The long defeat

As Christians, we are the people of the long defeat. And, though that might sound negative, it is actually a container of deep hope and joy.

What does this mean? Well, this article explains it well. If our hearts are rooted in any system or institution of the world, whether that be politics, entertainment, causes or anything else that has a temporal foundation, we will either be crushed and disappointed or, more scarily, we will be successful and make a hell building utopia in our own image.

For Christians, we are the harbingers of the new Kingdom, we are salt and light where we are placed, playing our part in ushering in that Kingdom. But, it is His Kingdom built in His image, and ours by the inheritance as His children. In realising that, we can avoid the error of those who would make themselves gods.

For those who do not fall under the spell of these empty promises, who do not place their hope in the realization of a future utopia, a political or cultural defeat does not create an existential crisis. And indeed, for a certain kind, it’s to be expected. This viewpoint assumes, quite reasonably, that a fundamentally fallen world will not be brought to perfection by a fundamentally fallen humanity. Instead, humanity should expect a series of failures.

This is the long defeat, the understanding that

we will never be able to overcome fallen human nature by any program, system, or force, because those structures themselves will be corrupted by the presence of the fallen human beings at the helm.

This is neither defeatism, nor resignation. It is wisdom. Within this long defeat is contained the seeds of final victory. It is understanding that the Church must follow her Lord, and also walk the Golgotha path to Good Friday, which is the only path to Easter Sunday.

It is understanding that the power of the Holy people must one day be completely broken, and the Kingdoms of the world stand in apparent victory.

The man clothed in linen, who was above the waters of the river, lifted his right hand and his left hand towards heaven, and I heard him swear by him who lives for ever, saying, ‘It will be for a time, times and half a time. When the power of the holy people has been finally broken, all these things will be completed.’

Daniel 12 v7

Then will come the new heavens and earth, and then will come the final victory of the Lamb, the one who was slain.

‘Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain,
    to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength
    and honour and glory and praise

Revelation 5 v12
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Peace

In the midst of trouble, when the wind and the waves of the world crash on the shores of your life; when you are anxious and fearful and it seems as if darkness reigns supreme – in these times remember the One who has gifted you peace.

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.

John 14 v27

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 4 v6-7

This is a promise, not a suggestion. The Hope that we carry, the Light that indwells our lives, is a Testament to a reality that will soon burst forth.

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2021 Prophetic Word – Unshakeable!

2020 has come and gone, a year that certainly brought new challenges for many of us. So, what will 2021 bring us? Is there a word from the Lord for this new year?

Before we go there, perhaps an initial thought on the prophetic gift itself. Prophecy is a mixture of foretelling and forthtelling, and although it is the former that exhibits the glamour, it is the latter that contains the substance.

Or to put it another way, it is of no use for us to know what is to come, if it does nothing to prepare us. I believe the heart of the prophetic witness is to proclaim what people already know at some level in their hearts, but often do not want to address.

With that in mind, before we go on to look at this year, let us cast an eye briefly on the year just past.

For anybody who did not sleep through the whole of 2020, it was hard to avoid the spectacle of the US Election. Most of what I would have to say on that is encapsulated in the post, Do not fret.

I also concluded that this election only served to widen the divisions in the U.S.A. Was there significant fraud? I do not know. On searching for the signal through the noise, the only thing that became clear to me is that it is essentially unknowable as things stand. The system seems to have been designed in such a way that it is very difficult or impossible to properly audit a vote.

There is nothing good to come when a basic standard of truth cannot be agreed, and where only thing that appears to really matter is whether our ‘side’ won.

Echoing my previous post, I can only reiterate: do not get so hung up on the outcome of the election of an earthly prince that the heavenly King becomes eclipsed in your mind.

Do not put your trust in princes,
    in human beings, who cannot save.
When their spirit departs, they return to the ground;
    on that very day their plans come to nothing.
Blessed are those whose help is the God of Jacob,
    whose hope is in the Lord their God.

Psalm 146 v3-5

Here’s the thing – a prince may rule for a while and do good, or do evil. But the Lord plays a much longer game. If we were alive in King Josiah’s time, perhaps we would have celebrated the great good he did. We would have thought, at last, we have won! All the evil is being rolled back! But yet, 30 years later, what was already set in place in Judah continued. The outward form had been temporarily modified, the inward heart remained degenerate.

So it is now. That is a word, if you would hear it. The preparation for us is to be ready for a form of exile – for rejection and persecution from the societies in which we have been nestled, but also for the Christ-coloured thread of hope, redemption and revival that will weave its way through the cord of trouble.

Now, a reflection from the other side of the Atlantic. As I write, the U.K. is on the brink of completing Brexit. So many words have already been written on this, a subject that has also caused deep divisions. My take on it is inspired by the following:

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.

Ephesians 6 v12

I would encourage you not to look at the politicians, the agencies, the media, the courts and treaties, but what lies behind them. I have no problem with the E.U. per se, but I discern the spirit behind that organisation is set up in opposition to God. For the U.K. to leave the E.U., after a massive struggle, is actually a sign of hope.

Not that the U.K. has it ‘made’, far from it! But we are now in a spiritual position that God can deal with us as a sovereign nation once more. All I can see at the moment is a potential for something good to come out of this, but the road to get there will not be gentle.

Lastly, the elephant in Room 2020 has to be Covid 19. I have already written about this extensively earlier in the year. I called for us to Wake up, and Understand the times. Maybe added some perspective on the question of Why? And all this set in context of a Mercy Judgment. There is nothing new under the sun here, this is a trouble we are all intimately acquainted with.

Now, the word for 2021? It did not change. I have written, and still believe – It is the twilight of the current age, and we bask in its fading gleams. Much that can be shaken, soon will be.

If you would like something more, I would see Covid as the first shaking of many in this twilight. More will come, until we can properly see the foundations upon which our lives have been built. A shaking not so much a judgment as a form of mercy if it allows us to see what we have been standing on all these years – sand, or solid Rock?

I only pray for grace for us to see it, and courage to take action to save our very lives. When the wind comes howling and the waves crash against us – to have the grace to look to Christ alone, He who can draw us out of the waters too deep for us, and set our feet on the very Rock of His presence. That grace, to reach out and take His hand, and trust in Him to make a way when there is no way.

It is not so important what will happen, or when, but where we individually and as communities are when it does. We are called to be Kingdom people.

Then I saw ‘a new heaven and a new earth,’ for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘Look! God’s dwelling-place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. “He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death” or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.’

He who was seated on the throne said, ‘I am making everything new!’ Then he said, ‘Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.’

He said to me: ‘It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To the thirsty I will give water without cost from the spring of the water of life. Those who are victorious will inherit all this, and I will be their God and they will be my children.

Revelation 21 v1-7

We are the heralds of a new heaven and earth, we are sons and daughters of a great, redeeming and victorious King who even now is making all things new. We trust in what can’t yet be seen, because it is more real that what can be seen.

Do not be tied into this world, do not trust in wealth, in status, in health, in the plans of princes, the lies of media, or anything temporal to influence you as to what is truly important. Remember this world has already been overcome! Those who have married the spirit of this age will find themselves widows in the next. Do not be counted in their number!

So this is the key, the message for 2021. It is not about what will happen, but where you are and whose you are, when it does. Root your whole being in Christ alone. Put your hands in His every day. Then, in the times to come, you will not be shaken, because He is and always will be, Unshakeable!

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Light of the world

The Light shines in the darkness,
and the darkness has not overcome it.

And never will.

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Why I write

I have been writing for almost 20 years now, in one form or another.

I don’t write for me, for hits on a blog, or because I have nothing else to do. I write because it is a duty. And because I cannot do otherwise.

For some reason, God called me (from my perspective a rather unlikely choice) at the turn of the millennium to be a voice speaking something of His heart in this season.

What is that heart? That His Church, the Bride of Christ be ready, to have oil in our lamps, to see the signs of the time and not be lost in the mists of the world.

So, how is that different from any other time, surely this has always been the call? Indeed! But it has a different resonance at the close of this age.

As I’ve said in so many places, what we have become used to, we will have to forgo in the times to come. In the arc of the Church, we are returning very much to the times of the first century, when we were no more than a despised and potentially dangerous cult.

Many of my third world brothers and sisters may look at this with a wry glance. For sure, but I write mostly into the culture in which I am placed, and it is this part of the church that so desperately needs to be fully awake and cognisant of the season.

He does not desire any of us to be caught unaware and be swept away. To be a Christian is now often regarded as a little quirky. What will happen when we are perceived as something profoundly dangerous to the powers that be? Will we acquiesce, bowing the knee to Baal? Will we panic, fleeing to the the mountains? Will we betray our brothers and sisters?

Or will we be fully awake, sober and ready – afraid yet trusting in the One who casts out all fear – to face the day which is coming and is now here? Will we be ready for persecution – real persecution and the conterminous revival of the very ‘least of these’, those whom society casts away as of no value? Will we be ready to be the army of the Lord, having nothing other than Him, and thereby possessing all things?

This is why I write. This is the field I am called to tend, and I do this to the best of my ability, leaving everything in His hands.

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Lest we forget

Today, 18th November 2020 is 100 years since the first country legalised abortion. What was once regarded as unthinkable is now akin to a sacrament in some circles.

The WHO estimates approximately 50 million babies are murdered annually, with possibly over a billion since this barbaric practice was legalised.

The blood of innocents drowns our land in an act of human sacrifice unparalleled in all of creation.

Kyrie eléison, Christe eléison, Kyrie eléison.

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Do not fret

Do not fret because of those who are evil
    or be envious of those who do wrong;
for like the grass they will soon wither,
    like green plants they will soon die away.
Trust in the Lord and do good;
    dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture.
Take delight in the Lord,
    and he will give you the desires of your heart.
Commit your way to the Lord;
    trust in him and he will do this:
he will make your righteous reward shine like the dawn,
    your vindication like the noonday sun.
Be still before the Lord
    and wait patiently for him;
do not fret when people succeed in their ways,
    when they carry out their wicked schemes.
Refrain from anger and turn from wrath;
    do not fret – it leads only to evil.
For those who are evil will be destroyed,
    but those who hope in the Lord will inherit the land.

Psalm 37 v 1-9

I’d like to make a brief foray into politics in this post, although this is intended to have a wider application.

I have followed the US election with some interest over the last few weeks. Or maybe better said that it has followed me, it’s been hard to avoid! Through all the twists and turns, I have become increasingly concerned at some of the things I have read from a Christian perspective. Some of the comments and articles seem unbalanced, one in particular that sticks in my mind portrayed the US President in almost messianic terms.

I realise this election was important, the President is a powerful figure who has the ability to do significant good, or significant evil. Or, even both. But, in the never-ending news cycle, don’t forget that however powerful he is, he can’t hold a candle to Jesus.

The media might like you to think that politics is the apex of significance. They are blind. Don’t become like them.

For Christians, there is a huge danger in tribalism, where moral and ethical positions become dictated by tribal affiliations, rather than by the gospel. Divisions grow, and there are precious few willing to remember that in Christ, there is no Jew, no Greek, no Democrat, no Republican, no Conservative, no Liberal. I could go on, hopefully you get the idea.

To avoid misunderstanding, I am not saying that moral / ethical matters should take a backseat to some kind of group ‘kumbaya’. These things matter, in the midst of an ongoing war between the culture of death and the culture of life.

Let me put it this way. I recall many years ago reading CS Lewis, who made an argument which I shall paraphrase, possibly badly. He said that we can sometimes adopt a worldview based on “Jesus and <insert issue here>”. The ‘issue’ is typically something that is really important to us. So, maybe something like Jesus and Abortion, or Jesus and Brexit, or Jesus and the US Election. You get the idea. The point being that we may start with Jesus as our focus, or at least we think we do, but over time it is the issue which becomes the centre, with Jesus taking on the supporting role. Not consciously, of course, but over time, we can find that is the issue we believe in, and Jesus is there to lend us credence.

You only need say it to see the ridiculousness of that position. But sometimes events so blind us that we cannot see what is actually going on in our own hearts. So, with that in mind, let me bring some truth. Jesus is the Centre of all things. He is the Beginning and the End. Through Him all things were made, and in Him all things hold together. Whatever issue is so occupying you pales into insignificance in the light of His reality. He has overcome the world, and He is making all things new!

Let those truths dwell in your heart today.

Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.  Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.

Colossians 3 v 1-2
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The wreck of our culture

Our culture, our nation, could be seen as a mighty ship, willfully steered onto a lee shore, and now caught fast by the reef of systemic sin. What then follows is as inevitable as night following day.

Are current events really much different now than they ever were? Surely the history of mankind is replete with brokenness, difficulties and troubles? Indeed it is, but I would submit that for thousands of years our culture has been influenced by the salt and light of Christians. For sure – imperfectly, distorted, sometimes in the midst of evil ostensibly done in His name. But still acting, preserving and restraining.

But not so much anymore. The influence of Christians on our culture has been waning for many decades, and now we now see a society that has largely turned its back; unmoored from previous restraints. That is something new.

But we do not see this for what it is. The trappings of our culture and society mostly remain. Everything ‘looks’ normal. But it is the normal of a rotten tree – reaching bare branches blindly into the sky. We admire it, having stood for millennia; what could move it? We are secure, wrapped in the robe of complacency. Until one black night, a storm rolls in, and in the morning what was appeared so majestic now lies in ruins, broken on the ground. What then will we do?

What was hidden will be revealed. And it matters who we are, because in that time it will be revealed, to us and to everybody else.

Simon Leys wrote:

The everyday order of our lives may seem to us natural and permanent, but it is in fact as fragile and illusory as the cardboard props on a theatrical stage: It can collapse in a flash and turn at once into black horror. Our condition is forever precarious; even basic human decency can shatter and vanish in an instant.

Does that sound too absurd, too outlandish? Surely, that could not happen where I live?

Oh, really? Is human nature somehow different where you live?

Without the strong anchor point of Jesus, who stills the storm and commands us not to be afraid, what do you think will happen when the storm hits? When the comforts and trappings of our lives are taken away, and our very existence threatened?

Do not be afraid, but also do not be deceived. Most people will, as was ever the case, do what they need to do to survive. Only a very small minority will have the courage and fortitude to do something better – to resist evil men and their strongholds. Only those who have anchored on to the Firm Foundation, when the rock of self is proven illusory. And those who stand will not be those whom you think. Many of the strong, the great, the mighty, will fall, seemingly overnight. And the army of the weak and the broken will rise.

Only a few will find the road that leads to life. It is narrow, rocky, hard to follow, and along the way you will carry a cross to your own Golgotha, following in your Masters footsteps. It will be hard, yes – but not too hard for Him. Better that road than the easy one, sloping down gradually to death and destruction.

There is hope in that way, because He is the Way. And He is kind, He is faithful, He is the source of Love, and He promises to carry us when we cannot continue.

This remains the counsel in the twilight of this age – choose the Path, the Road, the Way that will cost you everything, but will lead you to life eternal.

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Do not be afraid

Well then. It is easy to say ‘do not be afraid’. It is easy to say ‘Trust in the Lord, and lay all your burdens on Him’. And doing so can be like trying to lift yourself by your own shoelaces. Try as we might, we cannot. It just becomes another burden that we cannot lift. The weight crushes us, for despite the act of our will, our hearts did not listen, and fear floods us.

We are unable. But God knows this, too.

“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”

Jesus

We truly can do nothing, and in that weakness is His strength. There is nothing you are going through that he cannot hold. There is no vow, no promise you are struggling with that He cannot undergird. There is no fear, no anxiety, no troubles, that overwhelms Him. He is sufficient. He is the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. Nothing fazes Him. He has walked this earth, tasted our sorrows, encompassed them and lifted them all up as an offering. He is able. He does not require your efforts, your strength, your abilities. All He needs, is You. He knows you are afraid, and that no act of your will can address those deep fears. Always and ever, underneath are His everlasting arms.

‘Do not be afraid’ is not an act of the will. It is a surrender.

In what is to come, in where you are now, remember this.

Do not be afraid.

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Judgment is already here

Sometimes I hear people saying that judgment is coming. But have we ever considered that perhaps it is already here?

It wasn’t just to the church in Laodicea that this was written:

These are the words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the ruler of God’s creation. I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm – neither hot nor cold – I am about to spit you out of my mouth. You say, “I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.” But you do not realise that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so that you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so that you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so that you can see.

Revelation 3 v 14-18

We are indeed blind if we do not to see it – the supposed riches and imaginary fine clothes of our culture actually cover a naked emaciated frame. How long is it since the Lord has said to us as a people – ‘your will be done’? And what a hell we have made with that untrammeled will!

So do not ask when judgment will come. It is already here, and has been for quite some time. Perhaps it will reach its end game soon, when even the most blind amongst us will start to grope towards understanding.


The truth is, any direct judgment would be a mercy and kindness in such a land.

A Mercy Judgment, if you will.

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