Thursday, March 31, 2011

The Kind of Believer we want to produce II.

This is such a key conversation, yet one so infrequently had. When an army gets in a raw recruit, the boot camp is intentionally designed to take the civilian and "beat" them into combat readiness. When a recruit arrives at the Police Academy, they are fashioned and formed into men and women, who can withstand the harassment of the public when arresting a suspect, to being able to be warm yet unswerving when they issue a driving fine and so on.

The bible is not silent on the kind of believer / Jesus lover / Jesus Follower we need to disciple. As we engage ever deeper into the last of the last days, we need to be ever more intentional in our believer instruction. There are many ways to approach this matter. These few blogs simply want to empower you to have the conversation to reach your own conclusions.

What kind of world are you preparing your believers to face?

What kind of challenges will they need to show courage?

What kind of enemy engagements will they encounter?

What are the essential weapons they will need in their arsenal?

What scripture / theology will be vital for their journey?

How will they handle the relational pressures that will seek to isolate them?

How will they need to deal with fear and the threat of the "love of many will grow cold"?

How can they keep their call tom leadership even though leadership will be increasingly disrespected and dishonored?

How will they handle persecution when it comes — overtly or subtly?

These are a few key questions that need to be asked and an intentional response designed.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

The Kind of Believer we want to produce I.


“If I delay, you may know how one ought to behave in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, a pillar and buttress of the truth.” 1 Tim 3:15.

Sometimes it is valuable to look back at the prophetic writings of yester-year to compare their dreams and warnings with the realities of the church today. By joining the dots, we can then do some exponential projection to see what the church of today and tomorrow will face. This then empowers the leaders to ready their warrior people for these weighty days.

Francis A. Schaeffer was that kind of man. To his generation, his call to “true truth” resounded throughout the nations as the hungry pilgrim, embraced his propositions to face the revolutionary 60’s and 70’s. In 1970, he wrote a book called “The Church at the end of the 20th Century”. Reading it now, one is fascinated by the accuracy of his concerns and the speed with which we are racing to the post-Christian world. Here are a few quotes from the book:

“Does the church have a future in our generation?... I believe the church is in real danger. It is in for a rough day. We are facing present pressures and future manipulation which will be so overwhelming in the days to come that they will make the battles of the last forty years look like child’s play”[1]

“I wish to summarize the 3 basic alternatives to the Christian response… The first is hedonism-namely, that every individual does exactly what he wants to do… The second possibility, if you do not want an absolute, is the dictatorship of 51 percent, with no controls and nothing with which to challenge the majority… The third possibility is an elite or a dictatorship-that is, some form of authoritarianism wherein a minority, the elite or one man tells society what to do…”[2]

“I set forth three things that are necessary if the church of the Lord Jesus Christ is to be a revolutionary force in the midst of the twentieth-century upheaval and revolution: 1. The church must distinguish between being a cobelligerent and an ally; 2. It must be careful to stand clearly for truth, both in doctrine and in practice even when it is costly; and 3. It must be more than a preaching point and an activity generator; it must show a sense of community.”[3]

This is a quote from an article by the BBC America called:

Searching for the American Dream:

Instead, for Secular Spiritualists, life was about being genuine, about achieving a legacy larger than one's self, about leaving this earth a better place for family, community, and planet.

For the record, I found two other groups: The Deferred Dreamers (about 18%) who felt the dream of material acquisition could still be alive, but just not for themselves or their children.

And then there were the Dreamful Dead (15%), who felt the American Dream was simply dead. This last group included minorities, the poor and too many single mothers.[4]

[1] Francis Schaeffer: The Church at the end of the 20th Century; pg 5,

[2] Ibid, pg 35 – 36,

[3] Ibid, pg 45.

[4] John Zogby: “What is Today’s American Dream?” BBC America 29 March 2011.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Churchill's Success - Lessons for Pastors.

I do enjoy Paul Johnson's writings. As a historian, he has a unique ability to weave together all matters of society, including spiritual realities, in his description of his historical recordings. His short account of Churchill is very readable. The raw humanity of the man, matched with the moment of history made for one extraordinary leader.

In his chapter entitled: "Supreme Power and Frustration", Johnson suggests the factors that favored Churchill's nation-changing leadership include:
  1. "First, as a civilian leader, Churchill benefitted from a change of national opinion toward the relative trustworthiness of politicians and service leaders...
  2. "Second, the concentration of power in Churchill's person, with the backing of all parties... He always behaved with absolute propriety...
  3. "Third, Churchill was personally fortunate in that he took over at a desperate time... 'I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears and sweat.'"
  4. "Fourth, Churchill himself began to set a personal example of furious and productive activity at Ten Downing Street...
  5. "The fifth factor was Churchill's oratory... 'Victory at all costs, victory in spite of all terror, victory, however long and hard the road may be; for without victory there is no survival...'We shall not flag or fail. We shall fight in France, we shall fight on the seas and on oceans, we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, we shall defend our island, whatever the cost may be, we shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills. We shall never surrender... 'I try to be a philosopher, but cheerfulness keeps breaking in.'"
  6. "Sixth, however, came his sense of the importance of airpower and his speed in grasping the opportunities it offered..."
  7. Seventh, though Britain was not in the position to attack Hitler on the Continent, Churchill ensured that powerful blows were struck against his [allies]...' When his foreign secretary asked him:"What shall I tell Turkey?" Churchill replied: "Warn her Christmas is coming".'"
  8. " Eighth, Wavell was encouraged to 'Go for Musso', as Churchill put it and eventually did..."
  9. "Ninth, Churchill was always on the lookout for allies, large and small. 'These are not dark days: these are great days- the greatest days our country has ever lived. And we must all thank God that we have been allowed, each of us according to our stations, to play a part in making these days memorable in the history of our race.'"
  10. "...tenth point, Churchill had an uncanny gift for getting priorities right... 'He is not a gambler but never shrinks from taking a calculated rick as if the situation so demands. His whole heart and soul are in the battle and he is an apostle of the offensive.'"

For the pastor, these are extremely valuable lessons. Allow me to comment briefly:
  1. Ensuring a culture for leadership trustworthiness is essential in times of peace for they are equity in times of war.
  2. In times of war, the leader MUST be given space and room to lead and not be bogged down by bureaucratic mindedness.
  3. The pastor must allow God to continuously reinvent them and their leadership style. "This is me, take it or leave it", is a sign of immaturity and insecurity. God wants to continuously refashion us for the situation.
  4. The leader must set the tone for a culture of hard work that can be imitated and modelled.
  5. The visionary needs to increasingly develop their verbal skills to clearly communicate the call to forward movement. We don't just need an anointing. We also need words to communicate our ideas.
  6. To us, airpower is the power of prayer! Or as Tim Chaddick [Reality LA] said to me "we prayed our faces off".
  7. Using the discerning of spirits, we can identify the work of the enemy and discern what our best form of assault must be.
  8. Celebrate little victories! These will breathe life and courage into us for the big battles.
  9. "It is not good that man is alone". We are created to partner and collaborate with others. The ability to empower each and every person as vital players, in the journey, is a true gift.
  10. Is one of the lead pastor / visionary pastor's greatest skills needed, the ability to identify priorities and make the big decisions based on these?

Thoughts on Hell... from Mark Driscoll

6 Questions on Hell

6 Questions on Hell
Mark Driscoll offers answers to the most common questions about eternal punishment.

Every once in a while, someone of note questions or denies the classic Christian belief of a literal hell with eternal, conscious suffering. Then a debate rages and becomes personal between representatives of various perspectives on the issue.

Meanwhile, the average person’s questions about hell can remain unanswered. So rather than attacking any individual, I thought it might be helpful to address the issues by answering some of the most common questions about hell. Ministry leaders, including myself, are often asked these questions, and I asked these questions myself as a non-Christian and then as a new Christian in college. Rather than selling you, I will seek to simply be honest and say what the Bible says and allow you to make up your mind for yourself. I will be pulling from a few sections of a book I wrote with a friend who is the former president of the Evangelical Theological Society.

1. What happens when we die?

God created humans as thinking, feeling, moral persons made up of spirit and body tightly joined together. Death is not normal or natural, but an enemy, the consequence of sin. Death is the tearing apart of these two intertwined parts, the end of relationship with loved ones, and the cessation of life on this earth. The body goes to the grave, and the spirit goes into an afterlife to face judgment. The Bible is clear that there will one day be a bodily resurrection for everyone to either eternal life with God or eternal condemnation apart from him in hell.

Christianity differs from all religions in that Christians believe our eternal status depends on our relationship with Jesus. We really believe that “God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” It may not be politically correct, but our lives are shaped by the reality that “whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.”

"Jesus talks about hell more than does anyone else in all of Scripture."

Upon death, a believer’s spirit immediately goes to heaven to be with Jesus. Jesus gives us a picture in Luke 16:19–31 of existence after death. Lazarus, the godly beggar, goes to be with Abraham, while the self-indulgent rich man is in a place of torment.

Jesus, who has come back from death and is thus the expert on what awaits us on the other side, was emphatically clear that a day of judgment is coming when everyone will rise from their graves and stand before him for eternal sentencing to either worship in his kingdom or suffer in his hell. At the final judgment, all—even you—will stand before Jesus. Jesus’ followers whose names are written in the Book of Life will be with him forever. The Bible could not be clearer: “if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire."

2. What judgment awaits non-Christians at the end of this life?

A day is coming when God will judge the living and the dead through the Son. When the Son of Man comes to sit on his throne, all will stand before him for judgment. From the beginning of creation to the end, the Bible makes it clear that the basis of God’s judgment is our deeds.

Jesus made this very clear, saying in John 3:36, “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.” Jesus’ death propitiated God’s wrath against sin. Those who refuse this gift have the double penalty of wrath for their sins and for rejecting God’s Son. Jesus himself taught this in John 3:18, saying, “Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.” Unlike Jesus’ words to the sheep, to the goats on his left he will say, “Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.”

However, this does not mean that the relatively nice sinner suffers equally with Satan or his most committed human servants. There are degrees of punishment in hell like there are degrees of reward in heaven. Both in life and in hell some sins receive more severe punishment, because that is just.

3. What does Scripture teach about hell?

Jesus talks about hell more than does anyone else in all of Scripture. Jesus’ words come in the context of the rest of Scripture, which says that God “desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” Furthermore, he “is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.”

Despite God’s love for and patience with sinners, it is a horrid mistake to dismiss the Bible’s clear teachings on hell. Richard Niebuhr characterized the ongoing attempt of liberal Christians to deny hell as “a God without wrath brought men without sin into a kingdom without judgment through the ministrations of a Christ without a cross.” Jesus said more about hell than about any other topic. Amazingly, 13 percent of his sayings are about hell and judgment; more than half of his parables relate to the eternal judgment of sinners.

"Christianity differs from all religions in that Christians believe our eternal status depends on our relationship with Jesus."

The Bible does not give us a detailed exposition of hell, but there are many descriptions of the fate of its inhabitants in that place of eternal punishment. They include:

1. fire

2. darkness

3. punishment

4. exclusion from God’s presence

5. restlessness

6. second death

7. weeping and gnashing of teeth

Satan will not reign there. Hell is a place of punishment that God prepared for the Devil and his angels. It is where the beast and the false prophet and those who worship them will drink the wine of God’s wrath, poured full strength into the cup of his anger, and he will be tormented with fire and sulfur in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb. And the smoke of their torment goes up forever and ever, and they have no rest, day or night.

At the end of the age, the Devil will be “thrown into the lake of fire and sulfur where the beast and the false prophet were, and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.” Hell will be ruled by Jesus, and human and demon alike, including Satan, will be tormented there continually.

"People who reject Jesus in this life will not rejoice in him after this life."

Hell is real and terrible. It is eternal. There is no possibility of amnesty or reprieve. Daniel says that some of the dead will be resurrected “to shame and everlasting contempt.” Jesus says, “Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels...And these will go away into eternal punishment.” Paul tells us:

God considers it just to repay with affliction those who afflict you, and to grant relief to you who are afflicted as well as to us, when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with his mighty angels in flaming fire, inflicting vengeance on those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. They will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might.

Perhaps the clearest and most gripping depiction of hell in all of Scripture is the frequent mention of hell as “Gehenna.” The name refers to an area outside of the city of Jerusalem where idolatry and horrendous sin, including child sacrifice, were practiced. Gehenna was a place so despised and cursed by God’s people that they turned it into the city dump where feces, refuse, and the dead bodies of criminals were stacked. Jesus spoke of Gehenna as the hellish final home of the wicked. Since Gehenna is described as a fiery abyss, clearly it is also the lake of fire to which all the godless will ultimately be eternally sentenced, together with Satan, demons, and unrepentant sinners. So when the Bible speaks of hell as a place where the fire is not quenched and the worm does not die, the original hearers would easily have remembered Gehenna, where this reality was ever present outside of their city.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Regeneration and the New Creation

{By my friends Rick Martinez]

One of the most oft-quoted verses in Scripture is found in John 3:3 when Jesus

speaking to Nicodemus says, “Unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom

of God.” In this one statement of fact we find a substantive part of what the Old

Testament anticipated and what the New Covenant realized.

The simple truth Jesus so clearly spoke to Nicodemus that night was the need for

what is Biblically known as regeneration…or to understand it another way, a re-

genesis, a second beginning. Without this regeneration, Jesus said the unseen

realities of God’s kingdom would forever remain hidden to a man. But because of

this rebirth, when a man comes into living union with Jesus Christ by the Holy

Spirit’s work of regeneration, the man stands as a new spiritual creation. The

reason for this new beginning is, as John says in his first letter, because he “has

been born of God.” God’s intent was not to simply fix the old nature of Adam, by

patching us up and then adding some religious talk, activities and duties. No, as

Paul says, a Christian is now a “new creation” (2 Cor. 5:17), born of the very seed

and life of God. (You cannot put a new patch on an old garment!) To understand

this, is to understand the import of what Jesus said to Nicodemus that fateful night

and it is nothing less than the very heart of the gospel itself.

The revelation Paul had gained as he penned his second letter to the Corinthian

church was that regeneration is creative in its nature. It results in a fundamental

change in the individual, a change that is so profound that it must be understood to

be more than just a “fresh start”, and nothing less than a new beginning for that

man, with a new nature, a new future, with new capacities, and a new

understanding of life itself. Regarding the old creation, Paul says, “All things were

made by Him and for Him,” but in regards to the new creation Paul says the new

life is now to be understood to be “in Him”. And so we see that through faith in

Jesus Christ, the regenerate man is given the remarkable privilege of participating

in the new beginning for mankind, Jesus himself being the prototypical man. This

is why Paul calls Jesus, “the last Adam” and “the second man.” (1 Cor. 15:45-47)

It’s clear from Scripture that the apostles believed and looked for a time of

eschatological fulfillment, when at the close of history there would be a literal,

cosmic, physical restoration of heaven and earth. It is also clear they believed that

restoration had already begun. The age to come and the realization of the eternal

purposes of God for His creation (which is His kingdom) invaded and overcame

this present evil age by the birth, life, death, burial, resurrection, and ascension of

Jesus Christ. Though the full and final restoration won’t be complete until His

second coming, Jesus became the first fruit of the new creation by being the first

born from among the dead, having overcome sin and death as a man, and the first

fruit of many more who would follow. (Romans 8:29)

This great truth shapes the larger narrative of Scripture, a truth which is prophesied

as early as Genesis 3:15. This was the hope of the prophets of old, traced by the

scarlet thread of redemption recorded throughout the Old Testament, and finally

finding its fulfillment at the cross of Golgotha and the glorious resurrection three

days later. This truth is the goal of the gospel, and the revelation of the One who

calls Himself “the beginning of God’s (new) creation”. (Rev. 3:14, ESV)

The whole of the New Testament is then the record of this new life in Christ, the

life of new creation, and the new man (humanity) of God of which every believer

is a part. This indwelling Life is the mystery of godliness. Paul says, “Christ in you

is the hope of the final fulfillment and its future glory.”

And so we have become, as the writer of the Hebrews so aptly and beautifully

describes you and I, “the church of the firstborn.” (Hebrews 12:23)

Thursday, March 17, 2011


Genesis Collective will host C2C at Rock Harbor in Costa Mesa California in October.

This is intentionally not a conference but a "conversation". The nature of the event is to limit the number of planters and pastors to under 200. That way we can engage the catalysts on their subject. Interaction is pivotal to the gathering.

We will also interview planters throughout the days to get their stories, successes and failures - from local LA plants to USA plants to North America to the nations. We will add to the day, coffee moments with those Eph 4 gifts who work with plants to hang with small groups to dialogue around the lessons they have learnt whilst working with planters

The dates are 18 - 21 October.
The venue is Rock Harbor in Costa Mesa CA
We are looking to have the website up around the end of the month, - March
At the moment, you can contact me at
The primary catalysts who will join us are
Jeff Vanderstelt from Soma Communities in Tecoma WA who is planting missional communities passionately, he is also VP for Acts 29
as well as Terry Virgo who is the apostolic leader of New Frontiers from the UK who has been leading a church planting movement for some 30 years

Will keep you posted

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Japan - our response?

Forgive me for not writing more this week. It has been a fun, strategic, busy week. However, I have been so impacted by the images as they have come out of Japan. None of us who have not gone through something like this, can know the sheer devastation that it has on the soul. To have experienced an earthquake of that magnitude is traumatic. It is difficult to describe for those not in an earthquake zone. The absolute sense of fear as the earth groans her own travail and you feel out of control, an initial sense of disbelief and then wondering if "this is it" [to quote M - the 'big one'] Then to see the ultimate but not virtual reality, as the wave powers its way to dominance destroying all in its wake. Watching it is like watching a deeply chilling horror movie - yet this time it is real... I just cannot get my mind around it. Sure, these are signs of the 'last of the last days'. Sure, they are ecological reminders of the earth writhing and groaning, waiting and watching for her creators return - the end of the age. Sure they are tragic reminders of the smallness of our humanity. But they are moments for the church to respond with deep humility not judgement. A nation is grieving and they need to know of our love. A nation is traumatized and they need to know of our prayers. A nation is limping and they need to know of our generosity. A nation is brought to her knees and she needs to know of our partnership in life - she is not alone. Christians our response can include:
Prayer for those in authority, for comfort, for the gospel to permeate these broken lives-with love, Financial gifts, to empower those who are working there to feed, clothe the hurting, Servants who will give of their time and labor to work shoulder to shoulder with the locals, Businesses to adopt a kingdom heartedness to help rebuild the economy of the areas affected, Pastors to go and minister to the hurting Cities that will adopt a Japanese city in partnership and hope.

Our gospel has hands to serve and feet to go. It has a heart to love and a mind to rebuild. It cannot simply be business as usual in our gatherings this morning - can it?

Monday, March 7, 2011

Future Church Planting

Reflecting on church planting, and the future over my morning espresso, I read this intriguing text - Number 13.

We first got involved in church planting in the 70's. The world was a different place. The end of the hippy revolution left many disillusioned by what promised so much and gave so little. The Vietnam war was winding down and America liked the wounds of a nation so bruised by her polarizing conflict. The bitter after effects of a social revolution that paved the way for legal abortions and the despair of a generation in turn, paved the way for a church planting, pioneering story that was so fashioned around street preaching and public gospel proclamation. Sheer passion, raw guts and humble obedience seemed to be enough to get planting. It wasn't and still isn't today.

Now in the 21st Century, church planting has again found its way onto the center stage of the western church's major activities [and rightfully so] However, my concern with the lack of understanding of the partnership between these churches and the Ephesians 4 grace giftings weighs on me daily. But that is for another time.

In Numbers 13 under divine instruction, Moses sends out 12 leaders who are to go and spy out the land. This is not a tourist trip but a clear culture / context conversation. They were given a clear mandate to go and find out what was knowable about these people. This was their research guideline:
  • Cultural Character - people are strong or weak - What are the cultural distinctives that identify this community?
  • Community Togetherness - few or many - What glues the community, holds them together?
  • Gospel Ecology - land is good or bad - What is the gospel readiness of the community? Is the soil fertile for the gospel? If so, how?
  • Spiritual Strengths - cites... camps or strongholds - What is the spiritual climate and history of the community? Idols?
  • Economic Essentials - land is rich or poor - What is the economic condition and priorities of the people? Where do they put their money?
  • Key Leadership - trees in it or not - Who are the key leaders and what are their key ideas / messages?
  • Fruit Evidence - season of first ripe grapes - What is the fruit of the community - economically, educationally, politicly, spiritually...?
One cannot force the text to say what it is not saying. However one can use this great passage as a matrix metaphor to more thoroughly prepare for the task at hand. Too many church planters are simply hoping that passion, a "word from the Lord" and the promise of prayers of friends will be sufficient. Whilst these are wonderful, they are not enough. Even in these great Exodus days, where the cloud and fire directed them, God still sent them to spy out the land - find out what you are facing! Do you have the faith for the challenge before you?

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Some Q's

From my friend Nick Davis in the UK:

If Intelligence Quotient (IQ) were somehow a true measure of mental acuity and capacity, high IQ would speak of the potential for "competence".

If Emotional Quotient (EQ) were a true measure of good soul management and relational skill, high EQ would speak of the potential for "intuitiveness".

If Spiritual Quotient (SQ) were a true measure of transcendent vision and inner ambition beyond survival and current success, high SQ would speak of the potential for a zealous, "goal-directed humility" (D Whiteside).

So, mature ministries that develop over years are competent, intuitive and humbly zealous. Some can be highly competent but have no genuine awareness or love interest in the welfare of others. Some can be intuitive but invulnerable. But God seeks to develop ministers who are intelligent in living, involved in people and intimate with Him.

Books, study and life experience activate IQ. Working with people tests and stretches the EQ. But only worship, meditation and secret devotion can enliven the SQ. Yet, it is SQ - the most neglected of the Q's - that emblazens both IQ and EQ.

I can love books without loving people. I can love people without a devotion to God. But I cannot find higher devotion without becoming better with people and more hungry to learn about God and His creatures.

Friday, March 4, 2011


Off to have a breakfast with my two friends - Alan and Todd... we are busy planning a church planters conversation for Oct 2011.

Our dream is not to have a conference - where "experts" wax lyrical about their stories [and that does have value]. We want to approach it slightly differently. Our heart is to have a smaller gathering where there can be interaction between the planters and the speakers, so the content can be processed immediately. Terry Virgo [Apo leader from New Frontiers who have planted all over the world] and Jeff Vanderstelt who has planted in the Seattle Tacoma area as well as being vice president of Acts 29, will lead most of our convos. We will also have smaller coffee chats with guys who have planted recently in different parts of the world

Let you know how it goes...

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Framing the Future

Winston Churchill quipped "The main qualification for political office is the ability to foretell what is going to happen tomorrow, next week, next month and next year. And to have the ability afterward to say why it didn't". In the true wit of Churchill, lies the raw reality that leadership is often flummoxed by the uncertainty of the future. It must be approached with true humility. It has been a mixture of sadness and amusement that I have now listened to 3 decades of 'prophetic voices' proclaim their biased eschatological perspectives, but rarely offer an apology for their error. Yet, we cannot ignore such a mighty matter.
Framing the future must be simply bible. Without the hectic nature of the books of Daniel and Revelation, we can still find confidence in the sacred text, as we seek to ready the church for the "last of the last days". Now I am not suggesting we ignore these two books. Quite the opposite. As lovers of the scripture, we are to mine these truths with dignity and teachability — refraining from morbid narcissistic dogmatism. The Spirit wants to keep opening these texts to us as long as we are found in His presence.

But what about texts like Matt 24? These wondrous Jesus words are being felt around the world even as we pray. "Many will come in my name... but will lead many astray..." The error of the arrogant heretic will intensify in these last days. "Wars and rumors of war" splash across our screens as the Middle East burns in righteous revolution. "Famines and earthquakes" shudders the nation of New Zealand and straddles the continent of Africa in full flight. "They will deliver you up for persecution and put you to death" the quiet genocide of Christians does not gain traction in the postmodern media but the statistics are alarming. "You will be hated by all nations" is spreading rapidly across the darkened skies.

My spiritual father taught us in the 70's - "some signs for all times, all signs for end times". As the days of project planet earth draws to a close, so the signs will gather in force, more and more of them... every and all of them. However the most glorious sign of the last of last days will be that " the gospel of the kingdom will be preached to all nations then the end will come"

Yes, and there are many other verses that can drive a destructive stake in the fragile heart of the ill prepared believer. These texts are not there to drive fear into our hearts. They are there to empower us to train well for the days which lie ahead. They are like pre-season endurance training - the season gives meaning to our hard work. Will it be early elimination or will it be play-offs? They are there to shape our hope for the days which lie ahead. "Where sin abounds, there grace much more abounds"

This we know, a nation at war lives differently to a nation in times of peace. Our conversations about "church" has to be reconsidered as we frame the future...