Monthly Archives: July 2016

‘Should You Tithe?’

This is an absolutely superb article on ‘Escape to Reality’, by Paul Ellis, not specifically about tithing, but more about the issues surrounding ‘should/should not’.

Yoda would have had a field day.

Two quotes from this article that especially stand out for me are these:

“For starters, stop using the word ‘should’ “

“On the subject of giving, let each be convinced in his own mind. But let me leave you with this: A law-preacher will compel you to give using the carrots (“give and God will bless you”) and sticks (“stop robbing God”) of Malachi 3. Such a message insults Jesus who made us eternally unpunishable and through whom we have received every blessing. Don’t listen to it.”

Here is the article in full:

For years people have been asking me for my response to the tithing question. “Should you tithe?” Here are two responses:

  • You should tithe
  • You should not tithe

Since both responses are expressed as commands, and we are not under law, I care for neither.

“Paul, you’re being tricky. Please address the issue.” Okay, check out two statements below. Which do you agree with?

  • I tithe regularly, therefore I’m spiritual
  • I never tithe, therefore I’m spiritual

You will find both views debated on social media, but both sides are in error because each is boasting in what they are doing or not doing. There’s pride on both sides.

My friend Richie Lewis recently preached on the “Subtlety of Self.” The subtlety of self is manifested in the pride we take on whatever positions we hold. “I… therefore…” glorifies the flesh.

Let me give you an example that grace-lovers will recognize.

Formerly I was bound up with rules and rituals, but now I’m free from all that. I don’t work (Christ has done it all), I don’t tithe (Christ is my tithe), I don’t go to church (I am the church), therefore I am spiritually superior to others who have not seen the light.

What’s wrong with the statement above? It’s arrogant and unChristlike, is what’s wrong. It has the prideful stench of self all over it.

The problem is not what you’re doing or not doing; the problem is you’re identifying your self as your source. Because you have it all figured out, you’re better off. Hooray for you!

The subtlety of self

The works-occupied legalist glories in what she does, while the lazy grace-lover glories in what he doesn’t do, and both miss the mark. Again, it’s not what you’re doing or not doing that matters, it’s why you’re doing it (or not doing it). Any time self is the source of your joy or standing you are walking in the flesh. You are not walking by faith.

For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love. (Gal 5:6)

I hooked you with tithing but in Paul’s day the issue was circumcision. On one side there were law-lovers who said, “You should be circumcised” and on the other were grace-lovers who said, “You shouldn’t be.” According to Paul, both sides missed the mark:

Neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything… (Gal 6:15a)

Substitute circumcision for tithing or church attendance or whatever issue you’re debating and the point remains the same. The thing is not the thing. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.

So when people ask me, “Should you tithe?” I get agitated. It’s a bad question because it inspires you to draw on your knowledge, your understanding, and your clever ability to figure things out. Proceed this way and any answer you come up with will likely be a dead work.

So what should I do?

For starters, stop using the word should. All things are lawful, so don’t ask me to should on you. On the subject of giving, let each be convinced in his own mind. But let me leave you with this: A law-preacher will compel you to give using the carrots (“give and God will bless you”) and sticks (“stop robbing God”) of Malachi 3. Such a message insults Jesus who made us eternally unpunishable and through whom we have received every blessing. Don’t listen to it.

And don’t listen to the grace-grump who turns non-tithing into an angry cause. “We were lied to!” Tithing has become an offensive issue to some. I appreciate you may have been exploited, ripped off, and abused, but if you are offended, you’re not free. You need to give it to Christ and put your ego back in the grave.

To paraphrase Paul, in Christ Jesus neither tithing nor non-tithing has any value. If you want to tithe, then tithe, and if you don’t, then don’t. But whatever you choose, don’t brag about your choice, and don’t hammer those who choose differently. The one who boasts about his non-tithing is just as confused as the one who tithes-to-be-blessed.

Giving is where the rubber of our faith meets the hard road of need. It’s a subject we need to talk about more than we do. But it’s also a subject where we need to beware the subtlety of the self. When we talk about money let our conversations carry the fragrance of Christ rather than the aroma of arrogance.

Grace and peace to you.

Click the logo below to see the original article, where there are also links to other articles in the series:

e2r escape to reality


Stand in Awe

About 25 years ago, as I have said before, my dear friend Chris came back from several months’ working in Australia, and he brought back with him a whole bunch of great new songs from Christian City Church, Sydney, where he and his family had been worshipping while they were out there. One of the best ones, for me, was ‘Stand in Awe’; a real belter of a song with great lyrics, dynamics and a simple but haunting chord structure. Here we go: Stand in Awe by Phil Pringle, led by Christine Pringle and recorded live at Christian City Church, Sydney, Australia:

Stand in awe before Me
Careful to bring the glory to God
Stretching forth holy hands
Bowing down in reverence to God
Place your feet in my sanctuary
Lift your voice to the skies!

Glory to the Lamb of God
Glory to the Lamb of God
Glory to the Lamb of God
Sing anthems of praise!
Sing anthems of praise!

– Phil Pringle, 1990

Science, Faith and Ignorance

Here’s a great piece about the ‘science vs. faith’ argument which, while I personally consider it a false dichotomy (a problem where there isn’t one), does express that the ridiculing attitude, exhibited by some on both ‘sides’ of the argument, is completely wrong – at least when you are genuinely seeking after the truth.

I’ve simply copied and pasted the text in its entirety. The link to the original article is given at the end.

Haters vs other Haters, Atheists vs. Christians, Evolution vs Creation, Science vs. Religion…why the drama? This posting is based on a dialogue with someone sceptical of aspects of Christianity who watched a video of Christians making fools of atheists for their ignorance of science…This post discusses issues of: science vs religion, ridiculing one another, the place of the Bible in all of this, and whether or not pointing out how stupid everyone is, is actually helpful.

“An old friend of mine was sent an evangelical video that exposed ignorance among atheists about evolution and other scientific topics. The video was condescending and pointed out how ‘dumb’ atheists can be and ignorant of the details of the sciences that they often use to “disprove” Christianity.

“This resulted in criticisms of the Bible, our understanding of science and other popular issues that make many people sceptical of Christians and/or Christianity. The letter below was written as a response to some of his concerns and conceptions of the Church and her beliefs. This response discusses issues of: science vs religion, ridiculing one another, the place of the Bible in all of this, and whether or not pointing out how stupid everyone is, is actually helpful.

“I am not including his letter because I didn’t ask his permission to do so, but the content of the response is edited to be more general, as he is not the first person to discuss these issues or present criticisms of us.

“My friend,

“To be fair, there is a big problem in what people claim scripture actually teaches, and what it doesn’t, as well as what exactly the Bible is and isn’t.

“By that, I mean that the Bible isn’t supposed to be a science textbook. It was never written to be that, and it should not be used as one. For example, certain Evangelicals claim the earth was created in six days. They are a very loud but small minority of Christians. If we are going to treat the Bible as a science text for the sake of this minority’s argument, well, in the Creation account, the sun was created on the fourth day. If a day is based on the sun, then how were the first three days calculated? Elsewhere in Scripture it says that a day to the Lord “is as a thousand years”, does that mean it’s exactly 1000 years and that the Creation took 3000 years for the first three days and then switched to solar days on the fourth?

“The Bible expresses a truth that God created the world, but doesn’t tell us how or by what mechanism(s) He did this. So while the Bible doesn’t contradict science (unless something is a miracle, and by definition, a miracle is breaking something that should normally or naturally happen), it’s not meant to be a book used to teach science, because it’s not a science book. It’s that simple. The Bible is the story of God’s relationship with humanity, His plan for salvation, and His love to us.

“Your concern about the two great lights is a little bit out of place though, because, again, it is treating the Bible as though it’s a textbook. [ed: the person felt that the first chapter of Genesis is false science because it says that God created two great lights: the sun and the moon] It says “two great lights” because on a practical level to to anyone reading the text, what they associate both luminous bodies with, is light. Yes, one is reflecting the light of the sun (which some church fathers commented and meditated on, by the way), but on a practical level, they’re all “sources of light” to people down below. So you’re taking something a little bit out of context and turning it into a scientific proclamation when it was never expressed as one. Your conclusion that the very first chapter is totally disproven, is bizarre to someone who never even reads or treats the Bible the way that you are.

When it comes to scientific theory, I don’t see the role of the Church as having stances on various scientific topics. Everyone should be on a quest for truth and we should be ready to encounter it. Scientists have often discovered something and later discovered they were totally wrong. This is not ignoble. Look at how far atomic theory came in the second half of the twentieth century, for example. What was brilliant in the 50s was plain stupid by the 80s, but it was all part and parcel with seeking more knowledge. We do not fear scientific advancement.

“What bothers me a little, is the agenda on every side. Science isn’t “pure” anymore, it’s strongly biased by corporations, lobbyists, personal agendas, and basically whoever is paying for the research. So I can’t deny that I have a bit of scepticism toward a lot of things these days. Pretending that such biases do not exist, to me, as we discover more, I see how that informs me more about God and the world. The two don’t have to be at odds. I don’t know why there’s a “science vs religion” debate. I think it’s lame when there’s someone who has made it his mission to disprove God, and I think it’s lame when someone goes out with a desire to disprove a specific theory because it is at odds with his personal view. Everyone should simply be trying to answer the same question, “What is the truth?” and then “What does that truth mean?” because things can point at something and that something could easily be wrong, no matter how convincing it may seem. We’re going to make mistakes along the way, and we’re going to laugh at our ancestors and think we’re brilliant, and our offspring will laugh at us and think the same thing. I’m not overly worked up by this stuff because I’m not afraid of truth.

“To me, a real truth is God’s existence. More specifically, history does testify that someone named Jesus really existed, and for some reason we’re still talking about Him 2000 years later. When I look at what He said, He said very plainly that He is God. He’s either a kook, a liar, or telling the truth. I had to go through my own journey to come to the conclusion that He’s telling the truth, and I won’t force anyone to do the same thing. All I would say, is that in the case of Jesus specifically we’re dealing with a historical reality, and so one can’t dismiss the Christianity thing with the waving of a hand of “oh, that’s folklore”. At least, one cannot do that and say with honesty that he’s seeking the truth. People don’t seem to care that much about truth anymore, they seem to care about their opinion being right.

“With respect to your comments about the video and their ridiculing of atheists to prove a point… I’m glad you wrote some of what you wrote and I hope that you hold everyone to the same standards. Your comments about people “blindly believing something without fully understanding it” and that the video proves that “many people don’t know the details of evolution”, that the video is “biased” etc… You said these things in the defense of those whom the video was criticising, but perhaps now you can understand why the video was made. It’s because the majority of people point the finger at Christians with the same sarcasm and the same expectations that every one of them knows everything. You are justifying the ignorance of some atheists, and I hope that you can do the same with Christians who are treated the same way. There are people of every type, everywhere. There are good and evil atheists, and there are good and evil Christians. There are ignorant atheists and there are ignorant Christians. Trying to find each from each side is really not a helpful exercise and it will be never-ending. There are Christians who think the earth is only 6500 years old and there are a body of atheists that try and prove that Jesus actually never existed and that it’s a myth despite the strong evidence to the contrary. There are brilliant Christians (like the former atheist who headed the genome project) and there are idiotic ones. So let’s not waste too much time addressing the argument of the few. The question should always be “where is the truth?”

“So the video that you saw is clearly from the evangelical camp that represent a tiny fraction of Christianity. I know very few Christians who believe the earth is 6500 years old, and it’s not the teaching of the Bible that that’s the case either. At any rate, your conclusion that the video is garbage and that “proving that something is true by pointing out how stupid others are, is ridiculous” is a conclusion that I like very much. I hope that you realise the video was probably made because that’s exactly how many Christians feel when videos are made about them (I’ve watched some of them). These Christians feel that they are taken out of context, ridiculed for their alleged ignorance because not everyone is a scientist, and then held up as proof that Christians must be totally wrong and stupid because there exists wrong and stupid Christians. They’re retaliating and showing that well, not all the atheists even know what they’re talking about either, and they’re also regurgitating what they hear as de facto reality without trying to find out the truth either.

“Let’s leave the polemics for the emotional and seek the truth. It’s more constructive.”

Click here for the link to the original article.

I liked this article because it expressed very well what I personally believe: that there is in reality no real dichotomy between science and faith. Not that I really go in for statistics, but this next picture illustrates nicely the false assumption that scientists can’t be Christians!


And anyway ‘religion’ is Humanity trying to reach God. Christianity is God reaching down to Humanity and showing us that the gap is nowhere near as big as we thought. I’m a man of faith, not of religion. They’re two different things, although of course they can be related; although, in practice, religion usually involves others telling you what you should and should not believe! Maybe that’s why they’re scared of science – because therein lies a serious threat to their power base – but only for Religion that is being misused.

Then of course is the kind of religion that really does deny science. Most people who believe in God wouldn’t go to these extreme lengths:


‘Nuff said. I’ll stop my pointless ramblings and leave you to ponder this stuff – and then please go and form your own opinions!

Holy Are You Lord

The incredible piano and worship-leading talent of Terry MacAlmon cannot be overstated. Here he is singing his heavenly-vision-inspired song, ‘Holy are You Lord’. Excuse the dress styles and what have you; push through all that into what’s in these people’s hearts – this is real worship at its best.

If you don’t find your hands spontaneously rising up in worship as you listen to this song, it might be best if you check to see if your arms are still there 😉 :

Can you hear the sound of heaven
Like the sound of many waters
It’s the sound of worship coming from the throne
There are cries of adoration
As men from every nation
Lift their voice to make His glory known, singing

Holy, holy, holy are You, Lord
Holy, holy, holy are You, Lord
The elders and angels bow
The redeemed worship You now
Holy, holy, holy are You, Lord

High Climb 17th July 2016

Occasionally, I share tales and pictures of my flying experiences on my blog. Well, earlier this week, I went flying again on a glorious, clear day (which you’ll notice from the pictures) and decided, as the visibility was so good, to do a ‘high climb’. Most ‘routine’, everyday flying in light aircraft is done at 2,000 to 3,000 ft, sometimes up to 4,000, but we generally don’t go much higher than that because, well, basically it takes time to get that far up and it subtracts from the horizontal distance you can travel. Plus, when you’re that high up, you can’t really see all that much on the ground because it’s simply too far away. Oh, and we also don’t generally fly much lower than about 2,000ft, if possible, because: a) navigation is more difficult when you’re lower down; b) there’s less time to sort things out if there’s an emergency; and c) that’s what we call ‘fast-jet country’ – most military low-flying takes place below about 1,500ft (that’s why it’s called ‘low flying’! 😉 ) and there is a significant collision risk if they’re up and about that day.

Anyway, less of the blather; here are the photos! You can click on any photo to get to the full-size version of it, should you wish to.

Here is the aeroplane I fly, she’s a Piper PA-38 Tomahawk, callsign ‘Romeo-Romeo’, based at Exeter Airport, Devon.


(Also present on the ground at Exeter was my old friend Sierra-Juliet, a Piper PA-28 Warrior four-seater, which featured in my story ‘The Forced Landing‘. She is now part of the fleet at my flying club):


Anyway, to the flight. The visibility was so good today that shortly after liftoff, I could see the North coast of Devon. The dark blue bit right in the middle of the horizon is actually the Atlantic Ocean.


As I’m approaching the base of the cloud layer (it’s called the ‘cloudbase’, funnily enough), I’m looking for gaps through which to climb in order to get out above the clouds safely. My Pilot’s Licence only allows me to fly under ‘Visual Flight Rules’ (VFR), which means that I have to remain clear of cloud and always in sight of the surface (the ground).


Finding a nice gap somewhere near Crediton, I’ve managed to manoeuvre my way up between the clouds:


Climbing through flight level 70 (FL70; 7,000ft), there’s cloud as far as the eye can see. And above it, the vast blue dome of the sky and the brilliant white sun that is already too bright to look at:


Altimeter showing my flight level as FL71 or 7,100ft. The gauge below the altimeter is the Vertical Speed Indicator, which is showing a climb of about 400 ft/minute:


This is the cloud layer seen from above, from nearly 8,000ft above the ground. The thing to be careful of is that you always need to have a gap in the clouds in sight, so that you can get back down again. It’s possible to climb above the cloud through what we pilots call a ‘sucker’s gap’, and then it closes behind you…. you really don’t want that to happen!


 So here we are at FL80 – 8,000ft above the ground. Since she has a non-supercharged engine, Romeo-Romeo’s performance drops off markedly above about 5,000ft, but she still has a bit of climb left in her. I reckon she could make 10,000ft easily; part of today’s objective for the flight was to see how she behaves this high up. Next time I do a high climb, it will be all the way up to FL100, or ten thousand feet, which is our limit because above about that altitude, you begin to feel the effects of lack of oxygen (we have no oxygen equipment in these aeroplanes). Actually, even at FL80, I was beginning to feel a little light-headed and my breathing was affected too.


So here’s a nice big gap for me to descend through. During the descent, I will need to keep an eye on the engine’s fuel mixture; as we perform large altitude changes, we need to make sure that the proportion of fuel to air is correct, otherwise (coming down) we might get a ‘lean cut’, which is where there is not enough fuel for the engine to burn given the proportion of oxygen in the air, so the engine stops; something else that you don’t want to happen. The opposite effect happens when going up – you need to make the mixture less fuel-rich, so that you don’t get a ‘rich cut’, where there isn’t enough oxygen in the mixture to support proper fuel combustion.


Descending through the gap, then, there’s plenty of space to enable me to remain clear of cloud:


…and now as I drop out below the clouds, the visibility down here is just as good as above the clouds (although it isn’t as bright). That’s Torbay in the distance:


Turning now towards Exeter, we see Haldon Hill, the big ridge separating the Exe valley from the rest of South Devon – we call it Telegraph Hill and it’s a traditional place for vehicles to get stuck if ever it snows down here in the South:


And finally, back to the airport again. In the middle of the next picture is Exeter’s main runway 08/26, in this picture I’m established on ‘left base’, the leg of the circuit before I line up for my final approach for Rwy 26. Airspeed is about 75kts, flaps down, everything ready to land.


And here we are lining up on finals. Time to put the camera away and concentrate on the flying….


Finally, I wanted to treat you to a video I took while climbing through a gap in the clouds. Photos are all well and good, but this video captures nicely the huge, three-dimensional majesty of the clouds as I fly past them.


John Newton

John Newton’s Ring

This is a bit of an esoteric post, but it makes an interesting and most encouraging point – that not only you, but also your salvation itself, is absolutely safe in Jesus’s hands, unshakeable, secure, forever safe, unable to be lost. When Jesus said, “It is finished!” (John 19:30), He meant it!

John Newton was an eighteenth-century Christian minister, best known for his hymn ‘Amazing Grace’. I want to share here an encouraging passage from a book I am reading at the moment, about how John had a dream that showed him that, as I said above, his life and salvation were safely in the hands of Jesus.

“John Newton was one of the most respected and loved churchmen in England in the 18th century, but his life did not start off in that direction. Newton grew up, became a seaman, and later became a slave trader. Years later, as he was about to enter the ministry, he wrote about a dream he had had early in his slave-trading days that both warned him of the danger of his way of life and gave him a sense of God’s providence. In his dream, Newton was aboard a ship in the harbor of Venice, taking the night watch. A person approached him with a ring, gave it to him, and warned him to guard it carefully because as long as he kept the ring he would be happy and secure. As he thought about these things, a second person came up to him and convinced him of the folly of depending on the ring for his security. Newton dropped the ring in the water and immediately saw fire burst from a range of mountains behind Venice. Too late he recognized the second person as the tempter, who had tricked him into throwing away God’s mercy on his life. All that awaited him now were the hellish flames of those burning mountains. In Newton’s own words:

“And when I thought myself upon the point of a constrained departure, and stood, self-condemned, without plea or hope, suddenly a third person, or the same who brought the ring at first, came to me… and demanded the cause of my grief. I told him the plain case, confessing that I had ruined myself willfully, and deserved no pity. He blamed my rashness, and asked if I should be wise supposing I had my ring again. I could hardly answer to this; for I thought it was gone beyond recall. Immediately, I saw this unexpected friend go down under the water, just in the spot where I had dropped the ring, and he soon returned, bringing the ring with him. The moment he came on board the flames in the mountains were extinguished, and my seducer left me. My fears were at an end, and with joy and gratitude I approached my kind deliverer to receive the ring again, but he refused to return it, and spoke to this effect: “If you should be entrusted with this ring again, you would very soon bring yourself into the same distress. You are not able to keep it; but I will preserve it for you, and, whenever it is needful, produce it on your behalf.”

“After a short time, Newton forgot this dream. A few years later, however, he found himself in circumstances remarkably similar to those in his dream when he “stood helpless and hopeless upon the brink of an awful eternity.” There John Newton found mercy from the Lord. He discovered that the One who restored the ring would also keep it for him. This experience led him to exclaim, “O what an unspeakable comfort is this, that I am not in my own keeping!” [emphasis mine]. As a minister of the gospel, John Newton penned the words to many hymns, including one of the most famous and most often sung hymns of the church, “Amazing Grace.” It was a grace that John Newton knew from experience.”

– Goll, James W. Dream Language: The Prophetic Power of Dreams (pp. 58-59). Destiny Image. Kindle Edition.

There’s a massive Grace message in that story, as well as the message of ‘once saved, always saved‘.  This is a salvation that is worth celebrating – it is finished! Everything that needed to be done has already been done by Jesus on the Cross. All we have to do is to accept it.

We no longer need to ‘do, do, do’ to be acceptable to God; there’s no longer any need for us to try – because it’s all been ‘done, done, done!’

Now that’s Good News!

With All I Am

Here’s a gorgeous worship song from Hillsong – With All I Am (Jesus I believe in You). Last Sunday I woke up with this song on my mind – not that I knew it all that well – and it was ‘on’ in the worship session that morning. Another reminder from Father that in these dark times I need to keep my eyes on Him and not look down at the stormy waters.

Thank You, Jesus! 😀

Enjoy; soak it up!

Into Your hands I commit again
With All I am
For You, Lord, You hold my world in the palm of Your hand
And I am Yours forever

Jesus I believe in You
Jesus I belong to You
You’re the reason that I live
The reason that I sing
With all I am

I’ll walk with You wherever You go
Through tears and joy
I’ll trust in You
And I will live in all of Your ways,
Your promises, forever

Jesus I believe in You
Jesus I belong to You
You’re the reason that I live
The reason that I sing

Jesus I believe in You
Jesus I belong to You
You’re the reason that I live
The reason that I sing
With all I am

I will worship, I will worship You
I will worship, I will worship You
I will worship, I will worship You
I will worship, I will worship You

Help My Unbelief!

“I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” (Mark 9:24)

I know a man who wants nothing more than to believe. He’s very well-read on matters spiritual; he has devoured most of the Bible and has also made in-depth studies into the ‘background’ of the Bible’s history. He’s read ancient history, he’s read about the ancient civilisations that are mentioned in the Bible (and some that are not!), and he’s even begun learning Hebrew. (And he’ll probably read this too – hey buddy!)

And he wants nothing more than to be able to believe. He wants it like nobody else I have ever met.

I love this guy. He’s so honest about his doubts and what-have-you.

And Jesus loves him too; there’s no question. His searching and seeking reminds me of two things: one, that Jesus said in Matthew 7:7-8, “Seek, and you will find…for everyone … who seeks, finds”; two, the verse that Jesus is probably referring to when He said that, from Jeremiah 29:13, “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart”.

jer 29-13

But he also reminds me of the story of the man in Mark 9:24, who says, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!”. In short, Jesus fully appreciates that there are people who do believe, and/or want with all their hearts to believe (just like my seeking friend) – and that’s perfectly ok. He neither judges nor condemns people for that, or anything else for that matter. You can be sure that He’s also available to help those who do believe but in some ways still don’t, and also those who feel they don’t believe but would love to. Jesus would say to these people, like my friend, “You are not far from the Kingdom of Heaven!” (Mark 12:24)*

help my unbelief

Belief is not always a black-and-white, binary yes/no, do/don’t issue. There are shades of belief; even within a single church there are people who believe different things and at different levels. For instance, the whole lot of them may believe in Jesus’s power to heal, but some may balk at asking Him to heal something really serious, like Alzheimer’s or cancer or something. But Jesus accepts them all just the same, because they seek Him. Seeking comes first; believing follows on after. “Lord, help my unbelief” is the seeking.

And the great thing is that even just a little bit of belief rapidly grows into a larger ‘amount’, if such a thing can be measured. This is what Jesus meant in His parable of the mustard seed, “[The Kingdom of Heaven] is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his garden. It grew and became a tree, and the birds perched in its branches.” (Luke 13:19) Once a person receives a taste of the things of God, he wants more and more! And God has already freely given us everything we need for life and godliness (2 Pet 1:3); all we have to do is receive, take a hold of it, and live in the blessing. It’s really that simple.

No, Jesus is no stranger to those who want to believe, but can’t quite find it in themselves. That’s because it isn’t really in ourselves at all; it’s actually in Him. That’s why the man in Mark 9:24 had to say “…help me in my unbelief!” – and in his context, he was actually making that request of the one Person in the entire world who could actually grant that request. And it’s the same today.  All we have to do is ask Him and He will help us in our unbelief; He will make Himself known.

Prayer – in whatever way you feel able – is the way to do this. If something happens, it will be the best thing that ever happened to you – let Him in, let Him meet you! If nothing happens this time, don’t be discouraged; it’s all part of the seeking process! But be encouraged – Jesus is seeking you so much more fervently than you are seeking Him! His love for you blazes with a jealous, fiery passion and intensity that is straight from the heart of the Father. In that love, He will lead you to a place where you are ready to believe. And He will never let you go.

To finish with, here’s a story song about the man in Mark 9:24, told like only Don Francisco can tell ’em:

At first we trusted anyone who said they had a cure
But with every disappointment it grew harder to be sure
Still, when we heard of Jesus, we went looking for this man
Who could break the grip of demons by the power of His command.

We found His close disciples in the foothills where He’d been
But as I tried to talk to them the devil struck again
My son began to scream aloud and his eyes rolled back inside
And he fell and moaned and he stiffened out and I turned to them and cried.

“Cast it out of him, I beg you!”, but it was all to no avail
And as each one made excuses all my hopes began to fail
But then I heard excited voices shouting out “The Master’s here!”
And as Jesus walked right toward me, desperation conquered fear.

I begged Him, “Rabbi help us, he’s my son, my only son”
Your men have tried to cast it out ah but nothing could be done
He’s been like this since childhood; no one can tell us why
Oh but Sir, if you can help at all, I beg You please to try”

“If You can?”, He thundered, “You asked me if I can?
Everything is possible when there’s faith inside a man!”
I cried “Oh Lord forgive me, please, I’ve lived so long with grief
And I do believe You can oh Lord, oh please, please help my unbelief!”

He told the spirit “Leave the boy, and enter him no more!”
It shrieked and threw him on the ground, worse than all the times before
‘Til at last he laid just like a corpse, and I thought it was the end
But Jesus raised him up and said “Here’s your son, my friend”

We walked back home that evening, and his mother laughed and cried
As we told her all that Jesus did; how the others failed but tried
And the lesson that he’d taught me in the healing we received
Everything is possible to someone who believes.

Everything is possible to someone who believes
It is your Father’s joy to give to all who will receive
Those who strive are always caught in the tangled webs they weave
But everything is possible to someone who believes.

 – Words and music by Don Francisco, used here with his permission.

*The Kingdom of Heaven is not referring to the ‘afterlife’ (although that’s part of it), but as God’s Kingdom here on earth, which is basically wherever Jesus’s people are. The Kingdom of Heaven is where the power and reality of the future Kingdom seen here on Earth, in terms of the power of God and the Presence of Jesus, which are right there with His people. Unfortunately, some of His people don’t realise they’ve got all this!

Stop What You’re Doing and Cry!?

Another gem from Wendy Francisco. Why is it that so often I find myself in tears over a particular song that just makes me feel God’s Grace all over again? In this article, Wendy goes a long way towards explaining it:

“I told Don I needed to do something about his 26,000 person page because there are just SO many haters on there. I love his response, “okay but don’t shoot sacred cows — just tip them”. This makes me laugh though because he wrote on his page that he thinks if you think the bible is infallible you “drank the koolaid”. Talk about nuking a sacred cow!!

“Anyway, here is the bomb, I mean balm, I just put on that page:

“I can’t tell you how many letters and emails I have received in the years of handling the business side of Don’s ministry, that say, “I heard He’s Alive” while I was driving and I had to pull over and cry”. It always made me wonder …why do Christians stop what they are doing and cry? [Emphasis mine]

“Don’s music went all over the world because he sings about love that surpasses our human imperfections like a mountain surpasses a grain of sand. And the surprise and relief among believers is tangible.

“When Jesus said that the world wouldn’t receive the true gospel, He was speaking about a world which sacrificed to angry gods who needed appeasement. Jesus came specifically to free people from a crushing religious system and from what human nature always tends to do to gods — make them angry and bloodthirsty, so that masses of people can be controlled.

“Don has always taken flack for what he sings. In the 80s he wrote I Don’t Care Where You’ve Been Sleeping, and took flack from many believers, including his record company, who left it off of an album it was supposed to go on. Yet Jesus demonstrated time and again, that such things didn’t cause Him to avoid or reject people — and He was the perfect representation of God.

“Jesus was more interested in people, in all our messes, than He was about morality codes. That is why we are supposed to avoid the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil… which we are gorging ourselves on. And in condemning others who don’t think like us, we inadvertently condemn ourselves. That is why reminders of grace cause so many believers to stop and cry.

“God’s love is absolutely pure, there is no darkness in Him. Jesus who did not retaliate, but who forgave us all, is the same today, yesterday, and forever. Jesus did not sacrifice Himself to appease an angry God, He sacrificed Himself to show us a forgiving one. That is who our Abba is. And this threatens us to the core because it frees us from our horrid judgmental religions, just like it freed the people in Israel who were able to see it.

“Jesus didn’t come here to create haters, gossipers, fearful religious captives, trying to enforce their doctrines and trying please god so he won’t stomp on them and curse their nation. That is the way of the world. Jesus came to show us a different way — honor, love, solidarity, forgiveness, reconciliation of enemies, and a truly trustworthy and loving God.


And here’s the original FB post that this was taken from:

I Came to Worship You

Here’s a beautiful worship song from Terry MacAlmon – I Came to Worship You.

Get somewhere on your own, close your eyes, and then either join in or just listen. Let this song awaken a worship response in your heart and draw near to God as you do so. Worship has no time or distance; God is everywhere – you don’t need to be in a meeting to worship God even with recorded music like this! Let the Spirit rise in your heart as you worship Him. As Terry says in the worship, ‘Oh, just find Him as you sing…..’.

I came to worship You,
I came to sing Your praise,
I came to love You, Lord,
Your Holy name to raise,

Hallelujah, hallelujah,
Oh, how I worship You,
You are my Lord.