Repentance in the Church and Nation

As I am somewhat sick at present, what’s sitting in a draft state will have to stay there for now. What I want to do today is link to an excellent article over on Prophecy Today. Some excerpts here, but I do encourage you to read the whole thing.

Just as almost exactly 80 years ago the heroes of Dunkirk were the little boats, perhaps today’s lockdown heroes are the faithful small groups coming together to pray.

But more broadly, denominational leaders collectively seem to be ‘on mute’, not really sure of the nature of the crisis and possibly hoping that it will all end soon and everything will carry on as before. Except it won’t.

Local church leaders need to be challenging and encouraging their congregations (and others) to repent of sin and seek the Lord while he may be found. Concerted, serious prayer and fasting is necessary and days of prayer are to be commended – but God is looking for more than mere confession of sin. He wants us truly to repent (true repentance requires action) – whether of sins of omission or commission – and then to model biblical practice, whether in the family, at church, in the marketplace or wherever else.

What is more, Covid-19 is only the harbinger of many more cataclysmic events to come (see Matthew 24, Mark 13, Luke 21 and Revelation) – albeit a future that will also be characterised by great opportunity. 

I would suggest that while Covid-19 is part of God shaking all nations (including the UK), our Government in particular is also being shaken, in part because so many of us look to Government as the answer to our problems, when we should look to God.

To whom much is given, much is expected. The UK has historically been greatly used and greatly blessed by God. We are now in a very precarious place, which could become much, much worse (e.g. with the collapse of sterling, indeed possibly of our whole economy and body politic too). The urgency of the hour is critical – but what will it take for the Church to lead the way for the country as a whole in the sort of repentance that God requires?

God has brought us out of Egypt (the EU) for more than this. Soon we will reach a crossroads, where the signposts read ‘Back to Egypt’, ‘To the Wilderness’ and ‘To the Promised Land’. We as believers need to be in the right place to pray in and help politicians make the correct decision(s).

This time, for many (though clearly not all), the lockdown has been relatively easy. It is warm and there is food and water. But if we don’t engage seriously now, will God require that we have another unprecedented crisis (in much more challenging circumstances, and sooner rather than later) to get our full attention in a way that I am not convinced he currently has?

God will have his way in this nation, and if those who call themselves his people do not do as he requires, he will find someone else. In this war with Covid-19, it is time for the true Church to arise.

The question I have in my mind is, how to get the Church listening? Today, I was acting as technical support for a family member whose email wouldn’t send at all, but kept going to their local Junk folder.

Maybe that is an analogy for what’s happening in the Church! It feels a bit like the prophetic message isn’t even getting out of our own ‘junk folder’ to be received by the intended recipient. While we as the wider Church body are bombarded with so much mail, some urgent, some not, some true, some false, that any message may be drowned out even if it did end up in the correct inbox.

I do understand that our responsibility is to speak as we are called – and it is in God’s hands how that ends up getting disseminated. But at the same time I wonder – how should this kind of message be effectively ‘sent’ – heard – even if it is only then actually received by a few?

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Elijah and the Famine

Today I finally read an old email received September last year containing an article that has synergy with my last two posts. God has His timing in all things! From what I can tell, this was originally posted in 2008:

by Dale Garris.

“And Elijah said unto all the people, Come near unto me.  And all the people came near unto him.  And he repaired the altar of the Lord that was broken down.” – 1 Kings 18:30

Just a few years before this showdown on Mount Carmel, Israel had been lush with prosperity and wealth.  King Ahab had led the Israelites on a path that led farther away from the old, established worship of God than any before him, and had brought them to a life of riches, prosperity, and licentiousness. 

The gods that he and his wife Jezebel had enticed the people of God with appealed to their earthly and fleshly desires. No longer did they have to be constricted with an old religion that demanded holiness and the fear of the Lord. No longer did they have to lead a life of separation from the things of the world that other, more prosperous nations enjoyed. They could enjoy the prosperity and fullness of riches without the constraints of a religion that had become outmoded and old-fashioned.

Life was good.  So when Elijah pronounced the judgments of God upon Israel, they laughed him out of the king’s court.  The true prophets of God had been eradicated from the public place and were no longer a thorn in the side of everyone who wanted the rewards of love, peace, and prosperity. You were no longer allowed to mention the name of Jehovah, much less pray to him in a public place. They now had priests and prophets of Baal that had replaced those old critical and judgmental men who had caused such consternation in the land.

Elijah had stood as the one, lone voice who cried for a return to righteousness. 

And who was this hairy old man?  He didn’t seem to be of any real consequence.  He had no credentials, no theological bearing, and no consequential importance.  Even his dress revealed his lack of social prominence and his irrelevance in such a modern, sophisticated time as this.

Ahab’s ears may have been deaf to Elijah’s pronouncement, but when Elijah spoke, God listened.  The Ahab’s court may have derided him with laughter as he stood before the king, but 3 years later, no one was laughing.

We have followed a course similar to the one that Ahab had led Israel down. The Gospel we listen to is far different than the Gospel our grandfathers believed in. We decry the old brush arbor revivalists as hard, judgmental men who did not understand the love of God, and we have traded their message of repentance and holiness for one that is a kinder, gentler approach which promises love and peace and prosperity. 

But the love, peace, and prosperity that our modern prophets have promised us are but a worldly shadow of that which God offers us through a walk of righteousness in the fear of the Lord. 

We have been like the Israelites at the foot of Mount Sinai – we feared and trembled at the presence of God when the mount shook with fire and smoke, but as soon as Moses departed up the mountain and we were left to our own devices, we made for ourselves a golden calf to worship in God’s place. 

I have said for 7 years now that something is coming to America that will be far worse than 9/11, but I never knew what form that judgment would take. Would it be a dirty nuclear explosion in one of our cities, or an epidemic, or some natural disaster?  We would be hurt, but it wouldn’t take long to go back to our old ways. We are the great and mighty America, and we have an innate belief that we will always bounce back and dominate.

What if it wasn’t any of those imagined disasters, but something that struck right to the heart of that which we cherish the most?

What if we lost our prosperity and wealth?  And what if it consumed every level of our society and every part of our country?

We are living in that time of drought when the ravens fed Elijah by the brook Cherith, right after he fled the king’s court. 

We look to our televangelists who promise us blessings, and refuse to consider that our lust for those promises is what has led us to this drought in the first place.  But we still flip on the TV and hope for a word of encouragement that will convince us to hang on to a Gospel that has a form of godliness, but denies the power thereof. And of course, they tell us exactly what we want to hear, along with an encouragement to send them your money so that God can release His blessings all over you – but never a word of reproof or repentance.

The job of a prophet is not to tell you how beloved you are, how many blessings God wants to bestow upon you, or how much love is in your church. The job of a prophet is to rebuild the old broken down altars of God and declare unto the people of God their sins and transgressions so that they may come to a place of repentance and, once again, return to the true God of Israel.

“Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked… As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent.” – Rev 3:17-19


For America, you can most likely substitute your own country as appropriate.

Truth is, we never did want to listen to the message of the prophets, because it is rarely a nice, kind message. We would so often rather hear a soft message leading us down a wide paved road, gently descending to the bowels of hell.

There are few who would be willing to hear the hard message directing us to a little traveled, rough and stony mountain path. And even less who would then actually change course and head up that path.

But there will be some.

Photo by Vittorio Staffolani on
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The train vision

Recently I felt prompted to find a vision received more than a decade ago, in response to my previous post and an article I was reading here.

I saw a train (old steam powered locomotive, many carriages) racing out of a tunnel and across a wooden trestled bridge spanning a deep chasm, aiming for the tunnel on the far side. I saw the trestles begin to crumble underneath the train, and then the whole bridge collapsed, taking the train down into the depths.

I had an impression of the size, momentum, strength and ferocity of this train. And for all its strength, when faced with gravity, it was powerless to prevent its own destruction.

The train is the train of materialism, and as strong as it may appear, secure in its own power, yet will destruction be wrought upon it. The chasm is the valley of death, and all that trust to this train to get to the other side will perish.

The message, loud and clear, is to get off the train! It’s at its last stop before it runs the final mile. Do not be found on the train! Get OFF!

22nd February 2004

The urgency was clear to me then, and it is just the same now, albeit much closer to the collapse. As I said previously, we have been comfortable, secure in our riches.

Even if we don’t say it with our words, we have so often said it with our lives. In my bank balance do I trust, in these four walls do I find security, in my work is my peace. And perhaps we can add to that now – in government, in healthcare, in science is my Strong Tower, I shall not be shaken!

I look at the words I wrote in 2004 and think – how absurd, who would ever trust in materialism to cross the valley of death? And absurd it is. But so often do we ape the world and live as though this is somehow actually true. Look away, draw the blinds, and trust in the security of the carriage and the numbers that are taking the same journey as us. So many can’t be wrong, right?

In the light of our often catastrophic choice for vehicular safety, there is blessing contained within this current trouble.

It is the twilight of the current age, and we bask in its fading gleams.  Much that can be shaken, soon will be.

And perhaps, now is. And it is a shaking, not to our destruction, but to wake us up to the things that truly matter before it is too late. A harsh but truly necessary blessing. Do we have eyes to see?

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Coronavirus perspective

Amidst the Coronavirus pandemic, it might be good to get a little perspective. At the time of writing, approximately 250,000 people have died worldwide from this disease. While this is undoubtedly a tragedy, consider that in the same time period 340,000 have died from malaria, 580,000 have died from HIV/AIDS, 2,800,000 have died from cancer and a staggering 14,600,000 have died from abortion. These are also personal tragedies.

The point being is that death is always with us. Not one of us will escape it. And, whilst we all know this truth at some level, many of us have successfully hidden it under layers of material riches. It takes this kind of event for some to wake up to the reality of our mortality, and to begin to reach out to something beyond ourselves.

The truth is that, for many of us in the First World, we do not need God. In this, compared to many of our brothers and sisters in the Third World, we are impoverished. For they, subject to the daily realities of mortality in terms of starvation, a failing crop, the death of the breadwinner with no safety net, sickness with no affordable medical services, amongst other calamities – they are rich because in their real need of God, they cast their cares upon Him. And there is no safer place to be than in His care.

Perhaps to us at this time the message to the Church at Laodicea is apropos.

To the angel of the church in Laodicea write: 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.

Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest and repent. Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me.

To the one who is victorious, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I was victorious and sat down with my Father on his throne. Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’

Revelation 3 v 14-22

Perhaps mixed in the midst of this current trouble is blessing, for those with eyes to see and a willingness to repent – to turn and receive true riches from the One who still loves us.

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The suffering world

I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed. For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God. We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.

Romans 8 v 18-25

Recently I wrote on the question that is asked at times like this – Why? With that in mind, I just wanted to add a brief additional thought to that pile.

There has been so much written on the subject of suffering, and I’m not going to rehash all that. Sometimes it seems like those discussions become recursive and end up eating themselves in frustration. I do not believe we are fully equipped to even ask the right questions, let alone to contain the answers. Yet.

But there will come a time.

In the Bible that time is equated with the coming of the ‘new heavens and earth’. And you will note, that is something that the whole creation strains towards, not just us erstwhile stewards.

Why is that? I cannot say, but this I will observe. What would we – knowing what we do about ourselves, wrapped in our own greed and fears – what would we have made of a creation that was as innocent and beautiful as the original Eden?

I submit we would have made of it a hell. And so perhaps the reason that the very creation itself was subjected to such futility was in order to protect and preserve it against and for the very stewards who were intended to care for and love it.

Subjected to futility….in order that it may partake in the same hope that we have…to be liberated and brought into the freedom and glory of the Children of God.

So, in the mix of beauty and pain that defines both creation and ourselves, there is Hope. This Hope has arms, legs, and a humanity that is transformed; the first fruit of all creation. He is the everything – the Alpha and Omega, the Beginning and the End. Upon Him do all things hold, and He Is Sufficient.

This is the Gospel. This is our Testimony.

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Modern Babel

Now the whole world had one language and a common speech. As people moved eastward, they found a plain in Shinar and settled there. They said to each other, “Come, let’s make bricks and bake them thoroughly.” They used brick instead of stone, and tar for mortar. Then they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city, with a tower that reaches to the heavens, so that we may make a name for ourselves; otherwise we will be scattered over the face of the whole earth.” But the Lord came down to see the city and the tower the people were building. The Lord said, “If as one people speaking the same language they have begun to do this, then nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them. Come, let us go down and confuse their language so they will not understand each other.”

Genesis 11 v1-7

In the Babel story, God saw what humans were doing, building themselves a city, reaching towards the heavens, and seeking to make a name for themselves. And what, under other circumstances, might be understood to be a good endeavour – an expression of our creativity – was not, because of what lay at its heart.

I wonder how similar that is to our current days? A cogent case could be put together that we have reformed Babel over the past centuries; that we have built ourselves a new tower, not of bricks and mortar this time, but of multinational organisations, companies, economies, military, social and other forms of cooperation. Of an internet that spans the globe, connecting us all, and allowing us to communicate and trade instantaneously. Of instant translations that again allow us to understand each other. Why, with a casual click, we can access a webcam feed on the other side of the world! Everything is more immediate and interconnected, as a new Babel city is formed.

These are not inherently bad things, any more than cooperating in building a tower was inherently bad. But its purpose is defined in its heart. And I believe that once again it is about setting ourselves up as gods, reaching to heaven, and making a name for ourselves, without a creator to bother our sensibilities.

As before, this will not end well – the blood of innocent millions sacrificed in the name of ‘choice’ and the blatant greed and inequality of our world testifies against us. These amongst many other wicked things that our culture tolerates and promotes, towards which we are so often blind.

For sure, there are still good things in our world. But they are not the facets of a beast-state increasingly built with ourselves on the throne. Without God, our best efforts to build a civilisation will always descend into a blaring hell.

I was recently sent this link, talking about this very subject in 2001. So, these are not new thoughts. But, as we are shaken up, perhaps the essence of our modern Babel is becoming a little clearer. We have been ripe for a mercy judgment for many, many years, which as hard as it might be, is better than allowing the encroaching darkness free reign.

Here is the good news. Despite all this, and whatever is mankind’s heart to build, the Lord will always have the last word.

Many are the plans in a person’s heart,
    but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.

Proverbs 19 v21

We should be thankful for that grace and kindness!

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Posts for this time

Here’s a few posts I’ve read recently, and would commend them to you:

Which gate?

Persecution Preparation

Time Out (bear in mind this is a Catholic blog)

Judgments, Darkness, Deception (wordy but containing nuggets of gold)

Preparing for the underground Church (we are inadequate, but He is not)

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Holy Saturday

Reposted from 2019, think this needs another airing today.

Today is a kairos moment, a time between times.

Jesus is dead, buried, gone. And we wait.
And, as usual, we do not see what is going on.

Death is being swallowed up.
Hades disarmed.
The gates of Hell broken down.
Prisoners released.
Satan runs trembling as yesterday’s victory becomes today’s defeat, his kingdom crumbling around him.

All these things happen on this momentous day, as Heaven storms earth and captures it in love.

All we can see is a death, a tomb, a sombre defeat.
Because our eyes have not yet been opened, we do not comprehend what God has purposed since the founding of the world.

But we will.

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In due course, the question is going to be asked – the one as old as humanity itself. Why? Why is this pandemic upon us? Why are so many people dying? Do we deserve this? Is God there, is He cruel, does He care? Or is it anathema to even think in that way?

There are so many questions wrapped up in that, and though we will certainly not get all the answers we are looking for – our understanding will always be incomplete – maybe a bit of perspective will help.

The first thing I’d like to tackle is the Christian apologist position. The one that says that God did not cause this, but does allow it. I understand the argument and perhaps it does hold some water. But here is the thing – it seeks to remove responsibility from God at the cost of bringing up the question of impotence and indifference. And God is neither! I think we need to be very careful in using this argument, lest we inadvertently dethrone Him, trying to intercede when He needs no such ‘help’.

The ancient Hebrews probably had a better grasp when they wrestled with the problem of pain in the book of Job without seeking to dethrone the one who is the Lord of all things.

So on to perhaps the key question – how can a loving and caring God allow, or cause, such a disaster to happen?

First thing – we perhaps need to be careful not to be making God in our own image, but allow Him to remake us in His image. What we understand by love, care and goodness is very limited and warped! Spend some time in the Bible, let it read us, and we will begin to understand our limitations in comprehension.

Second thing – let’s turn the whole question around. Why would God not send this as judgment? Do we really have a good sense of the society in which we live? Can we see, or are we yet blinded? Do we understand that evil, blood and darkness dwells in the heart of our enlightened, tolerant, inclusive and diverse modern Babel?

Is it perhaps not more of a miracle that His hand has stayed thus far, in mercy and forbearance? Would it maybe be love that causes Him to act now? Remember He is also a God of Justice. Which is not opposed to love, but rather a facet of it. And, do we not see yet that this may well be the beginning of a mercy judgment?

Another question that might be asked is, Why did God allow X to die, they didn’t deserve it? I know these are potentially very emotive questions, and forgive me for not being a pastor, but let’s turn it around again. Did X deserve life in the first place? Did they do something wonderful to be awarded life as a reward? No – and conversely neither does death have to be seen as an explicit or implicit judgment upon them.

Remember, all men are appointed to die, and then the judgment. The One who gives us life, can also take it. He doesn’t actually owe us anything, and it is a conceit to think otherwise.

Maybe enough from me for a bit. Time for a word from my sponsor. Jesus faced the same, implicitly stated question.

Or those eighteen who died when the tower in Siloam fell on them—do you think they were more guilty than all the others living in Jerusalem?  I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish.

Luke 13 v4-5

Perhaps this would have been the perfect time for God Himself to answer the question that had been dogging humanity for millennia. But – He did not. Rather, He turned round the question and addressed it to us. Where do you stand? Will you stand against Me? Or repent and turn?

Let us be clear. He is not in the dock, we are. We do not have standing to judge, He does.

Sometimes we think we get to test Him, to see if he is worthy of our time, our respect, our belief. It is not that way. Rather, we are the ones who will come before Him, and who will be questioned.

And we need to submit to the reality that He chose not to answer the question. Perhaps because we are not equipped to understand the answer at the present time, perhaps for other reasons. But the question that does need answering is, in the midst of trouble, will you trust or walk away? Those are the paths open to us.

Let’s paraphrase Jesus’ response in the light of current events.

Or the thousands who died during the Covid-19 pandemic—do you think they were more guilty than all the others living throughout the world? I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish.

These are not kind, pastoral words. But, they are words of life, and for those that respond they cut us deeply and bleed us into salvation.

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The choice

In the midst of our current troubles, we have new opportunities to choose between life and death. As ever, our Father desires that we choose life, and indeed the good news is that some are, waking up and realising that we are not, after all, gods – masters of our own destiny.

But it is a tragedy that some are using this time to extend the tentacles of Moloch worship. I believe that one of the reasons the nations are under the judgment of God is because of our wanton sacrificing of millions of our children, the very least of these, to the flames.

New Zealand has used this time to ram through an extreme abortion law. Now, the UK has got into the act. As it is currently harder to sacrifice our sons and daughters at officially approved Moloch temples, we have been given dispensation to set up our own altars at home, in order to keep the flames of evil and death burning brightly.

As I’ve said before, if we choose death, death chooses us. And I am not so much meaning physical death here, though that too. But the spiritual death, the second death. The coarseness, the stripping away of humanity, and the descent to hell that comes with all such heinous acts.

I am desperately sad to see it – a shaking to life, leads some nations to turn their back, and embrace death more firmly – hiding from God in hatred of all that is good. Am I overstating things? Maybe…or maybe it is that we do not see the horror of what we, as nations, do and have allowed under the blood-stained banner of ‘choice’.

I can only think that more shaking is going to be necessary, and delivered. Because God is love, and He is sovereign. He made a Way when there was no way. He is able to overcome, and He will be glorified. In the end, every knee will bow – worshipers and rebels alike. Maranatha!

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