Tuesday, April 27, 2010

The proof of the pudding...

Te other night I was having a passionate debate with my son (Ben is 26 and an atheist). We were talking about morality, Christianity, life, death – you name it! The telephone call lasted just under two hours!

In our hopes and dreams, in our aims and objectives and in our motivation Ben and I are poles apart. He believes that as he only has this one life and that as one day he will close his eyes and simply cease to exist he needs to cram as much 'experience' into this one as he can. His only restraint is his belief that we should all 'do unto others as we would be done by' – beyond that simple maxim there are no limits.

Of course we are still Father and son and share that unique sense of love and companionship that can only be found in a Father/son relationship and of course I continue to pray for his conversion.

As our conversation continued he played his trump card – the atheist's trump card!


It goes something like this...

"If everything in the bible is true (as you say it is), if the people you meet every day (including your friends and family) are possibly going to spend eternity in hell, if God is all powerful and has given you the ability and authority to be effective in ministry, if you have access to the gifts of the spirit, if poverty and social injustice hurt God, if you are going to be made accountable one day for the way you have invested your life – if all of these things (and I could add many more statements) are true why isn't your life completely dominated by your faith? Why do you (most of the time) look just like anyone else on the planet? You drink coffee harvested by slaves. You wear clothes stitched together by child labourers working in oppressive and dangerous conditions. You tolerate the illegal activity of brothels, which 'employ' trafficked women, in your town. You show no real care for the environment. You watch sport sponsored by breweries and gambling companies. Your life is no different from the lives lived by so many other people because your God and his demands are not really real!"

I've never understood why atheists don't use this argument more often. If I was an atheist I wouldn't waste my time pointing out inconsistencies and contradictions in the bible I'd simply hold up the life of the western church. I'd point to Christians and highlight the obvious fact that although they say they believe their apathetic, lazy, self indulgent and worldly lives prove that they don't.

I came off the phone bruised but not beaten, recognising that the only argument that will win the day in our increasingly global society is lifestyle!

When I start to actually live my life as if God and his demands upon me are as real as the demands of my TV set or newspaper or favourite football team then maybe I'll have won the right to argue for his existence. Until then I need to spend much more time 'walking the walk'.

"Do you see, do you see
All the people sinking down
Don't you care, don't you care
Are you gonna let them drown

How can you be so numb
Not to care if they come
You close your eyes
And pretend the job's done

"Oh bless me Lord, bless me Lord"
You know it's all I ever hear
No one aches, no one hurts
No one even sheds one tear

But He cries, He weeps, He bleeds
And He cares for your needs
And you just lay back
And keep soaking it in,
Oh, can't you see it's such a sin?

Cause He brings people to your door,
And you turn them away
As you smile and say,
"God bless you, be at peace"
And all heaven just weeps
Cause Jesus came to your door
You've left him out on the streets

Open up open up
And give yourself away
You see the need, you hear the cries
So how can you delay

God's calling and you're the one
But like Jonah you run
He's told you to speak
But you keep holding it in,
Oh can't you see it's such a sin?

The world is sleeping in the dark
That the church just can't fight
Cause it's asleep in the light
How can you be so dead
When you've been so well fed
Jesus rose from the grave
And you, you can't even get out of bed

Oh, Jesus rose from the dead
Come on, get out of your bed

How can you be so numb
Not to care if they come
You close your eyes
And pretend the job's done
You close your eyes
And pretend the job's done

Don't close your eyes
Don't pretend the jobs done
Come away, come away, come away with Me my love,
Come away, from this mess, come away with Me, my love." (Keith Green)

Grace and peace, A

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Freedom in Christ!

I am posting Dr. Neil Anderson's 7 Steps to Bondage Breaking today. I believe if you walk through these steps and pray these prayers you will be free! If the Son has set us free we are free indeed. I had to go through these steps when I was first converted.

Step 1) Counterfeit vs. Real Spiritual Experiences

  • Go through an inventory of occult and cultic and false religious experiences in your life.
  • "Lord, I confess that I have participated in ________________. I ask your forgiveness, and renounce ____________."

Step 2) Deception versus Truth

  • Go through an inventory of different ways you have been deceived.
  • "Lord, I agree that I have been deceived in the area of ____________. Thank you for forgiving me. I commit to know and follow your truth."

Step 3) Bitterness versus Forgiveness

  • Indentify people you need to forgive ( releasing the other person from our judgment and turning them over to the Judge of all the earth to grant judgment or mercy.)
  • "Lord, I forgive (name_________) for (specifically identify all offenses and painful memories or feelings ________________.)

Step 4) Rebellion versus Submission

  • Indentify rebellion to God-given authorities.
  • "Lord, I agree that I have been rebellious towards _____________. Please forgive me for this rebellion. I choose to be submissive and obedient to your word. In Jesus name. Amen."

Step 5) Pride versus Humility

  • Indentify ways in which we may be proud or have reacted in pride.
  • "Lord, I agree I have been prideful in the area of ______________. Please forgive me for this pride. I choose to humble myself and place all confidence in you. Amen."

Step 6) Bondage versus Freedom

  • Identify uses of the body as an instrument of unrighteousness, thus creating a foothold or bondage.
  • Sexual, abortion, suicidal tendencies, eating disorders, cutting oneself, substance abuse, etc.
  • Make specific prayers of repentance for each.

Step 7) Acquiescence versus Renunciation

  • This cancels out any demonic working that may have been passed on to us genetically or generationally from our ancestors.
  • You do not have to know what they are.
  • Specifically pray for the breaking of the generational curse.

Follow these steps in faith and God will release you from bondage into the glorious freedom that can only be found in Jesus Christ. Satan, I command you, in the name of Jesus to release all who read this from bondage at this moment. Precious Holy Spirit I invite you to come into their new and liberated lives and guide lead them into all truth and holiness. Amen!

Grace and peace, A

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Pressing projects!

In a couple of months we are off to a new appointment – Rayleigh in Essex. This appointment will be very different from Dartford in far too many ways to mention. However Rayleigh’s status as a middle-class, largely white Anglo Saxon market town might make ministry more – rather than less – demanding.

In addition, in a couple of months, I will be starting an MA in theology. It is my earnest intention that this study will not eat into my mission time and my plan is to try and fit it into the early morning and late evening periods of the day.

All of this means that the pressure on me to finish off current projects is increasing. I have an unfinished book on holiness outstanding and I’ve also been working on contemporising the text of ‘Heathen England’. I am seriously contemplating taking a week’s leave and locking myself away somewhere like Sunbury Court and getting both projects out of the way. This might well be the answer as I always work better to deadlines – especially tight ones!

I firmly believe that my inability to complete the book on holiness is partly demonic. I do not claim to be a gifted writer but I do acknowledge that God uses me in this way and that the results of what I write (under his influence) can have a profound impact on those who read them. I think that this book, written for today’s generation but passing on truths not really properly preached or understood for 100 years or more, could have a significant effect on The Salvation Army. Does that sound a little pompous or arrogant? Maybe, but I assure you that I take no credit for this (currently drawn out) project. I believe that the words are Gods and the holiness they address is needed by today’s church in order to become truly effective.

Holiness – the surrender of all that is sinful and doubtful and the entire consecration of oneself to God – is out of fashion at the moment. Worldliness – considered a sin by the church for 1900 years and then suddenly made legitimate – rattles around our ankles like a heavy ball and chain. A holy church, an unworldly church is a liberated church and one that can reach its maximum effectiveness for Christ and his kingdom. An unholy church will quite simply not ‘see Christ’ – not in its mission, not in its leaders, not in its congregations – for ‘without holiness none shall see the Lord!’

Grace and peace, A