Sunday, July 23, 2017

Gospel Healing

In the New Testament, healing and the gospel go together. However, Jesus said something challenging to the seventy-two disciples.

When you enter a village, heal the sick who are there (Luke 10:8-9).
Jesus does not say to pick someone out by word of knowledge and pay for them to be healed. No. He says to heal all the sick people who are there.

That is a challenge for people of faith that few of us have even considered. I guess that is why Jesus told his disciples to wait until they had received power from on high.

But if all the sick people in a village were healed by a pair of disciples, the gospel of the kingdom would be hugely welcome there.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Prophesying to Political Leaders

When a prophet has a message for a political leader, they must ask the Lord how it is to be delivered. Jeremiah’s words got through to the king, even when he was under guard. The prophet should be asking the Lord how he wants your message to be delivered. If it is important, God will have a pathway and establish connections to get it there. God will establish relationships for the prophet to link up to the right people.

There is more to being a prophet to the nation than announcing judgments on political leaders. Often the political leader is not the problem. The heart of the nation is more important. The heart of the nation will usually have allowed an evil person to rise to power. A nation gets the leaders it deserves. An evil leader might be the judgement on the nation, rather than the one who need to be judged.

Jeremiah spoke to the people of Judah first, because their rebellion against God was the real problem. It had brought on the attack of the Babylonians and the despicable kings that preceded them.

Speaking to the political leader perpetuates the idea that political power is ultimate. It makes an idol of political power. It assumes that a change in political power will solve the problems. That is never the case, because the principalities and power that control the nation remain the same.

The prophet should be asking the following question. What principalities and powers control the nation? Why are they there? Who gave them authority to be there? How does God plan to remove them? If you want to see you nation changed you will need to understand the spiritual situation and how God plans to change it.

A prophet should understand God’s plan and purpose for the nation. How is this going to work out in the current situation? How is God going to bring it about? These are things that a prophet to the nation needs to understand. A message that judgement is coming is incomplete. An effective prophet will share a vision of God’s plan for the nation. They will explain to the people of God what they need to do to be prepared for what is going to happen.

What is the state of the church in the nation? When the political situation in a nation is a mess, it is usually because the Church is not doing its job. Is the gospel being shared effectively? Is the church proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom? I would expect that change will have to come in the church first. How does it need to change? Are the prophets speaking God’s word clearly to the church?

A true prophet will share a gripping vision for the future, and a strategy for how to get there. They do not just give warnings of judgment.

A prophet warning of judgment must have an understanding of the stage the nation is at? I have delineated the stages of judgment at Prophetic Events. The type of judgment varies depending on the season the nation is in. I explain this in Discerning Seasons.

The role of the church is different in each type of season. It will usually need a prophetic warning to prepare the events in the right way. God wills often not send judgment until his people understand and prepare for what is coming. His prophets must assist with that.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Spiritual Struggles

The spiritual powers of evil are a powerful hierarchy of evil spirits, but they are not united. They do not like each other. Throughout history, they have fought with each other for control of the hierarchies of power. At different times, different strong spirits have been in ascendancy. Often two powerful spirits have operated alongside each other.

I have just published an article on Kingdom Watcher that describes some of their conflicts and struggles. This article is a bit speculative, as the Bible does not give the spiritual powers of evil glory by describing their activities in detail. It just gives odd hints of what is happening. I have tried to spell out some of these hints.

To read more, follow this link.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Dutch Sheets

In a recent talk, Dutch Sheets said,

Authority is government. All government on earth is supposed to be a direct extension of the government of God, flowing through human beings into the earth, to release his justice, his righteousness, his peace, his salvation, his ways into the earth.
However, Dutch did not explain how this would happen. Government of God describes how the authority of God flows through his people to bring his peace and justice to earth.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Healing and the Gospel

When Jesus sent out the seventy-two disciples, he told them what to do when they entered a house.

Whatever house you enter, first say, ‘Peace to this house.’ And if a person of peace is there, your peace will rest on it; if not, it will return to you. (Luke 10:5-6).
We need to think about what Jesus was saying here. When the disciples declared “Peace to this House”, peace will rest on the person of peace in the house.

How does this happen?

The Holy Spirit is our peace. The fruit of the Spirit is peace. So when a pair of disciples made the declaration, the Holy Spirit passes from them to the people in the house. These people will have the Holy Spirit resting upon them for the entire time that the disciples are in the house, even if they not yet know Jesus.

With such a strong presence of the Holy Spirit, speaking faith, bringing conviction and offering peace, these people would soon to follow Jesus and trust in him.

If the owner of the house is not a person of peace, the peace will return to the disciple. The Holy Spirit will flow back to the disciples who are visiting. Matthew says that in this case, the disciples should shake the dust from their feet and leave the house (Matt 10:13). They should go to a house where they are welcome.

Jesus approach would only work if the disciples are aware of the Spirit of Peace flowing from them to the people in the house. They should also be aware of the Holy Spirit returning to them, if he is not welcome. That is a challenge.

If we are serious about sharing the gospel in the way that Jesus recommended, we need to learn how to declare peace to a house with faith, so that the Spirit of Peace flows out from us to the people in the house (John 7:38).

We also need to learn how to discern the Spirit of Peace returning to us, when he is rejected by a person who is hostile to him.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Bizarre Behaviour

Looking from the outside, the behaviour of journalists, academics and politicians in the United States seems bizarre. I cannot understand how politicians, academics and journalist can make such a song and dance about American democracy, but then work so actively to undermine its results.

They all seem to have accepted the Russians “hacked” the US presidential election story. There is no evidence for this, and no one has explained how it actually happened. Hillary did enough to lose the election by running a weak campaign for the role she believed she was entitled to.

The best suggestion is that the Russians hacked the servers of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and released a stack of embarrassing emails. This was only a problem, because the emails showed that key democratic leaders were engaged in dodgy activities. You can hardly blame the Russians for their bad behaviour. If the DNC emails were boring administrative stuff, as they should have been, they would have been quickly forgotten.

The news media are not stupid, so they know there is nothing in it. The problem is that they hate Donald Trump more than they love the truth.

Before the election, they said that Trump was stupid and that he would not get elected. Trump bypassed them and proved them wrong, about the second point anyway. They like to think they have a big say in who wins the election. They seem to be angry that they were ignored and beaten by a man they do not like.

It seems that they hate Trump more than they love democracy. Trumps character may be a bit dodgy, but he was elected in a national election. None of the politicians, academics and media commentators seeking to undermine him were.

They say that they believe in democracy, but when they don’t like the outcome, they are happy to undermine it. That seems odd, but the elite knows best.

The worst thing about this situation is that the media and many politicians are spewing out hatred towards the Russian. I presume that they like the “Russia hacked the election” narrative, because if that had happened, Trump would not be legitimately elected, so they would be justified in seeking to throw him out.

They are pushing the hatred of Russia to justify their efforts to depose Trump. This is scary. The biggest risk to the word is not global warming, but a nuclear war between the Russians and they United States. A war that caused them to fire off their massive nuclear arsenals would be a huge disaster for the world.

I am old enough to remember the Cuban missile crisis. I remember how scary it was, and how relieved the world was when Khrushchev and Kennedy agreed to an uneasy peace deal. The world heaved a great sigh of relief. If McCain rather than Kennedy had been in the Whitehouse, we would still be in the midst of a nuclear winter.

The world does not need confrontation between the United States and Russia. One of the few good things about Donald Trump was that he wanted to stabilise the US relationship with Russia. Unfortunately, that has not happened. Instead the news media and many politicians are stirring tension between the two countries.

Russia is not a threat to the United States. It is massively weaker than the Soviet Union. Its economy is slightly smaller than Italy’s. Russian does not have enough troops to invade and control Eastern Europe, and it does not seem to want to.

So the Russian mania is hard to understand, and the media knows this. The problem is that they need hatred of Russia to support their attacks on Trump. If Russia is not a threat, then Russian collusion with Trump ceases to be a problem.

I can only assume that the media, and many politicians, hate Trump more than the care about the peace of the world. They seem to be willing to risk peace by stirring up hatred of the Russians to bring down Donald Trump.

From here, I see a nation freely submitting to a spirit of deception, by choosing to believe a lie. The sad thing is that the "Trump is Saviour" crowd is surrendering to the same spirit, by choosing a different lie.

The irony is that history shows that great nations and empires are not usually destroyed by an invading enemy power. They collapse from within.

Friday, July 14, 2017

First Sin

Adam and Eve committed their first sin some time before they ate of the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. They could hear God’s voice, but had decided to listen to other voices and decide if they really were evil. This was an insult to God, who is good and perfectly wise. Deciding not to trust God was their first sin. When they made this decision, God’s presence left them.

He was already gone when the serpent approached them, because he could not have come near to do evil, if God had been there. The serpent could not tolerate God’s glory, when he was planning to do evil.

Eating the forbidden fruit was not the first sin. It was the inevitable outcome of losing God’s protection. Without God, Adam and Eve were never going to be a match for the cunning of the devil.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Freedom and Truth

To abandon facts is to abandon freedom. If nothing is true, then no one can criticise power, because there is no basis upon which to do so. If nothing is true, then all is spectacle. The biggest wallet pays for the most blinding lights.
Timothy Snyder in On Tyranny (p 65).

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Tyranny

Most of the power of authoritarianism is freely given. In times like these, individuals think ahead about what a repressive government will want, and then offer themselves without being asked. A citizen who adapts in this way is teaching power what it can do.
Timothy Snyder in On Tyranny (p 17).


Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Political Power

Christians have always been uncertain about what to do with political power.

  • The most popular option has been for the church to use political power to impose Christian standards on society. During the middle ages, the Pope was able to impose considerable control over the political leaders of Europe. Because most people believed themselves to be Christian, this was usually accepted. However, when people lost faith, they hated the Catholic church, because they saw it as a controlling organisation, forcing them to do things they did not want to do.

    The same thing happened in the United States, when the Moral Majority gained political influence. Some laws were changed in a Christian direction, but people who did not believe in Jesus started hating the church, because they believed, it was forcing them to behave in a particular way.

    Using political power has not really been a successful option, because it creates hostility to the gospel.

  • The other common option has been withdrawal from political power. This leaves the people of the world holding the reins of power. Unrestrained power often leads to evil. In the worst case, Christians are persecuted for their faith.

  • These days, most churches have adopted a Goldilocks option: not to hot and not to cold. They get sufficient involvement in political power that they avoid persecution and oppose really bad laws. But they do not get so involved that they can be accused of controlling society, or imposing God’s standards on people who do not believe in him.

    The Goldilocks option tends to produce a slippery slope away from the gospel.

Each of these options tries to answer the question, who should control political power. Should it be the people of the world, or the people of the church?

This is the wrong question. The real problem is not who holds political power. The real problem is with political power itself.

Political power allows one group of people to impose their view on another group of people. That is always wrong, even if the group in control is a majority. God has not given any group of people authority to control other people.

Political power also amplifies the power and control of the spiritual powers of evil that control cities and nations.

Political power is always the problem, not the solution, no matter who exercises it.

In my book, Government of God, I describe a system of government that does not need political power.

Monday, July 10, 2017

Redistribution

Bill Bonner writes well, and he has a sneaky sense of humour.

For instance, a robber puts a gun to our head. “Your money or your life,” says the well-read thief. And if you could engage him in conversation, you might find plenty of plausible “reasons” for the larceny.

He was abused as a child. He is a member of a disadvantaged minority. He went to public school. He needs the money more than we do. He is only stealing it to give it to the poor.

“Stealing from the rich,” he says, “will reduce wealth inequality. And since we know from reading Stiglitz, Krugman, Piketty, et al. that wealth inequality slows down growth, making everyone poorer, redistributing wealth will make us all better off. I’m just a facilitator. I’m helping to create a fairer society.”

You see immediately that the robber has a future in politics!

“The risks are lower… and the payoff is greater,” you tell him. “And the work is essentially the same – transferring wealth from the people who earn it to the people who are favored by the robber.”

Back-alley stickup men get caught... or shot... from time to time. The politician, almost never.

Instead, he is re-elected… moved from one committee post to a more powerful one… where he is able to redistribute more wealth.

And when he eventually retires, he has a job waiting for him among the plumy cronies – in the think tanks, lobbying firms, or big business.

Saturday, July 08, 2017

Government of God in NZ

The paperback version of Government of God has arrived in New Zealand. Two weeks from South Carolina to Christchurch is not bad.

People living in New Zealand can now purchase the book directly from Kingwatch Books for $NZ12.00. Delivery is by standard post. Go to this link and scroll down to the New Zealand section.

Wednesday, July 05, 2017

Gang

Francis Chan was shocked by the response of a youth from a gang that he baptized. He was quite involved in the church for a while, but then stopped coming.

One of my friends asked him, 'Hey, how come you're not at Cornerstone anymore?' He said 'I didn't understand church. When I was baptized, I thought that was going to be being jumped into the gang where it's like 24/7 they're my family, because I didn't know it was just somewhere we attend on Sundays’.

That makes me so sick, that the gangs are a better picture of family than the church of Jesus Christ. I can't live with that... We're going to do something different.

Tuesday, July 04, 2017

Francis Chan

In a talk to Facebook employees, Francis Chan explained why he left his thriving mega church in California and started a house church.

I got frustrated at a point, just biblically. I'm going; wait a second. According to the Bible, every single one of these people has a supernatural gift that's meant to be used for the body... And I'm like. 5,000 people show up every week to hear my gift, see my gift. That's a lot of waste.

Then I started thinking how much does it cost to run this thing? Millions of dollars! So I'm wasting the human resource of these people that according to Scripture have a miraculous gift that they could contribute to the body but they're just sitting there quietly. Meanwhile, they go to their companies, and they are running big companies, and doing this and that, yet they just sit there and listen to me.

I got so convicted.

The Bible says we are supposed to love one another. That is not a small command. Jesus said this over and over again. They will know you are my disciples by the way you love one another. There are fifty one anothers in the New Testament.

I said to God, “I am so sorry”. Our people don’t even like each other. I make them greet each other for 30 seconds, but that is the extent to it. We like people if they are like us, so we pick little cliques.

I was like, God, you wanted a church that was known for their love. You wanted a group of people where everyone was expressing their gifts... We're a body. I'm one member, maybe I'm the mouth. But if the mouth is the only thing that's working and... I'm trying to drag the rest of the body along, chewing on the carpet...

What would a body look like where everyone is using their gifts, and where everyone is seriously seeking the spiritual gifts, like in 1 Corinthians 12. What would it look like? Is it even possible?

Could we, by the power of the Spirit, love each other so much that it would blow people’s minds? Where none of us have a need. Can we be known for this?

Monday, July 03, 2017

European Union

Diana Johnstone has an interesting comment about politics in the European Union.

The EU is in serious trouble politically, because the elites love it, and ordinary people do not.

This is scarcely surprising since for over half a century the elites “who know what is best for the people” have been forcing European integration down their throats, with massive propaganda to justify major binding decisions taken without consulting the people (or, when the people are consulted, the result is ignored).

The vast majority of Europeans were not even aware of how their democracy was being overruled and made obsolete. “Europe” meant escape from the bad past and the promise of a beautiful future of peace and prosperity.

The elites saw to it that the real existing “Europe” is based on two principles: “free movement” of everything and absolute respect for “competition”. Presented as the apex of European values, these principles are neither moral nor democratic. They simply give all power to international financial capital.


Saturday, July 01, 2017

Political Systems

Most authors of books on political theology begin with an existing political system, usually their own, and look for scriptures that justify it. Sometimes, they will suggest modifications to the system to make it a little more Christian.

I have tried to work the other way round. I have spent years studying what the scriptures teach about economics and politics. I have now drawn those insights and principles out into a system of government.

The government that I describe in the Government of God is totally different from anything that currently exists, but I believe that it is the government that God wants for his people.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Poltical Heroes

I was intrigued by this comment by Paul C. Bermanzohn.

The US political system is arranged to assure that we remain passive – political spectators. And spectators need heroes. We the people are supposed to choose a savior every four years who will rescue us from our miserable conditions. This is why they all run on “hope.” Call it the mendacity of hope.

Heroes are as American as violence and apple pie. Most Americans have no real power under the capitalist plutocracy that runs our lives and commands our deaths. Yet official mythology says that all Americans have power because this is a democracy where all people have equal rights and the government is “of the people, by the people and for the people.”

The yawning gap between the mythology and the reality creates a need and a market for heroes. Heroes are larger than life individuals who right the wrongs. Heroes make things come out as they should, with the common man’s rights preserved for him.

People should have their victories won for them, not by them. A core principle of the system is to keep the people passive, “to prevent insurrection,” as James Madison wrote.

The US has been saturated with heroes since its inception, but especially since the birth of the modern media. As early as 1932, the Lone Ranger in his white hat and black mask, rode across the Plains on the radio, and on his white horse, to protect the ordinary (white) settler family from evil-doers. In 1939, Superman joined him to fight for “Truth, Justice and the American Way.”

Many superheroes have joined since then. Kids dress up every Halloween as superheroes, proving the continued fascination with these icons of impotence. As politics merges with entertainment, the political leader becomes a superhero.

Powerless people hunger for heroes. Only changing the conditions that require heroes will free us from the American hero’s grip.
The Government of God does not need heroes, because the humble are raised up.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Sharing a Vision

Writing a book is a challenging task. In my most recent book, Government of God, I had to put in a lot of wisdom and knowledge. Getting that written down was relatively straightforward.

I also have a vision for the way the government could be. Getting that down on paper is much harder. It’s one thing to see something in your minds eye. It is another thing to describe it in words that another person can read, and see what you have seen. I have tried hard to share the vision, but I am not sure if I have succeeded.

Time will tell.


When I wrote my first book, it was well received, but I soon realised that many of the people who said they like it did not understand the vision that I was sharing. I rewrote the book with diagrams to describe the vision more precisely (Being Church Where We Live). I think the vision was clearer, but some people did not like it as much.

That is life. Time will tell if I have succeeded this time.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Government of God

At last, it is done.

The book that I have been working on for the last two years is complete. Government of God is now available in paperback and kindle formats on Amazon (paperback books will not be available at Kingwatch Books for delivery in New Zealand until July, as they have to come from Charleston, South Carolina).


I believe that this is the most important book I have written. It has also been the hardest to write. I have had to organise and present a huge number of important insights and ideas about government in a way that can be easily understood. Not a simple task!

I suspect that the church is not yet ready this book. Most Christians still have significant faith in political power. They might be frustrated with the current crop of political leaders, but they still hope that the right leader could made a difference. They have not yet given up hope that this person will turn up and rescue their nation.

My task is to get this book out now, so that it is there, ready for the time when hope in political power is gone.

For those who are not ready, the book contains a huge range of insights about government, the nature of political power, God’s system of justice, caring for the needy, defence and war, and the morality of taxation.

Monday, June 26, 2017

America's Cup

New Zealanders love a David Goliath challenge. Taking on Larry Ellison and Oracle is about as good as gets, even if Emirates are the main sponsor.

Huge numbers of people in New Zealand are getting up at 5am to watch the America’s Cup on television. I presume that most Americans do not even know it is on.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Loss of Truth

Last week, I listened to a talk called The Loss of Truth by Ravi Zacharias. He describes how Western Culture has lots its way by ignoring God.

During the talk, Ravi read a poem called Creed by Steve Turner. It cleverly illustrates the futility and folly I have trying to live in God’s world while pretending that he does not exist. The poem is funny and disturbing at the same time.

Creed
We believe in Marxfreudanddarwin.
We believe everything is OK
as long as you don't hurt anyone,
to the best of your definition of hurt,
and to the best of your knowledge.

We believe in sex before during
and after marriage.
We believe in the therapy of sin.
We believe that adultery is fun.
We believe that sodomy's OK
We believe that taboos are taboo.

We believe that everything's getting better
despite evidence to the contrary.
The evidence must be investigated.
You can prove anything with evidence.

We believe there's something in horoscopes,
UFO's and bent spoons;
Jesus was a good man just like Buddha
Mohammed and ourselves.
He was a good moral teacher although we think
his good morals were bad.

We believe that all religions are basically the same,
at least the one that we read was.
They all believe in love and goodness.
They only differ on matters of
creation sin heaven hell God and salvation.

We believe that after death comes The Nothing
because when you ask the dead what happens
they say Nothing.
If death is not the end, if the dead have lied,
then it's compulsory heaven for all
excepting perhaps Hitler, Stalin and Genghis Khan.

We believe in Masters and Johnson.
What's selected is average.
What's average is normal.
What's normal is good.

We believe in total disarmament.
We believe there are direct links between
warfare and bloodshed.
Americans should beat their guns into tractors
and the Russians would be sure to follow.

We believe that man is essentially good.
It's only his behaviour that lets him down.
This is the fault of society.
Society is the fault of conditions.
Conditions are the fault of society.

We believe that each man must find the truth
that is right for him.
Reality will adapt accordingly.
The universe will readjust. History will alter.
We believe that there is no absolute truth
excepting the truth that there is no absolute truth.

We believe in the rejection of creeds.


Steve Turner

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Vision of Cracks

I was struck by an article published on the Elijah List by Lana Vawser at the end of April. It was thrown out so nonchalantly, I wondered if she understood the implications of the vision she shared. Here is what she saw.

I watched as angels of triumph that had been positioned all across the United States began to stomp upon the nation with their feet. As they stomped their feet and the intercession of the people of God were rising up to heaven, I saw a great and mighty shaking that was happening and increasing in the nation.

Yet as these angelic hosts stomped their feet on the land, I saw cracks in the ground beginning to appear, and all the hidden things were being brought to the surface and exposed. What I noticed about these cracks is they spread far and wide all across the United States, but what struck me was the DEPTH of the cracks. As far as they were spreading wide, they were going deep. The shaking was going deeper and deeper and deeper and I heard the words “I am going to the foundations. I am going to the roots. I am uprooting and exposing the weeds and the snares in the foundations. I am uprooting and exposing the weeds in the roots and foundations.” As this shaking was taking place, and the people of God interceding for the nation, I watched as the Lord began to breathe down the generational line, and I saw curses that were established and spoken over the United States being broken. The shaking was revealing the curses and the poison and it was all coming to the surface and another level of the breaking of generational curses of the nation was happening.

I watched this shaking taking place and it was like an earthquake. Many of God’s people were feeling unsettled, some were feeling fearful and discouraged, and I heard the Lord say “Do not mistake the shaking! Do not mistake the shaking! Do not mistake the shaking! The shaking is leading to another level of the chains breaking. The shaking is leading to another level of the chains breaking.

Lana saw cracks spreading far and wide across America. She was stunned by the depth of the cracks.

I do not know how it feels on the inside, but looking from the outside this seems to be a good description of the United States. The nations with “United” in its name seems to be divided in so many directions.

  • political
  • religious
  • racial
  • north-south
  • east-west
  • urban-rural
  • fresh water v blue water economists
  • Progressive Christian v Evangelical Christian
  • 90% v 10%
  • security organisations v political authority
  • Washington elites v the rest
  • financial sector v productive sector
In the vision the cracks went down to the foundation. I presume that this is part of the problem. The cracks and divisions that are currently manifesting are rooted in cracks that were built at the beginning.

While there was a strong Christian influence at the foundation of the United States, there were many other influences all bound together.

  • enlightenment philosophy
  • Greek political thought
  • Roman law
  • free masonry
  • mercantilism
  • slavery
  • deism
  • faith in political power
  • faith in military power.
If I understand the vision correctly, God is allowing the surface cracks to manifest, so that the cracks in the foundation can be exposed. This suggests that the United States is in for some serious shaking.

Lana said that the Lord is declaring “Triumph”, but I am not sure what that means. In my view, the outcome of shaking depends on whether the people of God are prepared.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Gospel Keys (5) Place

Matthew 18:18-19 contains important insights about the Kingdom of God. Jesus promised that his followers will be able to bind the spiritual powers of evil and release angels to do his work.

Truly I tell you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in the spiritual realms, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in spiritual realms (Matt 18:18).
Yet, we are not seeing as much of the spiritual powers of evil being bound as we should expect given Jesus’ promise.

Jesus gave the condition for his promise in the next paragraph.

Again, truly I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything they ask for, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. For where two or three have gathered together in my name, there am I with them (Matt 18:19-20).
The condition for the victory Jesus promised is two or three disciples gathering together in his name. We assume that if we get together for an hour on Sunday morning or Wednesday evening that is sufficient for Jesus to be present and give the victory promised. I suspect that Jesus had something more permanent in mind.

The first Christians were together in one place.

All who believed were in the same place (Acts 2:44).
Because they had come together, they had strong spiritual protection, and were able establish victory over the spiritual powers of evil.

In contrast, modern Christians are content to live scattered all over the place. Gathering together is limited to an hour on Sunday. This reflects a lack of understanding of the spiritual battle that we are engaged in.

In a war, gathering together is the best defence. The same is true in a spiritual war. Serious defeat of the spiritual powers of evil that Jesus promised, will take more serious gathering together.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Gospel Keys (4) Power Pairs

When Jesus apostled his seventy-two disciples, he sent them out in pairs.

After this the Lord appointed seventy-two others and apostled them two by two ahead of him to every town and place where he was about to go (Luke 10:1).
We tend to assume this is optional, but it was an essential aspect of Jesus gospel strategy. The early Christians carried it on after Jesus has ascended.

John had been with Jesus for three years and understood his ways better than anyone. He had experienced the outpouring of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. If anyone could operate on his own, it would be John. Yet when he went up to the Beautiful Gate of the temple, he paired up with Peter.

By operating as a pair, and accompanied by the Holy Spirit, a crippled man was healed. They proclaimed the gospel boldly to the religious authorities (Acts 3).

Paul always operated in a pair with another person who could compliment his ministry.

To see the gospel advance rapidly, we need to learn how to operate as pairs. For more see Power Pairs.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Gospel Keys (3) Go and Stay

When Jesus apostled the seventy-two disciples, he told them to go to the place he was sending and stay there.

After this the Lord appointed seventy-two others and apostled them two by two ahead of him to every town and place where he was about to go. He told them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few.

Stay there, eating and drinking whatever they give you, for the worker deserves his wages. Do not move around from house to house (Luke 10:1,2).

Jesus told them to go to where the harvest is ripe and stay there.

This instruction has been mostly ignored. The church tends to settle down where it is. People are invited to come to the church and attend a meeting. Sometimes Christians visit the place where they think the harvest is ripe and invite people to come to their church. This is the wrong way round.

If the gospel is to advance powerfully, there will have to be a lot more going and staying.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Policy Design Fault

Chris Floyd notes that in this century alone, the US and UK have helped destroy two largely secular, multicultural regimes that had stood as bulwarks against the Islamic extremism peddled by allies such as Saudi Arabia, namely Iraq and Libya. A third such country, Syria, has been the target of an ongoing regime change war in which the West and Saudis are openly backing al Qaeda allies and other extremists.

Given that the leaders of the UK and US claim have declared that Islamic terrorism is the primary threat to our civilization and thus counterterrorism is an overarching priority, he asks why they have adopted policies that undermine their objective.

  • If countering Islamic extremism is your priority, then supporting Islamic terrorists in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and Libya is, to put it mildly, the wrong policy.

  • If it is your priority to combat Islamic extremism which threatens to radicalize citizens of your own country, then giving massive, continuous, unquestioning support to the brutal tyrants who have exported extremist Islam all over the world for decades is, to put it mildly, the wrong policy.

  • If it is your priority to defend your civilization from radical Islamic extremism, then launching war after war after war in Islamic countries with secular governments — and aiding extremist militias in those countries, like al Qaeda, al Nusra, ISIS, and the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group, founded in the 1990s with support from the West to launch terrorist attacks against the Gadafy regime — are, to put it mildly, the wrong policies.

  • If it is your overarching priority to prevent the spread of hatred, radicalization and revenge, then committing mass murder in drone strikes on villages, weddings, farmers and children is, to put it mildly, the wrong policy.


Saturday, June 10, 2017

Gospel Keys (2) Go into the World

In Mark 16:17-18, Jesus promised that signs and wonders would follow those who preach the gospel.

These signs will follow those who believe: In My name they will cast out demons; … they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.

The question we need to ask, is “Where will they follow?”

Jesus gave the answer at the beginning of the message.

Go into all the world and preach the gospel (Matt 16:15).
Deliverance and healing will follow believers when they go into the world.

The church in the west has tended to keep the gifts of healing and deliverance at the front of the church, ministering to long lines of believers. This is the wrong way round.

The gift of healing is for unbelievers, so that when they hear the gospel, they will know it is true. It belongs in the world not in the church.

We all want to see the Holy Spirit healing the sick, but we forget where it happens.

And wherever he went into villages, towns or countryside, they placed the sick in the marketplaces. They begged him to let them touch even the edge of his cloak, and all who touched him were healed (Mark 6:56).
As a result, people brought the sick into the streets and laid them on beds and mats so that at least Peter's shadow might fall on some of them as he passed by (Acts 5:15).
Large numbers of people were healed in the streets and the market place. This is where the Holy Spirit prefers to work. I suspect that he sometimes gets bored with our meetings and longs to get out into the public places and heal the sick. If we want to see him doing this, we should follow him.

Friday, June 09, 2017

Gospel Keys (1)

Jesus instructed his followers to take the good news of his Kingdom into all the world.

Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation (Mark 16:15).
He also gave a very clear strategy for how this should be done.

Unfortunately, there are a few parts of his strategy that the church has fairly steadfastly refused to adopt.

1. Wait for the Spirit
Jesus told his disciples that they should wait until they received the power of the Holy Spirit.

Stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high (Luke 24:49).
This is fairly basic. The gospel cannot be proclaimed effectively without the power of the Holy Spirit, because the gospel needs to be confirmed with healings and deliverance that prove God’s love and mercy and confirm that the spiritual powers of evil have been defeated. The good news of Jesus death, resurrection and ascension if incomplete without the power of the Holy Spirit.

Powerful preaching, clever visuals, smart programs and great music will never fill the gap.

The fields are still white, so we desperately need “power from on high”.

Thursday, June 08, 2017

Gospel is Real

Many evangelical believers prefer Paul’s letters to the gospels. I can sort of understand why. Paul expects us to believes that Jesus died and has risen to God’s right hand. In the abstract, these truths are easy to accept.

I have just been reading Mark’s gospel. It is full of healing and deliverance from evil spirits for ordinary people in the midst of everyday of life. If these things are not part of our every day experience, this is quite confronting.

Wednesday, June 07, 2017

Religious State

The Iranian philosopher Abdolkarim Soroush said something like this.

In a religious state, religion becomes vulnerable to politics. To criticise the state is to criticise the religion. If the critics of the state are right, religion could turn out to be flawed, even endangered. If religion could not be blamed, critics of the state must be apostates who cannot be tolerated.
The United States has had a religious state, but the last sentence in the quote did not apply. Criticism has been tolerated. However, the first part of the quote does apply. The failure of the state blackened the reputation of Christianity.

Now a new secular religious state is emerging in it's place. The last sentence in the quote does apply to the secular state.

Monday, June 05, 2017

Pentecost

Yesterday was Pentecost Sunday. All over the world followers of Jesus longed for a fuller experience of the Holy Spirit.

The songs pleaded for the Holy Spirit to come. Prayers implored him to come and refresh us.

The motives behind the songs and prayers are good, but I wonder if we have this the wrong way round.

The prayer and the songs make it should like the problem is with God, and that he needs to do something.

He poured out the Holy Spirit at Pentecost and he has never called him back. He has already done his bit.
That means that if our experience is below par, the problem must be with us, not with him.

Perhaps we should be asking if we have grieved the Holy Spirit, and what we need to do to put that right.

Friday, June 02, 2017

Kingdom Authority

Authority is the heart of every kingdom. If there is no authority, there is no kingdom. Therefore, to understand the Kingdom of God, we must understand how authority works, in heaven and on earth.

Everything in this universe is shaped by authority. In the beginning God said, “Let it be” and it was. He had authority over everything. Two chapters later, God said, “Let us give authority to humans”. Why on earth did he do that? When Jesus was being tempted, the devil said, “I have authority over all the kingdoms of the world”. How did that happen? When Jesus preached the gospel, the people recognised his authority. Who gave him authority? By the end of the gospel Jesus was saying, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me”. How did that happen? The Book of Revelation says that Jesus has authority to open the scrolls that release God’s activity on earth. How does that work?

My book called Kingdom Authority describes the history of authority in both the spiritual and physical realms. It explains the big authority shifts that have had massive impacts on earth. Most theologies jump from the fall straight to the cross, without much need for the stuff in between. That is a mistake, as if we ignore the events described in the Old Testament, we will fail to understand everything God is doing, and the big authority shifts that have constrained him.

If we do not know about authority, we will not understand why evil has been so active on earth. God gave authority over the earth to humans. The forces of evil have been active on earth, because humans gave them authority, while God did not have the authority he needed to deal with evil. It took a special human do that, and until he came the powers of evil had a ball.

Big Questions
Jesus preached the gospel of the Kingdom of God. This raises a couple of serious questions.

Jesus prayed that God’s authority would be done on earth and it is in heaven. How did the God who created the universe end up losing authority over the earth? What happened on earth and in heaven that meant his authority on earth has to be restored?

Why has God taken so long? Things went wrong on earth right at the beginning. Yet God let thousands of years go by before he sent Jesus to put things right. Why did he let evil go on for so long, before something about it?

To understand these questions, we must understand the working of authority and the big shifts in authority that have shaped history on earth. The big shifts in authority are described in Kingdom Authority. This book is a prequel to a book called The Government of God that I will be publishing in June. It will show how the principles in Kingdom Authority are applied in practice.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Seeking the Spirit

About a year after I chose to follow Jesus, I was feeling really frustrated. I felt like I had not made much progress in learning how to follow him. It felt like I had not changed enough.

I talked to the young woman who led the study and fellowship group we belonged to. She had been a Christian most of her life, but she did not give me answers. She wisely suggested that I read the book of Acts and see if I could find out what made a difference for the new believers in the church (Thank you Airini).

I quickly read right through the book of Acts looking for the thing that made a difference. The answer jumped out from every page. Things happened and people were changed because the Holy Spirit was active. I realised that I desperately needed the Holy Spirit in my life.

The next Friday night, I went to town and visited a Christian bookstore. I bought three books about the Holy Spirit. One of them was the The Holy Spirit and You by Dennis Bennett. He was better known for Nine O’Clock in the Morning, but I did not notice that one.

On Saturday morning, my wife went to work at 6.30 am. I did not get up, but stayed in bed and read the Holy Spirit and You. By midday, I had finished the book. At the end of the book, Dennis Bennett referred to a promise in Luke 11. I got my Bible and I read it carefully.

Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.

Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him! (Luke 11:9-13).
As I sat in my bed, it seemed obvious. I needed the Holy Spirit. The Father had promised that if I asked, he would give him to me.

So I asked.

And the Father delivered on his promise.

The Holy Spirit filled me with his presence. I began to speak in a language that I did not know (a spiritual language has been an important part of my life ever since.) It was like in the book of Acts, but in my bedroom.

About a week later, I felt led to pray for a member of my family who was sick. I just knew that if I laid my hand on her back and prayed, she would be healed. When she went to see a medical specialist a few days later, he could find no trace of the problem.

I have always said that once you have seen the Holy Spirit heal one person you are ruined. You can no longer say that God does not heal people anymore. You cannot say that the Holy Spirit does not want to heal people, because you have seen it with your own eyes.

I gained the joy of having the Holy Spirit in my life, but I gained the frustration of knowing that he could heal, but was not seeing enough of it.

When we moved to Dunedin, we belonged to a group called prayer and praise. The Holy Spirt was moving and we often prayed for people who were sick. Being a curious person, I got a notebook and listed every person we prayed for and what was wrong. The following week, I would check up and see how the person was.

After a couple of months I was surprised by the results. About a third of cases were uncertain. For example, a person had a cold and a week later, they were better, but it was not possible to definitely attribute that directly to the prayer, because they would have gotten better anyway. For another third, nothing happened. But the remaining third were clearly healed, and it seemed like it could only be the Holy Spirit who had done it. Over those few months, a dozen people were healed of sicknesses.

That experience set me off on a searching path over many years. I was puzzled why some people were healed and others were not. It was not because the Holy Spirit is not strong enough to do it. There had to be other reasons and I wanted to know what they were.

So I dug into the scriptures and looked for patterns. I investigated every healing in the Bible and studied every passage that dealt with healing. I discovered some real insights. Five years ago, I put everything I have learned in a little book called Healing. It does not contain all the answers, but the book does have some important insights.

In some ways this is the most important book I have written, yet is actually the least popular. I suspect that it because many Christians have given up on the gift of healing and just accepted sickness as a normal part of life. That is sad, because Jesus was beaten for our healing, so it would be a pity if his suffering were wasted.

Jesus told his disciples to heal the sick and preach the good news of the kingdom. That is what he did. We tend to preach the good news, but we do not bother about the other bit. But Jesus never said it was optional. The best proof of the reality and love of God, and his power to rescue, is someone being healed. In this secular age, the good news of Jesus will only be successful in the way we want it to be when it is accompanied by the gift of healing.

My prayer is that followers of Jesus will press into the Holy Spirit and discover more of the gift of healing that the Father promised.

Monday, May 29, 2017

Saudi Arabian Folly

I don’t understand why the leaders of the powerful G7 nations committed themselves to fighting terrorism, yet continue to cosy up to Saudi Arabia.

Donald Trump travelled to Saudi Arabia to offer a $110 billion arms deal.

In recent months, British Prime Minister Teresa May has signed special deals with Saudi Arabia to sell weapons and provide training for their military and security forces that keep the ruling family in power.

Why do these leaders support this autocratic nation that is the sponsor for terrorism all round the world. The Wahhabi sect of Islam that inspires terrorism first emerged in Saudi Arabia. From there, it has been exported all over the world.

The wave of terrorism that has engulfed the region when it ultimately emanates from one small but immensely influential Sunni sect. One of the great cultural changes in the world over the last 50 years is the way in which Wahhabism, once an isolated splinter group, has become an increasingly dominant influence over mainstream Sunni Islam, thanks to Saudi financial support. (Patrick Cockburn in the Indedpendent)
Mark Curtis explains that Wahhabism is an ideology promoted by the ruling family in Saudi Arabia.
The Saudi role in exporting Wahhabism is surely well-known by now. In the past few decades, the Saudi regime has spent billions spreading its extremist interpretation of Islam worldwide, funding mosques and free madrassas – religious schools – supplying them with imams and textbooks.
Curtis explains that the is activity is well understood by UK and US leaders.
The British elite is perfectly aware of the insidious role that Saudi Arabia plays in fomenting terrorism. In October 2014, General Jonathan Shaw, a former Assistant Chief of the Defence Staff, told the Telegraph that Saudi Arabia and Qatar were primarily responsible for the rise of the extremist Islam that inspires IS terrorists. He said:
“This is a time bomb that, under the guise of education, Wahhabi Salafism is igniting under the world really. And it is funded by Saudi and Qatari money and that must stop.”
He noted that UK/US bombing of IS would not “stop the support of people in Qatar and Saudi Arabia for this kind of activity” because:
“It’s not addressing the fundamental problem of Wahhabi Salafism as a culture and a creed, which has got out of control and is still the ideological basis of Isil – and which will continue to exist even if we stop their advance in Iraq.”
Curtis warns,
All the while the Saudis have been exporting Wahhabism and backing Islamist groups and terrorists, they have enjoyed a special relationship with London and Washington. The history is so long and deep it is hard to summarise: basically the relationship is characterised by extreme sycophancy, total military support, constant apologias and carefully-controlled media lines that serve to keep the public in the dark about the true extent of relations and the nature of the Saudi regime. It is hard to pinpoint whether Saudi Arabia is a client of the UK or the other way round: probably both, since both set of elites have been happily joined at the hip.


Saturday, May 27, 2017

Good News

When Jesus died on the cross, the spiritual powers of evil thought that they had defeated him. But God had the last laugh. He raised Jesus from the dead. He appeared to many of the disciples.

The spiritual powers of evil were totally defeated, because they had used human sin to gain authority over the earth. Jesus’ death and resurrection dealt with the sin problem, so the basis of their authority was undermined.

Forty days after Jesus rose from the dead, Jesus ascended into heaven. God seated him at his right hand, far above all spiritual power and authority.

He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, far above all above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in that which is to come. And He put all things under His feet (Eph 1:20-22).
Those who give allegiance to Jesus, are seated there with him.
God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus (Eph 2:6).
Jesus was inaugurated as king of all creation. He must remain at God’s right hand until the Holy Spirit, working through his followers, has established Jesus rule on earth (Psalm 110:1). He does not do this with military force, like other kings. The Holy Spirit convicts people of their need for Jesus, he teaches them how to love him and how to obey him. Jesus kingdom comes, as people listen to the Holy Spirit and obey Jesus.

The Holy Spirit is wiser and stronger than the spiritual powers of evil. He will be victorious, and Jesus reign in the spiritual realm will becomes a reality on earth. We can choose to be part of that victory by giving our allegiance to him.


Thursday, May 25, 2017

Patterns

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Good News

The world needs good news.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, May 19, 2017

Republic?

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

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

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Church Season

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

More about Being Church Where We Live.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Task for this Season

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.