Wednesday, February 29, 2012


The word capitalism has become unusable. When most people hear the word capitalism, they think of the current system of collusion between business and government, collusion between business and the military and a financial system that privatises profits and socialises losses. The technically correct name for the current system is mercantilism or fascism, but those words have long been forgotten. Most people now use the word capitalism to describe this kind of system. So when Christians try to defend capitalism, people read them as defending the current system, so they lose credibility. Putting the words pure, or biblical, ore free-market on the front does not help, because the meaning of the word capitalism has gone beyond the point of no return.

The economic concept of capital is important. The development and production of capital equipment increased human productivity and allowed us to escape from subsistence living. So the way that capital is created and who should own it and how owners should be rewarded for it are really important questions. However, those issues just get lost in any debate about the morality of capitalism.

So I prefer not to use the word capitalism. When describing the a biblical approach to economic development, I try to be more precise about what the bible teaches. I try to explain clearly how an economic system that is consistent with the scriptures would function. This system (a dangerous word too) would be very different from what we have now and it cannot be encapsulated in any –ism, including capitalism and socialism.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Pre and Post are Toast

People ask if my approach in Times and Seasons is pre-millenial, amillenial, or post-millenial. My answer is that none of these labels describe my teaching, because each of these approaches is wrong.

The problem is that most millennial teaching is a false doctrine with no basis in the scriptures. The single reference to “one thousand years” in Revelation 20:4 is symbolic and not literal. It describes the outcome of the cross, not a future event. The millennium that many Christians believe in is a cut-down distorted version of the kingdom of God.

Creating categories of eschatology by putting a prefix on a false doctrine leads to nonsense. I refuse to buy in to these ridiculous concepts.

The same applies to pre-trib, mid-trib and post-trib. The seven-year tribulation taught in many churches is a distortion of the scriptures. Tribulation is a normal experience for Christians at all times, not a season in God’s plan. Categories that put a prefix on a false doctrines lead to nonsense.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Not Preterist

Interpretations of the apocalyptic books of the Bible have been divided into two approaches.

  1. The preterist approach says that all the prophetic passages were fulfilled in the first century through the rise of the church and the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70.

  2. The futurist approach suggests that all the prophetic scriptures will be fulfilled in the future.

All labels are destructive, but these two are particularly stupid, because they whack the scriptures up with an axe to get them into a single box.

My analysis of the Last Days in my book Times and Seasons is neither preterist nor futurist.

The Destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70 was a spiritually significant event, so it had to be prophesied. However, it was not the last significant spiritual event in history, so it is logical that many subsequent events would also be prophesied. Pushing all the prophetic scriptures back to the first century is foolish.

On the other hand, pushing them all into the future is equally unwise. If Peter described an event as happening before his eyes (Acts 2:16-17) it would be unwise claim it will happen in the future. If Jesus says an event will be experienced by the generation listening to him (Matt 24:34) we should be careful about twisting his words to shift them into the future.

A common sense approach allows the scriptures to speak as they were written. Some will be fulfilled already and others await fulfilment in the future. Context and comparison will explain when they apply.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Special Blessing

A special blessing is promised to those who read the book of Revelation.

Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear it (Rev 1:3).
We should read Revelation and become familiar with its contents, so that if it is fulfilled in our time, we will be prepared. Those who have not read John’s visions will not realise what is happening. They will be overcome by these events, because they do not understand what God is doing.

God did not open heaven to John se we can make idle predictions. God does not give knowledge for the sake of knowledge. He is more interested in our actions in the present than in our speculations about the future.

John’s message is primarily for generations who live through the seasons prophesied. His visions will also give guidance about the right way to live during these times. When the world gets dark, God’s word will shine light in the darkness.

We also have the prophetic message as something completely reliable, and you will do well to pay attention to it, as to a light shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts (2 Peter 1:19).

The Holy Spirit proves that he is in control during times of darkness by prophesying them in advance. This should inspire his people with hope.

Reading Revelation should encourage us to serve Jesus with zeal. As we learn more of God’s plan for the future, we will understand what he wants us to do in the present. By fulfilling his purposes now, we can speed the fulfilment of all his plans. The knowledge of the glory of the Kingdom should inspire us to work and suffer for its coming.

Many Christian have read dozens of books about the so-called end times, but have never read the Book of Revelations right through. That is dangerous. The same is true of my book Times and Seasons. You should not read it, if you have not read the book of Revelation through several times.

Revelation is best read with a childlike attitude. When children read a book they quickly work out who are the winners and losers. They do not worry about all the detail. That is a good way to start reading Revelation. Read it right through and get the sweep of the drama.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Body Witness

Jesus called his people to love one another as he has loved us. Taking this seriously would dramatically improve our witness. When I go to work, people see my witness. When Tim Tebow plays sport, people see his witness. This is good, but what people really need to see is the witness of the body of Christ, living out Jesus commandment to love one another. The can only happen if Christians live in close proximity to each other.

In the modern world, the church only functions as a body when we “go to church on Sunday” This is a poor witness, as those who need to see the witness of the body are not there. It is also a cop out for love. Love is not really tested when you only see your Christian brother or sister for an hour on Sunday.

When people ask me where I go to church, I say, “Church is not something that you can go to. Church is something you must be, where you live.” Accordingly, my book on the shape of the church is called “Being Church Where We live.

The world is waiting for a full witness of Jesus love. Our worship does not impress them. They do not care that much about our unity. They would sit up and take notice if they saw they saw Christians demonstrating Jesus’ new commandment in the communities where they live.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Kingdom and Spirit

Christians who develop a zeal for the Kingdom of God will be pushed towards a new understanding of the role of the Holy Spirit. The problem is that once you understand the Glory of God’s kingdom, you want it to come on earth. This can lead in two directions. The most common response is bringing in the kingdom by political power. This approach always leads to disappointment.

The second, and better approach, is to understand that the Holy Spirit is the kingdom builder. God has entrusted him to fulfil Jesus ministry by establishing his Kingdom on earth. The Holy Spirit has all the omnipotent power of God, so he will establish the Kingdom when the time is right. That is the Christian hope.

People who love the Kingdom that do not understand the role and reality of the Holy Spirit will be locked in disappointment.

Some will ask why the Holy Spirit has been so slow, to bring in the Kingdom, if he is so clever. The answer is that he will do it when the time is right and all the obstacles have been removed. My new book called Times and Seasons explains why the Holy Spirit has been prevented from establishing the Kingdom, and when he will be able to do it.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Divorce in the Modern World (3) - Pastoral Reality

The pastoral reality that we have to deal with is a world that is all messed up and many in the church are messed up too. So if divorced Christians are acknowledging their failures and wanting to make a new beginning, we should encourage them. If they are willing to commit to a new marriage, Christians pastors should be willing to marry them. Churches should be willing to support them.

On the other hand, if they want to continue living a selfish lifestyle, we might need to challenge them. We should not encourage those who a stuck in selfishness to enter a new marriage, because they will probably just get more of the same.

This is not a drift in the biblical principles. It is a Christian response to the situation that has emerged in a sinful world. Our calling has always been to work with the cross and the Spirit to clean up the mess that evil has made in the world. Christians should be skilled in sorting this stuff.

Pauls describes the ideal in 1 Cor 7:10-11. If Christian separate from their spouse, they should ideally remain single, or be reconciled. However, this ideal includes a church that provides the same level of emotional, spiritual and monetary support, as it would provide to a widow of a martyr. The separated person should still have a fulfilled life supported by their Christian community. In our world, life often does not work out like that. The modern church is not capable of providing the level of support needed after the separation, or before it for that matter.

People left on their own often get drawn to others of the opposite sex. We were created to relate to others, so it is natural for a person living in isolation to get entangled with another.

Once it has happened, Christians have to deal with the situation as it is. When a separated Christian comes and asks their pastor, if they can marry again, they are not usually asking a theoretical question. They already know who they want to marry. They have already committed adultery with them in their hearts by choosing to unite with another, so they are technical divorced in God’s eyes and free to marry. So the pastor does not need to feel guilty about marrying them.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Divorce in the Modern World (2) - Application

People who are not Christians can do what they like. We cannot expect them to live up to God’s standards. Where sin abounds, divorce will be inevitable for a huge variety of reasons.

With the current state of the church, we can expect divorce and remarriage to be common among Christians too. Moses’ hardness of heart principle seems to be relevant. When the church is ambivalent about the God’s standards and lacking the fullness of the Spirit, we cannot expect Christians to be walking in his ways.

We must understand that the reason Christians are allowed to divorce and remarry is “hardness of heart”. The spirit of the world is rampant in the church, so divorce naturally follows.

We must recognise that it is not just the people whose marriages have failed, but the “hardness of heart” of the church is almost a greater problem. The modern church provides inadequate discipleship, so it produces weak Christians. It should not be surprised if they fall into sin and want divorce. The modern church, does not understand spiritual protection (partly because it has bought into the “covering” lie) so the spiritual forces of evil are often free to tear couples apart. The increase in Christian divorce represents the failure of the church, not the failure of the people being divorced. If the church does not have the spiritual power to protect couples from attack, it does not have the right to prevent them from divorcing.

Divorce represents a failure of love. We are required to love each other, as Jesus loved us. That should be able to overcome most obstacles. The reasons commonly given for Christians divorcing are usually quite lame:

  • We have different interests;
  • We are going in different directions;
  • We have become different people to what we were when we married;
These are all things that agape love should be able to overcome. There will be failures of love among Christians, but it should not be taken lightly, as it represents our failure to live out the love of Jesus.

Widespread divorce amongst Christians undermines our gospel witness, as it implies that the gospel and the Spirit are not very effective.

The church appears hypocritical when it is vehemently hostile towards homosexuals and intolerant of homosexual marriage, but is tolerant of widespread adultery and divorce among Christians.

Adultery is a more serious sin than divorce. When a Christian separate or divorce, they are deciding to stop loving each other. That is not good, but it is a sin of omission rather than commission. Adultery occurs when one of them hooks up with another person. This is serious because they are uniting themselves with another person, when God has made them one with their spouse. Adultery divides something that God has created. In practice, most people who divorce their husband or wife have already committed adultery in their hearts (Matt 5:28), even if they have not gone there physically.

This is the prophetic perspective. Tomorrow, I will conclude with some more pastoral suggestions.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Divorce in the Modern World (1) - Biblical Teaching

A friend asked for my views on divorce. The next three posts give my response.

The biblical teaching on divorce is fairly straightforward.

  • God hates divorce (Mal 2:16). I notice that the latest edition of the NIV has watered this down. Interesting!!

  • Moses allowed divorce for hardness of heart (Mark 10:5,6). This was sensible. The people he led did not have the cross or the spirit, so they could not live up to God’s standards. They need a way out when sin made a mess of their lives.

  • Jesus was staunch against divorce. His position is based in creation. God has made two people one. There must be no divorce, except in cases of adultery (Mark 10:6-11; Matt 19:9). Adultery destroys the oneness that marriage establishes, so it destroys the marriage.

  • Paul softened Jesus stand by allowing divorce when a person becomes a Christian and their spouse refuses to continue living with them. The Christian spouse is “not bound” (1 Cor 7:15). This means that they are free to remarry (Rom 7:2,3). On the other hand, if the non-Christian is willing to stay, then the Christian cannot divorce. We must note two; things about this.

    • The expression “be willing stay” is quite strong. The Greek words mean “be glad to make a home with.” This is not mere toleration. It means making a home together. If the unbelieving husband were to keep on abusing his wife, she would be entitled to leave.
    • The unbelieving spouse receives salvations by living with their Christian spouse (1 Cor 7:14). Our individualistic world does not understand the power of this. It is another way of getting unbelievers to heaven.

  • Paul does not condone divorce where both spouses are Christians (1 Cor 7:10-11).

  • Paul allows a Christian wife to have a spell apart from her husband, if things are not working out (1 Cor 7:10-11).

    • The separated wife must try to reconcile with her Christian husband.
    • She must remain unmarried until they are reconciled.
    • If the Christian husband committed adultery while they are apart she would be free to remarry.
    • Temporary separation provides an escape for a Christian wife who is being abused by their Christian husbands.
    • Paul does not offer temporary separation as an option two husbands. In this letter, he is quite specific about applies to men and what applies to women, so we cannot use an argument from silence. He offers women the option of temporary separation, because they are more vulnerable. Christian men do not get this option, because they have economic and physical power. This continues the protections for woman provided in the Old Testament.

  • The Bible does not have a hierarchy of sins. Sin is sin. Divorce is no better or worse than other sins. The cross can deal with divorce, just as effectively as any other sin. There is no sin too tough for the cross.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

The Kingdom of God

Christians all over the world are developing a new interest in the Kingdom of God. For many it is just and adjective that is tacked onto the front of what they are already doing, in much the same way that the words ”prophetic” and “apostolic” were used in the past. The church has gone from “prophetic leadership”, to “apostolic leadership”, to “kingdom leadership” in less than twenty years. However, turning the kingdom into an adjective trivialises the kingdom. We must really let the concept shape our thinking.

I maintain this truth: If Christians get really serious about pursing the Kingdom of God, they will eventually have to amend their eschatology (teaching about the end of history). Most just try to make the Kingdom of God fit with the conventional end-times teaching. This just will not work.

I gave up in it twenty years ago, when I realest that Jesus teaching about the Kingdom of God was clear, whereas most end-time teaching is based on snippets of scripture from here and there. I decided that if I put the Kingdom of God first, everything else would be given to me, including my understanding of God’s purpose for history. Looking at the New Testament, using the Kingdom of God as the interpretive principles gave me a complete different understanding of God’s plan for human history. This is outlined in my new book called Times and Seasons. It is very different from the standing teaching, but it does do justice to the Kingdom of God.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

New Book Available

My latest book is now available.

Many Christians believe that we are getting close to the second coming of Jesus and that that the end of the world is near. They are right to think that we are getting close to a change of season, but because they do not understand the times and seasons, they are looking for the wrong events. The problem is that popular teaching about the last days, a seven-year tribulation, a rapture and millennium has led to confusion about times and season. The timetables produced by the end-time teachers have been wrong again and again.

This new book takes a different approach. It begins with the ministry of Jesus and the sending of the Holy Spirit and ends with the glory of the Kingdom of God. The key seasons and the epochal events that mark the change from each season to the next are clearly described. The key themes covered in the book are:
  • God is not in a hurry, but will take as long as he needs to establish the glory of his Kingdom.

  • We are not as close to the end of the world as many Christians believe

  • Jesus death, resurrection and ascension completed his work on earth. He has accomplished everything necessary for the establishment of his kingdom.

  • Jesus sent the Holy Spirit to establish his Kingdom. The Holy Spirit is the Kingdom Builder.

  • During the Times of the Gentiles, the Holy Spirit has been constrained.

  • The Times of the Gentiles are coming to an end and a new season is close.

  • The transition to the next season will be a Time of Distress as human political power rises to a crescendo.

  • The next big event is the Fullness of Israel.

  • The Jewish people will come to salvation during a time of trouble when the Holy Spirit opens their eyes to understand that Jesus is their messiah.

  • The Fullness of Israel brings great blessing to the world.

  • The gospel will advance with great freedom and power

  • The Holy Spirit will be freed to bring in the Kingdom of God

  • Human governments and empires will collapse and fade away.

  • The Kingdom of God is established through the suffering and service of the church.

  • God may enjoy the fullness of his kingdom for a very long season. Billions of people will come to faith in Jesus.

  • Jesus appears when God’s purposes on earth are complete and the full number has come in to the Kingdom.

  • The people who have learned to serve Jesus will work with God as he pushes out to fill the entire universe with his wonderful worlds and kingdoms.

To purchase a copy from Amazon click on one of the buttons on the side bar. The righthand button is the Kindle Version.

People who live in New Zealand can purchase directly from Kingwatch Books using C20 to get quicker delivery.

Rewarding Problems

Sir Mervyn King is the big cheese at the Bank of England. He claims to understand the problems faced by people who live on their savings. At a press conference, he said,

I have deep sympathy with those who are totally unconnected with the origins of the financial crisis who suddenly find that the returns on their savings have reached negligible levels. These are consequences of the painful adjustment prompted by the financial crisis and the need to rebalance our economy.
He insisted that there can be no special help for particular groups.
All groups in society are suffering from the financial crisis. Difficult though it is, we have to make a difficult judgement about the right course of action for the economy as a whole.
This is twisted thinking. During the housing boom, Mervyn inflated the currency to benefit borrowers. Now things have turned to custard, he forces interest rates down to benefit borrowers. Rewarding borrowers got us into trouble, so he punishes savers to get us out of trouble.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Another View on Barter

Franz Oppenheimer (1864–1943) had a slightly different view on barter. His article called Barter in Prehistoric Times is worth a read. He suggests that the division of labour began with the production of gifts, which then led into other types of exchange.

Graeber and Debt (5)

During times of war or social tumult, trust naturally declined. Coins become more important to support trade during a time when no one knew who could be trusted.

If we look at Eurasian history over the course of the last five thousand years, what we see is a broad alternation between periods dominated by credit money and periods in which gold and silver come to dominate—that is, those during which at least a large share of transactions were conducted with pieces of valuable metal moving from hand to hand. Why? The single most important factor would appear to be war. Bullion predominates, above all, in periods of generalised violence. There’s a very simple reason for that. God and silver coins are distinguished from credit arrangements by one spectacular feature, they can be stolen. A debt is, by definition, a record as well as a relation of trust. Someone accepting gold or silver in exchange for merchandise, on the other hand, need trust nothing more than the accuracy of the scales, the quality of the mental, and the likelihood that some will be willing to accept it. In a world where war and the threat of violence are everywhere, there are obvious advantages to making ones transactions simple. (Graeber p.213)
An unrelated comment about tally sticks is very interesting.
One of the most important forms of currency in England in Henry’s time were notched ‘tally sticks” used to record debts. Tally sticks were quite explicitly IOUs; both parties to a transaction would take a hazel wood twig, notch to indicate the amount owed and then split in half. The creditor would keep one half, called “the stock” (hence the origin of the term stockholder) and the debtor kept the other, called “the stub” (hence the origin of the term “ticket stub”. (Graeber p.45)
Overall, an interesting book.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Graeber and Debt (4)

In the context of the development of money, Graeber notes that the unit that debts are recorded in does not matter, provided everyone understands it and uses it. He describes how pounds shillings and pence were used as units of account in Western Europe hundreds of years after these coins had stopped circulating. Coins in these denominations did not exist, but people still used these units for recording debts and other market valuations.

The period began much as it did elsewhere with the disappearance of coinage. Money retreated into virtuality. Everyone continued to calculate costs in Roman currency, then, later in Carolingian “imaginary money”= the purely conceptual system of pounds, shillings and pence used across Western European to keep accounts well into the seventeenth century. (Graeber p.283)

Within a community- a town, a city, a guild or religious society-pretty much anything could function as money, provided everyone know there was some willing to accept it to cancel out a debt (Graeber p.74).
Trust within a community is important for the development of money. Another interesting comment is the following quote.
A debt is just an exchange that has not been brought to completion. (Graeber p.121)
This is not quite right. Debt is a complete exchange, of the ability to buy goods in the present for payments of interest in the future. I make a different point in Trade. Money indicates an exchange that has not been brought to completion.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Graeber and Debt (3)

I like David Graeber’s description of the way money emerged, partly because it fits with the approach taken in my article on Money. Graeber suggest that money functioned in two different ways in parallel in traditional societies.

  1. Travellers moving outside their communities always carried gold and silver. This enabled them to purchase goods and services when they were travelling among people who did not know them and therefore could not trust them. Coins were not much use in this situation, because even if their genuineness was authenticated by the mark of a banker or king, they would be trusted outside their own territory. Travellers would use scales to measure the gold or silver they used to make purchases while on their journeys.

  2. Most trade within local communities was undertaken with credit. Most people would be quite self-sufficient for food. If they wanted to buy shoes from a local cobbler or clothing from a local garment maker, they would often buy it on credit, because, they might not be able to pay for it until the harvest had come. The cobbler would know his neighbours, so he would only give credit to those he knew to be creditworthy, ie those he trusted. The garment maker might buy some shoes by swapping some debts with the cobbler. Trade emerged with local traders keeping a slate of those who owed payment to them. Banking would emerge when responsibility for recording uncompleted exchanges was taken over by a specialist. This is very similar to the process described in my parable called Beeble.

Very little of the American gold and silver that reached Europe actually ended up in the pockets of ordinary farmers, mercers or haberdashers. The lion’s share stayed in the coffers of either the aristocracy or the great London merchants, or else in the royal treasury. Small change was almost non-existent. In the poorer neighbourhoods of cities or large towns, shopkeepers would issue their own lead, leather, or wooden token money; in the sixteenth century, this became something of a fad, with artisans and even poor widows producing their own currency as a way to make ends meet. Elsewhere, those frequenting the local butcher, baker, or shoemaker would simply put things on the tab. The same was true of those attending weekly markets, or selling neighbours milk or cheese or candle-wax. In a typical village, the only people likely to pay cash were passing travellers and those considered rif-raff, paupers and ne’er do wells so notoriously down on their luck that no one would extend credit to them. Since everyone was was involved in selling something, however just about everyone was both creditor and debtor; most family income to the form of promises from other families. Everyone knew and kept count of what their neighbours owned one another; and every six months or year or so, communities would hold a general public “reckoning” cancelling debts out against each other in a great circle, with only those differences then remaining when all was done being settled by use of coin or goods. (Graeber p.327)

Cash was employed largely between strangers, or when paying rents, tithes, and taxes to landlords, bailiffs, priests, and other superiors. The landed gentry and wealthy merchants, who eschewed hand-shake deals, would often use cash with one another, especially to pay off bills of exchange drawn on London markets. Above all gold and silver were used by the government to purchase arms and pay soldiers, and amongst the criminal classes themselves. This meant that coins were most likely to be used both by the sort of people who ran the legal system-the magistrates, constables , and justices of the peace-and by those violent elements of society they saw it as their business to control. (Graeber p.329)

Monday, February 13, 2012

Nearly Here

Last Tuesday, they were in North Charleston, SC. Wednesday they were at Franlin Park, IL. On Thursday they were at Cincinnati, OH. The left Los Angelos, CA on Saturday. The skipped Sunday by crossing the International dateline to avoid having to rest and arrived in Auckland, NZ on Monday. Hopefully, they will arrive in Christchurch tomorrow.

No. Not migratory birds, but due to the wonders of modern logistics, the first copies of my new book called Times and Seasons. Not quite on Time, but ripe for the next Season.

Graeber and Debt (2)

David Graeber has some interesting things to say about money. He demonstrates that the classic economics textbook explanation of the origins of money is wrong. Money did not emerge from barter, with a popular commodity being held to deal with the double coincidence of needs. Money began as credit. He could be right about the order of development, but that does not prove much. The important concept that he seems to miss is that the division of labour, which is essential to economic development, requires the exchange of goods and services. It does not matter much whether this began with money or with barter, but the division of labour was an important step for human society.

Graeber does not distinguish clearly enough between relationships in a community and more distant trading contacts. In a local community, people know each other and understand who can be trusted. Credit transactions can be undertaken easily in this environment.

When trade and exchange take place between people in different communities and nations, the transactors do know each other, so they will not usually be able to trust each other sufficiently got give credit. Gold and silver were always important for people travelling to different countries, because it enabled them to make payment for purchases from people who did not trust them.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Graeber and Debt (1)

I have just completed reading a book called "Debt: The First 5000 Years" by David Graeber. The interesting feature of this book is that it is written by an anthropologist, but deals with the issues of economics. If this is good anthropology, I am puzzled by it. I am not sure if all anthropologists write like this, but this book rambles from topic to topic in a very disjointed way for nearly 500 pages. I felt like a thorough editing would have reduced it to a more readable size.

I also found his approach economics quite strange. He seemed to create a lot of straw men and knocked them down without much point. He would state an economic theory, in a slightly twisted way, and then show that things did not operate in that way in some society.

Graeber’s approach to markets and the free exchange of goods and services is odd. He assumes that in most exchanges one person is ripping the other off. He does not understand that a free exchange only takes place, if both parties get something. That want more than what they had before. If that is not the case, it was not a free exchange.

Graeber puts a lot of effort into showing that Adam Smith ignored credit transactions and over emphasised cash transactions, without seeming to understand that cast is critical to what Smith was saying about free markets.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Prophetic Communities

The best antidote for the heroic is a prophetic community. The full revelation of God will only be received by a group of people seeking him together. The Holy Spirit likes to give different parts of the revelation to different people. The full picture can often only be obtained by pooling all the information received.

God is wanting to raise up prophetic communities. Individual prophets are not capable of hearing Gods word for our complex world (Tom Marshall- The Coming of the Prophets).
More at Prophets and the Church.

Thursday, February 09, 2012

Prophetic Message

The primary message of the prophets is the person and character of God. Most problems in the church and the world are rooted in an incorrect or unbalanced view of God. Prophets will consistently speak of his love, mercy, righteousness, holiness, sovereignty and justice.

The second part of the prophetic message is God’s plan for history. Prophets describe what God is doing in the world. They give the long-term plan and proclaim coming events, explaining how they fit into the long-term plan (Is 40:15-17).

More at Prophet Message.

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Pastors and Prophets

The modern church is dominated by pastors. The prophetic ministry can only be restored to the church, if pastors allow it. I believe that many pastors have (sometimes unwittingly) obstructed the restoration of the prophetic ministry in the church. This has prevented God from doing all that he wants to do. Sometimes pastors are hostile or fearful of the prophetic due to bad experiences, but this is not an excuse for robbing their people of what the prophetic ministry can bring to their church.

While some prophets have hurt people, the reality is that controlling pastors and inadequate pastoring have done far more damage to far more Christians. In numerous situations, a whole church has fallen when their pastor has lost the plot. Pastors have far more power over people’s lives than prophets. A pastor who gets lost can do far more damage than an over-zealous prophet. Where prophets have become unruly or controlling, the reason is usually inadequate or insecure leadership.

Mature pastors have no reason to fear the prophetic. A wise and God-fearing pastor, who is loved by his flock, can never be overcome or pushed aside by a prophet. Despite these facts, the bar of acceptance is set much higher for prophets. Some pastors may need to be more honest about the real reason for their indifference to prophetic ministry. The problem may be something in their own heart, rather than the prophet.

Pastors are often concerned about the damage that prophets can do. They should be more concerned about the effect of the lack of the prophetic in their church. Pastors have a key role in encouraging the development of the prophetic ministry.

The issue cannot be avoided. If they want to fully serve God, pastors will have to deal with the prophetic (and its problems). The church will never reach its full potential without the ministry of the prophet, but the prophetic ministry will only be restored in God’s fullness if there is a radical commitment from pastors to make it happen. The following scripture is very compelling. It implies that if leaders do not trust the prophets, they will not succeed.

Trust his prophets and you will succeed (2 Chron 20:20).

More at Prophets and Pastors

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Platform Prophets

The root problem with one-man leadership is that those who get to the top often feel insecure, so they surround themselves with sycophants and “Yes Men”. Anyone who might challenge their authority is kept at a distance.

The other side of this problem is the platform or pedestal prophet. The senior pastor who does not have his own pet prophet brings one in from outside and puts him on a pedestal. From that platform, the prophet is allowed to give encouragement to the people and challenge those that need sorting out, but the senior pastor always stands behind the prophet, safe from his words.

The pedestal prophet has authority because the senior pastor testifies to his credibility. In return for this authentication, the platform prophet must submit to the authority of the pastor/manager and honour him. The prophet is kept on the pedestal where his ministry can be controlled. The platform prophet must go along with this charade, or be kept in silence.

More at False Prophets.

Monday, February 06, 2012

Waitangi Day

Today is Waitangi Day in New Zealand, the day when the founding of our nation is celebrated. New Zealand is different from most countries that were colonised by European countries in the nineteenth century, because a treaty was agreed between the British government and the leaders of the indigenous Maori people. This treaty, or covenant, was signed on 6 January 1840.

This was a great start for a nation, but unfortunately the treaty was ignored for the next 100 years, because it was never put into legislation by the new parliament.. The Maori people were ripped off left, right and centre, and towards the end of the nineteenth century, some experts thought they might die out.

In the last forty years, efforts have been made to recognise the treaty and to put right some of the injustices that were done. I cannot say that there has been strong support for this change, as most New Zealanders do not care. The changes were really pushed through by three middle-aged, European politicians from different parties, who were not leaders, but who gained sufficient influence to push through the changes they wanted. Geoffrey Palmer got Treaty of Waitangi clauses introduced to some important pieces of legislation. Doug Graham got the Treaty settlement process working effectively, and Michael Cullen pushed through a number of important settlements.

Most Christians do not understand the importance of these changes, but settling some of the injustices was really important for the spiritual status of New Zealand. I explain the spiritual consequences of covenants between nations in and article called the Treaty of Waitangi, that was first published in 1883, All Christians need to understand the importance of honouring covenants, regardless of the circumstances in which they were made.

Saturday, February 04, 2012

Testing Prophecies

Testing individual prophecies can often be difficult. Every church needs a prophet who has a proven track record, a person who is known for speaking the word of the Lord. It is easier to test prophets than individual prophecies. A prophet can be watched over time to see if his life is bearing fruit for the Lord (Matthew 7:15-20). Every church needs a proven prophet who can be trusted to bring a reliable word when one is required.

See Testing Prophecies and Prophets for more.

Friday, February 03, 2012

Prophetic Frustration

All prophets experience rejection, if their words are not always accepted and obeyed. If this happens frequently, the prophet can become frustrated, and frustration can lead to bitterness. Words spoken out of frustration and bitterness will be contaminated by these things and will not come out pure. This is one of the most serious problems faced by prophets. They must learn to deal with rejection without going into frustration and bitterness.

More at Prophetic Pitfalls