Francis Drake, Privateer

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

Hearing God at the dinner table.

Years ago a friend of ours called and asked us if we wouldn’t mind hosting a dinner party at our house, because her home was too small. She was a regular and excellent hostess in her own place, but she wanted more space, and more people, this time. She planned to ask several acquaintances along who were either non or ex-believers, and mix them with believers.

We agreed, and between us we prepared the evening. It turned out a thoroughly interesting time, and I found myself alongside a couple who had suffered abuse at the hands of church leadership. They related a sad story which inevitably led to me explaining demonic control and spiritual warfare. They were very probing and demanding of my thoughts.

After about twenty minutes of this, a lady opposite them, who had been listening intently, interjected with, “excuse me, but what are these demons you are talking about?”

I had never met Karen, and was a little unsure as to how I could in a nutshell, answer her obviously sincere question. The subject demanded a lengthy answer.

I did the best I could, starting briefly with God’s creation and Satan tempting Adam with the fall etc. Followed by a sketch of the war of Satan dragging God’s creation as far removed from Godly influence as possible, and of mankind rejecting God’s chosen way.

When I had done, Karen simply said, “That explains a lot, explains my family.” I was truly taken aback. She apologised when she saw my perplexed look. She was not mocking me, she had genuinely understood how it had affected her family.

The meal continued with much interesting discussion, and with some clear needs admitted. As we ended I suggested we adjourn to the living room for coffee, and a time of prayer. The table was cleared and the dishwasher stacked as we gradually migrated to the living room.

This was a group of almost complete strangers, of totally different spiritual experience, so I was not sure where to begin. One of the couples had a very distressing family problem, and they asked for prayer immediately. I therefore suggested, rather than diving in with heavy handed prayer we just ask God for his direction and then wait quietly to see what God spoke to us.  I also encouraged each to be humble before God, and to truly expect Him to speak quietly into our hearts, no matter what we had experienced before. If he did, we should then be bold enough to reveal it to the rest.

We quickly got under way, with a few of the group praying out loud. I soon had an impression in my spirit as to the root of the problem. However I knew if I revealed it too soon, everyone else would relax their listening. So I quietly continued to pray and wait. Suddenly Karen, who had asked for an explanation of demons, spoke out. She had a word going around and around in her head. I asked her to let us have it, which she did.

Paydirt! Not only did it confirm what I had kept silent about, but the couple who had asked for prayer immediately concurred that it was true. We were therefore were able to do a quick, spirit led, deliverance from demonic control over the situation. The demons were soon cast out and all present were amazed at the spontaneity, normality, and speed of dealing with the issue in a Godly manner.

The evening came to a successful conclusion and everyone departed full of thanks.

After the door shut on the final person, my wife said to me. Did you realise that Karen only gave her life to the Lord as we filled the dishwasher in the kitchen.

I had presumed she was a mature believer, when she in fact she was simply a little child in God’s eyes. She had innocently accepted my call to listen to God with none of the preconceived doubts that I find amongst church people who have merely learned to depend on their pastors. Karen saw the kingdom through the eyes of a child, and told what she saw or heard.

As I got to know her later through our mutual friend, she had absolutely no desire for church. She just kept a close walk with God. She had several Christian friends and often had fellowship with them. She really saw where the roots of trouble in her family came from and showed more wisdom than many or the church Christians I had met.

Advertisements

December 27, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Faith comes by hearing the “herd”? Or faith comes by hearing the “word”.

My early days as a newly committed Christian in the 70s were in what was then called a Christian fundamentalist charismatic fellowship. I think such churches avoid the word fundamentalist now as it has been hijacked by others who are less than user friendly!

That particular church had a strong bible teaching basis and gave me lots to be thankful for. However some things, which everyone else took for granted, really grieved my spirit.

In the beginning I didn’t entirely understand the root of what caused my grief, but one thing I truly learned from the Lord, was that is I must never simply follow the crowd.  Crowd followers usually do so for fear of being left behind on their own. Personally, I hated being left behind, alone, but the usual crowd decisions left me with a hollow feeling inside, and I really didn’t like that feeling at all.

I KNEW THAT FOLLOWING THE HERD, WHILST SEEMING SAFE, WAS ABSOLUTELY NOT THE PLACE WHERE GOD WANTED ME TO BE. I knew that God didn’t want me to hide behind the skirts of the majority. For better or for worse,  I also wanted to be seen by God for who I was, not for who I hid behind. This sounds stupid because God obviously knew everything about me, and everyone else, but there is within man a certain delusion about such things. I needed to know that I was honest to God for being ME not for being a clone.

I desperately wanted to personally interact with God. However, as I watched, herd decisions with no questions asked, seemed to be the order of the day. If the leaders made a decision, it was duly regarded by the herd as the will of God, and everyone was swept along in that direction! If I asked someone what they thought about these things, the only response seemed to be a repetition of the church leadership stand. For myself, I needed to understand what God thought about these things, not just men. Unfortunately such curiosity merely brought trouble, and more derogatory labels got added to my name.

At that time there was a lot of teaching about, “covering”, a fake scriptural doctrine that meant everyone should have “authority” over their heads in order to be safe from the devil’s attacks or from demonic deception etc. This doctrine is still around although using other titles. Covering meant that our ability to discern the will of God should be submitted to the “anointed” leaders, who would be the ones to direct our paths. Obedience to the leaders is equated to obeying God. Questioning the wisdom of the Leaders equated to rebellion against God. Being a fundamentalist church we always carried out such things with great enthusiasm. The church had to collectively demonstrate that they worked to New Testament teaching, or so they thought.

It was as if when a man became a Christian, he almost immediately took leave of his common sense, he abdicated his own God given decision making process in favour of an outsider doing it for him. The church was a herd of sheep, but in reality their leader was not Christ, he was a just a man.

The herd saw it as obedience to God. I saw it as blatant idolatry towards a leadership which had actively dethroned God.

I recall one particular elder’s and leader’s meeting I attended. A decision needed to be made, but there was something clearly wrong going on in the discussion, and dissent was being subtly suppressed via the use of hierarchical authority. Some there were not at all happy, others were piously and proudly compliant, which is what the hierarchy wanted. They needed backing to justify their decision. I unfortunately asked awkward questions which they were reluctant to answer. Then one of the acolytes of the hierarchy made an outrageous statement. “We stand in fear of God if we oppose these men who are the Lord’s anointed.” The Elders looked mightily pleased as their superiority over the rest of us was thus proclaimed. Everyone went fearfully silent, not knowing what to do.

I then said. “I don’t stand in fear of God for opposing these men, I stand in fear of God if I don’t follow my conscience, and say what God wants me to say.”  That did not make me popular in the least, fortunately others then woke up, and the dishonesty was thwarted, at least on that occasion. The problem is that so many believe without foundation that these men can make no mistake because they are the, “anointed of God.”

Yesterday, as we reminisced over past experiences, my wife said to me, “you do not need faith to follow the herd“. This is a very interesting statement. What she meant was that it required no faith in God. Following the herd was an act of very shallow faith, in the herd, and in the one who led the herd. Running with the herd was safe. Nobody could ask whether you had independent thought in any situation. No real decision was ever required, no choice was made, no risk was taken. Individual responsibility and individual decision making, before God, was considered an act of disunity and brought accusations of pride and rebellion. This situation is common in many churches which I have attended.

Following the herd is hailed as an act of faith in church circles. Obedience to God is defined by our obedience to the leaders, those apparently “anointed of God”.

So what does it all boil down to?

We have all heard the biblical precept, “Faith comes from hearing the word“.

Yet watching many Christians it is far more true to say, ” FAITH COMES BY HEARING THE HERD

Basically, the average christian has no clue when it comes to discerning the direction when God speaks. This is why there are so many denominations, people would rather stick with the herd and follow a man, than follow God.

God is invisible but a pastor is visible.

God is silent but a pastor can be heard.

God cannot be known but a pastor can be known.

If I do what the herd are doing it must be God’s will.

So go find a decent church and the pastor will tell you what God wants you to know. Once you find a decent Pastor then stick with him, run with the herd. As long as you follow the leading of the Pastor you will stay out of trouble and please God. That is what you will find in all popular and successful churches.

Unless of course you get some upstart who asks awkward questions. That was me, until they threw me out on my ear.

Sadly the way of the herd is the broad way that many travel to destruction.

The narrow way to life is a very lonely path with few companions. I would still prefer it though.

So make your choice, does faith come by hearing the herd, or does faith come by hearing the word?

December 26, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Looking for fruit.

This is really a follow on from my last post about God speaking to us, or to be more precise, us hearing God. To be even more precise this post is about SEEING IN THE SPIRIT.

My wife and I really got into making fruit jams over the last few years. Over a season we made hundreds of jars and really got into the swing of things. What delighted us more than anything was using wild fruit from the woods and the hedgerows.

Everyone in the UK knows that the hedges are full of blackberries, and that always gives anyone an abundant source of great jam making. However we noticed something we had never seen before. The hedgerows are also full of apple trees and plum trees, sloe bushes etc. Well maybe not quite full, but nevertheless, up to this point in time we thought the hedgerows empty of any fruit other than blackberry.

Near where we lived we picked buckets full of plums, damsons, sloes, bullaces and apples. It happened gradually. We first found some plum trees at the end of our lane. To our thinking it was a rarity. We kept it secret, watching everyone driving by without noticing. As soon as they were ripe we grabbed a load. However once we got used to that we found that as we drove around the lanes, it was as if our eyes had woken up. Suddenly, even zipping along at 50 mph, one of us would cry out “apple tree” or “plum tree”.

This might sound crazy, but at that speed we could not possibly see apples or plums, nor could we see the leaf shape. If anyone said to us what does an apple or a plum tree look like, we could never particularly describe it, within a crowded leafy hedgerow. The fact was that our eyes were becoming atuned to something beyond our intellect.

It really came home one year when we were looking for sloes. A sloe is a relative of the plum. It tastes like battery acid, but makes fantastic sloe gin though. For several Christmasses we had gained a reputation for our sloe gin gifts. This particular year there was nationally a great shortage of stone fruits, plum, cherry sloe etc. so we were in trouble.

A friend had an old orchard on his land and we were apple and blackberry picking there. It was just before dusk, and we were about to pack in for the day. As we headed back across the land towards the car with our catch, I glanced at a distant boundary hedge against the dimming sky. I suddenly said to my wife, “those are sloe trees.” She looked and instantly agreed. We stood rooted to the spot because we realised that we had no way we could possibly say why we knew they were sloes. The light was dimming, they were almost silhouetted, it was hazy air, they were nearly 100 yards away. There was an extremely mild bluing of the general outline, but that was also true everywhere. We just stood trying to work out why we knew and we could not in the least bit say why. There was just something about them that said SLOE.

We walked up to the hedge, and sure enough this was the best sloe harvest we had seen all season. However we were amazed at the powerful gift of discernment. To make it clear, I am not talking about the spiritual gift of discerment. I am talking about the fact that in a short period of time, our eyes had become attuned to discerning things which had been unseen before. These things were now not only seen, but seen in the most difficult of circumstances, and without a guide book. Our eyes were learning, or our brains were becoming better at interpreting the image our optical equipment sent down the line.

No amount of classroom lessons would have taught our eyes what they needed to learn. In fact the thing which blew our minds was that our intellect still could not say what the recognition parameters were. We both just knew it when we saw it.

IT WAS PLAIN UNCANNY!

This is just like seeing in the spirit. Until you exercise that spiritual muscle, it just lies dormant. Until we started to make wild fruit jams we never SAW anything of value in the hedgerow. Until we decide to make something with our spirit eyes, we will never learn to see.

WE WILL, LIKE MOST OF THE CHURCH, REMAIN BLIND TO THE THINGS OF THE KINGDOM OF GOD.

December 23, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Morse code for the saints who bother to listen.

Again I confess to cheating on my blog posts. This post is actually an enlargement of a comment that I placed on projectmathetes, a blog I follow.  I have not done much here on my blog for a long while because of spending so much time on other blogs. However, I thought this story would be fun.

The subject of hearing God speak is something dear to my heart. Hearing God is also something I am not particularly good at, but I love the learning experience, and the result when I do hear Him speak.

We often end up rejecting what we think is, maybe, maybe not, the still small voice of God. We reject it because we believe God has a big stick to beat us when we make mistakes. We are fearful of God’s anger.

This is not the God of the bible. It is the false God of religious and church tradition. God knows before the world began, that we would foul up on a given day. Yet he still loves us. Those who make no mistakes usually make nothing. The same is true in the walk of the spirit.

I really hated school, but the School of the Spirit is something entirely different. It is where I always get personal tuition, and that from the Great Teacher Himself. I am not always aware when I am in his lesson, but I quickly see when things start to happen. Also I never have had to go to a college or university or even church to learn, I can learn anywhere in life.

The following story started at our coffee table writing Christmas cards.

Just before departing for our house group meeting last friday, we remembered that we had two Christmas cards to take. My wife was watching me as I wrote out the words “Merry Christmas and a happy……” at this point she interjected with “Happy new ear”, making me laugh.

However knowing that Sandie had a sense of humour we decided to actually write “Happy new ear”, just to see if she spotted it.
On arrival at Sandie’s house we handed the two cards out before we sat down with everyone to enjoy an evening of fellowship and listening to the Holy Spirit.

As we waited on the Lord, there were shortly a number of small but inconclusive “words” and “pictures” given by the Holy Spirit. We talked, and continued to listen and pray.
Then the Lord reminded Sandie about a story which she had heard. Her story was about a man long ago who was applying for a job as a Morse code telegraphist. When he arrived at the place, there were lots of people in the lobby waiting to be interviewed, all creating a general hubbub. As he waited with the crowd, faintly over the noise, he could just hear morse code being tapped out. He turned his ear away from the din of the people to listen. He suddenly knew what to do, and to do it immediately. He slipped away from the din and through an office door where he was immediately given the job.
The Morse message? “If you understand this message, come through the door and present yourself to the secretary.”

Sandie’s recollection of the story was triggered by the Spirit, to illustrate the importance of having a sensitive ear to hear the voice of the Lord, above the noise of everything going on around us. It was about our choice to tune in with our Spiritual ears just like a Morse signaller would.
He who has an ear to hear let him hear!
As we discussed the story, the pictures and words received earlier, started to make sense.
At this point I remembered the card and asked her if she had read it, which she had not. She opened it and burst out laughing, to the perplexity of the others. As she read it out, we all sat in awe at the humour and wisdom of the Lord in using such a simple “Happy New ear” message to carry such importance to our spiritual journey. It was as if God had ordained the silly greeting in the card as a way of validating his message to his children.

This all may seem very trite to those who are used to strong structured meetings. However the Lord had for a very long time, been leading us via the Holy Spirit on a very clear learning curve. This meeting in its unscripted, Spirit led way had again revealed God’s hand of love and his clear purpose for our little group.

Reply

December 20, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | 1 Comment