Monthly Archives: May 2020

No Going Back

Here’s a great thought from my friend Phil Drysdale:There is nothing wrong with engaging with spirituality at that level. For many that is all they need and want.

But know that for those of us that have moved forward we are unlikely to start moving backwards again. That’s not the trajectory of our path. Your plea for us to return to your absolutes is not likely to do much more than cause you more frustration and pain. And I can say with all honesty that is the last thing we want for you.

If certainty is what you seek, enjoy your certainty. There are even many out there seeking certainty and they may be all ears to your answers. But we are not those people.

– Phil Drysdale, used with his kind permission

For Two Sparrows…

Here is a superb piece from Jeff Turner:

And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.
-Matt 10:28, NKJV

How often I’ve heard the above passage used to prop up the idea that it is healthy to transmit to others, and have in ourselves, a terror and fear of God based upon His ability to torment us in hell forever. However, it’s crystal clear, without even deconstructing the idea that Gehenna equals the modern version of hell, that this is not what is being said.

Remember, the context in which Jesus said this is that He is commissioning His disciples to go and preach the kingdom to hostile individuals who will seek to imprison and kill them. Jesus’ solution? Don’t be afraid of them, because what they can do to you is quite limited compared to what God could do.

So, it seems simple enough, right? Be more afraid of God than people, right?


Read what follows:

Are not two sparrows sold for a copper coin? And not one of them falls to the ground apart from your Father’s will. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.
-Matt 10:29-31, NKJV

The point Jesus is making is that if you’re going to be afraid of someone, it should be the one who could do you far greater harm than any human could. However, this one is moved even by the death of a sparrow, which men imbue with little value, and yet He loves us far more deeply than He does the sparrow, as He’s has taken the time to number the hairs of your head. So if the death of a sparrow moves Him, how much more would harm coming to His children move Him! Therefore, though God is the only one capable of doing us true harm, He would never dream of it, and the conclusion of this passage used to encourage fear is actually “do NOT fear”!

So I say again what I’ve said ten thousand times before: any doctrine that encourages us to fear a God of wrath and retribution, violence and vengeance, is anti-Christ and the opposite of Gospel.

Universal Freedom

I have titled this piece as I have because I see a common theme of freedom all around the world: ordinary believers from all faiths, denominations and cultures are realising that God is simply available to all who call on Him, and He releases them into the freedom to serve Him as He calls them, and not according to the whims, doctrines and dogmas of other humans.

I wrote, in an article I published a few weeks ago, about how I am ministering in a group for ex-Jehovah’s Witnesses. On the back of that article, then, I present here an extract from the book Crisis of Conscience, by Raymond Franz, a man who for sixty years was one of Jehovah’s Witnesses, and who for the final nine years of that time was one of the Governing Body (the ‘GB’), the supreme council of that religion.

In his book, Ray Franz describes in detail much of the way in which the GB works, and he also describes the ‘witch-hunt’ and inquisition that led to his dismissal from the GB, and eventually his ‘disfellowshipping’ from the Jehovah’s Witnesses entirely. I mention this in order to give context, because what Mr. Franz speaks of here describes perfectly the freedom one feels when one emerges from under the domination of man-made religion and the need to please men in accordance with their doctrines. In my previous article, I  talked about people I had met in the ex-Jehovah’s Witness community who are now living free in the Spirit. I would say that in fact complete freedom in the Spirit is not really possible until one has shaken off that need to please men; this shedding of the need to follow the ‘doctrines of men’ (Mt 15:9) is what my friends in that group have progressed to, and this is what this extract speaks of.  Note also the parallels with dealing with Religious antagonists of any persuasion – especially the ‘judging adversely one’s standing with God’. Heaven’s gatekeepers at work again!

Over to Ray Franz:

The mind which renounces, once and forever, a futile hope, has its compensation in ever growing calm. I have found that saying true in my own case. I know that it has proved true in the case of many others.

Whatever the initial distress— a distress that sometimes follows the demeaning experience of being interrogated by men who, in effect, strip one of human dignity, make the weight of their authority felt, and presume to judge adversely one’s standing with God— however torn one may feel inside, afterward there does come a distinct feeling of relief, of peace.

It is not just knowing that one is finally outside the reach of such men, no longer subject to their ecclesiastical scrutiny and pressure. Truth, and the refusal to compromise truth, brings freedom in other fine and wonderful ways. The more responsibly one makes use of that freedom, the finer the benefits. The greatest freedom enjoyed is that of being able to serve God and his Son— as well as serve for the good of all persons— untrammelled by the dictates of imperfect men. There is freedom to serve according to the dictates of one’s own conscience, according to the motivation of one’s own heart. The sense of having a great burden lifted off, the lightening of a heavy load, comes with that freedom.

If genuinely appreciated, this gives one the desire to do, not less, but more in service to the Ones giving that freedom.

– Franz, Raymond. Crisis of Conscience: The story of the struggle between loyalty to God and loyalty to one’s religion. (pp. 453-454). NuLife Press. Kindle Edition.

I think that’s absolutely brilliant and, like I said, people from all faith walks are finding this freedom today all over the world. It makes no difference whether they are Jehovah’s Witnesses, Muslims, Evangelicals, whatever; God is doing this.

What’s even more remarkable is that Ray Franz had this epiphany some decades ago. God was moving in the ranks of Jehovah’s Witnesses even back then.


Ponder and digest, for there is great freedom in this.

Grace and Peace 🙂

On a Similar Road

I have come to realise over the last few days that all of the writers of the various books of the Bible were at different Stages of Faith. Just like us, they were all at different places in their walk with God, and some of them were possibly even at less ‘mature’ stages than we are.

This is visible easily in St. Paul’s writings, as his maturity and emphasis changes with the chronology as well as with his target audience (hint: Paul’s books are not placed in the Bible in chronological order, but in order of content!).

Not only were they as writers personally at different stages of faith, but the cultures they lived in were also at different stages of evolution regarding their concept of God.

So, the guys in the Pentateuch (the first five books of the Bible) were not long out of Pagan child-sacrifice culture, whereas those who had returned out of exile in Babylon, hundreds of years later, were very different in their regard for God and His ways.

In the New Testament, the view changes even more decisively with Jesus’s ‘perfect revelation’ of what God is like. “Now we have seen Him”, was John’s implication in John 1:18.

I find this quite fascinating, and it is all very much worth bearing in mind as you read the words written by these people so long ago, and remember that you too are on a similar journey.

But your experiences and learning will be different from theirs – and that’s ok. Amongst other things, the Bible is about an evolving arc of discovery of Who God is, and what He’s like. And it’s perfectly ok – a good idea, even, sometimes – to read it with that in mind.

Grace and Peace 🙂

Free to be Loved

Great little nugget from my friend Dave Carringer:

I’m not ‘accepted’, nor am I ‘forgiven’.
I’ve never been separated from my Source.
No surveillance film is being taken of my life.
I was never judged by a ‘higher power’.
I was judged and condemned by my own alienated mindset,
because of the alienated mindsets passed down from other men.
I’m totally (and forever) over all that now.
I’m free to love and be loved.
I’m One. With you. And I know it.
That’s really all that matters.
Nothing can change that.

 – Dave Carringer, used with his kind permission

38 Years Ago…

38 years ago this week, operations commenced in earnest to recapture the Falkland Islands from Argentinian invasion forces who had invaded in early April 1982.

I remember the Falklands War clearly.

I remember waking up on May 1st to hear about the first ‘Black BuckVulcan raid on Stanley, the longest bombing raid in history at the time, and realising later that it had forced the Argentine leadership to dedicate their Mirage III jets to defending the mainland, rather than sending them out over the Falklands.

I remember the late Brian Hanrahan‘s immortal words about Harrier tactical strikes from the aircraft carriers, “I’m not allowed to say how many planes joined the raid, but I counted them all out, and I counted them all back”.

I remember Colonel ‘H’ Jones winning the posthumous VC for his actions in saving many of his men from being killed, by leading a charge to destroy an Argentinian machine-gun nest and at the cost of his own life.

I remember HMS Sheffield being hit by an Exocet ASM and being lost the next day. I remember the first British pilot casualty, Lt. Nick Taylor, being shot down and killed over Goose Green on 4th May, after which they stopped using the Sea Harrier for strike missions, instead saving them for air superiority, a role in which they excelled. I remember that the British Pilots destroyed many Argentine aircraft without a single loss to Argentine aircraft in air-to-air combat.

I remember after the War, visiting HMS Plymouth, actually in Plymouth harbour, and seeing the place where her own depth charges had exploded on her decks after being hit.

I remember the heroic actions of L/Cdr Ian Stanley and his Wessex helicopter crew, rescuing the occupants of two crashed British helicopters on the Fortuna Glacier, South Georgia, in appalling weather and near-dark conditions in what was, after all, the late autumn/early winter in the Southern Hemisphere. I have seen that actual helicopter in the Fleet Air Arm Museum, which isn’t far from where I live.

I remember HMS Conqueror torpedoing the Argentine light cruiser ‘General Belgrano‘, and being grateful that she hadn’t got in amongst the much lighter ships of the British Task Force, despite the endless armchair pontifications of the journalists long after the event.

I am a military historian; there is so much more I remember… while today’s world goes about its business and most people have forgotten that ten-week War on the other side of the planet, rest assured I will never forget that War and the people who lost their lives on both sides.

And just as the War finished was when I met my Fiona. So how could I ever forget? 😀