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Anne Rice Interview: Why She Quit Christianity

For those of you who don’t know Anne Rice, she is best known as the author of The Vampire Chronicles including Interview with the Vampire, which was translated into a movie some time back, starring Brad Pitt, Tom Cruise and Christian Slater. She’s a great writer.

A few years back (I don’t really know how long ago) she became a Christian, a Catholic in particular. But recently she has announced that she has quit Christianity.

This is a great interview (only just over four minutes) where she explains a little more about why she quit Christianity and what she means by that. She also briefly explains her new work focused on angels. I found it interesting, especially since I am a writer myself and a Christian.

(I can’t get the embed code to work properly, so please watch it here)

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Group Tonight: Discipleship

Tonight (Thursday 16 September) we’ll be talking about the challenges of being vulnerable (discipleship) with each other at our Life Group in Sandton, which meets every Thursday at 6:30 for 7pm.

We’ll be chatting not just about ‘discipling’ others but the challenge of being discipled — the difficulties we all have in our heart with opening up to someone else, to each other, and allowing people to actually see our bad side. It’s time to take off all masks and be real. But like real for real, not just talking about being real but then doing our own thing and zoning in on our own lives.

Anyone’s welcome to join. The group meets in the heart of Sandton. Phone 011-884-3820 for the address (we meet in an office block) or just email me at ryan (at) ryanpeterwrites (dot) com.

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In the World But Not of the World: Not Being Sidetracked

(Image sourced from here.)

This is the third part of many in which I will share some of my thoughts as I plan for a sermon I’ll be preaching at my church, Church on the Square (Sandton), this coming Sunday, 19 September.

Once we understand our unique calling and the uniqueness of the Kingdom of God, we are better equipped to not be sidetracked by the Enemy (the Devil) and this world, and get involved in missions that have nothing or very little to do with the Kingdom of God and God’s main objective in this world.

Jesus was born into a hot political climate, yet the Scriptures don’t have one recording of any moment when he made any political declaration or comment of any sort unto the political issues of the day.

The State rules by the sword, and so it should. It is interested in outward conformity not inward change, unlike Christianity which is interested in inward change and transformation of the heart.

In Matt 26:50, one of Jesus’ disciples (Simon Peter, according to the book of John) cut the ear off of one of the men that came to arrest Jesus. Jesus rebukes him and says that those who live by the sword will die by the sword. He then heals the man’s ear. The Kingdom, as we see, is a healing Kingdom not a Kingdom of the sword. The state wields the sword, the church wields reconciliation, self-sacrificial calvary, unconditional love, and such things.

The Church is called to turn the other cheek, the State is not. When we mix Christianity / the Church / the Kingdom with the State, we usually get a Church that wields a sword (now acting as the State), enforcing people to bow to its State Religion. It can either go this way or it can become a state that turns the other cheek on its enemies, which has never happened in world history because no state could possibly do that.

So that’s why State and Church cannot mix. They must never be the same thing. Christians should not let politicians play the “Christian vote” either, in my opinion.

Jesus explains why he didn’t get wangled into the politics of his day in John 19: 33 – 38, where he clearly says His Kingdom is not of this world, and if it were his followers would be fighting. But they weren’t. His is not a political Kingdom but an altogether ‘Other’ Kingdom.

The primary concern of the Christian is the Kingdom, not politics. When guys want to burn Korans they are making political statements, not Jesus statements. When guys want to make who you vote for a sign of whether you’re a Christian, they are not making Jesus statements. When guys want to make how you view Israel a sign of your Christianity, those are political statements, not Jesus statements.

What are Jesus statements? Well, when you walk alongside someone hurting — praying for them, helping them, caring for them, walking alongside with them, being their friend, crying with them, laughing with them, and ultimately leading them to God, THAT’S a Jesus statement. Remember, Jesus said that whenever we feed the poor and visit those in prison it’s as if we were doing that for Him.

I’m not saying Christians shouldn’t or can’t give their political opinions, they’re welcome to do so, but nine times out of ten political opinions are nothing more than opinions, but some do declare that their political opinion is the Christian or Bible opinion. It’s not.

Tomorrow I’ll make a more clear post on how we, as Christians, are not ruled by ideologies but by our King. Ideologies come second, Kingdom comes first. We’ll expound on that then.

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In the World But Not of the World

(image sourced from here)

This is the first part of many in which I will share some of my thoughts as I plan for a sermon I’ll be preaching at my church, Church on the Square (Sandton), on Sunday 19 September.

In these posts and my sermon I’ll put forward the notion that Christianity should never mix with politics. I say this because the Kingdom, which Jesus always spoke about, has nothing to do with politics. And not only politics but also the economical and social systems of this world, or any other kind of system in this world.

I do not mean to say that Christians should never affect change and bring transformation to our world. I believe this vehemently. We are to be salt and light and we pray that our Father’s will be done on earth as it is in heaven. What I mean is that we should never make who we vote for a sign of whether or not we’re Christians; we shouldn’t get politicians to come speak to our church; we shouldn’t preach to people about which specific party they should vote for; and we shouldn’t make political policies or economical ideologies a core basis of our theology. This will make more sense as we go along.

In the meantime, here is what I think is a key verse:

Matt 22: 16 – 22

[The Pharisees] sent their disciples to [Jesus], along with the Herodians, saying, “Teacher, we know that you are true and teach the way of God truthfully, and you do not care about anyone’s opinion, for you are not swayed by appearances. Tell us, then, what you think. Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, or not?”

But Jesus, aware of their malice, said, “Why put me to the test, you hypocrites? Show me the coin for the tax.” And they brought him a denarius.And Jesus said to them, “Whose likeness and inscription is this?” They said, “Caesar’s.” Then he said to them, “Therefore render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” When they heard it, they marveled. And they left him and went away.

This verse has, rightfully so, been used to justify a separation of Church and State. In Jesus’ time, the Pharisees and Jews were hoping for a political Messiah — one who would free them, politically, economically and socially, from Roman rule. Jesus never provided this for them.

That’s one context of this scripture worth noting. The other is that the Jews were very offended by Caesar putting his image on money — they had to use money that bore his image. It was seen as an egotistical and unlawful act on their part. But Jesus tells them to give what holds Caesar’s image to Caesar, and give to God what is God’s. And what holds God’s image? Us! (Genesis 1.) So who we pay our taxes to has nothing to do with our relationship to God, and the Kingdom of God is not at all interested in our politics, economics and social systems. It is entirely Other. We are to be concerned with giving ourselves to God, and do whatever we’re required to do in this world, but not link the Kingdom to a political liberation movement, which is what the jews were hoping for.

This boils down to a number of practicalities which we’ll explore in further posts.

End of part one!

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Church History: Grateful for Where We Are

I’m busy reading Church History in Plain Language by Bruce L. Shelley and enjoying the journey through the Christian church’s history.

Currently, I’m at the ‘middle ages’. Here’s one thing I have to say, so far: boy, am I grateful for where we are right now in Church history. From theology to ecclesiology (the structure of the Church), we’re in a much freer and better place.

It’s strange how quickly things got so weird as well. From the third century it seems so much went a little wonky.

But, having said that, there’s a humility required here. While I may stand back and accuse the church in the past of making bad mistakes, we’re also an inch away from making bad mistakes these days too.

Not only that, but theologically I may turn around and say that these guys lost the plot, but who’s to say I have the plot myself? We could all just be as mistaken as the next guy on these matters. My theology could be shaped by my culture just as much as the theology of the church back then was.

And so a fresh reminder of God’s grace fills me with delight and awe. Forgiveness of sins and salvation is for everyone — even those who don’t have all the theology straight. I’m grateful that Christians through the ages, including those who believed their works would get them to heaven (ie. who didn’t really believe in grace) are still saved in Jesus.

God’s love and grace is vast, and theological error will not even keep one from the love, grace and forgiveness of the Father because of Jesus.

And here’s one more thing which deserves mentioning, and I may expound on this in the coming week: even non-Christians can have forgiveness. Forgiveness of sins and wrongdoing is not just for Christians, it’s for non-Christians too.

“Therefore, my brothers, I want you to know that through Jesus the forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you.” Acts 13:38.

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Equip Gauteng Was Great!

At last, after spending the entire weekend working at the rAge video gaming event at the Coca-Cola Dome, Northgate (JHB) I’m able to post a quick blog about the Equip Gauteng time that happened from Wednesday night to Friday night this last week.

(For those interested, check out the great coverage for rAge at

Anyway, Equip Gauteng was awesome. Although I had to work Friday at rAge, the time I did manage to spend at Equip was really awesome.

God really moved and spoke to me over the weekend, thanks to the wonderful facilitation done by the guys who came to preach and facilitate the electives.

Terry Virgo was one of these, and I thoroughly enjoyed his talk about the Holy Spirit, where he related his own walk into understanding the Holy Spirit.

I did the “Holy Spirit and Evangelism” elective, which had Keir Taylor and a team of others (whom I admit I don’t know) administer a wonderful time while relating some of their own experiences with the Holy Spirit. It’s really interesting to see how the same God works so personally and differently with everyone.

I think I’m finally starting to get it. Rather than trying to understand how the Holy Spirit works through some calculated, mechanical method, this keeping in step with the Spirit thing is more about the wind blowing wherever it pleases (John 3:8). This means the Holy Spirit, although the same yesterday, today and tomorrow, is also rather unpredictable. You can’t box Him and expect Him to react in a certain way. He blows wherever He pleases, and will do whatever He wants to do.

Of course, when people hear this they think that it’s all about throwing our heads away and forgetting about the Word. But this was Tyrone’s point – for too long the Church has argued over being either “Word based” or “Spirit based”, with people sitting in only one of these camps.

But actually, the Church needs to be Word AND Spirit based, the two working hand-in-hand.

Tyrone’s illustration that he has been using lately focuses around an aeroplane. An aeroplane needs TWO wings to fly, not one, and – likewise – the Church needs both Word AND Spirit to do what God has called us to do on this planet.

This is so integral to what we see in the Bible that to ignore it results in dire consequences for the Church.

Personally, I have faith more than ever now to see healings take place through simple prayer. Not mechanical prayer based on all the formulas I’ve been taught (“Say this!” “Believe like this!” etc.) but simple prayer with faith in Jesus to do what He did on this earth before when He walked it; not to try and formulaise anything when I see healings happen, but to simply let the Holy Spirit blow wherever He pleases; to stop trying to calculate and manipulate God, but rather simply live in the freedom He gives.

I’m excited!

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Amaharo: Silver and Gold Have I None

This is a post I’ve put up at the Emerging Africa site. See the conversation there at

Note that I don’t consider myself to be emerging or Emergent (or anything for that matter besides Christian) but I converse with brothers and sisters who do.

Having given some praise in my last post about the recent Amaharo conference (okay, I know it’s not THAT recent but I’m a bit slow) I felt that in line with the whole honesty thing that I also ought to do some criticism (constructive, of course; edifying, I hope).

This time I listened to the following talks:

Transfiguration – Claude Nikondeha
The Church and Apartheid – Moss Nthla
The Reformation of the Church – Paul Verryn

Now I know some found these encouraging but I, for reasons I think I now understand, couldn’t help but feel a little discouraged. Not that the talks were in themselves bad but just because their subject matter – social problems, what is being done from a social perspective, what we can do about social problems – is just so BIG. Verryn’s talk about what they are doing in the inner city methodist church was just so… well… it’s great and all, but is there really any CHANGE happening? Are people truly experiencing God, knowing God, finding new LIFE – real, spiritual, down-to-earth life and joy, rather than just hand-me-outs?

Please hear my heart on this. This is an honest reflection.

I am not judging what Verryn and the church is doing there, nor what Claude is involved with (I’m sure he may read this). I don’t even know these guys or what they do. What I’m trying to say is if our Gospel becomes nothing but the ‘social gospel’ then it is no different to any other gospel out there. And it’s just so tiring. We’ll never see lasting transfiguration through social programmes alone – there needs to be real spiritual and literal LIFE transferred from believers in Jesus to others; and those others need to become believers in Jesus themselves, surely, if the Kingdom of God is to grow like a mustard seed.

Something felt like it was missing. The something I refer to is at the end of 1 Cor 4: “For the kingdom does not consist of talk but of power“. Now, again, I’m not criticising anyone in particular now – I’m just saying that, even amongst emerging church people in general I see a real lack of talk about power and, quite frankly, the supernatural (I use the term for conversation’s sake, not because I like to lump things into categories of ‘natural’ or ‘supernatural’).

I don’t mean a metaphorical or poetic meaning to power, I mean something far more literal and down-to-earth; gutsy and dirty. I mean flaming hot ‘you’re going to experience God’ now power. The kind that truly makes a person addicted to drugs no longer addicted; the kind where the crippled walk and the deaf hear; the kind where evil spirits flee and the joy of the Lord fills the person.

The power of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit that God gave to us on Pentecost. The Spirit that Jesus referred to in Acts 1:8 where he said “you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samara, and to the ends of the Earth”.

Claude did speak about contemplation, but I still felt that the spark required for contemplation to bring true refreshing was missing a little. The spark, the tongue of fire, the Holy Spirit Himself. We can contemplate, meditate, pray, chant, sing, dance, whatever we want as much as is humanly possible but without the Spirit’s power it’s really just so tiring and boring; and there is no fruit. After all, it is the fruit of the Spirit we are seeking (Gal 5) – the Spirit produces the fruit we’re wanting to see.

Social programs are only social programs until they are ignited with the fire of God. That’s when they move from social programs to Kingdom advancement. That’s when we truly see transformation and transfiguration. That’s when living water truly flows. When the bread of life is tasted. We need the Holy Spirit, and we need Him to be not theoretical, not JUST poetic, but literal and actual in our lives.

Taking my que from Acts 2:3 where Peter says to the lame beggar that he doesn’t have money to give him, but rather has something else to give him, which was complete healing, I can’t help but feel a little bit like we can miss it. Yes, we must clothe and feed the poor, and this is good news to the poor, but is it THE Good News? Isn’t THE Good News the fact that Jesus is alive and he can come miraculously into your life and change you and your life completely? Isn’t the message of the Kingdom that He has come to bring Shalom? Peace and abundance? Spiritual on-the-ground reality?

Yes, of course feeding and clothing is part of the job, but without the reality of the Spirit and the actual dynamite power of God we are not going to be able to achieve our purpose. And what is our purpose? Isn’t it, in the end, to actually make disciples of Christ who can also bring the life-changing power of God to others? The world will be changed by us changing government, of course, but you put a bunch of wicked-hearted and injust people in charge of government and any system will just become corrupted.

Where is the power that literally heals the sick and raises the dead? This is the power I’m talking about.

In our quest for transformation in this world we must not forget the basic doctrines of our faith, listed in Hebrews 6:1 and 2 for us,

“Repentance from dead works and faith toward God… baptism… the laying on of hands… the resurrection of the dead and eternal judgement.”

The laying on of hands is what we are actively doing now, or we should be. This doctrine, as all doctrines, has a very practical application – we lay hands on the sick and the destitute, they recover, change happens, they experience God. And, of course, we lay our hands now on this world and it recovers, change happens, and it experiences God. But in the laying on of hands it is the power of God which is transferred, and that is what we are trying to do.

This is an honest critique and I’m hoping to edify us all to continue the journey, and in doing so not forget our true Source and what it is we are truly doing. We’re transforming the world with true power, we’re transferring the Living God’s life that is in us to others – literally. We are bringing the true Gospel of Shalom. We are pursuading others to believe on Jesus and join us on His quest of true, literal, healing to individuals and to the world. We are not merely clothing the poor and feeding the sick, for

The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me, to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour.”

For the Kingdom of God is a mustard seed.

If emerging guys want to be the well-rounded Christians they want to be, perhaps they also need to start getting a little old-school pentecostal and charismatic too. At the moment, I do feel that this element of Christianity appears to be missing.

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The Foundation For Ministry and Leading

This is a post about “maturity” and part of a synchroblog. For a list of those involved with the synchroblog, check at the end of the post.

In the light of the recent Todd Bentley event (for those of you who don’t know, Todd Bentley has apparently separated with his wife, stepped down from the Florida revival thingie, and was apparently ’emotionally involved’ with another woman of his staff) I thought that maturity was an apt topic to write about.

Some of you might not know who Todd Bentley is, which is fine. You can google him or see him at YouTube. Todd Bentley is a guy who does healing, and – although some would say that not all of his healings have been validated – it seems to me that there is a great deal of genuine healing going around his ministry.

Where the problem comes in is that Bentley seems to have lacked some of the intrinsic character needs that are (so often) lacking in the healing ministry. My post isn’t to show, so much, that this is Bentley’s fault but more to say that those around Bentley (including some well known guys such as Rick Joyner) seemed to have been in such a rush for revival that they were happy with Bentley doing his thing despite their own knowledge of some character issues that needed to be ironed out.

Generally, the church (I mean the people, not some institution) seems to be in such a rush to do ministry that we lose the basics of character, rather employing an attitude of needing results NOW before laying the necessary foundations that take TIME. I’m in no doubt that Bentley does possess the gift of healing (even if it is not as prolific as all the marketing around him made it out to be) and in a rush to get everyone healed we now sit in a situation where the ministry that did take place looses momentum and, more sadly, has now once again lost a lot of credence. Many people are now more skeptical over healing, when they were previously in a place where they might have just accepted God’s healing as something that He really does. I’m one of them, having lost a great deal of faith in God’s will to heal because so many of the healing cases are coming up as moot.

Jesus didn’t seem to be in such a rush, having only started his ministry at 30 and at a party told his mom that his time had ‘not yet come’. He still performs the miracle, but it doesn’t seem that he would have done it had he not been asked by his mom (who he obviously loved).

If a man possesses a great healing (or any) anointing that could touch thousands of lives, but lacks maturity in Christ and has some character problems, should we still launch him out into ministry because of the fact that the gospel will be told and many will be touched? It seems to me that, more and more, the answer is no. ESPECIALLY if the guy/gal’s ministry is going to be so public (but, in Todd Bentley’s case, we could also argue that the relentless MARKETING that went behind the ministry is completely unhelpful and has no real place in the church or in ministry). It seems that Jesus was in no rush to begin his ministry – he waited when God had sent Him, despite Him knowing something of what God intended for Him to do. He asked His disciples to do the same – telling them to WAIT in Jerusalem until power fell from on high.

Maturity is paramount in ministry, and true ministry requires it. Otherwise, sooner or later, the ministry can fall because it is not built on a strong foundation but is built on sand. The foundation is relationship with Christ, and this is a foundation that takes years to build. It seems, to me, that God is interested in quality first, and isn’t in a rush to refine us like gold until we are exactly right to do our ministry in its fullness. Don’t get me wrong, there are some things we should be doing from day 1 of our walk with Christ (like, friendship evangelism for instance) but we require maturity before we start leading churches, and it seems to me that most of the church is impatient and want to lead a church before they have any form of real, lasting, solid, refined maturity and relationship (and, relationship(s) with others!).

Those who have contributed to this synchroblog are :

Phil Wyman asks Is Maturity Really What I Want?
Lainie Petersen at Headspace with “Watching Daddy Die
Kathy Escobar at The Carnival in My Head with “what’s inside the bunny?”
John Smulo at
Erin Word at Decompressing Faith with “Long-Wearing Nail Polish and Other Stories”
Beth Patterson at The Virtual Teahouse with “the future is ours to see: crumbling like a mountain
Bryan Riley at Charis Shalom is Still Complaining
Alan Knox at The Assembling of the Church with “Maturity and Education
KW Leslie at The Evening of Kent
Bethany Stedman at Coffee Klatch with Moving Towards True Being: The Long Process of Maturity
Adam Gonnerman at Igneous Quill with “Old Enough to Follow Christ?
Joe Miller at More Than Cake with “Intentional Relationships for Maturity
Jonathan Brink at with “I Won’t Sin
Susan Barnes at A Booklook with “Growing Up”
Tracy Simmons at The Best Parts with “Knowing Him Who is From the Beginning
Joseph Speranzella at A Tic in the Mind’s Eye with “Spiritual Maturity And The Examination of Conscience
Sally Coleman at Eternal Echoes
Liz Dyer at Grace Rules with “What I Wish The Church Knew About Spiritual Maturity
Cobus van Wyngaard at My Contemplations with “post-enlightenment Christians in an unenlightened South Africa
Steve Hayes at Khanya with “Adult Content
Sound and Silence considers Inclusion and Maturity
Lew A at The Pursuit talks about Maturity and Preaching
Kai Schraml tells us about Mature Virtue

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Let’s keep revelation relevant

Well, it’s been a while since my last blog update. Bloem LTT, a week of being horribly sick, some scary times about my income and business, and a whole lot of things inbetween – finally, I get to write a blog entry. Yay! And, let’s hope it’s an interesting one.

Basically, last week when I was horribly sick I was watching TBN at home and listening to a ‘prophetic conference’ that happened somewhere (with some guy speaking who I can’t remember.) Medicine sometimes does that to you. It also makes you incredibly paranoid. After watching the guy talk about who he thinks the anti-christ is and all this information about an organisation called the Club of Rome (google them and check out their site), I kind of suffered from some minor paranoia and worry about what is going to happen next.

In fact, for many years now, I’ve been slowly trying to undoctrinate (if that’s a word) myself from all the conspiracy theories I had been taught at previous churches (didn’t you know the pulpit is a place to discuss conspiracy theories?) And try and find out what the different views of ‘eschatology’ (the doctrine of last things) were. To my surprise, I found the recent ‘pre-trib’ view (the one about a rapture and a 7 year period of the antichrist ruling… basically, the “Left Behind” novels) only came out in the last 100 years. Before that, Christians were either post-mils or a-mils (which, basically believe that the church is slowly becoming more and more victorious.) I obviously don’t have the space to discuss the differences here, only that I have really got a different view on the subject now. One where I’ve been trying to make the book of Revelation relevant to my life. All the books of the Bible have a practical application – something you need to ‘do’ or watch for, in order to continue in the race and receive the prize. Revelation is certainly no different. Only that, I’ve never been able to read it without trying to make predictions. I don’t think that’s the purpose of the book.

In truth, The Beast represents the world systems while the false prophet represents religiosity and false spirituality. The Anti-Christ almost seems to embody both, but represents man setting him/herself above God and claiming to be God. How much of this is in my own life? Do I trust The Beast – the world systems – more than I trust God? How much of my christianity is just religion? Just ceremony and lip service to God? How much of the anti-christ doctrine – that I am the center of the world, and the most important – is in my thinking? In my living? Do I wear the mark of the beast on my hands (what I do) and on my forehead (the way I think?)

Personally, I think Revelation is there to show us who our enemies are. We don’t wrestle against flesh and blood – we wrestle against the Beast, the false prophet and the antichrist. We wrestle against these spirits in ourselves, our churches, and throughout world history – evidenced by things like communism, nazism, fanatical and fundamentalistic religion, economic ruling etc. etc. It’s all there – spread across history. But you know what? Every rebellion against God will be put down and defeated by Christ, until he puts everything under His feet. And we defeat these things – and ultimately Satan – through the preaching of the Word of God (see Rev 19 and Rev 20.) THAT’s exciting.

My problem with the idea of the rapture is that most people have this attitude that “the world can go to hell, cause we’re out of here.” It’s like the church has this silent attitude that if things get worse – the better. Because that means Christ is coming soon. No wonder we don’t have much influence in the world like we used to – there are christians that actually WANT things to get worse. This is not the attitude of Christ and the Kingdom. We should be influencing our world, working against poverty and the Beast, fighting AGAINST the spirit of the anti-christ, exposing the false prophet in religion. Not secretely hoping evil would grow so that we can high-tail it out of here!

And God’s promise is that we WILL succeed. Micah 4 tells about ALL the nations coming to God, wanting to follow His ways. And that they’ll beat their swords into plowshares, no longer learn war and war against each other anymore. This is supposed to be the kingdom dream. This is supposed to be what we’re working towards – peace, joy and love to and for the world. Only the Gospel can do this. We should be busy working, not sitting around watching prophetic conferences and marveling at organisations that are trying to make a one world government.

Well, I still have lots to say but we can leave it there for now 🙂