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Unaware of evil

Christmas is a time of year I really enjoy. It is firstly a celebration of the incarnate God – that is God revealed as a man. I love the celebration meal that overflows into the next few days, I love that the world stops for a bit and we can enjoy the festivities with family.

It is the focal point of Christmas that I want to focus on – the revelation of ‘The Word made flesh” (Jn 1:1), the light that has come into the world who brings great joy, but before that celebration can truly be appreciated we need to know/remember why Jesus came, why He ‘dwelt among us’ and why He brings great joy.

Along with recent prayer and meditation, my discussions and encounters with people have raised this thought: “Unaware of Evil”[1]! Looking at contemporary Christian leaders comments to political and social issues leads me to the conclusion that “unaware of evil” seems to be the spiritual condition of many today.

To truly appreciate the incarnation – or more correctly, only through the knowledge of God incarnate – can we be truly aware of evil. By evil I am not referring to disasters or sinful deeds but to the evil behind actions and events that may even seem to be good.

1 John 3:8 (ESV) … The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil.

Unaware of Evil

The serpent that appeared to Eve (Gen 3) was later to be revealed as Satan (Rev 12:9), yet Eve seemed to be unaware of the presence of evil. And this lack of discernment proved very costly: “the wreckage of earth and a million billion graves [which] attest that God is true and Satan is the liar.”

MacDonald outlines the encounter succinctly in the Bible Believers commentary:

Notice the steps that plunged the human race into sin. First Satan insinuated doubt about the Word of God: “Has God indeed said?” He misrepresented God as forbidding Adam and Eve to eat of every tree. Next, Eve said that they were not to eat or “touch the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden.” But God had said nothing about touching the tree. Then Satan flatly contradicted God about the inevitability of judgment on those who disobeyed, just as his followers still deny the facts of hell and eternal punishment. Satan misrepresented God as seeking to withhold from Adam and Eve something that would have been beneficial to them. Eve yielded to the threefold temptation: the lust of the flesh (good for food), the lust of the eyes (pleasant to the eyes), and the pride of life (a tree desirable to make one wise). In doing so, she acted independently of Adam, her head. She should have consulted him instead of usurping his authority. In the words “she took of its fruit and ate” lie the explanation of all the sickness, sorrow, suffering, fear, guilt, and death that have plagued the human race ever since that time. Someone has said, “The wreckage of earth and a million billion graves attest that God is true and Satan is the liar.” Eve was deceived (1 Tim. 2:14), but Adam acted willfully and in deliberate rebellion against God.

Secular humanism perpetuates Satan’s lie, “You will be like God.”[2]

Whatever was written about Eve or about the OT saints was “written down for our instruction” (Rom 15:4; 1Co 10:11). We could excuse Eve for not really being ‘aware’ or Adam of being ‘naïve’ but that is indicative of humanity’s fallen nature – our attempt at being God; thinking we know and understand good and evil (Rom 1:18-32). Both Adam and Eve tried to excuse their action, yet God would have none of it, both were guilty of sin – one through deception, the other through a deliberate act.

John reminds us that we have received The Word. This Word was the light of the world. Word and Light both speak of revelation, of instruction. As Romans 2:1 says “…you have no excuse, O man…” We have received Word and Light so that we do not have to be “unaware of evil”.

Be Aware…

1 Peter warns that Satan’s purpose concerning God’s people is to ‘devour’ them (5:8). This simply means to destroy, as Jesus pointed out: Satan seeks to kill, steal and destroy (John 10:10). So we are called to prepare our minds for action (1Pt 1:13), to be soberminded (1Pt 1:13; 5:8) and watchful (5:8).

The gospel – Greek: εὐαγγέλιον, which means good news – is the power of God for salvation (Rom 1:16; 1Cor 1:18) and reveals firstly, God’s wrath against sin; secondly, His way of escape; and thirdly, the way of living.

The example of Eve reveals that:

  1. God’s Word was available (Gen 2:16-17)

Eve was aware of what God had said, yet she enhanced or embellished that word” (Gen 3:2)

We also have that Word:

1 John 2:21 (ESV) I write to you, not because you do not know the truth, but because you know it, and because no lie is of the truth.

  1. The vehicle through which that Word came was God-given ‘family’ (Gen 2:21-25)
    1. Eve was ‘fellowshipping with strangers’ rather than with her family.
    2. Eve was engaging in matters of life and godliness with a stranger.
    3. Eve received and believed the philosophy

We also have a family in which the Word resides:

Psalm 68:6 (NIV84) God sets the lonely in families,

1 Peter 2:10 (ESV) Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.

And we are warned about the company we keep:

1 Corinthians 15:33 (ESV) Do not be deceived: “Bad company ruins good morals.”

2 Timothy 3:1–5 (ESV) But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people.

And the words we hear and believe:

1 Timothy 4:1 (ESV) Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons,

As MacDonald pointed out above, “Secular humanism perpetuates Satan’s lie, “You will be like God”.” In Scripture, we are warned that Satan appears as an ‘angel of light’ and as the ‘deceiver’ seeking to devour those who will not discern what is evil (2Co 11:14; Rev 12:9; 1Pt 5:8). There is an environment we are called into that offers life. The family of God exists in a fallen world, it is filled with a people trying to grasp and live in the revelation of the Gospel of the Kingdom and as such it is not a perfect community. It is a community of grace.

I can imagine Satan luring Eve away from Adam so they could speak. Perhaps suggesting Adam was not ‘spiritually’ up to the depth of ‘their’ discussions. Or that he just wants to control her?

The deceiver begins by isolating individuals from those given by God. He then questions the Word that is alive within that community suggesting a ‘private interpretation’[3]. He then proposes an alternate future and calls for action to gain it.

Discerning the Table of Demons

1 Corinthians 10:21 (ESV) 21 You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons. You cannot partake of the table of the Lord and the table of demons.

We need to be aware that the world around us is controlled by Satan, and answers to His will. Where do ‘doctrines of demons’ come from? What is the ‘table of demons’? Is our culture safe? Is it Christian? Is it amoral? Or is every world culture a ‘table of demons’ proposing fine sounding arguments that deceive some and produce blatant rebellion in others?

Hebrews 5:14 (ESV) But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil.

Conclusion

2 Corinthians 11:3 (ESV) But I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ.

The Word of Faith is not a secret word given by an elite initiate, who must be obeyed at all times. Rather, it is passed on by faithful men (2Tim 2:2) watchmen of the Word, who, though very human, are passionate concerning that word. It is revealed in the midst of the congregation, and it is within the community of faith that the Word of truth is ‘fleshed out’ and shines forth God’s glory.

2 Peter 1:16–21 (ESV) For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. 17 For when he received honor and glory from God the Father, and the voice was borne to him by the Majestic Glory, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased,” 18 we ourselves heard this very voice borne from heaven, for we were with him on the holy mountain. 19 And we have the prophetic word more fully confirmed, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts, 20 knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. 21 For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.

The marketplace is not a place of security, of friendship, of trustworthy words but a place of witness, a place to shine the light in the midst of darkness.

2 Corinthians 6:14–18 (ESV) Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness? 15 What accord has Christ with Belial? Or what portion does a believer share with an unbeliever? 16 What agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; as God said,

“I will make my dwelling among them and walk among them,

and I will be their God,

and they shall be my people.

17          Therefore go out from their midst,

and be separate from them, says the Lord,

and touch no unclean thing;

then I will welcome you,

18          and I will be a father to you,

and you shall be sons and daughters to me,

            says the Lord Almighty.”

[1] I recently read a comment on the US election outcome by a minister in Australia that was amazing for its lack of secular reasoning and politicised Scripture twisting. It was a very Kingdom focussed response – something rare in modern ‘Christianity’. Contemporary ministers and Christians tend to speak whatever the mainline media says – especially concerning the recent Brexit and US election. Like the media and polling organisations, contemporary Christianity can be unaware of the pulse of society.

[2] MacDonald, W. (1995). Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. (A. Farstad, Ed.) (pp. 35–36). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

[3] 2 Peter 1:20 (ESV) knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation.

A Fathers’ Day Word

From a Father – Both a Natural and a Spiritual Father

Malachi 4:5–6 (ESV) “Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the great and awesome day of the Lord comes. And he will turn the hearts of fathers to their children and the hearts of children to their fathers, lest I come and strike the land with a decree of utter destruction.”

 It seems a good time to speak about ‘Father’ as father’s day in Australia has just past.

I spoke with a young man yesterday who, while waiting for his wife to finish work, talked about his recent marriage. The two had lived together for two years and finally decided to marry. He then went on to say how surprised his parents were because they were not told of nor invited to the wedding. But, he concluded, they ‘are happy for him’ and looking forward to meeting his wife soon.

I said to my son Dale later that this man thinks he is ‘in control’ of his life without realizing he is a pawn of principalities and powers in these last days. While thinking he is a man of his own making and destiny, in participating unconsciously in the destruction of family he fulfills the purpose of Satan established in the Garden of Eden.

In the Beginning

God’s ultimate purpose for Adam and Eve was that they would come to know Him as Father. Not simple as an emotional, romantic idea – as the world has reduced it to, especially during the ‘celebration’ of father – but to know God the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ as our Heavenly Father who is the source of righteousness, joy and peace.

Romans 14:17 (ESV) For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.

As the children of God Adam and Eve would then pass on to their children the light of the true Father and they too would live in righteousness, peace and joy in God’s family.

Satan wanted to ‘birth’ something far more destructive into God’s children. He became to Adam and Eve the source, or father of unrighteousness, enmity, and angst rather than joy. Satan deceived Adam into becoming a father to himself. That is, man as his own god, the source of his own righteousness, his own peace and his own joy.

The god of this age wants men to know themselves as ‘father’ – being to themselves the source from which joy flows. Life outside of The Father, or more specifically, when the image of Father on earth is destroyed, so disappears the knowledge of genuine righteousness (Rom 1:19-23), so disappears peaceful living of men towards God, men with each other and men with the environment, and so disappears the joy of life having been overtaken by lustful self-ambition.

Adam was created to be a father, and through him fatherhood would be passed down. This fatherhood was meant to emulate The Heavenly Father, to reflect His nature as father to the children, as are all fathers to come.

Restored Fatherhood

Before “the great and awesome day of the Lord comes” there will be an amazing phenomena – he will turn “the hearts of the fathers to their children and the hearts of the children to their fathers”. (While I am focusing here on fathers, it is noteworthy that children are not exempt in their relation to fathers. They too require their hearts to ‘be turned’ to their fathers. We live in a world – and I think this is indicative of political correctness – where ‘victims’ are free to act as they please. While true victims need to be restored, they are not excused from themselves living righteously. You cannot sin because you have been sinned against. Such perpetuation of unrighteousness dishonours Christ who died to bring us to the Father. Similarly, because of this idea that victims are to be somehow exempt from responsibility – but now are elevated over all who somehow resemble the perpetrators that made them victims, people actually seek victim-hood. A criminal is a victim of the environment, family or society they were raised in; an adulterer is victim of a ‘loveless marriage’ so the spouse is guilty, homosexuality is not sin but natural and they are victims of judgmental others, and so it goes on…)

The miracle of these last days is the restoration of ‘right’ relationships beginning with family. Not simply in a natural sphere but in a spiritual. God is restoring His Fatherhood to an orphaned world. This is the work of the cross. (Mat 5:45; Rom 8:15-17)

The result of the restoration of children to The Father is the birth of the church – The Church, while usually describe as the citizens of the Heavenly Kingdom, is the revealing of the sons of God (Rom 8:19).

Ephesians 3:14–15 (ESV) 14 For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, 15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named,

Psalm 68:5–6 (NIV84)
5           A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows,
is God in his holy dwelling.
6           God sets the lonely in families,
he leads forth the prisoners with singing;
but the rebellious live in a sun-scorched land.

A brief word before looking at what father is in relationship to family. It is important to note that the preeminent restoration of the gift of father on earth is given through the gifts of Christ Jesus to the church.

1 Corinthians 4:15 (ESV) 15 For though you have countless guides in Christ, you do not have many fathers. For I became your father in Christ Jesus through the gospel.

So as we look at the role of ‘father’ in family, for those who are in Christ and are fathers, you have a responsibility to ‘be’ like your heavenly Father to your family. But this can only truly be effective if your heart has been turned as a child, to the father. If your heart is still at war with father figures (authority figures) you will struggle to be a father to your natural children and you will never be a father to the fatherless.

Jesus Reveals The Father

Jesus Christ has shown us The Father. His walk on earth was as The Son, and he revealed that the Father and the Son were always toward each other. John 1:1, speaking of the relationship of Jesus – The Word – and God – The Father, says, “The Word was with God”. The Greek word translated ‘with’ is the word ‘pros’, which means: before; near; towards. As ‘Son’ his heart was always toward the Father, even when the demands of the Father were to cost him dearly. Yet never did Christ react/act like a victim, but rather rejoiced in being ‘FREE’ to do the Fathers will. Never did he for a moment thin that anything the Father required was not inclusive of His own good. At the cross we see a righteous Father of peace and joy (such a contrast to this victim-filled world) and a victimless son obediently walking in His Father’s will.

No matter our experience, if The Father is our father then we can trust that our way is in fact His way. We can be righteous toward His family, and at peace with God, men and the environment rejoicing in His rule.

In light of this revelation of Father then fathers, both spiritual and natural, should be the gift of righteousness, peace and joy in and to the family.

Fathers demonstrate, teach, exhort and admonish righteousness in the family.

Righteousness is that which is right and fathers are the guardians or watchmen of righteousness in the family how the children should live righteously. This includes instruction on what is right, exhortation to live rightly, rebuke when righteousness is disregarded and ultimately discipline and correction to restore children to righteousness.

Satan wants ‘right’ to be that which is right in our own eyes. This is the prevalent theme in Israel’s wandering from God (jg 17:6; 21:25).

Deuteronomy 12:8–9 (ESV) “You shall not do according to all that we are doing here today, everyone doing whatever is right in his own eyes, for you have not as yet come to the rest and to the inheritance that the Lord your God is giving you.

Righteousness is the right of God, and the right of man is to seek out His righteousness. The responsibility of a father is to bring that righteousness to family.

In the family of God it is the same. Spiritual fathers bring God’s righteousness to the house of God. Adopted children of God come to fully appreciate God’s authority in and through spiritual fathers, but foster children never seen to settle in any house always being wary of fathers, always rebellious towards authority. The tragedy of this is they never enter into God’s rest and enjoy the righteousness, peace and joy found in His presence.

Fathers are responsible for peace in and for the family.

Peace is not the absence of conflict or the absence of diversity. In truth family exists in this fallen world. Peace is primarily the restoration of the family to The Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Peace comes from the assurance that our families are in Christ and at peace with God. Then, as we work, and walk and live in this not-yet-restored world, we work, and walk and live as the already-restored-now children of God. As such fathers teach their children peace. They give of themselves for peace to reign and rule in the family and they protect them from the enmity that Satan desires to produce in family.

Men, fathers; Satan wants your family to be at enmity with God. And so he will work to bring angst into the house. Principalities and powers are at work to destroy peace and Father’s bring the righteous peace of Heavenly Father to bear in the home.

In the church, God’s family on earth, peace is an essential expression of the Father’s presence. Love is expressed in the peaceful living of brothers.

Psalm 133:1–3 (ESV)
          Behold, how good and pleasant it is
when brothers dwell in unity!
          It is like the precious oil on the head,
running down on the beard,
on the beard of Aaron,
running down on the collar of his robes!
          It is like the dew of Hermon,
which falls on the mountains of Zion!
For there the Lord has commanded the blessing,
life forevermore.

John 13:35 (ESV) 35 By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

Fathers bring joy to the house

Acts 16:30–34 (ESV) 30 Then he brought them out and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” 31 And they said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.” 32 And they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all who were in his house. 33 And he took them the same hour of the night and washed their wounds; and he was baptized at once, he and all his family. 34 Then he brought them up into his house and set food before them. And he rejoiced along with his entire household that he had believed in God.

Joy is not the levity of drunkenness, or the revelry of supporters of winning sportspeople, it is the inner disposition of those who have found the salvation of God. Fathers do not let worldly pleasures become substitute for Kingdom joy. They bring to the fore “the joy of the Lord [which] is your strength” (Neh 8:9)

What more can be said of true joy than this:

Hebrews 12:2 (ESV) looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.

Final Word

I long for the days when we see Malachi 4:6 being revealed in greater measure. It requires, I think, a work of the Spirit in revealing the intimacy of the love of the Father and Son to the hearts of orphans.

The great obstacle is that we have men and women who seek, perhaps graciously though ignorantly, to father ‘sons’ from the perspective of their own fatherless experience. They live as victims, foster children in God’s house (the church), rebelling openly or inwardly against the revelation of ‘Father’ but seeking to ‘father’ from a place of abandonment.

Men and fathers, to become a father firstly demands sonship, and to become a son requires death – else how can you truly be born again? Only in self-death can the Son’s life become your life. Only in His life can sonship be found and only in sonship can the father’s heart be received (from God and from spiritual fathers), and only then can the father’s heart become truly evident in you and given to others in grace.

The heavenly Father, through the Spirit of His son, is raising up a generation who long to father – albeit in the weakness of their own humanity – desiring for the Spirit to reveal through their frailty a window to the everlasting Father.

What an amazing phenomena, the hearts of the fathers being turned to the children and the hearts of children to the fathers!

Even so Lord Jesus come.

Easter – A Word of Reconciliation

Reconciliation is the theme of Easter Sunday – though not firstly a word of men reconciling their differences, but rather one of God reconciling man’s differences with Himself.

It is a word that begins with God ‘experiencing’ the enmity that man has with God by sending Jesus Christ into the world to become a man who would ultimately be estranged – violently because of sin – from His Father in heaven.

As I was meditating on and praying about the passion of Christ I was reminded of the symbols, types and shadows of Scripture. Some are specific and nuanced others more general and obvious. Continue reading

To Live is Christ, To Die is Gain

Philippians 1:20–21 (ESV) as it is my eager expectation and hope that I will not be at all ashamed, but that with full courage now as always Christ will be honored in my body, whether by life or by death. 21 For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.

The subject of Christians dying came up at a recent pastors’ prayer meeting. The concern was how to help certain people who were struggling to come to terms with the deaths of some prominent  people in their church community recently. In their grief, some expressed anger at God and others declared,  “God doesn’t hear our prayers”.

I remember as a young man during a particularly intense prayer time, I was challenged with the question of trusting Jesus with my life. My sincere response was, ‘yes!’ The Lord then asked if I was prepared to trust Him with my death, a trust that I realised was quite different. The living can proclaim trust of life but being prepared for a death that may not be within the sphere of our preference (i.e. of old age surrounded by loved ones) is something different.

I was learning that living by faith meant that if my life was in His hands then so was my death. If The Father of our Lord Jesus Christ wants me to live, then no power on earth can take my life. Conversely, if God wants me to die (go to be with the Lord) then no power on earth can keep me alive. Continue reading

Reformation, Sunday – How we ‘do’ church

[Ed Note: The following article is a wakeup call to the point of, or reason for, Christian worship.
Remember that which is “of first importance” (1Cor 11:20-32 ; 15:3)]

“The Church is always to be reformed (Barth)”

Personal matters

Recent encounters have challenged me to comment on the shape of Sunday church services i.e. liturgies[1]. First, some observations at a church we visited last week, then a meeting with a devout Christian disturbed by the form of service in his own congregation. Time changes us. As a young Pentecostal Christian I would never have opted to attend services that were so unspiritual as to be scripted from a book. Soon however I was left without a choice; through living on campus at an Anglican theological college I was compelled by college rules to attend Sunday chapel. A little reflection made me quickly realise that all churches are liturgical. Contemporary congregations generally adopt an unwritten liturgy Continue reading

When Complexity Needs Deconstruction

By Michael Fewson

“When we add complexity to our society, we get benefits… at least at first.
But when we reach a certain level of complexity, the benefits decrease.
And then they stop altogether. 
The results of additional complexity
actually turn negative at that point. And if we keep adding complexity,
we’ll actually make society worse off.”

Jim Rickards
Author: Currency Wars
Death of Money

Complexity describes the state or quality of being complex[1]. Something that is complex is usually referring to an intricate or complicated association or assemblage of related things, parts, units etc.[2]

The very design and function of creation reveals divine complexity (Rom 1:19,20). At a macro level, we see the intricately balanced universe with each heavenly body perfectly aligned. When scaled down to the microscopic, we can see how matter is assembled and held together showing an amazing array of complexity that is foundational to life.

Complexity in design is an integral part of the divine mandate to ‘subdue and have dominion over’ creation. The simplest forms of life are complex and man’s simplest creative works also reveal complexity. Human beings are made in the image of God and capable of great achievements, and great good, just as they are more that capable of great evil and destruction.

It is to this destructive complexity that I want to speak.

When people speak of simplifying things it seems to refer, not to complex things in life, but to how these things have made individual lives complex. By that I mean that they find that society, work, leisure, relationships and/or societal interaction have become too complicated and stress-filled. A ‘simpler’ life is one that de-stresses. Continue reading

the privilege of not taking offense

5437614015_56f1a7b003_oProverbs 18:19a (ESV) A brother offended is more unyielding than a strong city

Taking Offense

Being offended, or taking offense is a most destructive sin because, as the Proverb says, it produces or is the result of an unyielding heart, and an unyielding heart is incapable of forgiving and therefore unable to be forgiven.

This politically correct world in which we live is structured around offense. The emphasis is on legislating against offense demanding people strive to do nothing to cause offense. This ‘spirit’ is so pervasive now that words have become a snare.

Isaiah 29:21 (ESV) who by a word make a man out to be an offender, and lay a snare for him who reproves in the gate, and with an empty plea turn aside him who is in the right.

Notice the point here? It is the ‘offended’ that make a person an offender! The snare laid is a trap set by those seeking offense[1].

Why is taking offense so destructive? Continue reading

remember

Micah 1Psalm 116:12 (ESV)
What shall I render to the Lord
for all his benefits to me?

 Do your remember the wondrous things God has done for you through Jesus Christ?

In Psalm 103 we are compelled to ‘give thanks to the Lord’, and any thanks is a response to the acts of another. ‘Make known His deeds… tell of His wondrous works… Remember the wondrous works that He has done, His miracles and His judgements…”

I perceive that we are basically futurists. That is that although our past, the way we were shaped by our environment, is a major influence on how we think and how we view life, the universe and everything in it (Rom 12:2), we are constantly looking forward to some event or outcome that will amazingly change our present situation (usually the result of our conformity to life due to our past). Created to be future-looking, prophetic-vision pursuers, but distorted in our visionary pursuits by sin and the god of this age.

As fallen futurists then, our present is the result of our past but no matter what situation we are in we act on what we want the future to bring. However, this is seldom a decision based on the true future but a wish for the future based on our past perceptions that are conformed to this world.

If our future is to be different to our past Continue reading

Face to Face

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Psalm 17:15 (ESV)  As for me, I shall behold your face in righteousness;
when I awake, I shall be satisfied with your likeness.

I became a Christian while serving in the army. I remember taking leave and going to my first church camp.  The guest speaker/musician used Psalm 17:15 as a song. Singing these words had a profound impact on me and a passionate desire to ‘behold [Jesus] face in righteousness’ was birthed within.

In John 1:1 we read that ‘the Word was ‘with‘ God. The Greek word ‘pros‘ (with) has the general sense of “immediately before”. The image is of the Word [Jesus, the son of God] and God the Father being face-to-face. The idea of being face to face or beholding his face, has a  sense of deep intimacy.

Isaiah 40:31 (ESV) but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; 
they shall mount up with wings like eagles;

Here the word ‘wait‘ as an action in Hebrew indicates ‘to look eagerly for, linger, lie in wait‘ and ‘to collect or bind together‘. The act of entwining or seeking oneness with Christ promises a renewed, or more literally, an exchange of strength.

To seek Jesus’ face, to wait on the Lord, and to fix eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith (heb 12:2), is not a pharisaic duty or function but rather the efficacy (potency) of our great affection: that is to say, our passionate desire to see him face to face produces our intense seeking.

Those who ‘behold [Jesus] face in righteousness’ are in fact the ones who ‘dwell in the secret place of the Most High’ (Ps 91:1).

Beware the Gift by John Yates

Personal Matters

The first thing that came up on ABC news radio this morning (8/6/15) was the decision of Hillsong to cancel their invitation to controversial US pastor Mark Driscoll to speak at their upcoming conference. Until his dismissal last year Driscoll had seen Mars Hill Seattle grow from a lounge room meeting to a 10,000 plus megachurch. Since his leaving the church has effectively dissolved. There are some similarities with the case of Australia’s first televangelist Clark Taylor, whose ministry grew perhaps the largest church in the nation in the 70’s. He was forced to resign because of repeated infidelities. Whilst Taylor has been restored he comes to mind because I have recently been counselling someone whose family was devastated by his ministry. Both Taylor and Driscoll are extraordinarily gifted men of God. My thinking about the influence of giftedness actually began a few days prior to the ABC clip when I encountered several men confused about their relationship with the church because of the powerful influences of gifted leaders on their lives. I can personally remember occasions where I was drawn to men of great gifting, the results were always disastrous. “Beware the Gift” calls us to look through the minister of the gifts to the sole ministry of Christ to the glory of God the Father. Continue reading