A Rising Tide

I have felt encouraged by a number of words recently from various sources that are indicating that the Lord is moving, or about to move (depending on where you are) in a new way. This has been referred to as the “Third Wave” by some (e.g. by Sean Booth) and is foretold in a 1947 prophecy given by Smith Wigglesworth and by others.

In Reinhard Bonnke’s autobiography, he relates a story about what a rising tide can do. He was down by the pier where a large ship was moored. It was several thousand tons in weight. He was amazed to find that he could cause it to move simply by leaning against it. This would, of course, have been impossible if the ship was on the river bed or on dry land. But because it was lifted by the tide he was able to do what otherwise would have been impossible.

In Psalm 8:2 David says:

Out of the mouth of babes and nursing infants
You have ordained strength

I was reading a commentary on this verse which drew a similar analogy to that drawn by Reinhard:

The work that is done in love loses half its tedium and difficulty. It is as with a stone, which in the air and on the dry ground we strain at but cannot stir. Flood the field where it lies, bury the block beneath the rising water; and now, when its head is submerged, bend to the work. Put your strength to it. Ah! it moves, rises from its bed, rolls on before your arm. So, when under the heavenly influences of grace the tide of love rises, and goes swelling over our duties and difficulties, a child can do a man’s work, and a man can do a giant’s. Let love be present in the heart, and “out of the mouths of babes and sucklings God ordaineth strength.” Thomas Guthrie, D.D.” (Emphasis added)

Some people call the move of the Spirit that we are speaking of “revival”. Whatever you call it, it will be a move of love.

During this kind of work of God, watch the babes move mountains. God prefers it this way:

25 At that time Jesus answered and said, “I thank You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that You have hidden these things from the wise and prudent and have revealed them to babes. 26 Even so, Father, for so it seemed good in Your sight.

Matt. 11:25, 26

Confirmed by Paul:

26 For you see your calling, brethren, that not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called. 27 But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty; 28 and the base things of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen, and the things which are not, to bring to nothing the things that are, 29 that no flesh should glory in His presence.

1 Cor. 1:18-29

I am very encouraged that this third wave is, even now, happening around us. The best qualification you have to be part of it, is awareness of your weakness and inability for “when I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Cor. 12:10).

Oh God! Open our eyes that we may see what you are doing in these days!

  1. God has prepared the agnostic: If you can see it, you should be able to understand that God has used the pandemic to prepare people the world over. It has taken them off the hamster wheel, brought their mortality to the front of their minds and left many of them with nothing else to do but seek God and ask the big questions of life.
  2. God has judged the church: The US election has also been used by God. It has removed so many idols. Many big names called prophets by the people have been proven wrong. Those who have stood at the front of large congregations (including a whole nation in one prominent case!) tempting people to look to them rather than Christ have been taken down. The congregations have not been able to meet and the prophets have been proven wrong. In their place are the ordinary, the looked over, the despised who open their homes to the lost.

Oh God! Open our eyes that we may see what you are doing in these days!

The US Election

In 3 days the world will know the result of the US election. This is an election like no other in a year like no other. Many are praying that there will be a very clear outcome, one way or the other, to reduce the risk of social upheaval.

I have some people asking me about it so here is my tuppence halfpenny’s worth. I hope it helps.

Evangelical voters in the US are facing a particularly difficult choice and need our prayers. I, for one, am glad I don’t have to vote in this election.

There are 2 main components of the election facing all voters:

  • The choice between the 2 parties involved: Republicans and Democrats and the values they stand for.
  • The choice between the 2 men involved: Joe Biden and Donald Trump and their respective characters.

In the first choice the main issue seems to be around conserving or changing the US culture, perception of history and political systems. The US Declaration of Independence (“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal”, etc.) and the ideology, culture and history that springs from it and the US Constitution are things that many Evangelicals, reasonable people, and other people of faith in the US, believe strongly in and want to preserve. Many perceive that voting for the Republicans is a vote for that culture, history and philosophy and voting for the Democrats is a vote to destroy all that. This particularly applies to issues such as abortion and race relations but also applies to revising history, concepts of family and gender and other dearly held Evangelical positions.

I have found Ben Shapiro’s writings and podcasts useful when it comes to understanding the Republican view point. The Atlantic and the Economist are good sources if you want to understand the Democrat view point.

On the other point many reasonable people, Evangelicals included, perceive that to vote Republican is to vote in Trump for another 4 years. A lot of reasonable people including Evangelicals would see in Trump’s character and behaviour everything that they would consider the antithesis of the nature of Jesus Christ as described in the Gospels. Many consider Trump to be selfish and a narcissist in a similar way to other dictatorial leaders desperate to hold onto power at any cost (e.g. Putin, Kim Jung-un, Alexander Lukashenko). Joe Biden on the other hand comes across as a reasonable man who does not embody the extremes of the feared Democrat position.

So many Evangelical voters are caught between a rock and a hard place. They only have 2 choices:

  • Vote for Trump and the Republican party and usher in another 4 years of tweets, polarization, ego and damage to the Evangelical testimony in many people’s eyes or
  • Vote for Biden and the Democrat party and all it stands for including the loss of the gains in anti abortion rights, etc. that have been made under the Trump administration.

It is no wonder that John Piper recently blogged that he was not going to vote for either one (though he doesn’t recommend that to anyone).

The most likely outcome from this election will be disillusionment with the whole US electoral system.

Frontispiece

In Millennium the author combines deep biblical study with an active imagination to create an account of what life might be like for those living on the earth during the predicted 1000 years of Christ’s rule on earth.

In his account the millennium reign of Christ starts on a “possible” date of 2037 shortly after the destruction of Jerusalem by a nuclear explosion.  He deftly weaves in various biblical prophecies to create a compelling account of what it might be like to live during those times.

One of the fundamental theses of Brendan’s account is that during the Millennium there will be two types of humans living on the earth: those who are mortal and those who are immortal.  The immortals are the faithful, called and chosen ones from all ages past and up to the time of Jesus’ return who reign with Him for the Millennium.  They have a number of super powers and govern the earth ushering in an age of peace and security – unless you happen to oppose them.

Family Values

Dr. Carle Zimmerman, a Harvard sociologist who examined the rise and fall of empires through the centuries, paid close attention to the correlation between family life and national life. His book Family and Civilization concludes that deteriorating civilizations follow a reasonably definable pattern and that “atomistic families” dominate the social landscape in decaying cultures. When civilizations began to unravel, they had five characteristics in common.

  1. Marriage lost its sacredness, divorce became commonplace, and alternative forms of marriage were accepted.
  2. Feminist movements undermined complementary and cooperating roles as women lost interest in mothering and pursued personal power.
  3. Parenting became increasingly difficult, public disrespect for parents and authority increased, and delinquency and promiscuity became more commonplace.
  4. Adultery was celebrated, not punished; people who broke their marriage vow were admired.
  5. There was increased tolerance for incestuous and homosexual sex, with an increase in sex-related crime.

Carle C. Zimmerman, Family and Civilization (Wilmington, DE: Intercollegiate Studies Institute, 2008)

Zimmerman’s conclusions are so current, they’re frightening. He appears to have observed the United States in the twenty-first century and then summarized his findings. In fact, he wrote them in 1947.

The whole above passage is copied from Charles Swindoll’s book: “Abraham: One Nomad’s Amazing Journey of Faith” (Kindle Locations 2229-2239). Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.. Kindle Edition.

Pathetic Fallacy

Back when I was doing my Leaving Cert English course Shakespeare’s King Lear was on the curriculum.  I’m not sure was it my teacher at the time or a textbook but one of the phrases used was “pathetic fallacy”.  It referred to Shakespeare’s use of the weather in the play to reflect the action on the ground.  At the height of the worst tragedies that fell on King Lear the storms raged the worst:

“Blow, winds, and crack your cheeks! Rage! Blow!

You cataracts and hurricanoes, spout
Till you have drenched our teeples, drowned the cocks!
You sulphurour and thought-executing fires,

Vaunt-couriers to oak-cleaving thunderbolts,
Singe my white head! And thou, all-shaking thunder,
Strike flat the thick rotundity o’ the world!
Crack nature’s molds, all germens spill at once
That make ingrateful man!”

King Lear, Act 3, Scene 2 by William Shakespeare

So the now forgotten commentator called this kind of matching of the elements to the moral events on the ground “pathetic fallacy”.

The attitude that such connections are pathetic lies is now so ingrained into our thinking that anyone who even remotely suggests in our “enlightened” western humanist society that God might have something to do with the weather is likely to face the worst of scorn.   And, indeed, caution is always advised when attributing any specific elemental actions (e.g. fires, earthquakes, floods, droughts, etc.) directly to God’s judgments especially at macro levels like nations (notwithstanding the fact that these acts are all called “Acts of God” for insurance and other purposes).

However, the bible is quite clear that God is in control of the weather whatever we might be told by English teachers or otherwise.   Here is one example taken from Zechariah chapter 10 in the Old Testament:

“Ask the Lord for rain in the springtime;
    it is the Lord who sends the thunderstorms.
He gives showers of rain to all people,
    and plants of the field to everyone.”

Zechariah 10:1

I have a number of reasons for drawing attention to this current drought and asking the question:  “Is God judging Ireland?”

One of the reasons is that I woke up with a vivid dream this morning.  In it, I was in a train travelling through the hills along the coast.  It could have been from Greystones to Bray or somewhere similar.  On hills away from the coast fires were breaking out all over.  There was a solitary fire man fighting one of them.  I didn’t see any houses go up in flames just gorse and hedges.  But there were a lot of fires and not enough firemen.

To be fair, you wouldn’t have to be much of a prophet to predict that in this weather in this country.

We are all enjoying the fine weather.  Ireland is known for its rain during the summer or indeed at any time of the year and so any respite from rain is usually welcomed by the majority of the people.  However when it comes to judging nations the bible does have quite a lot to say.  Usually judgement comes in the form of an invading force but in Zechariah chapter 14 there is this verse:

 If any of the peoples of the earth do not go up to Jerusalem to worship the King, the Lord Almighty, they will have no rain.

Zechariah 14:17

The context in this case is (probably) the millennium rule of Christ on the earth which (probably) has yet to happen.  However the principle is the same:  When God holds back rain it is not a good thing.

Pruning Fruit Trees

We only have two fruit trees in our garden.  We have had both of them for going on four years now.  Neither I nor my wife would consider ourselves horticultural experts.  Indeed about the only things I know about looking after fruit trees I learnt from reading passages in the bible.  Particularly John 15.

So inspired by John 15 I took my secateurs (just like in the picture) and set to.

I first went looking for fruit.  One of our trees is a pear tree and it has never borne us any fruit.  I don’t blame it really, it was supposed to be pruned and trained along the wall.  Nevertheless this year it is showing some signs of fruit on one branch.  Maybe I was wrong but I didn’t have the heart to prune it much since it seems quite weak.  I thought it might find the shock of severe pruning too much and die on me.  But I did get rid of some new growth.

The other tree is some kind of edible cherry – a damson but yellow.  It produced its first small crop a couple of years ago and last year it produced a much bigger crop.  This year it is looking promising, plenty of signs of fruit on many of the branches.  So I thought – strong tree – fruit on many branches – I’ll remove the branches that are not bearing fruit and prune the ones that are a la John 15.

The fruit is quite green at this stage and easy to miss among the green leaves so I was careful to make sure there was no fruit before I removed a branch.  I noticed that if a bough was not fruitful (c.f. Genesis 49:22) then neither were any of the branches on it.  If a bough was fruitful then several – though not all – of the branches on it had fruit.  The tree was not large and neither were the boughs so I removed one particularly dead looking one and all its branches went with it – not one fruit on any of them.

I also noticed a branch that had had fruit but the fruit had, even at this early stage, been eaten or removed by birds or something.  I reluctantly removed that branch too.  At this stage it is too late in the season to presume it will bear fruit again.

When it came to pruning the fruitful branches I was quite thorough.  I didn’t want the goodness of the tree to be wasted producing only leaves so I removed new unfruitful growths and twigs.

I’ve been long enough around the Christian scene at this stage to have seen in churches the things I saw today pruning the fruit trees.  If a stream or denomination is unfruitful all that it grows is ultimately unfruitful and will end up being removed from the life giving tree.  It may lie dead on the ground for some time but eventually it is gathered by men into (building) piles and burnt.  So often only the shell remains.

I’ve also seen churches that were once fruitful but now no longer are.  They can show you the remnants of the fruit but the destroyer was let in and they also are unfruitful.

The work of the vinedresser can be sudden and traumatic.  At the right time, when the fruit is showing itself, then what is happening in the tree can be seen and it is time for the Father to act.  It isn’t easy when He does.

I believe that this is such a time in Ireland.

Visions during Worship

Corporate worship where God is moving in the Spirit is amazing.  I am sure all sorts of things are happening while we worship that we are probably only dimly aware of.  For sure there is more going on than most of us realise.

This morning during worship I had a series of visions – or perhaps imaginings, maybe still valid for all that.   Hopefully the imaginings or visions are of the kind spoken of in Acts 2:17.  So here they are, judge for yourselves:

During the first part of the worship I found myself in the Spirit accompanying the Lord’s army going around Kildare from pagan high place to well taking them for the Lord.  There were not too many and the battles were not fierce though real enough for all that.  We raised some from the dead during that phase.

Afterwards I was shown another vision, this time of the religious strongholds throughout the county.  These were far more numerous and far more effective in keeping people bound in darkness.  They were like a grid upon the county, like a lattice keeping people in their graves. 

Then we got ready for battle and passed through the county breaking down the religious strongholds and releasing people out of their graves, raising them from the dead.  These battles were fierce and difficult.  Sometimes we had to fell the towers, putting a sledgehammer to the bases of them.

In the final phase there was a victory ride through the county following Our Lord on horse back, He of course on a white one.

The Irish fields are ripe for harvest

God has been doing a mighty work in Ireland shaking everything that can be shaken so that that which cannot be shaken – the Kingdom of God – may remain and, indeed, expand greatly.  The powers of institutional religion and the intertwined government that ruled this country for decades have been broken and a spiritual vacumn has been left in their wake.  This vacumn is felt at both a national and personal level in many peoples lives.  Many now wonder how to bring up their children, where to centre their lives.

It is for them that Jesus wants Himself to be made known through His Church – not the so called church built on the corrupt religiosity of hypocritical men whose consciences were seared as with an hot iron (1 Tim. 4:2).  These men and women covered up and even carried out unspeakable things.  But this is not the Church of Christ, a Church that reflects the forgiving and welcoming holiness of God built on the only foundation worth building, on that of the Word of God (Matt. 16:18).

There is such a Church in this country.  It contains a small percentage of the population and has a diverse and geographically separated expression in many local assemblies throughout the country.  Now is the time for these to shine like beacons on a hill.

Never in living history in this land has it been so open to the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

All those who have a personal relationship with Jesus need to seek His will so that we can grasp this opportunity with both hands.  The window of opportunity will not stay open for long.  At the end of this period, Ireland will go one of two directions, either into the pagan syncretism of countries like Portugal and Italy or the evangelised hope of countries like Bolivia and Brazil.

Now is the time, rise up and take action!