Tuesday, 25 December 2018

Where was our Lord Jesus born? Not where the masses think.

For all those who detest the hype about the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, and the way it has been, as always happens with religion, hijacked for political purposes. Jesus was not born where everyone think He was, just as He wasn't born WHEN everyone thinks He was. He has never had anything to do with the way the World thinks and never will. Jeremiah 10:2: 'This is what the LORD says: Do not learn the way of the nations.'

This is a wonderful post about the probable location of Yeshua/Jesus's birth.

Alfred Edersheim wrote 'The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah', in 1883.

In his book, he quotes the prophet Micah:
Micah 4:8.  “And thou, O tower of the flock  the strong hold of the daughter of Zion, unto thee shall it come, even the first dominion; the kingdom shall come to the daughter of Jerusalem.”
showing that the 'tower of the flock',  (Hebrew, 'Migdal Eder') near Bethlehem, was the place where Messiah would first be revealed to Israel and the world.

Its location today has been competently demonstrated here. 

It is wonderful to me that the Tower of the Flock was the place, supervised by the Temple shepherds, to which the newborn lambs were brought, for inspection, before being permitted for Temple sacrifice. 

Sunday, 4 November 2018

This is almost exactly like my story.

I could never have imagined that I would hear a story with so many similarities to my own. Thank God for the courage of these women to speak out, despite the fear, shame and guilt. May the Lord bring us all healing, even though the 'churches' we belonged to, shun us and believe our abusers. 
'God knows the truth, but waits.' (Tolstoy)

I hope eventually, by the grace of God, to move on and leave the past behind completely, but 25 years is a long time and the memories are still there. I have only had one person I could really talk to about it, (thank God for him), and part of me wants to shout out to all those I used to call friends, for understanding and empathy. The Lord has permitted them to break off contact with me, which is, ultimately, for my good. But only the individual heart knows its own pain, suffering, sorrow and joy - no other can truly understand it (Proverbs 14:10), and we have to bring everything to Jesus,
because He alone is here, has infinite time, and patience, and love.

The eternal God is your refuge,
    and underneath are the everlasting arms.
He will drive out your enemies before you,
    saying, ‘Destroy them!’ (Deuteronomy 33:27)

Saturday, 20 August 2016

What's in a (Christian) Name?

A comment to a journalist by Pope Francis on the murder of Fr Jacques Hamel: The Pope (Jorge Mario Bergoglio) is reported to have said that "he doesn't like speaking about Islamic violence because there is plenty of Christian violence as well...[He] said that every day when he browses the newspapers, he sees violence in Italy perpetrated by Christians: 'this one who has murdered his girlfriend, another who has murdered the mother-in-law...and these are baptized Catholics! There are violent Catholics! If I speak of Islamic violence, I must speak of Catholic violence. And no, not all Muslims are violent, not all Catholics are violent. It is like a fruit salad; there's everything'."1

When will people understand that being a person who is a member of a 'religious' group does not mean that there is divine LIFE in them? 

Being called a 'Christian' means nothing. If you become a member of an athletics club and give money and even go regularly to it, does it make you a world class athlete? 

Tragically, even the man who heads up the organisation called the Roman Catholic Church thinks that being baptised as a baby automatically makes a person a Christian. A lot of people who are members of protestant religious groups think the same thing. Some even think that a person who is baptised as an adult is automatically a Christian. 

The problem here stems from the fact that many people use the word ignorantly, with no understanding of where the word came from in the first place. 

Originally, people simply said that they were followers of the Way.  Jesus had told them, (John 14:6) "I am the Way, the Truth and the Life; no-one comes to the Father but through Me." So they were simply followers of Jesus. 
Later, (Acts 11:26) it says, '.....and for an entire year they (Paul and Barnabas) met with the church and taught considerable numbers; and the disciples were first called Christians in Antioch.' 

It doesn't say that the disciples of Yeshua ha Meshiach called themselves Christians; it says that they were called Christians  - by implication, by others. The important thing to understand is that they were called Christians, because of the evidence that they had 'turned to the Lord', or had 'come to the Lord.' (Acts 11:21-25).
In other words, they had turned from their own selfish ways, and had joined Yeshua,  who called Himself, 'the WAY' and were transformed by His TRUTH and have His LIFE in them.

Someone who turns to Jesus with all their heart has become a new creation ...'Therefore if anyone is in Messiah, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.' (2 Corinthians 5:17) and the evidence is there for all to see in their life. 

So the early disciples in Antioch were called 'Christians', meaning 'Messiah's ones'. They now belonged to Jesus and had joined the Way of Truth and Life. So it is meaningless and completely misleading to speak of 'Christians' as the Pope does...  "violence in Italy perpetrated by Christians: 'this one who has murdered his girlfriend, another who has murdered the mother-in-law....'"  

Such people cannot be called Christians because by definition, a Christian is one who belongs to Jesus and has had his heart transformed by Him. As Jesus is not the instigator of evil actions, this one therefore does not act in this way. A follower of Messiah is filled with the love of God, and someone who loves does not do such things.

Now, some people, ignorant of this, perhaps because of the traditional things they have been taught, (people from the Middle East, for example) believe that the murderous knights, authorised by the Roman Catholic Church, to go to the Middle East on Crusades, were Christians, and therefore, all who call themselves 'Christian' are like those people. 
Members of my own (Western) family, baptised in a protestant denomination when they were children, think that they are Christians, because they see themselves as members of a certain church group, just as the Pope does. 
But they're wrong, nonetheless. They have never turned to the Lord, do not belong to Him and do not have His transforming TRUTH and LIFE in them. And as long as this misconception continues, people will call 'Christian' those who do not belong to the WAY the TRUTH and the LIFE, Who is Jesus. 

Another misconception is illustrated by the following:

The other day, my husband gave an Iraqi Aramaic Baptist pastor and his family a lift in his car. He asked the pastor what name he used for God, and he said, 'Allah'. My husband asked him how this could be. So the pastor said that even my husband would use the name 'God' when speaking of the Lord, to which my husband replied that this is a generic name, and not a personal one.

He asked if the pastor would call the gods of the Hindus, 'Allah' too, and the man protested strongly against it, saying that he would never call those gods by the name of 'Allah' - he would give those gods another name - something akin to 'elí-ha,' or (singular) 'él-a'.My husband then said that he supposed that 'elí-ha' or 'él-a' would be the Arabic generic name for God, and the pastor agreed, realising therefore, that 'Allah' is a personal name.
My husband said that he would never call the Father of our Lord Jesus/Yeshua ha Meshiach by the name of 'Allah', because the character of our Father in heaven is so diametrically opposed to the character of Allah as shown in the Quran and demonstrated by those who call themselves his followers. (Muslim terrorists). He said that Allah is a demon.

The Baptist pastor thought about it and then had to say that the man had got him thinking. He said that he had the practise of calling YHWH, 'Allah' from his protestant translation of the Bible, the Van Dyck Version.
Clearly the translator, Cornelius Van Dyck, from whom the Bible translation's name comes, no doubt following the cultural practice of Christians, nominal or otherwise, known to him in the region, decided to use the name of 'Allah' for 'God' in his translation.

Most Middle Eastern Christians have probably never really thought through the ramifications of what they're doing, much as most Western Christians have never thought through the ramifications of many of the man-made, empty, traditional church practices of what they do.

Names mean different things to different people, depending on their background and what they have been taught by man's traditions. No wonder there is so much confusion.

God is not the author of confusion, but sent His Word and Spirit, so that He can lead us into all truth. May He lead us to know Him so that the Truth and Life are more and more revealed to us.

1 Quoted from Ibrahim, R. Pope Francis Equates Muslim and Christian Violence. FrontPage Magazine, 2 August 2016, re-published on the Middle East Forum.

Tuesday, 9 August 2016

'Do not Pray for this People.'

  “Therefore do not pray for this people, nor lift up a cry or prayer for them, nor make intercession to Me; for I will not hear you.' (Jeremiah 7:16)

It is probably only unusual to our minds that a prophet would receive such a command because we are conditioned to think according to man's thinking and not to obeying the voice of the Lord. It isn't only nations for whom God might tell one not to pray, but individuals too. This might seem shocking for those who think that faith implies a one fits all method, and who use the Bible as a rule book - convenient to them, because they unconsciously think that if it says something in the Bible, they don't need to listen to the Spirit. There are times in the Bible where the word of the Holy Spirit in one place appears to contradict another word in another place. And while people may harden their hearts, there also comes a time when the Lord Himself hardens people's hearts, so that He may judge them, for purposes best known to Himself. Our self-righteous thinking is only a hindrance here. May we seek Him for Who He is and not what we think He ought to do. That way we won't find ourselves at loggerheads with Him.

Thursday, 4 August 2016

The Kingdoms of this World

In the light of current events in the UK and US, it is easy to become caught up in election fever.
The media whip people up into a frenzy of loyalty to one candidate or another, and emotions become so hot for one side or another.

But those who say they follow Jesus still haven't taken seriously what the Lord says about worldly government. He says that the rulers of this world are in rebellion against Him, (Ps 2) and commands us not to put our trust in princes. (Ps 146) Paul tells us not to get embroiled in worldly matters. (2 Tim 2:4) Why then, do we focus on worldly things? The only result is that we get sucked into the world's way of looking at things, (selfishly ambitious) which as Jakob says, is wisdom - earthly, unspiritual, and demonic. (Jam 3:15).
Yeshua tells us that HIS Kingdom is not of this world. (John 18:26) and if it were, He goes on to say, '...My servants would fight to prevent My arrest by the Jewish leaders.'

 It is this kind of fighting which we see between those who espouse any side of the political debate. Instead of being filled with the Spirit of God, we open ourselves up for soulish, divisive spirits which only set one group against another - party spirit. This was so clear in the whole BREXIT debate. If Yeshua had been asked which side He was on, I believe He would have said, 'No', just as the Captain of the Lord's host said 'No', to Joshua, (Josh 5:14) when asked, 'Are you on our side, or on that of our enemies?' Joshua's response was to worship the Lord.

By being given the choice between candidates, whether in the UK or in the US, or anywhere else, people are hoodwinked into somehow believing that one is better than another. Perhaps the Clinton-Trump battle is a case in point. It is ridiculous to think that Trump or Clinton are saviours. Both are flawed human beings, as we all are. The US is tricked into the same old routine every four years, and the same thing happens all round the world where the form of government called 'democracy' - holds sway. Granted, it's the only form of rule which gives a modicum of lawfulness and peace in what would otherwise be anarchy and chaos on one side, or totalitarian dictatorship on the other. Nonetheless, this world is depraved and lost and the only hope for it is the authority of the coming King of Kings.

Let's not sink to the level of nationalism, either. To the Lord, all the nations are like a drop in a bucket. He is above all nations and has the final say in who is elevated to power and who is debased. The Lord commissions Elijah to anoint Hazael king of Syria, a man who would go on to fight and commit atrocities against Elijah's own country, something which God revealed to Elijah, who wept to see it.
He tells Elisha to tell Naaman, the Syrian army captain, (one who had campaigned against Elisha's own country and taken away prisoners, including an Israelite girl) to wash in the Jordan to be healed of his leprosy.
He tells Jonah to preach to Nineveh, which Jonah is loath to do, as he doesn't have God's perspective. 

To pledge allegiance to a flag or a party or any human institution on earth is to come under the spirit of that institution. This is idolatry. Those who claim to follow Yeshua are to be unswervingly loyal to Him alone.

So instead of getting focused on party politics and nationalism, let's guard ourselves from deception and pray for the Kingdom of God to be established. He knows better than we do what kind of government best suits His purposes (which are higher than we know) and He can do it without us.

His purpose is to reveal His Son in the earth, and set up His eternal government, not that of men.

'And the seventh angel sounded, and there were great voices in Heaven, saying, “The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ, and He shall reign for ever and ever!” (Rev 11:15)

The Mountain of God by Francis Frangipane

The Mountain of God
Francis Frangipane

"Now Moses was pasturing the flock of Jethro his father-in-law, the priest of Midian; and he led the flock to the west side of the wilderness and came to Horeb, the mountain of God" (Exod. 3:1).

Mount Horeb was not what it seemed. Though forbidding and barren, Horeb (also called Sinai in Exodus) was the gateway God used to reveal Himself to the Hebrew nation. It was here that the living God appeared in a burning bush to Moses. It was also here that the aged and stammering Moses was sent back to Egypt with miraculous authority to liberate Israel.

It was to Horeb that the Israelites came, following the pillar of fire at night and the covering cloud by day. On Horeb, God Himself inscribed Israel's laws on tablets of stone. Then in the midst of a blazing fire, a deep gloom, and a whirlwind, the terrifying voice of the Most High spoke audibly to His people, thus establishing His covenant with them.

Israel had other sacred places -- the tabernacle in the wilderness, the temple in Jerusalem, and various altars men erected to God -- but Horeb was unique. Horeb was where Moses and the Israelites met God, and it was where Elijah fled when all he tried had failed.

Horeb was "the mountain of God."

Redeemer God
As a geographic and historic place, Horeb was weighty with spiritual significance. Yet the reality symbolized by Horeb -- that God chose a desolate place and then drew desolate men to meet with Him -- is a truth that resonates yet today. Horeb's message is this: the Lord does not turn away from our desolation; He comes to redeem it.

Consider Moses, the great prince of Egypt. From his high estate, he is exiled for forty years in the wilderness. He marries into a Midianite family and assumes the role abhorred by the Egyptians: a shepherd. Yet it is precisely at Horeb that God meets with Moses and commissions him. The word Horeb means "desolation," and it is here that Moses finds redemption as he returns to Egypt empowered with godlike authority.

Or consider Elijah, the fierce prophet whose spectacular but failed efforts to bring revival burdened him with depression, fear, and discouragement. Elijah also comes to Horeb -- the loner, Elijah, who seemingly can't get over the idea that all the prophets are dead and he alone is left. Yet it is here that he discovers not only that there are seven thousand Israelites who are loyal to God, but among them is Elisha, a man who will receive a double portion of Elijah's power. He will bring an end to Jezebel's perverse reign and bring a season of revival to the northern tribes.

On Horeb Elijah discovers that his true call was not to lead a revival but to "go before" and "prepare the way" for greater things to come. Indeed it was this very spirit of Elijah that actually prepared the way for Jesus, Israel's Messiah, in the first century, and it shall again be the spirit of Elijah who prepares the way for the second coming of Christ. (See Malachi 4:5-6; Matthew 17:11.)

Horeb in Your World
At Horeb we not only discover more about God but also finally begin to understand ourselves and what the Lord desires of us. Our lives simplify and truly focus on that which is most important. Beloved, you know you are at Horeb when God cuts you back to the root source of your spiritual life. Yes, you are at Horeb when you are inwardly repelled by the superficial distractions of modern Christianity and desperate for more of God.

You will not become a better person at Horeb. For Horeb is not about the perfection of self; it's about the abandonment of self. It is about the discovery that in us -- in our successes and our failures -- there dwells "no good thing." We do not have to perform but conform to the surrendered life of Christ.

Not everyone who walks with God goes through a Horeb experience. Some find God in worship; others knew desolation prior to knowing Christ and now know only thanksgiving to God for their salvation. Some may have actually been through Horeb but not identified it as such. At Horeb the morphine of religion wears off, and we can once again feel our pain. Reality manifests. We see ourselves in the light of God, and as we do, we fall upon Christ the cornerstone (Luke 20:18). Though "broken to pieces," we are finally fit to be used by God.

For those who are even now at Horeb, I urge you to let your soul open and your pain rise to God. He knows. He sees your heartache. He feels your sense of shame, bewilderment, and regret. Whatever He says, do it. When you leave Horeb, He will have brought you to a level you previously thought unattainable.

Recall the infusion of life that Moses and Elijah, the men of Horeb, each experienced beyond their season of desolation. Both experienced a type of the resurrection that is to come (Jude; 1 King 20). And in a mystery beyond our comprehension, it was these two Horebites who appeared in splendorous glory and spoke with Christ on the Mount of Transfiguration (Matt. 17:1-3).

Horeb, once the place of desolation, is redeemed and revealed as a gateway to God. It is here, in brokenness and fearless honesty, where God brings wholeness of soul.

Horeb is the mountain of God. And once here, we are just steps away from the shelter of the Most High.

O living God, I bow before You. I confess my abject need of You. My guard is down, my actor is dead, and with him I fear my dreams are also gone. Yet you give dreams even to old men. You are the Resurrection. I cast myself upon You, O great God of my salvation. Draw me into Your holy shelter, and renew me.

Adapted from Francis Frangipane's book, 'The Shelter of the Most High', available at www.arrowbookstore.com.

Monday, 25 April 2016

Musings about Judgement

One of the things which has been on my mind recently is the subject of judgement, and whose judgement we fear most. This has largely to do with the question - who are we living for?

 As a child I was not encouraged to form my own opinion about things and had to obey my parents without question. If I felt something was unfair, it made no difference; instant obedience was the rule. My parents, who loved me, inherited vestiges of traditional British, Victorian values like, 'Children should be seen and not heard', which, although not actually insisted on, were at least mentioned from time to time.
It's amazing how God allows circumstances to enter our lives which are perfectly designed to pierce the heart of the old nature in us and to bring it into submission to the Holy Spirit. The process never ends while we live, and involves repeated lessons and discipline until we finally obey and start to act in the opposite way to which we were used to behaving.

Being brought up to be obedient, submissive, considerate and unselfish has its advantages, but if these are simply qualities which have been learned by following rules, although they may help a person to get on with others in a social situation, they are still part of a person's old nature. The fruit of the Tree of Knowledge was to know both evil and good. This fruit was and is forbidden, but our first parents ate it. The result was that Death entered the world. They could have eaten the fruit from the Tree of Life, but they didn't. As a result, their internal nature was corrupted and thus they became mortal.
So it doesn't matter how good a person is brought up to be, or how much he obeys the laws laid down by parents or society; because he is descended from Adam, as long as he is unchanged in his internal being, he is corrupt and will die. Though originally created FOR the love of God, (as God said, it is not good for man to be alone) he will be separated FROM the love of God forever. If, however, a person receives eternal life by the revelation of Jesus and what He has done for us by His death and resurrection (Praise God!) then he has the chance to be transformed bit by bit, into the new Man, in the image of Jesus Himself, and while his mortal body will die, his spirit and soul will be saved and he will be given a resurrection body. What a marvelous truth!

Fine; that's all clearly explained in Romans and 1 Corinthians. Unfortunately, it isn't clearly lived out in today's Western church, and is therefore not understood by the vast majority of those who have been given new life in Christ. The result is that while the Word of God may have been sown into their hearts and may even have germinated, it may take years for it to grow, or it may never come to maturity. A seed may be germinated, but due to the condition of the soil or the soil's environment, that seed might never even break the surface of the soil and come into the light. To put it another way, a person may well be saved, (germinated) but he might never actually be 'born from above'; 'see' the Light of the World, and therefore may never truly know Jesus. I know that most people in today's church think that being 'saved' and being 'born again' are synonymous terms, but when you consider how much apostasy, selfishness, unbelief and hardheartedness there is in the churches, one must eventually come to the conclusion that something is gravely wrong. Jesus said, 'By their fruits you will know them.' You don't get bad fruit from a good tree. If the fruit is bad, then the tree must be bad as well. If a person says he has been saved, but subsequently lives a life based on corrupt principles, then it's clear that no matter how good, intelligent, respectable or educated he may be, he has never really come to know Jesus practically and lives by the worldly, natural principles he picked up from his parents or from society.

I'm digressing. Once a person is really born from above, into the Light, the process of discipleship begins. The food he needs is the Word of God, which is interpreted to him by the Holy Spirit who indwells him. No matter how good a person may be; once he is a child of God, he will have to reckon that 'good' old nature to be crucified and dead as much as the criminal of the first degree who comes to faith in Jesus. Before God, no-one is good - not one. All our righteous deeds are as filthy rags, as Isaiah says. It's a process of working out, by the faith and grace of God, in practice - what we already are said to be in name.

Often however, due to the nature of the environment we are in, we have bad examples to follow and pick up wrong teaching. God be praised; His Spirit is at work, and eventually He brings us back to the truth. He uses circumstances as lessons in our lives to do this. Everything is of use; whether good or bad. Everything which happens to us is intended for our good (Romans 8:28); most obviously, those things which we see as negative. These things cut across our will. We are faced with the choice; to agree to the will of God in allowing 'bad' things to happen to us, thereby saying, 'No' to our own will, which releases the oil of joy into our lives.

Things which we see as positive may feel good, but these things are just as useful, if not so obvious.   Here it is just as important to submit to Him, otherwise we'll relax our guard, and be surprised to find out how much pride and self-righteousness is still there. In my experience, positive situations have often caught me out. How often I thought God had worked through me, only to reveal how self-absorbed I was.

So nothing which happens to us is to be discarded as useless for our growth. How quickly, however, we discard things which seem unpleasant to us! How quickly we reject situations where people misunderstand and misjudge us. How quickly we reject people themselves for doing so, when in fact, their misjudgement is allowed in order to test us. Will we hold it against them, when in fact, it is our Father who graciously does not permit them to understand us in order to see what is in our hearts? It has taken me so long to come to any wisdom I may now have, due to, (thank God for them) the painful experiences of losing things and people close to me, that I can no longer now hold anything against anyone who has yet to go through the painful dealings of God in the same areas, and does not therefore understand me.

Again; it's amazing how God allows circumstances to enter our lives which are perfectly designed to pierce the heart of the old nature in us and to bring it into submission to the Holy Spirit.
In the last three years I've been through what has simply been the most excruciating time in my life, without the slightest ability to explain to those closest to me who were most affected by it and had the most to lose because of it. Through it, however, I have been learning how much I have always been influenced by my fear of man's opinion. I always wanted to be 'good'. I wanted people to approve of me and think I was a good person. Ultimately, the question boiled down to - Who am I living for? Am I living for God? Is He my Lord? Or am I living to please others?

In situations when closest family and friends are unable to understand things God does in our lives, and in their natural pain, reject us, will we buckle to external pressure, choosing human comfort above the comfort of the Holy Spirit? Will we choose being acceptable to the world or even close friends and those we admire, rather than being cast outside the city walls, stoned and crucified, having our name dragged through the muck? If Jesus went through the same, should I expect anything else? Do I care more about man's judgement than I do about what God thinks of me? Is it about my righteousness, or about His?

If He has told me to do something, then why do I doubt because of what people may think? Do I believe Him? Abraham was told to sacrifice Isaac. Isaiah was told to wander naked for three years. Hosea was told to marry and remarry a prostitute. Mary was told that she would conceive the Messiah before she was married to Joseph. Jesus was told that He was to die for the world and then resurrect from the dead. Have I heard Him?

Who are we living for? Man or for God?