Saturday, December 30, 2006

Gerald Ford - Hero?

Now that Gerald Ford has died, he is being touted as a hero.

  • He pardoned a guilty president to save the presidency.
  • He gave a green light to the Indonesian invasion of East Timor in 1976 that resulted in the massacre of 200,000 civilians.
  • He introduced the terrible twins, Chaney and Rumsfield to the world. Ford appointed Donald Rumsfield to be his Chief of Staff . When Rumsfield was promoted to Secretary of Defence, Ford appointed Dick Chaney to be his Chief of Staff.

Americans have funny heroes.

Friday, December 29, 2006

Somalia Shenanigans

Ethiopian Defence Forces have invaded Somalia (a contradiction in terms.)

The Prime Minister of Ethiopia is a shrewd politician and very clever with words.

  • His forces “were forced to invade”, but he never says who forced him.
  • His forces are fighting against “terrorists”. He uses this trigger word, because it guarantees support from the World Empire.
Most commentators agreed that the Union of Islamic Courts had bought peace and stability to the capital city, but they are now gone. Riding into Mogadishu with the Ethiopian Defense Forces are the motley group of warlords, who have kept Somalia in chaos for the last decades. Looting has already broken out, so the future looks grim for the unfortunate people who live there.

Although one nation had invaded another, the world non-community is mostly silent. I presume they prefer Christian disorder to Islamic stability.

Most Americans could not find Somalia on a map. They learned all they know from Black Hawk Down, so they do not mind if a few Somalis get a bloody nose.

Poltiticians and Pharisees (10) - Attacking the Prophets

The Pharisees and teachers are the descendents of those who killed the prophets. Jesus was a prophet, but even while he was speaking, they had resolved to kill him (Luke 11:53).

Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You build tombs for the prophets and decorate the graves of the righteous. And you say, 'If we had lived in the days of our forefathers, we would not have taken part with them in shedding the blood of the prophets.' So you testify against yourselves that you are the descendants of those who murdered the prophets. Fill up, then, the measure of the sin of your forefathers! (Matt 23:29-32).
The prophets were killed by kings and politicians, who then attempted to rewrite history and make it seem that they were on the side of the good. The truth is very different.

We do not have many staunch prophets in our time. We lack men of courage to challenge the evils of the age. However, we can be certain of one thing. If prophetic voices do arise, they will be attacked by the politicians and powers. Nothing has changed.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Poltiticians and Pharisees (9) - Making Things Worse

The Pharisees and Teachers were experts at making bad things worse.

Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You travel over land and sea to win a single convert, and when he becomes one, you make him twice as much a son of hell as you are (Matt 23:15).
Politicians are also experts at creating hell on earth. The twentieth century was a season of democracy and human government. The power of politicians increased enormously. More laws were passed during the century than had been passed in the previous millennium.

The impact of all this government was to make things worse. The world experience two terrible world wars and many smaller wars. The economy went down as often as it went up. Billions of dollars was spent on social policy, but social problems are now worse than ever. Democracy and government have made millions of converts, but they have not made the world a better place. Instead, they have created many minor hells.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

More on the Magnificat

Mary proclaimed that Jesus would bring rulers down from their throne.

He has performed mighty deeds with his arm;
he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts.
He has brought down rulers from their thrones
but has lifted up the humble.
He has filled the hungry with good things
but has sent the rich away empty (Luke 1:51-53).
The rulers are brought down from their thrones and the humble are raised up. Mary did not say that the humble would be raised up onto the thrones.

The reason is that humble people cannot sit on thrones. Being a ruler requires a fair degree of arrogance. You have be very proud to sit on a throne. You have to believe that your ideas are better than other people’s. You have to believe that you know best how people should live. You have to believe that you are so good, that other people should be forced to obey your decrees. I presume that most kings and politicians believe this.

Humble people cannot sit on a throne, because they do not believe that they have the greatest wisdom. They do want to force other people to accept their ideas. They do not even want to force other people to accept what they think are God’s ideas. A humble ruler is a contradiction in terms. The Magnificat announced the ends of thrones, the end of human governments.

Mary said that the humble would be raised up. They will no longer be trampled by do-gooder kings and politicians. Instead, they will be free to govern themselves under the guidance of the spirit and in obedience to God’s word.

The scriptures teach that all believers are kings and priests.
To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood,and has made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve his God and Father—to him be glory and power for ever and ever! Amen (Rev 1:5,6).
We are all priests, so we can all hear directly from God. We do not need a priest or king to mediate between us and God. We are all kings, so we are able to govern our own lives, so we do not need kings to tell us how to live. Children need parents to nurture them. Adults, who are free in Christ, do not need kings to tell them how to live.

During the reformation, Christians rediscovered the priesthood of all believers. We have yet to rediscover the kingship of all believers.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Prince of Peace

For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given,
and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called Wonderful Counselor,
Mighty God,
Everlasting Father,
Prince of Peace.

Peace is one of the gifts of the Spirit, but if that is all that this means to us we have missed the point. Prince of Peace is a political term.

Politicians and presidents, emperors and kings are not princes of peace, but princes of war. Although the world is desperately searching for peace, they cannot bring peace. We will only have true peace, when the government of the world is on Jesus shoulders.

Christians understand that Jesus is the Prince of Peace, but often assume that he will not take up that role until the second coming. This is not true. When Jesus ascended into heaven he sat down at the right hand of the Father, so he is the Prince of Peace now. We could have peace in the world now, if the only the world would seek his Kingdom now.

you are King of Kings
and Lord of Lords
forever and ever.
Alleluia! Alleluluia!

We seem to prefer
presidents and prime ministers doing great harm
and Jesus in the cradle where he is harmless.

Will we keep Jesus in the manger,
or will we let him be King?

God Came to Us

God did not tell us
to become as spiritual as we can,
that we might find him.

He did not tell us
to climb as high as we can
in the hope of reaching him

He did not send a messenger to the world
so the he could keep his hands clean

He did not have a seeker service in heaven
and hope that we might turn up.

He came to live in this world of sin and shame.
God became human,
so that humans could know him
and love him.

God stepped down here
and became what we are
to make us the people
he created us to be.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

God With Us?

Azariah the prophet described what happens when God is not with us.

The LORD is with you when you are with him. If you seek him, he will be found by you, but if you forsake him, he will forsake you… In those days it was not safe to travel about, for all the inhabitants of the lands were in great turmoil. One nation was being crushed by another and one city by another, because God was troubling them with every kind of distress (2 Chron 15:2,5,6).

The angel that spoke to Joseph said that Jesus would be called Emmanuel, which means “God with us”. The angel that sung to the shepherds described what would happen, if God is with us.

Glory to God in the highest,
and on earth peace to men
on whom his favor rests (Luke 2:14).

The modern world seems to be more like the first description than the second one. Guess where God is?

Fool's Paradise

We are celebrating Christimas
in a fool’s paradise
that will soon disappear.

As we eat and drink in comfort;
darkness is looking over our shoulders.
Trouble and crisis are galloping toward us,
but we are so absorbed in our celebration and comfort
that we cannot hear the clatter of approaching hoofbeats.

If we were to look out the window of our prosperity,
we would be so shocked at what is coming,
that we would leave the table
and start gathering a few essentials
to prepare for the coming storm.

Wake up church!
Darkness is coming
and you are asleep in your comfort.
The times are urgent
but you are relaxing in pleasure.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Slouching towards Irrelevancy

Bill Barnwell has written an important article called Christians and Cultural Mediocrity. Some quotes:

Historically, Christians contributed significantly in many areas of scientific advancement, the humanities, and literature.

It seems that in the quest for cultural advancement, many Christians are being, well, left behind.

Technologically, plenty of churches are still apparently learning that there is such a thing as the World Wide Web out there. Church websites are notoriously poor and lack regular updating. Outside of a couple different Christian publications and organizations, Christians on a whole have not yet found a way to use the web to meaningfully engage their communities and the culture at large.

In terms of the economy, there have been little economic or technological innovations by Christians in recent years.

He challenges us to rediscover our historical roots of being influential cultural movers and shakers in the world where we live.

Poltiticians and Pharisees (8) - External Behaviour

The Pharisees and Teachers were with obsessed with external behaviour.

Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean (Matt 23:25,26).
They concentrated on behaving well. The problem was that they were full of greed and self indulgence on the inside.

Politicians have the same problem, because their only tool for changing the world is new laws. However, laws are limited, because they only affect external behaviour. Laws cannot change people’s hearts.

Christians know that most evil comes out of human hearts, so the only way to get rid of evil is to change hearts. The Holy Spirit can change hearts; the law cannot. Politicians cannot change hearts, so they have to focus on changing external behaviour. This may resolve some problems, but it does not get to the heart of the issue.
Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of dead men's bones and everything unclean. In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness (Matt 23:27,28).
This sounds like a good description of modern politicians. They look great on television, but when their hearts are revealed, the picture is not so nice.

This is the last post on this topic for a while. I will give the Politicians and Pharisees a break until after the season of good will is over.

Poltiticians and Pharisees (7) - Shutting up the Kingdom

Jesus criticised the Pharisees and Teachers for preventing the people from entering the Kingdom of God.

Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You shut the kingdom of heaven in men's faces. You yourselves do not enter, nor will you let those enter who are trying to (Matt 23:13).
Politicians create human kingdoms. They offer salvation to everyone who joins their kingdom, but there promises always fail, just as human salvation always fails. The kingdom of man always fall short of what it promises.

The worst thing about these human political kingdoms is that they blind people to the kingdom of God. Not only do politicians refuse to enter into the Kingdom of God themselves, but they shut the door in the face of others as well.
Woe to you experts in the law, because you have taken away the key to knowledge. You yourselves have not entered, and you have hindered those who were entering (Luke 11:52).

Monday, December 18, 2006

Poltiticians and Pharisees (6) - Obssession with Detail

The Pharisees and Teachers had an obsession with detail.

Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices—mint, dill and cummin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former. You blind guides! You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel (Matt 23:23-24)
This always happens to those who believe in salvation by law. Some behaviour always escapes their rules, so they have to bring in more and detail in attempt to pin everything down. They always fail, and eventually the law gets so complex and detailed that even those who made it do not understand what it means.

Modern politicians have this same obsession with detail. They produce dozens of new laws every year. Every few years they go back to older laws and add more detail about issues that are not clear. This additional detail just adds to confusion. In most Western nations the volume of law is so great than even a lawyer cannot understand the law in its entirety. They specialise in understanding a small area of law. Pity the poor citizen who is expected to understand and obey every law.

God’s law has a beautiful simplicity. It could be written on two tablets of stone. God knew that it is impossible to cover every possible situation. He simply gave the general principles and left the people to apply these to their own situation. Anyone can understand the concept of theft. We do not need hundreds of laws and regulations to explain it to us.

Politicians have a marvellous ability to make trivia seem important, but almost no ability to establish justice, mercy and faithfulness. While they pass laws to foster sport and purify speech, injustice continues to flow down like a river.

Sunday, December 17, 2006


A correspondent asked me why I refer to pastor-teachers in my book Being Church Where We Live? He said that he had experienced many pastors (true shepherd hearts) who are absolutely hopeless teachers, and many excellent teachers who are abysmal at looking after people. My answer was as follows.

The reason that I treat pastor and teacher as one ministry is that this is the way it is treated in Eph 4:11. Paul says that Jesus made "some to be pastors and teachers". He did not say "some to be pastors and some to be teachers". Paul seems to have been quite deliberate in the way that he worded this, although this is ignored by most commentators. (I suspect that they they see themselves as teachers, but are not good pastors, so they want to find a place for themselves.)

It would be nice for someone like me to have the teacher as a separate ministry, but I cannot see how we can do this and be true to Eph 4:11. I think the key is that teaching in NT times was the same as making disciples. It was about teaching people how to live, mostly by them following a mentor's example. If teaching is seen in this way, it merges with the pastoral task. Teaching, in the sense of giving a logical lecture, decorated with some good examples and some funny stories, is not what Paul was talking about.

I agree that there are many pastors who are hopeless teachers. However, the idea that a pastor should preach a sermon to his disciples every week is totally foreign to the New Testament. It is a terrible method of teaching people to follow Jesus.

I think the so-called teaching ministry has been bad for the church. This role has been to the fore ever since the Reformation and its generally tended to intellectualise our faith. On the whole this has been damaging for the church. I am more intellectual than most people (that’s why I write a blog), and I really love to study the scripture, but I am acutely aware that being a Christian is about having a relationship with Jesus, and other Christians. When Chritianity becomes agreement with a set of intellectual ideas, it quickly gets sterile. We need theology, but it is a tool we use to build our relationship with God, not the goal of our life.

The ascendancy of the ministry of the teacher has allowed the intellectuals to control the Church for nearly 400 years. Fortunately that shackle is now being thrown off.

I also agree that there is a place for public communication and proclamation of Christian truth. Evangelists should do this frequently. Prophetic people will do it from time to time. Others may do it as well, but we should not see it as one of the ascension ministries.

I have explained all this a bit more here.

Poltiticians and Pharisees (5) - Pride

Jesus accused the Pharisees and Teachers of being motivated by pride.

Everything they do is done for men to see: They make their phylacteries wide and the tassels on their garments long; they love the place of honor at banquets and the most important seats in the synagogues; they love to be greeted in the marketplaces and to have men call them 'Rabbi’ (Matt 23:5-7).
Politicians also need a fair dose of pride, or they would not take on the job of telling other people how to live. Why would they know better than God or other men, how people should live?

Politicians claim to be humble servants, but they always end up meeting in a lush parliament building, with high salaries, the best cars, and good titles.
Telling other people how they should live is quite arrogant. Being a bible teacher or blogger is fairly arrogant. The teacher claims to understand the Bible better than other people do. The only mitigation is that other people can choose to ignore the Bible teacher or blogger; and they frequently do.

Politicians take this arrogance to another level. Not only do they claim to no better than other people how they should live, they also want to force other people to live their way. Politicians pass laws that force other people to live by the politicians’ standards. That is the ultimate arrogance.

The serpent promised Adam and Eve that they would be able to decide the difference between good an evil. This was a lie, as the only way to know the difference between good and evil is to listen to God. Politicians are part of a long line of people who believe they can legislate the difference between good and evil. Their father is the father of lies.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Poltiticians and Pharisees (4) - Hypocrisy

The Pharisees and Teachers loved to tell other people what to do, but they did not do what they said that people should do.

do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach. They tie up heavy loads and put them on men's shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to lift a finger to move them (Matt 23:3,4).
Stories about politicians falling into immorality are so common that we hardly notice them any more. They are human, so we cannot condemn them for sinning. However, the frailty of the politicians becomes a problem when they think that the can tell other people how they should live. It becomes an even greater problem, because they can force us to obey their laws and regulations.

Most politicians seem to lead fairly dysfunctional lives. If they cannot manage their own lives, how can the make laws that will determine the way the rest of the people should live. We are all capable of making our own mistakes. We do not need politicians forcing us to make their mistakes.

Our government recently passed a law making illegal election over-spending legal. This is normal political behaviour. Here we have politicians who could not keep their own law making laws for the rest of us to obey. Hypocrisy is the only word for it.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Strange Silence

Why do American Christians remain silent about this.

Poltiticians and Pharisees (3) - Heavy Load

Some Christian politicians will claim that they are just explaining God’s law and applying it to modern situations. The problem with this is that they are using the same method as the Pharisees. They would also have said that their regulations updated God’s law to the situation of their time. Unfortunately, Jesus was opposed to this method.

They tie up heavy loads and put them on men's shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to lift a finger to move them (Matt 23:4).
The Pharisees approach does not help people obey the law, it actually makes it harder. The heavy burden makes them hostile to the law. God prefers that people think about what the law means and work out for themselves how to live under it. This is more effective than a whole lot of confusing and burdensome regulations.

Jesus critique of the Pharisees applies to all people claiming to sit on Moses seat. His critique is particularly relevant to modern members of parliament and congress.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Poltiticians and Pharisees (2) - Not Moses Seat

Jesus attacked the Pharisees and Teachers, showing that they did not and could not sit on Moses seat, but were hypocrites and impostors. Jesus had no problem with people teaching the law, he actually blessed those who do.

… whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven (Matt 5:19).
Teaching the law brings great blessings. What Jesus objected to was those who added to God’s law.

God has given his law and it is complete. No one can sit on Moses seat, because no one can add to God’s law. Moses seat does not exist, because there is no ministry of law-giving for modern people to fulfil. That task was completed when God gave his law to Moses. There is a need for people to teach the law. There is a need for prophets to urge people to obey and fulfil the law through faith, but there is no ministry of law-giving. Moses seat does not exist in the scriptures.

All members of parliament, congress or law-making assemblies are claiming to “sit on Moses Seat”. They are claiming to be law-makers like Moses. Their problem is that God has already given his law through Moses his prophet, and he does not need anyone to add to it.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Poltiticians and Pharisees (1) - Moses Seat

Jesus spoke seven woes against the Pharisees and the Teachers of the Law. Matthew 23 records the harshest criticism that he made of any group of people. This should disturb modern politicians, as there are strong parallels between their activities and style and those attacked so strongly by Jesus.

The cornerstone of Jesus criticism is that the Pharisees and the teachers of the law claim to sit on “Moses seat”.

The teachers of the law and the Pharisees sit in Moses' seat (Matt 23:2).
Sitting on Moses seat was a strange expression. I presume that it was a title that the Pharisees and teachers of the law had given to themselves. The problem is that this role does not exist. It is not a legitimate ministry. (When Jesus told the people to obey what they say and not what they do, he must have been kidding to make a point, because he clearly did not intend the people to obey the Pharisees.)

Moses did not have a seat from which he gave out laws. In fact, Moses did not give laws. His was a prophetic role. He stood before God and then spoke and wrote the law that had been revealed to him. Responsibility for defending the law rested with the prophets. They were the ones who challenged Israel for not obeying the law.

The Pharisees and Teachers were not prophets. They claimed an ability to explain and interpret the law. They introduced hundreds of detailed rules and regulation to help people keep the law. They considered that the law on its own did not give enough guidance to ordinary people. They added extra rules and regulations to help them understand how they should live. This is why they claimed to sit on Moses seat. They were giving extra rules and laws to expand what Moses had given. Their underlying position was that God’s law was not enough.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Uneasy Alliance or Struggle for Power

If Jesus is Lord, then Herod is not.
If Jesus is Lord, then Caesar is not.

God kept his word and destroyed those who did not recognise the Lordship of his Son. Herod’s power was destroyed in AD 70. Then the Father destroyed the Roman Empire.

Unfortunately, the Church missed the point. It tried to prop up the Roman empire, by establishing the Holy Roman empire. The Church has been trying to maintain the power of the state ever since, because we do not understand the Kingdom of God. If Jesus is King, then the state is not.

The universial Roman Empire under Christian principles lasted for nearly a thousand years.

  • The state protected the church.
  • Christianity legitimized the state.
However, this uneasy alliance has harmed the gospel and hindered the Kingdom of God.

The lesson has not been learnt yet. Christians are still trying to use the political system to advance the Kingdom of God. We must learn that for the Kingdom of God to come in its fullness, the modern political system will have to be destroyed. The system is already destroying itself, but I am not sure that Christians are willing to let it go.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Subverting the World System

The Jews understood the purpose of Jesus ministry.

Then the whole assembly rose and led him off to Pilate. And they began to accuse him, saying, "We have found this man subverting our nation. He opposes payment of taxes to Caesar and claims to be Christ, a king" (Luke 23:1,2).
The Jews understood that Jesus was subverting the nation. The logical conclusion of his message was that both taxation and the Roman empire are illegitimate. However, although the Jews understood the goal of Jesus kingdom, they did not understand how it would be brought into being. Like many Christians, they assumed that it would come by military force. They did not understand that Jesus kingdom would come through the work of the Holy Spirit and the proclamation of the gospel. They could not believe that people would freely choose to serve Jesus, without being forced to submit.

Pilate also understood the implications of Jesus ministry.
So Pilate asked Jesus, "Are you the king of the Jews?""Yes, it is as you say," Jesus replied (Luke 23:4).
However, Pilate did not understand how Jesus would become King. He assumed that a king could only rise to power, if he had superior military power. Pilate knew that any forces that Jesus could gather were no match for the ruthless Roman army, so he he did not feel threatened. He did not understand that Jesus would become King of the entire universe when the was raised to the right hand of God. He did not realise that the outpouring of the Holy Spirit and the advance of the gospel would mean the end of the Roman empire. He did not understand that the advance of the Kingdom of God would mean the end of human government as he knew it.

Unfortunately many Christians do not understand these things any better than Pilate. They either assume that the Kingdom of God can be advanced through the use of political power, or they assume that the Kingdom of God will only be established when Jesus returns and uses military power to destroy his enemies. Both views are a distortion of the Kingdom of God.

Jesus Kingdom is totally different from the kingdoms of the world. It cannot be established by force, whether wielded by a democratic political system or a Rambo-like Saviour on a white horse.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Jesus and Pilate

After he had been arrested, Jesus had an interesting discussion with Pontius Pilate about the nature of kingship. He said,

My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jews. But now my kingdom is from another place (John 18:36).
Jesus was not saying that his kingdom was spiritual, without any impact on the world. Rather he was literally saying that his kingdom does not come “our of the world system”. It has nothing to do with the world system. If it did, his followers would take up arms and fight for him. The fact that they did not fight is proof that his Kingdom is different.

This was a radical claim. Christians often assume that as the Kingdom of God advances the political system will be Christianised. This is not true. Jesus Kingdom is totally different from anything in the world. The world system is based on force and coercion. Pilate understood this well. Force is so strongly rooted in the political system that it cannot be modified or Christianised. It will have to be replaced by something totally different , that does not depend on force.
Jesus called them together and said, "You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. (Matt 20:25-26).
Jesus does not want Christians "lording it over" the rest of society. That would be contrary to the gospel.

We should also understand that democracy is just another method of "lording it over people". The majority just "lord it over" the various minorities. We think it is bit safer, becasue we hope that if the people "lording it over us" get too rough, we can vote them out of power. This is often a vain hope.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Political Power

All modern political parties accept the system controlled by the political state. Their only argument is about who should control it. Each party claims that they could make the system work better.

Most Christians also find this political system acceptable. They just believe that the system would work better, if Christians controlled it.

This idea scares many secular political groups. They are frightened by the thought of state power being controlled by Christians. This is ironic, because they are quite happy to control the political system themselves.

Nevertheless, the view that Christians should seek to control the system is wrong. If Jesus is Lord, then the political powers are not. As the Kingdom of God grows, the power of the political system must decline and disappear. As Mary prophesied, Rulers will be brought down from their thrones".

Christians should not be seeking the reins of power. Our aim is to see power handed back to individuals, families and businesses, where it belongs.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Age of Rejection

Finally, a spirit came forward, stood before the LORD and said, 'I will entice him.… I will go out and be a lying spirit in the mouths of all his prophets,' he said (1 Kings 22:21-22).
Here we have a spirit deciding to be something different. This means that the spirit that dominates an age and place can change over time. The change happens slowly, because spirits are not very creative and find it hard to develop new skills.

The post war period was dominated by a spirit that worked through freemasonry. Now that the freemasonry movement has atrophied and is dying, the spirit behind it has morphed into a spirit of rejection, so it can be more effective in the next generation.

The war generation were rejected by their leaders but ignored it, because they were very task focused. They had completed the job of winning the war, so when they got home, they just got on with getting the job done at home too. They wanted to provide their children with a better life than they had known, so they worked extremely hard. They did this because they loved their children, but they rarely spoke the words. They were so busy being successful, that their children, felt rejected. (Belonging to the free masons was part of being successful).

The baby boom generation had a good life, but they did not receive the love they needed, because they felt their parents tied love to performance. The baby boomers passed a spirit of rejection onto their children at birth. Rejection is now the spirit that shapes and controls their children's generation.

This sense of rejection is ironic, because children of the baby boomers are an indulged generation. Their parents have given them everything and run around after them. The schools did everything they could to boost their self esteem. It is hard to understand how they would feel rejected when they have received so much. Yet they almost all carry a sense of rejection.

The parents of this generation are confused by this. Many feel quite angry. They have given so much, but are not appreciated. Why should an indulged generation feel so rejected? It does not make sense.

The reason is simple. This generation actually inherited their rejection in the womb, so they were not able to receive love from their parents. All the psychobabble that should have boosted their self esteem, just never penetrated the rejection they received in the womb. Everything that was done for them was interpreted through inherited rejection, so it was all misunderstood.

Their parents responded to their hurt, with more indulgence, but that just adds to the hurt they feel. Moreover, this indulgence has a hook in the tail. It leaves the child feeling obligated to the parent, and then failure to meet the consequent expectations, just adds to the rejection.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Law and More

The secular modern answer to every problem is more education and more laws. Christians often hold this view too.

They are very ambivalent about God’s law, but they are committed to salvation by human law. They advocate laws against prostitution, low wages, racism, poverty, etc.

God’s law is much more modest. It can constrain the worst violence and theft, but cannot do much more These are useful tasks, but only the gospel and the Spirit can get rid of these are problems.

I can understand why secular thinkers put their faith in human law, but I cannot understand why Christians are so enthusiastic about it.


Fascism is the state in cahoots with big business, controlling them in return for monopoly rights. Fascism is a marriage between corporatists, militarists and the state. The name is no longer used, but this philosophy is common throughout the modern world.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Jesus and Politics

The best book that I have read recently on Christian Politics is Jesus and Politics: Confronting the Powers by Alan Storkey. He taught social theology in London for twenty years, and now lives and writes in Cambridge, England.

He does a very clear analysis of the political message of the gospels. His explanation of the political situation in Jesus time is very thorough. My only concern was that he does not take some quite radical ideas through to their logical conclusion.

He is happy to confront capitalism. But he does not confront the weaknesses in modern social democracy.


Interesting quote. I cannot remember who the name of the author. I guess that is the way he would like it.

Do not use your name much when revival starts,
or God will take you out of it.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Ultimate Reality

A famous physicist said.

The ultimate reality is not matter or energy, but information.
God said,
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made (John 1:1-3).
Interesting parallel.

Judges not Needed Much

God's preferred method of government is judges interpreting the law.

As the Kingdom of God expands, the need for judges should diminish. According to the gospel, when a Christian realises that someone may have a case against them, he should seek the person out and settle as quickly as possible.

Settle matters quickly with your adversary who is taking you to court. Do it while you are still with him on the way, or he may hand you over to the judge, and the judge may hand you over to the officer, and you may be thrown into prison (Matt 5:25).

Christians will sort out there problems before they go to court. As this happens, more and more, judges will have less and less to do.

Monday, December 04, 2006

God's Politics

I have just finished reading God's Politics by Jim Wallis. The major impression I got from the book is that God must be American, because his politics are all almost entirely about the United States. Bizarre!

Jim takes a few verses from the prophetic books of the Old Testament and builds a major political theology around them. I found this approach quite shallow. In terms of the criteria outlined by Ravi Zacharias, Wallis is arguing about issues without ever having established clear principles.

The most important question about the role and limitations of politics is never asked. Jim is a believer in politics. He just assumes that the state can solve any and every social problem. For example, "Only values based politics can overcome our spiritual poverty".

Any political action is justified, provided it contributes to the "common good". The problem is that the "common good" is never defined. I suspect that the common good is a wide gate, that almost any political wagon can be driven through.

On the other hand, I have to respect his compassion for those who are poor or suffering.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Arguing Right

Ravi Zacharias said that there are three levels of debate.

  1. Philosphy
  2. The Arts
  3. Issues

He said that we should debate at the first level , illustrate at the second level, and apply at the third level. If we debate at the third level we produce confusion. This is really good advice.

A good example of this is the issue of the minimum wage. Many Christians ask if Jesus would support minimum wage laws. They argue that because the cares for the poor, he would be in favour of raising the minimum wage. This is a good example of how debating at the third level is misleading.

If we approach this issue from the top level, we have to ask several different questions. Are employers free to decide what wage they will offer for a particular task? Would Jesus use state power to force employers to pay higher wages? Should the state prevent people from accepting a wage rate that is lower than a particular level? The answer is that Jesus would not force employers to pay higher wages.

In the parable of the workers, Jesus told us that employers can decide what wages to offer to their employees (Matt 20:1-16). Potential employees can choose to accept or reject the wages offered. The state should not be deciding wage rates. Approached from this level, it becomes clear that a minimum wage cannot be justified from the scriptures.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Emerging Church

I have listened to many talks on MP3 about the emergent church, ranging from Brian McLaren to DA Carson. Even though there is a lot of talk about conversation, I find that they are mostly talking past each other.

I sense that the differences are largely due to different personalities and different callings. Those on the neo-calvinist side are prophetic/teacher types. They like theological neatness and want to have everything well tied down. As an analytical person, I feel drawn to their approach.

The emergent people are more pastoral types. They just want to draw hurting people in toward Jesus. Getting every “i” dotted and every “t” crossed is less important to them. When I listen to Brian McLaren, I do not agree with everything he says, but I have to respect his compassion and commitment to those who are engulfed by post-modern thought.

The problem is that we have these two groups working against each other. God made both personality types and he needs them working together in unity. Pastoral people cannot fully represent Jesus. Neither can prophetic/teacher types. Only when they are working in relationship is Jesus fully revealed. This is the key point of Paul’s teaching about the ascension ministries. We need all these giftings working and relating together in unity to represent Jesus.

Loren Cunnningham once said the pastors are like wet cement. It oozes into every crack and enfolds everything it touches. He said that prophetic people are like reinforcing steel. They are straight and are place in neat straight lines. A good concrete foundation needs both cement and reinforcing steel. Cement without steel will break and crumble. Steel without cement will not keep the rain out.

We need both personality types and ministries working together in unity. The sad thing is that they often end up in different streams of the church, talking past each other. For the church to be strong, we need people with the theological neatness of the neo-calvinists working together in relationship with others who have the compassion of those in the emergent church. That would be a miracle, but it would reveal the love of God.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Community is the Best Defence

Belonging to a nation is dangerous, because another stronger nation can invade a nation. An army can conquer the parliament, the government, the military headquarter and the police. A nation can be conquered.

Belonging to a Christian community is much safer. If there are hundreds of thousands of communities in a country, an invading army cannot send a squad of soldiers into every community. They can take control of the police force, but that does not matter, because the police rarely enter most communities. They are irrelevant to most of what happens in the community.

A Christian community would be able to function unchanged. They will be able to expand out and draw their invaders in to the life of Jesus. National defence forces will never be able to defend every community. The best defence against attack belonging to a strong community.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Ruled by Clowns

New Zealand politicians have not had a happy time in the last year. All sorts of sins and failures have been exposed on all sides the political spectrum. Now the leader of the largest opposition party has had to resign.

Most politicians seem to lead fairly dysfunctional lives. If they cannot manage their own lives, how can the make laws that will determine the way that other people live.

Why do we let these clowns who cannot manage their own live tell us how to run our lives?

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Theological Answers

Yesterday I asked four thelogical questions.
1. Did Jesus burp after eating?
2. Did Jesus ever have a headache?
3. Did Jesus fart?
4. Did Jesus ever catch a cold?

My answers are:
1. Yes
2. No
3. Yes

4. No

Burping and farting are a normal part of human life. If we Jesus was truely human, these things would be a normal part of his life.

On the other hand, sickness came into the world through the fall. There were no headaches or colds in the Garden of Eden. Adam and Eve's sin allowed the Devil to attack us with these sicknesses. Jesus was able to resist the attacks of the enemy, because he lived a sinless life.

I can imagine him being tired and exhausted. I can even imagine him burping after the last supper, but I just cannot imagine him with a cold or a headache.

More on this topic here.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Important Theological Questions

Here are four important theological questions.

  1. Did Jesus burp after eating?
  2. Did Jesus ever have a headache?
  3. Did Jesus fart?
  4. Did Jesus ever catch a cold?

I will give my answer to these questions tomorrow.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Pity the Children

Why do they do this?
Terrifying Children is the best way to create more terrorists.

Caring for the Poor (18) - Final Post

Poverty is one of the more persistent problems faced in the modern world. Governments have spent billions and billions of dollars on social welfare schemes with only limited succsess. They have donated billions of dollars as foreign aid, but the problem of poverty in the third world has hardly been dented. The problem is that man’s way always fails. God has provided clear wisdom and guidance for dealing with poverty. We will only eliminate poverty from the world, when we do it God’s way.

The full text of this complete series can be found here.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Caring for the Poor (18) - Bonded Service

An employer is also required to treat the bonded employee well. If the employer does physical harm to a bonded employee, he or she must be set free from their debt.

If a man hits a manservant or maidservant in the eye and destroys it, he must let the servant go free to compensate for the eye. And if he knocks out the tooth of a manservant or maidservant, he must let the servant go free to compensate for the tooth (Ex 21:26-27).
When the bonded employee has repaid the amount of the bond, they are to be set free. The employer must be generous to the departing servant.
Supply him liberally from your flock, your threshing floor and your winepress. Give to him as the LORD your God has blessed you. Do not consider it a hardship to set your servant free, because his service to you these six years has been worth twice as much as that of a hired hand. And the LORD your God will bless you in everything you do (Deut 15:13,18).
The employer’s help allow the departing employee to get started in their new life. The employer can be generous, because they will receive God’s blessing for providing help in this way.

This complete series can be found here

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Caring for the Poor (17) - Bonded Service

The bonded employment option is only used for really serious poverty. Sometimes a person will have a financial problem that is two serious to be dealt with by an interest free. This is most like to occur where a person has to make restitution for a crime and has no credit record to justify the loan and no family member willing to act as guarantor to a lender.

The poor person will bond themselves to an employer for up to seven years in return for a lump-sum advance in wages.

If a fellow Hebrew, a man or a woman, sells himself to you and serves you six years, in the seventh year you must let him go free (Deut 15:12).
The length of the loan will depend on the amount advanced and the productive capacity of the person receiving the loan. During the time that the person is bonded, they will not be able change employers or move to a different place of residence. The employer would give them enough to pay for food and shelter, but the rest of what they earn would go towards paying back the loan.

The employer making the loan is running quite a risk, because they would not know how useful their employee will be. He may end up advancing more wages than he can recoup within seven years, especially if he is generous. There is also a risk that the bonded employee might abscond.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Caring for the Poor (16) - Modern Gleaning

Gleaning is a third way that Christians can help the poor. This is a biblical principle.

When you are harvesting in your field and you overlook a sheaf, do not go back to get it. Leave it for the alien, the fatherless and the widow, so that the LORD your God may bless you in all the work of your hands. When you beat the olives from your trees, do not go over the branches a second time. Leave what remains for the alien, the fatherless and the widow. When you harvest the grapes in your vineyard, do not go over the vines again. Leave what remains for the alien, the fatherless and the widow. (Deut 24:19-21).

When you reap the harvest of your land, do not reap to the very edges of your field or gather the gleanings of your harvest. Do not go over your vineyard a second time or pick up the grapes that have fallen. Leave them for the poor and the alien. I am the LORD your God (Lev 19:910)
Land owners were required to leave some of their crop for the poor to glean.
The interesting thing about this approach is that the poor person has to work quite hard to get the grain. Gleaning is harder work than harvesting, because the easiest part of the crop has been already been harvested. This hard work develops good work habits. It also contributes to the self respect of the gleaner.

Developing modern gleaning is a challenge for Christian business owners. They should be looking for ways to give some of there surplus stock or spare capacity to poor people in ways that will help them get ahead. This will require creativity to be effective.

Rural gleaning is not practical for people living in urban cultures. Business people should be looking for opportunities to apply the gleaning principle by helping poor people through their business.

An ISP operator might provide free access to the Internet for job searches. Another business might provide training on how to use machines or equipment during the evening. Businesses could give surplus machinery or computing equipment to poor people starting a business.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Caring for the Poor (15) - More on Poor Loans

Loans give an incentive for the person to get back onto their feet. Most people do not want to be in debt. They will usually work hard to pay back the loan.

The worst effect of government social welfare is the effect that it has on the incentive to work and succeed. People no longer have to work to supply their needs, because the government will provide for them. Those who do work are taxed heavily, to pay the cost of social welfare. They soon get the feeling that it does not pay to work hard and the whole economy is weakened. Poor loans strengthen the economy.

Poor loans are an excellent method for helping people in third world countries. The greatest problem is lack of capital. Local lenders often charge exorbitant interest rates that enslave people for life. Providing people with an interest free loan to start a business if often the best way to help them. They will often be able to repay the loan quite quickly. An effective business will provide financial support for the entire life time. Those who are successful will be able to help families. Interest free loans are often the best way to help the poor.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Caring for the Poor (14) - Poor Loans

The second main method for assisting the poor is an interest-free loan. When a person strikes temporary hardship, they will often need help to get started again. They may need to pay for training or need capital to start a business. The solution is a loan of some money. God’s people are commanded to be generous to those in need.

If there is a poor man among your brothers in any of the towns of the land that the LORD your God is giving you, do not be hardhearted or tight fisted toward your poor brother. Rather be open handed and freely lend him whatever he needs. Give generously to him and do so without a grudging heart; then because of this the LORD your God will bless you in all your work and in everything you put your hand to. toward your brothers and toward the poor and needy in your land. (Deut 15:7,8,10).
The context of this passage is interest on poor loans. There are several important principles that apply.

  1. No interest should be charged on a loan to the person who is poor.
    Do not charge your brother interest, whether on money or food or anything else that may earn interest. 20 You may charge a foreigner interest, but not a brother Israelite, so that the LORD your God may bless you in everything you put your hand to in the land you are entering to possess. (Deut 23:19-20).
    The loaner gives up the interest that they could earn if they put the money in bank. They are effectively giving their interest away.

  2. The loan should have a seven-year term (Deut 15:9). We do not know the future, so we should not commit ourselves for longer than seven years.

  3. If the loan has not been repaid at the end of seven years, it should be cancelled (Deut 15:1). This removes part of the burden from the recipient. They have an incentive to succeed, but if they fail the burden will be lifted. This principle also means that the person making the loan must be prepared to lose the entire amount. They face uncertainty. They might just lose the interest, but there is a possibility that they will lose the lot.

  4. Often the loan will be provided by a family member (Lev 25:25). If no one in the family can help, someone in the church should provide the loan.

  5. If the poor person has no family to help and their character is not known to the church, they might be asked to give something of value as a pledge. If the pledge is something that they need during the day, it should be returned in the morning.
    If the man is poor, do not go to sleep with his pledge in your possession. Return his cloak to him by sunset so that he may sleep in it. Then he will thank you, and it will be regarded as a righteous act in the sight of the LORD your God (Deut 24:10-13).
  6. We must always showing kind and respect to the person in need. The fact that they are poor does not give us the right to charge into their house or tell them what to do.
    When you make a loan of any kind to your neighbor, do not go into his house to get what he is offering as a pledge. Stay outside and let the man to whom you are making the loan bring the pledge out to you (Deut 24:10-13).
The problem with charity is that it makes the recipient feel dependent and worthless. Providing a loan says to the person that you are confident in their future. You are saying that you have faith in them. This helps build the person’s self esteem and self-respect.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Caring for the Poor (13) - Daily Food Distributions

Christians four main methods for helping the poor. The first is the Daily Food Distribution.

During times of crisis and in poor countries, Deacons should organise a daily distribution of food to those who are poor. For example, the apostles organised a “daily distribution of food” in Jerusalem (Acts 6:2).

Regular distributions of food may not be necessary during more normal times. The focus will shift to caring for widows and others who have fallen into hardship. Some pragmatic principles for this work are outlined in Paul’s letter to Timothy. The aim was to focus on those with real needs.

Give proper recognition to those widows who are really in need (1 Tim 5:3).
Some of these widows might have been the wives of martyrs. Help is only provided to those with genuine needs.
  1. Poor people who are unwilling to work should not receive help (2 Thes 3:10).

  2. People with families should seek help from that source first. They should only go to the church if their family are unable to help (1 Tim 5:4).

  3. Poor people receiving help should be expected to help the church by devoting themselves to prayer (1 Tim 5:5).

  4. People who live for pleasure should not be helped (1 Tim 5:6).

  5. Young widows should remarry rather than remain dependent on the church for a long time (1 Tim 5:11-15).

Four principles will shape the efforts of the church to care of the poor.
  1. Efforts should focus on those in serious need.

  2. Care should normally be short term. People were encouraged to take steps that would enable them to support themselves.

  3. Most attention will be given to older widows who are unable to care for themselves. The church should always be the last resort for those seeking help.

  4. Care for the poor should function at the local level where the people are known.

  5. Caring within relationships is essential.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Caring for the Poor (12) - Women Deacons

Women can fulfil the ministry of the deacon. Deaconesses are referred to twice in the New Testament. Phoebe a deaconess of the Church of Cenchrea is mentioned by Paul in Romans 16:1. The women referred to in 1 Timothy 3:11 are almost certainly deaconesses.

The ministry of the deacon can be performed well by a married couple. The husband would work with men and his wife would work with the women. The deacon’s wife would concentrate on helping the wives to manage their homes wisely.

Widows can also exercise this ministry. They would have responsibility for caring for the other widows in the Church. Where a Church is under persecution this would be a very important ministry, as there will be many widows or women with husbands in prison or in heaven.

Women tend to function better than men in situations where personal care is needed. Female behaviour is orientated towards helping and caring for personal needs. This means that women often do the work of a deacon better than men. They should be released into this ministry.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Caring for the Poor (11) - Qualifications of Deacons

The qualifications for the selection of deacons are listed in 1 Timothy 3:8-13. These are relevant to the nature of their work.

  1. A deacon must be a person who does not pursue dishonest gain. Because they are responsible for the money of the Church, deacons must be trustworthy. They must have proved that they can handle money wisely and responsibly.
  2. A deacon must be able to manage his household. If a man cannot manage his own household, then he will not be able to manage the finances of the Church. The elders should look at the way a person’s household is functioning for evidence that he has the ability to do the work of a deacon. However, there is another reason why household management is important. The deacon also has a teaching role. He does not just give money to the people who are poor. He also teaches them how to manage their households better, so that they can manage on their own in the future without help. A deacon could not do this unless he was skilled in managing his own household. This would mean that monetary help would always be given on a short-term basis.
  3. A deacon must also have a clear knowledge of the truths of the faith. This is because he also has an evangelistic ministry. The Christian gospel is always directed to the whole person. If a person is hungry, it is no use preaching the gospel to them, without feeding them. On the other hand, feeding a hungry person is no use without doing something about their spiritual needs. Deacons have a total ministry to the poor. As they distribute food and clothing, they will also preach the gospel. This is why they must have a good knowledge of the faith.

    Some evangelists will start their ministry as deacons. Philip and Stephen both began their service as a deacon and then went on to a successful ministry as an evangelist.
  4. People skills are more important than knowledge of finance and administration. The early Church chose deacons who were skilled in working with people.
  5. Deacons should be full of the Spirit (Acts 6:2-4). They will need the discernment and wisdom that only the Holy Spirit can give. They would have personal contact with those that they are helping, so they could quickly weed out those who were bludging. The money would go to those with genuine needs.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Caring for the Poor (10) - First Deacons

The ministry of the deacon is the important for the care of the poor. In the New Testament, deacons were the social “welfare arm” of the Church. The record of the appointment of the first deacons is in Acts 6. Men like Barnabas, when called to a Christian ministry, had sold their property and "brought the money and laid it at the apostles feet". The twelve used this money to provide for those in need.

When the number of disciples had increased, some of the Grecian Jews complained because their widows were being overlooked in the daily distribution of food. So the Twelve gathered all the disciples together and said, "It would not be right for us to neglect the ministry of the word of God in order to wait on tables. Brothers, choose seven men from among you who are known to be full of the Spirit and of wisdom. We will turn this responsibility over to them and will give our attention to prayer and the ministry of the word (Acts 6:2-4).
This proposal pleased the whole group so they appointed seven men who were full of the Spirit. They presented these men to the apostles who laid hands on them. The result was that the word of God spread, and the number of disciples in Jerusalem increased rapidly.

The deacons were responsible for the offerings of the Church. They used them to provide for the needs of the poor and the sick. In doing this they were fulfilling the parable of the Good Samaritan. When he found a person in trouble, he took action to meet the immediate need. He then took further action to find a permanent solution, taking responsibility for the cost himself. This is a good pattern for the ministry of a deacon.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Caring for the Poor (9) - Simple Lifestyle

As Churches get serious about sharing their possessions, a simple lifestyle should start to emerge. People will still own property and possessions, but their attitudes should be very different. They will choose a simpler lifestyle, not because possessions are evil, but because they are irrelevant. Christians should be so focussed on what God is doing that they lose interest in the things that occupy the world.

If the Holy Spirit is really moving in power, Christians will find it hard to be absorbed in a newer house or a bigger yacht? If the Lord is “adding to their number daily”, “retail therapy” will seem quite boring. If there is great joy in their neighbourhood, because paralytics and cripples are being restored, who would be dreaming about upgrading their car? The members of a Church will be so involved in the work of the Holy Spirit, that they will lose the need to own more and more things.

Sharing will mean that Christians can live better than the rest of society, while owning fewer possessions. Consequently, they will be able to spend less time working for money and more time working for the Lord. If they are called to work, they will be able to give more freely to support people in need. Sharing will free up resources for the work of the Kingdom. If God’s people learn to live simply and to share what they have, deacons will be able to use the surplus to minister to people in need.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Caring for the Poor (8) - Visible Witness

Sharing is important because it makes the gospel visible. Jesus promised that if we love each other, people will be drawn to him.

A new commandment I give you: Love one another as I have loved you, so must you love one another. All men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another (John 13:34,35).
I when I am lifted up from the earth,will draw all men to myself (John 12:32).
The people of the world are entitled to look at a Church to see if its members love each other. The problem is that love is not easy to see. Forgiveness and encouragement will often not be visible to those outside the Church.

The best way for Christians to make their love visible is by sharing their possessions. In a world where riches and poverty are normal, a Church with “no needy people” will be a very visible witness to the love of Jesus.

A sharing Church would be a tremendous testimony to people living close by. Christianity is not just a personal relationship with Jesus. His death on the cross also broke down the barrier of sin that divides us from other people. His people must demonstrate their restored relationships. In a world that is hungry for love, the best witness may not be a believer saying “Jesus loves me”, but a group of Christians freely sharing their possessions.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Caring for the Poor (7) - Voluntary

Caring for the poor must always be voluntary. God does not force us to do good, so sharing must always be a free choice.

Christian love produced a radically different attitude to possessions. Instead of being something to enjoy, they were seen as a gift from God to be used to strengthen the Church.

All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but they shared everything they had. With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and much grace was upon them all. There were no needy persons among them (Acts 4:32-34).
Christians like Barnabas responded to the gospel by selling their property and giving to those in need (Acts 4:36-37). There was not compulsion. All this giving was voluntary.

The story of Ananias and Saphira is well known, but we often miss the point of incident. It does show the dangers of lying to God, but more important, it shows that giving and sharing must always be voluntary. Peter’s words are important.
Ananias, how is it that Satan has so filled your heart that you have lied to the Holy Spirit and have kept for yourself some of the money you received for the land? Didn't it belong to you before it was sold? And after it was sold, wasn't the money at your disposal? (Acts 5:3,4).
Peter’s key point is that Ananias’s land belonged to him before he sold it. The money belonged to him after he had sold it. He was under no compulsion to give anything. He could have kept the whole value of the property for himself without condemnation.

Christian sharing must always be a free response to the love of Jesus. The motivation must be compassion, not condemnation. Sharing must always be voluntary. It must motivated by love and not by peer pressure. Demanding that someone share is always unacceptable. Charity is a privilege, not a right.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Caring for the Poor (7) - Equality

Most people feel that large variations in income or wealth are wrong. This is confirmed in the Bible. God’s goal is equality.

Our desire is not that others might be relieved while you are hard pressed, but that there might be equality. At the present time your plenty will supply what they need, so that in turn their plenty will supply what you need. Then there will be equality (2 Cor 8:13,14).
This is the same goal as the socialists, but the method of achieving the goal is different. Socialists use compulsory taxation to transfer income and wealth from the rich to the poor. This makes the rich angry and leaves the poor still poor.

God also wants equality, but his way is by sharing. The theme of the entire chapter is not compulsory redistribution, but generosity and sharing.
For I testify that they gave as much as they were able, and even beyond their ability. Entirely on their own, they urgently pleaded with us for the privilege of sharing in this service to the saints. And they did not do as we expected, but they gave themselves first to the Lord and then to us in keeping with God's will. (2 Cor 8:3-5).
Paul’s is a radical vision. He believed that if Christians grabbed hold of this sharing concept, the result would be equality. We are a long way from Paul’s vision, because we have not understood that sharing our wealth is the normal response to Jesus death on the cross. Generous sharing should be normal for Christians.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Caring for the Poor (6) - Deacons

In situations where families are unable to provide the help that is needed, the church must get involved. Caring for the poor is part of the responsibility of every Christian.

This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers. If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him (1 Jn 3:16-17).
These verses are really challenging for Christians. We know that Jesus laid down his life for us. We should also be prepared to lay down our lives for others by sharing our possessions. This is best done by the body of Christ sharing together. Deacons are members of the church who care for the poor on behalf of the church.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Caring for the Poor (5) - Families

Families caring for each other is different from the modern concept, where the state is expected to care for the elderly. The biblical principle is that children and grandchildren should care for the elderly.

The traditional family managed inter-generational wealth transfers very effectively. Parents cared for children when they were young, and children provided for their parents when they grew old. This worked well, because parents have their greatest earning power, when their children need expensive tertiary education. The children have their best earning power, when their parents are old and dependent on them.

The modern social welfare state has created problems by shifting wealth between generations without thought for the consequences. These changes have broken the bonds that held our wider families together. Parents no longer provide for their teenage children, so they have less influence on their lives, just when the need is greatest. Often extended families do no know each other well, so they are not in a position to support each other. Christian community will have to be restored so that families can provide economic support for each other in times of need.

God has given fathers the responsibility for providing for their families and where the father or his family fails to provide, the church is responsible to meet the need. When the state becomes the provider, it takes this responsibility away from the father and he loses his self respect. This weakens family life, making the whole welfare problem worse.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Caring for the Poor (4) - Families

The primarily responsibility for supporting those who become poor belongs within families.

If anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially
for his immediate family, he has denied the faith and is worse than an
unbeliever (1 Tim 5:8).
Families should provide financial support for each other. The first port of call when someone gets in financial difficulty will be other family members. Family members are in the best position to provide help. They will know the person well, so they will understand their situation. Family members will quickly identify anyone who does not deserve help because they are just being lazy. The recipient may also have opportunities to provide assistance in the future, so help tends to be more reciprocal.

The responsibility to provide care extends to children and grandchildren.
But if a widow has children or grandchildren, these should learn first of all to put their religion into practice by caring for their own family and so repaying their parents and grandparents, for this is pleasing to God (1 Tim 5:4).

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Caring for the Poor (3) - Work

This may seem obvious, but responsibility for providing our material needs is our own personal responsibility. Paul stated this quite bluntly when he said that those who will not work should not eat.

In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, we command you, brothers, to keep away from every brother who is idle and does not live according to the teaching you received from us. For you yourselves know how you ought to follow our example. We were not idle when we were with you, nor did we eat anyone's food without paying for it. On the contrary, we worked night and day, laboring and toiling so that we would not be a burden to any of you…. For even when we were with you, we gave you this rule: "If a man will not work, he shall not eat (2 Thes
Each person has a responsibility to provide for there own needs. This will generally mean working to earn enough money to pay for all that we need.

Personal provision includes saving enough to deal with the small emergencies that will arise from time to time (Prov 21:20). We do not know the future, but we can be certain that troubles will come; so a wise person will put a little aside to prepare for the unexpected.

Other methods of support only kick in when some unique circumstances prevent a person from providing for himself. For example, sickness or some other impairment may prevent a person from working. They will need support from others by one of the methods described in the Bible.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Caring for the Poor (2) - Tax

The common preference is to help the poor by taxing the rich. The scriptures do not give responsibility for caring for the poor to rich people of society. Rich people are urged not to trust in their wealth. They are warned that their wealth may quickly disappear. They are warned that they may die before they have a chance to enjoy their wealth. However, the Bible is realistic and does not expect the rich to do good to the poor (if they are not Christians).

Furthermore, Jesus is not in the business of forcing rich people to be generous. The modern approach to poverty is to tax the rich and give their money to the poor. The implicit argument goes like this. Rich people are not as good as the rest of us, so they cannot be trusted to be generous of their own accord. They should be forced to be generous. We should tax the rich more, so the money can be used for the poor.

The problem with this approach is that Jesus never forced people be good. He would never force the rich to be generous. The Bible gives responsibility for the poor to Christians, not the rich. Christians who want to tax the rich to bless the poor are passing the buck.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Caring for the Poor (1) - Key Issue

Poverty is a central issue for Christians. To be credible, we must provide proposals for the cure of poverty.

Many Christians advocate a reduction in taxes and welfare benefits. These things will eventually happen, but we should not even think about these policies, until we have alternative solutions in place and working. Compassion demands nothing less.

In this series of posts, I will outline several biblical methods for dealing with poverty.

Monday, November 06, 2006


The sixth commandment states that theft is a crime punishable by the civil courts. If there is no concept or convention of private property, there is no need for money, because someone who wants something can just take it, regardless of who has produced it. If there were an abundance of everything this might work. However, as scarcity is a fact of life in a fallen world, this is not practical. The outcome would be determined by force. The strong would have plenty and the weak would get nothing. This would result in a different concept of property; one where everything is controlled by the strongest, regardless of who produced it.

A concept of property is really inescapable. The important issue is whose property the law will protect. Biblical property laws protect those who have produced goods and services.

If a system of private property is to function efficiently, there must be a process for the exchange for goods and services. It is not practical for each person to produce everything that they need. Most people will produce more than they need of what they are best at and exchange it for other things that they need. This division of labour allows people to be more productive and the economy to be more efficient.

For the division of labour to work, there must be a way for people to freely and confidently exchange the goods and services which they produce and own. Money allows the people of a society to exchange goods and services easily.

More here.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

My Home is in Heaven?

Many Christians believe their true home is in heaven and they cannot wait to get there. However, this is not completely true. Our current home is on the earth. Paul had dual citizenship. He was a Jewish citizen and a Roman citizen. He had rights in both places.

We are dual citizens as well. We are citizens of both earth and heaven, having rights in both places. We should not become so focused on heaven that we forget our role on earth. Earth belongs to God and we are his stewards. He needs us to complete his work here.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Pivotal Time

The kingdom of man is currently building up to collapse. It has been building up its power to enormous heights, but has been unable to deliver what it has promised and is cracking at the seams. When it collapses there will be an enormous power vacuum. The group that is ready with an alternative vision will receive a great welcome. The Christian community should be getting ready for this challenge.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Dawkins on God

Bill Bonner has a great take on Richard Dawkin's latest book called the God Delusion.

Heaven doesn't exist, says Richard Dawkins; it is a 'delusion," quoth he in the Times and in his current best seller. Dawkins, of course, knows no more about whether God exists than we do. But he lacks our modesty; perhaps he was short gold from '80 to '99. Maybe he went long stocks in 2002. Or maybe he is just naturally an arrogant jackass. But the man seems to think that if God were to exist he would have to reveal himself to modern, skeptical scientists. This is the sum of Dawkins' argument - that God must exist in a way that Richard Dawkins can understand.

"God is dead," said Friedrich Nietzsche. "God never existed," says Dawkins. "God can do whatever he wants," says Bill Bonner.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

The Great Brain Robbery

This doctrine that Jesus will return to establish the Kingdom, is Satan’s greatest lie. He has used this lie to successfully cripple the church, but it is not true

The common view that Jesus will personally come back and establish the Kingdom of God is not true. The Bible teaches that Jesus will return to receive the kingdom from the church, so that he can hand it back to the Father (1 Cor 15:24,25).

Jesus taught about the Kingdom of God incessantly. His gospel was a gospel of the kingdom. It was not a gospel of Kingdom at the end of age. It was a gospel of the Kingdom of God at hand, now. He commissioned the church to establish the kingdom, now.

This seems strange to us. Jesus' view of the Kingdom is different from the view of most Christians. The reason is that many Christians have unwittingly accepted a lie from Satan. He has fooled us into believing that Jesus will establish the Kingdom when he returns. He has fooled us into believing that we don’t have to do it, because Jesus will do it for us. The problem with this is that he has robbed us of our inheritance.

When we read the Scriptures, we tend to shift the passages that promise victory to after the Second Coming. The Scriptures that promise hard times are assigned to the current age. This is part of the lie that Satan has sold us. The reality is that most of the passages about victory are meant for this age. We have been robbed of these promises of hope.

A corporate mental stronghold is a false idea that takes hold in a culture so that it is wisely accepted. The belief that Jesus will build the Kingdom of God when he returns is a corporate mental stronghold that has crippled the Church

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Power in Weakness

From Dietrich Bonhoeffer's Sermon on 2 Corinthians 12:9:

Christianity stands or falls with its revolutionary protest against violence, arbitrariness and pride of power and with its plea for the weak. Christians are doing too little to make these points clear rather than too much. Christendom adjusts itself far too easily to the worship of power. Christians should give more offense, shock the world far more, than they are doing now. Christians should take a stronger stand in favor of the weak rather than considering first the possible right of the strong."

Tuesday, October 31, 2006


Several readers have been unable to make comments.
I have reloaded the template, so comments should not be operating.

I still have some tidying up to do, but comments seems to be working. Go for it Gene.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Totally Different

Greg Boyd said,

Jesus did not come to give us a new and improved version of the kingdom of the world, He came to bring us a Kingdom not of this world (Jn. 18:36).

The kingdom of God is not the most "Christian" party winning power in the nation, but all political parties dying.

The kingdom of God is not a Christian nation, but all nations dying.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Mary's Prophecy

In the Magnificat, Mary prophesied what God would do through Jesus.

He has performed mighty deeds with his arm;
he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts.
He has brought down rulers from their thrones
but has lifted up the humble.
He has filled the hungry with good things
but has sent the rich away empty (Luke 1:51-53).
Mary did not prophesy that kings would be replaced by constitutional democracies. She did not say that Herod would establish a department of social welfare or start providing food stamps. She warned that rulers would be brought down from their thrones and the ordinary people would be able to govern themselves. She said that the poor would be able to provide themselves with food through God’s blessings on their own endeavours.

If kings are brought down from their thrones, kingdoms must go too. They do not get replaced by nation states or parliaments, but by communities networked in the Kingdom of God.

God kept his word and destroyed Herod’s power in AD 70. Then he destroyed the Roman Empire. The Church missed the point, and tried to prop up the Roman empire, by establishing the Holy Roman empire.

The Church has been trying to maintain the power of the state ever since. We have been fighting against Mary’s prophecy, because we do not understand the Kingdom of God. If Jesus is King, then parliament is not.

When Jesus is enthroned,
human governments are dethroned.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Role of Civil Government (8)

As the Kingdom of God expands, human governments will be transformed. God will shake them, so they collapse. Christians must be prepare to share the gospel when this happens. We must also be ready to explain how God’s government works.

Civil government will shrink. Authority will be pushed down and diffused among many people.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Role of Civil Government (7)

Justice is limited to theft and violence. The punishment of theft is limited to restitution. The penalty for violence is generally limited to restitution. The death penalty is allowed, but only for really horrendous crimes that have been witnessed by two or more independent witnesses.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Role of Civil Government (6)

Defence is limited to rare situations, where an army is invading, and there is a possibility of defeating it with a part-time militia that has allowed everyone who is afraid or has domestic commitments to go home. Defence really is a last resort.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Role of Civil Government (5)

The role of the state is limited to defence and justice.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Role of Civil Government (4)

Many human governments, perhaps most, are part of Satan’s kingdom. This happens when people in power use their power to do evil, or for purposes that go against or beyond God’s will.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Role of Civil Government (3)

The incarnation, cross resurrection and ascension established Jesus as king of kings, lord of lords and government of governments. All kings and governments must submit to him.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Role of Civil Government (2)

Civil Government is only legitimate if submitted to God.

No argument.

Righteous judges applying God's law to disputes is the only system of government that has God's blessing. God will only give his authorisation to governments that apply his law. A government that wants to make its own law is in rebellion against God.