The Jonah Defence

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Nineveh (modern-day Mosul, Iraq) was one of the oldest and greatest cities in antiquity. The area was settled as early as 6000 BCE and, by 3000, had become an important religious centre for worship of the goddess Ishtar.(http://www.ancient.eu.com/nineveh/)

The first sentence of the book of Jonah is God’s direction to his prophet to tell Him to go to the city of Nineveh and preach repentance because their great wickedness had come up against Him. God had a plan for Nineveh which involved their salvation and not their destruction. Although he told them he would destroy them in 40 days if they didn’t repent, He also knew they would repent, as did Jonah. How did Jonah know? He was a prophet, he loved God, he knew God, he had spent time living and walking with God. Yet, as close as his relationship with God was, he still chose to reject the call and go his own way. How often do we, his people, likewise choose to secure our own comfort and go our own way rather than follow Him? Even after years of relationship, it is still possible to allow our flesh to dictate the terms. Worse, it is possible for us to decide to block our ears to God’s call and refuse to obey for the simple reason that it doesn’t fit with our world view.

I have found that the closer you get to God, the more your mind is renewed (my favourite passage Romans 12:1-2). The more your mind is renewed the more you see the greater picture from God’s perspective, and sometimes, we don’t like what we see. It is unfamiliar. I think God allows us to travel through countryside which we at least have some understanding of for a while. Then when he knows we are ready for it, he lifts the veil from our eyes a little more and we see the greater picture. Jonah was shown the greater picture and he had a meltdown. It’s easy for us to look at him and scoff. We of course would never behave this way because our maturity is much greater than his. Yet, Jonah was in the know. He was privy to God’s counsel regarding the biggest city in the then known world. It would be as if one of us had been shown what would happen to New York, or London, or Tokyo, before any of the disasters which have been visited upon those towns over the years. Would you be able to deal with that? Would you be able to cope knowing you were the one called to prevent the destruction? And what if one of those cities had been your country’s sworn enemy? Would you want to be the harbinger of doom? Sure, if God was going to follow through. Maybe it would be kind of fun. You would get the fame of being connected with God’s great power and judgement. But Jonah knew, he just knew, God wasn’t going to destroy Ninevah, he knew God’s heart, and he knew God was going to spare them. So Jonah went nah-ah. I am NOT going to be the one to be the bearer of good news to my enemies.

Jonah’s response was the equivalent of going on the witness protection programme; change country, change your identity, fade into obscurity. Joppa harbour was a well known international maritime destination, located north-west of Jerusalem on the Mediterranean sea. Jonah decided Spain looked good this time of year and set his sights on Tarshish. David had pretty much settled the question that you cannot escape from God in Psalm 139; “where can I go from your Spirit, from your presence where can I flee, if I ascend to heaven there you are, if I descend to Sheol, there you will be”. Yet Jonah was not in the mood for discussion.

So, Jonah finds a vessel, goes down into the hold, curls up in the foetal position and waits it out. A foetus, or baby, is curled up because he is in cramped living quarters. They don’t start out cramped. We begin as tiny curled creatures and become larger over 40 weeks. This is by the way an interesting connection with a time of confinement and constriction as God forms and disciplines us. Yet, when as adults we choose to go ‘back to the womb’ we are showing a desire to want the safety comfort and above all lack of responsibility that we are called to as adults. An adult cannot go back to the womb. Remember Nicodemus’ concern when he spoke to Jesus about being born again? It is physically impossible. But psychologically, by hiding, choosing unconsciousness (or ‘un-knowing’) we can make an attempt to cease to be while the world unfolds around us. It is a rather cowardly act, and I speak as one who has chosen this form of ‘un-knowing’ many times.

An unusually fierce storm arose. The sailors were experienced, but they were becoming more and more desperate and started praying to their idols in the hope that somebody’s god might have mercy on them. The captain finds Jonah down in the hold and asks him what on earth he is up to? Surely Jonah must have a god reasons the captain, so he too should pray to Him and ask for mercy. Since nobody’s god seems to be answering and they cannot decide whose fault the storm is they decide to draw lots. God ensures that Jonah gets the short straw . Immediately, they begin to question him explicitly about who he is and where he is from. Jonah tells his story and in the process preaches the gospel to these men. Even though he is in self-imposed exile, the gift God has placed upon his life, that of a prophet, is exercised. Here, he is also fulfilling the gifts of teacher, and evangelist as in the process of telling the sailors who he is, he tells them who God is, and why the storm has arisen.

Now while these men are superstitious, they are clearly a kind-hearted lot as none of them want to do as Jonah suggests, and throw him overboard. They know that it would be a quick and sure death. Yet as the storm gets worse, they decide that maybe, since Jonah did offer, they should do what he suggested. Reluctantly they throw him over, and the storm immediately abates. So profoundly affected are they by the resulting calm that they sacrifice to God and make vows. I believe this means that they would have essentially changed allegiances from their false gods who had forsaken them to the One True and Living God. So, not only could Jonah not outrun the long arm of the Lord, but God used Jonah to convert these sailors despite his rebellion against Him. God truly does work all things together for good to those who love Him. And Jonah surely loves God despite appearances.

Those who regard worthless idols
Forsake their own Mercy.
But I will sacrifice to You
With the voice of thanksgiving;
I will pay what I have vowed.
Salvation is of the Lord.”

Jonah 2:8,9 (NKJV)

I find it interesting that Jonah goes from voluntarily taking the foetal position as his defence to being forced into a foetal position in the belly of the fish. He refers to his plight as being in the ‘belly of Sheol’ and ‘in the pit’. Since Jonah seems to enjoy being hidden from sight and sleeping in order to avoid his responsibilities, he is forced to stay in that position for three days and nights. Noah’s time in the whale is marked by repentance and worship of God, and after those three days, he is vomited out onto dry land and given a second chance. He takes it

I am reminded of a visit by Barry Maguire at my local church when I was in my early twenties. He preached on Jonah, and he gave a compelling yet amusing verbal illustration of the scene where Jonah, having spent three days in the pit of a fish’s stomach, his hair and body bleached from the stomach acid of the fish (do fish have stomach acid?) crawls and stumbles into the city gates of this massive city (the equivalent of New York probably in today’s parlance since it was three days walk across) and screeches out “repent”. He would have looked like ‘the thing from outer space” and the guilty Ninevites would have fearfully repented.

Ninevah was a city which, like the city of Ephesus worshipped a demonic entity. Ishtah is linked to to the Greek goddess Artemis which is also linked to the Egyptian goddess Isis and all of these are linked to the title ‘Queen of Heaven’ which is also another name for Jezebel. Essentially we are looking at a form of high goddess worship which had overtaken the ancient world and held them in bondage. God wanted them to be free from their links to these demonic idols so that they could worship the one true and living God. Now Jonah’s obedience to God, however churlishly he carried out this obedience, caused that great city to repent from their wickedness and to cry out to God. The king himself caused the whole city, along with the animals to be covered in sackcloth and ashes. Interestingly, God’s compassion extends even to the animals as he mentions them at the end of chapter four. This is the kind of compassion which I see Jesus extending to the woman who was bent over for 18 years. He tries to reason with the Pharisees and asks them to consider her plight, in the same way he tries to reason with Jonah. “Think of It” he urges them. Only a man, and God, moved in his heart and mind to the plight of this woman would encourage the hard-hearted Pharisees to try and put themselves in this woman’s shoes. “Have empathy” he cries to them.

15 The Lord then answered him and said, “Hypocrite![a] Does not each one of you on the Sabbath loose his ox or donkey from the stall, and lead it away to water it? 16 So ought not this woman, being a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan has bound—think of it—for eighteen years, be loosed from this bond on the Sabbath?” 17 And when He said these things, all His adversaries were put to shame; and all the multitude rejoiced for all the glorious things that were done by Him

(Luke 13:15-17 NKJV)

This is the same cry he gives to Jonah.

10 But the Lord said, “You have had pity on the plant for which you have not labored, nor made it grow, which came up in a night and perished in a night. 11 And should I not pity Nineveh, that great city, in which are more than one hundred and twenty thousand persons who cannot discern between their right hand and their left—and much livestock?”

(Jonah 4:10-11 NKJV)

Jonah has pity on himself, but does not pity a city of millions of people for whom God has great mercy and empathy.

So this is really a story of a man who is not willing to do the will of God because of his own personal proclivities. Eventually he recognises God’s sovereignty and again cries out to Him for mercy. Yet when God shows mercy to a city of non-Hebrew human beings because they likewise have cried out to God, he becomes angry and believes he has a right to be angry.

Jonah’s hostility and tantrum throwing in chapter 4 is quite a different response to his fear of commitment in Chapter 1. His first instinct is to hide, his last to blame God. I believe these two apparently different reactions are actually seated in the same problem; rebellion. A man who makes excuses for himself (which actually sound very spiritual and humble) such as “Oh, I couldn’t do anything like that, I am not qualified or experienced enough” is really saying “I don’t want to do that”. This may not be what we want to hear, but I know from my own bitter experience that this is in fact the truth. I have chosen to say ‘no’ to God in the past because I didn’t think I was cut out for that kind of work. I have run away, hidden under a rock and decided it just wasn’t me.

Incidentally, hypochondria is another manifestation of this little mind game. Proverbs 22:13 tells us that the lazy man complains he can’t go out because there may be a lion in the streets and he will be killed. We come up with all sorts of other ‘serious’ reasons why we can’t do what the Spirit asks us to do. “I am too weak”, “I am not well enough”, “I am not experienced enough”. You fill in the blank. In fact, we rarely say “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13). It is amazing what the human mind can invent when we are confronted by our deepest fears. Jonah was called by God and suddenly developed a pressing need to visit Spain. Had he been there before? Was it the climate, the food or the fact that it was very far away in completely the other direction? I imagine a modern day Jonah going to the nearest international airport, looking up at the arrivals and departures board, picking a destination which he has never even heard of and sounds pretty foreign and lacking in modern comforts and going there.

Ah, Lord, was not this what I said when I was still in my country? Therefore I fled previously to Tarshish; for I know that You are a gracious and merciful God, slow to anger and abundant in lovingkindness, One who relents from doing harm. Therefore now, O Lord, please take my life from me, for it is better for me to die than to live!”

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Not only was Jonah in the pre-natal frame of mind in the first chapter of this book, but in the last chapter he still wants to opt out of life, this time by death. He wants God to take his life. I have never heard such melodramatic twaddle before! Oh wait. Yes I have. That was me. This is another form of blaming God. You made this happen. I didn’t ask to be born. You have to now kill me so that I don’t have to face the humiliation of having my reputation tarnished by all these Ninevites becoming believers! How embarrassing! What would the other prophets think!

I believe that we in today’s church often choose our own interpretation of God’s work for us rather than wait on God and hear his word. Some of us would like to be prophets, but we are really not gifted that way. Many young men, and now perhaps even some women, go to bible school, get trained as church leaders and then go out and start churches, many without a direct word from the Lord to do so, yet their elders and leaders lay hands on them and ‘send them out’ with their blessings but have not spent the necessary time in prayer to find out whether these ones are actually so called.

How important is it for us not just to assume a position but to know God’s call on our lives. How much more important is it for those who have been called not to run from that call, but to follow it wholeheartedly. And for those who have been functioning in their calling (and God bless those who do, it is a narrow and hard road), even that history does not preclude you from the influence of our flesh which would rise up and say “Did God really say?” Which as we know is the means Satan uses to cause us to not only question what we think God has said to us, but to question the loving caring Heavenly Father as well.

A true believer doesn’t want to grieve the Holy Spirit. We all have times when we struggle with God’s direction for our lives. Yet, if we are honest, we will know that when God calls us, he also gives us a desire to follow. The call God placed on Jonah was a huge task. Ninevah was probably the biggest city in the known world at the time, and Jonah was being asked to proclaim the word of God to them in person. Was he ashamed of the gospel of Jesus Christ? Or was he just more concerned about his reputation? Whichever it was, we will never know how the conversation ended in chapter 4. I hope and pray that we will know better how it will end in our own hearts.

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God’s Word is my Woobie

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I came of age in the 80s.  So 80s movies kind of stuck in my mind.  And some things from those movies were also kind of memorable. The first time I heard the word was from Michael Keaton in the movie Mr.  Mom.  He was trying to convince his toddler to give up his comfort blanket, but he called it a ‘woobie’.  This is apparently a common term in the U.S.  I looked up the origin of the word however, and even Rambo figured his woobie was his best friend according to this article.  Here is an excerpt.

Ask any soldier or Marine, especially those in the infantry, how he feels about his woobie, and his eyes will light up and then mist over as he waxes lyrically over the virtues of this item. Hard-bitten combat veterans grow poetic and wistful, declaring their love for this piece of equipment. If you don’t believe me, read the Amazon reviews. It is perhaps the single most-loved item in the armed forces.

What is it, and why does it inspire this fanatical devotion?

The “liner, wet weather, poncho” as it’s officially called, consists of two layers of nylon surrounding a polyester filling, sewn up along the sides and crosswise to ensure a very tough and durable piece of equipment. Army logistics manuals fail to say what magic spells are cast over poncho liners when they are made to make them so efficient at trapping heat in and keeping the cold out. They were originally produced in the 1960s, during the Vietnam War, when U.S. soldiers and Marines were engaged in jungle fighting. The troops needed a lightweight poncho to keep them relatively dry in the wet jungles and rice paddies, but also something to keep them warm during the cool nights. Thus the poncho and poncho liner were born. While the poncho liner was almost an afterthought to the poncho, it was the liner that would steal troops’ hearts.

Human beings have always needed comfort.  This is something God honours.  I will never forget reading this scripture from Psalm 94  for the first time, it had a huge effect on me.

Who will rise up for me against the evildoers?
Who will stand up for me against the workers of iniquity?
17 Unless the Lord had been my help,
My soul would soon have settled in silence.
18 If I say, “My foot slips,”
Your mercy, O Lord, will hold me up.
19 In the multitude of my anxieties within me,
Your comforts delight my soul.

Verse 19 is the big revelation for me.

David confesses the multitude of his anxieties.  And David was the man after God’s own heart remember.  David is God’s favourite king, if I may make so bold.  His love for his people caused him to rise up against the enemy Goliath and fight  where not one hardened military man in Israel had the courage.  David was a shepherd and anointed from his youth to be King, yet he didn’t let this go to his head.  He just took his job seriously, wrestled bears and lions (no small feat) and then giants.  Goliath was not totally human, he was the result of a past union between fallen angels and humans.  So, this was not just a big man, it was a big demonic man.  Hence the unnatural fear of the Israelites. They were facing a supernatural enemy.  But to David it was “What? You are cursing our God? You have the cheek to come against God’s people?  God will smite you!”

Yet here is David confessing to a multitude of anxieties.  However, his first call is to his God.  “Your comforts delight my soul”.

I have a question to ask you.

Have you ever spent a day just putting aside all of your comforts, the things you use to make yourself feel better, whatever they are, and we all have them, and just let God’s comforts delight your soul.

I tried it once.  WOW.  That’s all I can say.  God’s word is true.  God’s comforts literally delight your soul.  If you cling to Him and Him alone, without your woobie, He will bless you with His comfort.  I am not going to tell you exactly how that works –  you will have to discover it for yourself. I don’t want to rob you of the delights God has in store for you!

Mr. Mom tried to get his little kid to give up his woobie, but the little guy was not ready to trust his dad.  It took the whole movie, and finally he let his Dad take his blanket.  Next step to growing up is to believe that you can get through life without the thing you are totally dedicated to, believing that this thing and this thing alone will save you.

We are not little kids.  But deep down, we still cling to things that God wants to take from us, lovingly, gently, so that His comforts will delight our souls.

Take my advice.  Let Him do it.  You will NEVER regret it.  AND, big bonus, you will grow up, bear fruit, bless Him, give HIM glory. And who doesn’t want to do what God has created us for!

The Watcherwoman Wises Up

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Wait on the Lord; Be of good courage, And He shall strengthen your heart; Wait, I say, on the Lord! (Psalm 27:14)

and all of them conspired together to come and attack Jerusalem and create confusion. Nevertheless we made our prayer to our God, and because of them we set a watch against them day and night. (Nehemiah 4:9-8)

If you are willing and obedient, You shall eat the good of the land. (Isaiah 1:19)

This is a follow-on from my last post which talked about predicting the future in order to prepare and protect yourself from evil.

When I was praying about this as the Lord showed me my own heart on this matter, the words Wait, Watch and Willing came to me.  These words I believe contain an antidote to the desire to predict the future so that you can avoid danger.

Waiting on the Lord (as in Isaiah 40:31) is mentioned a lot in scripture.

The Strong’s entry is as follows:

qâvâh, kaw-vaw’; a primitive root; to bind together (perhaps by twisting), i.e. collect; (figuratively) to expect:—gather (together), look, patiently, tarry, wait (for, on, upon).

The word ‘waiting’ gives the impression of a servant who is standing waiting for their master to give them an order.   But I believe ‘waiting’ implies more than just service, it is also literally about waiting, standing and not doing anything until…  You are not running around trying to control everything or ensuring everything is just so until..  You are actually literally quiet, patient and at peace while you listen for God’s instruction.  You are waiting for God to make it clear to you what you are to do.

Waiting on the Lord also involves watching.  I am reminded of the covenant between Abraham and the Lord in Genesis 15 where he had to wait for the Lord to come and ‘sign’ the covenant agreement as it were.  He had to fight off the carrion birds who wanted to feast on the dead animals he had just laid down, and it was a process of waiting and watching to see that the elements of the covenant were not disturbed.  This was holy ground, carrion birds represent evil, or satanic messengers who want to disrupt and destroy all that God wants to do in your life. They particularly like times in your life when God hasn’t given you a time frame for a promise.  They will come as doubts, fears, concerns, insistence that YOU do something about the situation NOW in your own strength.  This is where the divination thing comes in handy.  You can take matters into your own hands, you can do what is necessary to produce the outcome you deem acceptable to God rather than let God show you what is acceptable to Him.

Saul was particularly good at this from very early in his life.  He was always trying to impress authorities, especially Samuel, yet when God told him to do something specific he went about it in his own sweet way and then had the gall to explain his disobedience to Samuel as ‘just trying to help out’.  1 Samuel 15 has the story.

Willingness therefore to obey God is also a key part of the prescription.  You need to wait on God to find out the answer to your prayer, you need to watch that the enemy himself is not trying to deceive you as an angel of light and when you have tested the spirits and understand what God wants you to do, you need to be willing to do it.

This last I believe is pivotal to our success as Christians.  I hate that word, what I mean is living and walking in the peace which passes all understanding.  We can’t disobey God and live in peace it just won’t work.  You might think you have peace for a little while, but the Holy Spirit will always agitate your soul and conviction will come, if your heart is soft.  You will not be able to simply sin and walk away without knowing it.  So willingness to obey means that you are not in control of your own life and it is clear that obedience to God brings blessings (Deuteronomy 28).

And for me, the key to all of the above is loving Jesus.  To know Jesus is to love Jesus and we can’t love Jesus unless God first loved us.  So, receiving God’s love and responding to it with our own love in relationship will lead to a desire to obey God. Not because he is God and the ultimate authority, but because we understand God to be the author only of good and perfect works.  We know that any suffering or trauma that comes upon us which is not of our own making is a result of the sins of mankind and living in a fallen world.  Satan also is the author of a great deal of suffering of course.  But it is the fear of the unpredictability of difficulty which causes many of us, myself included, to work towards a solution of our own making.  If we can control the outcome, we are empowered against misfortune right?  Wrong.  As I said in the previous post, misfortune almost never comes in the form which we expect it to.  If it comes, it often hits us out of the blue, and sometimes from sources we would never have expected in a million years. So thinking we can control our futures is actually pretty foolish.  Satan makes us a laughing stock, of course he is the one laughing at us, not God.  He fools us into thinking we are ‘like God’ in knowing the difference between good and evil, when in actual fact, we don’t know the difference.

Scripture tells us that God makes all things work together for good for those who love Him and are called according to His purposes. (Romans 8:28).  That is such a great verse.  So if God can make even evil work for good, and here I am reminded of Joseph that great illustration of the triumph of the God-chosen over abusive relatives, then how can we, puny humans, think that we can know what is best for us.  We will never see the big picture as God sees it, but we insist that we know what is good.  We must never forget that we live in a world where every action has an equal and opposite reaction and that every human being’s actions have consequences, whether seen or unseen.  We do not live in this world encased in impenetrable bubbles.

Wait on the Lord, Watch for the enemy, be Willing to obey where God shows you what to do.  It’s far better than Predict, Prepare, Protect, which sounds more like the motto of a security firm than a child of the Father. There are two kinds of ‘watching’.  The kind that surveillance firms do and the kind that God’s people do.  This ‘watcher’ woman has spent most of her life doing the former.  Repentance is truly a beautiful thing.

Is Donald Trump a Christian?

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“Though you untie the winds and let them fight against the churches..”

Macbeth to the ‘weird sisters’ (Macbeth Act 4 Scene 1)

So what do Macbeth and US President Donald Trump have in common?  Apparently witches hate both of them. Both kings, one like Saul who went to a coven of witches to find out his fate, the other who seems to have raised the ire of many witches who are apparently publicly asking other witches to gather and cast spells today against Trump to bring about his destruction. See this site for details.

I am not so much concerned about this broadly documented news item today as I am about the reaction of a number of Christian sites encouraging Christians to pray against the witches in order to protect Trump. I have no problem praying against spells and demonic attacks.  I am just concerned that these prayers are being prayed under a false assumption.

My concern is, is Trump actually a Christian, or is he just adhering to the Christian religion as most of his predecessors have done regardless of whether they actually act like a born-again believer or not.  I don’t care how many of these men have gone to church or claim to be believers, it is their actions which prove whether they are actual believers or not.

According to James Dobson of Focus on The Family, Trump has actually made a decision for Christ. Yet religionnews.com has reported as of June 25 last year that Trump has not personally spoken of a born-again experience or a personal relationship with Christ.

Trump recently accepted a relationship with Jesus Christ as his Savior, making him a “baby Christian,” Focus on the Family founder James Dobson said in an interview posted Friday (June 24) to Michael Anthony’s website, Godfactor. Dobson and Anthony, pastor of Grace Fellowship in York, Pa., spoke after the candidate’s meeting Tuesday in New York City with nearly 1,000 evangelicals.

“He did accept a relationship with Christ. I know the person who led him to Christ, and that’s fairly recent. … I believe he really made a commitment, but he’s a baby Christian,” Dobson said………

Dobson told Anthony that Trump “doesn’t know our language,” noting the candidate spoke during the meeting about “religion,” but not “faith” and “belief.” Other words the candidate never used, according to transcripts: “Jesus,” “pray,” “Christ” and “Bible.”

“You gotta cut him some slack. He didn’t grow up like we did,” Dobson said.

I am inclined to think more on the lines of this article by Michael Horton regarding Donald Trump’s theology.

Horton points out the following:

Let me suggest that the slender thread connecting Trump to the church is his occasional holiday appearances at Marble Collegiate Church, made famous by its pastor for 52 years, Norman Vincent Peale. Blending pop-psychology and spirituality, Peale’s The Power of Positive Thinking (1952) remained on The New York Times bestsellers list for 186 weeks. Nicknamed “God’s Salesman,” Peale was criticized for trivializing Christianity. Reinhold Niebuhr said that he “corrupts the gospel,” and that he helps people “feel good, while they are evading the real issues of life.”

In the 1952 election, Peale declared presidential candidate Adlai Stevenson unfit because he was divorced. For his part, Stevenson quipped, “Speaking as a Christian, I find Paul appealing and Peale appalling.” During the Kennedy-Nixon campaign, which began his long relationship with the Nixon White House, Peale declared, “Faced with the election of a Catholic, our culture is at stake.”

Trump’s parents attended Peale’s sermons each week with the family in tow, and Donald often recalls the impact on his life. He and his sisters were married by Peale.

A more recent exponent of a feel-good gospel, Joel Osteen, has called Donald Trump “a friend of our ministry” and “a good man.” Trump has previously tweeted, “Being associated with Joel is my great honor—he’s a fantastic man!”

So when in recent months, it has appeared that Trump appeals to a sizable group of evangelicals, it may be less surprising than all the hoopla suggests. Liberty University president Jerry Falwell Jr. hailed him as “one of the greatest visionaries of our time” and a wonderful Christian brother “who reminds me of my dad.” The redoubtable Pat Robertson gushed in an interview with the empire-builder, “You inspire us all.” Robert Jeffress, pastor of First Baptist Church in Dallas, who has introduced Trump at rallies, says, “We need a strong leader and a problem-solver, hence many Christians are open to a more secular candidate.”

Based on this evidence alone, ie the people who support him and the church he attends, that his understanding of biblical Christianity is going to be something less than biblical and a little more emerging church.

Having said that, Rachel Held Evans, an emerging blogger and author has this to say about Trump’s apparent conversion in a tweet dated 27 June 2016 –

“Oh, give me a break. Donald Trump hasn’t been born again. The Religious Right has simply sold out. James 2 folks.”

And another one a few hours later

“What must I do to inherit eternal life? Become the Republican nominee for president apparently.”

Now, I find myself agreeing with Rachel on a number of blog posts lately, and this isn’t a bad thing.  You can disagree with some people some of the time, and some of the people all of the time.

So if Trump is not a Christian should Christians be praying for him to be spared the ravages of the powerful spirits which these witches will be calling upon to bring down his presidency?  We are called to pray for our leaders, that is true.  But this is fairly specific.  I do believe that witches engage demonic entities and that their practice is cursed by God in scripture.

Assuming Trump is not saved is it right for us to pray against these spiteful curses from witches?  The Bible tells us to pray for leaders, but not necessarily in this way.

First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.  (1 Timothy 2:1-15)

God obviously wants Trump to be saved, and he is kind of somewhat going in that direction despite the fact that he clearly has no understanding of the gospel.  He is reported as saying that he doesn’t have to ask God for forgiveness because he doesn’t need to, he doesn’t do bad things.  Scripture says that if we say we have no sin we call God a liar.  So Trump hasn’t been getting a true picture of the gospel.  Admittedly this was before his reputed conversion experience despite the fact that this was a second hand account from Dobson, not an actual confession from the lips of the president.  For my money, you would have to have Trump standing up in a press conference preaching the gospel of repentance and forgiveness, speaking about being washed in the blood of Jesus and talking about being saved by faith from his sins.  We haven’t had that, and frankly I doubt we will.

That being so, we still need to consider whether the reactions of many evangelical Christians about the so called witchcraft warfare going on today is worth paying attention to.

Here’s another verse to consider:

Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, for he is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer. Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God’s wrath but also for the sake of conscience. …  (Romans 13:1-14)

Witches by definition reject God and His Son Jesus Christ and are in rebellion against Him and also obviously the governing authorities.  Their curses and spells are nothing to a Christian who is walking in obedience to Jesus Christ, and loves the Lord with all of his heart and mind and soul and strength.  We can pray against them, and have done, and seen those attacks stopped. Satan is not going to go away though, so we will, as I said in my last post need to remember that ‘there is no demilitarized zone for Christians’.  For non-Christians, or men who think they are Christians when they are not, I would urge a consideration of the verses in Acts 19 where imposters such as the sons of Sceva tried to come against devils and were torn apart physically and ran away in terror.  Remember also Simon the magician who tried to buy the Holy Spirit and whom Paul cursed.  If Trump is trying to align himself with evangelical believers as many have suggested in order to buy votes and support then he is not going to automatically be spared demonic attacks.  Let’s face it, any president whether supported by the church or not is going to face demonic attacks, its just that this one is a little more public than most.

Frankly, I am more than a little skeptical that a bunch of witches who claim to have the ability to cast spells, and commune with Satan have to use facebook in order to gather their brothers and sisters in wickedness to unite against Uncle Sam. On commenter on this site wants to know ‘will it be televised’.  I mean, come on, this smacks more of media hype than anything else. When in doubt make a shocking announcement.  What bothers me is that there are a fair number of my brothers and sisters in Christ who are using a little less discernment than they should be using in this matter.  Why are we being emotionally manipulated by the media?  Come on, that is exactly what they want, and this attack would be against us as well.

I have no doubt that evil in this present day is coming out loud and proud, witches, warlocks, Satanists and the rest will probably be having their own occult pride march down your main street in a couple of years.  There are enough millennial generation still reading the Potter books and watching the movies now to make your head spin (excuse the pun) and many of them are Christians.  So let’s not get too excited about this.  Far more important that we pay attention to our own spiritual walk and make sure that those in our families and our churches are not being drawn away by occult practices, games, movies and tv shows.

I think Americans will still pray for Trump and there is nothing but good in that. I just believe we need to hold our ground and not be swayed by media releases or even a bunch of weird sisters who want to make a name for themselves as the people who brought down Trump.  When you think about it this is what they are really vying for, publicity, not truth.

We can pray against curses and demonic attacks for sure, but I believe the only genuine protection we can have is if we are born again, and since Donald Trump, is not, in my opinion genuinely born again since I have not seen or heard this from his own lips, then I don’t think he is going to be any more protected from evil than any other unsaved leader.

But as I said, it won’t hurt him for Christians to pray against these attacks, just please my friends don’t do it in fear or anguish and begin worrying that Trump will be killed or attacked in some way.  God is still in control, and He is greater than any concerted efforts by a bunch of weird sisters and their satan worshipping buddies.

“With Him are wisdom and strength,
He has counsel and understanding.
14 If He breaks a thing down, it cannot be rebuilt;
If He imprisons a man, there can be no release.
15 If He withholds the waters, they dry up;
If He sends them out, they overwhelm the earth.
16 With Him are strength and prudence.
The deceived and the deceiver are His.
17 He leads counselors away plundered,
And makes fools of the judges.
18 He loosens the bonds of kings,
And binds their waist with a belt.
19 He leads princesb]”>[b] away plundered,
And overthrows the mighty.
20 He deprives the trusted ones of speech,
And takes away the discernment of the elders.
21 He pours contempt on princes,
And disarms the mighty.
22 He uncovers deep things out of darkness,
And brings the shadow of death to light.
23 He makes nations great, and destroys them;
He enlarges nations, and guides them.
24 He takes away the understandingc]”>[c] of the chiefs of the people of the earth,
And makes them wander in a pathless wilderness.
25 They grope in the dark without light,
And He makes them stagger like a drunken man.

Job 12:13-25

 

Supermoon Monday -In the Valley of Aijalon

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12 Then Joshua spoke to the Lord in the day when the Lord delivered up the Amorites before the children of Israel, and he said in the sight of Israel:

“Sun, stand still over Gibeon;
And Moon, in the Valley of Aijalon.”
13 So the sun stood still,
And the moon stopped,
Till the people had revenge
Upon their enemies.

Joshua 10:12-13 (NKJV)

I want to talk about spiritual warfare in this post.  I thought it timely to discuss this on the occasion of the first super moon since 1948.  Especially since that is the same year that the modern nation of Israel was formed!  We are in the last days friends!  It is also interesting that the above quote from Joshua talks about the battle of the Israelites against the King of Jerusalem and his four allies.  This was another stage in the war against the inhabitants of the land which God promised to give His people.  It is also symbolic of our battle against the powers of darkness who come against us in our walk with the Lord. The Lord has the power to make the moon, symbol of occult power, stand still as His people obey His voice, and go into the battle with the Lord going before, and also standing as our rear guard!  Hallelujah!

A super moon is when the moon is closer to the earth in its orbit than at other times, which is why it appears slightly larger.  For the flat earthers out there, peace to you, I wonder how this phenomenon is explained?  We are not  flat earthers but we are curious and do believe we are a geocentric universe, because the possibility of the earth’s rotation has been continually disproved by various and numerous experiments over time.  But that is another post.

Full moons have traditionally been associated with times of occult and paranormal and generally bizarre activity.  Some sources say that nothing out of the ordinary happens on full moons and the urban myths that hospitals and police stations get more business on these times of the month are simply that, urban myths.  My own experiences would suggest the opposite.  If you are a Christian then you are, by definition, a believer in the ‘supernatural’ and recognise that we have a supernatural enemy and we are engaged in spiritual warfare.  So, whether the moon affects others it seems that those who practice pagan or witchcraft rituals are definitely more active during the ‘waxing gibbous’ of the lesser light and they definitely exercise some power as they act in accordance with their gods who cause all kinds of mayhem.

We moved into the house we are in about a year ago, and we have had continual paranormal and bizarre activity, some of it has been quite distressing .  I wanted to focus on our need to stand against principalities and powers and not flesh and blood.  It is very tempting to assume only natural cause and effect in the situations you find yourself.  However, Paul tells us this is not true.

Paul’s famous Ephesians 6 declaration has helped and encouraged Christians for centuries.

10 Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might.

11 Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.

12 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.

13 Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.

14 Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness;

15 And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace;

16 Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.

17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God:

18 Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints

 Around April of this year we were doing spiritual battle against a particular protagonist on an internet forum.  This forum is a gathering of people who left the cult we were trapped in for 15 years.  There was one visitor to the forum who is still in the cult, and occasionally raises his head to attack, defy and question and criticise these people. His last attack was so outrageous and in fact rude that we felt we could no longer leave him unchallenged. The members of the forum have made the mistake of thinking that because a member of the cult  is on the forum, he must be wanting to know the truth and have been accepting and courteous to the unfortunate point of assuming he is a safe and harmless entity. I am afraid this isn’t so.  He is simply there to attack and destroy, because he is being motivated by the accuser of the brethren, and also he is in a cult, therefore he is cursed.  I know this sounds harsh, but Paul declares that anyone who preaches a false gospel is cursed (Galatians 1) and he points it out twice and with vehemence.  If you are in any doubt, also read Peter’s second letter, second chapter and he will tell you what he thinks of false teachers and their judgement.  Another good passage if anyone is in doubt about cult leaders and, unfortunately, their followers, is John’s second letter wherein he declares that fellowshipping with false teachers means that you are partaking in their evil deeds.

Anyway, this visitor to the forum has been there for years and we have just ignored him, and at the same time marvelled at the fact that people have just welcomed and in some cases praised this demon for having the courage to come to the forum.  There is a serious lack of discernment here, but that is not surprising.  You have to have come out from under the curse yourself in order to see it.  And if you are not aware you are cursed for having both supported, and agreed with false teachers and in most cases propagated those teachings in your own household., then you will end up walking in circles and not understand why.  We were under such a curse for years after we left the cult and when we recognised it, realised what God saw in us, and repented, our lives changed markedly!  Praise God for his mercy and goodness to us!  Our lives have not been the same since.  One of those changes has been our ability to recognise, discern and fight against spiritual forces who have harassed us for  years, and not only that but worked through the people around us.

So, in the power of the Spirit, we came against this cult member who was harassing the forum.  We spoke a very strong word of rebuke and told him to leave.  He tried to come back as somebody else and had a bizarre sock-puppet conversation with himself, and we exposed this and rebuked him one more time.  Finally he left and has not been seen since.  We were not left to enjoy our victory however.

The next day, I was walking the dog around our neighbourhood, and came across a lady up the road from us walking her dogs.  These dogs have gotten out of their house once before and attacked a woman walking her own dog down our street.  The dogs went berserk, there was much screaming and distress, and neighbours helped her, but the dogs ran off.  It was a fairly brief episode.  However, this particular day, the lady walking the dogs had them on a leash.  I recognised the dogs (two bull terriers) a way up the street and stopped to avoid them.  As soon as the dogs saw my dog (a medium sized Labrador cross), they managed to slip their leashes (which were clearly not sufficient to restrain them)  and in a chilling and nightmarish almost slo-mo few seconds one of them had targeted and moved in to latch onto my poor harmless puppy dog. She is a gentle non-aggressive and eager to please animal just minding her own business. These deranged creatures just went for her with no provocation.  It is in fact typical of the way demons work.  You have to be on  your guard continually, as one Christian put it ‘there is no demilitarised zone’ in spiritual warfare.  Demons will attack you, especially when you don’t expect it, so we have to be continually armed.  It is why Paul tells us to put on the armour of God.  It is our everyday clothing, not just for special occasions. We must be always prepared and ready as good soldiers to fight the good fight.

Poor ruby was screaming and yelping, and I was totally terrified.  I have never before felt so helpless and at the same time engulfed in fear.  It truly was a Jobian ‘the thing I feared has come upon me’ event.  In fact, I read an account of another  similar dog attack on the internet after this happened.  It was recounted by a former officer in the British army who had done service in Iraq and Afghanistan.  . He went through exactly the same circumstances of walking his little dog down a beach and encountering these two bull terriers off leash and just running at his dog simply because they wanted to. He said it was the most terrifying thing he had experienced, and he had been in battle AND been kidnapped by rebels at one point, so that is really saying something. It was an encouragement to me anyway, especially since our vet downplayed the whole event as ‘doggies having a bit of an argument’.

I am afraid to say that my first response was not to cry out to the Lord, but to yell at the woman who had lost control of the dogs.  I called her stupid and asked what she thought she was doing.  Not exactly a controlled and spirit-filled response.  A few neighbours came out to help.  There were four of us at one point, eye gouging, hitting, kicking, and doing everything we could to get this dog off.  I was on the ground at one point, believing I would be next to be attacked and felt totally depleted of strength, I have never experienced this before. Perhaps it was the adrenalin, but I have always heard that in these kinds of circumstances adrenalin usually gives you strength so that you CAN fight off a rabid dog. I believe with my whole heart that in fact, this was a spiritual attack, as I will prove. 

As I said, there were four adults trying to get this dog off Ruby’s neck.  Four adults, two of whom were men, and one of those guys was a really big heavy guy.  How is it that four adults in a prolonged attack against one small, but admittedly strong, dog couldn’t prevail. In the previous dog attack they were able to do it no problem.  In the soldier’s account, he managed to get one bull terrier off his dog with his bare hands, albeit requiring stitches afterwards to a large gash in his fingers, and his wife was actually able to get the other dog off.  So what gives that four fully grown humans couldn’t remove this dog.  It seemed to take ages, but in reality it was probably about ten minutes of hitting kicking and screaming. Then the breakthrough actually came from a totally different, but God-centred, direction.

Finallly, I heard the Holy Spirit say very clearly and in a commanding voice (not audibly), cast the demons out!   I have never prayed against demons in a dog.  In my own logical mind at the time I thought it was a bizarre thing to do and in fact I am ashamed to say that I was more concerned about the neighbour’s opinion of me than I was about obeying the Lord. However, I finally realised (this all took only a few seconds mind you) that I had no other choice, and since I do believe demons are real, and that demons can inhabit animals (Gadarene swine), I spoke up.  ‘In Jesus name, I command  you demons to come out of this dog’ I said.

Anyway, after a delay of a couple of seconds (during which time I figured, I am done for now, they are really going to think I am insane), the dog suddenly let go.  But here’s the thing, it slunk off as though I was its master telling it off!  I have lived with dogs my whole life and this dog knew it had met a stronger force. HA!  Take that demon!

The dog’s mate which had been skulking around while we were trying to get the attacking dog off saw its opportunity and then came in for another attack and latched on to Ruby’s leg.  This time however, one of the men managed to grab it and get it off fairly quickly.

I took the opportunity to convey Ruby, who was actually able to walk a little bit, to my house which was just across the road from this.  I told the lady who owned the dogs that I would be sending her the vet bill thinking that they would probably not pay it, but the Lord was with us.  The bill was around $800.00 and later that night Steve and Nick went to front the dog owners with the bill . Nick told me later that they were very apologetic, very subdued in fact, almost fearful.  They paid us the vet bill in cash in front of Steve and Nick via the internet.  We couldn’t believe they actually admitted fault and did the right thing.  We have seen so many people in these kinds of situations just baulk and try and claim it wasn’t their fault.  We believe God was fighting for us in this situation as well. The demons had been vanquished and we had no more trouble from them.  Ruby was as good as gold after about six weeks.

I am convinced that this whole attack both human and canine was the result of the fact that we stood up against the demons in the cult and rebuked them.  Spiritual forces are linked, they are not omniscient, but they clearly communicate with one another and they do what they do without hindrance from time, space or any other temporal force which limits us human beings. Therefore, an internet forum which exists out there somewhere and is able to link people from all the cities in this country is not a limitation to the demonic forces which control the human beings who are part of that cult.

Therefore, being attacked in Brisbane a matter of hours after we stood against a demon which may well have inhabited a person in Brisbane or Melbourne or Sydney or anywhere else is an easy matter for spiritual forces.

As I said, the house we rented a year ago is some kind of a spiritual gateway.  We prayed against any demonic influence when we moved in, anointed the house and property with oil and have been praying all year against spiritual forces of wickedness in high places. In some instances God gave us a name of a demon to pray against.  The neighbour next door is/was married to a particularly nasty and abusive man who was making our lives very difficult.  He was a bully and a drunk and when he was drunk I swear he looked for all the world like he was literally possessed, his eyes would roll back in his head and he would say the most bizarre things.  Worse, he had a demonic smirk which totally creeped us out.  So God gave us the name of the demon controlling him, we prayed against it and literally less than 24 hours later he was gone.  His wife kicked him out, and we have never seen him again.

God has not given us a spirit of fear, but He has given us His Holy Spirit and we have the power of God within us, to stand against and speak with authority against those who would, without realising it, make our lives difficult.  We are new to all of this.  We have in theory always believed in the supernatural, but have had little to do with it.  In Steve’s early life, he had experience of preaching and seeing the blind see and lame walk.  When we joined the cult however, all that left.  Then after leaving the cult it took years for us to recover, and then took more years for God to bring us to a place where He could trust us to begin to walk in the Spirit and walk in the ministry God has given us.  We are seeing healings, deliverance, the Spirit filling and blessing those around us.  It is truly an amazing thing, and we have found this all out for ourselves, testing the word of God, believing what we read, what God shows us, obeying His word, and thanking and praising God for His faithfulness in our everyday lives.

We have had failures, or lost battles if you like.  Our beloved cat was ill on one occasion and we prayed against the demonic forces coming against him.  He began to recover to the point of eating food, walking around, actually looking like he was getting much better to the point that we left him alone at night after four weeks of sitting with him and ensuring he was comfortable.  Finally one night, the night of a full moon, he died.  It was a real shock for our daughter Lucy who had done the majority of the nursing.  Now somebody will say he was a 12 year old cat and he was probably going to die anyway.  I say balderdash.  His sister is in perfect health and shows no signs of slowing down. We had seen the Holy Spirit give us wisdom and discernment in so many other issues and seen immediate results.  In fact our cat’s death had interesting repurcussions.  It showed us that if we are not walking fully in the will of God and leaving doors open through sin and disobedience for the enemy to come in like a flood and attack us. All things work together for good and the Lord allows what He sees fit to allow in order to teach us how to walk in the Spirit, and to learn what we need to learn for future and more important battles.

I don’t have all the answers, I do know it was no coincidence we were in a house where we have seen more supernatural activity and downright attacks than anywhere else in our life.  The neighbourhood is rife with strange things going on, we live on a crossroad, the neighbours next door are definitely demonically controlled, and the units on the other side contain some seriously demented and strange human beings.  We are seeing victory in so many different things.  

I just want to say one more thing about spiritual warfare. When the Isarelites led by Jehosophat came against a vast army which they admitted they could not defeat on their own, they cried out to God and he said those famous words ‘the battle is not yours but God’s’, they then set singers and worshippers at the front of the army and saw the defeat of their enemy.  Much has been made of this event, and it is certainly true that God dwells in the praises of His people.  This action was not actually a direction from God, but God obviously gave Jehosophat wisdom and he believed that they should honour God even in warfare. WHo would have thought praise was the answer.  But then who would have thought shouting would bring down the walls of Jericho.  In fact neither of these things in themselves are going to make much difference.  It is the Lord who reigns and fights for His people as long as we give Him the glory, obey His word and remain in the Spirit and don’t try and go ahead of Him.  I have found for myself that in our neighbourhood, playing praise music in our house makes a HUGE difference to the environment.  We get far less ambient noise from other people’s radios or sound systems.  In fact, God showed me that all music is worship of some kind.  People are either knowingly or unknowingly praising their own gods with their music.  All music was made by God and of course Lucifer was the prime worship leader as even his body (if you can call it that) was a musical instrument.  Lucifer when he fell took music with him and as Prince of the Power of the Air he still controls music.  Therefore, when we use our music to praise, honour and worship our God who is Holy, Righteous and Perfect, we are proclaiming both the power of God, and also the presence of God who dwells in the praises of His people.  We can’t lose.  We are encouraged and uplifted and the demonic forces are defeated.

Hallelujah and Hallelujah.

I can’t post the URL of this video but I will attempt to add the address, but it is a Hosannah DVD on songs of spiritual warfare.  Hope this encourages others today, it has certainly been a blessing to us.

Many Blessings,

Anita

 

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Weary To My Bones

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American Tune

Many’s the time I’ve been mistaken
And many times confused
Yes, and I’ve often felt forsaken
And certainly misused
Oh, but I’m all right, I’m all right
I’m just weary to my bones
Still, you don’t expect to be
Bright and bon vivant
So far away from home, so far away from home

I don’t know a soul who’s not been battered
I don’t have a friend who feels at ease
I don’t know a dream that’s not been shattered
Or driven to its knees
Oh, but it’s all right, it’s all right
For we’ve lived so well so long
Still, when I think of the road
We’re travelling on
I wonder what went wrong
I can’t help it; I wonder what’s gone wrong

© 1973 Words and Music by Paul Simon

These words were written over 4 decades ago, yet they still ring true today. As somebody who has been abused, misused, forsaken, confused and battered, I think I can understand the sentiments of this song, but unlike Simon, who I have respected as a musician in the past but do not agree with as a philosopher, I do not come to the conclusion that its ‘alright’. While this may be the everyman response, the final conclusion that we draw at the end of the day when all we are trying to do is ‘get some rest’, the comfort we give ourselves that its going to be alright, the fact is that it isn’t getting better, and it isn’t alright. Yes, we have all been battered and abused, and this is the way of the world, but to try and ‘rest’ in a fatalistic idea that ‘we can’t be forever blessed’, foreshadows the end of civilisation as we know it. We can’t simply go to bed and forget that it all happened. Yes, we have all been bruised, but there is a hope and a goal beyond our suffering.

I recently read the blog post of an author who was angrily addressing the sentiment often expressed by Christians “God won’t let you be tested more than you are able to bear”. He said that this was, in his words, ‘bullshit’, and that moreover it wasn’t biblical. He said that this sentiment was a re-working of a scripture which promises that we will not be tempted more than we are able to bear and that it is wrong to apply this verse to those who are suffering more than they are able to bear.

I disagree, respectfully, with his assertion. He had been through probably the worst three weeks of his life. He was allowing the pain and emotional exhaustion to cause him to succumb to the fleshly anguish which ranted and raved at all who tried to comfort him in his Job-like suffering. I agree, he was being tested, but how does he know he cannot bear it, when here he is writing a blog post about his suffering. People who are not able to bear their suffering have nervous breakdowns and end up in a comatose or psychotic state in which they are removed from reality and have simply stopped functioning. People who are not able to bear their suffering commit suicide, or worse. People who are not able to bear their suffering are generally those who are not Christians and have no hope that God is able to help them in their suffering. My question to this blog author is, and I say this carefully and genuinely without wishing to cause further anguish, do you believe God is able to be with you in your suffering? Because, having also been through the darkest of places, the valley of the shadow of death, I can say with deep conviction, that although I could not sense God in that place, I know having lived beyond it, and not really expecting that I would, I realise that indeed God WAS with me in my suffering, and He DID enable me to bear it, and He did give me comfort, however little I could feel it.

I know this to be a fact because looking back, I neither gave way to those terrible thoughts of self-destruction, running away or leaving my husband and family because of my anguish and pain, nor did I have a nervous breakdown, or any other kind of mental or psychological breakdown. I survived. Plain and simple. And for three years, I truly did not know how to do anything other than crawl out of bed, walk around my house, do the most basic tasks, deal with my children and go back to bed again. I KNOW how much pain a person can live through and survive. And perhaps somebody will say “well you didn’t suffer as much as this man did”, well how do you know? All I know is that this man was well enough, a few days after the burden of his suffering fell upon him, to get on the internet and give it a fair going over to anyone who would read, and I know that when I was in the deepest level of my suffering I was hardly able to think straight let alone write about it.

I say, to the person who gets angry enough to yell at those trying to help him in his suffering, despite the fact that they may say trite or pointless things, anything anyone says when you are in that kind of deeply self-involved state is going to sound trite and annoying. Anything anyone tries to do for you when you are angry, upset, frustrated, exhausted and overwhelmed is going to seem pointless, and anyone who has been through a few weeks of deeply emotional suffering is going to feel as you feel.

However, given time, and perspective, I guarantee, that this suffering will be pulled back into a state where you are able to dispassionately analyse what happened, how you got into that state in the first place and you will realise that indeed, God did NOT allow you to suffer more than you were able to bear. It may have seemed unbearable at the time, but it clearly was NOT.

But in whatever respect anyone else is bold—I speak in foolishness—I am just as bold myself.Are they Hebrews? So am I. Are they Israelites? So am I. Are they descendants of Abraham? So am I. Are they servants of Christ?—I speak as if insane—I more so; in far more labors, in far more imprisonments, beaten times without number, often in danger of death. Five times I received from the Jews thirty-nine lashes. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, a night and a day I have spent in the deep. I have been on frequent journeys, in dangers from rivers, dangers from robbers, dangers from my countrymen, dangers from the Gentiles, dangers in the city, dangers in the wilderness, dangers on the sea, dangers among false brethren; I have been in labor and hardship, through many sleepless nights, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure. Apart from such external things, there is the daily pressure on me of concern for all the churches. Who is weak without my being weak? Who is led into sin without my intense concern?

(2 Corinthians 11)

Scripture is clear that we all will suffer. We will suffer from trials of our faith, persecutions, difficulties, temptations and all manner of physical and emotional traumas. Paul’s famous dissertation upon his own suffering wherein he recounted the many difficulties he had faced, imprisonment, shipwreck, stonings, starvation, beatings and so on, proved that while he himself suffered a great deal, he was willing to count it all joy for the goal that was put before him. He was able to continue to preach the gospel, knowing that his God would uphold him and that he would find contentment within his circumstances, whether abased or abounding. Paul knew how to deal with suffering and we can be sure that in a time when Christians were murdered, tortured and oppressed in every possible way that many counted the cost of their faith and saw others doing the same every day. This was an era when suffering was considered the hallmark of being a Christian, and nobody was seen to be discussing their faith with the vehemence that the author of this post has done.

As a counter to the lyrics with which I began this post I would like to remind readers of Psalm 34. It has been a real encouragement to Steve and myself and we have often quoted from it to help each other through the rough patches we face. Let’s be aware then, that we are not only going to suffer difficulty now, but it will continue to get worse. As the world darkens in the prelude to the oncoming judgement of God during the tribulation, those around us will despair of life and will feel deserted by God. Even many Christians, scripture tells us, will desert their faith. It is a distressing thought, but God is not distressed. He already knew this would happen. I might point out here that while God knows everything, He does not rejoice in another’s suffering. Whatever we are going through, he is going through it with us, and any anger or blame we may feel justified in expressing to God is neither righteous nor fair. God is good, perfect, blameless, sinless and without malice. If we do not believe this, we have no hope in finding peace and help in times of tribulation. It is in fact tribulation which purifies our faith, being the tool with which God tests our belief to see if it is genuine. My faith faltered during dark times; the wick smouldered, it did not go out. I am here to testify that God does not put out the smoking wick, he fans it with the breath of His Holy Spirit to bring the flame once again into being.

The LORD, a Provider and Deliverer. A Psalm of David when he feigned madness before Abimelech, who drove him away and he departed.

1 I will bless the LORD at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth.

2 My soul will make its boast in the LORD; The humble will hear it and rejoice.

3 O magnify the LORD with me, And let us exalt His name together.

4 I sought the LORD, and He answered me, And delivered me from all my fears.

5 They looked to Him and were radiant, And their faces will never be ashamed.

6 This poor man cried, and the LORD heard him And saved him out of all his troubles.

7 The angel of the LORD encamps around those who fear Him, And rescues them.

8 O taste and see that the LORD is good; How blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him!

9 O fear the LORD, you His saints; For to those who fear Him there is no want.

10 The young lions do lack and suffer hunger; But they who seek the LORD shall not be in want of any good thing.

11 Come, you children, listen to me; I will teach you the fear of the LORD.

12 Who is the man who desires life And loves length of days that he may see good?

13 Keep your tongue from evil And your lips from speaking deceit.

14 Depart from evil and do good; Seek peace and pursue it.

15 The eyes of the LORD are toward the righteous And His ears are open to their cry.

16 The face of the LORD is against evildoers, To cut off the memory of them from the earth.

17 The righteous cry, and the LORD hears And delivers them out of all their troubles.

18 The LORD is near to the brokenhearted And saves those who are crushed in spirit.

19 Many are the afflictions of the righteous, But the LORD delivers him out of them all.

20 He keeps all his bones, Not one of them is broken.

21 Evil shall slay the wicked, And those who hate the righteous will be condemned.

22 The LORD redeems the soul of His servants, And none of those who take refuge in Him will be condemned.

(Psalm 34)

Dan’s Discourse

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The Prodigal Son – The Sacrifice for the Repentant Man

20 “And he arose and came to his father. But when he was still a great way off, his father saw him and had compassion, and ran and fell on his neck and kissed him. 21 And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight, and am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ 22 But the father said to his servants, ‘Bring out the best robe and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand and sandals on his feet. 23 And bring the fatted calf here and kill it, and let us eat and be merry; 24 for this my son was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ And they began to be merry.”

Luke 15:19-24

The parable of the prodigal son is one that is very well-known, and consequently is used very often by those standing at the pulpit today to warn against the perils of greed and selfishness. It speaks very clearly about what happens to those that turn away from a loving and generous Father, and seek to buy up for themselves all that this fallen world has to offer; essentially, that they will eventually find themselves bereft of all the things that they once sought after (friends, prestige, money, power, etc.), end up on the bottom of the heap, and have absolutely no-one else to blame but themselves and their own self-interest.

However, this is not the true meaning of this passage; at least, it isn’t the entire story. True, we will face the consequences of our actions should we be foolish enough to want to pursue the lusts of the flesh over residing under the care, protection, provision and blessing of our Heavenly Father, who knows our needs before we even know ourselves. And yes, we also eventually come to the conclusion that we are far better off with our Father than without, and we are all welcomed back into out Father’s embrace with joy and celebration by the heavenlies when we repent and ask for forgiveness for our stupidity. But this isn’t all Jesus’ parable has to offer in terms of teaching.

If you look closely at Scripture, you will find constant references to the penalty for sin: death. You will also find that, because the people in Scripture were unable to pay this penalty themselves, they had to have another way of atoning for the sin that God is unable to bear in His holy Presence. God provided them with a solution; the sacrifices of old, the burnt offerings presented to God for the remission of the sins of the people. This was so all throughout the Old Testament, right up until Jesus came into the world. In fact, these sacrifices persisted until the Final Sacrifice was made to atone for all sin; past present, and until the Last Day. Jesus’ crucifixion on the cross paid the price of blood that was simply too much for us puny humans to be able to pay and still remain pure before a Holy God.

The shedding of blood is a very solemn thing throughout the Bible. It demonstrates the debt that all men must pay to answer for sin, and yet were unable to. It is also cause for celebration, just as it was in the parable. It shows that God has forgotten our sins; that we have been washed anew by the shedding of blood and have been welcomed back into the centre of God’s holy Presence – pure, cleansed, and redeemed.

This is what is revealed in the parable of the Prodigal. The image of the overjoyed father running to meet his son (which no rich, self-respecting landowner would have been caught dead doing in those times), heedless of the filthy, stinking vagabond his child had become because of his sin, is one of our Beloved Father welcoming us back into His house after having asked for forgiveness. The robe, ring and sandals all signify the return of the son to his place as a son, and demonstrate the all-encompassing compassion and forgiveness of our Father in Heaven accepting us as His children after we repent and turn away from our wrongdoing.

Make no mistake; the son had to realise that he was the cause of his own misery, and that he had sinned in walking away from his father, and be willing to ask for forgiveness without any expectation of receiving anything in return, to have any chance of being welcomed back into his father’s house. We cannot simply roll around in the muck of the world and then just expect to be able to waltz right back into God’s house without any consequences.

The symbol of the killing of the fatted calf is the most important. It signifies the shedding of blood for the sins of the son, and in so doing cleansing him of his error and allowing him to be able to stand in his father’s presence without shame or guilt of his previous mistakes. And so it is for us and the shedding of Jesus’ blood, the Blood of the Spotless Lamb of God, as payment for our sins. There was great celebration in the father’s house when his son returned to him, once dead, now alive; once lost, now found. Again, this is the same for us also. Because the blood of the Lamb was spilt on our behalf, we can now turn away from our sins and repent, be cleansed by Jesus’ blood, and return to the Presence of the LORD our God with great joy and happiness.

We have had our fleshly selves put to death with all sin, and have been brought alive, new creations, into the embrace of the Lord. We were once lost, swallowed up by the darkness of this fallen world, and are now found by the Light of the World, who was offered up on our behalf so that we might live.

Praise be to our Almighty Lord in Heaven!

Dan Brady

God Loves Us But Does Not Need Us

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God is perfect…in need of nothing. He does not sleep nor eat therefore he does not become hungry or tired. He does not wear clothes and he does not live in houses. Therefore he does not need to make or buy anything. He is utterly without lack. He is not human, therefore he is not fallen, and that which is perfect is entirely whole and without flaw. A created thing which is without flaw and is whole does the thing it is created for perfectly. God, who is not created but created all things, is perfect in everything he thinks, says and does. He does not have to cast around for the right word, or reconsider his actions, or regret his past choices.

Therefore, the One whom you worship without knowing, Him I proclaim to you: 24 “God, who made the world and everything in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands. 25 Nor is He worshiped with men’s hands, as though He needed anything, since He gives to all life, breath, and all things. 26 And He has made from one blood[c] every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, and has determined their preappointed times and the boundaries of their dwellings, 27 so that they should seek the Lord, in the hope that they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us; 28 for in Him we live and move and have our being, as also some of your own poets have said, ‘For we are also His offspring.’ 29 Therefore, since we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Divine Nature is like gold or silver or stone, something shaped by art and man’s devising. 30 Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent, 31 because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead.” (Acts 17)

Consider then…if we are in Him we too have no lack.

Like God, we will not have need. In Him we live and move and have our being. If our life is hidden in Christ, we will never have need again. (Col. 3:3)

Practically speaking, we will get tired and we will get hungry. But Scripture is full of comfort regarding these things. In peace I will both lie down and sleep for you alone O Lord make me lie down in safety (Psalm 4:8). We will be able to sleep because there is no anxiety, nothing troubling us. And Christ himself said that those who hunger and thirst will be filled in Him. He also said that God will provide what we need in the same way He provides for the living things around us, birds and flowers. (Matthew 12:29)

What are the things which cause us anxiety? Mostly our anxieties centre on our needs. We do not have enough of something so we fret. Not enough money, no job, no car etc. We also fret about relationships. Our parents or our husbands or wives do not love us enough, or even at all. Our friends betray us. Our bosses are bullies. Our children disobey us. God likewise has to face all of these things. We have betrayed and rebelled against Him. Yet, He still sits in serene perfection in heaven on his throne. He has not fallen off nor will He ever. He has need of nothing, not even for us to get right with Him. His provision on the Cross was enough. ‘It is finished’ were Christ’s last words. The final and greatest sacrifice was from God himself. He has given us everything that is necessary for life and godliness.

2 Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord, 3 as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue, 4 by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. (2 Peter)

We also can be perfect as He is perfect. When we are in Him, we have need of nothing. If we so choose. If we do not choose, then we will have lives of chaotic anguish. There is nothing God can do about that. He has provided everything for us, if we do not wish to live in this place of abiding where there is no need, we will suffer the consequences. I do not say this to be harsh, it is simply a fact. Since God has given us free will, it is up to us to come to God our heavenly Father, and receive all He has provided. Christ as our high priest and final sacrifice bled for us so we may receive cleansing, freedom from sin and victory over death. Christ is also our brother and suffered as we have suffered. Not only does God provide for us physically, he provides for us emotionally, spiritually and in all other ways.

You might say, ‘But wait a minute, what about our health people have serious illnesses, they can be badly hurt in car accidents, what about those needs?’ Jesus has, does and will heal his people. Yet even in the midst of an illness which has not been healed, there is provision. We hurt physically and we need pain relief. We have medicine in this day and age which can do that for us. Yet even in the midst of our weakness, His grace is sufficient for us.

I do not know fully how this truth affects our lives. I only know how it affects mine and I have only begun to understand it. There are always questions and seeming paradoxes in this life, mostly because we humans have limited understanding and faith. But I can lean on the authority of scripture. There are some things that I am absolutely sure of because God himself has told me these things.

He is perfect and has no need. Our lives are hidden with Christ, we have His life and received it in exchange for ours when we accepted His death on the Cross and His resurrection and conquest of death itself. In Him, who is our provider, there is no need.