Thursday, May 31, 2012

May | 31 | Intriguing Intercourse and God’s Mates Amongst The Masses


Title:- Intriguing Intercourse and God’s Mates Amongst The Masses

Genesis 22:12“Do not lay your hand on the lad, or do anything to him; for now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son, your only son, from Me.”

Bible reading can just get so monotonous and boring can’t it? Don’t get me wrong, I have found it to be the most exciting book in the world and believe it to be the very Word of God. However, some days and they are far too frequent, it’s just another tick in my box of important spiritual exercises to complete. The Bible often becomes as dry and as palatable as old toast! What’s the problem here? Well maybe Tozer in his book ‘The Pursuit of God’ puts his finger right on it yet again! This is what he says “The modern Scientist has lost God amidst the wonders of His world; we Christians are in real danger of losing God amidst the wonders of His Word. We have almost forgotten that God is a person, and as such can be cultivated as any person can. It is inherent in personality to be able to know other personalities, but full knowledge of one personality by another cannot be achieved in one encounter. It is only after long and loving mental intercourse that the full possibilities of both can be explored.” I would only add that God is interested in more than mental intercourse friends, for He plays on the field of full and total social interaction. Every Biblical personage will truly tell you that God wants to know you and for you to know Him and of course, I speak in the full Biblical understanding of the word KNOW!

God is not interested in how many chapters you have ploughed through today. He is not interested in your religious observances or your spiritual exercises. Maybe the dry toast nature of these things are making Him both bored and sick as well! He wants more. Consider this; God might just find you ‘intriguing!’ The all knowing God may want to so prod and probe the depths of your being just for the sole purpose of the excitement the delight and maybe even the disappointment sometimes, of simply getting to know you experientially. Have you considered this? That you, wore worth knowing.

Maybe God invites you to do the same. You know? To find Him in person, to be so intrigued by Him that today you will set sail on the sea of the infinite and find Him to have been there all the time, even at your very elbow. Vast and deep, He is by your side dear Christian, waiting to be discovered all the more. God, methinks, has His mates among the masses and these are the people who have taken the time to unfold their hearts to Him, and Him to them. Yes, they know one another and are glad.

One day in the long ago, God poked Abraham and asked him to kill his son, his only son, whom he loved. When Abraham went to do this, God in fact stopped him, but in the stopping of this action already completed in the heart of Abraham, God declared “NOW I KNOW!” God EXPERIENCED a knowledge that He had not EXPERIENCED before. “NOW I KNOW!” I tell you, head knowledge is great, but experiential knowledge is better. Now tell me, when was the last time you poked God and said, “Ahem, excuse me but…?” I suspect that God would like our payers to be part of our spiritual formation and that our spiritual formation is to be like Christ, fully knowing the Father. The knowledge of God, is intriguing intercourse, intimate, inexhaustible, infinitely joyful. It is most certainly better, than dry old toast.

Listen:- And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent. John 17:3 

Pray:- Father, let us begin today to know one another in fresh, fruitful and ever exciting opportunities. ‘Ahem, excuse me Lord but why, who, what, when, where and why?' Jesus, please begin a never-ending conversation with me today, ‘Ahem’ and amen!

May | 31 | Faith – The Old Battle Ground and The Muzzling of The Lion

Dream Word – OBEY

Amos 1:2 "The Lord roars from Zion, and utters His voice from Jerusalem; The pastures of the shepherds mourn, and the top of Carmel withers." NKJV

Faith – The Old Battle Ground and The Muzzling of The Lion

Today in 2008, Former British Prime Minister, Tony Blair, was introduced by former President of the U.S.A., Bill Clinton, to the waiting press and gathered multi-faith communities in New York, where he announced his new ‘Tony Blair Faith Foundation.’ In Cliff Richard style, he declared that extremists from all religions should not sing all the good tunes and so went on to say that, ‘Faith is the New Battleground.’

In 2008, Blair’s New Faith Foundation advisory board, consisted of the dynamic duo of Evangelicalism in the form of Rick Warren and Nicky Gumble, who together in turn, extolled both the man and the initiative with superlative garlands such as ‘staggering, unique, necessary and prepared.’ Lining the way and also extolling this new interfaith initiative, alongside these notable Evangelicals of the early 21st Century, were equally notable Anglicans, Buddhists, Muslims, Jews and Hindus, acclaimed academics all. Indeed, former Prime Minister Blair, became one of the New Teachers of a Yale University course in ‘Faith and Globalization,’ and in addition to this, Blair’s new Faith Foundation through the academic guidance of Cambridge University, also supported ‘The Coexist Foundation’ in the setting up a world-class centre for education about Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Abraham house, in central London became a place where members of the three Abrahamic faiths, ‘met on equal terms, to encounter their traditions, explore their roots, discover what they shared and tackle their differences.’

There is no question that we should do all we can to work together with other people of like humanitarian mind to alleviate the sufferings of the poor, even working together in the wholesale genocide of the Mosquito. Amen and let it be so, yes let it be done. However, under the blanket of such a screaming and vast humanitarian necessity, we would be blind and moronic not to understand that faith is not in fact the 'new battleground', but is in fact the old one, indeed, the only one! For the message of the Gospel is both totally inclusive to all men who hear and believe it and absolutely exclusive to all who do not. The message of Jesus to all men then, be they Gentiles, Jews, Muslims, Pagans, Hindu, Buddhist or otherwise is this: “Continue to be dammed or, believe in Jesus and be saved.” Do you see the implications of this?

So, whilst thanking God for every shard of goodness found in anyone and anything, yes, whilst wanting to encourage that and amplify the same, wherever it is found, and to do so for the benefit of all people, never the less, this ‘One Way, Only Way’ Christian message shall be classed as nothing else but an extremist one, for this message can do nothing else but condemn all other faith’s core belief systems, as being deceptive and dastardly destructive to the ultimate and eternal good of humanity.

Remember, that though we proclaimers of this message of ‘The Way’ do not deliver God’s Gospel down the barrel of an ArmaLite, nor pack it in a bomb vest of destruction, yes, even though we do not fly this message on the wings of a rocket, nor preach it from the sides of a trundling tank, never the less, the very proclamation of this message will be seen as disrespectful, destructive and extremist, and such extremism will be bundled with the murders and the terrorists, and treated just the same.

I wonder if today in 2008, the foundation for a world faith religion was further strengthened and that in reality, the old faith battle had actually just been stepped up a gear?

So called love, tolerance and respect that stifles and kills the peaceful proclamation of the Gospel, is simply a muzzling of the Lion that roars the withering truth from the terrified tops of Carmel, across the pastures and the shepherds of all religions that presently surround Jerusalem.

Listen: - "Come, I'll show you the judgment of the great Whore who sits enthroned over many waters, the Whore with whom the kings of the earth have gone whoring, show you the judgment on earth dwellers drunk on her whorish lust." In the Spirit he carried me out in the desert. I saw a woman mounted on a Scarlet Beast. Stuffed with blasphemies, the Beast had seven heads and ten horns. The woman was dressed in purple and scarlet, festooned with gold and gems and pearls. She held a gold chalice in her hand, brimming with defiling obscenities, her foul fornications. A riddle-name was branded on her forehead: Great Babylon, Mother Of Whores And Abominations Of The Earth. I could see that the woman was drunk, drunk on the blood of God's holy people, drunk on the blood of the martyrs of Jesus.( Revelation 17:1-6 - from THE MESSAGE)

Pray:- Lord, clothe us with peace, discernment, grace, clarity, certainty, strength, truth and courage, in Jesus name we pray, amen.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

May | 30 | Political Pyres and The Cleansing of Leprosy

Key Word:- COURAGE

Title:- Political Pyres and The Cleansing of Leprosy

1 Kings 18:17
Then it happened, when Ahab saw Elijah, that Ahab said to him, “Is that you, O troubler of Israel?”

High above the Vienne River stands the remains of the fortified castle of Chinon. A few years ago, I stood on the supposed exact spot where Joan of Arc picked out Charles VII, the French Dauphin (heir to the throne and whom Joan had never seen before) who was himself, hidden by disguise within the French Royal Court to test her famed mystical acumen.

The English, who for years laid claim to the territories of France, had once again invaded that fair land and were now, via the Duke of Salisbury, laying siege to Orleons, the last stronghold before the fall of the Dauphin’s remaining territory. Joan, at Chinon, having picked out the Dauphin, shared with him a prophecy that had been revealed to her regarding his rightful claim to the throne. Noting that the Dauphin’s own mother had already deserted to the English, thereby declaring her own son’s illegitimacy to the throne, the arrival of Joan’s seemingly 'prophetic' words and revelations were said to make the besieged Dauphin's face radiant!

Consequently, Charles VII sent this peasant girl mystic to Poitiers, where after three weeks of theological questioning, the clergy declared her to be both orthodox and called to lead the French army. A verified saint, now at the head of the army, brought both reform and recruitment to the French ranks. Joan's leadership (aged just 15 remember!) lifted the siege of Orleons and turned the tide for the French, allowing the Dauphin to be crowned King.

Politics and lack of needful provision from the throne mark the rest of Joan's life. Eventually she was betrayed into the hands of the English, who, it is believed out of revenge, charged her with witchcraft and the crime of 'cross dressing', for which she was burned at the stake today in 1431 in Rouen, at the exact same place her beloved Dauphin had been crowned King of France.

Voices from heaven, a board of theologians and the king himself all vouchsafed her 'divine' mission, yet what an end? Friends, we can at least see and apply this principle: that neither miracles nor the machinations of the metaphysical can keep anyone from ultimate harm. I don't know what Joan was, but I know that politics has always betrayed the prophetic and always will, for one is rooted in the spiritual domain whose source is Jesus, whilst the other is rooted in the worldly domain whose source too often, is right from the bosom of the evil one. Sometimes I wonder if politics is a disease rather than a calling?

This same political disease when practised amongst the body of Christ spreads its same killing spores across the prophetic, leaving the church both politically correct, but most pitifully pathetic. Church politics is a leprosy, the cleansing of which will mean the burning of the whole house.

I have a simple message for you today: If you find yourself playing politics in the church or even at work, then beware friends, because there's probably fire at the end of it all. FIRE!

Listen:- Therefore the wisdom of God also said,’ I will send them prophets and apostles, and some of them they will kill and persecute,' that the blood of all the prophets which was shed from the foundation of the world may be required of this generation, from the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah who perished between the altar and the temple. Yes, I say to you, it shall be required of this generation. Luke 11:49-51

Pray:- Lord. Help me today in my dealings with others, to move in the powerfully prophetic and not the politically pathetic. Lord, save Your church from the cleansing burning of political leprosy. Amen.


May | 30 | The Turkish Delight of Listening Obedience

Dream Word – OBEY

Psalms 1:1-2 Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stands in the path of sinners, nor sits in the seat of the scornful; But his delight is in the law of the Lord, And in His law he meditates day and night. NKJV

The Turkish Delight of Listening Obedience

Our text for tonight talks about delight. The Godly person’s DELIGHT being in the law of God. On first look at these words, it appears as though we should have a consistent and wide-eyed, Christmas present expectancy when approaching the reading of the Word of God. Every time we approach it, we with smiling glee rub our hands and say “Oooh Daddy, is it a present?” Or once the black and leather-bound calf skin weight is opened, we salivate, for we know it shall turn into a box of shining, chocolate covered, pink and fragrant, Turkish delight. Yes, His law is our DELIGHT and we cannot wait to get into it!

Unfortunately that is not the case. No, most of us avoid the Bible like the plague! Indeed, the time we spend on watching the continual farting flow of moral sewage fall on to the floor of our living room from the open sewer of the television pipe, is in comparison, at least one hundred times more attractive and more time consuming. No, in that sense, this Word is most evidently not our delight. That being said however, this is not what the text is saying to us tonight.

The Bible does not expect us to come to this book with that kind of delight. God knows about our fickleness, about our wickedness, about our tendency to be so easily sidetracked. No, the delight we must have in this Word is that when we come to it, when we eventually come to it, it is to eat it in obedience. Delight here is better understood as a determined desire to put into practice that which is read, absorbed and eaten. WE READ IT TO OBEY IT. This is our delight.

So, the Godly person reads the Bible to obey it. If you are howeer, simply gathering information, you may be a student, a teacher, a cynic, a seeker, or even a secret shopper, a peruser of the supermarket shelves of God, but the one great thing you will not be, yes the all important thing you shall never become, is a Godly person with all the attendant benefits outlined in this Psalm. For the lover of God then, we read the Bible to obey it, and to obey God is our true and chief delight! Tell me, is that true for you tonight?

Listen: - "Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, As in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, And to heed than the fat of rams.( Samuel 15:22 NKJV)

Pray:- Lord, grant me this kind of determined and delightful attitude, to eat Your Word to so be ready to Your will O God. Amen. NKJV


Tuesday, May 29, 2012

May | 29 | Scars, Wounds and War-Horses

Key Word:- FIGHT

Title:- Scars, Wounds and War-Horses

Revelation 6:9,10 When He opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God and for the testimony which they held. And they cried with a loud voice, saying,” How long, O Lord, holy and true, until You judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?”

The Christian’s call to arms is a difficult subject friends. However, it is somewhat easier when we recognize that though the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, they are never the less mighty in God (2 Cor 10:4, 5). We walk a challenging path and many times pure pacifism is not the right option. It certainly is not the option in the spiritual realm!

Yet how can we peacemaker sons of the Most High, love fiercely and then engage in warfare at the same time? How can we be the ministers of both life and death? How can we express goodness toward our enemies and have victorious greatness over them at the same time? How can we have voice and conquest? How can we have anger and embracing? How can we ferociously fight without falling into sin? Of course it’s difficult and of course it’s dangerous for Christians to engage in warfare! However, maybe we should expect to experience more of both this particular difficutly and danger than we do?

We live on an enormous battleground. The church is militant, is fighting, and is suffering victory and loss all along its forceful front. The shedding of tears and blood is evident in both present victory and defeat. Of course it is, for we are not yet home. I wonder then, if some of us will be greatly embarrassed at the Judgment Seat of Christ when we are asked to roll up our sleeves before the the Commander to all heavens armies and all the watching host! Will He look at them and us and repeat these lines:

Hast thou no scar?
No hidden scar on foot, or side, or hand?
I hear thee sung as mighty in the land,
I hear them hail thy bright ascendant star,
Hast thou no scar?

Hast thou no wound?
Yet I was wounded by the archers, spent,
Leaned Me against a tree to die; and rent
By ravening beasts that compassed Me, I swooned:
Hast thou no wound?

No wound, no scar?
Yet, as the Master shall the servant be,
And, pierced are the feet that follow Me;
But thine are whole: can he have followed far
Who has no wounds nor scar? -

Amy Carmichael

Maybe Job was right, that unlike most of us Christians, it is only prepared war horses that can sniff the battle from afar, for only they are girded with strength and clothed with thunder from on high (Job 39:19-25). Maybe I’m not thinking right friends, but let me ask some of you today, some of you up for a fight, some of you frustrated at simply shining pews with your Sunday morning pants, some of you men who may be agitated in the slips waiting and ready for action: “Do you hear the sound of trumpets calling? Are the hairs on the back of your neck raised and your arms ready for action in the service of your king today?”. If so, then maybe you are a warhorse of the Lord and frankly, though you might frighten some of the old mares, you never the less need to go out and look for a fight. He who has ears to hear, let him hear and he who has nostrils, let him sniff!

Listen:- He mocks at fear, and is not frightened; Nor does he turn back from the sword. The quiver rattles against him, The glittering spear and javelin. He devours the distance with fierceness and rage; Nor does he come to a halt because the trumpet has sounded. At the blast of the trumpet he says, 'Aha!' He smells the battle from afar, The thunder of captains and shouting. (Job 39:19-25)

Pray:-Master. You came and brought a sword. You came to preach peace and to wage war. You came to unite and to divide. Lord help me, and keep me in Your holy boundaries, but Oh God don’t let me rust out. No Lord, please let me bust out! In Jesus name I pray, amen!


May | 29 | On Wide and Feathered Backs

Dream Word – PREPARE

1 Kings 2:20 Then she said, "I desire one small petition of you; do not refuse me." And the king said to her, "Ask it, my mother, for I will not refuse you." NKJV

On Wide and Feathered Backs

I remember that my daughter's final recital for her music degree consisted of two most beautiful songs both of which related to mothers. First was Claude Debussy’s ‘Year pursues empty year!’ and then Henry Purcell’s, ‘Tell me some pitying angel.’ The first of these two sacred songs recounts the heartfelt pain of a mother over her prodigal son, bewailing her own inconsolable heart at the loss of her beloved son, and the latter, the panic and violently overwhelming fear of the Virgin Mary upon realising the loss of her young son Jesus in Jerusalem.

...... Me Judah’s daughters once caressed
Call’d me of mothers, the most, most bless’d
Now fatal change of mothers most distress’d

The journey of parenthood in these most rebellious of days, in these dark days, seemingly destitute of God’s rich blessing, is a most perilous one. Few it seems can now sail that passage without having their hearts bashed about their heaving chest. Whether the ship be good or not so, each family nowadays is tossed upon these same troubled waters and many a son and many a daughter has been washed overboard, seemingly never to be rescued. Sometimes it would appear, never to be seen again.

God, in relation to humanity reveals Himself as Holy Creator. God, in relationship to His adopted family, reveals Himself as Father. Indeed, Jesus came to reveal the Father. As a Father myself, I can truly relate to the longing and looking father of the prodigal son, who night after night, scanned the hillside horizon, longing for his son's arrival home, longing for the party to begin, ready with the robe and ring, to sing some kicking Karaoke songs over a few drinks and a steaming plate of Rogan Josh, just before the D.J. gets the wild dancing going. It is only a party of such vast and extravagant proportion that could satiate the prune-dried heart of an ever praying parent, could finally suture the ever bleeding scar of a child gone wrong. Yes, the father would be laughing at this point, even leaving and going outside to plead with the other bean counting son, who stands incredulous at the window, arms folded and lower lip out, unwilling to come in. Ah but the mother, yes, I have seen the mother, seen her so many, many times and I tell you, the mother, like a well pinged, silver pin ball, would be bouncing off the walls, changing from smiling to weeping to fussing to caressing to weeping again, then to holding, scolding, folding her arms across her bosom and looking with longing on her lost love now found and when the child, for in her eyes, they are always her children, when the child goes to bed, it will be she who sees them to the room, and takes another eternity of longing looking as she closes the door upon her long lost child now home.

You may be a mother tonight, who has suffered the silence of pitying angels refusing to tell you where your soul's sweet darling may be staying. You may be a mother tonight, pulled apart inside, as faith and doubt your labouring soul has so devastatingly divided. You may be a mother tonight, unhappy with your children, whose persistent and most silent absence, has set the ships of sadness, heavy with regret, to glide across your passing, and most painful years. Yes, you may be a mother tonight, a mother in deep distress.

Mother, the Father knows your pain and listens to your pleadings for the fruit of your broken womb. Have you not been in Him and through Him, a giver of life? Has that honour been removed from you? I think not. Yes, you are still the giver of life to the children you love. I tell you, heaven is full of children who have winged their way to the Saviour on the wide and feathered backs of the spread-eagled prayers of many a flustered mother. Mother, you can still give life to your children. Keep praying for them and do not stop.

Listen: - And Adam called his wife's name Eve, because she was the mother of all living. Genesis 3:20 NKJV.

Pray:- Right now my Lord, have mercy upon my children, may life flow through me to them. As You reside in me, so reside in them, amen and amen.


Monday, May 28, 2012

May | 28 | Humane Humanity?


Title:- Humane Humanity?

Genesis 9:5,6 Surely for your lifeblood I will demand a reckoning; from the hand of every beast I will require it, and from the hand of man. From the hand of every man's brother I will require the life of man. “Whoever sheds man's blood, By man his blood shall be shed; For in the image of God He made man.
In Germany between 1942 and 1943 as many as 20,000 people fell to this particular form of political execution used by the Nazis. Hitler considered it to be a most demeaning way to be dispatched. Indeed, more people were killed using this method in Germany than during it’s use in revolutionary France and interestingly, it was last used in Europe as recently as 1977!

The family whose name became associated with this instrument of death, (though it was not a new invention) begged the French government to change the name of the machine. When they refused to call the instrument of death something else, in great shame, the family changed their own name! The French Doctor who is attributed with its invention was in fact against capital punishment and instigated the design to more humanly dispatch the guilty and the condemned. Joseph Ignace Guillotin, was born today in 1738.

I have no wish to fuel the fires of the controversy of capital punishment. No, let the Word speak for itself. However, no matter which side of the argument you may be on, I do wish to encourage you today regarding the great encouragement contained in these particular Bible verses. At the very least we can say this; that God puts an enormous value on human life, on human blood. Friends, God’s most used colour in the painting of pictures is the colour red. Red gets our attention you see, for the colour red is a flying flag of danger and destruction, of devastation and death. David says God takes note of each tear that is shed and every one is kept in His bottle and so in light of that alone, I can tell you today that God takes note of every drop of blood that is shed as well! Each red drip, dropped unjustly into the hungry ground, cries loudly to its creator for justice and one day, it shall receive its desire for revenge and retribution as everyone gives an account for the mauling and marking of the image of the Maker.

You are the image of God! Don’t forget it. Honour one another for this at least, even, for this alone. For we all bear the ‘Imageo Deo’. Every single one of us. You shall not murder!

Finally today, may I point out that many of our cities now have an abortion rate which is higher than the birth rate and the screaming, red blood prayers of the millions of unborn, cry out for vengeance against us. Do you honestly believe that God will not avenge such carnage such desecration of His image? The silence of the church against such genocide is a pox on our face of worship. The inactivity of the church against such mass murder makes us as complicit and as guilty as all the neighbours of Auschwitz. Think about that today.
You shall not murder.

Listen:- “What have you done? The voice of your brother's blood cries out to Me from the ground. Genesis 4:10-11

Pray:- Lord, give us clean hands, give us clean hearts, let us not lift our souls to another.


May | 28 | Healing For Spiritual Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

Dream WordHOPE

Proverbs 18:14 The spirit of a man will sustain him in sickness, but who can bear a broken spirit? NKJV

Healing For Spiritual Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

The Symptoms of Spiritual Chronic Fatigue Syndrome are as follows:

A Persistent and quickly recurring, spiritual exhaustion.
• An inability to believe for good.
• Hopelessness.
• A persistent sense of impending doom.
• Fear - of Shaming
• Fear - of Breaking
• Fear – of Death
• Anger – Usually repressed or unspoken
• Cynicism
• Silence in the face of a continuing and chronic situations
• Erratic sleep patterns
• Un-refreshing sleep
• A Felt Distance from God
• A Deadness toward God
• A questioning of once most thoroughly possessed faith
• An Inability to pray
• All leading to other wide ranging, co-morbid, spiritual, emotional and physical manifestations in a wide constellation of varied expression!
• Oh and there is one other symptom associated with this condition and that is, an inability to believe in the goodness of God, or, a questioning of the care and goodness of the Father, in other words, SIN.

The treatment for this most debilitating condition is an applied combination of the following five therapies and approaches.

First, an acknowledgement of the dis-ease of the inner man in both soul and spirit. Without an honest diagnosis and explanation of ill health, of a dis-ease of the inner man, further self-harm and wounding from ignorant others and exposure to continuing harmful situations, will only exacerbate the problem. If you are primarily sick in both soul and spirit. Acknowledge it.

Secondly, adaptive pacing therapy. Correctly utilise your remaining spiritual energy to matching the tasks, or prayer and belief, which will result in completion and will result in success. In other words, believe and pray what you can, when you can, and match that with rest and recuperation.

Thirdly, graded exercise therapy. In other words, under the direction of a spiritual mentor, a friend, a director, a counsellor, a personal coach, yes, God the Holy Spirit, begin to slowly, steadily and surely expand the boundaries of your exercise of belief. Slowly, steadily, surely.

Fourthly and most importantly, (indeed this therapy undergirds and envelopes the previous three therapies) participate daily, even constantly, yes, from morning, noon till night, in Cognitive Behaviour Therapy. As vigorously as you can then, consciously attack your warped and wounded belief system with a most thorough does of spiritual Bible reading, and proclaimative mediation. Begin to read the Scriptures, not in way that gets information, but in a way of soulish, self-declaration. Let God speak to you. Expect God to speak to you and when you do finally hear His whisper to your soul, catch it, keep it and in whatever way is appropriate to you, proclaim it to your spirit! Write the whisper on cards maybe, or even in ball point pen on the back of your hand, get a tattoo if you must, but whatever you do, ensure a persistent and repeat proclamation to YOURSELF, of the truth which you have received. My friend, you are very simply washing from your brain, all the debilitating and dastardly lies which you have come to believe. In this context then, also aid the process by surrounding yourself with everything, which is both wholesome and positive.

Lastly, with the application of these therapies will come light and with light will come conviction and with conviction will come confession and with true confession, will come real forgiveness and with real forgiveness, will come real praise and with real praise, will come joy, unspeakable and full of glory!

This is no overnight cure for Spiritual Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, that’s for sure, however, it is the best one I have encountered thus far. So, God bless you and be good to yourself tonight and on every tomorrow.

Listen: - Summing it all up, friends, I'd say you'll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious — the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse. 9 Put into practice what you learned from me, what you heard and saw and realized. Do that, and God, who makes everything work together, will work you into his most excellent harmonies. Philippians 4:8-9 (from THE MESSAGE: by Eugene H. Peterson.)

Pray:- I have to believe that You see my darkness. I have to believe, that You know my pain. I have to lift up my hands to worship, worship Your name. I have to declare, that You are my refuge. I have to deny, that I am alone. I have to lift up, my eyes to the mountain, for its where my help comes from. For You said that You are forever faithful, yes, You said that you are forever true. You said that You can move mountains, so, if You can move mountains, then You can move my mountains too! Oh help me stand tall when the wind blows me over, oh help me stand strong, when I'm weak and afraid, oh help me grab hold, a hold of the garments, the garments of praise. Yes, help me to sing praise, when the hour is midnight and then come unlock these chains, that bind up my soul. My sin and my shame, Oh God, my sin and my shame, You have forgiven and now made me whole. Thank You Lord. Thank You O my Jesus.
(Adapted from, ‘I have to Believe’ – by Rita Springer)

Sunday, May 27, 2012

May | 27 | Sissies or Soldiers?

Key Word:- COURAGE

Title:- Sissies or Soldiers?

Psalm 58:6-8
O God, break off their fangs. Tear out the teeth of these young lions, Lord. Let them disappear like water into thirsty ground. Make their weapons useless in their hands. Let them be as snails that dissolve into slime and as those who die at birth, who never see the sun..

In America I am sure that my Southern friends will forgive me this morning for referring to the birth today of a most famous daughter of America in 1819, Mrs Julia Ward Howe.

Anti-slavery activist, sufferagette, and Unitarian, I might not agree with all of her theology or her politics, but the poem she penned on visiting the Union Army of the Potomac is inspiring. To the tune of ‘John Browns Body’, the ‘The Battle Hymn of the Republic’ became the marching song of the Union Army and an inspiration to countless millions. Though the first three stanzas are marvellous, the last two stanzas surpass them all when they say:

He has sounded forth the trumpet
that shall never call retreat
He is sifting out the hearts of men
before His judgment-seat
Oh, be swift, my soul, to answer Him!
be jubilant, my feet!
Our God is marching on.

In the beauty of the lilies
Christ was born across the sea,
With a glory in His bosom
that transfigures you and me:
As He died to make men holy,
let us die to make men free,
While God is marching on.

I have been witness in my lifetime to some of the greatest new worship songs I have ever heard. They move me from earth to heaven in prostrate adoration and so they should, for He is worthy. However friends, amongst all this glorious worship, the church militant seems to have laid down its weapons, seems to have retired from the field before the final battle, seems to have failed to finish off the enemy, cut the head from Goliath and stamp the serpent thoroughly under its feet. Friends, look you. In all our ‘New Worship Experience,’ where are the war songs of the mighty men of God the All-mighty? Where are the fierce ‘Lion Like Men’ of the greater David? Where are the great hearts of this day? Who will break the enemy ranks and draw water from the well of Bethlehem for King Jesus today? Are all we have in our ranks today, simply sissies with a dream? History maker fakers? Surely not? What about you? Are you a song singer or a real history maker? Faker of maker? What are you today?

Stop singing like a Sissie man! Enough of this hold me, stroke me, feel me, touch my hair and tell me that you love me rubbish! For God’s sake! For His kingdoms sake! Grow up man, get up, and go up to some mountain and take it for Jesus, take it with Jesus, take it because of Jesus. Stop the singing and start the soldiering, maybe then you’ll have something to sing about. In the meantime I wonder if God is simply saying, “Just shut up!”

“Rise up O Men of God, have done with lesser things, give heart and soul and mind to God to serve the King of Kings!”

Listen:- For You have armed me with strength for the battle; You have subdued under me those who rose up against me. You have also given me the necks of my enemies, So that I destroyed those who hated me. Psalm 18:39-40

Pray:- Teach my hands to make war, make my arms strong to bend the bow of bronze, grant me the shield of Your salvation, and Your right hand to uphold me. By Your gentleness, make me great. Enlarge my path beneath my feet that I might not slip up in the pursuance of my enemies, until each one is overtaken and thoroughly destroyed by both Thee and me! Amen.

May | 27 | The Problem of Promethius and The Preparation For Death

Dream Word – CONSIDER

Ecclesiastes 7:2 Better to go to the house of mourning than to go to the house of feasting, for that is the end of all men; and the living will take it to heart. NKJV

The Problem of Prometheus and The Preparation For Death

Pastors who imitate the preaching and the moral action of the prophets without also imitating the prophets’ deep praying and worship so evident in the Psalms are an embarrassment to the faith and an encumbrance to the church. (Eugene Peterson – Working The Angles: The Shape of Pastoral Integrity)

I neither want to be an embarrassment nor an encumbrance, but I am afraid that my natural tendency is to be so, for I have seen what Promethean fire and its resultant adrenalin-led activity can do in raising the dancing blue flames of man-made hope, both seen flickering and realised in books like “Your Best Life Now”. Yes, I’ve seen what those flames of soulish prophetic doing can achieve, what they can get done and boy do we need to get things done! For when I look around, oh friends, when I look around, there is so much to be done, and frankly so much that we can do now and yet, yes and yet, there is oh so very little time to do it in.

You know, the needs are so great and our ability to meet those needs are now so possible, that I just want to get on down and go buy that excavator, yeah! Stoke that fire and lay hold of that yellow hot, JCB, earth-moving machine and flip that mountain on its back; build that tunnel, ford that stream, make a way through that mighty river, ‘cause I’ve got, “high in the sky, apple pie.... hopes” that we can move that rubber-tree plant! Yes sirree, move it wherever we so well please. We can do it! Let’s shake that thing, yes, let’s shape this thing called our destinies, this thing called our possibilities, yes, let’s get up, let’s get down, let’s get with it and let’s just do it baby, cause we are preparing people for life! Preparing people for change, preparing people to better themselves, to better society and to better the nations of the world! Hallelujah and chaaaaaaaaarge! Have you not heard “We can do it!”
Peterson (in the book I mentioned previously) points out how the present generation of church (I believe the Laodicean Church) has bought into the Promethean myth in such a way that “We have let ourselves be co-opted in the struggle against limits, committed to raising the standard of living: bigger machines, cheaper chicken...uncritically using the means offered by the uncritically applauded and so readily at hand.......we have joined in the struggle to make life better for everyone with any available means.....the problem is that Prometheus does not pray, there is too much to do and there is little time to do it.”

Do remember that in the legend, Promethius redeemed humanity from the tyranny of mortality, by causing mortals to cease foreseeing their personal doom, by placing in them blind hopes and lastly, by stealing fire from the gods and giving it to humanity, for their pleasure, for their profit and for their continual and technological advancement.

Peterson is right in his statement about proclaiming prophets and their lack of prayer, for if there are two things that characterise both the present pastorate and the post-modern community of the saints, it is first, a distinct lack of prayer and secondly, a lack of preparation for a good death. In less than a century, over 6 billion people will die on this planet. Surely this is something we should prepare for and in the so doing, that preparation for death should turn our so short lives into journeys that are baptised in the warm and wet, ever running river of prayer? This is not miserable thinking, but it is Biblical thinking! There is so much to do and so little time to do it in that we really must pray and that much, much more. Yet the doing, yes, all the blind man-made doing, has squeezed out all our praying.

Tell me, do you have a Promethean fire in your own personal boiler tonight? After all, just where are you getting your central heating from? What is raising the power of your personal steam, your church’s steam, your mission’s steam? Have you numbered your days? Have you and do you consider your mortality and is your life, lived in its ever lengthening shadow? If you find the thought of that last question maybe to be defeatist, or even repugnant, then I can virtually guarantee pastor, brother, sister, friend and mate, that you’ve got some strange Promethean fire in your boiler, and I tell you, it needs putting out! For if you don’t put it out, it sure as hell will burn you out! Mark my words here. Mark my words.

Yes the two best things and most Biblical things you can do is pray and prepare for your ultimate demise. Think about that tonight.

Listen: - And Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, took either of them his censer, and put fire therein, and put incense thereon, and offered strange fire before the Lord, which he commanded them not. And there went out fire from the Lord, and devoured them, and they died before the Lord. Leviticus 10:1-2 KJV.

Pray:- Lord teach me to pray. Lord teach me to number my days. For Lord, I love this strange Promethean power. I just love it Lord! You know that I do not wish to be a Luddite Lord, but I do ask You to put the false fire out and then my Lord, send the Holy fire from Your throne, in Jesus name I ask it, amen.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

May | 26 | A Large Can of Whoooopass

Key Word:- BE

Title:- A Large Can of Whoooopass  

Psalm 139:21,22 Do I not hate them, O LORD, who hate You? And do I not loathe those who rise up against You? I hate them with perfect hatred;I count them my enemies.

A Friend of mine once told me he thought he should have been born in Old Testament times, because then you could really deal with your enemies instead of forgiving them, loving and praying for them. I know what he means, for New testament Christianity is very demanding on the cheeks!

Our verses today are not often spoke of in the church, whilst the following and last two verses of this psalm are often heard quoted. Here they are: "Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me, and know my anxieties; And see if there is any wicked way in me, And lead me in the way everlasting." They are nice, but so often they are utilised well outisde of their original context.

Now friends it is in fact quite easy to see why all these verses should appear together. As the old commentator Adam Clarke puts it: "For he who hates, utterly hates, the practices of any man, is not far from hating the man himself. It is very difficult to hate the sin with all the heart and yet the sinner love." Opening a can of 'Whooopass' is a dangerous thing to do. Do you see that?

Remember that David was a man of extremities. He loved you or he hated you. It was all or nothing. There was no holding back with this man. You knew exactly where you stood with David, however I suspect it made living with him a bit of a white knuckle ride. Never the less, God seemed to love him dearly and David was at least a little aware of the problems associated with his passion. In other words he knew that you don't open a large 'can of whooopass' without getting some of it on yourself. If I might paraphrase him he says, "These passions overwhelm me. There they are, I cannot deny them and I must express them. Never the less I know what is in me, so search me and know me and remove the root of my own wickedness."

I like that. Its dangerous stuff mind you isn't it? Imagine if the church or your place of work suddenly had members and employees really expressing how they felt about things, people and issues. The volcanic eruption doesn't bear thinking about does it?! I can't help but wonder though, if it is never the less a healthier way to live?

I am sure we need to learn how to express ourselves without sinning. You will notice I did not say hurting, offending, upsetting, or rocking the boat. Nope. It does not happen like that. Emotional expression can be a wild wave to ride. So today friends, very carefully and without sinning, why not go on and express yourself. Do some wild dancing! But please weigh down your linen ephod, put some underpants on and open any 'large cans of whooopass' with the greatest of self examining care!

Listen:-Then David danced before the LORD with all his might; and David was wearing a linen ephod. 2 Samuel 6:14

Pray:- Lord, help me to live before You in extravagant passion. Search me and show me my sin. Let me own it and then willingly forsake it today and as I twirl before You, may all my poisonous emotions drip from my fingertips and Lord my Lord, will You fill me with Your extravagant joy! In Jesus name I pray, amen.

May | 26 | Set The Juice----Loose! 'Serve it Like Sushi'


Mark 12:37 And the common people heard Him gladly. NKJV

Set The Juice----Loose! Serve it Like Sushi

I remember performing some poetry for about forty very rough, 'rough sleeping' homeless folks in the city of Brighton. It was surprisingly well received. Afterward, a very well spoken, silver-faced, Einstein-like figure came over to me and said, “I just wanted to say how much I appreciated your poetry and especially your delivery. You know of course, that you are following in the footsteps of the great Englishman, Chaucer, who also communicated so well in the vernacular of his day.” I was really pleased with this. Sure he was raving tooting bonkers, but I was really pleased with his comments. So, when I arrived home I immediately shared my grand comparison with the proud bubble burster of my home, my wife, who simply said, “Hmmm, yes, Chaucer. He was crude as well.” Typical. What does she know anyways?

Unfortunately we have upwardly diminished the power of the Bible in making it palace worthy rather than pavement worthy, making it a book for the studious instead of a book for the sidewalk. The common people heard Jesus gladly and I can guarantee you, He wasn’t received in the majestic language of the King James Version. The common people. They heard Him. They received Him. Gladly! I am not talking about dumbing down here either, but rather about tooling up with the words of the day.

We need to regain some street credibility in the delivery of the Scriptures. Before that happens however, we need to let loose the so long now muzzled, powerful jaws of the lion and allow it to roar once more. I wonder if the hidden and diluted Word of God which we are peddling from our pulpits now, which over the years we have also so tightly dressed up like a gay and mincing, little white and pink padded poodle-ette, is quite frankly too embarrassed to be taken out doors? It's embarrasing, for our misuse of it in this way, and that is what the diluting of the Word of God is, a gross misuse, has robbed it of its awesome power and thoroughly embarrassed it. God help us please! For this Word in its undiluted form is the very life giving juice dripped from the leaves of the squeezed out tree of life! So, yes indeed, we need to let the juice loose even if it does cause so many letters to be written by ‘Disgusted of Tunbridge Wells!’ I say again, Let the juice loose!

However, before we can let thus juice loose once more, I wonder if we need to let loose most of the Christians who read the juicy book and especially those frightened little folk we have sent to seminary dentistry, where they have had their teeth removed and the rough and ready garments of the prophet replaced by a smart and casual respectability. Lord God! (and that’s a calling prayer) I hate respectability. With a vengeance! You see, I reckon that nice speaking, polite little Christians, have done more damage to the Kingdom of God than the devil could ever do.
I have two things to leave with you tonight.

First an equation and frankly, maybe it’s just me, but I do find that in my life, that the more righteous I experientially and practically become, the less outwardly, pretentiously respectable I both appear and act. How’s your life adding then up in terms of middle class, middle England respectability tonight? Are you above all things, nice?
Secondly, that when a clawed and sharp beaked, sharp eyed hawk even gently glides past the settled nests of the starling colonies, the little birds attack it. Prophet. Jesus street preacher. Watch out for the darling, little starlings for they are not as sweet as you might think and I tell you, they do not want their nice little nest much ruffled, especially if their religion gets in a state. If you are not nice, they will peck you to death.

Even so then and never the less, do remember to drink the Bible in its undiluted form, yes remember to simply let the juice loose and always preacher, I mean always serve it like sushi. Raw!

Pray:- Deliver us O God, from all the darling, darting starlings and all the ‘Disgusted’s of Tunbridge Wells’, yes deliver us from all the pale pulpit pansies planted in graveyard flower pots and placed neatly in old varnished pulpits, who hate to be disturbed and loathe to disturb others. Don’t give us gold fillings O Lord! No, You can keep all that useless rubbish Lord, but rather, please grow us a new set of sharp canines and grant us that deep and guttural, testosterone-filled roar of the prophets of old. Lord set the juice loose and give us some “street cred” once again, in Jesus name we ask it, amen!

Friday, May 25, 2012

May | 25 | Dancing With Diffidence

Key Word:- TRUST

Title:- Dancing With Diffidence

Hebrews 13:5
....for He [God] Himself has said, I will not in any way fail you nor give you up nor leave you without support. [I will] not,[I will] not, [I will] not in any degree leave you helpless nor forsake nor let [you] down ( relax My hold on you)! [Assuredly not!](AMP)

Now friends, she’s often overlooked in the story, however this morning I want to focus on her. Please God, you will have read the Christian Classic, ‘Pilgrim's Progress’ and know of ‘Christian’ and ‘Hopeful’s’ little excursion off the Kings highway, into the grounds of ‘Doubting Castle’ and their terrible encounter with ‘Giant Despair’. Here, in Doubting Castle they are kept locked up in a dungeon and are tortured by the giant. In this darkness the giant ‘Despair’ even suggests suicide as the only way out of the situation. Bunyan brilliantly portrays the felt hopelessness and torture of many Christians who are in such a position. Fortunately, the word of promise, is the key discovered by Christian to be even in his heart, even and already in his very possession. This is the key that gets him, with great difficulty and danger, out of the dungeon, the castle, the giant and his grounds.

Interestingly friends, in the story, giant despair never acts alone. Indeed, he is animated and directed by his unseen wife. Her name is ‘Diffidence’. She is the one who instigates the torture and directs the giant; ‘Diffidence’ is the puppet master of giant ‘Despair.’

Webster defines diffidence as ‘shyness, lack of self confidence, hesitancy’. The hidden-ness of Bunyan’s character is the only action that matches this description. However, the roots of the word through Middle English to Latin, reveal the heart of 'Diffidence' and it’s true meaning which is ‘Distrustful!’ And there we have it. A word when said aloud even now still possesses the serpent’s hiss. Dissssssssstrusssssstful.

Don’t dance with this distrustful dame friends. She is always tapping us on our shoulder, slurring her slippery suggestions into our hearts. “Did God really say?” Or, “Look He’s deserted you again.” Or, “Trust no one, not even God.” Or even, “He takes care of them, but you? Ha! He obviously doesn’t love you as much. Give Him the slip.” And most of all, “You are all alone now.” And so she goes, on and on. Friends do not accept the kind and seemingly reasonable invitations of Miss Distrust! No, do not dance with 'Diffidence'.

Listen:- So we take comfort and are encouraged and confidently and boldly say, The Lord is my Helper; I will not be seized with alarm [I will not fear or dread or be terrified]. What can man do to me? Hebrews 13:6 AMP

Pray:- So then Lord, let diffidence die in me. Let Hope revive and reach to the very heavens even to Your great powerful and ever faithful, mighty right hand. In Jesus name I ask it, amen.

May | 25 | Did I Tell You I Was In Prison?

Dream Word – REAL

Philemon 8-9 Therefore, though I might be very bold in Christ to command you what is fitting, yet for love's sake I rather appeal to you — being such a one as Paul, the aged, and now also a prisoner of Jesus Christ. NKJV

Did I Tell You I Was in Prison?

Following, is my inter-between the lines- version of Paul’s letter to Philemon. Please don’t get offended at this stab at the invisible words which I have perceived laying in between the lines of this letter to Philemon. I have, no doubt, possibly incorrectly ascribed to the great apostle, thoughts that never even entered his head...maybe? In any event, I do hope it gives you some idea of the possible 'churchmanship' of the great Apostle to the Gentiles and that it helps you find the humanness of this inspired letter a delight to read. It’s one of my favourite epistles in the New Testament and always makes me smile. OK Here we go!

“This Wee note is from Paul, (and by the way I’m in prison for serving Christ and others, the way I served you, yes you! A FREE, slave owner) and Timothy, (who also, by the way, is proof reading this personal letter and knows its contents.)
To Philemon our beloved friend and fellow worker (and you’re NOT a worker in prison my are FREE!)

2 to the beloved Apphia, Archippus our fellow soldier, and to the church in your house: (I want to make sure everyone at your end also has a read of this.)
3 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. (You’re gonna need it. by the time I've finished writing this)
4 I thank my God, making mention of you always in my prayers,

5 hearing of your love and faith which you have toward the Lord Jesus and toward all the saints, (including and especially, the one who handed you this letter. Yes I mean Onesimus!)
6 that the sharing of your faith may become effective (providing you don’t blow it by rejecting what I am about to say) by the acknowledgment of every good thing which is in you in Christ Jesus.
7 For we have great joy and consolation in your love, (Yes love! Joy, consolation, cmpassion, ooh and remember, LOVE! You good old boy you! Do what a good guy would do!) because the hearts of the saints have been refreshed by you, brother. (You’re a nice geezer, you;re my bruva! You, me old mucker, are the refresher. MY refresher. P.S. Refresh me now, by sending back Onesimus.)
8 Therefore, though I might be very bold in Christ to command you what is fitting,(I am an apostle you know! But we;re friends.) 9 yet for love's sake (You’re a lovely guy remember?) I rather appeal to you — (from well below my present built up greatness of you, you old joy giver you. You old compassioante refresher!) being such a one as Paul, the aged, (aahaaah, good old Paul. Good old, pitiable Paul, and did I tell you I was in prison? No? ) and now also a prisoner of Jesus Christ — (told you!)

10 I appeal to you for my son Onesimus, (yes that scoundrel that legged it from your service who is now as dear to me as a son, even as my own son, even as another Timothy! So watch what you say!) whom I have begotten while in my chains, (Did I tell you I was in prison?)
11 who once was unprofitable to you, but now is profitable to you and to me. (Don’t forget the last bit..AND TO ME.)
12 I am sending him back.(we need to get this sorted) You therefore receive him, that is, my own heart, (Paul the aged. Good old Pitiable Paul… and did I tell you I was in prison?)

13 whom I wished to keep with me, (and by the way, with your say so, want to still keep with me) that on your behalf he might minister to me in my chains for the gospel. (Told you, I need him to minister to me. Oh by the way, are you sure I didn’t mention to you a free man, that I was in prison?)
14 But without your consent I wanted to do nothing, that your good deed might( in others words mate, any public non-compliance with my suggestion will be considered by others to be a ‘bad deed’) not be by compulsion, (well not overtly anyways) as it were, but voluntary.
15 For perhaps he departed for a while for this purpose, that you might receive him forever, 16 no longer as a slave but more than a slave — a beloved brother, especially to me ( Did I tell you that I needed him to minister to me? Also, did I tell you I was in prison?)but how much more to you, both in the flesh and in the Lord.
17 If then you count me as a partner, receive him as you would me. (Paul the aged PRISONER.)

18 But if he has wronged you or owes anything, put that on my account.
19 I, Paul, am writing with my own hand. I will repay —(not that you would take anything from Paul, the good old aged, pitiable PRISONER) not to mention to you that you owe me even your own self besides. (Not to mention that of course…no, not to mention you are in great debt to me! Did I mention that? You owe me mate!)
20 Yes, brother, let me have joy from you in the Lord; refresh my heart in the Lord. (Accept him, get it sorted, send him back. I’m in prison and I need him. REFRESH ME.)
21 Having confidence in your obedience, I write to you, knowing that you will do even more than I say. ( Because you are a good guy. A FREE guy and I am an old guy, who you owe, who is also, unlike you…IN PRISON!)

22 But, meanwhile, also prepare a guest room for me, (Yup, whatever you do, you’re gonna have to face me SOMETIME) for I trust that through your prayers I shall be granted to you.
23 Epaphras, my fellow prisoner in Christ Jesus, greets you,

24 as do Mark, Aristarchus, Demas, Luke, my fellow labourers. (There’s a least five more well known influential folk with me who know about the reasons and request of this private letter.) 25 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. Amen.”

Listen: Nevertheless God, who comforts the downcast, comforted us by the coming of Titus, - 2 Corinthians 7:6-7 NKJV

Pray:- Lord, thank you for the real comfort and the real help that You give us through the administration and ministry of other real people. Thank You Lord.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

May | 24 | Hearing the Unspeakable, Seeing the Un-See-Able


Title:- Hearing the Unspeakable, Seeing the Un-See-Able

Acts 20:22,23 And see, now I go bound in the spirit to Jerusalem, not knowing the things that will happen to me there, except that the Holy Spirit testifies in every city, saying that chains and tribulations await me.

Imagine if you will, this consistent testimony that repeats itself in each new place which Paul arrives in when the Holy Sprit says to him “Man, you’re getting it in the neck here as well!” Imagine that. It’s almost farcical isn’t it? It makes Paul’s mission almost akin to a black comedy. Eugene Peterson was right in paraphrasing Paul’s comments in 1 Corinthians 4:9-10 : “It seems to me that God has put us who bear his Message on stage in a theater in which no one wants to buy a ticket. We're something everyone stands around and stares at, like an accident in the street. We're the Messiah's misfits.”

Speaking of 'Messiah’s Misfits' reminds me of one of my favourite lines from another black comedy, ‘Jacob the Liar’, starring Robin Williams, which is set in a Jewish Ghetto in WWII. One of the characters remarks to a friend “I believe we are the chosen people, but I wish the Almighty had chosen somebody else!” Friends, I wonder if Paul ever felt like that? Humanly speaking of course I would say “Yes! Of course he must have.” Yet the evidence of Paul’s life and lip, appears to be contrary to that conclusion.

From the beginning Paul knew that he would suffer for the name of Jesus Christ and he did.:- “in labors more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequently, in deaths often. From the Jews five times I received forty stripes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods; once I was stoned; three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I have been in the deep; in journeys often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils of my own countrymen, in perils of the Gentiles, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; in weariness and toil, in sleeplessness often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness — besides the other things, what comes upon me daily: my deep concern for all the churches.” 2 Corinthians 11:23-29.So my question is this: What was it that stopped this man going insane with bitterness and indignation? May I suggest that nothing but a vision from God and of God, could sustain and empower such a commission. Maybe we should each seek a similar power infusing vision. So, how about it? Let me ask you today dear friend; what is your driving vision? God! We need one don’t we? What's your vision man? What's your vision woman? Do you see it?

Listen:- “I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago — whether in the body I do not know, or whether out of the body I do not know, God knows — such a one was caught up to the third heaven. And I know such a man — whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows — how he was caught up into Paradise and heard inexpressible words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter.” 2 Corinthians 12:2-4 

Pray:- O Lord, cover me and show me heaven. Unless You speak, unless You show, unless You manifest Your care and direction, the road ahead is far too steep and the deep, deep wood we have travelled into in Your great name, has become far too dark and far too cold for us to continue on without You. Speak Lord in the stillness whilst we wait on Thee, hushed our hearts to listen in expectancy. Amen.

May | 24 | The Prophets and The Profiteers

Dream Word – DANGER

Nehemiah 5:1-7 A great protest was mounted by the people, including the wives, against their fellow Jews. Some said, "We have big families, and we need food just to survive." Others said, "We're having to mortgage our fields and vineyards and homes to get enough grain to keep from starving." And others said, "We're having to borrow money to pay the royal tax on our fields and vineyards. Look: We're the same flesh and blood as our brothers here; our children are just as good as theirs. Yet here we are having to sell our children off as slaves — some of our daughters have already been sold — and we can't do anything about it because our fields and vineyards are owned by somebody else." I got really angry when I heard their protest and complaints. After thinking it over, I called the nobles and officials on the carpet. I said, "Each one of you is gouging his brother." (from THE MESSAGE: by Eugene H. Peterson.)

The Prophets and The Profiteers

Having weathered several hurricanes in South Florida and lived through their aftermath, it was there as a ‘Brit,’ that I first heard of the term ‘Gauging’ and saw it put into unscrupulous practice.

‘Price Gauging’ is the pricing of products, often way above the market price, when no alternative retailing source is available. In England we call this profiteering. Governments of course and especially local authorities, frown on this practice and are very much against it, even bringing the full weight of the law against the practicing profiteers. That is, unless they or their often larger and more powerful corporate buddies are doing it themselves, or  want to.

All of us seek succour, safety, satisfaction and power in having more than enough. However, if you are government or big business, then a “much, much more than enough” position is a seeming very safe and powerful place to be in, even if it is at the expense of others. Yes, I am afraid to say that often the very worst offenders in price gauging and profiteering in times of peace especially, are our very own Governments and large national corporate bodies.

It was no different in Nehemiah’s days. The exiles had returned from Babylon to physically rebuild the capital city and all its supportive economic infrastructure. This redemption of land, this redemption of society, this redemption of people, was a massive, a costly and most sacrificial job. Guess what? The rich Israelites were price gauging the poor workers. Guess what? The rich rulers were profiteering from the plight of the poor workers. By their self-indulgent pocket lining, the rich and ruling classes, were keeping themselves economically safe and economically powerful to ensure their continued economic selfishness into the future and all at the terrible expense of their poorer brethren, who were hungry, mortgaged up to the hilt and selling their children into economic slavery. If we think about it, most of us in the world are in the same poor position even today.

The answer to this in Nehemiah’s day was not so much a ‘fair trade policy,’ but rather a merciful policy. The answer was not communism, neither was it consumerism, no, the beginning of the answer to this usury, this profiteering, this price gouging, was naming, shaming, shocking, and shaking and all of that was done in terms of a very powerful and prophetic, condemnation, comparison, command and cursing! We need the same today. Shame on us the church, for it would appear that Fleet Street has more courageous folks with the spirit of prophecy upon them, than we do. We have a long way to go to try and reclaim our prophetic voice. No wonder the world is not listening to us, for in our silence, we are grossly compliant with the sins of our nation.

Listen: - "What you're doing is wrong. Is there no fear of God left in you? Don't you care what the nations around here, our enemies, think of you? "I and my brothers and the people working for me have also loaned them money. But this gouging them with interest has to stop. Give them back their foreclosed fields, vineyards, olive groves, and homes right now. And forgive your claims on their money, grain, new wine, and olive oil." They said, "We'll give it all back. We won't make any more demands on them. We'll do everything you say." Then I called the priests together and made them promise to keep their word. Then I emptied my pockets, turning them inside out, and said, "So may God empty the pockets and house of everyone who doesn't keep this promise — turned inside out and emptied." Everyone gave a wholehearted "Yes, we'll do it!" and praised God. And the people did what they promised. (from THE MESSAGE: by Eugene H. Peterson. Nehemiah 5:9-13)

Pray:- Lord, send us some politicians anointed with the powerfully prophetic and then Lord, send them into the board rooms and the cabinet rooms, send them into the wine cellars and the dinner parties, send them into the gated and armed communities, send them with commands and cursings, that people may be most thoroughly delivered from economic bondage. In Jesus name we ask it, amen.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

May | 23 | Cookie Cut Christians

Key Word:- REAL

Title:- Cookie Cut Christians

1 Kings 1:13,14 Go immediately to King David and say to him, 'Did you not, my lord, O king, swear to your maidservant, saying, "Assuredly your son Solomon shall reign after me, and he shall sit on my throne"? Why then has Adonijah become king?' Then, while you are still talking there with the king, I also will come in after you and confirm your words."

It was British comedian Ken Dodd who I remember saying that "a husband is a man with the nerve taken out!" I think what he was alluding to is the much caricatured 'hen-pecked husband,' you know, cowering and subservient, frightened to put a foot wrong, fearful to be wild. Now friends in the same vein, it has been my observation that one of those horrible peculiarities that we in the Christian church seem to have is the tendency to produce 'Cookie Cut Christians.' Nice, neat, well spoken, quiet, humble, obedient, polite people. I'm not knocking it (well maybe a little) but let's face it, some people had more life in them before they became Christians! Since that glorious day, it seems they have had their nerve removed

In the first book of Kings we are straight way presented with people who have been on the road a good wee while. Decrepit David, gnarly Nathan and old bent over Bathsheba are about to get the chop as Adonijah has just crowned himself king. A ‘clear out’ is ‘a coming’ and they are going to be thrown out with the garbage. Except that Nathan moves on the situation, managing the scene, both maneuvering the queen and manipulating the king. Nathan, the prophetic puppet master pulls all the right strings here. The result is simple, the kingdom is saved and Solomon becomes king instead of Adonijah. To round off the chapter, David, dear old man that he now is, gives command to his son concerning the dispatch of his enemies after his own forthcoming demise. Look! Can you see this? For one thing the people of the Bible are not, is 'nice and neat'. There is little presented pretence. They are who they are, still red in tooth and claw.

My point is this: The Lord in the scriptures reveals real people, in some raw and raging situations. There is nothing placid, lame and cookie cut about them at all. They are not caricatures of the Christian life, they are people and it's all a bit messy and it's all a bit smelly.

Let's get the nerve back friends. Let's have the courage to be who we are in Jesus, who He created us to be, who He wants us to be. Let me ask you today, WHO ARE YOU? DO YOU KNOW? Or have you had your nerve taken out? The other oven baked biscuits mightn’t like you so much if you don’t fit in the factory packet mind you. However, God and the world might find you that much more tasty. Some of you this morning, especially you men, simply need to go and get your nerve back!

Listen:- And as the bridegroom rejoices over the bride, So shall your God rejoice over you. Isaiah 62:5b

Pray:- Lord, I am sorry that I am not the person I should be. Please help me to know how You delight in me. Help me to possess all that I am in You. Amen and amen!

May | 23 | Making Churches Like Barbados

Dream Word – SEE

Revelation 12:10-12 Then I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, "Now salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of His Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren, who accused them before our God day and night, has been cast down. And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death. Therefore rejoice, O heavens, and you who dwell in them! Woe to the inhabitants of the earth and the sea! For the devil has come down to you, having great wrath, because he knows that he has a short time." NKJV

Making Churches Like Barbados

Water covers two thirds of our planet. God takes delight in water. However, God also takes delight in air, after all didn’t He breathe it for 33 years? Yes, like us, Jesus had a first breath and a last breath and of course, like Him, we too shall breathe again, even after death.

In this four dimensional world of ours, it is also evident that God takes delight in the placing of creatures in separate mediums. So we find creatures made for the water and creatures made for the atmosphere and the earth and indeed, in all these mediums we find the inhabitation of God’s creatures both under them and in them and between them. Yes, interestingly, God also makes creatures that can inhabit all these mediums at several depths. A sea bird for example may have its nest in the rocks, walk on the earth, fly in the sky and plunge beneath the depths to fish its food from the waters. So we then we have distinct God created mediums, with several different depths of overlapping occupancy.

In 2008, a video was released showing the current world record of “fish flight” being broken by an unnamed competitor, who glided for a full 45 seconds, “flying” at around 20mph and skimming the waves off the coast of the Japanese Island of Yakushima. Amazing! I’m talking about a fish of course and in particular about the Exocet of the sea, (Exocoetidae – flying fish) which consist of around 50 species and range throughout most of the world’s tropical and subtropical waters.

There are two main reasons given for the flight of these fish:-

Firstly, that they are trying to escape predators, and what better way to do so than leave the medium in which the predators inhabit.

Secondly, they fly very simply because they can! And who would blame them, for who among us, would dare to forbid a fish to fly? I mean come on now, it’s gotta be boring just swimming all he time?

We Christians, have since our most early start, classified and iconised ourselves among the fishies, which I suppose is especially seen with the widespread use of the ICTHUS symbol. In a similar way to the flying fish, we have in Christ been enabled to inhabit both the mediums of the material and the spiritual world. Unlike the flying fish however, we can maintain a presence in both of these mediums at the same time. For sure, at some point we shall all completely slip our corporeal anchors and soar at last to worlds unknown, but even then, it shall only be until the adoption, even the resurrection of our bodies, when we shall fully inhabit the material world to breathe again once more and also be more enabled to better inhabit the spiritual one as well. You see, we are created to be occupiers of several mediums in at least two very different dimensions.

However, tonight I want to suggest to you, that we are like the flying fish in the very same two distinct reasons for which they also fly. That is, first to escape our predators and secondly, because we can.

Firstly, we fishes fly to escape our predators. I am talking spiritually here. For our predators mostly (though not completely) inhabit the spiritual realm. Just above the surface of the material world, the dark forces of the enemy manifest in madness, manifest in lies, in dark deceits, in depressions, in ailments, in weaknesses, in sicknesses of many kinds and bondages galore, wait with these same chains, draped over clawed demonic raptors, to bind us once again. Yes, with wide blood red and angry eyes, they shuffle expectantly, moving these maniacal manacles from claw to claw, waiting for an open door, to come in and chain the long freed children of God once more. There are times then, when we little fishies, encountering these red-eyed hungry looks and hearing the clinking of these heavy iron hooked chains, need to speedily flap our tails and slip the surface of this material and spiritual interface, flying away from these mad and hungry avarice-crazed mermaids of madness, and glide to the safety of the right hand of God. For there and only there, above the blood drenched mercy seat, are the accusations, the impositions and all the cursing of the enemy, gavel’ed to the grave and pounded to the pit from whence they came. Christian, from the jaws of the enemy then, we must always fly to Jesus.

Secondly, we fish must fly because we can. There is a delight in being in the conscious presence of Jesus. For me, I must confess though, that I presently am not one of those fish of continual and conscious abiding but rather, I am one of the smaller fry, mostly flying through predatorial fear and who only sometimes through want, yes only sometimes through delight and through heartfelt desire, occasionally slip the interface of the material and the spiritual worlds to consciously be with my Jesus. I don’t do it enough. Do you?

Like most fish, I need to be in a school. I need to be with other fish who fly, so that in community, we can enjoy the feat together. Maybe after such public and communal flights, I would fly much more in private. Surely then, our times of gathered worship in the church of Jesus Christ, should be like the sunny shores of Barbados, the land of the flying fish, where the blue skies are full of silver glinting scales, all flashing in the light of the Son.

Tell me then will you, what’s your communal Lord’s Day adoration like? Are you taken to the shores of Barbados or left to eat waffles in Bridlington? (No offence). The question is this though, in our churches does our prayer and praise and preaching encourage us to slip this medium and fly away to Jesus? Yes, are our churches where the fish will fly or simply flap around inside the boat? It seems to me we need to have more churches like Barbados than we presently have like Bridlington. (No offence).

Listen: - So I said, "Oh, that I had wings like a dove! I would fly away and be at rest. Indeed, I would wander far off, and remain in the wilderness.Selah I would hasten my escape from the windy storm and tempest." (Psalms 55:6-8 NKJV.)

Pray:- And with my final heartbeat, I shall kiss the world goodbye, and go in peace and laugh on Glory’s side, and fly to Jesus, fly to Jesus, fly to Jesus and live! (From ‘Untitled Hymn – Chris Rice)