Those who are with us

Now the king of Aram was at war with Israel. After conferring with his officers, he said, “I will set up my camp in such and such a place.”

The man of God sent word to the king of Israel: “Beware of passing that place, because the Arameans are going down there.” So the king of Israel checked on the place indicated by the man of God. Time and again Elisha warned the king, so that he was on his guard in such places.

This enraged the king of Aram. He summoned his officers and demanded of them, “Tell me! Which of us is on the side of the king of Israel?”

“None of us, my lord the king,” said one of his officers, “but Elisha, the prophet who is in Israel, tells the king of Israel the very words you speak in your bedroom.”

“Go, find out where he is,” the king ordered, “so I can send men and capture him.” The report came back: “He is in Dothan.” Then he sent horses and chariots and a strong force there. They went by night and surrounded the city.

When the servant of the man of God got up and went out early the next morning, an army with horses and chariots had surrounded the city. “Oh no, my lord! What shall we do?” the servant asked.

“Don’t be afraid,” the prophet answered. “Those who are with us are more than those who are with them.”

And Elisha prayed, “Open his eyes, Lord, so that he may see.” Then the Lord opened the servant’s eyes, and he looked and saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.
2 Kings 6 v8-17

In the current cultural insanity that grips the nations of the West, I am aware that our battle is not against flesh and blood, but against the “rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” Eph 6 v12. The forces arrayed against us are strong – governments, corporations, judiciary, social, religious and media – all pulling for a brave new world where all cultural norms of past millennia are uprooted.

But, like for Elisha, those who are with us are far, far greater than those opposed – if only we have the eyes to see. A mighty, invisible, golden army fights for the Lord! But…we need to pray. The only way this power is released is through prayer.

The impossible compliment of prayer, being co-creators in the Lord’s purposes, is available to all who are His. Do we want to see voices raised up that have the power to roll back the tide of darkness? Then…to pray is the key.  Pray like we believe, that we know, that those who are for us are far, far greater than the camp of those opposed.

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Hell is real

Hell is real. Sin is serious.
Our hearts are wayward and stubborn, and it is like threading a camel through the eye of a needle to do the right thing.
And most of humanity are going to go to Hell, because they refuse to come to Heaven.

These are not my thoughts, but Jesus’s. Sometimes, like today, it is good to get the wakeup call. It’s not a game, it never was, though so often we treat it like so. Come to Jesus, and then go off and do your own thing, it’s all good now. You got your sticking plaster on the owie, you’re fine now; don’t come anywhere near me with that scalpel, thank you.

Other people go to Hell, not good decent people like us, right? We’ve totally got it sorted, Jesus is my buddy. My tame God, that I can bring out from time to time as the need strikes me. I like my Grace cheap, thank you. An ounce of God with my morning coffee. The Christian-lite religion, worshiping the trinity of Me, Myself and I.

We all get to wake up one day, either in this life, or before His judgment seat. Maybe we think we’ll be the exception, the one without a wedding garment hidden in the throng, overlooked. Maybe….our God is too small. Maybe we need to realise, one day before it is too late – this day? – that the gift of Jesus’s righteousness, though free, costs us everything.

Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.” Matthew 6 v24.

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Song of the Ainur

It has sometimes been said that with the second coming of Jesus, we will be restored to what we once were, before the fall.

I’m not sure, but I don’t think it’s possible for a people who have eaten from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil to be restored to what they once were. Jesus is our archetype, and in His body He still bears the scars. I wonder whether we will be the same, the scars of what we once were to remind us and give us wisdom.

An analogy in The Silmarillion – the Song of the Ainur – speaks to me. I would say the song that we now sing isn’t the original song, but one “deep and wide and beautiful, but slow and blended with an immeasurable sorrow, from which its beauty chiefly came”.

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Unequal marriage

One of the latest phrases to enter the dictionary is ‘equal marriage’.  Now, that’s an attempt to frame the question before it is even asked.  After all, who would support a marriage that is unequal?

Well, I would.

Marriage is in itself a joining of unequals – husband and wife bringing their own unique blend of strengths and weaknesses to a marriage.  How boring it would be if we WERE equal. And how deeply destructive.  As it is, I know there are certain areas in which I will excel, and other that I should step back if I know what is good for me! We are not constantly competing for ascendancy, or to borrow from Orwell, heading towards a place where “all marriages are equal, but some are more equal than others”.

‘Equal’ marriage is all really about the striving for legitimacy – a legitimacy that can only be realised by the full physical and emotional complementarity of marriage – marriage between one man and one woman.

Even human marriage is a foreshadowing of the ultimate marriage – between the Lamb and His Bride, the Church.

Let us rejoice and be happy
    and give God glory!
Give God glory, because the wedding of the Lamb has come.
    And the Lamb’s bride has made herself ready.
 Rev 19 v7

Christians who believe in ‘equal marriage’ are I think the ones who will be the most disappointed – because there will be no equality in that marriage. The Husband of the Bride, He Himself modelled inequality for us.

In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:
who, being in very nature God,
did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
rather, he made himself nothing
by taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
Phil. 2 v5-7.

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Loving Jesus with all our heart

At the beginning of the Welsh revival in 1904, a young girl named Florrie Evans rose to her feet and said, “I love Jesus Christ with all my heart.”  So began a fire that carried over into all five continents.

Recently, I was at a church service, watching people at the end as we were singing “Holy and Anointed One”. As we were singing, some folks went to get their kids, at which point others got up to leave, or chat with friends.  By the end of the song, maybe 10% were still worshipping.

It just seemed incongruous – just a few were worshipping –  Jesus, Jesus, Holy and anointed One, Jesus – and for everybody else, it was as if it was not happening.  As I watched, what I felt from the Lord was a deep sadness.  Sadness that this was His bride – and they were ignoring Him.

To be clear –  this is not about sitting in judgment on anyone, or wanting folks to feel ashamed.  I’m sure there were very good reasons.  And you can count me in the number of those who simply don’t love the Lord with all their hearts.

This is about feeling the sadness from God, and how much we still need to return to Him, to worship Him, to glorify Him.  And to have our hearts melted and renewed by Him.

Funny thing was – as I walked outside the church pondering, I came across this:

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Seems as if the stones do indeed cry out.

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Heaven

Above the crystalline sea, the land is suffused with a golden light. The air is crisp, pure and exhilarating. There is peace, purpose, beauty and a strength of a reality that far exceeds our own. This place, that we can only see in vision, gives hope for those of us living in a land of ghosts, where fogs and smoke so often obscure the Truth.

It’s hard to see clearly when there are so many words, so much spin, truth distorted and obscured. So when I asked my Father if there is anything he wanted to tell me, he gave me a little glimpse of heaven. I wasn’t expecting that; rarely does He speak on my plane, but raises me up to His.

So remember – there is a Beauty, a Life and a Place that no smoke has touched, or ever will. Let a piece of your mind dwell there today.

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On Worship

It seems to me that when our hearts are turned inwards, when we’re concentrating on our response to You in worship – it’s like trying to pull ourselves up by our bootstraps. A lot of effort with no reward.

But when we move beyond the ‘me’ songs to songs really worshipping You, it suddenly changes. It’s not about us, how we’re feeling or responding, but about You.  The funny thing is, when we’re worshipping You, there’s no room for ‘me’ and we empty out and lighten up.

What we tried so hard to do with our bootstraps we find happening anyway; we’re so light we just float up on Your praises.

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