Archive for the ‘Christian Truth’ Category

Feast of Trumpets and the Sound of the Trump!

September 18, 2020

Every current topic seems to be linked somehow to our opinions of the President of the United States. This seems to cloud the discussion on virtually anything – and yet these are significant times and amazing things are happening amongst us. Many might feel that there is so much to be alarmed and worried about, but I am seeing numerous reasons to be optimistic. You might not see it this way right now – but bear with me:

Reader warning: This article contains numerous uses of the word ‘trump’ in various meanings!

As we enter the Jewish Feast of Trumpets we really should think about the significance of the word ‘trump’! It happens that this particular Feast of Trumpets, also known as Rosh Hashanah, follows historic recognition of the nation state of Israel by the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain. Several other Arab nations are indicating that they will follow. Whatever anyone thinks of the politics, this is momentous, and in itself is a trumpet sound to the world that things are changing. The implications of Arab nations recognising the State of Israel are enormous! On its own, this signals an important milestone in history.

I think the trumpets are sounding for much more than political movement in the Middle East….

We are at an astonishing moment in history in which so much is at stake, and at the same time the opportunities are huge. Some of the reasons that I feel encouraged:

I observe that secularism and atheism are tottering or maybe collapsing. Pewresearch.org projects that the percentage of people of faith perspective is increasing globally.  This is great for evangelism. The world is looking for authentic spiritual answers: Let our trumpet sound a clear signal!

Covid-19 is forcing us to rediscover the purpose of church; the whole Zoom season has challenged us. Not meeting in a building has not stopped us knowing God. The Coronavirus has sounded a trumpet calling for a Sabbath rest and a thorough review. The fear of Covid-19 has revived awareness of our mortality and caused people to ask, ‘where is God?’ –which is a great first question!

Consumerism is in danger as people, businesses, and communities rethink priorities. We see profound changes taking shape as investors start to influence the purpose of whole industries. There are abundant opportunities for Kingdom of God motivated people to start and lead businesses. This is worth trumpeting!

Those who preach prosperity solely in worldly terms are becoming exposed as financial systems crumble. God is shaking the economies of the world. I think a warning trumpet is sounding for greedy supply chains, currencies, and global debt. We are at a moment of huuuge change in the world! Sound the trumpet!

Everywhere there is crushing disappointment with political saviours; Long standing definitions of ‘left’ and ‘right’ politics have disintegrated. As someone who has run for Parliament, I have experienced unchristian attitudes when party politics trumps Christian love and understanding. People are starting to challenge the past norms, and the call for something better is rising.

We are in the post-Facebook era! I hear of young people holding online prayer events and shared times of ‘listening to God’. Increasingly, people young and old, are searching for real fellowship.

Everyone is revisiting the question of unity. All generations, all races, all denominations. The trumpet is sounding for us to come together!

Post-Brexit the trumpet calls us to be peacemakers : much division in the church was because many opinions about Leave or Remain seemed to be based on a spiritual ‘trump card’. We must see this as a failure and pray and work together as the people of God. The Bible says that we have ‘this ministry of reconciliation.’

So, what of Trump?

In 2016 I felt that Donald Trump even talking about joining the race for President of the USA was a sign for us: the sounding of a trumpet! A signal; An alarm; a notification from the spirit realm.

We are now truly watching the changing of an era. For me it is not so much about one controversial man – but that a seismic change is taking place in the whole world. This is our moment to step forward as we hear the trumpet. Be alert, attentive, open to the changes and expect very significant new dynamics in global politics and in our lives.

The trumpet sound – the ram’s horn or shofar – was sounded in Bible times for three reasons: To sound an alarm, to gather the people, to signal the advance. The season that is beginning now requires us to recognise the time we are in and to choose to rise to the occasion!

Unmasking the Invisible Enemy amongst us

July 27, 2020
Don’t be deceived

Unseen, infectious, makes people sick and can kill. Stalking amongst us, causing suspicion between communities, cultures and families. Perhaps these descriptions fit the threat that you see as the most serious in our time. Coronavirus? Racism? Antisemitism? Political extremism? Addictions? The enemy has been wearing masks – but now the mask is not working so well anymore!

The real threat that is destroying communities and nations from within is secular humanism.

The global levelling effect of the internet, with the communications revolution has fuelled populism and distrust of the globalist powers that have trodden down the small person. Coronavirus has stopped the world in our tracks and given everyone a motive to rethink the purpose and priorities of life. All these effects are stirring an awakening of questions. Questions about who is telling us what to believe; who is defining the news and information we get? Who is making money and manipulating us? Ultimately – what if the worldview that we have been convinced to accept is not the right picture?

The truth is coming into view for those willing to seek.

This lurking enemy must be clearly identified:

Secularism has been killing and hurting and hindering lives forever, but our society has been desperately infected with this invisible killer in recent decades. The economic boom in the west after the second world war – producing the ‘Boomers’ – also produced a materialistic culture with an accompanying addiction to comfort and convenience. Prosperous societies started to buy the deception that somehow our need of God has diminished. The activists with a determined goal of breaking the powerful influence of a Judeo-Christian worldview became invigorated from the 1950’s onward. The effect has been corrosive and destructive: Most of the past two generations have been brought up to believe the nihilistic thinking of godless evolution – producing an epidemic of identity confusion. If children are taught that they are the result of a cosmic incident and life is ultimately meaningless, it seems reasonable that millions grow up with confusion, anxiety and self-doubt mixed with lack of trust. The follow on consequences are numerous, including so called sexual liberation which has caused hurt, abuse, confusion and dysfunction; We’ve seen comfort eating on a national scale – resulting in diabetes which is a health tsunami waiting to crash our health systems; we’ve seen addictions to mind altering drugs and alcohol as people attempt to anaesthetise their pain – leading to further abuse, crime, violence and increased addition; materialism has developed to offer its own pain relief with accumulation and worship of possessions and security in financial resources.

I perceive that the 2020 Coronavirus is greatly exposing the secular humanism that has been infecting us. The pandemic is having an effect that might well see secular thinking retreat.

There are rather obvious advances in the traditional measures of spiritual and religious persuasion amongst us, such as public prayers, Bible sales, church attendance or reporting of public commentary from church leaders. These shifts don’t, on their own, indicate a meaningful shift in thinking.

There are many other signs that atheistic secular thinking is in retreat: Churches are for the first time in a generation thinking seriously about reaching their communities in ways other than gathering in a building on a Sunday morning. Prayer has been prioritised across the world – partly because in-person meetings have not been permitted – so somewhat ironically, believers have had to pray and read their Bibles on their own! This too is encouraging but still not the real evidence of a shift in the big picture.

The real shake up in mainstream thinking is the shock that our health systems and medical resources might actually not save us. The awakening to the thought that our wealth and technology can’t solve all threats; Our obsession with health and safety can’t fully protect us.

Our lives are fragile.

We have come to a point of inflection in the trajectory of our culture – where for the first time in history we have a global collapse of trust in human capacity and resources. The secularist train was already running out of steam because of internet enabled populism.

For at least a generation, prosperous societies have promoted secular humanism and one dimension of this has been the increasingly intense obsession with personal and social identity. The Bible is clear about our identity and our precious individual place in the universe, but this does not suit the political and social agendas of those who oppose truth.

The ancient Greek philosopher Protagoras stated “Man is the measure of all things.” In this statement he put in place a key pillar of humanist thinking. Most of the 20th century has seen this central idea promoted to children, young people and adults from every angle – resulting in a huge need to know who we really are!

Humanism has spawned secularism, which amounts to the dryness of life without the spirit, focusing on this age rather than the eternal. In most of the so-called developed world we have been trained through fashions, government policies and commercial pressures to esteem secularism. We have been persuaded that secular thinking is the safe neutrality between all the unknowable mysteries of the world’s religions. The secularists have used their persuasive arguments to minimise the spirit, to minimise human beliefs and life that comes from spiritual inspiration. Much of this has been argued on the basis that we must be equitable and tolerant – a level playing field for all. I believe that this has really been the lure of the candy-man to get into a cage where we deny reality and hope. Secularists claim that ‘science is pre-eminent’ but are quite happy to ignore scientific analysis when it doesn’t suit the agenda of the day.

We’ve been led to believe that it is gracious and kind to deny our heartfelt beliefs.

Humanism and secularism thrive when we accept relativism. That is that there is no absolute truth. Ultimately secularism and humanist thinking depend on relativism.  ‘Your truth is good for you, and my truth is good for me.’ This feels pleasant and tolerant for as long as we are content to not really address difficult issues of morality and conflict. Relativism is essential to discourage you and me from seeking truth. We are encouraged to stop at emotionally satisfying answers, even when we know these are shallow, transient and insufficient. You just need to believe a little lie.

Before long you will be disabled from dealing with the big lies.

I believe the invisible and destructive enemy that is secular humanism is now being exposed and found wanting. We are at an inflection point in history, and an awakening is happening – as people start to think for themselves, ask questions, and begin to pray.

It’s time to unmask the enemy! It is time to take our masks off and be truthful!

The new thing emerges – do you not perceive it?

April 10, 2020

For the past year I have been reflecting on this verse from Acts 16v25-26.

But about midnight, Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them.

Suddenly there was such a great earthquake that the foundations of the prison were shaken.

Immediately all the doors were unlocked and everyone’s chains came loose.

We are in the midst of earth-shaking events. The ways that we used to operate and the constraints that we have been used to have been cracked open. Many of the constraints of the way we think and operate have been broken, halted or at very least paused. Businesses and whole industries are going to emerge changed. The Coronavirus events – the sickness, the panic, the economic shutdown and isolation are forcing change in days that might have looked like taking years in other circumstances.  Many are beginning to speculate or estimate what the changes will look like.

Video conference calling has become the new normal. Working from home has become a standard mode of operation for many. Hiring and firing online is mainstream. Home delivery has become the only form of shopping for many. At the same time, many jobs cannot be done from home or suspended – like healthcare, rubbish collection or taking medicine to those who need it.

I’ve been anticipating this last sentence for many months:

Immediately all the doors were unlocked and everyone’s chains came loose.

I perceive that we are now in this moment. If we permit constructive thinking and the way we perceive the situation we can open our eyes to the new world.

In this account of Paul and Silas, the jailer was locked into the pre-earthquake perspective, and initially assumed that the shaking loose of his inmates would be disaster for him. In fact, Paul and Silas had not run away. They had already been free in their thinking before the earthquake. Their personal peace kept them from running. Instead they then brought the jailer and his whole household into a place of personal peace.

The new situation emerging is that literally billions of people are being propelled into new thinking. We can be sure that entrepreneurial people around the world are already starting to think about how things could develop. This will include churches, healthcare, education, scientific research, entertainment, sport, government mechanisms and community activities. The way in which the poor and dispossessed are helped can no longer be ‘trickle down’ or just charitable giving – the time for enabling and empowering is here. Many who were impoverished by the old constraints and power structures might now be facing fresh opportunities. Many who have small resources right now also need our help. The measure we use for those who are weak or challenged will be the measure used for us. As we sow we will reap.

Recognise that the chains are coming loose – and start to perceive the new! Help others to see the open door ahead!

Hope for the future

May 23, 2016

 

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In a season of uncertainty and when all the UK Referendum campaigners seem to be promoting fear, is there some hope?

I believe that God gives tangible direction with hope, based on purpose and His commitment to the path ahead – whether the way is stony or smooth.

An example of this from my life makes the point.  At the end of 1993, after much prayer, I knew that in the year ahead (1994) God wanted me to get a new job and develop into new things. I started the year with this knowledge and I was hopeful about it!  A few weeks into the year God spoke to me in a hotel room in Barcelona while I was on a business trip. He emphasized the words of Isaiah 43:19, “ See I am doing a new thing, see it now springs up.” I knew for certain that God was letting me know that he was shortly about to do a new thing. I understood that it would follow very soon after that night. Two days later when I returned to my office in England, I was called in to see my manager. He informed me that it was necessary to make my job redundant (that means to be “fired” to the Yankees).

In that moment my head spun and my heart leapt!  I knew the hope of what God had already said. I was able to respond in that moment from a position of hope and deal with the situation in faith.  I still had to deal with the uncomfortable emotional aspects of not being wanted by my company and of facing the prospect of not having a job. I was however, able to live with confident assurance in front of my work colleagues and to reassure and lead my family with positive and real faith. The whole transition in our lives was a testimony of faith and an example to friends and family both believers and non-believers.

A few weeks later I was delighted to walk into a better job with better pay and prospects. Even more importantly than the material results of the situation, my wife and I were ready to be released to the next level of faith and living in the Kingdom of God. We moved on to the next stage of pursuing the hope and vision that God had given us several years before regarding our long-term calling and ministry.  The hope that was planted and strong in my heart on the morning that I was made redundant was real and made a definite and actual difference in the situation and the outcome.

My favorite passage in the Bible on the subject of hope is in the book of Romans: “I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. The creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed. The creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought to the glorious freedom of the children of God.  We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the first-fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what he already has? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.” (Romans 8:18-25).

This passage is wonderfully self-explanatory, speaking of the glorious ultimate hope of our calling as sons of God. This is a hope that strengthens us through any manner of present trials or sufferings – if we will only look to, and by faith, draw from, the hope that God is holding out in front of us. This is not a small thing – this passage in Romans speaks of the whole of creation! It speaks of us as coming into son-ship; the whole of creation being liberated from decay and the final and complete freedom. The vastness and comprehensiveness of this hope is then focused down to the walk of faith as, “we wait for it patiently.”

God is calling out to the Church to understand the hope that He is offering. We are not walking in the dark and hoping that we will not trip over the furniture. We are walking in the light. As it says in Proverbs 4:18: “The path of the righteous is like the first gleam of dawn, shining ever brighter till the full light of day.”

Let God flood your heart and life with light. It’s not just a feeling of well-being. He wants you to see and understand, and that is what hope brings. Jesus is coming back. His return is the great hope for the world. Our resurrection in Him is our eternal hope. His completeness is the full light of day. Until then the light is shining ever brighter.

Ask God for real and definite hope. Learn from the Bible what he intends for believers to be and do. Let Him show you what the church and the Kingdom of God are all about. Allow Him to give you revelation to illuminate your personal path that He has prepared for you. Know for certain what He has called you to be and to do. Let Him speak the future into your life. Receive hope!

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This post is a part re-publishing of the chapter written by John D Manwell: “Hope that makes a real difference” which was first published in the book “HOPE – when everything seems hopeless” by Thomas P. Dooley, Mall Publishing Co. ISBN 1-934165-20-4

(C) Thomas P. Dooley 2008.  Used with permission

The Experience of Hope

May 20, 2016

2016-03-10 15.41.03.jpgFollowing the financial crash of 1929 there were many people who lost everything and businesses that collapsed to nothing.  Yet, there were also some who began businesses that later became the biggest and most successful businesses of the century. The inner response to a dramatic change is either hope or hopelessness. Hope produces new life and opportunities, where hopelessness results in death.

We rise to what we are looking at. We need an internal view, which is hopeful.  Hope produces perseverance.  We need to be clear that hope is not a peripheral, secondary or sideline issue. What we hope in, and hope for, is central to who we are and how our society and culture will develop. Hope impacts on our thinking, our goals and our national life. Even our faith will be shaped and develop by the hope that we carry in the core of our being.

Hope is the road that faith walks on.

When our brains are working, the electrical impulses release neurotransmitters, which in turn reinforce the pathway for those electrical connections. Good results produce a positive pathway. In other words ‘proven’ positive experience creates knowledge or certainty that opens up the thinking and ability to imagine, problem solve and deal with challenges. In a physical and practical way, our brains are literally more able to deal with life’s challenges when positive outcomes are envisaged. This is more and more the case as positive thoughts and positive results are repeated. The inverse is true. When negative results or pain occur, the pathways are closed down and minimized. This closes down the mental capacity for fresh thinking or new solutions.

On its own this is a line of thinking that simply reduces hope to nothing more than ‘positive thinking.’ If this was the case, the lottery type of hope would do us good!  The point is that even at a physiological level there is a practical case for having hope and nurturing a positive optimistic expectation.

At a more profound level, a correct understanding of hope as a spiritual truth can do the same for our spirit. Spiritual truth, received into each of our spirits through the written Word of God and the breathed out Spirit of God, trains our spirits in the positive and encouraging revelation of God. Our spirits become stimulated and informed. We develop and learn to have greater confidence in the resources and government of God in our lives. Our spiritual resources are increased and widened so that we are more able to deal with spiritual challenges and more effectively arrive at solutions provided by God. The opposite is true when we dull our spirits with lies from the world and the realm of darkness. Our capacity to face difficulties and defeat satanic opposition becomes ever diminishing.  For these reasons we must renew our minds and not think as the world does. Training our spirits with God’s Word and His thoughts will develop spiritual hope and inner resources. As we gain awareness of the hope to which we are called and the glory that lies ahead, we become confident in God and sure of the road that we are on.

Knowing God’s plan for what is to come is very reassuring. It is a stronghold against all the invasions of the world and satan. We need to know what God has ordained for all humanity and every believer. We also need to know His specific plan and purpose for every one of us. Each one of us needs to be clear of His call and intention for our individual life. Knowing this and looking forward with a certain hope changes the way we will respond to the events that spring up.

~~ ~~

This post is a part re-publishing of the chapter written by John D Manwell: “Hope that makes a real difference” which was first published in the book “HOPE – when everything seems hopeless” by Thomas P. Dooley, Mall Publishing Co. ISBN 1-934165-20-4

(C) Thomas P. Dooley 2008.  Used with permission

The Application of Hope

May 19, 2016

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Real hope provides a tangible and specific dimension in our lives.

The positive opportunities to navigate life and society are real and practical. The point is that ‘hope’ is not some floaty philosophical feeling that boosts our mood – but a society changing, community influencing, thought leading reality!

Let’s look at some aspects of this:

Art:  There is a whole movement of dark and hopeless art. This is justified in terms of “reflecting reality”. The mood conveyed is depressing and seems to show life at its worst. This approach to ‘art’ projects violence, anger, decay, emptiness and insanity. When one considers all that is possible in the world, this kind of art, whether it is a painting, song, or photograph, is surely not motivating people to rise to new heights and possibilities.

An alternative is to challenge and inspire. Art can be used to provoke people to do something, and rise above the failures and disappointments. Even decay and brokenness can be conveyed in a form that challenges us to respond and do something positive. Art can be inspiring and pointing to what life can be at its best.

Science:  When scientists and technologists approach their craft with a humanistic and hopeless framework, the technology and knowledge is simply a tool to control and take advantage. Technology without hope is crushing and degrades society. An example of this would be development of biological weapons, designed to kill and maim large numbers of civilians and used to create fear in the enemy population. A more mundane example would be the cynical use of modern technology that allows ordinary people to gamble on-line, spurred on by the rush of adrenaline and having their money drained from their family.

Alternatively innovation and creativity can be used to open possibilities and help people to be all they can be. Wonderful examples of this exist in medicine, such as computers that enable paralysed people to speak, or cures developed for cancers. Internet innovations that help people to track down long lost friends from school is another example of how technology can be positive in our frantic world.

When technologists are motivated with hope their energy is directed towards a goal that strengthens and helps people. Those without hope develop tools that kill, steal and destroy.

Government:  When leaders and rulers have hope that values people and the fear of God, their approach is constructive. An example was William Wilberforce. As a God fearing politician he knew that the African slave trade was an evil that should stop. He had a hope in the Kingdom of God and a genuine hope that Godly principles would prevail. In 1791 he presented his first bill before the British Parliament attempting to outlaw the slave trade. The bill was unsuccessful, losing by 163 votes to 88. With hope in the eternal and hope in what he believed to be the right action he persevered.  Year after year Wilberforce brought revised bills to the Parliament. Eventually in 1807 the bill he brought was passed by 114 votes to 15. He continued to campaign for existing slaves to be given their freedom. He died in July 1833 not having seen his passionate desire achieved. One month later the British Parliament passed a law giving all slaves in the British Empire their freedom. This is a great example of hope motivating a leader and a cause (read the biography of Wilberforce in Amazing Grace by Eric Metaxas). It shows a man inspired and strengthened in his work by hope. It also reminds us that we don’t always see for ourselves in this life what we hope for, but it may happen anyway.

In contrast, President Idi Amin took power in Uganda in 1971 through a military coup. His wicked rule was without compassion for his people and society. Observers estimate that he oversaw the killing of between 300,000 and 500,000 people within his country. It was said that he enjoyed killing people, and that he even killed one of his own wives. What a powerful example of a ruler without hope as a motive and certainly not giving hope to his people.

Management:  Many of us have seen management that has no hope for eternal life and no sense of inspiration. This type of management simply uses people as resources. Staff are treated as numbers to be controlled, dominated and all outcomes are seen as dependent on human ability, and all results must be measurable in the ‘here and now’. This belief system, operating within a manager, is reflected in actions that use and abuse people as they all operate within an environment of hopeless pursuit of money, material results, and temporary glory.

Conversely, many of us have experienced leaders and leadership that has an eternal hope. Leaders who have hope in their own hearts and this reflects in a hope for others. This kind of leadership has optimism about people and a wider perspective on what is achieved, and confidence in what others could be. Their hope from within is contagious.

Family:  We live in an age when families and family life are under attack. Those families that have hope for the future are able to grow, develop and aspire to all kinds of possibilities. Parents’ marriages survive all kinds of pressures when they have hope beyond the conflict. Children see parents living in hope for what lies ahead and for a life that is more than just the present material age, and the children in turn, learn to deal with pressure and the trials of life. In this environment children grow in hope and this enables them to fulfill their potential as people; People who in turn spread hope in an otherwise hopeless world. A hope-filled family demonstrates and lives in healthy leadership, security, works towards meaningful goals, and sees fulfillment in life.

Judaeo-Christian hope is a shaping, defining, positive force which motivates, elevates and edifies individuals, groups, organisations and societies. Apply hope!

 

This post is a part re-publishing of the chapter written by John D Manwell: “Hope that makes a real difference” which was first published in the book “HOPE – when everything seems hopeless” by Thomas P. Dooley, Mall Publishing Co. ISBN 1-934165-20-4

(C) Thomas P. Dooley 2008.  Used with permission

 

Hope is a Valuable Commodity!

May 18, 2016

Hope emerging

Hope is such a powerful commodity. At this time of collapsing value in the stock market, collapsing trust in political leaders and even in political systems, the question arises “Where is hope?”

 

Let’s consider several areas of life as we know it and how hope impacts upon them:  At the basic level of individual motivation, men are fundamentally driven towards action and the hope of success. They know that certain actions produce results, and are driven by the desire to achieve desirable outcomes. Women are drawn towards relationships and knowing each other more. They know that getting to know people is rewarding and keeps friendships and families together and healthy. They are both urged on by the hope of the outcome they want. Healthy families are the basis of hope for our society.

Let’s look at society and what it is based on:  Our western society, particularly in Britain and America was based on the hope of the Kingdom of God. That is to say that our laws, judicial system and principles of business started out from Biblical precepts, and are built on the clear understanding that obeying God and submitting to His truth results in healthy society and consequent peace and prosperity. This is another way of saying that living God’s way is to live in the hope that obeying his principles will bring about His pleasure and we will all benefit from His blessing.

For many generations Christian society and culture were based on a hope in the afterlife resulting from obeying God in this life. The Christian message offers blessing in this life, but the over-riding goal is our hope in the everlasting world to come. This hope is steadfast and certain, and provides a solid bed-rock for our society and institutions in family, education and the business world. This is a hope that permeates every aspect of life and thinking in our culture and daily living. Our hope in God and hope of eternal life motivates us to live well and to do good. In this way hope is the engine and power for a strong and stable society.  Living God’s way does not just open up a possibility, a chance that things will work well, but a certain and definite commitment from God.

In this generation we are seeing a new kind of hope being offered. This is a false and temporal hope. People are being seduced across the world with hope of becoming rich and hope of being lucky in life. The infection of false hope is seen in every walk of life. We are hypnotised with the wafer thin ‘hope’ of winning the lottery and becoming super-rich in a day. Many hard working families long for the day that they might have a dream holiday or afford a luxury car or enviable home. The essence of the hope the world is offering is short term, wishful thinking, luck based, and faintly possible.  It usually requires someone else to suffer less good fortune to make it possible. The very concept of a lottery is a deception that rakes in millions of dollars from millions of people who cannot afford to throw money away. They are given a fleeting taste of what feels like ‘hope’ in return for wasting their money on the smallest probability of winning. The book of Proverbs says that money quickly gained is soon lost.

Modern thinkers want us to be raised with the random and impersonal concept of evolution as being the way in which we all came into being. We are fed on the belief in democracy and the rightness of the majority. All of this conditions us to think in terms of possibilities and probabilities and ‘luck’ as the route through to good fortune and positive outcomes. Little wonder that we easily adopt the world view of hope as a sense of “things might get better, if we could only close our eyes and dream a little longer or a little harder!” Most drug abuse and alcoholism is a result of people in pain wanting a sense of hope.  But, they get a counterfeit, a feeling of positive elation that can be bought for a moment.

Hope in God is certain and defined, making for a solid and consistent society. Hope in luck is vague and relativistic, without a reference point and is drifting. Hope in luck will ultimately lead to social collapse and possibly violent hatred, as people turn on each other with nothing real or eternal to look forward to. The Bible warns that without vision, the people perish. Vision is a form of hope.

 

This post is a part re-publishing of the chapter written by John D Manwell: “Hope that makes a real difference” which was first published in the book“HOPE – when everything seems hopeless” by Thomas P. Dooley, Mall Publishing Co. ISBN 1-934165-20-4

(C) Thomas P. Dooley 2008.  Used with permission

 

HOPE – When Everything seems HOPELESS

May 17, 2016

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Hope That Makes a Real Difference

A short walk from our home in Liverpool is a cemetery where the inscriptions on a gravestone caught my attention:

In loving memory of Margaret Evans

Loving wife of Bill and devoted mother of Ted

Who fell asleep 6th July 1985 aged 60 years

“To find eternal peace with our Lord

O for one wish: To turn back the clock and reveal our true feelings”

Bill Evans

Husband of Margaret, father and good friend of Ted

Who fell asleep 22nd September 1988 aged 69 years

“Resting peacefully – The clock has turned”

This seems to encapsulate the essence of all that is true about authentic Biblical hope, and at the same time, all that can be utterly deceptive about false hope that is so often offered in this life. The inscription captures the poignancy of the pain that families can realize in death: Not only the loss of a loved one, but also the loss of the opportunity to let that loved one know just how they had been valued. This brings a desperate desire to have another chance to meet again and to put things right.

If the inscription was written in the genuine knowledge that these two were believers in Jesus Christ with a real hope of being reunited in the next life, then this is real hope. If believers, Bill and Margaret are now reunited in everlasting peace, and Bill has that opportunity to ‘turn back the clock’ and let Margaret know his true affection for her.

If the inscription is a vain effort to mask the pain that was felt when loved ones passed away then it was counterfeit hope. If they were not right with God, then they are far from resting eternally and recovering old losses, but separate and suffering eternal unending anguish.  We need to know the difference between these two opposites.

Hope is not wishful thinking, but a basis of expectation of the reality that lies ahead. Genuine hope makes a tangible and real difference. Real hope stimulates faith into life and feeds it. False hope feeds the emotions, and is temporary, ultimately disappointing.  Hope raises the heart, and the opposite, when hope is deferred, it makes the heart sick (see Proverbs 13:12).  Hope is intimately related to faith, as we all know from Hebrews 11:1, and we must study hope in this context.

There is a worldly view of hope that is closely related to a ‘lottery mentality’. This is captured in the phrase “hoping for the best”. It is a wishful thinking that is a mixture of delusion, escapism and is unrealistic.  A lack of hope is an absence of a way ahead; a complete lack of avenues to progress. The way the world has taught many people to seek hope is to simply wish for something better, and to dream of wonderful changes or great provision to fall upon them.

Life without hope is a struggle in which most things are negative or bring negative thoughts to mind. Every illness and event presents a possibility of terminal illness or catastrophe. Hope cuts off this pattern of thinking and draws a line on this way of viewing life and believing.

Once hope arrives, the number of options and positive possibilities opens up almost without limit. The person who is living in hope and thinking with an attitude of hope is making available an unending number of areas to explore. Hope brings a mindset that opens up tremendous variety and creative solutions to all challenges. A lack of hope closes possibilities down and reduces the horizon down to the immediate and impossible.

There is a wonderful insight into what hope does for us in the book of Proverbs:

Eat honey, my son, for it is good;

Honey from the comb is sweet to your taste.

Know also that wisdom is sweet to your soul;

If you find it, there is a future hope for you,

And your hope will not be cut off. (Proverbs 24:13-14)

I love these short verses. In a few words this captures the sweetness of receiving wisdom for life, and how in doing so, we increase in hope and our future is opened up instead of being cut down.

When God began the process of creation there lay ahead a truly immense and wonderful diversity of materials, color, actions, movements, living beings, varied lives and events. We know that God created the earth and heavens by faith and His spoken Word. We should also reflect on the fact that as He was creating everything, He KNEW for certain what lay ahead. God created the cosmos with a perfect sense of hope for what was coming. Put another way, God was not wishfully longing for the things that lay ahead, but that being God, He was outside of the constraint of time and knew as a fact everything about the end from the beginning. I would say that this is what true hope is based on. Godly and Biblical hope is rooted in certain knowledge and a solid expectation rather than uncertain wishful thinking.

In every area of human life there is great value in working, planning, thinking and imagining within a framework of hope. A mentality of hope enables us in anything we care to think of, whether scientific research, politics or social planning or any everyday area of family life and work.

to be continued….

This post is a re-publishing of the chapter written by John D Manwell: “Hope that makes a real difference” which was first published in the book “HOPE – when everything seems hopeless” by Thomas P. Dooley, Mall Publishing Co. ISBN 1-934165-20-4

(C) Thomas P. Dooley 2008.  Used with permission

 

Whole Life – The Wellspring of Life

October 19, 2015

2012-09-27 17.46.09

The Maranatha Community has for a long time promoted a teaching of wholeness and shalom. They teach about healing society as well as individual’s bodies, minds and spirits.

In the growing clamour to find wholeness, personal peace and social cohesion we also need courage to reject some of the error which is being infiltrated into common thinking, such as Mindfulness which is a serious counterfeit – it’s actually Buddhism. (A thorough and balanced review of Mindfulness is available from Maranatha on their website.)

Maybe we need to rethink our approach to healing people and society, and surely we need to go beyond government expenditure? More money in health and public spending does not seem to have brought social inclusion or increased the health of our society. As I reflected on this over the past week I was delighted to discover that Jean Vanier was honoured this year with the Templeton prize for his work with weak and vulnerable people. He has tirelessly shown over decades of work with L’Arche that it is the ones who are weak who help to engender a just and balanced society.

For a generation we have seen the acceleration and promotion of the philosophy of death and acceptance of a culture of death. Since our society started to buy the lie from Nietzsche that “God is dead” we have begun to accept every argument that destroys family life and community cohesion and people’s identities have been stolen at a personal as well as community level. Aborting children for convenience has devalued life to the point that society has started to accept abuse of children after birth. One example of this was the way that the Paedophile Information Exchange gathered momentum in the 70’s and 80’s on the back of ‘social liberation’. Similarly, Marxist humanist thinking which has been intentionally used to attack the traditional family led to the acceptance of broken families as inevitable. Marx actually wanted to see the traditional family broken. The result? A fractured society which exacerbates mental illness, poverty and insecurity.

Recently a group of us have been led to develop a community project which has at its heart a desire to see whole person healing and growth. Family and community are the route to oneness and wholeness. Disconnection in our society has led to disintegration which is the start of the death process. Christians are called to reverse this process and to bring life. Life is found in wholeness, oneness, and integration. Life flows from the life giver, the Creator. May the whole church seize our calling to be carriers of life! The good news of Jesus Christ is not a philosophy designed to get people into buildings and then organise us into an institution! The good news is that the Creator has a plan for humanity. From Him comes the design of family, the glue of society, the redemption of our failure, and propagation of life. This good news is the very basis for rebuilding our society, laws, community and personal wellbeing.

Jean Vanier has given his life to the nurture, enabling and learning from the weak and vulnerable. The culture of death so highly promoted in our nation would have these same people aborted for ‘the greater good’. We need to rethink what wholeness really looks like.

We need to actively promote integration to reverse the disintegration; To bring wholeness as the antidote to brokenness; For the lonely to be joined into families. Jesus said that if anyone2012-09-27 17.44.04
comes to him, out of their innermost being would flow rivers of living water. Centuries before Jesus said this, the writer of the proverb wrote in anticipation: Guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.

For more information on Mindfulness – www.maranathacommunity.org.uk/resources.aspx 

For more information on the Maranatha Community  www.maranathacommunity.org.uk 

The Boy on the Beach

October 16, 2015

Imprint of Life

Imprint of Life

The horror of finding a drowned boy on a beach is more than a news headline to me. The recent ‘news’ photograph of a dead refugee child on a beach brought back awful memories for me.

Some years ago I was on holiday with family and friends and we went swimming in a lake on a hot day. The beach was developed for leisure and the section of the lake for swimming was partitioned off with a cable and floats. In fact many swimmers would swim out the 15 metres or so to the cable and hang onto it as a resting place. Children paddled on the sandy shore and older kids played on inflatables. Towards the end of the afternoon many families retreated to their BBQ and snacks. I took that opportunity to swim in the freed up expanse of water. As I did I became aware of a young man calling out across the water. I was immediately concerned: Calling to people from the shore is fine when there are people swimming or floating, but the lake was empty. I asked the young man what he was doing and he said he was looking for his cousin. I asked if the missing lad could swim, to which the reply was no. I raised the alarm and shouted to people to start looking in the adjacent woods in case he had wondered off that way. I then swam back and forth underwater urgently looking – knowing that every moment might be a matter of life or death. As I searched I hoped that I was over-reacting and that the boy would wander out of the woods any minute. Within minutes as I swam and stared through the murky lake water I saw a sight which will never leave my memory, the motionless submerged body of a young man.

With all my strength I hauled him up to the surface and held him afloat while trying to get to shore and shout for help at the same time. I dragged the heavy limp lad onto the dry sand and yelled for help. My friend took over with attempted mouth to mouth resuscitation. Although he, and then the paramedics, tried for a while, this was unsuccessful.

As I stood next to the lifeless boy, while every effort was made to revive him, I prayed, and asked God what this was about and why it had happened. I was painfully conscious that I, a strong swimmer, had been near this tragedy for the whole time. I felt God speak to me in that intense moment. The gist of what I heard was, ‘Many give the impression of being able to swim, and lack of accountability leaves them in danger of death.’

Accountability is not about someone being in control of us – but a relationship which guides and ultimately protects.

It seems that this young guy had probably worked his way along the cable – well out of his depth – and lost his grip. He must have thought it unlikely that he might let go of the cable – but one slip was deadly.

Lack of real relationships means that many in our disconnected world are giving the impression of being able to swim in life – but can’t really. Many are in mortal danger. Many know the language of knowing God and his salvation, but may be in danger of slipping off at any moment. Many act confidently but are disconnected and unsupported. In a world of flimsy connections on Facebook and Snapchat we  all need to ask whether we are in right relationships – life giving relationships.

If one person had asked that young man if he could swim; if one person had been watching when he slipped; I could have been that person and he might well be living life to the full right now. We are all accountable for those around us.

Imprint of life upon life

Imprints of Many Lives

The Bible says that ‘Righteousness exalts a nation” (Proverbs 14:34) William Barclay translated the word ‘Righteousness’ as ‘Right Relationships’. God calls us to righteousness – let us pursue a right relationship with Him – which is possible through Jesus, and promote right relationships all around us – for the sake of life!