Monthly Archives: January 2016

The Jedi Steps

My regular readers will know that I love to share things that I think will bless them; things that have blessed me that I just want to share the joy of. That’s why I share cartoons, music and aircraft pictures as well as Christian insights.

So, here is a lovely piece of music from the new Star Wars movie, The Force Awakens, composed by the legendary John Williams. It’s the music from the final scene of the movie, where the lead character, Rey, climbs up a long flight of steps, filmed at the monastery on the remote Skellig Michael island, off the southwestern coast of Ireland.


The haunting theme is so gorgeous, and then the music goes into the end-credits of the movie, where several of the major character music themes are explored; Rey’s Theme and The March of the Resistance being especially superb. This is classic John Williams soundtrack music at its very best: evocative, emotive and thoroughly immersive. For Star Wars fans, at least 😉

Anyhow, less of my blathering – play it and enjoy it!



The Promise’s Fulfilment

Today I want to talk a little about God’s promises, both in a general sense, and in a specific sense – that is, how they apply to you.

The Old Testament promises of the advent of the Messiah/Christ are well-known: the Daniel 7:13 prophecy and the Isaiah 7:14 verse, “Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel“; and Isaiah 9:6, “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace“, being good examples.

The promise of the Holy Spirit in Joel 2:28 – “It will come about after this that I will pour out My Spirit on all mankind; and your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions. Even on the male and female servants I will pour out My Spirit in those days” and in Acts 1:8, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and … to the ends of the earth

These promises happened. And once they had happened, nothing would ever be the same again. Once Jesus the Christ had come, it was historical fact – and nothing could undo it. Once the Spirit had been given at Pentecost, that was it. The Spirit had come, and nothing would ever be the same again. Once something which has been prophesied has actually happened, it becomes an historical fact – and it is now part of history.

I’m saying this to encourage you, because if God has spoken a promise to you, either from the Bible, through another believer, or even simply directly into your spirit, then it will happen. But it will happen in God’s time. In Daniel 8:26, it says, “The vision…that has been given you is true, but seal up the vision, for it concerns the distant future.” You see what I mean? God’s promise to you is true, and even though it hasn’t happened yet it is still true even though it’s in the future. For Daniel, the promise would not be fulfilled in anything like his lifetime. Some of it hasn’t happened even now. But for you (since it’s quite likely that your promise is not related to distant, end-time apocalyptic events, as Daniel’s was!), the promise will be fulfilled in your life – in God’s good timing. And in the way He wants to do it; all you need do is be patient!

But, of course, until the promise actually happens, it will appear as if nothing has changed. Because, of course, from our point of view nothing has changed – except that you have the promise. But as I keep saying, once the promise happens, nothing will ever be the same again.

The promise could come true for you in a split second, or it could take time to get to you. Nobody knows the time or the minute – but yet suddenly everything changes, and nothing will ever be the same again, once that promise happens. For example, some years ago I had my gallbladder out. Until that offending bit of kit had been removed, I would be prone to gallbladder attacks. But once the operation had been performed, nothing would ever be the same again – the bladder was gone and that was it. Fait accompli. And now that is an historical fact, and I never need to think about it hurting me ever again.

And in June last year, I received a totally unexpected healing. I’d was in the middle of processing some music tracks and all of a sudden, God started doing something in my spirit. I got Fiona to pray with me and I was in floods of tears, followed by the usual uncontrollable Holy Spirit giggles that usually follow when I’ve received a deep healing from God. And, although I can’t really tell you what the healing was about (because it’s too personal), I can say without a shadow of a doubt that I am healed from that particular affliction – the fruit of it has been seen regularly in my life and my son even said, “What’s happened to Dad??” and took photos proving what had happened. Those of you who know me well will know what I’m talking about…but the thing is that I did not expect that to happen; it came completely out of the blue – but now nothing will ever be the same again in that area of my life. Once a healing – whether supernatural or medical – happens, nothing will ever be the same again, because it’s now an historical fact. It actually happened. And it’s like that with God’s promises; once fulfilled, they are real, but also because He has promised, somehow they’re already real because it’s God Who said it.

Now I’m not suggesting you simply read a random Bible verse and claim it as a promise; I believe that usually God has to speak something to you in order that you can own it for yourself. But there are exceptions, as we have seen in that example of my healing described above, and the thing is that the Bible is full of good promises of God that I believe all we have to do is simply to get hold of, in order for them to apply to us. Hosea 4:6 says, “My people perish through lack of knowledge“, and I believe it is vital to get hold of an important key to accessing God’s promises – the knowledge that we need in order to avoid missing out on what God has for us.

As you might already have guessed, that key is found in Jesus. The promises of God, especially those in the Old Testament, are often ‘conditional’, in that it looks as if we have to fulfil certain ‘criteria’ before we can access the benefits of the promises. For example, Exodus 15:26 says, “If you listen carefully to the Lord your God and do what is right in his eyes, if you pay attention to his commands and keep all his decrees, I will not bring on you any … diseases … for I am the Lord, who heals you”. So the condition for this healing is that we obey everything God has commanded us. Everything! But whom do you know who can claim to obey the Law in all cases? Nobody! Nobody is that perfect! So, the promise appears inaccessible to us.

But it says in 2 Corinthians 1:20, “For all the promises of God in Him are yea [yes], and in Him Amen, unto the glory of God by us”  [King James Version]. All God’s promises to us are Yes – in Jesus! Jesus has already done the perfect obeying of the Law, on our behalf. So all the promises of God in all of Scripture are YES in Him. This means that you can claim all the good things that God has for you, all the great promises of Scripture, because in Jesus ALL of God’s promises to you are ‘Yes’, and ‘Amen’!

Now isn’t that good news? All God’s promises to you are ‘Yes’ and ‘Amen’, His promises always come true, and once it’s happened, nothing will ever be the same again.



Be Christ – Conscious, Not Sin – Conscious!

Last year, I preached a sermon, on how to find freedom from the hangups of sin, and I shared the gist of the sermon here on my blog.

And I’m not the only one who thinks this way. Joseph Prince, the Christian speaker and teacher, has also shared recently on this subject. Freedom from incorrect teaching on sin and its consequences is one the keys to real freedom; I heartily recommend you read this article and grab some of this freedom for yourself!

Click the graphic below to go the the article:

daily grace inspirations joseph prince

The “Penalty of Sin”?

Don Francisco, as well as being an anointed minister of the Gospel through his music, is also a modern-day prophet, in that he says what he believes the Spirit is saying to the churches in this day.

Of course, this gets him a lot of flak from conservative churchgoers who like to sit comfortably with their little Book of Rules and know exactly where they stand, as opposed to having a vibrant, living relationship with the One who inspired the Bible; the One to whom it points.

Don has on his website a series of small blog posts – considerably shorter than mine! – where he does religious ‘mythbusting’: taking supposedly accepted tenets of church doctrine and church life and exposing the error, or at least fallacy, in their arguments.

In this Mythbuster, Don challenges the idea that God is just longing to give us the Penalty that we deserve for our sins, and puts this idea in its proper context.

Click the image below to go to Don’s article:


Oh, and while you’re there, check out some of his other Mythbusters too, using the ‘Myths Busted’ drop-down menu to the right of the page. It will definitely be worth your while, and will lead you into freedom! #12 is especially juicy. Yeah, bring it on, Lord!

General Dynamics F-111

This entry is part 10 of 22 in the series Beautiful Destroyers

I’ve always loved the F-111. Big, beautiful, fast, loud, capable – and packed-full of impressive features that, as with so many Cold War jets, were at the forefront of technology.


The F-111 (pronounced ‘F-one-eleven’) was operational with both the US Air Force and the Royal Australian Air Force, and was originally notable for being the world’s first production aircraft that featured a fully-variable-sweep wing, or ‘swing-wing’; that is, the wing can be swept forward for slow flight – say for take-off or landing – or it can be swept fully aft for high-speed flight, or used at any angle in between. Here’s an excellent series of pictures showing the wing-sweep sequence:

It also pioneered both afterburning turbofan engines (as opposed to turbojet engines; turbofans are much more efficient), and automated terrain-following radar, in production aircraft. This latter enabled the aircraft to perform high-speed, low-level flight in all weathers and at night. Although a few military aircraft these days can do that, in those days this ability was absolutely revolutionary and really impressive, as indeed it still is.


F-111s were first used in action by the US Air Force in the Vietnam War, where three of the first six F-111 aircraft sent there were lost – but these aircraft were lost to structural failure rather than to enemy action. In all, F-111s flew more than 4,000 combat sorties and in all that action, only six were lost to enemy action. That is a really impressive combat record by any standards.

Although the ‘F’ designation in ‘F-111’ strictly speaking denotes a fighter aircraft, these aircraft, however, are bombers. True, they can carry air-to-air missiles for self-defence, but the primary role of the F-111 has always been that of precision all-weather strike. Here’s an Australian F-111C taking off for an evening practice mission – with full reheat:

Daylight takeoff:

You can just imagine the noise…..

During the Cold War, many F-111s were based in the UK, at RAF Upper Heyford and RAF Lakenheath. This F-111 is a Lakenheath bird – this is denoted by the ‘LN’ on the vertical stabiliser.

Lakenheath F-111E

From these two bases, the US Air Force launched a strike mission against targets in Libya, on 15th April 1986; this was called ‘Operation Eldorado Canyon‘ and I remember it vividly – because I saw the F-111s on the outbound leg of their flight, on the evening of 14th April 1986. I can clearly remember having just got out of the car at a place called Yelverton, in Devon, UK – where we were on holiday for the week – and all of a sudden, a whole string of F-111s flew over us, one after the other. We heard of the air strikes the next day, and we wondered if those aircraft had been involved; only later were we certain when we saw maps of the route that the aircraft had taken. Quite a sobering thought, to think we had seen these aircraft setting off on a combat mission – one from which one aircraft – and both its crew – did not return.

Now for a series of dramatic pictures of this lovely aircraft. In this first one, we can see the feathers of vapour forming above the wing, as the aeroplane pulls appreciable ‘g‘-forces in its turn:


Here’s the same aeroplane pulling ‘g‘ again, this time with the wings swept back:



…and here’s another of my favourites: an Aussie F-111 buzzing the control tower at low level and high speed:

The aircraft was unofficially nicknamed the ‘Aardvark’ because of its long nose; interestingly, only on the type’s retirement from USAF service was the nickname ‘officially’ recognised.

Talking of low flying, here’s a dramatic shot of an F-111 running in fast and low with the wings swept fully aft – and with the ‘burners lit. This would have made quite a noise….but you’d not have heard it until the aircraft was nearly past you, if even then:

An interesting feature of the F-111 was that it had its fuel dump vent at the rear of the aircraft, between the afterburners. An aeroplane might need to perform a fuel dump (getting rid of unwanted fuel) for various reasons, and the idea is that the fuel can be dumped overboard safely without setting fire to the aeroplane, usually via fuel dump ports on the wingtips or similar. On the F-111, though, things are a little different because of the positioning of the dump vent between the tailpipes. Because of this, the F-111 can perform what’s known as a ‘fuel dump and burn’: by spraying the unwanted fuel out into the sky behind the aeroplane when the engines are running on afterburner, the fuel is ignited and it catches fire in a most impressive fashion:

I love this next picture in particular because it also shows the vortices of turbulent air over the wings, backlit in orange/red by the fuel burn flare:

f-111 fuel dump 3

I have been under an F-111 when this happened – we were at an airshow at RAF Finningley in 1977 when the displaying F-111 performed this trick over the crowd – back when display aircraft were allowed to fly over the crowd, that is! Even though he was probably several hundred feet above us, the heat was quite astonishing. What’s the point of the fuel dump and burn, apart from it being a spectacular crowd-pleaser? Well, all that hot gas behind the aircraft gives an excellent alternative target for heat-seeking missiles. In other words, that giant flame can defend the aeroplane by providing a decoy, thus distracting incoming missiles from their true target. Clever.

Two more shots of the F-111, then, before I finish. These are USAF models: the top picture is of an aircraft based at Upper Heyford (‘UH’ on the fin) and the one banking away from the camera is an F-111F version, this is apparent from the round dome of the PAVE TACK sensor pod visible under the fuselage.

Upper Heyford F-111

What an impressive machine the F-111 is, or was at any rate. The type has been retired from USAF service now for nearly 20 years; the Australians retired theirs just over five years ago. Another Beautiful Destroyer.



“I Saw in the Night Visions….”

I saw in the night visions.

And behold, one like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven,
And came to the Ancient of days, and they brought him near before him.

And there was given him dominion, and glory,
And a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages should serve him.
His dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away,
And his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed.” – Daniel 7:13-14 (KJV)

This is one of my favourite passages in the Old Testament (OT). Around 600 years before the birth of Christ, a humble man – the prophet Daniel – saw a colossal vision, part of which predicted a Man Whose destiny would be breathtaking in its scope.

Most believers will know of the OT prophecies concerning the promises that Jesus would come. But this is one of the best, because not only does it refer to a man (‘one like a son of man’ means ‘a human’) who would be able to go into God’s Presence, but it also refers to his final coming at the End of the Age too. It refers to His Kingdom, which did come with Jesus, and is here now in His people by His Spirit, and will come into its completion when He comes back again. And it speaks of that Kingdom as being an eternal, everlasting Kingdom. Awesome!

And for those who didn’t know about these prophecies, isn’t this simply brilliant? That it should be predicted 600 years before Christ that there would be a Man like that, Who would not only declare the Kingdom, but would also claim the Kingdom in His own Name?

It is so well worth studying the OT prophecies concerning Christ’s coming. Because, very often, they not only tell of His coming, but also of what will happen later. One of the features of predictive prophecy is that, from the prophet’s perspective, he sees the things of the future at such a distance that they all bunch together into one image. So, for example, although two future events may be separated by a couple of thousand years, from the prophet’s point of view, he cannot distinguish between the two events in terms of their separation in time.

And this Daniel passage is a classic example of this. The Kingdom given to Jesus exists right now. Jesus has been ‘led into God’s Presence’ (Heb 4:15). These things have already happened. And the Kingdom, even now, consists of people of all nations and languages who serve Him (and this concept would itself have been inconceivable to the Jews of the time). So far, so good. But the ‘everlasting’ part of the Kingdom is in many respects yet to come – but because the first part of the prophecy has already been fulfilled, it suggests very strongly that the rest of it will come true also. As, of course, many of us believe that it will.

So, just as I have already recently shared with you the concept of Hebrew parallelism, please accept this little piece as an insight into another Bible study discipline – the interpretation of predictive prophecy.

Just one caveat, though – remember that some prophecy has already come true. So, when Jesus predicted the downfall of the Temple in Jerusalem (Matt 24:1-2; Mark 13:1-4), this actually did happen in AD70 when the Romans destroyed it. So, unless you know the history of the times, don’t rush into interpreting certain prophecies as if they are still to happen, or that they will happen today. In fact, a study of the Matthew 24 passage might be a fascinating way to begin on this discipline….. I will leave it up to you!

May you experience the joy of hearing God’s Voice as you read the Scriptures!

Note on header image – The Clouds of Heaven, taken by me at the controls of a Cessna 152 light aircraft over Cornwall, UK, in June 2015.

Jesus is King

Today I’d like to share with you a modern hymn, ‘Jesus is King‘.  A hymn, you say? Aren’t they all staid and boring? Well, when that hymn is sung by over 8,000 people, most of whom really mean what they’re singing, then no. This one isn’t staid and boring at all; you can feel the energy and enthusiasm of the worshippers as they sing!

This song declares so many timeless truths about Jesus, and it will do you good to play it to yourself (and maybe join in!) a good few times, just to let it minister this truth to your spirit. Go ahead, let yourself go – enjoy it!

Jesus is King and I will extol Him,
Give Him the glory and honour His name;
He reigns on high, enthroned in the heavens –
Word of the Father exalted for us.

We have a hope that is steadfast and certain,
Gone through the curtain and touching the throne;
We have a Priest Who is there interceding,
Pouring His grace on our lives day by day.

We come to Him, our Priest and Apostle,
Clothed in His glory and bearing His name,
Laying our lives with gladness before Him
Filled with His Spirit we worship the King.

O Holy One, our hearts do adore You;
Thrilled with Your goodness, we give You our praise
Angels in light with worship surround Him,
Jesus, our Saviour, for ever the same.

Composer: Wendy Churchill, 1982

Taken from my website, Vintage Worship Tapes, from the tape ‘Sing Praises Unto God’, and recorded at the Dales Bible Week, Harrogate,  August 1983.

Which Would You Prefer?

It’s supposed to be part of the Christian life to ‘share the Good News’ of Jesus. In the Bible passage that Christians refer to as the ‘Great Commission’, found in Matthew 28:19-20, Jesus says “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations…”.

The concept of the ‘Christian Witness’ comes from the verse in Acts 1:8, where Jesus says, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses … to the ends of the earth.” The ‘witness’ means the same as it does in a courtroom, where a person might stand up and testify, ‘Yes, your honour, I did see that man steal a car’, or whatever. In the ‘witness’, we essentially testify to the reality of Jesus’s Resurrection and presence, not only in the world today, but also in our lives. We testify as to what God has done for us, and we testify to how much He loves us. We testify that Jesus is alive, and that His Kingdom is at hand. But this happens because the Spirit is working in our lives!

You might have read my previous article, ‘The Ultimate Bad Witness‘, where I have described how some people in the Church get it utterly wrong.

Today, however, I would like to examine how we can perhaps get it right – by asking this sensible question, Which witness would you prefer?

In Jesus’s day, there were plenty of religious people. I don’t know whether their remit was to try to ‘convert’ people back then; it probably was, though, since firstly religions tend to do that, and secondly He referred to the Pharisees, who would “…travel over land and sea to win a single convert…” (Matt 23:15) But, just like today, religious people make very few ‘converts’, whatever they are, because people look upon them with their pious religiosity and their piddling little rules that weigh so much, and say to themselves, “You know what? I want no part of that!” And they are dead right.

Nobody really wants to follow the ‘witness’ of Religion.

What part of ‘being religious’ is attractive? The only thing I can think of is that people have a deep-seated yearning for God, and they think, like countless millions before them, that somehow God can be accessed by following certain rigidly-defined rules, or by not doing certain things, or by being miserable all the time, or whatever. But Jesus came to say, in essence, “Look, you’re doing it all wrong! God loves you! You don’t need to do all this stuff to please Him!”. This is why Jesus gave us only two real commandments: Love God and Love your neighbour as yourself. That’s it. You live a life of love – to God and to your fellow man – and you will be pleasing God. But that’s not what makes you acceptable to Him; you need do nothing more because Jesus has made you acceptable to God – in every way!

And Jesus knows all about the desire that people have to know God, because that’s what they were made for. I think that most people at heart want it to be true that God is good. They want it to be that God loves them. They want it to be that God wants to make a real difference – for good – in their own personal lives. But the god that is depicted by the Bad Witness is not a god that people want to follow, because quite frankly that god is horrible!

No, people want God to be like Jesus – kind, compassionate, gentle, but with the power to heal, forgive and restore.

So, after all that prologue, let’s compare the two witnesses. Would you prefer the witness of the Pharisee, or the witness of Jesus?

Which would you prefer?

The witness of those who put heavy, cumbersome religious loads on others’ shoulders, but do not lift a finger to help (Matt 23:4); or the witness of the One Who told us that we should take His yoke upon us, because His burden is light (Matt 11:28-30)?

Which would you prefer?

The Man Who heals the sick, or the men who complain when the sick are healed (e.g. Mark 3:2)?

Which would you prefer?

To listen to people nowadays who radiate the love, life, presence, power and healing of Jesus; or to those who insist that you must follow their particular rule-set to become acceptable to God, but who do not show the ‘good fruit‘ of the Spirit?

Which would you prefer?

Those who bellow ‘Crucify!’ when the accused is innocent; or the One Who says ‘Father, please forgive them’?

Which would you prefer?

Those whose lives are full of faith, and who show God as being compassionate, merciful and loving; or those who say he is angry, displeased and simply unhappy with humanity in general?

Which would you prefer?

Those whose lives, although full of noise and stuff, are actually powerless; or those who personally know the One Who made the entire Universe?

Which would you prefer?

Those who are fun to be around, interesting, funny, who laugh with you and cry with you, who love you no matter who you are*; or those who are narrow-minded and judgemental, won’t laugh at certain jokes, won’t enjoy life – and won’t let others enjoy it either?

Or, to put that last one more simply, Which would you prefer? – those who make you feel comfortable about approaching God; or those whom you don’t want to hear talking about God because they make you feel that God would turn you away?

Do you see what I am saying here? God is Good. All the time. If we depict Him as Good, then quite simply, more people will be interested in getting to know more about Him. More people will believe in Him. Because the witness will be a Good Witness, and not a Bad Witness. One that represents more fully the bubbling fizzing loving abundant life that is God, that those that find Him can partake of! And in that way, we will fulfil the Great Commission even more effectively!

Which would you prefer?

To ‘convert’ people by engaging in endless moaning and complaining about the way the ‘sinners’ behave, banning this that and the other, making people feel ‘sinful’ and generally being obnoxious; or to ‘be Jesus‘ to others – to show the attractiveness of being the followers and imitators of the One Who said this:

“Here’s how all men will know that you are My disciples: just show your love for one another!” (Jn 13:35)?

Which would you prefer?

I mean, come on! How hard can it be? It’s pretty obvious, isn’t it? 🙂

*See my article ‘Salt and Light‘ for more on this idea



The Woman Forgiven For Adultery

Neither do I condemn you. Go and sin no more. (John 8:11)

Jesus said to the ‘woman caught in adultery’, “Go and sin no more”. Whom do you know who has ever obeyed that?

Jesus is not telling her, just like the Pharisees, to obey yet another set of unattainable rules; instead, He offers her a new way of living – He offers her abundant life!

In this beautifully heartfelt essay, Susan Cottrell gives a brilliant, revolutionary take on the real meaning of the story of the ‘woman caught in adultery’.

Read and enjoy!

Remember the story of “Jesus Scattering Townspeople and Self-Righteous Men in the Name of Mercy and Justice”? Oh right, you may know it as, “The Woman Caught in Adultery.” I love that Jesus instantly knew the hearts of everyone involved. I love how Jesus never falls for any of it. I love that He lets her go!

It seems we rarely marvel at the whole picture of what is going on here. Instead – out of the entire story – many focus on Jesus’ parting words, translated, “Go and sin no more.” It’s also been translated to the softer, “Go and leave your life of sin,” but that doesn’t quite get it either. Instead, the translation I learned as a young Christian captures the heart of the situation and Jesus’ heart for people.

Jesus was not admonishing her to go do better, but inviting her to life, to His life. His message to this woman is, in essence: “You don’t have to live this way.” That is, “I offer you so much more than anything you’ve ever known.” This is true for several reasons.

First, let’s take a look at the setting: this woman had just been caught in adultery – most likely by the men who set it up to entrap Jesus (notice the man involved was not also caught). This is certainly not the first time they put their heads together to concoct a plan to bring Him down.

She is dragged out to the public square as an adulteress. Before Jesus. Before the crowd. Naked. Can you simply imagine the shame? I shudder to think of it. She knew that the consequence was to immediately be stoned to death.

Jesus then does the remarkable. Obviously stuck, obviously backed into a corner by these clever men who have succeeded in entrapping Him, Jesus has absolutely no way out. No way. Until He opens His mouth.

“You who are without sin cast the first stone.” The crowd is stunned. Flummoxed. This is not the way these situations were dealt with… ever. It takes a minute, but slowly the older men and then the younger ones drop their stones and turn away (most likely with guilt of their intended entrapment ringing in their ears, in addition to who-knows-what other skeletons they had hidden away). Only Jesus could have given such a mind-boggling response. Time and again in Scripture, Jesus circumvents their yes-or-no questions and gives an answer they never thought possible.

Then He turns to the woman. “Does no one condemn you?” “No one, Sir.” “Neither do I condemn you.” What?? You don’t? Why not? You have every right to condemn me under the law. Isn’t that what You do? Apparently not. But why not? That is part of the key to the puzzle of His following remark.

If Jesus used “Go and sin no more” as a mandate to go and rid her life of any sinful thought of action, He would have implied some condition, even though it came after her release. Like the policeman who lets you off with a warning might say, “Now, keep your speed down.” (Not that I have personal experience with this one…) The implication is, “I’m going to let you off this time, but don’t push your luck – and get out of here before I change my mind.” (That’s often the feel of, “Go and sin no more.”)

The trouble is, nobody goes and sins no more. Everybody sins and sins and sins. If she had the power to meet her own needs, or rid herself of her own sins, she would not have been tricked into this in the first place. Forget the heart, this interpretation would say. Forget dependence on God and just change your own behavior. But this is a fragmented concept, as if real change comes from the outside in, instead of inside out. Jesus always starts with the inside.

Further, if we think Jesus had to warn the woman in adultery not to do it again, we don’t grasp the situation. I’m pretty sure she got the message right then and there that if by some miracle she did not die on the spot from embarrassment, or from stoning, she would never, ever, no never, get caught in this situation, ever, again. The trouble is not voluntarily choosing to be in that situation again; the question is, how? How do I constantly find myself on the raw end of the deal? Why do I keep letting men like this take advantage of me? Why do I do this over and over again? How in the world do I find a way out from my broken and wounded heart? Anybody so shamed and humiliated would be searching for a way out, vowing never to let this happen again. That was the question Jesus answered! He always answers our real need! For Him to say, “You don’t have to live this way,” was astounding news for this woman! I don’t? She had to ask herself. No, Jesus was telling her, you don’t.

Jesus here makes an offer of deep healing. Jesus offers to make us a new creation, to break the bond of sin and death! He would not reduce his earth-shattering offer of life to a silly throwaway line that simply gives her more of the Pharisee’s lifeless medicine. That sounds more like exactly what Jesus criticized the Pharisees for, rather than reflecting the true, heart-focused Jesus.

“You don’t have to live this way” is consistent with Jesus’ offer to the woman at the well, whom He did not tell to stop living with her boyfriend, but instead offered her so much more than the scraps she was receiving. Likewise, He offers the woman caught in adultery freedom from the likes of these men who set up and expected her execution.

Jesus had compassion on the tenderhearted and showed them their need for Him. He never, ever shamed or humiliated people but instead gave them hope! Jesus soundly chastised only one group in His earthly life: the self-righteous religious leaders. This is the mode throughout His interactions. Come to Me for rest and peace and life – I will give you life. Rules don’t give life; rules produce death. To say, “Stop doing this,” would only heap death upon her shame and humiliation. But Jesus never did that! On the contrary, He heals the brokenhearted, He lifts our head, He offers hope and life.

To reduce Jesus’ words to “Go and sin no more” is to reduce the gravity of sin. It reduces Jesus’ work as some kind of moral cleanup instead of life from death! The only way to convince ourselves we’re able to “go and sin no more” is to reduce sin to something manageable. But Jesus said the very thought of sin is sin. He showed us that our sin is so large, so deeply rooted, and so unmanageable, that the only solution is to recognize that we desperately need Him!

The next time this interpretation is thrown at you as evidence of the seriousness of sin, as if you are not taking sin seriously enough because you don’t tell somebody to stop sinning, I entreat you to pause. Ask Jesus what to say. As hard as it is for humans to grasp a free-and-clear pardon, that is what Jesus offers. Don’t set that down and take up self-reform. Instead, let Him shape you personally, from the inside out, so that the sin areas fall away, replaced by the love, joy, peace, patience, kindness and other attributes only the Spirit can bring. That is what He does!

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One of the words which we nowadays translate as ‘hell’ is the Greek word ‘Gehenna’. In the context of Jesus’s day, it was used to refer to the rubbish dump outside Jerusalem, which was situated in a place called the Valley of Hinnom; ‘Gehenna’ is the Greek translation of that idea. Gey Ben Hinnom – The Valley of the Son of Hinnom, to give it its full (anglicised) title – was used in ancient times for idol worship and vile practices such as child sacrifices, as such it was seen as an unclean place of wastage and decay. It was of course known as somewhere to be avoided!

I’m not going to go into the whys and the wherefores of the existence or non-existence of hell, or any other discussion on the concept of the eternal destiny of human souls. Today, I want to talk about hell which is present today in real life. The concept of Gehenna is seen wherever human life is wasted, wherever precious souls are consigned to the ‘rubbish dump’ as being worthless. It’s seen when sufficient value is not attached to human lives, when people are not appreciated, where people are abused, in the bondage of slavery; either real slaves, which does go on today, let me tell you – or just people who are underpaid and whose work goes unappreciated, or people who are subjected to unjust working conditions such as zero-hours contracts.

So, I think a lot of what Gehenna means is the hell of wasted lives. There’s a bloke I know, who wrote this:

Just a little context before you think I’m getting all Southern Baptist Preacher on you…When Jesus uses the word ‘Hell’ he is referring to a place called Gehenna.  This place was known and was significant to the people of Jesus’ day – it was the rubbish dump outside of Jerusalem and was known to be always smoldering away. Really horrific things had happened there in the name of other gods and it was considered cursed. This image represented destruction, wastage, oppression.

Whatever your view on faith, I can tell you Gehenna exists. If you look around – it exists and it exists in front of our eyes.

Everyday I see lives wasted.

I see people oppressed by addiction.

I see people shackled by fear.

I see relationships stifled by insecurity or scars of the past.

I see dreams put on the shelf for another day.

I see mistrust that breeds mistrust.

I see abuse.

I see bitterness.

I see lies.

I’m not being judgmental, I’m really not – in fact, if I was to ignore these things I would be lacking in integrity and compassion. I would be shying away from responsibility by sticking my head in the sand.

Where we see the existence of Gehenna in the world, we need to lean over, stretch out a hand and drag others out of the pit of wastage and into freedom, opportunity, relationship.

We should be so close to the edge that we smell of smoke!

URL for this quote is here

(It’s worth reading the whole article too; it does have some bearing on this current post.)

I personally believe that the reason Christians are on the earth (else why not let’s all just go off to Heaven now!) is to bring the Kingdom of God forward from the future into today’s life.

Let me tell you this: ‘Life in all its fulness’ is not pie in the sky when we die, it’s grace on a plate while we wait.

It’s bringing in Jesus’s healing (physical, spiritual and relational), forgiveness and just total restoration to those who are sick and need the Doctor. I’d call that Good News! I have seen this in action in our church where we minister to the homeless, addicts and those locked in vice, and to see these people’s lives restored is nothing short of breathtaking. With all the different giftings in the church, which mesh together and provide supporting and cross-linked, God-built ministry, we really are leaning over into Gehenna and plucking them out of it and into the restoration that Jesus brings.

I have personally seen addicts’ lives restored from the brink, lives transformed, people healed and restored and delivered into fulness of life. This is really happening today in my church. Gehenna is being raided and plundered and people are being rescued – for real.

Wow! It’s brilliant what Jesus does!

Note: The header picture on this post is a shot of the Valley of Hinnom as it is today.