Friday, March 31, 2023

Darkness before Light (4) Prophets of Darkness

The dawn of day is coming
but the night must come first (Isaiah 21:12).
Because the people of God are so unprepared,
the night will be much longer and darker than many expect.
It is good for watchers to share about the light of the dawning, because it gives people hope.
But if they don’t warn about the darkness of the night that comes first,
it will be a false hope.

Many prophets know that God needs his church to change
They are talking about a big paradigm shift
in a season of restructuring;
a metamorphosis from one shape to another;
but they don’t seem to know the detail of the change he needs.
The church urgently needs more guidance about what he requires.

There is a time to laugh and dance,
but also a time to weep and mourn.
The twilight is a time for weeping, mourning and seeking.
Continuing to celebrate as if victory is being won
is discouraging for an army that is being overwhelmed
by forces that are stronger.

God is calling prophets of the night
who can prepare God’s people for the long darkness
that we must pass through to get to the dawn of the new day.
Some of the changes he requires will be painful.
If we don’t make them now in the twilight,
we will have to do it during the darkness of the night.
The changes will be the same,
but they will be hugely more traumatic during the darkness.

Thursday, March 30, 2023

Darkness before Light (3) Light Breaks Out

When followers of Jesus hide together in their homes
something amazing will happen.
Holy Spirit will make his home amongst them.
He will heal those who are sick and broken,
and many people will choose to follow Jesus.

God will raise up elders amongst them,
to watch over them
to teach them the way of Jesus
and to bond them into his body.
They will have balanced giftings,
with all the ascension gifts;
complementing each other
and submitting to each other to produce unity.

Evangelists will be released in pairs
to heal the sick and cast out demons in streets and marketplaces.
Taking others with them
to train them to be evangelists too.

People with pastoral gifts will watch over the new disciples:
praying for them;
teaching them to listen and obey the Holy Spirit;
helping them get rid of their junk,
encouraging them to move in the gifts of the Spirit,
building strong relationships with other followers of Jesus,
teaching them to do the One Another Stuff.

The elders will replicate their ministries,
in the people they are discipling,
pastors will produce pastors
prophets will produce prophets
evangelists produce evangelists.

They will form Kingdom Communities
from which they can take the gospel into the world
and expand the Kingdom of God on earth.
They will agree in prayer to push all evil spirits out of the territory
where they have authority
to establish a place
where the Holy Spirit is free to work.

These kingdom communities will expand
by sending their leaders out as apostles,
as others step up into their place
so the best elders can go out in a team
with balanced giftings, (pastor, prophet, evangelist)
to establish a new community,
where they will carry on loving and serving each other,
while keeping on listening and obeying the Holy Spirit;
and he will keep doing what Jesus did.

Wednesday, March 29, 2023

Darkness before Light (2) Prepare for Darkness

Instead of sitting around
and waiting for prophecies of revival to be fulfilled by God,
his people should be getting prepared to live through the darkness and position themselves in a place of strength,
so they can share life and hope
with those who are lost in the dark.

The current model of doing church is inadequate for this task
because it cannot cope with the darkness of the night;
nor will it cut it when the light of the dawn comes,
because it cannot carry the Kingdom of God.
Reliance on personality pastors (or their sons)
and programs in buildings
will not be viable during the darkness that is coming.

Followers of Jesus should be preparing
by seeking the wisdom of God for their circumstances,
but they should base their preparation on an assumption
that they might not be able to drive to church meetings,
and that pastors might be unable to share messages with them
or even contact them,
because they have been shut down.

During an intense spiritual struggle
standing alone is the most dangerous place to be.
Attending a church meeting once a week will not be sufficient
to sustain spiritual life when real pressure comes on.
The best possible protection during tough times
is to be living close to other followers of Jesus
who can provide emotional, spiritual and material support
when it is needed, not when the next meeting is due.

Followers of Jesus who lived in isolation from other Christians
should move closer to other believers they trust:
close enough that it is an easy walk
to gather for prayer, for spiritual, emotional,
and material support for each other;
for loving one another as Jesus loved us,
and for serving each other and our neighbours.

The twilight season might last longer than we expect,
but if the darkness holds back for a time,
it is not a sign that revival is coming,
but an opportunity for followers of Jesus
to advance their preparation.

Full series here.

Tuesday, March 28, 2023

Darkness before Light (1) Darkness Coming

The light of dawn is coming
but the night must come first (Isaiah 21:12).
The light that shaped New Zealand is fading;
spiritual darkness is rolling out over the land.
It will be deeper and darker than anyone expects,
so it will take a long time for the light to penetrate and break it up.
A bright spiritual light will shine again
but not before we have passed through a season of darkness.

The spiritual powers of evil seizing territory
and controlling it without facing any opposition
gaining control of places of authority without any resistance.
Political leaders have been given more power
than they have ever had,
because they are expected to deliver us from evil
and restore our lives to blessing.
They lack the wisdom to achieve what they have promised,
but their pride is amplifying the power of spiritual evil.

New Zealand is entering a season of spiritual darkness:
with ambivalence towards the gospel
and hostility towards Christian moral standards.
The people of the world will feel free to harass the churches,
and Christians will be afraid.
They will hear rumours of evil
happening in other places,
and unknown fears are more fearful than known ones.

The church is floundering and confused,
doing the same old things over and over again,
hoping for better outcomes,
but knowing that it probably won’t work;
knowing that they need more of the Holy Spirit,
but unwilling to obey his voice.

People are praying for revival,
begging God to move by his Spirit,
but God is not the problem,
because his spirit is always moving.
The problem is the church.
It does not seem to be willing to make the changes
that God needs it to make
before it can carry the spiritual life that he wants to release.

The season for revival has passed
and will not come back for a long time.
Refusal to do what revival required
has allowed the spiritual powers of evil
to entrench their stronghold over the nation
and they will not be pushed out easily.

Saturday, March 25, 2023

Gabor Mate on Addiction

Bryony Gordon describes Gabor Mate's teaching on addiction.

I met Gabor Maté, I mumbled shyly that, as a recovering addict, this was a bit like meeting Father Christmas. His intense gaze didn’t falter. “You’re not an addict,” he said, seriously.

“Nobody is that dysfunctional. You may have drunk in a way that was harmful to you and your emotional life and maybe even your physiology, but that doesn’t mean that’s who you are. It just means that’s something you did and you did it for a reason. What did it give you?”

“Oblivion,” I whispered.

“And why would someone want oblivion?” he continued, very matter-of-factly.

“From pain?” I suggested.

“Yeah. And is pain relief a good thing or a bad thing? Addiction wasn’t your problem, it was your attempt to solve the problem of pain. It is a pain response. And it is totally normal to escape from pain [with addiction] when you know no other way.”

There, in one short conversation, Maté had succinctly and unemotionally summed up his teachings.

Thursday, March 23, 2023

Consequential Event

People who are interested in the trajectory of world events should read Larry Johnson’s article called You have Witnessed History today in Moscow and it is Consequential.

Wednesday, March 22, 2023

Babel Heaven-scraper

The first human government to emerge was established by a man called Nimrod.

Cush begot Nimrod; he began to be a mighty one on the earth. He was a mighty hunter before the LORD; therefore it is said, “Like Nimrod the mighty hunter before the LORD.” And the beginning of his kingdom was Babel, Erech, Accad, and Calneh, in the land of Shinar. From that land he went to Assyria and built Nineveh, Rehoboth Ir, Calah, and Resen between Nineveh and Calah (that is the principal city) (Gen 10:8-12 NKJV).
Nimrod was the most powerful strongman on the earth so he established a kingdom in Babel. This is the first mention of a kingdom in the Bible. Nimrod extended his kingdom to Nineveh. This makes Nimrod the grandfather of all the early kingdoms and empires on earth.

The name Nimrod comes from the expression “we will rebel”, so when the Bible refers to Nimrod “before the Lord” it means in opposition to the Lord. The first governments were started by a “rebel against God”. The fruit of this rebellion was the tower of Babel.

Then they said, "Come, let us build ourselves a city, with a tower that reaches to the heavens, so that we may make a name for ourselves and not be scattered over the face of the whole earth" (Gen 11:4).
Nimrod’s followers decided to construct a massive tower that would enlarge their reputation throughout the earth. Reading about their plans through modern eyes it all seems a bit stupid. Only crazy people would think that building a “too-big-finish tower” would enhance their political power.

However, something more serious was going on. If we read the story through a three-agent lens, we get a different perspective. The spiritual powers of evil were threatening a dangerous assault on the purposes of God.

The people of Babel planned two things:

  • a tower that reaches to the heavens,
  • a name for themselves (apart from God).
This plan was a serious rebellion against their creator.
  • A “name” represents a person’s authority. The people of Babel intended to establish authority (name) for themselves apart from God. They would achieve this goal without God by attaching their political power to that of the spiritual powers of evil.

  • A "tower" represents authority. This tower was an attempt by the people of Babel to extend their authority right up into the spiritual realms (heaven) by cooperating with the spiritual powers of evil. They wanted to expand the authority of their earthly empire into a spiritual empire. They believed that they had a chance to do it, and the spiritual powers of evil working with them believed that they could squeeze God of the spiritual realms in a reversal if the way that they had been pushed out by the holy angels (Rev 12:7-8).

This tower was a serious threat to God’s authority. The most powerful people on earth got together with the spiritual forces of evil in an attempt to wrest control of the heavenly realms from God. A gang of evil spirits that had been thrown down on earth, planned to use evil people on earth to regain their position in heaven. This was serious stuff.

God had no choice but to send a Protective Judgment to put the forces of evil back in their place. The evil was constrained by sending confusion of language that made combining for a common purpose more difficult.

So the LORD scattered them from there over all the earth, and they stopped building the city (Gen 11:8).

Monday, March 20, 2023

Bank Crises

Well, the Fed has rescued Silicon Valley Bank and the big US banks have rescued First Republic Bank, for the meantime (remember that six months passed between the failures of Bear Stearns and Lehman Brothers in 2008). The Swiss National Bank has kicked the Credit Suisse can down the road, meaning its derivatives do not need to be unwound in a hurry, although the Swiss people will have to pay the price with an “inflation tax”.

Silicon Valley Bank failed due to investments in US Treasuries that went bad when the Fed raised interest rates sharply. What is not so widely known is that the US small regional banks have big exposure to the Commercial Real Estate (CRE) sector. JP Morgan has noted that almost $2 trillion of CRE loans are held at smaller banks, while around $0.8 trillion are held at larger ones.

Zero Hedge noted last week that real solvency risk facing the regional bank sector is their exposure to commercial real estate in general, and office buildings in particular. After residential real estate, malls, and hotels, it is now offices' turn to crumble. Office-building landlords are some of the biggest decliners among US real estate stocks. The S&P Composite 1500 Office REITs Index has dropped sharply back to August 2009 levels. Vornado is back to levels last seen in November 1996.

This decline will be putting pressure on the balance sheets of US small regional banks. US Commercial Real Estate is a trigger to keep an eye on.

Saturday, March 18, 2023

Liberalism - Aurelien

Some important thinking by Aurelien on Western Liberalism.

As I’ve pointed out frequently before, it’s a peculiarity of Liberalism that to has no real basis for its beliefs other than assertion: no divine revelation, no hallowed traditions, no systematic body of theory claiming to be based in the real world. For this reason, Liberalism’s dominant figures have always felt ideologically insecure and uneasy, especially when confronted with systems of thought that are anchored in something other than simple assertion. Liberalism has always had a problem with Islam, for example, whose intellectual basis is firmly in revelation and whose popular base is in societies that do not share Liberal views. Revealingly, Liberalism has never been able to domesticate and absorb it as it has done with Christianity, and even Buddhism...

Liberalism, with its firmly-held but poorly-grounded ideology, is incapable of living peacefully in the same world as the kind of political and social systems we find in China, Russia and India today. This is an inherent problem with any universalist ideology, as I have described before, and reflects the fact that Liberalism is now the nearest thing that western elites have to a religion, and that it acts as a force for precarious unity, or at least uneasy co-existence, for most of them. The longer the West tolerates the existence of rival systems of thought, however, the more people will start to question Liberalism’s universalist pretensions...

During the Cold War, ideological competition between the two blocs was based largely on economic and social performance, as each system claimed to be more successful than the other in material betterment of peoples’ lives. That is no longer the case: Liberalism is by definition universally true and valid, and does not need to prove itself or compare itself with anything. Those societies that have not (yet) embraced Liberalism should therefore be persuaded or compelled to do so. To the extent that they refuse to do so, they are seen as objective enemies. Unlike in the Cold War, peaceful co-existence is not actually possible, nor is it desirable. Similarly, people and factions in other countries who embrace Liberalism are on the side of history, and are to be automatically supported. If they do not win elections that’s a shame, but it’s the fault of the electorate for not being enlightened enough. Eventually, they will come round.

The problem arises when Liberalism encounters a force as large, or larger, than itself, and which refuses to follow its lead, and even refuses to be cowed. Much of the world, of course, has been engaged in passive resistance to Liberalism for some time now, although we seldom notice it. Most nations outside the West are generally concerned to retain at least elements of their traditions, history, culture and society, and not to follow the Liberal West into an individualism red in tooth and claw. But larger and more important countries, like China, India and Russia, have in recent years become tired of simply coping with the West and its Liberal ideology: the have started to actively resist.

Now none of these countries, so far as I can see, shares the kind of universalist assumptions that characterise Liberalism. The Chinese seek to spread their influence and the culture, but to my knowledge they aren’t trying to convert the world to Confucianism, any more than the Indians are trying to convert it to Hinduism. Indeed, when these countries talk about a more balanced and plural world system, they are really talking about a kind of ideological peaceful co-existence, that means that nations do not try to impose their norms and practices on each other. But as I have suggested, Liberalism is incapable of peacefully accepting the presence of other ideologies for very long.

It is this, more than anything else, that explains the unremitting enmity to Russia and China that has typified the last 15-20 years. There is, of course, no objective reason for this enmity: the West can live quite happily with these two countries (and India) if it wants to, for the advantage of all. China may be an economic competitor to the US in some ways, but it is also an important supplier and an important customer. No rational human being believes that a war over Taiwan makes the remotest sense, or is even likely. But war... is understandable (I hesitate to say “rational”) on the basis that the West simply cannot live indefinitely with the presence of other systems of thought that put its universalising ideology in jeopardy.

Yet of course the West cannot expect to win a war against either Russia or China singly, let alone together. This creates a highly unstable situation, where western leaders are obliged to use bellicose rhetoric and make threats and escalate tensions, in the hope that somehow these will have the desired political effect. The problem is that the Russians and Chinese are not intimidated, even though western leaders have led their publics to suppose that the West is so fearsome and powerful that it can always get what it wants. Quite how western leaders can escape from that unstable paradox is not clear...

How Liberalism will react once it realises that what it thought was an irresistible force has slammed into a genuinely immovable obstacle is hard to say, but it won’t be pretty, and will probably resemble a mass political nervous breakdown of some kind.

Friday, March 10, 2023


David Fitch has some interesting comments on the role of Apologetics.

I worry about the posture that apologetics, as traditionally conceived, trains us into. It can, if we’re not careful, think about answering questions that we do not even know if they’ve been asked yet, within our own specific culture. It’s a posture problem. We presume to know what people are asking before we have listened to them, and see how the Holy Spirit is working in people’s lives? This is bad posture.
Any apologetics that shall engage a culture for the gospel in these times of post-Christendom, must be displayed in a person’s life, or a community’s life, as lived. It’s an old adage, that no one has ever been argued into the Kingdom. No one becomes a Christian based on a rationally argued reason. It is the compelling, often jarring, witness of how a person’s life is changed, and lived, that becomes a compelling reality that challenges another person’s life, and a culture’s injustice...

We live in a culture that has become unequivocally turned off to the Christian faith because of the way people have lived their lives as Christians before a watching world. We have seen hypocrites, dispassionate people, even violent Christian Nationalists, act out terrible things in the name of Christ these past decades. Our own kids are walking away from church in droves because of this. Perhaps it’s not Apologetics we need for the engagement of culture, it’s Apologizing to all the people we have mistreated, all the ways we have been hypocrites, in this culture.

That makes sense to me.

Wednesday, March 08, 2023

Samaritan Woman

Caryn Reeder has an interesting take on The Samaritan Woman, whose encounter with Jesus is recorded in John 4. Some points to note.

  • Jesus does not accuse the woman of sinning. He does not tell her that she needs forgiveness or to stop sinning.

  • Jesus noted that she had had five husbands, but did not condemn her for that. The Jewish culture of Jesus' time was male dominated. Men could eaily divorce their wives, but a divorced women would be financially insecure. It seems this woman had been discarded by several men, which would have left her in a vulnerable postion, needing to rely on any man who would support her. I presume that Jesus felt compassion for her, whereas mostly male commentators have assumed the woman was at fault.

  • Drawing water in the middle of the day is not a sign of immorality, as is frequently claimed by Bible commentators. The historical evidence shows that women in the ancient world went to get water whenever they needed water.

  • Instead, he engages in a theological discussion about the true nature of worship. How and where you should worship was a serious question.

  • This is the largest conversation with Jesus recorded in John’s gospel.

  • She allows Jesus to explain that his kingdom is open to everyone.

  • The woman went to her village and told everyone that she believed the messiah had arrived in their region. She may have been a leader in her village.

  • She was the first evangelist.

  • The people accepted Jesus as the messiah because they believed her. Many of the Samaritans of that city believed in Him because of the word of the woman who testified.

  • The woman was a witness to Jesus. John uses the same expression for Jesus as he does for the woman: her word – his word. And because of his word many more became believers.

  • The woman helped start a harvest. While the disciples were worrying about food for themselves, she was helping Jesus bring in a harvest.

  • The woman was an ideal disciple.

    • She listens respectfully

    • She asks insightful questions

    • She seeks understanding.

    • She shares with others.

  • John contrasts the woman with Nicodemus, who came in the night and then did not share with anyone.

Saturday, March 04, 2023

War and Spirit

In a spiritual world, everything is connected.

When political powers give authority to a powerful spirit, their power enhances its power. So if a nation engages in violent conflict and war, a spirit of violence will also be released at home.

If a nation sets out to be the preeminent military power in the world, enforcing its dominance with violent military force, it should not be surprised if gun violence explodes in its towns, schools and homes.

If a nation like New Zealand backs war as the solution to disputes between nations, and engages in a war by training participants to use powerful artillery, it should not be surprised if a violent spirit takes hold at home and releases violence in society (and its parliament).

Thursday, March 02, 2023


Many commentators are claiming that the Hawkes Bay storms are the consequence of man-made global warming. Others are saying it is the result of a triple-dip La Nina. I don’t know which is true, but I am more interested in the spiritual causes of events.

A friend asked, “Was the storm that wreaked damage and death on Hawkes Bay a judgment from God?” My answer was emphatically, “No!” God does not whack people who do not know what they are doing, because they have been led by lost leaders and swayed by cultural influencers who don’t know where they are going.

God is sad that his church has failed to reach the nation with the good news of Jesus, but he is not going to beat up those it has failed to reach.

However, the ferocity of the storms made me realise how vulnerable we are in this land to attacks by the spiritual powers of evil. By pushing God out of the nation, we have destroyed our spiritual protection, inadequate although it was. So we can now expect to see more disasters as the spiritual powers of evil utilise their increased influence here.

The spiritual powers of evil are not strong enough to control the weather and create a storm. But when a storm has developed, they can tweak its direction of travel towards places people and homes are vulnerable. This is polssibly what has happened in the last few weeks (See Praying for the Weather).

The current disaster seems too hard for the nation to manage, but given our spiritual state, this type of event could be more common in the future.