Wednesday, November 28, 2018

New Seasons (6) Questions

When I hear prophetic people say that we are moving into a new season or that some new blessings are being released, I want to know the answer to four questions.

  • What epochal event is occurring that will bring the Kingdom of God to fulfilment? Usually, they are not pointing to a true change of season. They are just expressing a hope that the church will be revived and the gospel will be proclaimed with power. That is a noble hope, but it is misleading to call it a change in season.

  • Who was holding back the promised blessings: God or the powers of evil? We need to know who we are dealing with. The problem is never with God.

  • Why were the promised blessing held back?

    • Have the humans given the power of evil authority to hold it back?

    • Are the people of God willing to do his will?

  • What has changed to make the new season possible?

    • Has God changed his mind – doesn’t happen?

    • Have the powers of evil given up – not likely?

    • Have the spiritual powers of evil lost their ability to hold back God’s purposes – this can only happen if humans withdraw authority they had given them?

    • Have humans changed their attitudes or behaviour allowing God to do what he wanted to do – that is always the key to the new move of the Spirit.

Christians looking for a new season should understand that God does not change his mind. He does not change his plan or the way that he does things. He does not stop and start. He is never the reason that the kingdom of God is slow to come on earth. Humans are the reason, we need a better season.

Our failure to listen to the voice of the Spirit and do his will is the reason we are not receiving the promised blessings. If we are doing the wrong thing, God will not change his mind and bless it. Rather, we should be asking him what we need to do differently to receive his blessings.

In any season, they key is alignment with the will of God. If we align with his will, we experience his goodness. His goodness is not just blessings. His goodness might mean blessing with persecutions. If we do not align with God’s will, then things will go badly in every way (although he will work it for our good in the long run).

We do not need prophets giving vague promises about season changes that are disconnected from our circumstances and alignment to God’s will. What we do need is prophetic insights into God will’s in our current situation, so that we can obey him fully and receive his blessings. We need fewer prophecies telling us that God is changing, and more telling us how to change so that we can do with his will.

This full series is at New Seasons.

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

New Season (5) Greater Cooperation

God will not force people to do things against their will. The Holy Spirit nudges and guides, but he will not force people to obey him. This means that God can only achieve something different on earth if his people cooperate with him more than they did in the past. If something different happens on earth, it will be because people have allowed him to do what he always wanted to do.

If a new level of activity begins in a place, it will be because people in that place have started cooperating with the Holy Spirit in a way that they were not before. It is not because God has changed his mind, and is doing something he was not doing before.

If something new is happening, it is not because God has woken up, or changed his mind. Something new can only happen if Christians have a change of heart and agree to do what God needs them to do, or because humans have removed a place of authority that the spiritual powers of evil used to obstruct God work.

There can be a new season of cooperation if the people of God have a change of heart, but we must be careful how we describe it. A season of cooperation is not something that God can make happen, regardless of the response of his people.

We can have a new season, but we establish it, when we change our hearts and cooperate with God and do his will.

Monday, November 26, 2018

New Season (4) God is Never the Problem

The problem is never with God. Lack of action on earth is never God’s fault. Lack of progress with the gospel is never the Holy Spirit’s a failure. God always wants to do something better on earth. He is always looking for people to work with his Spirit to accomplish his purposes. If Holy Spirit has not been able to bring in the Kingdom of God, it is not because he couldn’t be bothered, but because his people have been unwilling to work with him in his way to achieve his purposes.

We should be careful about saying that a new season has started, because it suggests that God is going to start doing something that he was not doing before. It implies that God is the reason why nothing was happening. This makes him the problem, which is not fair to God. It also removes responsibility from us, which is dishonest. Blaming God for our problems is a serious sin. Not only does it grieve God, but it gives the spiritual powers of evil access into our situation.

Sunday, November 25, 2018

New Season (3) God has a Plan

God sent Jesus to win back the world for him. Jesus did everything that God needed him to do. When Jesus ascended into heaven, he poured out the Holy Spirit on those who believed in him. The Holy Spirit has been at work since the day of Pentecost. He has not stopped working. The plan for restoring the world by the Holy Spirit working in the church has not changed.

However, the activity of the Holy Spirit depends on the degree of cooperation that he receives from his people. God gave humans authority on earth, so the Holy Spirit needs our permission to operate on earth. He has no arms and legs, so he needs people to carry him where he needs to go. He has no mouth, so he needs people to speak through.

God has poured the Holy Spirit out on everyone who trusts in Jesus. Everything that God can do is available through his Spirit. We can grieve him, but God does not withdraw him from the world. He is always seeking to work where hearts are open to his grace.

When you have done something as wonderful as giving the gift of the Holy Spirit, it is hard to do a new thing that is better. So, the idea that God is about to do a new thing does not make sense. He cannot do more than he has already done by sending his Holy Spirit to live in the hearts of those who have chosen to follow Jesus.

If the Holy Spirit begins to move in a place, it is not he has changed his mind, but because he has found people willing to do what he needs them to do. If the Holy Spirit stops moving in a place, it is because people have stopped cooperating with him. The problem is never with God or his plan. The problem is always with us.

If we understand God's times and seasons, we will not see fickle and arbitrary changes in the way that God works on earth. The Holy Spirit came in the fullness of his power on the day of Pentecost, so God cannot send more of him. The powers of evil were fully defeated by the cross, so God cannot defeat them further.

When the Holy Spirit seems to be moving in a new way, it is most likely because he is able to do what he has always wanted to do because a group of people have opened their hearts to his purpose and allowed him to do it. Or possibly, the spiritual powers of evil have lost some authority, which prevents them from obstructing God’s purposes.

Saturday, November 24, 2018

New Season (2) Covenant Seasons

A true change in season can occur, but only if there is a change in the covenant relationship between God and his people, or change in the authority situation between God and the power of evil. For example, the giving of the law to Moses began a new season, because God’s people on earth had something they did not have before. It gave them the capability to live in peace with each other and with God. It also gave the spiritual powers of evil the right to accuse them of their failure to keep the law.

The true seasons in human history are marked by epochal events that change the relationship between earth and heaven. The death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus was the ultimate epochal event that brought in a new season, because it totally changed the relationship between God and humans. His death on the cross dealt with the sin, which destroyed the authority of the powers of evil. Forgiveness of sin opened the way for the Holy Spirit to be poured out on all who believe.

The last big season change occurred in AD 70 when the temple in Jerusalem was destroyed, bringing the old covenant sacrifices to an end. This opened a season called the Times of the Gentiles because the Jewish people chose to remain under the old covenant and lost their spiritual protection because they have no sacrifice for sin.

The next epochal event is the Fullness of the Jews when the majority of Jews come to faith in Jesus. This event will bring in a season of great blessing for the world. (These seasons are described in detail in a book called Times and Seasons).

In between these big season changes, there is spiritual warfare. What happens on earth depends on the state of the ongoing war. Success or failure depends almost entirely on the church. Changes in the spiritual realms come from binding and releasing on earth, not the other way around (Matt 16:19).

Because the Jews have not yet received Jesus as their Messiah, we are still in the season called the Times of the Gentiles. Until the epochal event that ends this season occurs and the Fullness the Jews comes in, we must be careful about calling a new season. If an epochal event has not caused a change in the spiritual realms that brings about change on earth, there is unlikely to be a new season.

Friday, November 23, 2018

New Season (1)

Reading prophetic websites, I see many prophetic people saying that we are entering a new season. I am not sure what that means. It suggests that God is going to do something new that he was not doing before. It implies that the Holy Spirit is working in one place and not in another. It makes it seems like God stops and starts, or moves in one place and not in another.

God is not Fickle
God is not fickle or capricious. He is not lazy. God does not speak like this.

  • I am not going to do much in India for the next fifty years, because they have had a good run.
  • I am going to move in Russia now because I have not done much there for the last 200 years.
  • I am not going to do much in the United States, because I can’t be bothered.
  • I am going to do more in New Zealand because I have not been doing much until now.
God has released his Holy Spirit into the world. He is always at work. He does not turn the flow on and off according to his whim. God does not engage in trial and error. He does not try things to see if they will work.

God does not come and go. He does not arbitrarily jump from offering his blessing to withdrawing it. Blessings that were not available last week do not suddenly become available this week, because the year has a different number. God is not in a stingy mood one day and in a generous mood the next. He is not miserable last year and happy next year. The angels are not tired one week and strong the next.

God operates consistently according to the principles that he has revealed in the scriptures. He has been working on a long-term strategy that began when Adam and Eve sinned. His strategy is consistent with the way he has decided to operate on earth. His way of dealing with the earth does not change. His judgements are fair and consistent.

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Territory (8) Stumbling Block

Dependence on professional pastor-leaderships operating through big church-meetings is a serious obstacle to the Kingdom of God.

  • I cannot see professional pastors willingly stepping down from their role. They have invested so much time and energy into their church that they believe it cannot survive without them. They believe that they are essential for the advance of the church within their city.

  • I cannot see the church willingly giving up their big Sunday meetings because they have invested too much in their church buildings. Their ability to recover the wealth invested in these buildings is limited because these buildings have few other uses. Consequently, the market for unneeded church buildings is very small.

Unfortunately, this prevents them from taking spiritual control of territory for Jesus. It leaves him as a king without territory.

New Wineskin
Some prophetic people have announced that God is giving a new wineskin to his people. The coming of new wineskin must significantly change two things.

  • The role and structure of the leaders.
  • The way that members of the body relate to each other.
They will need to form together in a way that will enable the Holy Spirit to expand the territory where Jesus is King.

I don’t know what people think when they hear a word that God wants to bring in a new wineskin. I presume they think that their church might change a little, but most other churches will have to change more to be like theirs.

I presume that most pastors assume that they will lead the transition into the new wineskin, but if they established and shaped the old wineskin, it hard to see how that could happen.

I presume that most people in ministry assume that their role will be the same or enhanced in the new wineskin. But that cannot be true, because then the wineskin would not be new.

God will give them an opportunity to get with his program, but most will not be able to change. As usual, he will have to rely on a remnant to fulfil his strategy. He needs numerous groups of three or four people/families coming together in strategic places across the edge of the city. From there, he can spread out, working with people who come to faith, but do not have an attachment to the priest/temple paradigm. Together, they can be led by the Spirit into a new wineskin.

God can use people who are discouraged and disaffected, provided they are filled with his Spirit. But they must not stand around grumbling and moaning, but should get together with others who balance their giftings and learn to love one another. They should seek out the place where the Holy Spirit wants them to begin.

David began building his army when people who were in distress, or in debt or disaffected gathered with him in the Cave of Adullam (1 Sam 22:1-2). They were not noticed, because they seemed trivial, but they multiplied into a mighty army that took the land for David. The same applies in the modern world. Those who are distressed and disaffected should gather in places where they will not be noticed. That is how God builds a remnant.

The full set of posts can be found at Territory.

Sunday, November 18, 2018

Territory (7) Fivefold Ministry

Under the Modern Church Model, dependence on professional pastors squeezes out the other ascension gifts. A pastor-leader is the chief executive of a large church, so the other gifts have to operate under him, or move outside the church. Prophets and Evangelists struggle to find a place in the church, because the pastor-leader is uneasy about giving them too much freedom. They are expected to be subordinate to their pastor and submit to his control, which constrains their ministry, whereas in Ephesians 4, they seem to be equal. The pastor’s wife often becomes the prophet to the church, because she is trusted by the pastor-leader.

Many prophets and evangelists are forced into travelling ministries, which is dangerous because they lose accountability to a body of believers. They move on before the consequences of their ministry become clear. Their ministry gets centred on meetings, when their role is to build up the body of Jesus. Of course, they continue to dependent on pastors for opportunities to speak at church meetings, so they have to be careful not to rock the boat too much.

An apostle is a leader who pushes out with some other followers of Jesus to expand the territory of the king by establishing spiritual stronghold beyond the existing one. In the Modern Church Model, this role does not exist, so “super pastors” or “regional leaders” are often given the title “apostle”.

God wants to push the fivefold gifts back down into the body of Christ, so it may grow up fully into Jesus. A team of leaders with balanced giftings who have submitted to each can join and knit together the body is in unity with every part doing its share. One elder will be a prophet, another will be an evangelist and several will be pastors. Working together in unity, they can help the body to grow by edifying of itself in love.

Multiplication of Leaders

As God brings in his kingdom by taking territory for Jesus, he will need a huge number of new leaders. Unfortunately, the Modern Church Model has been ineffective at developing new leaders. Most attendees are trained to sit passively and watch the pastor-leader ministering. Many will find a role in assisting with running a church meeting, but few will discover a five-fold calling. A few will get to preach, but it will be rare for a person to get to be a pastor-leader. This approach cannot produce the leaders that are needed to support a rapid advance of the gospel and bring in the Kingdom.

If each of the leaders of a body of believers has strong relationships with a dozen followers of Jesus will grow to maturity quickly. The prophet will release vision and ensure that issues are sorted out keep. The leaders with a shepherd’s heart will solve problems and encourage people into their callings. The leaders will replicate their ministries in those that they are discipling. The evangelist will teach them how to share the gospel and heal the sick.

When their existing stronghold is secure, the leaders will send some of their number out as apostles to push out to establish another spiritual stronghold for Jesus. Potential leaders will have discovered their calling and be ready to step and replace those who are sent out. This multiplication of ministries is essential for the advance of the Kingdom of God by taking territory for Jesus.

Spiritually Vulnerable

The Modern Church Model is vulnerable to spiritual attack. Once the leaders of churches lived in a house on the same site as their church building. That had problems, but it was a spiritually safe place to be, because the spiritual powers of evil had no authority on the land belonging to the church.

These days, pastors-leaders prefer to live separate from their church and their people, so they can have a private life. Because they live in isolation in the world like other Christians, the spiritual powers of evil can concentrate their attacks on the pastor-leader overwhelm him by diverse attacks. If they can divert him or disrupt his family, they constrain his entire church
The pastor leader of a large organisation/church will be frequently tempted to slip into manipulation and control to keep their church on track. This gives the spiritual powers of evil a point of entry to attack the church.

The spiritual powers of evil can use persecution to shut down the Modern Church Model. The most effective way is to arrest the pastor-leader and lock the church doors. This would cripple most modern churches. However, they do not have to go that far. Political powers can control the preaching of the pastor-leader by placing particular topics off limits. History shows that most pastors will comply with the requirements of the political authorities to retain their status and authority.

Saturday, November 17, 2018

Territory (6) Priest/Temple Paradigm

The modern church model is priest/temple paradigm. The professional pastor-leader acts as a mediator between the Holy Spirit and the people.

  • Christians must attend the temple every week to be sure of their salvation.

  • If a Christian wants more of the Holy Spirit, they should go to the temple and the priest/pastor will pray for them.

  • If a Christian has a problem, they should come to the temple and get the priest/pastor to pray for them.

  • If Christian needs advice about life, they should go to the temple and listen to priest/pastor preaching a message.

  • If a Christian needs healing, they should go to the temple and the priest/pastor will pray for them at the front of the church. Others might pray too, but the prayers of the priest/pastor are expected to be more effective.

  • If they have a friend who wants to become a Christian, they should bring them to the temple and the priest/pastor will lead them in a prayer to Jesus.

Under the Priest/Temple Paradigm, everything important happens at the front of the church meeting. People who need ministry are prayed for by the leaders while the rest of the people watch. People needing salvation or ministry must be brought to the church by their friends so they can receive the ministry of the pastor-leader. The reality is that the Holy Spirit cannot do everything that he wants to do at the front of the church. He loves to go out into the places where people live, but he needs a body of believers to carry him.

What God wants to do is so big that it cannot be done by one person in a church building. The Holy Spirit wants to be doing things in public places where the world can see. Something is wrong when people who have been Christians for twenty years are still sitting in the temple listening to a priest pastor telling them how to do what the Holy Spirit wants to do.

The Priest/Temple Paradigm operates in the wrong direction. Jesus said to “Go” whereas the modern church says “Come”. Jesus commanded his followers to go into all the world and make disciples (Matt 28:19; Luke 24:47; Acts 1:8) once they had received the power of the Spirit. When Jesus had 70 disciples that he trusted, he did not form a big church meeting. Instead, he sent his first disciples out into the towns and villages where the crowds that followed him lived (Luke 10:1-2). The Holy Spirit did great things because he loves to go out where people live.

  • The Priest/Temple Paradigm calls people into a big meeting, but this an Old Testament strategy. The Israelites had to go up to Jerusalem three times a year to meet with God because they had not received the Holy Spirit. The modern church has changed the frequency to weekly, but has not changed the direction, despite the Holy Spirit being poured out. The new covenant brought a change of direction. The Holy Spirit wants to go out, because that is what Jesus told him to do. The church calls people together each week, when it should be sending people out in the power of the Holy Spirit.

  • The Priest/Temple Paradigm draws resources to the centre. Most finance raised goes to paying for the church building and supporting the professional pastor-leader and his team. In the new covenant, money flows the other way. Resources go out to bless the poor and to pay restitution to people have not received justice. This is a key feature of the Kingdom of God.

  • The Priest/Temple Paradigm scatters people into the world alone. They get overwhelmed by the worldly culture where they live and work, because they spend most of their time in it. A church that gathers scattered people together in a big meeting cannot transform the culture of a city. When they go back out as individuals, they are overwhelmed by the culture of the world.

  • The Holy Spirit wants to go out in groups of two or three families. One person cannot be a powerful witness for Jesus. A family living in the world is not the best witness for Jesus, because they look just like other families, just a bit nicer. Jesus is so wonderful that he cannot be represented by one person or family. He is best represented by a body of believers living close together in a place where the world can see. The best witness for Jesus is a group of families who share with each other and support each other, because they love Jesus.

Because the priest-temple model cannot take spiritual control of territory, it cannot bring in the Kingdom of God, no matter how much pastor/preachers talk about it. Accordingly, they use the word “kingdom” as an adjective to describe what they are doing, rather than as a noun to describe an entity that God is establishing.

Friday, November 16, 2018

Territory (5) Two obstacles

Some prophetic leaders are calling for a new vision and new strategy for the church to receive the Kingdom, but it seems to be stuck on two obstacles that it will not give up. Two aspects of church structure seem to be untouchable, but they limit the ability of the Holy Spirit to move.

  • Leadership by a single professional leader
    This person is usually called the Senior Pastor, but they sometimes take the title Apostle. They are often supported by various professional assistants, including worship leader, youth leader, assistant pastor, etc. If the church has elders, they are subservient to this Senior Pastor.

  • Sunday Meeting in a Church Building
    Everyone in the church is focused on getting as many people together as possible. The focus of the meeting is worship, often led by worship leader and worship team while everyone else responds passively. A sermon by the Pastor Leader is the second important element of the meeting. He tells the people what the Holy Spirit is saying Much of the ministry of the church happens at the front of the meeting. Most of the members of the church are trained to sit passively and watch the pastor and his team perform. There might be various small groups, but they are temporary, and subservient to the Sunday meeting. The meeting is called “church” because people consider it to be the church.

These two obstacles hang together. A pastor-leader cannot relate to a thousand or more people, so the only way that he can connect with all his flock is to bring them together in a large meeting. Maintaining a professional leader and his team is expensive, so gathering a big group of people is the only way to fund this structure.

If we do not willingly give up these obstacles, we will not get the new wineskin the Holy Spirit is calling for. Without that new wineskin, we will not be able to take spiritual control of territory and receive the Kingdom of God that wants to bring to us.

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Territory (4) None

No matter how strong and army, it can rarely seize control of a big area of territory in one attack, because it will become over-extended. A better approach is to attack a small pocket of territory, clear out all the opposition and establish strong defences, before pushing out from that stronghold to take more territory, and repeat the process of establishing control over it.

The Modern Church Model cannot take spiritual control of territory, because church members live in homes scattered across a wide area in the enemy’s territory. Even the pastor-leader is isolated in the suburbs of their city and vulnerable to spiritual attack. Christians who live in isolation from other members of their church will struggle to spiritually defend their homes, because they are standing alone and the spiritual powers of evil can concentrate to attack them. They are incapable of seizing spiritual control of territory beyond their home, because they have insufficient spiritual resources.

People driving to a church meeting once a week cannot establish territory there Jesus has authority. The best that they can achieve is gaining spiritual control over a church building. The spiritual powers of evil do not care about that, because they can dominate the surrounding territory. Jesus has authority in the church building where the church gathers, but once the meeting is over the Christians are scattered throughout enemy territory. A gathered church has no ability to seize spiritual control of territory around their church building.

Because the Modern Church Model cannot receive the Kingdom, some pastor-leaders are tempted to collaborate with political leaders in an effort to use political power to establish God’s will. Their strategy will not work, because it strengthens the human kingdom that the enemy uses to fight against God’s Kingdom. Political power relies on Imposed Authority. God will not use Imposed Authority it to establish his Kingdom, because he will not force people to do his will. Instead, he wants people to freely submit to Jesus and obey his Spirit because they love him.

The Modern Church Model has been prevalent for at least the last thirty years, but it has failed to advance God’s kingdom, because it has no ability to take spiritual control of territory. With no territory under his authority, Jesus He is left as a king without territory. Unfortunately, most leaders of these churches are focussed on numbers of people, so they do not even see territory as important. The Modern Church Model cannot take spiritual control of territory, so it cannot receive the Kingdom of God, despite all the talk about it.

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Territory (3) Expanding

When some more people in the neighbourhood have chosen to follow Jesus, and once they have cleared out all evil spirits, and established strong spiritual protection over the territory, they can send two or three of their number out to a new piece of territory close by and repeat the process to establish another spiritual stronghold.

If three or four families who are united by their love of Jesus and empowered by the Spirit move to a place, they can establish another Kingdom Community. By living in a cluster of dwellings, they can drive out the spiritual powers of evil that control that vicinity. They can stand together against the attacks of the enemy and establish another place where Jesus has authority. If one family had moved there on their own, they might struggle, because the powers of evil could concentrate to pick them off.

When a group of people who are united in love and empowered by the spirit live in the same place, they can expand the territory that belongs to Jesus. A few different groups of believers living close together in the same general area, united by love and submitted to Jesus can resist the spiritual powers of evil and force them to flee some territory.

The spiritual powers of evil always take the easy option, so they withdraw from areas where the Holy Spirit is strong (James 4:7). When follows of Jesus have established territory that belongs to Jesus, the gospel advance gets easier, because the opposition gets weaker. As more and more people choose to follow Jesus the territory that belongs to him gets larger. The evil-spirit-free zone gets bigger too.

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Territory (2) Spiritual Strongholds

Territory is critical to the Kingdom of God. He has given humans authority on earth, so he needs places where people have given him permission to work. To defeat the spiritual powers of evil, he needs places where his people have given the Holy Spirit full freedom to operate. A single house or a church building does not give him much scope. The Holy Spirit will be more effective, if his followers establish a stronghold in a group of dwellings close to each other (the shaded dwellings).

Establishing a beachhead in a strategic locality and then expanding outward is the most effective way to expand the territory of a king. An army takes a city street by street and neighbourhood by neighbourhood.

The advance of the kingdom of God needs followers of Jesus to establish spiritual strongholds where his authority is accepted. The best way to take territory for Jesus is a group of his followers choosing to live close together in one place. If they are committed to the leading of the Holy Spirit, he will sort out the housing issues, but they will need to stop seeking capital gains and start seeking kingdom gains.

Two or three families living close to each other in an area will have spiritual control over their homes. By standing together in unity, they have authority to force the spiritual powers of evil to leave the vicinity of their homes. They can establish a small territory that is evil-spirit free.

They must not try to try to get control over the people living in this territory. Rather they should love them and serve them while driving all evil spirits out the area. Jesus has promised that where two or three of his followers come together in one place, he is there in the midst of them.

Truly I tell you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven. Again, truly I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything they ask for, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them (Matt 18:18-20).
The word “gather” is “sunago”. It requires more than coming together for a prayer meeting. Living in love and unity in the same place expands their spiritual authority, because Jesus promises to be there with them.

Those who live near each other and love one another will have greater spiritual authority, because Jesus has promised that they will be able to defeat the spiritual powers of evil in the surrounding territory. They will be able to pray for the sick and cast out demons because they are united in Jesus. They can establish an evil-spirit-free zone where the Holy Spirit is free to work (the shaded area).

Monday, November 12, 2018

Territory (1)

Territory is critical for the Kingdom of God. The main reason that the Modern Church Model cannot receive the kingdom, it that it has no capacity to take spiritual control of territory.

Kings needs territory. A king without territory is not a real king. If another ruler gains control of his territory, he is just a pretender.

The spiritual powers of evil understand the importance of territory. The powerful ones have become “principalities and powers” controlling nations and kingdoms by dominating the kings and political leaders with authority over them. Lesser spirits control smaller areas where they have been given authority.

In the last couple of centuries, the church has lost interest in territory. Jesus now has many followers in the world, but very little territory where he has authority. There are very few places where he is king. Instead, his followers are scattered throughout territory that is controlled by the enemy. Because they live and work in enemy territory, they are often battered, beaten and robbed.

If there are no areas on earth that are evil-spirit free, then Jesus does not have a kingdom on earth. He just has people who have given allegiance to him living as outlaws in enemy territory. This should disturb us. Jesus needs followers who understand the importance of territory. To establish the Kingdom of God on earth, God needs a church that can take spiritual control of territory for him and push the spiritual powers of evil out of it.

No matter how strong and army, it can rarely seize control of a big area of territory in one attack, because it will become over-extended. A better approach is to attack a small pocket of territory, clear out all the opposition and establish strong defences, before pushing out from that stronghold to take more territory, and repeat the process of establishing control over it.

Saturday, November 10, 2018

Weapons for Saudi Arabia

I don’t understand why Donald Trump is so keen to be sell military weapons to Saudi Arabia, as they will end up in the wrong hands.

When the Saudi regime in Arabia collapses, as it inevitably will, the weapons will end up in the hands of ISIS, in whatever incarnation it takes there.

Thursday, November 08, 2018


I don’t like the word legalism, because it implies that laws are a problem. They are not.

The reality is that human society cannot function without laws, so there is nothing wrong with laws in themselves.

God was quite happy to give laws to his people, because he understood that they are useful for restraining the worst effects of evil.

Jesus gave plenty of commands/laws.

  • Love one another
  • Forgive those who forgive you.
  • Turn the other cheek.
  • Give away your possessions
  • Go and proclaim the good news.
Jesus wants us to know how to follow him, so he told people what he required of them.

The problem is not with laws and commands. They are as good as the person giving them.

A problem occurs when humans use laws and commands to prove they are righteous, so they deserve God’s blessing. That is what the Pharisees did. They used the law, or more correctly, a big list of rules that they selected and derived from the law, to prove that they were righteous and therefore deserved Gods blessings.

Some call this legalism, but it is better to call it Phariseeism, or human religious effort. The Pharisees believed that God would bless Israel if enough people proved their righteousness by obeying their rules. Their religion was

Do ► Receive
Most religions operate on this approach.

God operates the opposite way. His rescue of the Israelites was

Receive ► Do

The gospel of Jesus is

Receive ► Do

God gives us what we don’t deserve, and we respond with love and obey his commands.

Under a “Do ► Receive” approach, the requirements of laws and rules become an impossible burden, just like the rules of the Pharisees.

Under a “Receive ► Do”, laws and commands are a pathway to transformation. God graciously gives us the Holy Spirit, even though we do not deserve this gift. As we receive him into our lives, listen to his voice, and allow him to soften our hearts, we find that we are beginning to do what the Sermon on the Mount requires.

The Sermon on the Mounts is not a set of commands that we must obey to please Jesus. That would be impossible. They are a description of the life that emerges in the body of Christ as the Holy Spirit transforms our hearts and inspires us to love one another.

Do ► Receive becomes an impossible burden.

Receive ► Do is the pathway to life.

Monday, November 05, 2018

Reading the Old Testament

I have always tried to read different translations to get a different perspective. At the moment, I am using John Goldingay’s translation called First Testament. The translation has the following features.

  • It sticks close to the way that Hebrew works rather than paraphrasing it, so the readers can get as close as possible to the details of the original text. Consequently, it is more suitable for a slow read than for reading out loud.

  • Where a sentence does not make sense in the Hebrew, he has left it that way.

  • Goldingay tries to use the same English word every time a Hebrew word is used, so readers can see the points of connection between passages

  • It uses God’s name Yahweh. That is the name that he said would be used forever.

  • He transliterates many of the names from the Hebrew, rather than using the anglicised versions most other translations use, eg Mosheh for Moses, Yisra’el for Israel, Ya’aqob for Jacob.

I am finding this translation really refreshing.

Saturday, November 03, 2018


The early settlers in New Zealand made some dreadful mistakes. The bought in rabbits, weasels, stoats, ferrets, opossums, gorse, broom for what seemed like good reasons, but they turned into pests which have seriously damaged the native flora and fauna.

One thing they did right was bringing in azaleas and rhododendrons. They have really thrived in the New Zealand climate and added beautiful colours to our gardens.

These two small ones are in our garden.