effects of the spirit of control and tone down the intimidation.

Obadiah was in charge of Ahab and Jezebel’s palace.  He managed to hide a hundred prophets in two caves.  Yet he still had to do Jezebel’s dirty work, and hunt down Elijah when he had prophesied the drought (1 Kings 18:3-5).

This is the dilemma faced by a close support of a leader under the influence of the MIC spirit.  They will often have to choose between loyalty to their leader and doing the right thing.

3. Members

The members of the organisation or church have to submit to their leader.  They must support the leader’s vision, or move out.  However, they do not get to flourish in their ministry.

There were a hundred prophets in the land in Ahab and Jezebel’s Israel.  However, they had to hide in caves.  Israel was in tumult so it needed prophets, but they were not effective, because they were shut away in caves. 

In an organisation or church where the MIC spirit has control, the gifts and ministries of many members will be stifled.  If they are used, they will be distorted to support the leader’s vision.  Many will be frustrated and feel like they are shut up in a cave.

4. Opposition

People who oppose the MIC spirit will be attacked.  These attacks can often be quite ruthless.  Elijah had to cross the Jordan and go into the dessert and hide, because Ahab and Jezebel were trying to kill him. People who oppose the MIC spirit will often find themselves shunted into the wilderness.

Jezebel stirred up scoundrels to speak lies against Naboth when he refused to hand his vineyard over to Ahab.  They accused him of hating God and the King.  The MIC spirit will often use gossip and lies against those who oppose the leader it controls.

5. Prophets

Wise prophets can expose the MIC spirit, but they should expect intense opposition.  When Jehoshaphat and Ahab got together to war against the king of Aram, the court prophets urged them on.  When Jehoshaphat asked for a real prophet, Ahab said there was one called Micaiah but he always prophesied bad things.

Miciah said that he saw a spirit of deception agreeing to manipulate Ahab into war.  Micaiah’s words were fulfilled and recorded permanently when Ahab died.  An arrow shot at random hit his back where he had no protection and killed him.  He was actually slain by the manipulation and control of the MIC spirit that led him into the wrong battle. 

Micaiah opposed the MIC spirit, but ended up in prison for his troubles.

Elisha intervened when Ahab and Jezebel’s son sent to Baal Zebub for help when he was sick.  He sent the messengers back with a message that he would die anyway (2 Kings 1:3-5).


Thursday, March 16, 2017

MIC (3) Messages

Jezebel works in the background by sending messages to get her work done.  These messages were mostly lies intended to intimidate. Sometimes they were flattery to entice.

When Elijah killed the prophets of Baal, she sent a message to him, warning that he would be dead in a day.  That was a lie, because his life was in God hands, but it still had the desired effect (1 Kings 19:2).

She dealt with Naboth by sending a letter to the nobles and elders of his city.  The letter lied about his character, but told the city leaders what to do.  They carried out her instructions (1 Kings 21:9).

When Jehu came to kill her, she called out her message. This time she used flattery, but Jehu was too ruthless to be taken in (2 Kings 9:31).

The MIC spirit (Manipulation and Intimidation for Control) has stifled the gift of healing in Christchurch by delivering a negative message to Christians living in the city.  When a person who has been prayed for by the church dies, it prompts people to say, “God does not heal everyone” or “God could have healed them, but he chose not to”.  “It was God’s will that they died”.  These words are not true, but grieving Christians often believe the negative message and blame God for the death of the person that they loved.  By doing this, they unwittingly take offence at God. 

In a city where the leaders have taken offence at God, the Holy Spirit cannot do many miracles.  Nazareth took offence at Jesus, and he could not do any great work there (see Rock of Offence).


Negative Power

Mark 6:5 is an amazing verse.  “Dunamis” the Greek word for explosive power is used twice, with a negative.

And he had no power (dunamo) in that place to do any mighty work (dunamis).

Jesus was the Son of God, who had come down from heaven. The Holy Spirit had come upon him when he was baptised.  Yet in Nazareth, he had no power (dunamo) and he could do no mighty work (dunamis).

Why was Jesus powerless?  The cause was the declarations made by the people for Nazareth in the previous two verses, denying that Jesus was the son of God, and denying his wisdom.

Where did this man get these things?” they asked.  “What’s this wisdom that has been given him?  What are the remarkable miracles he is performing?  Isn’t this the carpenter?  Isn’t this Mary’s son (Mark 6:2-3)?

Negative declarations by people with authority in a place can shut down the power of God.

The MIC spirit cannot shut down the power of the Holy Spirit.  He is much too strong for that.  What this spirit can do is speak messages to people in authority in a town or city.  If they accept and declare the message, they have authority to shut down the power of the Holy Spirit.  This is how she killed Naboth (1 Kings 21:9).

The same thing has happened in Christchurch.  The MIC spirit gave a false message to the leaders of the church when people they had prayed for died.  “God can decide not to heal a person”  “God does not heal everyone”.  When the leaders declared these words, the power of the Holy Spirit was shut down.  He has no power in the place nor can he do any mighty works there.

Church leaders have authority in the city.  When believers are praying for people to be healed in Jesus name, their words from the past seep down and stifle the Holy Spirit.  MIC created a Rock of Offence, which has quenched the Spirit’s power.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

MIC (2) Fruit

The MIC spirit produces bad fruit.

1. Kills the Prophets

Jezebel always attacks people who resist her control and intimidation.  She seeks to kill the prophets and other people who oppose evil.

  • When Elijah embarrassed the prophets of Baal, she took offence and threatened to kill him (1 Kings 19:2).
  • Jezebel took offence at Naboth when he refused to given in to Ahab’s demand for his land and had him killed (1 Kings 21:1-16).

2. Breathless

The Holy Spirit and the MIC spirit cannot work together.  People in an organisation or church that is influenced by the MIC spirit will find themselves spiritually breathless, because the Holy Spirit is quenched.  People with strong giftings will find themselves shut up in caves and unable to function.

3. Blocks Healing

The MIC spirit inflicts sickness on those who come under its power.  Jehoram King of Judah married a daughter of Ahab (and possibly Jezebel).  After Elijah wrote a letter challenging his immoral behaviour, he was struck with an incurable disease of the bowel and died (2 Chron 21:18-19).

Sickness is the favourite weapon of the MIC spirit (Rev 2:22).  That is why people with healing ministries have always struggled in Christchurch.  Although the Pentecostal movement arrived in Christchurch many years ago, and the charismatic renewal brought an awareness of the Holy Spirit to the more traditional churches, they have struggled to get victory over sickness.  The Holy Spirit has moved in many amazing ways, but the gift of healing never has been free and powerful in this city.

This Jezebel spirit seems to be able to resist the name of Jesus and block prayers for healing. It refuses to surrender to the name of Jesus, because it was put in place in the name of Jesus.

If Christian leaders have given the evil spirit permission to be there, it may claim that they have surrendered their authority to it on behalf of Jesus.  It can refuse to surrender to the name of Jesus, because it claims authority given “in the name of Jesus”.

This stronghold seems to have the power to resist the gift of healing.  This is why many prayers for healing in Christchurch have not been answered.  People have blamed God, but the real cause is the Jezebel spirit.

4. Fear and Dread

The MIC spirit has the ability to feed fear and dread into people who oppose it.  After his victory on Mount Carmel, Elijah was attacked by fear and dread, and fled for his life (1 Kings 18:3).

People who are afraid are easier to manipulate and control. Fear allows ruthless leaders to gain greater political power. 

5. Harshness

Churches influenced by the MIC spirit will be weak in pastoral care.  Ahab sent Obadiah out to find hay for their horses (1 Kings 18:5).  Ahab and Jezebel cared more for their horses than they cared about their people who were starving to death.  They should have been killing their horses to feed their people.

In a church where the MIC spirit is strong, pastoral care will be poor.  The leaders will be so focussed on their ministry and the tools needed to support it that people who are suffering and hurting will often be neglected.

6. Money Manipulation

Leaders influenced by the MIC spirit will be tempted to use money (or people with money) to get what they want.  Ahab took gold and silver from the Lord’s temple and used it to bribe the King of Aram to withdraw his attack against Israel.  Using the Lord’s wealth in this way is a serious sin.

7. Political Alliances

The MIC spirit loves political alliances.  Ahab and Jezebel formed an alliance with the King of Israel to attack Damascus (1 Kings 22:4, 2 Chron 18:1; 22:5).  Our only alliance should be with the Lord.  Christian leaders should be careful about alliances with political authorities, because it can lead to compromise.

8. Compromise to Survive.

When they come under attack, the leaders influenced by the MIC spirit will compromise to survive.  When Jezebel and Ahab were attacked by Aram, they offered their silver and gold and the best of their children to the invader to appease him.  This appeasement led to further demands, which they eventually had to resist (1 Kings 20:1-12).

Compromise is always tested.  Leaders who compromise to get things done will eventually be tested and required to compromise again.  Even when he won a victory, Ahab could not avoid compromising with his enemies (1 Kings 20:30-34)

The MIC spirit makes leaders vulnerable to compromise with evil.

9. Political and Religious Collusion

Jezebel loved to collude with religious leaders.  She had 400 prophets of Baal and 400 prophets of Asherah sitting at her table every day.  Their religious power strengthened her ability to intimidate people.

When religious and civic leaders collude together, they strengthen each other’s power.  The church should be acting prophetically and challenging the civic leaders.

10 Decline

The consequence of Jezebel’s influence was that God began to reduce the size of Israel.

In those days the Lord began to reduce the size of Israel (2 Kings 10:32).

An institution that is controlled by the MIC spirit will shrink in size, even though good things seem to be happening.  The leaders may appear to be effective, but the fruit will not follow.

Monday, March 13, 2017

MIC (1) Christchurch Stronghold

Christchurch is controlled by a powerful evil spirit that has established stronghold over the city.  Over the years, many people have made the call that Christchurch is controlled by a Jezebel spirit, but few have realised how powerful it is.

A corporate stronghold gets control of a city when the religious and political leaders all participate in a common sin such as pride, intimidation or manipulation to enhance their leadership.  This corporate sin allows the evil spiritual power behind it to gain spiritual control of the
city.

This Jezebel spirit was given a place by civic leaders when Christchurch was being established.  Unfortunately, church leaders colluded with it by relying on manipulation and control too.

If Christian leaders have given the evil spirit permission to be there, it may claim that they have surrendered their authority to it on behalf of Jesus.  It can refuse to surrender to the name of Jesus, because it claims authority given “in the name of Jesus”.

Manipulation and Control

When we think of Jezebel, we think of seduction and witchcraft, but this spirit mostly works through manipulation and control, with a bit of intimidation thrown in.  The Jezebel spirit has authority in any organisation or church where control and manipulation are at work.  Those who submit to its leaders are opening themselves to the spirit of Jezebel.

This spirit can work through women, because they are sometimes skilled in manipulation.  However, it is more likely to work through men, because they are often in positions of authority that they find hard to handle.  They slip into manipulation and intimidation to keep the situation under control.

The Jezebel spirit uses Manipulation and Intimidation to Control people that are a threat to it (MIC).  For that reason I often refer to it as the MIC spirit.

Christchurch Beginning

The MIC spirit came to Christchurch with the early settlers.  Although the leaders of the Canterbury Association were godly men, it took much manipulation and manoeuvring to get the settlement under way.  This gave the MIC spirit a place right at the beginning.  Once Christchurch was established, the civic leaders maintained tight control using moral pressure to keep people in line.

The church followed the same pattern, using manipulation and control to pressure people into conformity to Victorian values.  This collusion between church and civic leaders allowed the MIC spirit to establish a stronghold over the city that has continued to this day.

City leaders still use intimidation and manipulation to get control of the council and achieve their purposes.  Although the Holy Spirit has moved in Christchurch, many church leaders have continued unwittingly to use manipulation, intimidation and control to keep their people in line.  This collusion has given the MIC spirit authority to control the city.  This broad base of authority makes this spirit hard to beat.


Saturday, March 11, 2017

Storm Fire Earthquake


Christchurch has experienced storm, earthquake and fire.

1. Storm

In October 2000, a severe storm
damaged Christchurch.  Winds reached 180 kph and many buildings had their roofs lifted off.  The newly established Lyttleton Marina was destroyed; 20 boats sunk and dozens of others were damaged.  The marina itself was smashed into little pieces.

2. Earthquake

In September 2010, the Darfield earthquake struck.  It was followed by a more serious earthquake in February 2011.  180 people were killed by collapsing buildings.  Thousands of buildings were damaged and most had to be demolished.

3. Fire

In February 2017, fire raged on
the Port hills at the southern side of Christchurch.  A dozen homes were destroyed and a new adventure park with facilities for downhill trail biking was severely damaged.

People are now saying that Christchurch needs a break.

Christchurch does need a break.  But unfortunately, when civic and religious fathers allow a Jezebel spirit to establish a stronghold over their city, it will not get a break.

The key is 1 Kings 19:11-12.

Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind.  After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake.  After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire.  And after the fire came a gentle whisper.

After destroying the prophets of Baal on Mount Carmel, Elijah had fled in fear and dread into the wilderness, after Jezebel threatened to take his life.  When he collapsed in exhaustion, God sent and angel to cook a meal for him.  After he had eaten, God led him for forty days and nights to a cave on Mount Horeb, the mountain of God.

God spoke to him and asked him to stand in the presence of the Lord and watch.  The Lord was not in the storm.  He was not in the earthquake or the fire.  These were attacks by the spiritual powers of evil stirred up by Jezebel to intimidate and destroy Elijah.  However, God had placed him in a cave where they could not hurt him.

God spoke to Elijah in a gentle whisper.  He told Elijah what to do to get rid of the evil kings that dominated Israel.

These verses apply to Christchurch.

Many Christians said that the earthquakes were God’s judgment on Christchurch.  Some will say that the fire is a judgment, but that is not correct.

Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind.  After the wind, there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake.  After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire.

These events were attacks by the spiritual powers of evil led by the Jezebel Spirit that has a stronghold over the city.  They know that God has a great plan for this city.  He plans to establish his kingdom here in a way that will be light to the nations.  They were trying to destroy the city, before it happens.

The earthquake failed to destroy God’s plan.  It actually strengthened it by destroying the centre of the city where power resides.  The spiritual powers of evil are now trying to obstruct God’s work in the city, by using the fire to feed fear and dread into it.  They know that fear makes people easier to control.

We must be clear.  God was not in the storm, the earthquake or the fire.  He spoke in the quiet whisper that followed.  God has many prophets hidden in caves in Christchurch.  Now is the time for them to stand in his presence and listen to his still quiet voice.

God will explain to them how to destroy the evil stronghold that controls the city.  He will explain to them how he will establish his kingdom in the city. Elijah confronted Ahab and Jezebel after Naboth was killed (1 Kings 21:20-24).  The destruction of the house of Jezebel and Ahab was initiated by a prophet proclaiming God’s word and then running to safety (1 Kings 9:1-10).

The latest enemy attack on Christchurch has failed.  God will soon release events that will see his Kingdom come to fullness in the city.

Restoration

The storm, earthquake and fire points to how God will bring restoration to Christchurch.

  1. A spiritual storm will shake the foundations of the church and sweep away everything that is not built on Jesus and empowered by the spirit.  This is what Graeme Cooke prophesied.

  2. An economic earthquake will sweep away the political economic structures that controlled the city from the centre.

  3. The fire of the Holy Spirt will fall on God’s people and the gospel will go forth with healings and miracles following.  God will confirm his word with signs and wonders.  As the gospel advances, the kingdom of God will come to fullness.


Wednesday, March 08, 2017

Division of Labour

For a while, I have wondered about the division of labour between the Holy Spirit and the holy angels.

Who Does What?

The Holy Spirit is the sustainer of life. He does not resist evil spirits, because he has to sustain their life while they are doing their evil, so it would not fair for him to disrupt their power. He is committed to sustaining all life, regardless of whether it has fallen or not.

The angels resist the spiritual powers of evil on the Jesus behalf. They are skilled resisters. Apart from carrying messages, resisting is their main task. Michael resisted the spirit controlling Persia (Dan 10:20).

The Holy Spirit is creative. He does not destroy stuff. The angels destroy the junk that the spiritual powers of evil leave behind when they are pushed out of territory.

When healing cancer, the angels destroy the cancerous cells that the spiritual powers of evil have created. The Holy Spirit creates new cells to replace them.

The Holy Spirit undertakes creative miracles. He can restore limbs and organs. Angels destroy the viruses and bacteria and other junk that the spiritual powers of evil use to create sickness and disease.

God has destroying angels.

  • A destoying angel killed the people of Jerusalem, when David sinned (2 Sam 14:15; 1 Chron 21:16).

  • An angel destroyed destroyed Sennacharib’s army, including his cmmanders and officers (2 Kings 19:35; 2 Chron 32:21).

  • An angel of the Lord struck down King Herod (Acts 12:23).

    The first born of Egypt were stuck down by a destroying angel (1 Cor 10:10; Ex 12; 33; Heb 11:28).

The Holy Spirit is loving and good. The angels do the dirty work that the Holy Spirit cannot do, because the has the character of God. He cannot touch evil.

The Holy Spirit cannot deceive, because he is the Spirit of Truth. God used a deceiving angel to draw Ahab to his death (1 Kings 22:22). This was a good spirit from the presence of God, not an evil spirt. It went out and acted as a lying spirit to deceive Ahab. Lying was not its natural character. The angel lied for God’s purposes. The Holy Spirt could not have lied in this way.

Angels will be judged (1 Cor 6:3). However, the standard of their behaviour will be different than for us. Followers of Jesus are accountable to his standard as outlined in the Sermon on the Mount. Angels can do stuff that we are not allowed to do. They can use force against evil. They do not need to turn the other cheek, but will be judged according to whether they have done God’s will.


Monday, March 06, 2017

Patriotic Prophets (6)

Stanley Hauerwas made the following comments about Donald Trump’s inauguration.

Trump is quite pious and his religious convictions run dangerously deep. But his piety is not a reflection of a Christian faith. His piety is formed by his understanding of what makes America a country like no other.

Trump proclaimed Jan. 20, the day of his inauguration, a “National Day of Patriotic Devotion.” Patriotic devotion? Christians are devoted to God, not to any nation. Trump defended his call for a day of patriotic devotion by drawing attention to his other claim — taken on faith — that there are no greater people than American citizens. Faith in Trump’s view, though, requires belief in those things for which we have insufficient evidence.

There is nothing, in Trump’s view, the American people cannot accomplish as long as we believe in ourselves and our country. But Christians do not believe in ourselves or our country. We believe in God, but we do more than believe in God. We worship God. Nothing else is to be worshiped.

Christians have a word to describe the worship of that which is not God: idolatry. Idolatry, of course, can be a quite impressive form of devotion. The only difficulty is idolaters usually end up killing someone for calling into question their “god.”

Trump’s inauguration address counts as a stunning example of idolatry. His statement — “At the bedrock of our politics will be a total allegiance to the United States of America and through our loyalty to our country we will recover loyalty to each other” — is clearly a theological claim that offers a kind of salvation.

Christians believe that only God demands “total allegiance.” Otherwise we run the risk, as Trump exemplifies, of making an idol out of some human enterprise.

The evangelistic character of Trump’s faith should not be missed. He suggests that we will rediscover our loyalty to one another through our total allegiance to the United States.

This explains why so many American Christians are such passionate supporters of Donald Trump. Patriotic Devotion is common amongst them, so it is not surprising that Donald Trump’s devotion resonates with them.

It also explains why patriotic prophets are popular amongst American Christians.