Wednesday, March 31, 2021

Farming in New Zealand

Farmers in New Zealand need to understand that the world they are farming in has changed. Back in the 1950s and 60s, New Zealand was mostly governed by the National Party. Many of the National Party’s leaders had been farming before the went into politics, so farmers had a strong voice at the table where the decisions that might affect farmers were made. The government put policies in place to protect farmers and sometimes even subsidised their activities.

Government have a monopoly on coercive power. Their business is to control things. Controlling people and businesses is what they do. During the 1950s and 60s, national governments focussed on controlling importers, unions, women and the Maori people. They left farmers relatively free from control.

Unfortunately, farmers took advantage of their protection and often engaged in practices that were not good for the land. Some insecticides contaminated the land. High-intensity farming practices needed large volumes of water for irrigation, and excess fertilisers and animal effluent was allowed back into waterways and rivers.

Farmers who should have been the first to be concerned about the health of the land and rivers were slow to take action to improve the situation. The only began to take serious action when pressure came from urban environmentalists. Some farmers still see that concern as an over-reaction.

In those days, urban people still had strong links with the farming community. City children would often spend time on an uncle’s or grandparent’s farm during their school holidays. They understood that farming was a tough occupation and respected farmers for the way they met their challenges. Now, attitudes have changed. Unban people have very little contact with farmers. Many hardly realise that their milk and meat come from living animals. The growing rural-urban gap means that city people have very little sympathy for the challenges of farming. They see farmers as people who have become rich by inheriting land from their parents.

The parallel change is that political power has shifted from rural to urban areas. Farmers are now only a small percentage of the population. The National Party has lost its position of dominance, but even when it is power, very few of its parliamentarians are farmers. It has become a party of urban business people and property investors.

This change might seem to be unfair, but most politicians understand that there is no electoral advantage in looking after the interests of farmers, even though agriculture might be important for the economy.

A third big change is that urban people now have pets. Most have at least one dog and many have several. They love their pets almost as much as they love their own children. They hate to see them suffering, and will spend considerable amounts of money relieving their pain. These changes have had two big consequences.

  • Urban people will not tolerate inhumane treatment of animals. There will be intense pressure on farmers to stop any practices that cause animals to suffer. The problem is that modern communications allow bad practices to be publicised quickly. If a farmer in Southland has his dairy cows on winter feed standing up to their bellies in mud, it is easy for a passing motorist to take a photo of them. Even though it might only be one unrepresentative farm, the picture could be round the world in a few hours. The response will be angry, and politicians will be expected to take action to relieve the animals’ suffering.

    The modern world has a very low tolerance for mistreatment of animals. Claiming as justification that this has been a particularly wet winter will not cut it. People will say that a system of farming that cannot protect animals from and excessively wet winter is not viable.

  • Even though their own treatment of the environment leaves a lot to be desired, urban people will not tolerate farming activities that harm the waterways, rivers (or atmosphere). Photos of farming activities that allow effluent or fertiliser to leach into water ways will produce intense hostility, even if it is only part of the cause of the pollution in rivers. It is probably Pharisaic, but urban people will not tolerate farming practices that are bad for the environment.

These consequences might seem to be unfair, but the reality is that political power has shifted towards the big cities, so politicians will pander to the political concerns of city-dwellers. That will not change, so farmers will need to get used to it. In fact, the opposition to agriculture is likely to get worse.

Farmers who are concerned about their government imposing regulations that control the way that they farm will have to adapt to it. Crying that it is unfair will not change the situation.

Farmers who are wise will develop an environmental plan so they can demonstrate how they are caring for the environment. Dairy cows might have to be withdrawn from some areas, or moved indoors for the winter, to prevent nitrogen leaching into the soil and waterways. Claims that agriculture is important for the nation will not fend off this challenge. Political power has moved towards the urban population and it will not shift back.

Monday, March 29, 2021

Pastoral Epistles

Many biblical scholars believe that Paul did not write letters to Timothy and Titus that are collectively called the pastoral epistles. The main reason is the reference to bishops and deacons. They assume that these roles only emerged when the church became institutionalised, which was well after the time of Paul’s ministry, so he could not have written these letters. This is only a problem if the letters were referring to bishops as rulers over the church.

The first letter to Timothy actually addresses the issue over overseers (plural). The Greek word is episkopos, which refers to watching over people. This was the role of elders looking after the churches that Paul and his colleagues established. In Acts 20:28, Paul challenged the gathered elders gathered from Ephesus.

Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers. Be shepherds of the church of God which he bought with his own blood.

In this passage, Paul links overseers, shepherds and elders in the same role. The Greek word for overseer is episkopos, the same word as used in the Letter to Timothy. This means that the overseer (elder) and deacon (a person responsible for caring for the poor were important roles in the church right from the beginning.

Paul had asked Timothy and Titus to ensure that elders were released in all of the churches, so it is natural that he would give them guidance about the type of person that could do the role. Paul was not worried about Christian doctrine. His focus is on avoiding people with weak character. He wanted to ensure that immature believers did not take charge of a church.

Unrighteous wealth was being given away by new Christians right from the beginning (Acts 4:34-37). Some of the new converts in Asia and Macedonia were rich, so it was really important that the ministry of the deacon was well established. That would be why he outlined the personal requirements to Timothy.

Timothy was just starting his ministry when the letters were written, so they must have been written early on in Paul’s ministry (1 Tim 1:16). Paul would not have described Timothy as vulnerable if written it was written at a later date.

The letter could have been written during Pauls difficult years following his banishment from Ephesus when he was suffering under persecution, as described in 2 Corinthians 11:23-28. Paul was sending people all over the place, but not making real progress with the gospel, which could be the reason for the despair at the end of the second letter to Timothy.

The last days is the period between the death and resurrection of Jesus and the destruction of Jerusalem. That is why he gave advice about living in the last days. It suggests that the letters were written before AD 70.

I am quite happy to believe that Paul wrote the pastoral epistles.

Friday, March 26, 2021

A Leader Comes to Faith in Jesus

What happens when a non-Christian prime minister or president gives their allegiance to Jesus and submits to a prophet that God has raised in a nation.

  • A cacophony of voices will try to speak to the ruler giving conflicting messages. This will give the spiritual powers of evil access to the ruler and the nation. (This is what has happened with Donald Trump, although he was not really submitted to Jesus or to a prophet.)

  • The ruler and the prophet (with others) can stand together against the government-spirits that control the nation and defeat them. They can be forced out of the nation, if the appropriate authority is in place.

  • The prophet can share God’s wisdom with the ruler.

  • The powerful people who have put the ruler in place might be hostile to the ruler once he/she has put his/her trust in Jesus. They might attack him/her and attempt to remove them from their place. The government-spirits will try to regain power, so these attacks will be vicious. The ruler will need strong spiritual protection in place.

  • The prophet will encourage the ruler to push their authority down and spread it around. The point may come where the ruler has to step down from their position.

  • Once the ruler understands that nature of God's kingdom, they might find that force and coercion is anathema to them.

  • The ruler must not use their power to make people serve Jesus. This would be a disaster, because God prefers that people follow Jesus because they love him, not due to fear or control. The ruler should wait for the gospel to advance and change hearts. This should happen quickly once the power of the spiritual powers of evil is broken.

  • The ruler should not try to impose Christian standards on the nation. Salvation by law does not work.

  • A ruler should demonstrate humility and integrity, so they should act on the commitments and promises that they made when seeking election, even if they do not fully align with the scriptures. Betraying the people who elected them will destroy their credibility.

  • The ruler should be kind to people who oppose them. They should not try to pull them down with harsh words and disparaging or snide comments.

  • The leaders should show compassion and kindness toward the poor. They should do what they can to help them through their troubles until the kingdom of God comes to fulness.

Wednesday, March 24, 2021

Mark of Beast

Many Christians believe that the mark of the Beast is a microchip that a government will inject under their skin as an identification tool. I don’t think the mark of the beast is a microchip or anything like it. With developments in facial recognition and retina scanning, fingerprint scanning, means that an injected chip for personal recognition or screening has no benefit for governments. There are cheaper ways of tracking people. Anyway, the chip could easily be stolen or destroyed. Storing data, such as financial information, on a chip in the body would be vulnerable to theft or deliberate corruption, so it is unlikely to be beneficial for anyone. If we have a cellphone, the government already knows where we are and what we are doing.

The main problem that is overlooked is that the mark of the beast is the number of the beast, it is not a different number for each person. It is more like the brand that would be put on a slave to indicate the identity of their owner.

The servants of God received a seal on their forehead (Rev 7:3). It was a not literal mark, but represents the gift of the Holy Spirit. I presume that the mark of the Beast is not literal either, but represents a way of thinking and doing.

Monday, March 22, 2021

Spiritual State of America

“Beast” is a controlling spirit wishing to become a world dominator. He is currently working in America, alongside the spirits of war and violence, power, and deception, attempting to increase his power. They are all jockeying with each other for supremacy, but each one is supporting the other to seize influence in the hope that they will be the winner who takes all.

All recent presidents have contributed to their rise to ascendance.

George W Bush strengthened the place of his colleague, the spirit of war and violence, by engaging in a fruitless war on terror. Barack Obama continued in his thrall by selecting drone targets and watching them die, but he also struggled with political power. This strengthened the position of “Beast”, who loves power, and steps into any power vacuum that emerges.

All presidents lie, but Donald Trump took it to a new level, which gave greater power to the spirit of deception that controls the nation. Joe Biden and Kamala Harris will continue under these spirits, with their propensity for lying and their fascination with military power. However, their mandate is weak, and their chosen task impossible, so they will struggle with political power. Their jockeying for position and their manipulation of political power will strengthen the hand of Beast, who loves using political power to intimate and control people to achieve his goals.

The future of the US hangs in the balance. I have noted before Ten Reasons why it could become the Terrible Beast described in Revelation and foreseen by Daniel. However, the outcome depends on the choices the American people will make, and Christians will have a strong influence on the result.

If Christians rejoice in secular progressive justice using political power, or hide in the church singing hill-songs and crying out for God to do something, Joe Biden and Kamala Harris will expand the power of Beast. When he gains pride of place, the other spirits will continue to work for him as supporting stars.

On the other hand, if the remnant following Jesus, goes into the world to share his gospel and build kingdom communities, where followers of Jesus love each other and serve the broken people of the world, the tide could be turned the oat her way. But there does not seem to be much sign of that happening.

Friday, March 19, 2021


A father seeing his children fanning a fire that could spread dangerously or playing with a bomb that could explode would yell at them to escape and then grab them to get them out of danger, then put out the fire or defuse the bomb. He might pepper spray the person who was telling the children that playing with fire or bombs is fun, but he would not pepper spray the children standing watching who did not know who he was, who did not know that these were his children, and did not know the fire or bomb was dangerous. He might hurt the children in the process of rescuing them, but he would not shoot them in the feet with his rifle just to alert them to the danger they are in. He might show them a dangerous fire or a bomb exploding in a controlled situation to help them understand the danger.

Whacking people with evil does not have a very good success rate for turning people back to God. The first world war was terrible, but it did not bring a turning back to God. Nor did the great depression or the second world war. A century of war and economic pain did little to stop a decline in faith that continued throughout the 20th century.

God will often use a shaking judgment when his people are going to sleep, but he warns through his prophets first and ensures that he has a remnant prepared to rescue and restore those who wake up. He also uses a preventative judgment when evil is so rampant that terrible things would happen if it was able to go all the way.

However, whacking society is a sub-optimal method for changing people and society. It was the only method possible under the old covenant, but under the new covenant, the conviction of the Holy Spirit is more effective.

Wednesday, March 17, 2021

Ecclesial Minimum

Apart from the presence of the Holy Spirit, the following are essential for a church.

  • Followers of Jesus who are committed to each other, living close together so they can do the one another stuff.

  • Christians who have been serving Jesus for a while watch over those who are just beginning to follow Jesus and encourage them to listen to the Holy Spirit and obey him.

  • Four or five leaders with gifts that complement each other (one who loves sharing the gospel, one who is prophetic and several who are shepherds). They are committed to loving each other, so they can serve Jesus in unity.

  • These leaders watch over the other people, warning of danger, and encouraging them to follow the leading of the Spirit.

  • Leaders replicate their ministries in those they are watching over.

  • The best leaders are sent out (apostled) to establish a new church. The people they have taught can quickly step up and take over as leaders in their place.

  • Leaders who have been sent out exercise authority/influence by looking back to the churches that sent them.

Monday, March 15, 2021

Black Horse

When the third seal was opened in his vision of Revelation, John saw a rider on a black horse.

When the Lamb opened the third seal, I heard the third living creature say, “Come!” I looked, and there before me was a black horse! Its rider was holding a pair of scales in his hand. Then I heard what sounded like a voice among the four living creatures, saying, “Two pounds[a] of wheat for a day’s wages, and six pounds of barley for a day’s wages, and do not damage the oil and the wine!” (Rev 6:5-7).
A horse represents government force – often military force. Scales represent justice. The black horse is a government that goes out to establish justice in the world using political, economic and military pressure (sometimes called R2P).

The Greek word translated scales is “zugon”. It comes from a root that means “joining”. It can refer to “scales”, but it can also mean “yoke”. When Jesus called us to take his yoke upon him, the gospels use the same word “zugon” (Matt 11:29). 1 Tim 6:1 used the word to describe a yoke of slavery. In Acts 15:10, Paul challenges that Christian leaders not to put a yoke on the neck of new disciples that they cannot bear.

Translating the word “zugon” as “yoke” gives a different insight into the rider on the black horse. He held a yoke in “his hand”. That hand is a symbol of political power. The rider on the black horse uses political power to impose an economic yoke on peoples and nations. This powerful ruler uses trade sanctions, trade regulations and tariffs to control other nations.

These sanctions and economic pressures have a serious effect on prices. Economic sanctions make it difficult for nations to buy food, so food prices rise. The Greek measure, translated here as a quart, was a "choinix". It was the daily ration for a soldier in active service. The coin mentioned is a denarius, which was the equivalent of a day's wages. John says that the shortage of food will be so severe that a daily ration of wheat will cost a day's wages. Barley was a little cheaper as it was considered to be of poorer quality.

The situation will be so severe that ordinary people will need all that they can earn to buy food, but the wealthy will not be affected. Luxury items like oil and wine are not to be damaged. They are not essentials but will be more readily available. The real shortage will be for basic food items.

According to Zechariah, the black horse moves to the North (Zech 6:6). The United States has engaged in intensive efforts to establish democracy in Eastern Europe and the Middle East using economic power.

More at Black Horse.

Friday, March 12, 2021


Socialism is not the great evil that many Christians claim, but it is not the solution either, because it relies on the fickle and corrupt power of the state. We have had socialism in my country for more than fifty years, and although many people have been helped, in some areas is now worse than ever.

The gospel includes the solution, including giving away unrighteous wealth and deacons training the poor how to live as described in Caring for the Poor. Caring for the Poor. Unfortunately, the church has never really taken this role seriously. Until it does, socialism is a more compassionate option than raw capitalism, but it is not God’s solution.

Wednesday, March 10, 2021

Ravi Zacharias

Christians all over the world have been shocked by the exposure of the failings of Ravi Zacharias (going down the same path as many other key Christian leaders). Much has been written about how and why, and I don’t have much to add except for one key point that seems to be totally missing from the discussion.

Whenever Jesus sent his disciples out to do something, he sent them in pairs, not with one in charge of the other, but as equals in authority. When he called them, he formed them into pairs, and that was how they always operated. I call these Power Pairs, because of their increased effectiveness in action.

The other benefit of operating this way is the spiritual safety that comes from pairs watching over each other. They will be close enough to each other to see what is going on and be willing to challenge the other if he is in danger of falling into sexual or financial immortality. If the church wants to turn back the tide of leaders falling from grace, we need all men (especially) to go back to working in pairs.

When one man is top dog, he becomes vulnerable to pride and spiritual attacks. The people working with him are dependent on his approval for the continuation of their ministry, so they are tempted to make excuses and remain silent when they see bad behaviour. Once a man is elevated over others, problems eventually follow.

When two leaders work together as a pair, the risk of sexual immorality is significantly reduced. They might end up in serious disagreement as Paul and Barnabas did, but they only hurt themselves and not the people who have trusted in them. Read the full article at Power Pairs.

Monday, March 08, 2021


People sometimes ask why am I not a member of a church. The basic reason is courtesy.

When I was pastor of a church back in the 1980s, God confronted me about the way that his church is organised. I discovered that the pastor-leader model that I was engaged in does not exist in the New Testament. That was quite disturbing.

After a detailed study of the New Testament, God gave me a vision of how he wanted the church to function. I published a book called Being Church Where We Live describing what God has shown me thropugh my studies. People have critiqued my book on the Church, because it is too hard, but no one has been able to show that it is inconsistent with the New Testament. This creates a dilemma for me in participating in a church (I also resigned from my public service role before publishing my last two books, for a similar reason).

If I join a church, courtesy required me to remain silent and support the pastor’s vision. I have done more theological study than many pastors, so it would be unfair for me to push my views and undermine the pastor’s vision.

I tried this courteous option for nearly twenty years as a member of an apostolic church. I remained quiet and gave my full support to the leaders’ vision. These leaders understood my position, but were happy to make use of my gifts when appropriate. However, when a new pastor was put in with more of a pastor-centric drive, I could see it would become too hard, so to avoid conflict, we decided to move on before he arrived. The people and elders sent me out with their blessing and some prophetic encouragement.

Now at the age of seventy-one, and the situation on earth becoming urgent, I am not prepared to sit and remain silent anymore. I want the freedom to speak what I believe, without the fear of offending a pastor to whom I have submitted.

I am not willing to put my energy into a vision that I believe to be wrong. Other people might be able to put their head down and give their support, but my calling has a visionary aspect. I think a lot about how things should be done, both in my working and in my private life, so it is too hard for me to sit and remain silent.

I realise that not belonging to a church is not ideal, but it is the best option at this time (I also realise that a pastor-leader model provides very little spiritual protection). I understand the risks involved, but I accept them because I want the freedom to serve God without undermining my pastor by explaining that his role is not biblical.

I have never had a fallen out with a pastor, and have several good friends who have continued in that role.

If a pastor wanted to make radical change in the way their church was organised, I would be willing to join and support them, but I have not been invited yet.

Friday, March 05, 2021

Angelic Risk

I have been wondering why God created the angels, given that the Holy Spirit is all-powerful and therefore able to do everything needing to be done. It was quite a risky move because humans were given full freedom and authority over the earth, so they had the potential to rebel and oppose him and seriously harm his world. That would be bad enough, but if some angels rebelled too, then they could do terrible evil if they could get control of rebellious humans.

Creating powerful angels with sufficient freedom to rebel was a hugely risky move because this would massively amplify the evil that would occur if humans rebelled too. That is what has happened, and the spiritual powers of evil have been able to do terrible evil on earth since humans gave them the authority to work on evil. God must have had sufficient good reasons for creating angels to justify taking these risks.

The angels worship God in his presence, but that does not seem sufficient justification for their creation because it leaves God looking a little egotistic, if it was the only reason.

Angels have the ability to move between earth and heaven (Gen 28:12: Job 1:6; Psalm 103:20). Although they are spiritual beings, they can appear in the physical world and change physical things (Acts 5:19; 12:23). The angels also seemed to have a role in the creation of the world (Job 38:7) God would only need the angels working on earth if there were some things that the Holy Spirit could not do, but which angels could do. Reading the scriptures, I note the following things that angels can do that the Holy Spirit is unable to do, because he is pure spirit.

  1. The Holy Spirit can speak to people, but he cannot appear to them because he is spirit. Human eyes can see the effects of his presence, such as people falling down, but we cannot see him directly. So, when God needs his messenger to be seen by humans, perhaps because they need to be shocked into hearing, he will send an angel. Angels can speak and appear, which helped human listeners like Moses, Gideon, Mary, Zechariah and Cornelius (Exodus 3:2; Judges 6:12; Luke 1:11;2:26; Acts 10:3).

  2. God uses angels to fight against the spiritual powers of evil. The Holy Spirit resists them by speaking, and his divine voice is so compelling that probably only the toughest government-spirits and world controllers would be strong enough to resist. They would whine that it was unfair and breach of their freedom if the Holy Spirit came against them with his full physical power, so God mostly uses angels when he needs to force them to stop doing something (Exodus 23:20; Rev 12:7; Dan 10:13).

  3. The Holy Spirit is always present in all creation, sustaining its existence, so he cannot always deal directly with people and things in the physical world. God seems to use angels for that purpose. Angels wrote the Ten Words on the stone tablets (Gal 3:19). An angel closed the lion’s mouth for Daniel (Dan 6:22). A donkey saw an angel (Num 22:24).

  4. For a similar reason, God often sends angels to strengthen people who are already full of the Spirit. Elijah and Jesus are examples (1 Kings 19:7; Mark 1:13; Luke 22:43).

The scriptures don’t give a complete outline of everything that angels can do for God because we don’t need to know. However, the reasons listed above are sufficient to justify the creation of the angels, despite the harm that some would do by rebelling against God and joining with human rebellion to do evil in the world.

Wednesday, March 03, 2021


I heard a preacher on television in New Zealand say that God is going to send revival to the church. There are several problems with this claim.

  • Church leaders in New Zealand have been saying for the last 30 years that God is going to send revival; but it has not happened. That is not because God is incapable of doing it, so it must be because the church is not ready to receive revival.

  • I don’t believe that God is saying that he will send revival. I believe that the is telling the church and its leaders what they need to do and how they need to change, so they can receive what he has for them. He has been saying this for at least the last forty years, but the church has refused to do what he is asking it to do. That is why our situation is so dire.

  • Revival is not the solution that we need. Revival occurs when the church is lukewarm. It was relevant in a culture where many people still went to church out of duty and in response to peer pressure, but did not really know and love Jesus. These people were part of the church, but it was only a small part of their lives. They were “sort of” committed to God, but had little to do with him. These people needed revival, because revival wakes up and invigorates a lukewarm church.

    This is not our situation now. The people who are lukewarm left the church long ago and are not committed to living in the world. They don’t even think about God, let alone acknowledge him. They only people left in the church are seriously committed. They might be lacking in power, but they are not lukewarm, so a revival is not what they need. They need to be set free to function in the calling that God has for them (not just keeping the church system going) and they need the full power of the Holy Spirit to do it.

    The people of the world don’t need revival because there is nothing to revive. They need rescue. Their lives are being wrecked by the spiritual powers of evil, and they need God to see them free to live the life that he has for them.

    In this situation, the gospel needs to be different. When the church is lukewarm and asleep, a message of repentance will be effective. These people are claiming to serve God but have not bothered much, so they need to repent and choose to serve him seriously.

    In the modern world, most people are enslaved by the spiritual powers of evil. Telling them to repent of their sins is pointless because they already know they are trapped in the mess of life. They need to be rescued from their bondage, so a gospel of rescue/deliverance (which is pervasive in the New Testament) will be more effective in meeting people where they are. When someone is stuck in a deep hole, you don’t make them apologise for falling in before you rescue them.

Monday, March 01, 2021

Blessings and Curses

Deuteronomy 28 describes the blessings that would come on the children of Israel if they fulfilled the Old Covenant and the curses that would come upon them if they failed to obey God. This covenant was unique to the descendants of Jacob. However, there is a sense in which these blessings and curses apply to all nations because they describe what God likes to do and what the spiritual powers of evil like to do.

The blessings are not special. Deuteronomy 28:1-13 describes what should be normal in the good world that God created before the spiritual powers of evil messed things up. This is what life would be like if communities of people were able to push the spiritual powers of evil out of their territory.

Deuteronomy 28:14-60 describes what the spiritual powers of evil would like to do in any situation where they gain authority to act. This is the stuff that they like to do whenever they get the opportunity. Here is a list of the things that the spiritual powers of evil will do if they get control of a nation (even if it is not subject to the old covenant).

  • turmoil 
  • bad and lasting sores 
  • epidemics 
  • wasting fevers and inflammation 
  • insects destroying trees and fruit 
  • heatwave and drought
  • blight and mildew 
  • invasion by enemies 
  • hemorrhoids 
  • sores and rashes 
  • blindness 
  • confusion of mind 
  • debt and interest 
  • robbery and fraud 
  • no power in your hand 
  • defeat in battle. 
Any nation that surrenders authority to the spiritual powers of evil can expect some or all of these problems to plague their lives. We are not immune from their activities just because we are not subject to the Old Covenant.