Thursday, 31 March 2016

The War Cry...

With apologies to anyone expecting the Salvation Army's newsletter I'm finding myself needing to write this.

My Grandad - Dad's Dad - and his wife were both Salvation Army Officers during World War 2. In fact that's how they met and so blame the Sally Army for the existence of this blog!

Grandpa - Mum's Dad - was a soldier and took part in the Africa campaign under Montgomery and the D-Day invasion of Normandy.

Both were men of honour and valour. Both were warriors in their own way.

Grandad was refused enlistment at the beginning of th war because he was classified as a Christian Minister - at that point it was considered an essential part of the defence of Great Britain to maintain a strong Spiritual connection with God through the Church and it's activities. He was disappointed not to have the chance to fight as he believed it was his duty as a Christian to take up arms against the Nazi forces that had marched across Europe in their blitz of the continent.

Grandpa was an officer, rose to the rank of Major before the end of the war, and spoke very little about what he'd experienced afterwards. His wife's brothers were all pilots, and the two I knew who were alive when I was born had a myriad of tales about life in the RAF Bomber Command squadrons and their exploits. They didn't have the scars Grandpa had - they knew they had killed, but it was at a distance. Among other things I found out Grandpa had been a motorcycle outrider, going out ahead into potentially hostile territory to scout the path for the troops to take. Any killing he was involved in was far more personal.

How does this connect to God?

I recently read an article that put Easter into a different light for me. Don't get me wrong, it was the climax of Christ's Ministry on Earth in physical form and paved the way for the Holy Spirit and reconciliation with God. But it made me realise something else.

This World we live in, all the green and blue, oceans and deserts and mountains and prairies, is actually a war zone. If you go to Normandy in France you can still see the German defence posts and the landing piers the Allies brought at the beaches. I've been there several times and it has always hit me how nobody sees the struggle even when the physical signs are around them. It's past and gone seems to be the attitude.

A few people most years are killed in the Somme Valley in France exploring the battlefields left from the first world war. There are live shells that failed to go off, ammunition and grenades littering the parks. Some have been defused and are sold as souvenirs (or were 30 years ago when I bought mine). I'm not sure how UK Customs would respond to me trying to bring these artefacts back from South Africa now would respond. Seeing a shell casing, rifle grenade and hand grenade in my luggage on the x-ray would probably not go down well after the recent attacks in Brussels, so if I return to the UK later this year - which is a possibility - I may have to leave some of my most treasured items here. (I use the defused shell as a doorstop and the grenades make excellent paper-weights on my desk) People see the souvenir defused shells in the shop and think the ones on the fields are there for decoration. One mis-directed kick and BOOM! 100 years later the First World War is still claiming lives.

It's an obvious place where the ravages of war are obvious, but how does your church look? Do you even know you are called to a War more deadly and definitive than any human conflict?

Probably not.

When Jesus hung on the Cross on Good Friday, the Lion of Judah's Roar was "It Is FINISHED". Now to us that sounds like "The End", but actually it was like the capturing of the Normandy beaches. The Germans were beaten, even Hitler knew it, but thousands of casualties died and were crippled on both sides in the following months between June 6th 1944 and VE Day the following year. The war was won but the soldiers on the ground still had to fight to take the primary enemy stronghold back.

It's the same in our Faith.

The Cross was D-Day. The outcome of the war is inevitable. Christ has taken captivity captive and holds the keys to sin and death, but there is work to be done on the battlefield. The enemy is at work influencing politics, economics, education, healthcare, agriculture and every other aspect of our lives on a daily basis. He influences men who don't even realise they are in a battle or that there is a battle to fight.

So Jesus commissions generals to lead His army. Initially it's the disciples, but the appoint others - Paul being the most obvious - to carry on the work. The fight is taken from the beachhead of Calvary to the rest of the World by these foot-soldiers.

By us.

But we don't realise the battle we're fighting. And we forget the weapons we have, or worse we've never known we had them.

Five days ago I had a bad fall at home. I was told in 1999 I had elevated blood sugar levels (I don't know the US measurements so forgive me for using the British/South African ones). My blood sugar after a ten hour fast was 20mmol. It should have been no more than 5mmol. My HbA1C which measures glycaemic control over the preceding 3 month period showed my average sugar levels had been between 16mmol and 30mmol. It should be between 4mmol and 6mmol. I was told it was definitive - diabetes. The illness left untreated would take me by inches. My toes, my sight, kidney failure were the future I was given to look forward to. I already had loss of sensation in my feet back then.

In the fall, my right foot got caught on a loose thread and ripped the nail off my big toe completely.

I didn't feel it. The first indication was the realisation I was spreading blood across the floor.

But what's this to do with God?

One fruit of the Spirit is Health. Since I was able to begin to assimilate that for myself a miracle has happened. The progression has all but completely halted. My nerves are damaged and I struggle to accept that Christ has paid the price for the  healing, so they stay numb and I get infections from time to time. It's easier to pray and see healing for other people than it is for myself. I don't know your past and the enemy can't convince me you don't deserve complete healing so I pray and people trust God to do the rest.

Another fruit is prosperity. The modern church - especially in affluent areas of South Africa - has a problem with affluent ministries and churches that don't instantly give away to less affluent areas. Prosperity, thanks to damaging press and misrepresentation over the last few years where a few individuals lined their own pockets, has got a bad name. But prosperity is essential for the spread of the Gospel. If a church or ministry is to grow and touch lives, the harsh reality is it needs money to do it. God wants us to receive, not to use on individual selfish gain, but on the Work of the Kingdom. Over the next couple of months, Eagle's Wing Ministries will be looking to expand into a printed magazine. This is not a decision taken lightly as it's not cheap in South Africa to do that - especially when the vision for this ministry is that the Word of God will NEVER be witheld due to financial reasons. Much of what I understand today about my faith comes from other ministries who share this value who I first came into contact with when I had nothing and could afford nothing more than the food on my plate - and sometimes not even that.

Living like that does nothing to Glorify God. If anything it drives people away.

This ministry cannot grow without funding - and I stress at this moment that I am NOT asking for donations outright now as you read this. No guilt, No shame if you can't. We have costs, quotes for the production of an initial run of 5000 magazines of "Eagle's Eye" Magazine, a publication of Eagle's Wing Ministries, which will contain teaching articles, testimonies and some stuff to make us laugh - sometimes wrapped up in a single piece! This vision will grow and expand. We want to include an online version of the magazine on the official website once it's development allows it to go "live" soon.

A wise friend reminded me many years ago when I was in a desperate state for funds and God inspired me to do something that would be expensive during a quiet time. He phoned me and I had the nudge in my Spirit to answer the phone, not something I normally do when in that place, and he said "Dave I felt I needed to pray for you just now and God told me to call and tell you 'When I place the order, I pay the bill'. Can you please tell me what on earth that means?!"

God came through. I got a tax rebate in the post the following morning for exactly the amount I needed to do what God had asked of me that day. It's over 20 years and some of the software I had to buy to be able to fulfil that vision is enabling me to begin to fulfil the vision for Eagle's Eye Magazine. God's gifts are long-lasting and reach beyond anything we can imagine at that moment.

We are at war.

The enemy will try to hide it with foggy issues. I've been watching the "X-Men" series of movies recently and seen how one character can call up a bank of fog to hide her approach. The enemy does that with us, blurring the real issues with torn toenails and restricted financial income, but if we can trust that He who began a good work in us will be Faithful to complete it, we will see results.

I often get told not to put God in a box. That my beliefs are too simple. But they've worked for 30+ years for me. If the Bible says I can get it, I can get it. If it doesn't then I probably won't. If I ask from selfish motives (which I do a lot) it doesn't happen, but when my heart is lined up with God's I've seen a 100% provision. Not a single miss in 30 years.

We were given a Battle Cry by Jesus on the Cross. a warning to His enemies and ours that the war was won and they would be defeated.

Take the step to do what you know God is calling you to do. My dad felt he could have been a minister and many people encouraged him to go into the ministry, but he died before he could find the strength to act on that calling. God called me to create EWM 20 years ago and I only took the step to start this blog 5 years ago. Now I get feedback from countries I'd never expected to reach and some I'd never heard of. It's a tremendous blessing to be doing this work, and something if you know God has called you to do then step out.

We are wounded warriors, all of us. Whether we were raised in English Private schools on full bursaries (like I was) or through a "tree-church" in North Africa that can't afford a roof is immaterial. We were called, like Esther, for such a time as this.

Shout the Battle Cry and follow Jesus Christ our General.

Let's take this World and it's values, conservative, liberal, radical, false religion, greed, misogyny and self-promotion for selfish ends and meet it head on with the unfiltered, unashamed power of the Holy Spirit in us.

I don't care if you're an American supporting Trump, Clinton, Cruz or Sanders. I don't care if your beliefs have been shaken by the Nkandla scandal in South Africa. I don't care where you are, be it Kenya, Myanmar, Cambodia, Vietnam, Burkina Faso, England, France, Switzerland or anywhere else. Our God is not a respector of persons. He doesn't care who the "man" in charge is. He is the one with the Power ultimately.

Raise a rally cry.

Shout a War Cry to the World.

We're coming - and there's nothing you can do to stop us. No false religion, no "new-age" guru, no "humanistic" philosophy can hope to stand against the Will of God.

And a warning to the devil: Get out of the way. The CHURCH is rising up as an army. And you won't see it coming.

Do Battle in Praise, no matter the circumstances. Give thanks to Jesus whatever it looks like in the natural eyes. Look through the eyes of your Spirit.


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