To the rescue

Rescuer,
We try to be like You
We try to be like You
The boy scoots past and sings,
“To the rescue”
We try to be like You.

Teacher,
We want to learn from You
We want to learn from You
The youth climbs hills and shouts
For joy.
We want to learn from You.

Lord,
We long to follow You
We long to follow You
The man lives life and whispers,
“Show me
How to follow You.”

Moral ground zero

In significant moments
At times of great growth
Life on the anvil
Is really no joke

Change swirls around us
Upending our lives
Help us to cope, Lord
And do what is right

The kids are all gone now
They have faraway beds
Out in the wide world
Earning their bread

Our elders are passing
Who shaped us in love
We walk in their shoes now,
We are those we loved

We must move on now
Press on to the goal
Run that long race, Lord
And in time, become whole

Holy silence

How long can you be alone, and remain happy? A few days? Weeks? or maybe only hours.  I’ve known people who were uncomfortable with their own company for only hours.  Yet, the great hunters and explorers of North America must have spent months alone – think of John Muir, who was a six month in the Yosemite Valley with only a new testament for company.

The Linn of Dee – and the stones of Turin’s pride

At the Linn of Dee, I got out of the car and was struck immediately by the holy silence of the wilderness.  Almost it is like a church; I walk with quiet tread through the woods, mindful that this is God’s front room.

At the falls there is a mighty bridge across the narrowest part of the gorge.  It reminds of me of Ulmo Lord of Waters’ words to Turin in Tolkien: “throw down the stones of your pride”.  For Turin would have things as he would have them, and had caused to be built across the full flood of the Narog river, a mighty bridge, the better to access the entrance of the underground fortress of Nargothrond.  And Ulmo, herald-angel of the Most High, counselled Turin to cast those stones into the water.  For cometh evil that would use that bridge to destroy Turin, lay waste to all that he had created, and bring hideous sack and slaughter to Nargothrond.  And so it happened.

But what means this for us? The bridge at Linn of Dee allows vehicular access more easily so that walkers can get into the remote heart of the Cairngorms – one of Britain’s wildest, purest remaining places.  And rightly so – this bridge should not be thrown down.  But what we might throw down is dependence on stuff – idols.  Technology as our master.  Social media, handsets, tablets, the Cloud – all good things if they are our slaves.  But if we are to hear more clearly what God has to say in the holy silence of the wilderness, then we need to put aside the clamour of our toys, and focus on what is of true value.

An Anglican temperament?

A faint disdain for enthusiasm is the mark of a decayed and effete culture

Paul Goodman posts today in Conservative Home on “What Cameron can do next for the churches”. I’m not a natural Tory, I’m too right-wing – but the title caught my eye and so I opened it and started to read. I didn’t finish it; I’ve no slight interest in the details of what the Prime Minister can do for the churches. Some way into the article there was a wonderful statement of what Mr Goodman calls the “Anglican temperament”, which was of interest because it defines almost everything that I am NOT – member of an Anglican church though I am.

He writes of David Cameron that he “brings to politics what might be called an Anglican temperament: a certain moderation of tone, a reluctance to get hung up about doctrinal differences, an attraction to consensus, an aversion to “enthusiasm”, a sense of establishment and his own place in it, and good manners (most of the time).”

It’s worth going through clause by clause!

A certain moderation of tone – I’ve never been accused of moderation of any kind, much less of tone.  I have been accused of being “abrasive”, “alienating”, and “undiplomatic”.  As an older man I acknowledge the importance of moderation of tone, but it’s not something that comes naturally to me – I have to work at it.

A reluctance to get hung up about doctrinal differences – here is the heart of modern Anglicanism and one of the core identifying features of Englishness. The English, Anglicans or otherwise, don’t really think that what they believe matters. But doctrinal differences do matter. What we believe is a matter of life and death – in fact, as Mr Bill Shankly famously said of football, it is much more important than life and death. For me, both as a Christian and as a political animal, I do embrace doctrinal differences – I am partisan. The challenge for me and others like me is to be partisan without being tribal, to allow doctrinal differences without violent disagreement – in other words, agreeing to disagree.

An attraction to consensus – Mrs Thatcher infamously had a low view of consensus. I recall that the vicar that married my wife and I telling us that he required his PCC to be unanimous in their decisions. While consensus has it’s uses in places, at the point of crisis, it is a way to avoid making a decision. Colin Powell says that the true leader will have to annoy all of the people some of the time. At the end of the day, someone has to decide – and “consensus” may have to be over-ridden for the greater good.

An aversion to “enthusiasm” – Having spent 25 years in churches where there is a drum kit and people wave their hands in the air, I am not averse to enthusiasm. Bring it on: in fact, a faint disdain for enthusiasm is the mark of a decayed and effete culture.

A sense of establishment and his own place in it – I owe nothing to the “establishment”; I came from nothing. I am the first person on either side of my family in all of the twentieth century, to attain to higher education. I’m not part of the “establishment” – I went to a comprehensive school and a polytechnic, and many people in the “establishment” would likely cross the street to avoid a meritocrat like me. If I could say anything to the “establishment” it would be this: the status quo is never acceptable.

Good manners (most of the time) – As my kids would say: weeeell. Mr Cameron is well known as someone who can be quite breathtakingly rude to people below his station – yet without once being guilty of what he would call “bad manners”. Being decent and courteous to others and “good manners” are not the same thing.

The creeping secularism that permits no dissent

“Nyarlothotep…the crawling chaos…I will tell the audient void” – H.P Lovecraft

Today the Scout Association has published a new Scout Promise that permits atheists, or those of no faith at all (although it seems to me they are two different kinds of people) to be Scouts without having to lie about what they believe. It all sounds rather fine. On the surface this looks like rather a grand gesture to make, all about inclusivity, all about ensuring that everyone who wants to can have the chance to be a Scout.

Surely, anyone who opposes this, is opposing inclusivity? You might think that to oppose this development would be reactionary and inappropriate in the modern world. It is rather like that classic old question with no right answer: “When did you stop beating your wife?”

In today’s Metro, the Chief Scout has published an article with rather interesting wording.

He says: I see this as a positive and inclusive way of allowing young people who do not have faith in their lives still to enjoy the Scouting adventure…

As regards young people who have “no faith” – do we not think that we as adults should be teaching young people to have faith? Do we not think that it is our duty? Oh…just me then.

And you can see in here the real issue underneath – it’s not about “inclusivity” or anything like that. It’s about creating a secular society – it is about actually stamping out faith and removing it from the public arena.

I’ll steer clear of any discussion of Scouts as such, as it is not really the issue here, except to say that to be fair, Scouts is not faith-based or church-based youth work. It never has been and nor should it be: at Scouts we have never really required young people to have faith – not really. It’s always been secular, right from the start. All very relaxed and anglican and it doesn’t really matter what you believe – until you make an issue of it. And then, of course, you are in trouble. We English have never really got on with people that “make an issue” of faith matters.

The real issue is creeping and insidious secularism. Writing very much as a Christian now, I think secularism has a spiritual origin and needs opposition. It is evil. This is why I opened the article with a quote from a H.P Lovecraft horror story.

Alice Bailey (1880-1949) was a 20th century “new age” guru who proposed a ten point plan to destroy Christianity. Some promoters of secularism remind me of the the expression Stalin used – “useful idiots”. They are going unwittingly about the work of the likes of Alice Bailey. If they are not careful they will place themselves and others in our society into the hands of one who is very much more dangerous than Josef Stalin. But then, secular liberals don’t believe in the devil any more than they believe in God.

Alice Bailey’s “plan”- after Mark Stibbe and John Mulinde

(taken from Europe Awake! 22.11.99 – Mark Stibbe’s summary of John Mulinde’s very powerful talk )

Introduction

In the 19th century, Europe was a cradle of Christianity.  Today, there is thick darkness and this darkness seems to be increasing. What has happened?

Europe was Christianised before and during the Reformation.  But then a wave of atheism began to sweep the Continent during the Age of Reason, and for the last three centuries darkness has steadily covered the Continent. The 20th Century has seen the greatest deterioration.  Even in the 19th century Britain was sending missionaries to Africa, Brazil etc.  But then came WW1 and supposedly Christian nations began slaughtering each other. Europe today is in a desperate situation spiritually.  The minds of people on our Continent are controlled by the powers of darkness. Secularism, relativism, atheism etc. rule over peoples’ minds.  Europe is a fertile ground for deception. The churches of Europe need to become DESPERATE.  This is what happened in Uganda.  People in the churches said, ‘ENOUGH IS ENOUGH! NO MORE OF THIS!’  They warred against the powers in prayer.

We need to understand that he who controls the minds of a nation controls the land.  Alice Bailey – a New Age guru – has played a BIG part in influencing European minds.  She was born in 1880. She made a pact with a demonic Grand Master.  She opened her spirit to guides from the spirit world, including a master from the Tibetan world.  She wrote many books, claiming she was dictating what he said. She came up with a plan to set people free from the restrictions of Christianity so that they can enjoy the liberty of life. Her principles have been implemented in the Western world as LAW.  Her plan (which is really Satan’s scheme) therefore works. We need to know that Alice Bailey (who started writing in 1918) focused on Europe.  Europe was the focus of Christianity at this time.  Her plan has been to create a new world order and to introduce anti-Christian values. Bailey said:

‘Don’t bother with the adults, target the children.  If you can change the children little by little, every generation will be more susceptible to THE PLAN than the one before it.  Eventually it will become the normal way of thinking’.

THE TEN STRATEGIES OF THE PLAN – Alice Bailey, New Age Guru.

  1. Push God out of the schools.  If the people grow up without reference to God, then they will consider God irrelevant to day to day life.  In the last fifty years this has happened.  God is irrelevant to most people.
  1. Break the Traditional Judaeo-Christian Family Concept.  Break communication between parents and children so that parents can’t pass on spiritual values to their children.  Do this by pushing excessive child rights.
  1. Remove restrictions on sex.  Sex is the biggest joy and Christianity robs people of this.  People must be freed to enjoy it without restrictions.  It’s not just for married, it’s for everybody.
  1. Since sex is the greatest expression of man’s enjoyment of life, man must be free to express sex in ALL its forms.  Homosexuality, orgies, even bestiality are desirable so long as no one is being abused or harmed.
  1. Women must be free to abort unwanted children.  If a man can have sex and then live without the consequences then the same should be true for a woman too.  A woman must have the right to abort an unwanted child.
  1. Every person develops soul bonds, so when a soul bond wears out a person must be free to divorce.  When one starts to grow, one must be free to get together with that person even if they are married . . .
  1. Defuse religious radicalism.  Christianity says JESUS IS THE ONLY WAY.  Defuse this by a) silencing Christianity and b) promoting other faiths (the creation of interfaith harmony)
  1. Use the Media to Influence Mass Opinion.  Create mass opinion that is receptive to these values by using TV, film, the press etc.  (NB what western believers call normal in the African church would be pornography).
  1. Debase art in all its forms.  Corrupt music, painting, poetry and every expression of the heart and make is obscene, immoral and occultic.  Debase the arts in every way possible.
  1. Get the church to endorse every one of these nine strategies.  Get the church to accept these principles and to say they’re OK (then legal ground is given for these values to get a foothold).

 Conclusion

Is Alice Bailey succeeding?  Are the powers that controlled her mind controlling the minds of people in Europe?  Have these principles succeeded in weakening Christianity in the Western world?  Yes – they have. The plan works. Only prayer can change this situation.  This is what John Mulinde and thousands of other learnt in Uganda in a time of persecution and oppression.  Radical, consecrated intercession is the way forward. At the same time we MUST recognise that our prayers will not be effective until we pray with clean minds and washed brains. Then our intercession will have the power to demolish strongholds.  The mind is crucial (Romans 12: 1-3) We will not get the devil out of our land until we get him out of our minds.

2 Corinthians 10: 4-6: we need personal obedience (verse 6).  We must mind what is in our minds. We must re-evaluate our attitudes. There is a strong spiritual hunger in Europe today. There is greater prayer and travail than every before.

Isaiah 66:9:  God has brought something to the moment of birth.  Will he deny us the delivery of the promise?  This is God’s doing. There is good news.  If we do the four things in 2 Chronicles 7:14, (humble ourselves, pray, seek God’s face, put aside sin)

 then we will see revival.  If god’s people respond, there will be revival in Europe.  Is there anything too hard for him?  He can turn it all around . . . But it’s up to us. God turned this situations around in Uganda under Idi Amin (and afterwards too) when people said ENOUGH IS ENOUGH and went into the jungle to pray all night.  People decided to stand in the gap on behalf of the land.  The situation in Europe is desperate.  The darkness is thick and getting thicker.  But the light is coming. Jesus is mobilising his army in Europe to pray and to be an increasing light in the encroaching darkness.

Collectivism and Christianity

I’m no collectivist and have always struggled with what I see as rampant collectivism in the charismatic church, particularly the house-church movement and New Frontiers.

We’re asked to make an offering publicly, i.e put money in a box at the front of church where everyone can see us. It is a right, good and noble offering the church is taking up. But why would I give money publicly unless I wanted there to be a public witness to the fact that I was doing so? Why would I be concerned what anyone else within the household of faith sees or thinks about my giving? Does it matter? I think it does. Jesus warns us in Matthew 6:3 that when we give, we should give in secret, not letting our right hand know what our left hand is doing.

So to me, giving money publicly – and being seen to do so – is a big no-no. That’s not Christianity – that’s collectivism.

But being against collectivism puts me on the back foot both in church and the wider world. People say I am selfish and care only about myself, merely because I argue that the individual is generally – by no means always – more important than the community.

“Collectivism can refer to any ideal, social, or political thought that puts emphasis on interdependence and the group above individuality or identity. Collectivists seek to be part of a greater whole–a larger scheme that is greater than the individual parts of that whole.”

And that is right and good – as Christians we are indeed part of a greater whole, and we should and do place emphasis on interdependence and the group. That is what small groups are about. But…

Individuals matter. Communities are made up of individuals, just as tables and chairs are made up of individual molecules. The properties of the materials used to make tables and chairs comes directly from the qualities of those molecules. And unless I am very much mistaken, we stand before God as individuals, and we were and are redeemed by Jesus Christ as individuals. There will be no communities judged at the Great White Throne – just individuals.

The importance of the individual over the community, over the collective, is what separates modern western cultures (i.e those arising since the Reformation) from the feudal societies they replaced, and what makes them more open to democracy, more open to freedom, stronger and more flexible that the Confucian cultures of the East (like China) and the Collectivist culture of Russia. All these cultures have strengths – but I believe the West is stronger, because of the importance of the individual.