Monthly Archives: April 2016

Make Your Mark – Part 1

Over the last few weeks, I have had a pretty rough time with various things, so I have decided to take a look at one of the gospels. I felt that I needed a bit of grounding, but I would also like to see the ‘summary version’, so I am taking a look through the book of Mark. Join me as I look through the book, starting today with the first chapter. Read Mark 1, and then take a look at my thoughts below.

The first chapter of Mark really struck me, as it seems to work differently to how most people’s ministries work. Let’s take a look at the order of things for Jesus, and see if it matches up with ours. Firstly Jesus was baptised, and then satan was on His case, trying to tempt Him away. You see satan knew what Jesus was about to do, he knew who Jesus was. Before Jesus could really do anything, satan was trying to stop Him. Is satan on your case? I don’t want to focus too much in what the devil does, but if he is not interested in you, are you really a threat to him? Don’t focus too much on the enemy, but if he does come after you, see how Jesus dealt with him.

The next thing that Jesus did, was to get some disciples. We often think that we can go on our own, and that we don’t need to surround ourselves with other believers, but that is just not true. We need to have people that we can turn to, who keep us in line, and encourage us. Even Jesus surrounded Himself with people. Let’s make sure that we do the same. When we see what Jesus gets up to next, we realise why we need the support. It is this next section that really surprised me, as we often expect to ease gently into ministry. People often tell us to start small, don’t worry about casting out demons and healing people, start off gently. This is not what Jesus did. He started off in the deep end, where most of us only dream of getting to one day. Jesus started where most of us are too afraid to finish. Is this maybe why we don’t see the results that we know are possible?

Casting out demons. Have you ever actually done this? This was the first thing that Jesus did. Now I realise that you need to know how to do things like this, before doing them, but we do need to do them, so why don’t we figure out how to do this? I often hear people saying that demons do exist, but we don’t need to worry about them. I agree that we don’t need to worry about them, but we do need to deal with them. Ignoring them is not the example that Jesus set. He acknowledged them, then rebuked them, and set people free from their hold. This is what we need to do. It doesn’t need to be a big song and dance, or weeks of deliverance, but it needs to be done. I have been a Christian for a long time, and have cast out a few demons (in other believers), and I still find spiritual strongholds in my own life that I need to break. Demonic activity is not just limited to satanists and witches, we can all be affected by demons, and we need to know how to come against it. Do we have sleepless nights worrying about them? No. When the Holy Spirit reveals these strongholds, acknowledge it, rebuke it, and make the decision to walk in the freedom that Christ died for.

There is another reason why I believe that Jesus started His ministry with a bang. Do you find that people don’t take Christianity seriously? Do you ever find that people misunderstand Christianity? What do you think would happen if you told people about the kingdom of God, right after you healed someone or cast out a demon? You see Jesus did these things and people saw it. This was shocking to the Pharisees and the people. Jesus made an impression. They realised the authority immediately, and so everything that Jesus said after that, was said in authority. We often have a too subtle approach, which means that people don’t take us seriously. No-one underestimated Jesus after they saw what He did, they may not have liked Him, but they didn’t underestimate Him. We tend to make excuses as to why we don’t do these kind of ministries, but Jesus started off with them. Maybe this why people took Jesus seriously, and maybe why they don’t listen to us. Yes, we need to learn how to do these things. Yes, we need to be sensitive, but we can’t use these as excuses not to do these ministries.

What are your views on casting out demons and healing? Are they ministries that you do, or do you see them as unnecessary? If you have never done them, are you following Jesus’ example? I’ll leave you to decide.

Until next week.

Richard

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Death Has Lost its Sting

It has been a few weeks since I posted a blog post, and the reason for that was because I was on holiday in South Africa. My wife (Wendy) and I went down to visit family – her parents and my parents and siblings are there. The only problem was that this trip was an essential one, but not a pleasant one. It has raised some difficult questions for me to answer but, as usual, God has answered with His usual wisdom. Let me take you through what happened.

Wendy’s dad was ill, he had a form of bone marrow cancer (multiple myeloma). Our trip was partly to see family, but mostly to come back with a testimony of healing. You probably know my views on healing, but in case you don’t, I don’t believe illness is from God. I believe that we have authority over it, and I believe that God’s will is for us to be well. If you disagree with me, you’re entitled to your opinion, but you won’t change mine. If you would like to know why people don’t receive their healing, take a look at ‘Why We Don’t Get Healed‘. Anyway, back to the story. We left the UK and, upon arriving in Cape Town, we realised that Wendy’s dad was more frail than we had thought. This encouraged me to start ministering to him and, as expected, we started to see a mild improvement. He was coughing all night, which hurt his shoulder, which was broken at the collar bone basically due to the cancer. I rebuked the cough (amongst other things) and it stopped immediately. If the cough stopped, so would the rest! The next day (after a cough free night), we moved onto the other symptoms and causes.

This is where it fell apart. My father in law died. This was not part of our plan. I briefly considered raising him from the dead, but I decided that it would be best to let things be. Even though I believe in healing, and I believe that one day I will raise someone from the dead, he was 70 years old and we all need to die at some point. I decided to call it a day. This left me upset and open to ‘enquiries’ from the enemy.

‘He died because you failed’. ‘Where is this authority that you claim to have?’. ‘I won this fight and I’ll win the rest’. These are some things that were going through my head from the enemy. So I took them to God and asked Him, “Was it my fault or was it just his ‘time to go’?” After feeling a tremendous sense of comfort, I believe that I heard God’s response, which went something like this. “Does it matter? Look at what the devil has ‘won’. Your father in law is with me in heaven, he is pain free and in perfect health. This is where he will be for eternity, and this is where you will one day meet up with him. The only down side is that you won’t see him for a time, while you are on earth.”

You see if God had said that it was my fault, it would have broken me. If God had said that it was just ‘his time to go’, it would have seriously messed with my theology, and dare I say scripture. I don’t believe that God gives people illness and kills them, I believe John 10:10. Having said that, my father in law was 70 years old, so maybe it was just his time up. I don’t know, but I am not prepared to water down my faith because of what happened. The bottom line is that death has in fact lost its sting. I understood this on a theoretical level, but I now understand it on an emotional one. Illness is from the devil, part of the curse of the fall of man. It is not from God. Yet even when the illness wins, we actually win. This is what Jesus has done for us on the cross. I was incredibly happy that my father in law made Jesus His Lord and Saviour, as I now know that I will see him again at some point. This is not goodbye, merely “until we meet again”.

Do you have this assurance? Do you know Jesus as your Saviour? When you do, you realise that death truly has lost its sting. I would hate to be in the situation that I was, without my father in law knowing Jesus as Lord.

If you openly declare that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. (Romans 10:9).

Richard