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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Sowing the Spirit

wheat

For he that soweth unto his own flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth unto the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap eternal life. (Galatians 6:8 NASB)

What does it mean to sow to the flesh or sow to the Spirit? Think about this in the natural. When you sow seed whether that seed be for fruit, vegetables or grain, you take the seed of the plant you wish to grow, which is actually a part of the plant itself and put it in the ground so that it can reproduce itself.  Then you tend it carefully, watering, weeding and keeping the scavengers and pests away and miraculously it grows! So what is the seed of the flesh?  It is the flesh itself, whether that be the thoughts and imaginations of the flesh or the acts of the flesh.  Jesus made it clear that even desires of the heart can be sin, they don’t have to be acted upon (Matthew 5:28).  Anything that is of the flesh, however small or hidden will reproduce itself – and remember that we hide seeds in the ground before they flourish into plants. Flesh will beget flesh as much as the seed of a man planted in his wife will beget a human being.  Other fleshly seeds will also produce after their own kind.  The seed of gluttony will produce more flesh – fat!  The seed of anger will produce outbursts of wrath. The seed of lust will produce adultery or worse, rape or pornography.  Not only that but the seeds of flesh also produce strongholds, otherwise called addictions.  Such is the ugly yield of sin, it ensures its own survival by creating a need in the host to continue to sow the seed. It is never ending and the fruit of the flesh is listed in scripture. But these are only some of them, the list is practically endless.

19 Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God. (Galatians 5:19-21 KJV)

So what about the Spirit.  Lets not think upon these ugly sinful seeds for too long, they will of themselves even produce depression and weakness if we consider them for too long.  This is also why Scripture tells us that ‘bad company corrupts good morals’.  If we are walking in the Spirit, allowing the Spirit to have His way in our lives, we will reap the things of the Spirit.  Sowing to the Spirit has the very same physical outcome as sowing to the flesh does. We produce marvelous, glorious fruit, and the final outcome is eternal life.  Praise God!  The fruit of the Spirit is also listed by Paul in Galatians 5; they are love, joy, peace, patience, goodness, kindness, gentleness, meekness and self control.  These fruit are the outworking of the seed of the Holy Spirit and remember that fruit itself contains seed. The fruit will bear more fruit after its own kind and against such there is no law. So instead of becoming a violent, ugly, wicked, venal and godless human being bound for destruction you will steadily become more Christlike so that there will be rivers of living water flowing from your midst.  The water speaks of the Holy Spirit and everything that is of the Spirit begets that of the Spirit.  It can be no other way.  The Spirit does NOT produce anything of the enemy or of the flesh. So next time you are concerned that something  you see in another human being does not seem to be Christlike, it very probably isn’t. The Spirit doesn’t produce discord, hate, fear, gossip, slander, arrogance or abuse no matter how often the person goes to church or lifts their hands to praise God.  Jesus told us we will know the false Christians by their fruit! (Matthew 7:16)

Seeds are so small and a very small amount of sin can affect our whole lives.  Sin causes us to become unclean, and Jesus likened sin to leaven, or yeast. (Galatians 5:9) I remember learning about yeast when I did Home Economics at High School. I remember the teacher showing us a rather waxy greyish unassuming and rather ugly substance which smelled a lot like raisins and looked like clay. You mixed the yeast with sugar so that it had something to feed off, then added water and then let it bubble so that the yeast activated.  Then you added it to the flour and mixed it together in a dough and allowed it to stand so that the yeast could work through the dough. When you came to knead the dough it was almost bubbly because the yeast had produced gases which were a result of the ‘live’ nature of the substance.  Sin is not a dead thing which just sits there.  It is alive, it grows, it works through our lives and it affects us wholly.  Only a tiny amount, a thought flitting through your mind, which then lingers and seems so innocent but so tantalising which then works on you.  It works on  your feelings, your mind and then finally your will and before you know it you have acted upon that little thought, that seed of the flesh and you have sinned. If you fail in one part of the law you have failed in the whole and if you live in the flesh you are under the law.  Any small infraction of the law becomes the weight of the guilt of transgressing the whole of the law. The whole is now affected, the whole of the law, the whole of your person, body soul and spirit.  A seed of the flesh will produce more of itself and remember whatever you sow multiplies exponentially.  One seed can produce a hundred of itself and each of those a hundred more, in the same way that a flea infestation will take over your house if you allow one flea to reproduce.

Only the blood of Jesus can cleanse us from the infestation of sin, from the fruit of our flesh.  But it is up to us to choose to sow the seed of the Spirit, not the seed of the flesh. When you partake of the fruit of the Spirit, that fruit takes root in you and begins to produce more of itself.  Remember you are merely the ground in which the seed is being produced, the work of the Spirit in us is of Himself, not of us. The seed of the Spirit is sown in good ground, the new nature, and produces more of Himself and we grow more Christlike.  It is the greatest and most wonderful miracle of all of God’s miracles, and He does this because of His own greatest sacrifice, His own Son who said of himself..

24 Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit. 25 He that loveth his life shall lose it; and he that hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal

In these verses He was exhorting his followers to die to their flesh and allow their flesh to be crucified as He himself did so that they might produce much seed in the Spirit.  This is a principle in God which has almost been lost in this day and age.  So few men preach about the need to walk in the Spirit and few understand that unless they do they will reap of the flesh increasingly and reap more of it than they would have imagined.  We are so good at putting religious guises upon our works that many immature Christians are not able to recognise that which is sown to the flesh and that which is sown to the Spirit.

I myself am only beginning to understand this principle.  What does it mean to sow to the Spirit?  Begin the day with worship and prayer and you will find yourself wanting to focus more and more on the Spirit.  You will experience peace and joy and grow in the love of God.  Throughout the day you will want to remind yourself of that peace and will look for opportunities to take a few minutes here and there to pray and worship God. Unwholesome thoughts of fear, anxiety, anger and pride will be held at bay.  You will be focusing entirely on Jesus, the Father and the Holy Spirit, you will be remembering Scripture more and more, singing songs of praise and encouragement which the Holy Spirit will bring to your remembrance as your mind is renewed and your heart cleansed you will find yourself seeing the whole world in a new light.  THIS is reaping the Spirit!

As Romans 12:1-2 tells us, if we present our bodies as a living sacrifice, that is, we die to the flesh and put on Christ instead, sowing to the Spirit and not to the flesh and if we do not conform to the world, in other words if we make our declaration of allegiance to Jesus Christ and not the ruler of this world, we will be transformed. Our minds will be renewed and when our minds are renewed we will be able to know the will of God towards us.  It is an amazing process really.  We sow to the Spirit, we work with the Spirit, we allow the seed of the Spirit to take root in us, we tend it carefully pouring on the water of the Spirit to nourish the work of the Spirit so that our hearts and mind might be renewed as the Spirit is allowed to take over our lives in the same way that a field of grain is allowed to sprout and grow tall.  Then all who pass by will see the field of grain and be able to partake of the nourishment of the bread of life.

But I must warn you.  When the Holy Spirit begins to take root in your life and bears fruit, you will be changed. You will begin to even notice a change in your ‘inward parts’. It is both exciting and freeing but it is also a challenge to your flesh which will not just lie down and die, it will want to raise itself up again and fight what is going on, this new life which is being birthed and nurtured. Expect to have to fight with your old desires, the old thoughts and the old behaviours because they will want to have dominance again, and of course satan and his cronies will be there to aid the flesh every step of the way.  The flesh that was sown in our old natures will still have consequences.  The old crop will still be there waving in the breeze along with its seed.  It must be allowed to wither so that there is no more ability to sprout into more plants. Stand strong, fight the good fight, endure to the end and you will have the crown of life. Not only are we farmers, we are soldiers. We must have one hand upon the Sword of the Spirit as we work in the field and nurture the fruit. We must be prepared to chase away the scavengers, the crows which want to come and destroy the crop.

May the Lord of the harvest find a white field full of the fruit of the Spirit when He examines the works of your life!

 

 

 

 

 

 

John MacNeil the Father of Australian Revival

A shot of Webster & Co's establishment from South Brisbane circa 1902
A shot of Webster & Co’s establishment from South Brisbane circa 1902 (to the right of the photo, mid shot)  Bonzle Collections

 

I have been reading the book “The Spirit-Filled Life” by John MacNeil. It is an amazing book, written in 1894, by a Scots Presbyterian preacher and evangelist who was born and educated in Scotland but lived and worked in Australia. He was instrumental in the Melbourne revival of 1909, and was deeply interested in the deeper life Keswick movement. His book is interesting in many ways, mainly because for a Presbyterian minister he was an anomaly. He was seeking the blessing of the Baptism of the Holy Spirit and taught and preached on the infilling of the Spirit in a way which seemed to separate him from the many who were influenced by the Welsh Revival of 1904 and the American Revivals which followed it. He is not interested in manifestations of strange incoherent ramblings or odd behaviour at meetings. His preaching is sound and biblically based and his teaching is filled with discussions of original languages and the meaning of the words used to describe the experience of being filled with the Spirit.

One of the reasons I wanted to honour John McNeil was that he began a preaching and evangelism tour in Queensland and died en route. He was at the end of his tour and died suddenly while in the shop of a Mr. Webster , a portmanteau maker, in George street, Thursday, August 27th 1896, almost 120 years ago. It is sad that he died so suddenly and away from his family, but his life was devoted to God and the furtherance of God’s Kingdom and People. I feel strangely honoured that he died in my home town even though it seems a morbid thought. It was his love of his brethren and the lost that brought him here and reading his works and seeing the heart of love he had for us here in this city causes me to rejoice that we can continue the work God began in him.

I was deeply impressed with his sensible and easy to read discussion of a subject which for many reformed or other conservative denominations is a very touchy subject. Yet you could hardly fault Macneil for his very thorough yet passionate entreaty for believers everywhere to avail themselves of this most important imparting of power from God.

I include a transcript of his death notice in the Brisbane Courier of August 28 1896.

 

REV. JOHN MACNEIL

SHOCKINGLY SUDDEN DEATH.

The Rev. John MacNeil, the well known evangelist, who has been conducting a series of services at the City Tabernacle, died with terrible suddenness yesterday. Shortly before noon Mr. MacNeil went to the shop of Mr. Webster, portmanteau manufacturer, George-street, in connection with some work, and had only been there a few minutes, speaking to Mr. Webster, when he dropped on to the floor, apparently dead. The Ambulance Brigade and Dr. Dixon were both summoned immediately, but on their arrival the body was found to be quite lifeless. The Ambulance Brigade handed the re- mains over to the police, who, pending other arrangements, had them removed to the morgue.

Mr. MacNeil was a vigorous, active man, in the prime of mature manhood, being between 45 and 50 years of age. He leaves a wife and five children at Sandringham, near Melbourne, and had a brother In West Australia. Mr. McNeil was in West Australia last year, and was all through the Coolgardie district on his bicycle. Of the life history of the evangelist we have been able to gather but few particulars, and they have been kindly furnished by the Rev. W. Whale, of the City Tabernacle, and Mr. D. M’Nab, with the latter of whom Mr. MacNeil was a guest during his stay in this city. Mr. MacNeil first held a charge at Waverley, near Sydney, and afterwards at Melbourne, and was very well known at Ballarat. He went out as an evangelist in connection with the Presbyterian Church in Victoria, and in that capacity visited Queensland last year, conducting mission services in the Enoggera-terrace, Fortitude Valley, and other churches in and about Brisbane.

Since his last year’s visit Mr. MacNeil had resigned his connection with the Presbyterian Church of Victoria and deoted himself to special mission work. Recently he has been through the Northern districts of Queensland carrying his message, and conducted mission services at the City Tabernacle on Sunday morning, afternoon, and evening. Even yesterday and today were set apart for his work at the Tabernacle. Sunday next he was booked to preach at Bundaberg, on Monday at Childers, and on Tuesday he was to have left Queensland by the mail train for his home.

Mr.MacNeil’s death has naturally come as a great shock to his friends here, and the deepest sympathy is felt with his bereaved family.

You can read more about John MacNeil at these links:

Revive Us Again O Lord; Lessons from the Melbourne 1902 Revival

Marvelous melbourne and Spiritual Power

 

 

 

All Things Done Decently and Nobody Mention Tongues

languages

If anyone understands the fear of the unknown it is I. I have spent most of my life as an anxious and fearful person and most of the time my fears have been about the ‘what if’s’ of life. My brother once said that our family motto should be ‘panic, it might happen’. It was a very insightful comment and true. We are all very good at imagining the worst and not just thinking about it but believing that it will happen. Most of the time it doesn’t, but that’s not the point. Somehow you feel that you have achieved something by mentally preparing yourself for a disaster.

When I became a Christian, still fearful, the idea of God became a very good substitute for the presence of God. Somehow, the presence of God seemed to be something which I wanted to keep at arms length. I was afraid of God and not in a good way. Any mention of anything supernatural made me feel supremely uncomfortable. I think many Christians feel the same way, and are not necessarily aware of it. Many who call themselves cessationists have experienced Pentecostal craziness and have decided that ‘this sort of thing’ is not for them. I concur, albeit, only the craziness part. The working, gifts and miracles of the Holy Spirit still occur and God can and does speak and direct His people. However, some not only eschew the gifts of the Spirit, they decry any experience of God which is inexplicable in natural terms. I understand that fear, it is not, a healthy fear of God and it is not, despite their protestations, a result of an exhaustive study of the word of God but of their own prejudice. Ironically, the very same problem they accuse the charismatic Christians of having.

However, sane theological discussion aside, God tends to do things which upset the apple cart. He tossed Paul into a three day darkness, and totally revolutionised his life and the lives of millions of others. God intervened in a supernatural way via a vision and an audible voice. If you go to the internet, you can read very many testimonies of visions, dreams and audible voices of God telling people all manner of things, many of which are patently ludicrous.

There are people claiming to be prophets, apostles, and having various gifts of the Spirit, including healing and miracles. There are those who have seen angels and have spoken with God face to face on trips to heaven no less. It is very hard not to be sceptical, and in fact I would suggest that scepticism is in fact obligatory in order to stay grounded. Yet so many Christians embrace these testimonies without question believing that if a Christian says it they must be right. We need to progress beyond these immature suppositions and recognise that nobody is beyond reproach and not even the most mature believer is right all the time. Which itself, in my opinion, gives anyone a good reason to believe that even if these testimonies are 90% wrong, the 10%which are true is enough evidence to give pause for thought if not repentance of unbelief.

My experience of the supernatural has been patchy.

I was saved at the age of thirteen at a Scripture Union Camp on school holidays. I hated camps, having spent my childhood going to Brownies and Guides and getting involved in a lot of pointless activities purporting to be ‘for the good of the community’, but not actually producing a lot of good for anyone except arguably the Brownies or Guides. We used to do a lot of weekend camps; putting up canvas tents and digging latrines. I hated camps. But for some reason the idea of going to this camp seemed very appealing. This camp was run by a Baptist Pastor who seemed to be a jolly kind of person except for when people asked him questions about speaking in tongues. All of a sudden he became very mysterious, laughed in a loud semi-hysterical manner and avoided giving a straight answer. This immediately piqued my interest. He sounded nervous. I was an expert on nervous, so I immediately wondered at the cause of it. The conversation didn’t progress however and, being thirteen, I soon forgot about it.

One day a few years later however during a high school religious education session (shame we don’t have those any more) a pastor from a local Pentecostal church was asked the same question about tongues and his answer was a little less mysterious but a whole lot more appealing. I asked him about it further and he suggested I came along to the Saturday youth group meeting.

I had never been to a youth group meeting before. It was a lot like the Scripture Union camp meetings but a whole lot noisier. When somebody suggested that those who spoke in tongues should do so during the praise time, it got very unruly. I now understand why Paul was adamant about order in the use of gifts during meetings. In 1 Corinthians 14 he gives specific instruction about the use of tongues in a meeting.

23 If therefore the whole church be come together into one place, and all speak with tongues, and there come in those that are unlearned, or unbelievers, will they not say that ye are mad?

24 But if all prophesy, and there come in one that believeth not, or one unlearned, he is convinced of all, he is judged of all:

25 And thus are the secrets of his heart made manifest; and so falling down on his face he will worship God, and report that God is in you of a truth.

26 How is it then, brethren? when ye come together, every one of you hath a psalm, hath a doctrine, hath a tongue, hath a revelation, hath an interpretation. Let all things be done unto edifying.

27 If any man speak in an unknown tongue, let it be by two, or at the most by three, and that by course; and let one interpret.

28 But if there be no interpreter, let him keep silence in the church; and let him speak to himself, and to God.

Verse 23 in particular describes the experience I had at this Pentecostal church. The youth group leaders who were all very young and inexperienced did not understand the principle of ‘all things being done decently and in order’. Their idea of praising God involved the free use of spiritual gifts and they figured that if the presence of God would be brought to the meeting via the use of tongues, the more the merrier. I was terrified. I did indeed think they were all mad, and I ran from that place and did not go back. The idea of the ‘presence of God’ for the next few years became a thing of terror.

Later, when a pastor’s wife I knew wanted to pray for me for the Baptism of the Holy Spirit, I learned how fear of the unknown can in fact lead to the sin of unbelief and in turn cause you to miss what God intends to be a help not a hindrance to your walk. How strange it is that we can embrace an all-powerful God but resist that self-same power in our lives to transform us. Had I known then what I know now I would have realised that during the late 70s and early 80s the use of spiritual gifts and the Baptism of the Holy Spirit was something that churches in Australia were not familiar with and many were teaching error and many more were simply searching for an ‘experience’ of God. Not much has changed, and the Pentecostal and Charismatic churches in this country have been charged with all kinds of heresy because of it.

Where Pentecostal churches have erred in being more concerned with experience than theology they have been exposed to the scathing and probably well earned criticism of the cessationists. It unfortunately does nothing for their reputation as believers walking in the Spirit and evidencing the fruits thereof despite the fact that many are learning slowly to mature and grow in this vital life God has graciously given us.

This situation can be easily remedied by a) ignoring the jeers of the cessationists and b) learning from them by getting stuck into scripture and reading some good theological treatises on the subject and generally becoming better apologists for their beliefs. Not that this is going to stop the accusations of heresy from the cessationists but it will at least give the Pentecostals some much needed respect. As a Pentecostal/charismatic believer myself I realise that many like-minded brethren seem to unthinkingly applaud the pursuit of barnyard manifestations or Barnum and Bailey type performances within the church. I do not believe this behaviour to be biblical and I certainly do not think that any of this is evidence of the presence of God. It is more likely to be proof of the presence of other spiritual entities far less beneficent.

On sitting with God in my prayer time this morning it occurred to me that simply believing in a supernatural and totally awesome (defined by traditional Oxford not internet Urban dictionary) God is the very epitome of crossing the bridge between the security of the written word and historical fact and the highly individual and life-changing experience which is knowing the manifestation of God in your own life. Surely, if scripture tells us that the Holy Spirit is sent to indwell believers and that our bodies are His temple, we need to accept that all our well-rehearsed and comforting liturgies and Confessions are no comparison for the transcendent power of God himself.

Yet recognising, communicating with and asking for salvation from a God who we confess, by the very act of repentance, is all-knowing, all-seeing, ever-present and completely and utterly holy, perfect, righteous and merciful, is surely totally at odds with the assumption that God is somehow able to be contained within a set of human boundaries. Yes, the word of God is eternal but it is the communication of God, it does not define Him. Nothing can define the infinite, all we can do is begin to have an understanding of who He is via His word. Yes, we can use His word to measure what is the gospel and what isn’t. But it is His Spirit who gives us discernment, and His Spirit is God. Surely, the work of discernment (a gift of the Spirit) is proof enough that God still communicates with His people in the now. Surely any cessationist is working against the very nature of faith in insisting that God stopped being God at a particular juncture. And if we are going to make it specific, then why didn’t God? Why did God not use His word to tell His people that He was going to change the way He spoke to us. Yet the last words of Jesus to His disciples was that he would send another, like Himself, to empower us to do even greater things than He did. How can we use God’s word to His people to limit Him? He only spoke to the apostles and since they died there is nobody else left to empower? What, is the enemy gone from the earth?

We worship this unknowable God, yet we also contend that by virtue of the fact that human beings have documented God’s word in one book, God now no longer wishes to communicate individually to His created and saved people. Nothing could make less sense, even for a biblical moron like myself.

 

Much theology has in fact been handed down from believers hundreds of years previously and I am not talking about the authors of the Bible. Many believers are too quick to take a denominational doctrinal stance without perhaps even realising what they are doing. Let’s face it, it is quicker, easier and much more comforting to lean on the beliefs which have been handed down for centuries and supported by millions in the same denomination. It is a lot harder to ditch everything you have ever believed and do the research from the ground up for yourself. As people who have had to ditch our beliefs and re-form them from the ground up (as a result of having been lied to for decades by so-called elders and leaders) I can tell you that it is neither easy nor pain-free. It is hard, but it is, like all things which challenge your strength and endurance, worth the exercise. I encourage all believers to go back to scripture and read what is actually written there for themselves.

 

Much Love,

Anita