Some years ago a local politician who was closely identified with one of the leading terrorist groups involved in what came to be known here as ‘the troubles’ famously said in a speech during a period of ceasefire – ‘they haven’t gone away you know’. He was stating plainly that although the terrorists were at that stage ‘lying low’ they had the capability to at any time restart their murderous campaign. In many ways Satan’s deceptions are like that – they rage and war against God’s truth for a period of time and then they appear to have ‘blown themselves out’ but the reality is very different, they are really just biding their time to perhaps re-invent themselves and then re-emerge with renewed devastating deceptive force. In the 1990’s 2 diabolical deceptions were the Canadian so-called ‘Toronto Blessing’ that was followed by the Florida based so-called ‘Pensacola Revival’. Attempts are being made to revive interest in them and present them as ‘moves of the Holy Spirit – a good example being the ‘Toronto’ articles in the April 2008 ‘Directions’ magazine of the Elim grouping (the front cover spread of this was also given over to the social/ecumenical HOPE ’08 initiative). Locally, one sister in Christ, after having sought information resigned from her church as it was attempting to rekindle Toronto-like activity. Again in Florida, this time in Lakeland, great claims are being made for manifestations at meetings hosted by Todd Bentley – this has all the makings of a rerun of the Pensacola deception. It was indicated to me that Todd Bentley may be lining up a visit to the UK – all I can say in relation to this and any attempt to revive ‘Toronto’ is “Take Heed”.
In Pharaoh’s Egypt false ‘fertility gods’ were worshipped, and God’s people were oppressed. God revealed His anger through plagues that impacted adversely upon the environment, upon animal life, upon the food-chain, upon people’s health, upon climatic conditions and upon family life. In our day western ‘Christian’ nations are feeding the world’s lust for all manner of gut-wrenching pornographic material with Hollywood, USA being a leading player. These nations are also warmly welcoming false gods. In Iowa USA, at the end of January, Mohammed Khan, the imam of the Islamic Centre of Des Moines, led the opening prayer in the Iowa legislature at the request of Iowa State Representative Ako Abdul-Samad, who has questionable associations with Islamic extremists. In his four-minute prayer before the Iowa legislative session, Khan made a plea for “victory over those who disbelieve” and “protection from the Great Satan”. Reflecting on the plagues of Egypt can we not see similar ‘plagues’ being visited on the world of our day. In Egypt these were a precursor to the great deliverance and exodus of God’s people. God answered the prayers of His people [see Exodus 3:7-8]. We thank you for your continuing love and support and ask you to join with us in the prayer of Revelation 22:20 “Even so, come Lord Jesus”.
As each year passes it seems that as a ministry we are regularly confronted by the next BIG ‘Evangelical Initiative’ that we are told is assuredly going to change the spiritual landscape and sweep hundreds or even thousands into the Kingdom of God. In recent years I can think back on local initiatives like ‘Power to change’ and ‘Kingdom Come’ and then nationally and globally there has been and still is all the hype about ‘The Passion Movie’ and ‘The Alpha Course’. Rev William Smylie, General director of Slavic Gospel Association in his editorial for their April-June 2007 newsletter wrote about ‘The Importance of Little Things’ and said ‘In general people are switched on by BIG things…In the area of mega churches there are those who will travel half-way around the world to see if they could copy the same method…BIG projects whether they are humanitarian or of a spiritual nature grip many and move them to get on board…The Christian is called to be faithful in the little things…The Christian life is about how we perform ALL the time…Our Lord Jesus Christ is our great example of faithfulness in the simple duties of life…In this issue we are covering…many areas where God’s servants are being faithful in the little things’. In this issue I will once more be sharing concerns about an upcoming BIG initiative called HOPE 2008 and sadly once more BIG does not equal FAITHFUL. As 2008 unfolds may we be ever ready to give a faithful answer for the hope that is in us [1 Peter 3:15].
One of the enclosures with our March 2007 newsletter related to ‘2 matters for prayerful and practical consideration’. Thanks to the generous response of God’s people, in relation to one matter mentioned I was able to purchase a laptop computer and the PowerPoint programme. Over the summer months I have been trying to get to grips with this new technology – I wouldn’t claim to have fully ‘cracked it’ but I have been able to put together a number of presentations on current issues [such as Scientology, and Islam] and already a number of churches/fellowships have made arrangements for me to come to make these presentations. I am truly grateful to all who contributed and am also grateful to the Lord for opening up these opportunities to utilise these gifts for the sake of His truth. The second matter related to a possible ministry trip to Kenya in 2009. After much prayerful consideration both Margaret and I felt that this matter should not be pursued any further and we have informed the Kenyan Pastor accordingly. Again I am grateful to those who prayed for us as we considered this possible trip. One trip we shall be making will be for 10 days to Illinois and Ohio in October [DV] when I will be speaking in 4 churches during that time. Again I will be addressing matters that are very much in the news and so we would covet your prayers for provision for our travel and protection as we travel. As ever we covet your ongoing prayers as we sound the warning of ‘Take Heed’.
It seems that Northern Ireland is fast becoming a haven for every modern heresy that is currently circulating under the guise of being ‘evangelical’. In June/July Brian McLaren will speak to thousands of young professing Christians at the local ‘Summer Madness’ event. Also in July, Joel Osteen will ‘preach’ at the Belfast Odyssey arena. In November the main speaker at the ‘Mandate’ gathering for men will be Erwin McManus who, like Brian McLaren, is identified with what is called ‘The Emerging Church’ – I’ve just had a phone call to tell me that another ‘Emerging Church’ figure called Rob Bell [we have an ‘Alarm Bells’ warning article about him & his wife on our website] will be speaking in Belfast in June, with the Church of Ireland Youth Dept., closely associated with ‘Summer Madness’, advertising Bell’s visit. On our website and in this newsletter these issues will be addressed. Why do we do that? Let me quote from John MacArthur’s latest book ‘The Truth War’ [mentioned on page 13] ‘As always a war is being waged against the truth. We are on one side or the other. There is no middle ground…in every generation the battle for the truth has proved ultimately unavoidable because the enemies of truth are relentless. Truth is always under assault. And it is actually a sin not to fight when vital truths are under attack…whenever the enemies of gospel truth succeed in infiltrating the church [as represented by all those mentioned above] faithful believers are obliged to take the battle to them even there. That is certainly the case today’ [pages XXIII-XXIV]. We thank you for all your support and encouragement and covet your prayers as we continue to engage the enemies of God’s “truth”.
The quotation that I gave in our December newsletter from the article at the front of our gift Study Bible provoked some very favourable feedback and also stirred memories of some lines that tell of how God’s Word is like an anvil that over the centuries has resisted the hammers of error. These lines, written by someone unknown [but not to God] go as follows –
Last eve I passed beside a blacksmith’s door and heard the anvil ring the vesper chime:Then looking in, I saw upon the floor old hammers, worn with beating years of time.“How many anvils have you had,” said I, “to wear and batter all these hammers so?”“Just one,” said he, and then, with twinkling eye, “the anvil wears the hammers out,you know.”And so, thought I, the anvil of God’s word, for ages sceptic blows have beat upon;Yet though the noise of falling blows was heard, the anvil is unharmed . . .the hammer’s gone.One friend also shared these lines from the front of her father’s Bible –Prove all things by the Word of God….all ministers, all teaching, all preaching,all opinions, all practices — prove all by the Word of God.Measure all by the measure of the Bible. Test all in the crucible of the Bible.That which can abide the fire of the Bible receive, hold, believe and obey.That which cannot abide the fire of the Bible, reject, refuse,repudiate and cast away.
If professing Christians were more knowledgeable of ‘the anvil’ and used it to “prove all things” there would a lot less need for the cry of ‘Take Heed’ to go up. But the need is still there and so we do value your love and support of us.
Paul wrote “ the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine” [2 Timothy 4:3] and you will read clear examples of that prophecy coming to pass in our day. Whether ‘they’ be ‘trendy-photographers’ at a ‘Christian’ youth event, or ‘church-growth experts’ and ‘innovative philosophers’ or ‘gospel-denying’ supposedly ‘Christian’ TV presenters or ‘ecumenical-evangelists’ or ‘religiously-misguided’ politicians, ‘they’ all share one thing in common, an ignorance of Biblical, Christian “doctrine”. During this past summer, Margaret and I received the gift of a signed Study Bible and in an article at the front entitled ‘How We Got The Bible’, the closing section, ‘The Bible’, reads as follows – ‘This book contains the mind of God, the state of man, the way of salvation, the doom of sinners and the happiness of believers. Its doctrine is holy, its precepts are binding, its histories are true and its decisions are immutable. Read it to be wise, believe it to be saved, and practice it to be holy. It contains light to direct you, food to support you and comfort to cheer you. It is the traveller’s map, the pilgrim’s staff, the pilot’s compass, the soldier’s sword, and the Christian’s charter. Here heaven is open and the gates of hell are disclosed. Christ is the grand subject, our good its design and the glory of God its end. It should fill the memory, rule the heart and guide the feet. Read it slowly, frequently and prayerfully. It is a mine of wealth, health to the soul and a river of pleasure. It is given to you here in this life and will be opened at the judgment and is established forever. It involves the highest responsibility, will reward the greatest labour and condemn all who trifle with its contents’. May we all truly treasure it in 2007 [DV].
It is always a matter of great sadness and regret in coming to the realisation that individuals or organisations that were in former times a source of much spiritual blessing have now chosen a path of compromise and so there must be a parting of the ways, a separation, in obedience to God’s Word. The first and last articles in this newsletter represent just such matters of sadness and regret for both Margaret and I myself personally. We would ask you to join with us in praying that God, by the convicting work of His Holy Spirit, might draw both the individual and the organisation to ‘the straight and narrow’ and that they would depart from the broad, but no doubt popular road of compromise.
Earlier this year during the ministry visit of Gary Gilley, we were alerted to the unscriptural, gospel-denying views of American, Brian McLaren, regarded by many as ‘the God-Father’ of what is known as ‘The Emerging Church’. Mr McLaren has been invited by the large youth gathering known as ‘Summer Madness’ to be one of their speakers in June 2007 [DV]. I hope to write further on this in due course but meantime, if you have any influence where ‘Summer Madness’ is concerned, please encourage them to rescind the invite to Mr McLaren. Thank you for all your ongoing encouragement and support.
As you will read in the first article we had a very stimulating ministry visit by Pastor Gary Gilley [thank you for all your prayers] and it was evident that his diagnosis of the problem that much of professing Christianity is afflicted with today is centred on ‘the heart’. What I mean by that is that, in much of today’s apparently ‘blossoming’ and ‘successful’ Christianity, the very ‘heart of the gospel’ has been removed in favour of ‘another gospel’. This new ‘gospel’ is all about ‘self’ and is ‘justified by men and women’. But truly found at ‘the heart of the gospel’ are Christ and the truth of ‘men and women being justified’ by God. Enclosed with this newsletter are copies of 2 very helpful leaflets that in one, identify the problem found at ‘the heart’ of the ‘gospel’ proclaimed in today’s ‘Market-Driven’ churches and in the other, restate the glorious biblical truth of God’s ‘justification’ of guilty sinners. Also enclosed is a leaflet with 2 emails from Pastor Jerry Moser of Bayou Du Large Baptist Church in Louisiana. Many of you sent contributions to our appeal for Jerry and the fellowship there as they coped with the damage caused by hurricanes Katrina and Rita. I trust you will be as thrilled as we have been to see how God has gloriously used these difficult trials for the furtherance of His gospel amongst a very needy [spiritually and materially speaking] people. Margaret and I once more thank you for all your much-appreciated support.
By the time this newsletter arrives with you that ‘landmark’ birthday that I mentioned in my December 2005 newsletter will be part of history. As I contemplated the passing of yet another decade of my life, a phrase that will be familiar to those who have travelled by air came to mind – it’s the one that is said to the cabin crew by the captain as an aeroplane nears the runway at the start of its journey – the intercom will sound and the captain will inform the stewards and stewardesses to ‘prepare for take-off’ and this instruction will usually be followed by feverish last-minute activity. Those of us who have tasted God’s ‘so great salvation’ should always be ‘prepared for take-off’ for truly none of us know ‘what a day may bring forth’ [Proverbs 27:1]. Is there any purging, pleading, ploughing, praying or even reparation that needs to be attended to? Well, do it now, for how close to or even how far down the runway that leads to ‘take-off’ we are, none of us know. Enclosed with this newsletter are several enclosures and on one are copies of faxes sent to Tony Blair. ‘The family’ as established by God is under attack as never before due to recently implemented legislation and it has also been recommended that God’s guidelines for raising children should be ignored and indeed outlawed. I have available [on audio cassette – price £2.50 – includes p&p] 2 sermons by a good ministerial friend entitled ‘Children obey your parents’ and ‘Parents discipline your children’. Although not quoting the AV the teaching is consonant with the AV translation and I heartily commend these sermons.