Sunday, March 31, 2019

Taking Responsibility (3) What Changes are Needed

  1. Different Leadership Model

    Plurality of leaders

    • With all ascension gifts amongst them
    • Complementing each other
    • Submitted to each other.
    • No senior leader
    • Balanced ministries

    Get evangelists going
    • Healing the sick and casting out demons in streets and market places.
    • Work in pairs
    • Replicating their ministries in new evangelists.

    Get pastors growing the new disciples.
    • Teaching them to listen and obey the Holy Spirit
    • Helping them get rid of their junk.
    • Watching over them and praying
    • (Modern pastors spend most of their time with the most mature people)

    Release prophets to encourage, challenge and confront,
    • Strong relationships with people who can test their words.

  2. Serious discipling of new Christians
    Stop preaching as it is a redundant method for discipling
    – challenging messages miss most people and hurt the vulnerable

    Teach disciples to listen and obey the Holy Spirit

    • Encourage them to move in the gifts of the Spirit.
    • Watch over them from a distance and pray for them
    • So they grow quickly into fulness of the Spirit and peace.

  3. Leaders replicate their ministry

    In the people they are discipling

    • Pastors produce pastors
    • Prophets produce prophets
    • Evangelists produce evangelists

    The leaders will be able to go out and start new churches
    because there are people ready to step into their place as leaders.

  4. Focus on Territory

    Live together in houses close to each other.

    • Close to a person of peace.
    • Love one another as Jesus loved us.
    • Serve each other and their neighbours.
    • Heal the sick.

  5. Send out Apostles

    Send out the best.

    • Others will step up into their place.
    • Send a team with balanced giftings, ie pastor-teacher, prophet, evangelist.
    • A couple of Timothys, who are being discipled, might go with them.

    Take a fully-functioning church (with half a dozen members) to a new place
    • Carry on loving and serving each other
    • Doing the stuff that Jesus did.
    • People see the gospel from the get go.
    • People will see how discipling works.
    • Keep listening and obeying the Holy Spirit
    • He keep will keep doing his stuff.

Saturday, March 30, 2019

Taking Responsibility (2) Key Problems

The following table shows some important differences between the New Testament church and the Modern Church Model.

New Testament Church

Modern Church Model

Jesus took his disciples on the road with him and showed them what to do. He got them started.

Pastors tell people to come to church where they sit and listen to a preacher telling them what to do.

This encourages passive observation. People only stand up to worship.

Worship is a response to victory

Worship has become the main event (due to a false belief that worship releases victory). Vigorous worship has become a substitute for victory.

Churches are led by a group of elders who submit to each other. Their different ascension gifts complement each other.

The church is led by a senior pastor. The other ascension gifts do not fit easily.

An elder watches over each new believer to ensure that they grow and are released into their ministry.

Pastors dominate, but there is very little shepherding, so the church is full of emotional and physical pain

New believers are taught to listen to the Holy Spirit and obey him. Once they can do that, they just need watching from a distance.

New believers are put on a program.

Elders replicate their ministries in those they are watching over. An evangelist releases evangelists. A prophet releases prophets. Multiplication of churches creates a need for a continuous supply of new leaders.

There is no pathway to ministry, because all the good roles are taken by people who are not going anywhere. Becoming a pastor takes years of training.

Growing churches multiply by sending out apostles to take new territory in a different neighbourhood.

Churches grow by getting bigger, which requires more paid administrative staff.

The best people are sent as apostles.

The church has no role for apostles. Apostle has become a title for a super-pastor.

Jesus disciples carried the Holy Spirit into the world. The world could see people being healed and demons being cast out.

Pastors assume that the Holy Spirit can do most of what he wants to do in the church, usually at the front of the meeting (mostly by the pastor or visiting speaker).

Things happen when people go to where the Holy Spirit is moving

Things are expected to happen when a visiting speaker is in town.

People see the things being done and choose to follow him.

Often nothing happens, because the gift of healing and the authority to cast out demons is primarily for the lost, not the church. Christians take offence at God because they feel that he has let them down.

Followers of Jesus gathered together in one place to take territory for him.

The modern church is not interested in territory. Followers of Jesus are scattered through enemy territory, where life is tough.

Jesus taught that the Kingdom of God is near.

Kingdom has become an adjective attached to whatever the church does: kingdom conference, kingdom leadership.

You can quibble about some of these points, but the fact remains. What the modern church is doing is not working. Turning the situation around will need a radical change in the way that it operates. More of the same will not crack the problem.

Friday, March 29, 2019

Taking Responsibility (1) Spiritual Decline

When talking and praying about revival, or lack of it, it often sounds like we are blaming God. When we say the Holy Spirit is going to move next year, it implies that nothing happened this year, because he had not moved. Taking offence at God is a dangerous game.

We need to take responsibility for our situation. This should have been a marvellous season in New Zealand. The church in New Zealand experienced the Charismatic renewal in the 1970s. Waves of spiritual refreshing have come regularly ever since.

New Zealand has been visited by anointed speakers. The church has plenty of money. The government tolerates the church. We have the freedom to preach the gospel openly. We have good theological education. Social media has provided new modes of communication. Yet despite everything, the spiritual decline has continued unabated.

Something is seriously wrong.

God is not the problem. Jesus has done everything needed for salvation. The fullness of the Holy Spirit has been poured out on the church. He cannot do any more than he has already done. He can’t do more next year.

We can blame the people of the church, but that does not seem to be fair. They respect their pastor-leaders and do what they say; perhaps not as fervently as the pastors would like, but they do what they are asked to do.

The leaders of the church must take responsibility for the spiritual decline.

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Love your Enemy (3)

Here are some more guidelines for followers of Jesus who choose to love their enemies.

  • People who are our enemies must be treated fairly by the law.

    The same law applies both to the native-born and to the foreigner residing among you (Ex 12:49).
    The same laws and regulations will apply both to you and to the foreigner residing among you (Num 15:16).
    There should not be different laws for people of different races and religions. Judges must treat everyone fairly.
    Hear the disputes between your people and judge fairly, whether the case is between two Israelites or between an Israelite and a foreigner residing among you. Do not show partiality in judging; hear both small and great alike (Deut 1:16-17).

  • Employers must treat people of different races and religions fairly.

    Do not take advantage of a hired worker who is poor and needy, whether that worker is a fellow Israelite or a foreigner residing in one of your towns (Deut 24:14).

  • Paul’s instruction that those who do not work should not eat is for believers, not for unbelievers. Unfortunately, many Christians prefer to apply them to people who do not belong to the body of Christ.

  • If possible, followers of Jesus should attempt to live at peace with everyone, not just people they like, or those that are the same.

    If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone (Rom 12:18).

  • Followers of Jesus should not seek revenge against those that harm them.

    Do not repay anyone evil for evil… Do not take revenge (Rom 12:17,19).
    If we trust God to deal with those who harm us, we do not need to seek revenge. We can bless those who harm us.

  • Violence can never overcome evil.

  • Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good (Rom 12:21).
    In the end, love will overcome evil.

  • Followers of Jesus must keep good attitudes to people of other races and religions. We must not slip into of rage, anger or malice (Col 3:8). Some malice might be directed to other believers, must most will be directed at people of other religions and races.

    Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God… Get rid of all rage and anger, along with every form of malice (Eph 4:30-31)
    Anger and malice grieve the Holy Spirit. We must be careful to avoid them when dealing with people who are different from us. The fruit of the spirit include patience, gentleness and kindness (Gal 5:22). They will flow if we are full of the Holy Spirit.

Loving our enemies can be hard. We will often get ripped off. The key is that people loving their enemies should not be doing this alone. The love that Jesus called for should come out of a community of believers, who love each other and support each other. If a follower of Jesus is ripped by someone when they love their enemies, the other people in the body they belong to should bless them and support them.

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Love your Enemies (2)

Jesus gave his disciples a new commandment to love each other.

A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another (John 13:34-35).
Jesus and the other New Testament writers explained what this meant. I have described this teaching in One Another Stuff.

Jesus also commanded his followers to love their enemies, and gave specific teaching about what that meant, particularly in Matt 5 and Luke 6. This series of posts looks at that teaching, because loving an enemy is quite different from loving people who love us, although is not easy either.

All people who have not chosen to follow Jesus are our enemies. Some will be actively fighting against us. Other may be passively ignoring us. The command to love our enemies applies to both groups. The focus of love should be those living around us, and those we encounter as we go about life, but that does not mean we can avoid loving by hiding away from them.

(I guess a problem arises, because for many Christians, their main enemies are other Christians. That suggests that there is something seriously wrong in the body of Christ.)

Here are some more guidelines for followers of Jesus who choose to love their enemies.

    If people hurt us, we must not lash out at them., but should continue to show grace towards them.

    If someone slaps you on one cheek, turn to them the other also (Luke 6:29; Matt 5:39).
    This is demanding, but Jesus does not want his people to retaliate against those who harm them.

  • We are to lend to everyone who is poor.

    Love your enemies… and lend to them without expecting to get anything back (Luke 6:35).
    If the poor person is a different race or religion, we must still lend to them when they are in trouble, not expecting any return. This is a good way to assist the poor. Even if they have stolen from us in the past, we must still be willing to lend to them again, if the Holy Spirit prompts us.

  • If someone takes your coat, do not withhold your shirt from them (Luke 6:29).
  • Followers of Jesus must be generous to their enemies when they ask them for help.

  • Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back (Luke 6:30).
  • Followers of Jesus must be careful about how they speak about their enemies.

    Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven (Luke 6:37).
    When we speak out enemies, we must be careful not to condemn them. If we do that we give the spiritual powers of evil permission to attack them. We want our enemies to come to faith in Jesus, so we should not say anything that would give the spiritual powers of evil authority to attack them further. We must not engage in slander (2 Cor 12:20). When we do that, we give an opportunity to the powers of evil.

  • Followers of Jesus must care for everyone they encounter who is hurt or suffering. The Good Samaritan did this. The injured mand was his enemy. He could have rejoiced that his enemy had got what he deserved, but he did not. He cared for the injured man in a dangerous situation (Luke 10:30-36). He paid for his care, and committed himself to paying any future costs.

    The next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have’ (Luke 10:35).
    The Good Samaritan went beyond an initial act of kindness. He committed to paying for his enemy’s care.

Monday, March 25, 2019

Love your Enemies (1)

Love your Enemies is different from Loving One Another.

Love One Another is Jesus standard for those who choose to follow him. The One Another Stuff is to be worked out in a body of disciples who live in the same neighbourhood and are committed to loving and serving Jesus. This standard is demanding, but it is only expected of those who have had their minds renewed and been filled with the Holy Spirit. He is the one who makes it possible for people to live this way. See One Another Stuff for more on what Jesus requires.

Jesus also said that his followers should love their enemies.

Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you (Luke 6:27).
Our enemy is anyone who does not belong to Jesus. The noun Jesus used is derived from a verb meaning hate. It refers to anyone who might hate us. Enemies is a broad category. It includes those of different races and religions.

Jesus is realistic. He understands that those who follow him will often have enemies. We will often be hated by those who have rejected the gospel. Sometimes they will persecute us and try to destroy us. This is what Paul experienced from his enemies, but he mostly responded with love for them. This is not easy, but the gift of the Holy Spirit makes it possible.

The following are guidelines for followers of Jesus who choose to love their enemies.

  • The basic standard for the treatment of enemies is the so-called golden rule.

    Do to others as you would have them do to you (Luke 6:33).
    We do not treat people the way they treat us. As followers of Jesus, we should do better than that. We should treat all people the way that we would like them to treat us.

  • We must pray for our enemies.

    Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven (Matt 5:44-45).
    Our prayers should not be limited to those who treat us well. We should pray for those who harm us. This shows us that we are children of God, worthy of his blessing.

  • We must be careful about how we speak about our enemies.

  • Bless those who curse you (Luke 6:28).
  • When we see people that are different, we should bless them. We should avoid put-downs of people we disagree with. We should bless those who curse us. We must not curse people because they are different. If we do that we give the spiritual powers of evil permission to attack them. The will usually make them worse.

  • We should greet our enemies in a friendly way.

    And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that (Matt 5:47)?
    We must not approach people in a hostile way. We must greet pagans in a friendly way. Being friendly to those who are our own people is not sufficient for followers of Jesus.

  • Followers of Jesus should do good to their enemies.

    And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do that… But love your enemies, do good to them,and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great (Luke 6:33,35).
    We should do good to those who are different from us, even if they do harm to us. We should not expect anything back, but should count on the generous blessing of God.

More in my next post.

Saturday, March 23, 2019


Love is easy to say, but harder to do.

Love means doing the One Another Stuff.

Honour one another above yourselves (Rom 12:10).

Live in harmony with one another (Rom 12:16).

Stop passing judgement on one another (Rom 14:13).

Build up and edify each other (Rom 14:19).

Have concern for each other (1 Cor 12:25).

Serve one another in love (Gals 5:13).

Carry each other's burdens (Gal 6:2).

Be kind and compassionate to one another (Eph 4:32).

Forgive one another (Eph 4:32).

Build each other up (1 Thes 5:11).

Live in peace with each other (1 Thes 5:13).

Be kind to each other (1 Thes 5:15).

Live in harmony with one another (1 Pet 3:8).

Offer hospitality to one another (1 Pet 4:9).

Serve each other (1 Pet 4:10).

Show humility toward one another 1 Pet 5:5).
These are the good things that overcome evil.
Do not be overcome by evil,
but overcome evil with good (Rom 12:21).
More at One Another Stuff.

Friday, March 22, 2019

Destiny of Nations

Charles Hugh Smith has some interesting comments about the structure and destiny of nations.

None of the current political systems are decentralized enough and adaptable enough to survive the non-linear era we're entering.
The problem, as we all know, is the parasitic elites rule the centralized hierarchies of wealth and political power, and they will cling to power even as the nation they rule crumbles around them. The hubris, complacency and greed of the ruling parasitic elites is near-infinite; the idea that the political and financial structures that they dominate will not survive simply doesn't exist in the parasitic elites...
The only sustainable solution going forward is radical decentralization of capital, political power and control of resources...
Adaptability and flexibility will be the core survival traits going forward. The only structures adaptable and flexible enough to respond quickly and effectively enough to survive are decentralized networks— non-hierarchical, distributed rather than centralized, self-organizing rather than top-down.
The church should be the ultimate decentralized network, which is non-hierarchical, and self-organizing rather than top-down.

Tuesday, March 19, 2019


I noticed last night that one of the television channels seem to have stopped calling the events in Christchurch a “mosque attack” and begun talking about a “terrorist attack”. The subtle change of words is concerning, because it changes the nature of the events.

When people say about the victims of the mosque attack, “They are Us”, it can be an expression of sympathy, but one implication is that this was an attack on us all. That is misleading. This was actually an attack on them. There was no attack on us. The only people killed and injured were Moslems.

This was not an attack on our lifestyle. It was an attack on their lifestyle. The people killed and injured were going to worship in a mosque on Friday afternoon. That is not part of the normal lifestyle here. Most people in New Zealand never go to worship at all, so they are not affected by such a threat. We are shocked, but the lifestyle of Moslems is seriously affected because they do not know if it will happen again.

I understand why the Prime Minister said of the murderer, “He is not us,” but that is also misleading. He is not a monster. He is a man with human DNA, and blood, muscles and bones, just like all of us. The difference is that he made some bad choices, perhaps because he was hurt, and then filled his heart and mind with the wrong stuff, allowing the powers of evil to get hold of him. That is not that uncommon. Many of us have done that at times. The difference in case is that he went further down the path of deception and dug deeper into evil.

Although he was Australian, he has lived in New Zealand for some time. There is plenty of hatred and anger in Christchurch, and a significant number of white supremacists live in the city. So in that sense, he is us.

Over the last few months, perhaps year, the level of violence seems to have ramped up in the city. Some really nasty incidents have occurred. Something to ponder is why has this been able to happen in a city called Christ Church, which means “gathering of people called by the Messiah”. Why have spirits of violence been able to gain a foothold in the city carrying the name Jesus? That is a challenge for people who follow him.

Monday, March 18, 2019


God's plans for Christchurch have not changed;
His purposes will be accomplished.
He will establish his Kingdom in the city;
His plans for Christchurch will be fulfiled.

Thursday, March 14, 2019

Coping with Radical Social Change

Charles Hugh Smith has an article about the dynamics of decay and collapse of organisations and systems The article is complicated, but his comments are relevant to the leadership of the modern church who seems to be struggling to cope with the rapid change that is sweeping the world.

Human organizational structures have traits that manifest either resiliency or brittleness. Resilient ones adapt; brittle ones collapse. Such manifestation is scale-invariant, meaning it holds equally true for small groups, global corporations and/or states. Dynamics that favor maintaining the status quo are intrinsic to all organizations.

Simply put, it’s extremely difficult for organizations to change their structure once it’s been institutionalized. As a result, organizations are suited for gradual, modest changes that leave their processes and outputs intact. When survival depends on radically reorganizing these structures, organizations lack the institutional mechanisms, funding, history and skills required to do so. In other words, rapid adaptation that puts insiders at risk is not a natural function of organizations...

Few organizations are able to adapt to new conditions if the adaptation requires a fundamental reordering of the power structure. Very few individuals or groups voluntarily relinquish power and income, even for the good of the organization. People cling very tenaciously to the self-serving belief that whatever changes need to be made can be done while leaving their positions and power intact.

In other words, insiders prefer to conserve the status quo rather than increase the resilience of the organization, because the costs and redistribution of power required to increase resilience come at the expense of insiders… insiders are incapable of recognizing and addressing problems if taking curative action disrupts the power structure.

This inability to accept the necessity of radical change is intellectual and cultural. Rather than being flexible, versatile and seeking to promote variability within the organization to strengthen adaptive capabilities, insiders do more of what’s failing/failed. Culturally, the required changes may be outside the institution’s behavioral norms, or so far off their radar they don’t even register as possibilities, much less necessities; anyone daring to propose such changes is sacked or exiled as threats to the status quo. Such institutional culling of those willing to pursue needed changes dooms the organization, as it lacks both the structures and leadership needed to institutionalize flexibility, versatility and variability.

The ingrained bias within organizations is to conserve whatever worked well in the past, including the existing power structure. As non-linear change overwhelms the organization, those in power will sacrifice the organization itself, perhaps unwittingly, rather than see their power diminished. From the perspective of those in power, their control is the glue holding the institution together. The possibility that the power structure is itself the cause of the institution’s failure simply doesn’t compute.
The default inclination of any organization that’s optimized to protect the security of insiders is to repress any dissent as dangerous, and punish or exile the dissenters.
This a modern form of killing the prophets.

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Unity (7) Pakeha Responsibility

Norm McLeod says that he does not want Pakeha to feel guilty. That is good, because Maori should not be accusing Pakeha. However, responsibility always belongs to the powerful, so Pakeha Christians need to repent of their treatment of Maori. The unjust taking of their land created real hurts in the hearts of the Maori living at the time. These hurts have been passed down from generation to generation. So many generations have now passed by that some of those who carry the hurt often do not know where it came from, but the pain remains. This is the cause of much personal and social dysfunction.

Some troubled Maori will need a Pakeha person to personally ask them for forgiveness before they can be set free. The treaty settlement process is a good first step, but Pakeha Christians will need to seek forgiveness from each new generation of Maori, until they are set free and healed of the hurt, so that is no longer passed down to their children.

The beneficiaries of oppression and injustice have difficulty understanding its impact on its victims. They think they should get over it, but the scars and hurts don’t just disappear when the injustice is removed. If the injustice is minimised and excused by its beneficiaries, anger is created, which deepens the scars.

In the 1980s, I was asked to attend a small conference (hui) organised by Muri Thompson at Moerewa to discuss the links between the gospel and the Treaty of Waitangi. This was the covenant between the British governor and the Maori chiefs gathered at Waitangi that opened the way for the colonisation of New Zealand. Despite the promises made in the treaty, the Maori were quickly lost their land in a series of illegal political and military manoeuvres.

On the first morning of the conference, a young Maori Christian leader, Gray Theodore, spent two hours recounting the history of Maori dealings with European colonists. For many of the Maori people listening, mostly women and young people, all Christians, this was the first time they had heard a detailed account of the injustices that previous generations had experienced. As they listened, they all began to weep. This experience was an eye-opener for me (When I talk about the experience I still feel like weeping).

The reason that these people wept was that their hearts still carried the pain of the injustices their forefathers had experienced. They did not know what had happened, but they still carried the emotional scars from the injustices experienced by previous generations. As they listened, I saw the lights coming on for them. They got an understanding of the pain that they knew they still carried (despite their faith in Jesus).

When the injustices occurred, the people who lost their land felt terrible pain. Their children picked up that pain. Because their pain was real they passed the hurt on to their children. The history of the injustice was gradually lost, but the spiritual and emotional pain was passed on from generation to generation. Hearing their history explained the pain, but it did not heal it. That would require repentance and restitution by the descendants of European colonists who benefited from the injustices. I hope that my talk contributed a little to making that happen.

When injustice and oppression occur, emotional and spiritual pain is passed on to subsequent generations. As time passes, the reason for the emotional pain is forgotten, but the scars remain with the victims' descendants, crippling their lives. Those hurts need to be healed before the pattern is broken so they can be free.

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Unity (6) Challenge

Settler Model

The apostles emerging in New Zealand have not understood the full implications of Pentecost. Much of what they assume to be new is old. Instead, of following Jesus example, they have continued to implement the Old Testament Priest/Temple Model that the English settlers bought to New Zealand. They build big temples and gather people there once a week to sit under a priest and to hear from God. During the rest of the week, followers of Jesus are scattered in the world.

The only twist is that they are not allowed to focus on making money, but are expected to transform the places where they work, although this is almost impossible for one person standing alone in the darkness. The result is that there is very limited community, and no territory is taken for Jesus.

Going to a building where the Holy Spirit dwells is an Old Testament approach. The Israelites had to operate that way, because the Holy Spirit had not been poured out on them. In the New Testament model, the Holy Spirit is with every follower of Jesus, so we carry him out into the darkness where the people live and become a community there with them, so the light can shine in their darkness.

Apostles in NZ need to break free of the OT Temple model bought here by the colonising English church. Lyn Packer said at the Behold Conference.

Colonisation by religion is over.
I am not sure that everyone understood the full significance of that call.

The problem is that modern apostles are mostly raised up in Pakeha-style churches, so they have been trained to build a temple and bringing people into it, but they don’t understand the Maori concept community and attachment to land. Pakeha apostles know Jesus and carry the Holy Spirit, so they build a house for him and call the people to come there to meet with Jesus and the Holy Spirit. They don’t understand the piece of the puzzle that the Maori had: the spirituality of the land and the importance of community.

God’s strategy is to send apostles to where broken and crushed people are living and becoming a community with them in the place where they live. His kingdom will expand the territory of as the spiritual powers of evil are driven off the land over which these people have authority, as renters or owners.

The people of New Zealand need better apostles; not big apostles with a travelling ministry who expect the people to come to their meetings on Sunday, but small apostles doing what the seventy did for Jesus, going to live amongst the poor and the oppressed, the crushed and broken. They will share the good news, heal the sick, and cast out demons. They will love and bless them and teach them how to live. These apostles will transform society from the bottom-up by building community and teaching people to love one another in the street where they live. They will drive evil spirits out of the territory where the people of Jesus have authority.

Maori and Pakeha both need apostles who have been sent by the Holy Spirit to live amongst them where they live. Jesus did not require the people of the world to climb laboriously up to where lives. He came down to into the world and lived among the poor, the broken-hearted and the oppressed.

He camped among us (John 1:14).
Jesus explained to his disciples that once the Holy Spirit had come, they should not stay in Jerusalem, but go into the world to live among the poor and oppressed, carrying the Holy Spirit with them to set these people free.

When Paul went to Corinth, he did not start a meeting and expect the lost to come and find him. He went and lived amongst them with some friends and built them into a community (1 Cor 2:1)

We have too many Jesus and Holy Spirit Apostles. We need more Community and Territory Apostles serving Jesus in the power of the Holy Spirit. They will go and live with the poor and oppressed and become a community with them. They will expand the territory of Jesus by pushing the spiritual powers of evil out of the land where his followers have authority.

Monday, March 11, 2019

Unity (5) Social Transformation

Justice for Maori

When I first wrote about the Treaty of Waitangi, I assumed that the government treaty settlements would go a long way to restoring the victims of injustice. It is now evident that they are not sufficient. The settlement process undertaken by successive governments is good, because the Crown needed to apologise and make restitution for its failure to honour and respect the Treaty of Waitangi. However, most of the benefits have flowed to those who are hooked into the Iwi political systems. Many Maori have not benefited from the treaty settlements. Something more will be needed to transform society and restore them to blessing.

Government-funded social services also help, but they are not sufficient for the radical social transformation that we need. A full gospel that includes salvation from sin, reconciliation, and restoration of community by the power of the Holy Spirit will be needed. Those who are still suffering and crying out for from justice will only be restored to blessing when they are drawn back into communities bound together by the love of Jesus, and love for each other.

Apostles are the Solution
I agreed with Norm McLeod at the conference when he said,

I don’t want to see revival that leaves society the same, with people in poverty and cramped up by injustice.
A revival that does not transform society is like a cloud without rain.
The ultimate solution to the Maori cry for justice is New Testament-style apostles restoring community in the places where they live. We need apostles who can put together what Maori had, but Pakeha didn’t have, with what Pakeha had, but Maori didn’t. We need apostles who can put together knowledge of Jesus and the Holy Spirit with an understanding of Community and Territory.

Daniel Zelli said at the Behold Conference that apostles don’t build the church, they go into the darkness to expand the Kingdom of God.

When apostles do as Jesus did, and go to a street or village and heal the sick, preach the gospel, disciple his followers, cast out demons, cleanse the land and establish strong communities, society will be transformed street by street.

The world is waiting for apostles who can put together the wisdom of Maori and Pakeha. These apostles will know Jesus and walk in the Spirit, but they will also understand how to establish community by making disciples, and claim land for Jesus by driving the spiritual powers of evil out of territory controlled by followers of Jesus.

These apostles will take a small team that includes a prophet and evangelist to live among the poor and oppressed and love, serve and bless them. They will transform the community where they live by teaching people to love one another. In these Kingdom Communities, followers of Jesus who love one another will transform society, street by street, and village by village.

Wealth will flow from the rich and the powerful to the poor and oppressed. People who hold unrighteous wealth will be led by the Spirit to share with those who have suffered injustice or fallen into poverty. They will teach them how to use their wealth to support their families and lead productive lives as in Acts 2:45 and Acts 4:33-35.

In the Old Testament age, people had to go to the tabernacle/temple, because that was the only place that the Holy Spirit dwelt. Since Pentecost, the Holy Spirit dwells in every believer, so he wants apostles to carry him to the place where the poor and oppressed live, so the Spirit can dwell there with them. The Holy Spirit wants to live amongst the broken and hurting. He cannot live in their hearts, because they have not been cleansed by the blood of Jesus, so he needs the body of Jesus providing a place for him to live amongst them. That way they do not have to drive to a meeting at the weekend to meet with him.

Sunday, March 10, 2019

Unity (4) Revival and Justice

Maori Revival
If we look at the nineteenth century, revival amongst Maori, it did not apply the temple model that the English settlers had brought from home. Maori stumbled upon the apostolic model that Jesus used. A person who had learnt about Jesus would go to a related hapu or whanau and tell them about him. They would live there and disciple those who chose to follow Jesus. This took place in traditional communities. The tribal communities became Jesus communities, as people submitted to him.

When a community was strong in their faith, the leaders would be sent out to another whanau or hapu to share about Jesus. Often a hapu would ask for some Christians to come and live among them. Sending out faithful people multiplied the faith communities and expanded the territory that belongs to Jesus.

The land of the whanau or hapu that came to faith became territory for Jesus. This strategy expanded the Kingdom of God in NZ. Unfortunately, this amazing revival was cut short by Pakeha religious leaders who did not understand what was happening. They sucked the best Maori leaders into the church system as lay-preachers and church became a Sunday thing. The apostles and prophets sustaining the move of God were shut down.

I always presumed that it was the stealing of the land that choked the Christian revival amongst Maori, but I now realise that even more harm was done by Pakeha Church leaders imposing an Old Testament temple model on the emerging Maori church. It is sad that the enemy was able to the land-hungry Pakeha Christians and Pakeha religious leaders to kill off the advance of the Kingdom of God.

Rock of Kotahitanga
I agree with Norm McLeod that spiritual blessing will not come in New Zealand, particularly in the North Island, until Maori and Pakeha are standing in unity on the rock of Jesus. At the moment, two groups are crying out to God, but they do not realise that the answer to their prayer is held by the people on the other side.

  • Maori want someone to provide justice. The solution is the gospel of Jesus and the power of the Spirit that Pakeha bought to them. But this will only happen when prophets and apostles take up their correct roles. When the gospel is preached in the power of the Spirit, people who choose to follow Jesus will give away their unrighteous wealth to those who have suffered injustice and those who are in need. This flow of wealth will lift up Maori and restore them to blessing.

  • Pakeha Christians are crying out for revival, but they will not get it until they get the understanding of the importance of community and land. Only when apostles understand the importance of land and community (Maori have expertise in both) and adopt Jesus strategy of going out into villages and streets to live where the Holy Spirit is moving and establish Kingdom communities for him, will they receive the revival that they are crying out for.

Norm McLeod said at the Behold conference,
Jesus is not listening to the prayer of the church for revival. His ear is turned to the Tangata Whenua, because they are crying out for justice. When the treaty was violated, it is God’s law that was broken.
He also said
If you have not reached your street, how can you pray for a nation?
I would say that reaching a nation begins with the transformation of a street.

Social transformation does not come from the top, but occurs at the local level, street by street, and village by village. This is why Jesus strategy focussed on streets and villages. Most apostles focus on their city, when they should be attempting to establish a Kingdom Community in a street where they have moved to live.

Rather than targeting cities and nations, apostles should be doing what Jesus commanded his apostles to do, and move out to live in a street or village where the Holy Spirit is working. As they build community in that place, society will be restored, land will be cleansed, and God’s kingdom will come.

Saturday, March 09, 2019

Unity (3) Community

Stolen Community
British settlers left behind whatever community they had when they came to New Zealand. They did not understand that they could learn about community from Maori. Pakeha were restless people without community, so they presumed that Maori were the same.

In the 1950s and 60s, Pakeha persuaded Maori to leave their remaining land and communities and move to the cities to work in the freezing works and car assembly factories, so they could share in Pakeha wealth. They would find a good home in state houses in Porirua and Otara, and they would be able to afford a Holden or Ford V8 in which to drive back to the marae if they needed to. Of course, that soon became too hard for people who worked long shifts. Unfortunately, these jobs disappeared twenty years later, and Maori dropped into urban poverty, without the support of their traditional communities.

I once thought that that the worst thing that the Pakeha did to Maori was stealing their land, but in some ways destroying their communities was an even greater evil.

Norm McLeod said,

When the settlers stole the land, they took the soul of the people.
I say,
When they took their community, they destroyed the heart of the people.

Religious Colonisation
Because they had no understanding of community, the Pakeha settlers brought an Old Testament priest/temple concept of church here. Build a mini-temple, go there once a week on the Sabbath (three times a year if you are slack) to meet with the priest and during the rest of the week, you can get on with making money.

Going to a building where the Holy Spirit dwells is an Old Testament model. The Israelites had to operate that way, because the Holy Spirit had not been poured out on all flesh. Jesus changed that on the day of Pentecost by pouring out his Holy Spirit on his people, outside of the temple where everyone could see. Under the New Testament model, the Holy Spirit is with the people of Jesus, so they carry him out to where people live in darkness and dwell with them, allowing his light to shine in the darkness.

When Jesus sent out the twelve and seventy apostles, they went into a village or a street and stayed in the home of the person of peace. They discipled the people in the street or village who chose to follow Jesus when they saw the sick healed and the demons cast out. They became a community bound together by their love for Jesus and each other that brought social transformation to that village or street.

The land over which they had authority became territory that belongs to Jesus. This expanded the Kingdom of God on earth, by giving authority of this territory to Jesus.

Once a Kingdom Community was in place, they then went out to another street or village and repeated the process. In this way, communities were strengthened, society was transformed, and the territory where Jesus had authority expanded.

Friday, March 08, 2019

Unity (2) Land

Lost Land

The settlers who came to New Zealand did not understand the importance of land for Jesus’ Kingdom. The Scottish settlers had lost their land to English gentry. The English had lost their land when William the Conqueror gave it to the nobles who fought with him in 1066. The English had become tenant farmers, working in return for a share of the crop. Then with enclosure, many had lost even that right and were forced to become itinerant farmer workers. With the industrial revolution, many drifted to the new cities to live and work. They had lost their connection to both their land and their traditional communities.

When British settlers came to New Zealand, they left behind whatever community remained. They saw land as just a tool to earn a living. They were quite happy to buy and sell land for profit. Having moved across the world, they were quick to move from place to improve their economic position. They had no understanding of the importance of community or the spiritual importance of land.

Territory is critical to the Kingdom of God. 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.

Land and community are critical for the coming of the kingdom of God. I explain this more at Territory

Thursday, March 07, 2019

Unity (1) Maori and Pakeha

On Waitangi Day in 1983, I preached a sermon in a small church at Waikaka Valley near Gore, Southland describing the parallels between Saul’s treatment of the Gibeonites and the breach of the Treaty of Waitangi explains. An article based on the sermon published in the Challenge newspaper later that year created considerable interest. Muri Thompson circulated it widely to Maori groups and a few government officials. After that, I thought that I had done by bit, so I have not given the topic much thought since then.

A couple of weekends ago, I attended a conference called Behold a New Era in Christchurch. One of the speakers was Norm McLeod. His message about the relationship between Maori and Pakeha in New Zealand really set me thinking about this topic again. He shared a vision of Maori and Pakeha standing together on the rock, which was really compelling. This unity in Jesus is essential for a move of God in New Zealand.

He shared a second vision in which the Pakeha church on one side crying to God for revival and the Maori elders on the other side crying out for someone to bring them justice. As I was pondering this vision during the night and thinking about some of the teaching about the Kingdom of God from the conference, the thoughts for the following posts came to me. They are not the complete picture, but I believe they are an important part of the puzzle.

God’s Purpose

God brought the British and Maori together for a purpose. They each needed something that the other had.

  • The British had the gospel and the scriptures: Jesus and the Holy Spirit. However, they needed to learn about caring for the land and building community.

  • The Maori understood the spirituality of land and community, but they needed the gospel of Jesus and the Spirit.

Maori needed the gospel of Jesus and the gift of the Holy Spirit. They understood the spirituality of the land, and they lived in strong communities, but sin and the spiritual powers of evil created divisions that often manifested in war. The violence allowed evil spirits to attach themselves to the land. They needed the peace and unity that only Jesus could bring.

When the British settlers came to NZ, they needed the Maori understandings of land and community, but pride prevented them from seeing what Maori had to offer them. All they saw was the warrior spirit, disturbed by oppression and fired up by muskets. Pakeha politicians manipulated that warrior spirit to get Maori fighting in European wars that did not concern them, but trampled on their understanding of law and community, which Pakeha settlers really needed.

Monday, March 04, 2019

Religious Leaders (3) Stephen and Paul


Stephen criticised the Jewish leaders for refusing to obey God after he had rescued them. He accused his listeners of the same sin (Acts 7).


Before his conversion, the main thing that Paul relied on for being right with God was his birth as an Israelite from the tribe of Benjamin. His circumcision on the eighth day confirmed that he belonged to the people of God.

I have more: circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; in regard to the law, a Pharisee; as for zeal, persecuting the church; as for righteousness in the law, becoming blameless (Phil 3:4-6).
His confidence came from his birth as a Hebrew.

In regard to the law, he was a Pharisee with a zeal for keeping the law, albeit in a selective way. He does not claim to be perfectly righteous. Rather, he claims to be becoming blameless. He was working on keeping the law, but had not fully achieved this goal. However, not being perfectly blameless, did not keep him from the blessings promised by the covenant with Moses.

The full series is at Judaism and the Gospel.

Saturday, March 02, 2019

Religious Leaders (2) Jesus' Woes

Jesus did not condemn the Pharisees for trying to earn righteousness by keeping the law. He was concerned that they were leading the children of Israel astray by their teaching, and particularly by the way that they lived.

Jesus criticised the Pharisees and the teachers of the law for the following failures. (The codes refer to the number of the woe in either Matthew or Luke).

  • Ordinary sins that are common to all people.

    • Pride – wanting the best seats and places of privilege (M0, L2)

    • Rejecting God’s prophets (L5, M7)

    • Hypocrisy – good on the outside but rotten inside (L4, M5 ,M6).

    • Greed (L1, M5).

  • Religious sins

    • Deceiving people with incorrect interpretations of the law (M2).

    • Nitpicking rules (L3, L5).

  • Failure to apply the Torah, and especially the Instructions for Economic Life.

    • Placing a burden on the poor by making them pay the cost of Herod’s temple. Wealth was flowing from the people to the temple and the people employed there. (M0, L5).

    • Preventing people from entering the Kingdom. The Instructions for Economic Life specified in the Torah could be applied in any community, despite the Romans. It was not necessary to wait for the coming of the Messiah. The teachers of the law had ignored the Instructions for Economic Life, so they poor suffered. The people of Israel could have been obeying God and experiencing the life of the Kingdom, but the teachers of the law had shut them out of that option.

    • Failure to provide justice and mercy. This is the heart of the Instructions for Economic Life. The application of the justice of the Torah would have eliminated much of the poverty and suffering in Israel. Giving away unrighteous wealth would have bought great blessing. Applying the land laws would have been tough for the Sadducees would have provided economic sustenance for many people (L1, L2). More in God's Economy.

Friday, March 01, 2019

Religious Leaders (1)

Most Christians assume that the religious leaders that Jesus encountered were practising a works-based religion. They were trying to satisfy God’s righteous standards by obeying the law. This view is misleading. The law is not a tool for proving righteousness. God had different purposes for giving the law.

Jesus actually criticised the religious leaders for a number of different reasons. We need to understand them, because we are in danger of falling into the same mistakes.

A key problem that Jesus challenged was that the religious leaders had made the law into a burden. God had given the law to bless his people His main purpose was to provide them with spiritual protection and to allow sinful people to live together in relative peace.

God gave the sabbath to allow people to get the rest they needed. He rested, because rest is good. The teachers of the law had turned the sabbath into a burden, by giving them lots of rules to obey. This was unnecessary. All of us know how to rest. We know when are resting. We don’t need rules to help us know how to rest.

This was the point Jesus made when he healed the crippled woman (Luke 13:10-16). Her spine was so bent that she could not stand up straight. But it also meant that she could not rest, because the pain always remained. She could not even lie down flat and rest.

Jesus healed her to set her free from the bondage of the devil. He also freed her to enjoy a Sabbath rest for the first time in decades. She could lie down without pain.

Jesus called the synagogue leader a hypocrite (Luke 13:15) because he wanted to keep her in pain and unable to rest, in order to keep his sabbath rules. He had lost touch with the purpose of resting.