Francis Drake, Privateer

A privateer was a private warship authorized by his country to attack foreign shipping

Finding God without church — 30 Jan 2009

Until I was eleven, my family did not go to church. My parents believed in God, of that there was no doubt, but there was no evidence other than our nightly prayers asking God to, “Please God bless……” .

I was away from school quite a lot because of illness and this, out of boredom, caused me to read a lot. I must have read every book in the house.

Somewhere along the line, my older brother was given a picture book of bible stories. I don’t know if it interested him at all, but I read it on one of my days off school. I liked the hero stories in the Old Testament such as Samuel, Gideon or David. However the New Testament didn’t have the same grip because the hero, that Jesus guy, ended up being  killed, and that left me feeling bad. I liked stories with happy endings!

At this point, don’t forget that I was not in a professing Christian family, nor was I going to church. I was reading Old Testament stories in a children’s picture book, and what little I had read of the New Testament I did not like or understand. To me Jesus was nothing more than one of the characters of the nativity scene.

From my later experience with the Lord, I can use the right language to describe what happened to me next, when I read the story of Samuel being called by God.

In my book, the third time God called out to Samuel, the picture alongside the story showed him on his knees, looking up to heaven as he responded to God with the words, “Speak Lord for thy servant heareth.” 

As I read it, the Holy Spirit came upon me. In my heart, I WANTED WHAT SAMUEL HAD GOT. I got out of bed, onto my knees and said, “Don’t forget me God”. That’s all.

I knew in my heart that it was for real, the burning feeling inside was like something had happened, but I got back into bed and continued reading the story, telling no one of the experience. I only recalled it much later in life when I heard the gospel for the first time.

When I was about eleven years old, my parents started taking us all to the local Anglican church for the first time.  I can’t remember much of what was taught, except that the sermons were exceptionally boring to a young boy. However I did enjoy singing old fashioned hymns.

One sermon, however, stands out above all others. It is the only one I remember and was all about the crucifixion. The vicar explained at great length why the particular death of Jesus was more significant than any one else’s death.  According to the vicar, crucifixion was the most barbarious and cruel torture invented by man, therefore Jesus’s  death was set apart and high above all other deaths, (presumably giving him power to take the punishment for ALL sin).

I listened to this and totally rejected it. Even in my young naivety I knew that the likes of Hitler’s Gestapo torturers enjoyed the ability to keep their victims alive for weeks or months, refreshing their torture daily, whereas Jesus was dead in a few hours. I therefore dismissed the Easter story as irrelevant.

One day, a little older, I was hanging around across the road from the church with a bunch of church children, when, out loud, someone voiced the question, “Ok then, who goes to heaven and who goes to hell?”

For me, the memory of that brief event is like one of those times in a film when it suddenly starts to run very slow, deliberately making a very poignant moment. As soon as he finished the question, everyone turned towards Tony, who was the altar boy and a little older than the rest. He always stood at the altar nearer the vicar, and handed him the wine chalice and was therefore closer God. Tony would know the answer!

His answer was straightforward. “That’s easy, good people go to heaven, and bad people go to hell!”

As he was answering, I was turning around in what seemed incredibly slow motion to face him.  As I did so my eyes panned over the church building. It was as if something descended upon me, an understanding which did not come from within, but from above.

With that descending presence came the words, “He is totally wrong, everybody is bad, I am bad, but GOD has made a way.”

And as I gazed at the buildings of church, “and I do not live in that church, I live in your heart”

These few but significant words became an integral part of me as I grew up. I continued with my parents attending church but was aware of God within me, rather than in the church. However I was still proud and arrogant, knowing nothing of repentance or humility.

Later, in my mid twenties, after working for eight years in engineering, I decided to go to college to learn to be a teacher. I only did this because I wanted the long school holidays for the purpose of going mountaineering and rock climbing, my passion at the time.

Shortly after arriving at college I was, to my irritation, harrassed by over-enthusiastic members of the college God Squad.  On the pretext of a cup of coffee for a newcomer I was tempted into their lair. Over a period of a few weeks there ensued many heated discussions, but there was no way I was willing to let go of my freedom and join this crowd of wierdos.

I had a special resistance within. This was because God had said quite clearly to me that He did not live in the church, but in my heart. I showed no outward evidence of such truth, but in no way was I going follow this Christianity stuff. I didn’t need church. Besides God had clearly said to me that he did not dwell in the church. To me that meant any church, any denomination, even any religion!

However, they didn’t play fair, they prayed. In the course of conversations, one of them told me that God had shown her that I had given my life to the Lord as a child!  That finally got my attention. It was slowly dawning on me that the God they were talking about was the one I had already known for years. Even if I had backed Him into a corner in my life, and certainly didn’t heed Him much, I still knew Him!

I was having trouble counting the cost of commitment.  For me, my mountaineering was like a god. Now The One True God was challenging me to the core of my being. WHO was going to reign in me? I knew that the cost of surrender would be the dropping of my first love of the mountains and also of the company I was keeping. I knew that my old climbing friends were  heading entirely in the opposite direction, and I could not have both. 

Finally, after much soul searching, I relented, I repented, and surrendered my life back to the Lord, the prodigal effectively coming home. My climbing equipment went into store, and I turned to face the opposite direction, much to the disgust of all those who knew me before. There were many things I knew I could not continue.

Since that time, in the mid seventies, much water has passed under the bridge, but looking back several things can be noted about my little saga.

Firstly, I came to know the Lord long before anyone preached Jesus to me.

Secondly, and more amazingly, when the church I attended as a teenager had totally abdicated its call to spread the word of truth, God gave me a direct heavenly download of the very basics of life.

God’s message was that we are all fallen/bad, that man’s efforts at goodness are futile (good people also go to hell!), that God himself has made a way, that he dwells in our hearts.

All this is confirmed in scripture.

My cry for eternity was simply, “GOD DON’T FORGET ME”. For me, this is where it all started.

It must have been ten or twelve years later that I heard that it was Jesus who did it for me, even though I did not know his name!

Work your church theology around that!

I write this because I know that there are many Christians who meet the Lord well before Gospel theology hits them. Sometimes the preacher of that gospel does his utmost to trash what has happened before, because it simply threatens their production-line evangelism.

Also, if someone can receive the Gospel without being told by an evangelistic christian, what is the point of evangelism, or churches for that matter.

The answer to these last points I will try to post in the future. In the mean time I would welcome comments from those who have had similar experiences of meeting God well before they hear the Gospel.

January 30, 2009 Posted by | Bible, Eternity, Gospel, Kingdom life, Knowing God, Uncategorized | 10 Comments

First Verse of the New Testament

I often ask people to quote the first verse of the New Covenant (Testament).

Go on, before reading further put your answer on your lips.

The answer is quite easy really.-

Mat 1:1 The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham. etc

Only its not really quite that easy.

Quite rightly, Matthew is the first book of the collected writings of the New Testament apostles.

Now turn to Mat 26:28

For this is My blood of the NEW COVENANT, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.

ie Matthew26v28 is really the first verse of the New Covenant

So What?

If the above perception agrees with you it, would be interesting to examine the repercussions.

If the NEW COVENANT OF JESUS’S BLOOD was not proclaimed until Matt26 then all that Jesus said and did before that specific time was clearly OLD TESTAMENT. Think about it.

The Gospel stories are NOT NEW TESTAMENT!

The Gospel stories are OLD TESTAMENT

This means that the comprehension of the parables, for instance, were meant to be available to the Jews, right now, right there and right then. What ever Jesus was saying was not aimed first at Christians.

So what?

Take just one parable as a starter.

Luk 11:11
For what father of you, if the son asks for bread, will he give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a snake for a fish?
 
 

 

Luk 11:12
Or if he shall ask for an egg, will he give him a scorpion?
Luk 11:13 If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him?
 

 

 

This might not seem significant but if you put this parable alongside the belief that the Holy Spirit didn’t come until Pentecost, and then only for Christians. Jesus, on the contrary, is saying that any of his hearers sat at his feet who asks could have it. Any of the Jews or gentiles listening, before pentacost, could have had it.

Before anyone says that Jesus was perhaps only refering to the new birth, not so, He says “For what FATHER of you, if the SON asks for bread…” ie the child is already of his father when he asks.
This indicates that the Holy Spirit was available anywhere to anyone who asked, long before the death and resurrection of Jesus  as it became understood.  (Don’t forget that nobody comprehended the gospel until long after the resurrection).  
Jews (and non Jews), at the time that He was speaking and long before, who were open and desiring anointing from above would receive what they asked for.

There is a lot more to think about, not only on this verse but also on many of the other teachings of Jesus which we have always taken as New Testament and “Christian” when they were in fact Old Testament and “Jewish”.

Are the NEW TESTAMENT gospels actually OLD TESTAMENT? I would love to hear some comments on this. What other thoughts on the Gospels does this lead to?

 

 

 

 

January 14, 2009 Posted by | Bible, CHURCH, Gospel, Kingdom life, Uncategorized | 15 Comments

Two visions of church. What is yours.

 6 january 09

This is a comment  which I put on another blog recently.

When asked, what is the purpose of the church, a valid answer might well be. The purpose of the church is to get people to join the church!

Churches, for the main, to me seem to be operating on “momentum” rather than actually being on a journey to any destination.

There is a game sometimes in the UK amongst college students, I presume the same is true in the USA. It is called, “let’s see how many people we can cram into a telephone box, (or mini car).
It has no real purpose other than the doing.

This seems so much like church. Even though they claim vision, which may have been taken from scripture, it is clear from any objective observation, that very little of the church programme will actually enable them to arrive at that place.

Many years ago whilst in a meeting, the Lord gave me two very vivid pictures of contrasting church styles.

Firstly I saw a well known comic strip cartoon picture of a crowd of children rolling a monster sized snowball across a snow laden school field. Any time a child got in the way or tried to change its direction he was unwittingly rolled over and picked up in the juggernaut’s progress. The cartoon picture had the occasional hand, pair of rubber boots or a frozen head sticking out. None of this halted its progress across the field, it just continued to get bigger and bigger. Woe betide anyone who felt that he had a bit of unput to give to its direction.

To me this was quite funny as I remember at junior school one winter having rolled such a ball across the field into the goal mouth, where the ball stayed many months after the freeze had gone, blocking the goal.

The other vivid picture given at the same time was of tumbleweed tearing across a dusty landscape. It was totally driven by the wind and kept changing direction with each gust. Everywhere it went seeds were scattered. It had little value in itself other than shedding seeds. It might in its end be only a little kindling fuel. The sign of its passing? A huge crop of more tumbleweed, in its season.

I have derived much illumination from this vision over the years since, but I will leave this comment with two small thoughts to ponder.

The monolithic snowball that is being built in many parts of the body only puts the members in suspended animation. Growth as a functionary of that church might be perceived, but that is not necessarily growth in Christ himself.

In contrast the tumble weed picture reminds me of John3v8
The wind blows where it will, you hear the sound of it, but can’t tell where it comes from or where it is going. So is he that is born of the wind.

I can’t imagine the snowball blowing in the wind.

I challenge you to look at these two visions. Are you driven by the wind, or frozen in time. Don’t just read passively please think and comment. 

January 6, 2009 Posted by | CHURCH, Gospel, Kingdom life, Knowing God, Leadership, Uncategorized | 3 Comments

First posting

This is my first attempt at blogging, and I guess this is going to take me some time to master.  As a ponderous one finger typist everything I write is time consuming!

I  set this blog up to give vent to my thoughts about God, Faith, Church, Christianity, the World, plus any other thing that grabs me, etc.

I called this blog Francisdrakeprivateer because he somewhat represents my thinking.  As a privateer sea captain, Francis Drake took the war to the enemy,  Roman Catholic Spain.  The Spanish called him El Draque, The Dragon!  They insisted that he was a common pirate. He was also a pioneer.

I would have liked to sail with him, although I don’t like the slave trading bit.

Today the church of Jesus Christ  and this nation, England, is in far more danger than it was in the 16th century. Rome has gained a far greater success in that it has used subterfuge and traitors both in the government of this nation and in the church.

We have been dragged into the European Union by dishonest politicians. The EU is run by Rome (more later). The Church of England is in an appalling state. It has been led by a succession of incompetent fools. The current Archbishop is also apparently a druid. The Anglican Church at its top would reunite with Rome at the drop of a hat. This is not surprising when you consider how far it has lost its way.

The true church of Jesus Christ needs to wake up to the real world. It needs to stop playing at religion and get its relationship with the Lord in the right order. The saints of the Lord need to get out of their seats and ask the Lord what it is that God would have of them. AND DON’T ASK THE PASTOR, HE WON’T HAVE A CLUE. It is your responsibility to find out what God says for your life. If you’ve never heard God then it is most likely that you have been letting others (pretend to) do the hearing for you.

God intended that all his people could not only pray but hear his voice respond. The church has replaced this with the pastors voice. THIS IS WRONG. This is the same spirit at work as in Catholicism. In Rome it is the voice of the Pope that is the only voice of God permitted. When he speaks Ex Cathedra it is apparently infallible. Unfortunately too many christians give this attribute to their Church Elders and Leaders. This is idolatry.

January 3, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | 6 Comments