The division

    Turning and turning in the widening gyre
    The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
    Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
    Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
    The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
    The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
    The best lack all conviction, while the worst
    Are full of passionate intensity.

The Second Coming – Yeats

It seems to me that nations are more divided now than they have ever been, both between and more importantly within, exhibiting internal strain as opinions become more polarised and divided.

We have no common foundation in God, no centre that can hold, and as a result we find other foundations, often diametrically opposed from each other, and we swing wider and wider.

We are in desperate need to pray for a blessing from God, lest the blood-dimmed tide be loosed. To rediscover our common humanity and inheritance as children of God. To relocate our centre in the Rock of Ages.

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True Prophets

Nothing from me this time – just a quote I think brilliant!

Great industrial concerns have in their employ men who are needed only when there is a breakdown somewhere. When something goes wrong with the machinery, these men spring into action to locate and remove the trouble and get the machinery rolling again.

For these men a smoothly operating system has no interest. They are specialists concerned with trouble and how to find and correct it.

In the kingdom of God things are not too different. God has always had His specialists whose chief concern has been the moral breakdown, the decline in the spiritual health of the nation or the church. Such men were Elijah, Jeremiah, Malachi and others of their kind who appeared at critical moments in history to reprove,  rebuke and exhort in the name of God and righteousness.

A thousand or ten thousand ordinary priests or pastors or teachers could labor quietly on almost unnoticed while the spiritual life of Israel or the church was normal. But let the people of God go astray from the paths of truth and immediately the specialist appeared almost out of nowhere. His instinct for trouble brought him to the help of the Lord and of Israel.

Such a man was likely to be drastic, radical, possibly at times violent, and the curious crowd that gathered to watch him work soon branded him as extreme, fanatical, negative. And in a sense they were right. He was single-minded, severe, fearless, and these were the qualities the circumstances demanded. He shocked some, frightened others and alienated not a few, but he knew who had called him and what he was sent to do. His ministry was geared to the emergency, and that fact marked him out as different, a man apart.

To such men as this the church owes a debt too heavy to pay. The curious thing is that she seldom tries to pay him while he lives, but the next generation builds his sepulcher and writes his biography, as if instinctively and awkwardly to discharge an obligation the previous generation to a large extent ignored…

A W Tozer from the foreword to Leonard Ravenhill’s “Why Revival Tarries”

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The pursuit of truth


Behold, you delight in truth in the inward being, and you teach me wisdom in the secret heart.

Ps 51 v6

One of the things close to my heart is the pursuit and expression of truth, whether that truth be comfortable or uncomfortable. In a world obsessed by narrative, spin, angles and tribalism, seeking and expounding the truth can be a difficult prospect.

Truth these days has retreated into ghettos, where one tribe holds the truth, and the other tribe only lies. Any nobility that existed, where there was an objective standard and a cohesive foundation that we could all adhere to – however reluctantly – seems to be a distant memory. Professional liars and deceivers feed us what our ears desire to hear – and what we want to be true, is true.

Truth as a currency is now much devalued. We have my truth, your truth, their truth. Sometimes we are told these can all be valid – even if mutually contradictory. But foundation-less truth inevitably leads to the truth of power – those who wield the control, ultimately define what is true. Those who do not acquiesce, will be made to suffer.

“What is truth?”

Pilate in John 18 v38a

Satan has done a pretty good job at undermining the foundations and the reality that underpins life, leaving so many floundering in a relativistic morass.

Nevertheless, subjective and power forced ‘truths’ are not the last word. The is an objective standard because there is a Truth, whether that is acknowledged or not. You can continue to ignore reality, but never the consequences of reality. Jesus has said this:

I am the way and the truth and the life.
No one comes to the Father except through me.

John 14 v6

Jesus does not just speak truth. He is the Truth, the Foundation that underpins. To the world, He says this:

You love evil rather than good, falsehood rather than speaking the truth.

Ps 52 v3

This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil.

John 3 v19

As the Truth , He has the last word. The lies that the world lives in and by, they will all ultimately founder. And that will be a good day, a day that many eyes will be opened. Because the Truth is beautiful and gives hope and life.

I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.

John 16 v33

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The exercise of the Prophetic in the Church

A while back, I wrote about prophetic speaking.

I wanted to add a little more to that, in how sometimes we have exercised this gift within the Church and where we have further to go.

Often, the Church has operated the gift of prophecy as a personal word, encouraging in nature. There is nothing wrong with that of course, however I would submit that it is insufficient.

In my experience, the Church often does not have the wider practice of, or the infrastructure to discern, prophetic word/s that are directive or corrective in nature or intended for a wider audience.

Prophecy can be understood as a mixture of foretelling and forthtelling. The former gets the headlines in popular culture, but the latter is usually the actual meat. When I forthtell, it is often about bringing matters to people that they already know at some level, but don’t want to hear. That’s part of the story – though typically any prophetic corrective word gets married with the heart of love the Lord has for His people. This is a cadence in the prophets that I have come to know well.

The prophet is the trouble-shooter, the burr under the saddle, the awkward voice that is out of sync and often saying uncomfortable things. Accordingly, they are not often very popular! The prophet can be pastor, bringing comfort; equally the prophet can bring challenge, stirring things up and bringing the metaphorical sword. Sometimes, and often, it is both. Whatever is brought, the true heart is to bring holiness – to bring the church in line and in step with the Holy Spirit, to be the true bride of Christ. The heart is love, even if the medicine is often unpalatable (and, to be fair, often spurned).

The wider Church (at least the more institutional churches) often has a skewed practice and use of the 5 ‘offices’ – Apostle, Prophet, Teacher, Evangelist and Shepherd; emphasising some much more than others. I think we are coming into a season where a more balanced use of all offices are going to be necessary to sustain and grow the Church. We are in dire need of being ready to endure – and to be a light that will attract those God is calling.

For Prophecy, it would be helpful for Churches to develop an infrastructure to allow the ‘harder’ words to be properly considered. To make a mistake giving a personal encouraging word has little downside. To err in giving a directive / corrective word to the wider congregation/church/nation has significantly more downside! The Church should be open to those kind of words, but also have a process in place where they can be prayerfully considered by wise, mature Christians, who would then provide direction in if/how to respond.

For me, the heart and burden that I have carried for years is best be explained in the vision of a church fully following in the steps of her Lord. Jesus footsteps took him to Calvary, and to the cross. The true Church will follow Him there.

This is the paradox of the Christian walk – it costs us nothing, and it costs us everything.

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Holy Saturday

Today is a kairos moment, a time between times.

Jesus is dead, buried, gone. And we wait.
And, as usual, we do not see what is going on.

Death is being swallowed up.
Hades disarmed.
The gates of Hell broken down.
Prisoners released.
Satan runs trembling as yesterday’s victory becomes today’s defeat, his kingdom crumbling around him.

All these things happen on this momentous day, as Heaven storms earth and captures it in love.

All we can see is a death, a tomb, a sombre defeat.
Because our eyes have not yet been opened, we do not comprehend what God has purposed since the founding of the world.

But we will.

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Hard Rain

“Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.” Matthew 7:24-27

The storm clouds continue to gather over our culture, and the first serious squalls are passing through. A hard rain is coming, the cold and the storm are upon us. Now is the time for those with a mind of wisdom to read the signs of the time and act accordingly.

How often are we found still dressed in summer clothing, waiting in our houses with sandy foundations for a gap in the weather, in order that we may bask in the dying gleams of a fast setting sun? Or, even more foolishly, going out into the storm and getting drenched, all the while pretending to enjoy a summer picnic?

Friends, know the season we are in. What preparation time there is left is fast running out. Build your houses on the solid and living Rock. Dress accordingly for the season – put away summer attire and clothe yourself for a wild and stormy winter. Christ must indwell your heart, and He must be your refuge. Let nothing else get in the way of Him, lest you be unprepared for the ferocity of the storm.

Satan roars and rages, for he knows his time is short; he will take whom he can. You are no match for the forces arrayed against you, but if Christ dwells within the garden of your soul, you cannot be overthrown – because He cannot ever be overthrown.

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Holiness

11 Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. The earth and the heavens fled from his presence, and there was no place for them. 12 And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books. 13 The sea gave up the dead that were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them, and each person was judged according to what they had done. 14 Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death. 15 Anyone whose name was not found written in the book of life was thrown into the lake of fire.

Rev 20 v11-15

 

Recently, I found myself particularly frustrated with the injustices of the world, and was praying for justice to be done. It was during that that He directed my attention to Revelation 20, and helped me see that He has a very, very good handle on justice.

It was as if I had forgotten; that I was again trying to get into the drivers’ seat and make sure God knew all about these wrongs. As if He had somehow overlooked what was happening.   As if His mercy and kindness rendered Him impotent, and I had to stand in the gap.

He showed me Revelation 20, and the very clear fate of all who do not have their name written in the Book of Life. Immediately, I am sobered. I am reminded of my place, and reminded that whatever evil passes for now, the final place of the evildoer is terrible.

I am reminded that our Lord is a HOLY God, and in His light we would all be destroyed due to the evil carried in our hearts. His Goodness would burn us into the lake of fire and the second death because of His nature, and of ours.

Like I said, sobering. No, I do not need to remind Him of wrongdoing, or to petition for justice. That will indeed be fulfilled, how could it be any other way, with God being who He is?

I think it is good for us all to realise how HOLY, how GOOD God really is; how absolutely and finally every vestige of evil will be judged and expunged.

And, in the light of that, how wonderful, how awesome is the sacrifice Jesus made for us.  That He literally becomes our righteousness and enables us to stand before a God so Holy that I would burn up in a tiny fraction of a second without the righteousness of Christ.

Unless you can see God and know his righteous judgment, how much can Jesus mean?  To see just a little of that is to see why Jesus is the WAY, the TRUTH and the LIFE.  Truly, there is no possible way to our Father God but through Him.

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