Monthly Archives: January 2019

He is Enough!

As I’m sure you have too, I’ve seen people that might be referred to as ‘thrill surfers’; people who go from one Christian event to another in order to ‘get zapped’ by the power of God, or for some other spiritual thrill. But there’s no need for that; everything we need is ours already, in Jesus (2Pet 1:3; Lk 15:31). Here’s Jamie Engelhart on the topic, ‘He is Enough’.


When I was younger and still not clear on my sonship and identity I ran from meeting to meeting, and conference to conference, and author to author, and prayer meeting to prayer meeting, and revival to revival. Also signing up for one charismatic conference promising freedom and wholeness to another looking for the next great revelation or gift or anointing and miracle, and none of it seemed to satisfy or settle me at rest. I was always still searching for the perfect leader, church, anointing, ministry, power and revelation and never really satisfied or settled in Christ.

Now I know much of that was my immaturity and I love when people have a great hunger for the Kingdom of God, but I realize now that it was not as much a hunger for the kingdom, but a lie that I believed that Jesus was not really my all in all, or my life. I was constantly chasing the carrot dangling in front of me believing the lie that there was something that I was deficient of and that I needed one more “breakthrough”, or I had to constantly strive to get to “the next level” and that there was always MORE especially at the beginning of every new year.

Even though I have been (past tense) blessed with EVERY spiritual blessing in Christ and been given ALL things that pertain to life and godliness, that it was still not enough. The problem with that way of thinking is that you never then become complete or whole in Him because there is always the allure of there has to be MORE than this. We then come up with our cute cliches and rhymes and our “word” for the year that many times just leads to more frustration, because we are still trying to attain what we have which ends up being unbelief and shipwrecks the faith of many.

This was THE LIE that got Adam and Eve removed from the garden. satan planted a lie in their minds that walking with God in the cool of the day in union and relationship as children with a Father was not enough, and that there was MORE, which produced in them a thought that what God had given them was not enough and that they were deficient in some way. It is also important to realize that what the serpent promised them they already had since they were already “LIKE” God, but the craftiness of the lie was to convince them that they had to become what they already were.

How else could he tempt someone who already had all they would ever need. I see wonderful people walking thru this process all the time, they go from church to church, conference to conference, revival to revival, looking for that experience or the “MORE” and it will continually lead them to frustration until they come to the realization that HE IS ENOUGH.

Now I pray that none of you misunderstand me, are there experiences and wonderful encounters and growth and revelation that God has for us along the way? Of course there are, but it is not about us attaining those things but receiving (greek= Lambano, or to take hold of) those things by faith that He has already blessed us with, but even those are not things that satisfy. I mean how many times are you going to fall on the floor, or shake under the power, or receive a healing, or miracle, or receive 50 prophetic words, or see a vision until you are complete and satisfied?

Signs and wonders are to follow us and anytime we follow them it is backwards and not the Kingdom. “The Lie” of the enemy and his strategy has never changed, and it is to get us always looking for more and never realizing what we already have. Jesus said,” if you drink of the water that I give then you will NEVER thirst again”, for now you are to become the source of supply to other thirsty ones for out of your innermost being shall flow rivers of living water.


Brilliant.

Here’s the link to the original article.

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“You Are Here”

“For centuries, there has a lot of ignorance and damage surrounding the interpretation of the Bible.

“Take Galileo’s conviction for heresy, for example. By his invention of the telescope over 400 years ago, Galileo contradicted religion’s doctrine of the earth as the center of the universe.

“With powerful telescopes today we can see so far into deep space that we can see the stars receding from us at nearly the speed of light itself. Our galaxy alone contains around 250 billion stars, and there are somewhere between 200 billion and 2 trillion galaxies in the part of the universe that we can see… (Counting is hard.)

“The Bible was never intended to be used as a scientific textbook, and attempts to make it one almost guarantee ridiculous conclusions. It never “taught” an earth-centered universe– religion did.

“The cosmos has turned out to be far larger and of greater complexity than anyone in ancient times imagined… and, consequently, so has God. When you read your Bible, try to think of such a vastly incomprehensible Creator becoming one of us on our little planet– just because he loves us and knew we desperately needed to know it… Then, allow the encrusted doctrines, curses, and fears that religion has saddled you with to begin to fall away… all those ideas and beliefs that prevent you from being who your heart says you are and enjoying your God-given life… and freely loving him.

“Creation itself is a testament, crafted by God Himself, and observing and learning from it will never be at odds with our faith.”

– Don Francisco

Link to original article on Facebook

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And So It Began

This entry is part 35 of 35 in the series Fiona

Today would have been Fiona’s and my 35th wedding anniversary.

And five years ago today – around our 30th wedding anniversary – was when I really began to be seriously worried about Fiona’s health, and, unbeknownst to me, we were about to enter the hardest time of our lives – the beginnings of the really serious cancer pains and all the meetings and tests and clinics and so on that this entailed.

But I can’t believe it’s five years ago. The memories are so strong that it seems like only yesterday. And the grief has, once more, taken hold of me. I have to say that it goes up and down: for months I will be fine, but then all of a sudden it all hits me again. It all goes to show that there is no easy answer; no set/fixed timescale, no timetable for recovery. Each of us grieves and heals in his own way, and in his own time.

And Jesus has been close to me all this time. I have to say that He has given me the ‘peace that passes all understanding’ (Phil 4:7) and helped me through this last few years. He’s been my faithful Friend and, although it might sound trite, He has been my Rock, my Refuge, my truly present Help in time of my need (Psalm 46:1). The Lord draws near to the broken-hearted, and He saves those who are crushed in spirit (Psalm 34:18). I find it amazing (and yet unsurprising) that the same God that those Psalm writers wrote about, being close to them in their time of need some 3,000 years ago, is present for me in my time of need right now in 2019. That’s pretty awesome when you think about it.

And so, on my third anniversary without her, I am thankful once again for the incredible times we had together: the adventures, the joys, the sorrows and heartaches, the fun, the laughter (and there was lots of that!), the walks, the music, the meals, the kids, the dogs. Our life together was full and fun, and I am so grateful for having had that time with her at my side.

I miss you more than ever, Fiona. You were my companion, my soul mate and my best friend. And your legacy lives on in those who loved you; those for whom you were such a part of their lives that your influence and input still remains even though you are gone. We won’t forget you.


Header picture shows Fiona at our favourite beach, Porthcothan Bay in north Cornwall. When this picture was taken, in September 2013, Fiona had already been feeling the tumour pain for a few months and we were only just beginning to have it investigated.

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Church Recovery Day

It’s funny, but as an Evangelical, Charismatic, Fundamentalist Christian, I believed that the Sabbath (in my ‘denomination’, that was a Sunday) was supposed to be ‘kept holy’  – whatever that’s supposed to mean (nobody ever really explored the concept, after all!) – but at the very least it should be a day of rest, because that’s what God did on the Sabbath day. Whether it was a Friday, Saturday or Sunday didn’t matter, as long as we had one day a week where we rested.

For me, my Sabbath had to be Saturday, because I was working at Church things all Sunday, what with being a Church musician, worship leader and all. And my leadership didn’t like that; I kept my Saturdays clear rigorously, and of course if that clashed with their timetable (if they  wanted something done on a Saturday) they weren’t keen. But I held fast to my principle; after all, as a lead musician, and bloody good at what I did at the keyboard, there was no way they were going to ‘fire’ me (unless I dropped some doctrinal clanger, of course, which I never did).

But I have to be fair to them. My Church’s meetings were usually filled with the Presence of God, and I have seen people break down in tears just by the sheer sense of that Presence. The people were friendly and helpful, and genuinely cared and ministered to each other and to those outside the Church too. Underneath that surface, yes, there were all the harsh doctrines like hell and judgement, and most of the people there felt entitled to challenge complete strangers if they said something out of line*. And remember that just because God graces a church with His Presence, does not mean that He is affirming all their beliefs. Far from it; usually, He actually turns up despite our beliefs. But for the most part (and probably because I kept to all the doctrinal tenets), the church was a pretty safe place for me and my family.

This isn’t always the case, sadly. Some churches can be traumatic places to be, and to be honest I don’t know why people carry on going to them**. Until I read this piece by legendary Christian musician Don Francisco, in which he describes very clearly why he felt he had to be there every week, and to keep going back to the trauma factory. Over to Don:


“Monday… church recovery day. That’s how it used to be for me, except sometimes it was worse: It could take most of the week for me to heal after hearing what was taught in song and sermon on Sunday.

“Why would I keep going back? Because I’d been taught that going to church was necessary to please God; I’d attended since I was born. The Bible commanded it: “Do not forsake the assembling of yourselves together…”

“So, what exactly did I need to heal from? Fear, guilt, and self-hate… just to name the Big Three. Fear of a god who punished in ways that would appall a sociopath; guilt from every real and imagined sin in recent memory; and knowing that my heart was untrustworthy and “desperately wicked”…

“It didn’t really matter what denomination the church was, or if the preacher was a kind person or not; the bottom line was still this: God was angry at sin, and my only hope was to hide my sinful self behind Jesus.

“For those in varying degrees of recovery today, I have some advice for you: Like Paul the apostle did, consider all that religious stuff dung. Yep, that’s right: Bullshit.

“God is not angry with you; He is love. He became a human to prove it, calling us brothers and friends, forgiving us at our worst when we murdered Him. Today, we can each hear the Spirit speak words of love and support if we’ll listen.

” ‘Come to me, all of you who struggle beneath religion’s heavy load, and I will give you rest. Walk with me and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you shall find rest for your souls.’ And freedom from fear, guilt, and self-hate…”

– Don Francisco


Here’s the link to the original post on Don’s Facebook page

Need I add more? If you’re at a church like that, well, my first action would be to get out of there, but that depends on what Father is calling you to do. The loving Heavenly Father, of couse, not the nasty, radgy god that your church may be preaching. But the main thing is to seek Jesus, in whatever way works for you, and find your comfort and acceptance there.

Don’t get me wrong: not all churches are ‘tramua factories’. Far from it. Most of them are places of healing, friendship and, above all, the Presence of God. But the purpose of this blog post is to highlight, for people in such a harmful church, that there are churches out there where good is done, rather than horror. Churches where Jesus is preached, rather than conformity to the leadership’s whims.

Concerning matters of faith, I used to say ‘one size doesn’t fit all’. But in the case of Jesus, it actually does. Jesus does indeed fit all, even if His Chirch doesn’t. He loves you right where you are, right as you are, and does not ask you to change except where you want to change.

I think that’s marvellous, don’t you? Now that’s a God I can love!


*For me, many of the people were complete strangers, except for my group of closer friends. This is the way friendship groups work, of course. But the thing with being at the front is that everyone feels they already actually do ‘know’ you, even if they don’t. And in a church of 300 people, most people fall into that latter category 😉


**Go to YouTube and search for ‘Mark Driscoll God Hates You’. I will not stain my blog with a link to that lethal rubbish. Even thinking about that makes my blood boil, and injures my gentle pastor’s heart.

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Susan Cottrell – Why I Chose My Daughter Over the Evangelical Church

To most people, that’s a no-brainer. But for people inside the Church, believe it or not, sometimes they are forced (by those who really should know better) to make a choice between their church and their kids. It’s more overt in the States, but it happens here in the UK as well. Shame on those people who would make it appear that parents have to choose!

Anyway, here’s the terrific Susan Cottrell, whose work I have featured before on my blog. Here’s her story, here’s her passion, here’s her mission.

Be blessed.

 

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Don’t Ever Look Back

Here’s another excellent piece by my friend Dave Carringer. Like me, Dave has passed beyond the confines of restrictive religion, and walks free in the Kingdom of God.


When I woke up to the truth that my Creator never had any desire to be known as “God” over my life, but a Father, nourisher, provider and intimate friend… my vision of everything in life changed. I learned to love me for who He created me to be, and in turn, I began to love others around me from my heart because I saw His treasure in them as well.

When I found out the One who gave me life didn’t require sacrifice or service from me, but ‘sacrifice’ was merely the twisted perceptions of man that had been telling me who ‘God’ was… and that my purpose in this life was never to ‘serve’ Him as man had told me, but to enjoy intimate fellowship with Him in every detail of my life… my passion for the kingdom multiplied as a family reality nurtured in my heart by my Father… rather than some pressured requirement of institutional membership planted in my head by man.

When I saw my Father clearly revealed in Jesus, how HE was the humble one who came to serve, how HE came to be the sacrifice, how HE came to set man free from the distorted idea that we were ever separated from Him to begin with… my love for Him and everything around me exploded in ways I could have never dreamed or imagined.

When you find out none of the things man told you about ‘God’ were true, and we were ‘domesticated’ to serve man’s idea of a ‘God’ created from a warped mindset… everything changes. The freedom we were created for comes! The true life we were meant to live overflows! Lasting fruit begins to flourish in every area of our life because we’ve learned to simply abide in that which was ours all along in Christ! When we finally turn and see ourselves face to face with heaven, the veils of man’s distortion have to all fall away.

Once you realize you can hear your Father’s Spirit for yourself, speaking in a voice you clearly understand… no man or institution can ever control your life again. Run free and enjoy your Father’s love… and don’t be entangled in the yoke of man’s bondage ever again. Wake up to your genesis. You were born free. Live in that freedom… and don’t ever look back.


If I may also add a short commentary of my own, not so much to improve what Dave says, but also to look at some of the ramifications that I can see.

I wouldn’t quite say so categorically that ‘…none of the things man told [me] about ‘God’ were ever true”. Some of it was. Sadly this is because all the best lies contain a grain of truth, but that truth was twisted by people trying to fake things, people with the best of intentions, people with agendas, and the like.

Oh, most of the things I have grandiosely referred to as ‘lies’ were in fact very, very subtle changes. Like calling the Bible the ‘Word of God’ rather than the ‘words of God’ – a subtle but important distinction which supplants the Giver of Life with a book.

Like describing – and limiting – the Grace [free gift] of God to a trite and misleading acronymn standing for ‘God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense’ and calling it only that, rather than encouraging people to begin to explore the limitless, vast and spacious realm of its full meaning.

Like in one breath saying that God is limited to acting only within the strict confines of a set of rules written by humans over a 4,000-year period, while in the next breath saying that God can do what He likes because, well, He’s God.

Like the need for someone to go into the presence of God on our behalf, once again, just as in the days of Moses, where that someone has to be a highly-theologically-trained human rather than the One Who has already gone into the Holy of Holies on our behalf and has come out with a free pass to allow everyone to go in there.

Like allowing the ‘trained men’ to go in on our behalf and come out wanting to control others like their predecessor on whom they model their methods, who is held up as a greater standard of leadership as the One Whom the rulebook was actually pointing to; the man who came down from the mountains after learning that ‘thou shalt not kill’, only to get his thugs to murder 3,000 people because ‘god told him to do it’.

Like the subtle twisting of writings in that 4,000 year old ‘rulebook’ to make it the sole authority in the lives of those who would choose to follow that particular set of rules, while at the same time labelling every other human who ever lived as being degenerate and wicked and in fact somehow sufficiently ‘untermensch’ to be gassed forever with sulfur dioxide in a supposedly divine Auschwitz clone.

Like ignoring huge parts of the ‘rulebook’, which refer to fearlessness, to love, to mercy, and all by simply giving more weight to the people in that rulebook who got it wrong.

Like being so lazy and in fact unmotivated to going into that Presence, so much as to allow others to tell us what we are and are not allowed to hear for ourselves from the One Who is the Centre of that Presence. And then giving those people the power to hurt us and control us, based on concepts alien to the Person Who told us that we do not need such people to lead us.

Like preferring to remain in ignorance, and to follow ideas based solely on that ignorance, rather than to follow the One Who said ‘Follow Me’ and then showed us what that looks like.

Like not trusting the Most Trustworthy One to hold us up in the bottomless ocean of life and adventure, but instead allowing others to make us feel ‘safe’ by constructing fake ‘harbours’ of safety that are nothing more than prisons.

I will not go back into that cage.

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It Has to Stop

I’ll follow on from my last post with this one by Mike Douglas. This piece gives another slant on how people who should know better tarnish the image of God for others.


Here we go again… and again and again.

Last weekend we visited with dear friends and the discussion started, sadly, like so many [too many] others I have had in my years of ministry. ‘Mike, here is why I’m never going back to church…’

The particulars are not important. But they are very familiar. Good people, who love Jesus become completely turned off church because of the actions of those who claim to be followers of Jesus but who act nothing like Him.

Our friends love Jesus but are just tired of many in the church. They love Jesus, but I worry about how many more of these incidents they will see before they reject Him too. I also worry about all of those who don’t know Jesus but are getting their image of Him from His followers. As I’ve wrote many times, people are not rejecting Jesus they are rejecting us.

There is another reason why this hurts me so much. I love God the Father, God the Son and God, the Holy Spirit. I love Him with all my heart. He loves me with an unconditional, sacrificial love. He is beautiful to me. He has done great things for me. He thinks I’m amazing!

But now I must endure those who He has done so much for as well routinely and repeatedly hurting His reputation and thereby keeping others away from the wonderful love I cherish. If you love someone, I am sure you can relate to the pain you would feel if that person’s reputation was attacked through no fault of their own by people who should and do know better.

They would not get away with it if they were attacking my wife and I can’t let them get away with it when they attack my Father.

IT HAS TO STOP!

If modern culture were a hockey game, Christianity wouldn’t quite have lost the game yet, but the clock is running down, we are way behind on points and we keep shooting on our own net. For those of you not from Canada, insert your own sports metaphor. Tackling your own quarterback. You get the idea.

It’s no secret that people are leaving the Church, and although they are not all rejecting Jesus, they are surely saying no to the faith that bears His name. And many will never know Jesus and His Father’s love for them for the same reasons. It breaks my heart.

I spend a great deal of my time listening to many of these folks, and they educate me. Based on what I’ve learned, here are some ways Christians are hurting God’s reputation and hurting people:

1. Hating Non-Christians

In response to a dying church, many Christians respond with attack language and war rhetoric against those deemed outsiders (those who don’t fit within a narrow framework of appearance, conduct and belief).

This anger is something people see a mile away and are rejecting. Who would want to be part of that? Who would want to be attacked like that? Quit hurting and speaking poorly of my Father!

People want and deserve a Christianity that is known for love and kindness, not violence. One that reflects Jesus. Now, that’s attractive.

2. Making Jesus a Conservative Politician

Nothing has hurt the church more nor the reputation of my Father more than Christianity wanting to become a political lobby group and force their nation to follow their narrow, restrictive idea of what is right. NOTHING.

People rightly want a Jesus that can’t fit comfortably within any political platform or voting block. I have written about this often so won’t elaborate here.

If God is as be as big as we say He is, He must transcend political systems in the minds of His followers. Again, Jesus didn’t come to take sides, He came to take over. The answers to what is wrong in our society are not found by looking to Ottawa, Washington or London. They are found by looking up.

3. Defending Our Bad Actions While Destroying Others for Theirs

Time and again it is revealed that not only are those Christians who crusade most vocally on “morality issues” often the most broken, but that we are lousy about accepting responsibility when we fail—especially when we do so sexually.

In response to revealed indiscretions, we invariably see disgraced followers of Jesus blaming everything from pornography to the media to immodest dress to the Devil himself, instead of simply admitting that we too are messes, and we fail too.

One sentence could change so much but we so often refuse to use it: ‘It’s my fault, and I’m sorry.’

4. Misusing the Bible

When it comes to the amount of damage Christians have done in the world, the Bible is sadly the deadliest weapon of choice. We use it to justify wars and gun violence and to perpetuate injustice and attack those we disagree with.

We’ve ripped it from context, used it for our own political agendas, selectively enforced it and brutally bashed people over the head with it—and people have grown weary of it.

We must stop using the Bible like a hammer, unless it is to build something useful.

How have we gotten so far away from a Book that is all about the love God has for people such that He would sacrifice His own Son to be reunited with us? And use it to keep people away from Him.

Church is Broken

Sadly, must Christians don’t even want to admit this. But, unless we fix it, people are going to keep saying No.

But take heart. They are a growing number of Followers of Jesus who can no longer stand by and see the reputation of the One they love damaged by people who should know better. I’m part of that group. I believe there is a huge shakeup coming. And I can’t wait.

You don’t have to agree with me, but these views are held by many who have grown weary of a church that has lost its way. I still believe when someone encounters Jesus that he or she is changed forever, yet, that is not who they are encountering when they walk through church doors.

Jesus himself is a model of love, acceptance, forgiveness, peace and hope.May we look in the mirror and get rid of any arrogance and pride and fear that keeps us from allowing ourselves to be changed, until the true image of Jesus is revealed in us.


Here’s the link to the original article

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