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Wednesday, 7 February 2018

Blogtext: "Doing church or being Church"

"When you come together, each one of you has something to share."

Have you heard of the 80/20 window? It is a way of describing a great number of things where people interact. Out of a hundred about 1/5th do all the work and the other 4/5th rely on it and support it in various ways but are rarely part of the 'producing' end but always on the 'consuming' end.

Whether you are talking of politics, sports, religion this pattern repeats itself to a high degree. It is also useful to understand many things in the world. If you want to pursue it then follow this link.  It is actually very prevalent in the world at large.  (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pareto_principle)

Following it has however dire consequences for the living body of Christ on earth. (It is not really applicable to a living physical body, for that would almost certainly mean that 80% of the body was inactive and almost as good as dead and only kept alive by the remaining 20%. That is being on a life support system like a respirator and  is not very desirable.) In the life of any church that would mean that 80 out of every hundred make very little contribution to the whole. If only 20% of the church's membership are accountable for the life of the whole then vast blessings are lost and the up-building of the whole is left to the few. The truth is that this largely reflects church-life as it is today all over the world.

You only need to look at the basic layout of every room used by the worshipping community. How much is podium, elevated platform, performance area and how much is seating for the audience, attending subjects and consumers of what is performed on stage? 20-80? More often even 40-60.


No way of getting out?

The lovely thing is  that this issue has solutions in the Word of God for the church worldwide. They have been there from the very beginning but are virtually ignored, also on a worldwide basis. The first insight comes from the wandering people of Israel. A short passage at the end of Exodus 15 and the first verse of ch 16 tell us: "And they came to Elim, where there were 12 springs of water, and 70 palm trees. They camped there for a rest. Then they took their journey from Elim and all the  of the children of Israel came to the desert of Sin." 

It is always fascinating to come across the number 12 in Scripture. Twelve sons of Ishmael, twelve sons of Israel, twelve wells at Elim, twelve stones; one for each tribe in the High Priest's breastplate, twelve pillars surrounding the altar, twelve spies to search out the land, twelve stones taken out of Jordan, Solomon's twelve regional officers for his kingdom, twelve bronze oxen under the laver in his temple, twelve apostles, twelve gates of the New Jerusalem, twelve foundation stones for the city of God, you get the idea. 


Also at Elim. Again it speaks of a full number and more than enough. It is according to the 20-80 window, what is needed to keep that particular business running. 12 wells for 70 trees. Shading light the trees are totally dependant on the produce of the waters. The shadow of the trees shelters the wells. The people dwell in the shadow for a while and drink from the wells. But it was not a destination. It was an oasis  on the route from slavery, captivity and bondage to the "promised land, flowing with  milk and honey." As such it was ok. As a permanent place of living it was meagre and stark and narrow and limited. Israel realized that quickly and stayed there no longer than absolutely needed.


"The Elim somambulance"
Not so the average christian church. "Elim" means 'oaks' or 'terebinths'. That is all that could grow there and their growth is slow. An Oak takes three hundred years to grow to maturity, three hundred years to die. And  here is a real eye-opener: In it's growing years it exudes a poison that preve
nts the germination and development of its own acorns. In other words it allows no competition even of it's own offspring in the area of it's establishment. The scientific name for it is  "'allelopathy". (I am often told off for mixing in natural science in the bible studies. My reply to that is that if I want to teach the way God Himself and his Son do, then keeping natural science out of it, isn't in it. It would be to deny that the Rabbi is the Rabbi of Rabbi's. He certainly does not keep creation out of the church. He sent us not only to baptize but make disciples by teaching them!) *see link at bottom of page.

The opposition party

Here is a sinister note to that: If the Accuser of the brethren and the blocker of all true light is in operation then how would he reason? First he would try to stop the establishment of the church in the first place. If that fails, he will gladly let them grow quickly until they were full of newly born children that had not enough spiritual parents to ensure growth and then let them engage themselves with only themselves for as long as possible. His calculus would be this: "Here in X.town there are 65.000 people. the Christians have tried for years to establish a church here and if I can't stop them I will let them grow to five hundred or so. The faster the better. That will keep them occupied with teething problems for years to come and the remaining 64.500 in the town stay in my kingdom. They themselves have a proverb: If you can't lick them, join them. When they have reached their level of comfort in numbers they will stop being a nuisance to me. And if I can make them satisfied with being bottle Christians I can prevent their growth for the next three hundred years."(In case you should think that evil does not boost growth I remind you of the herbicide used in the Vietnam war by the USA. The herbicide used to defoliate the millions of trees, was really a super fertilizer which caused the leaves to kill themselves by growing rapidly. The cocktail was called Agent Orange from the orange stripes on the barrels, and its lethal effects came from being mixed with dioxin.)

The  20-80 principle guarantees a low growth rate. Growth? What is that?


In the life of the Church growth is several things.

1 Growth in numbers "And God added to the church daily such as should be saved." Acts 2:47 "and believers were the more added to the Lord, multitudes both men and women." Acts 5:14  "And the hand of the Lord was with them; and a great number believed and turned to the Lord" Acts 11.21 "For he was a good man, and full of the Holy Spirit and faith; and much people was added unto the Lord." Acts 11:24

2 Growth from spiritual babyhood to maturity. " I could not speak to you as to spiritual but only as to carnal, as babes in Christ. I have fed you milk, and not with meat. For up until now you have not been able to digest it, nor are you as yet." 1 Cor 3:1-2  "For by now you have had plenty of time enough to become teachers, but instead you have need of being taught the very first principles of the very words of God. Your needs are on the milk level and strong meat is not for you. Everyone who is on the milk level is unskilled in the word of righteousness, for such a one is a baby. Strong meat belongs to those that have grown up. To those who have trained their senses to discern both good and evil by repeated praxis." Heb 5:12-14  Childlike but no longer childish. No longer spoon fed but eating with own tools and teeth.

3 Growth is growing together into a living temple. "You are built on the foundation of the apostles and the prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief cornerstone in whom all the building, FITLY FRAMED together, grows into a temple, holy to the Lord in whom you are also built together into a habitation for God  through the Spirit." Eph 2:20 "Coming to Him as to a living stone, thrown away by men, but in the eyes of God precious and favoured, you make up those living stones that are built into a spiritual house, serving God as royal priests able to sacrifice spiritual sacrifices which are acceptable to God in Jesus Christ." 1 Pet 2:4ff

4 Growth is growth to full spiritual maturity. " He gave some apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, These are his gifts to the church so that the believers, the saints, should become fully equipped for their work, that of together building up the body of Christ, until every one of us comes to unity in faith and to a common knowledge of the Son of God, the perfect man. 
Yes until we all reach the measure of the fulness of the stature of Christ, so that we cease being children, easy to sway this way and that by every new doctrine, no longer becoming putty in the hands of suave talkers and easy prey to smart new deceptions. 
But learning to speak the truth in love  me may grow up into him in all things, into Him who is that head, yes Christ himself, from whom the whole body, fitly joined together and drawn into compact fellowship by the support that every individual member gives to the whole. 
All in accordance with the effective working of every part, this will cause the growth of the church and of the love that it is made by and for." Ef 4:11-15  If you read that and spend time on that image then you should at least become frustrated with the apparent absence or at least ultra slow motion of this growth.

Growth 1 can happen initially without 2,3 and 4. But not in the long run. If we think that growing out is true growth then we shall soon be out of both belts and braces. Unless the growth is upwards growth, then it will stop when the creche is full. Changing diapers on adult babies is hard work.

What about the 20-80 window?

The growth patterns of the church are diametrically opposite to the 20-80 pattern. The body has no dead flesh to carry along, the worship service has no  audience, the ministry of the church is on all hands, there is no such thing as a passive and active membership in the living church. There are not even laymen and clergy. There is no such thing as performer and public. There is to be no one man or one woman benevolent  tyranny of leadership. 

What is there then?

There is the conscious dedication by each member to the church as a whole. And I claim to have good cause to claim that the local church is the sum total of all those who are born again unto a new and living hope in one geographical location. And the gifts of God in leadership have been given to that entire church. When they each are limited in their gifts to one fifth of the church then we have 5 one/fifth blessed churches, and the deficit shows. Do not all need evangelists? Do not all need leaders with a missionary calling? Do not all need live prophets? Do not all need pastors and teachers? What if they are on site but not realized by the church?

There is a coming together in unity for one common aim. No 51% voting and carried,  but consensus in the Holy Spirit. Coming together cannot be  all that successful if the common aim is  dimly understood. All about trumpets with unclear sounds you know.

There is the clear understanding that if I withhold myself and the gifts that God has given me from the other's then we all suffer loss. If one member suffers we all suffer. If one member is glad and shares it not sadness deepens.

"How is it then brothers and sisters? When you come together, each one of you has a psalm, or a teaching, a message in an unknown language, or a revelation or interpretation, yes,each may have something to bring for the edification of all. The common up-building is the main thing, everything in your service must be aimed there unto." 1 Cor 14 The arena of the church meeting is for the saints to minster to one another. It is not the place to consume religious artefacts produced by some for the many. It is not a theatre of professionals to receive praise for their skills. The flesh shall not glory in the fellowship of the saints. Our God is not impressed.


Two more observations

Six days of the week most Christians battle it out along the demarcation lines between the world and kingdom of God and the kingdom of darkness. We are battered, wounded, worn and sometimes bleeding, but we are also blessed, encouraged, uplifted, and full of joy unspeakable, and we have made discoveries of both the goodness of God and the mayhem of the evil one. What is our coming together for?

Escape from reality? An oasis like Elim? A pause from the war? "I have in my heart a plant called reverence, it needs watering once a week?" 
It is two things: a place for the battle weary to be bandaged, restored and strengthened. To be debriefed and open our hearts, to pour out all the heartaches to which we all are prone. 

And a place for being built up by the ministry of the body for each other. Of "continuing steadfastly in the teachings of the apostle's doctrines, of communion with each other, of the breaking of bread and of the prayers" . Of hearing teaching from the whole counsel of God, of learning and practicing the life of Christ in us. We expect to be warned of sins, admonished to love, encouraged to share the faith within, and to be built up in our relentless devotion to our Lord Jesus Christ and our God and Father. It is for us to be released of yesterday's burdens, restored by the day of salvation which is always today, and have bright hope for tomorrow.

We also have every reason to expect that we shall be called disciples, with lessons to learn and tasks to perform. That is what church is for. To do the work of the church, not merely to hear something new every Sunday. In every other field of learning we pass exams, show competence in doing what we learned and build more knowledge upon success in doing what is taught. Not so in the church. Not enough, not much. How else can we explain decades of no real growth in any direction?

Oh, we will still go to heaven on the conditions of the 20-80 window. But heaven was supposed to come here by the life-giving Lord of the Church in and through his people. "The kingdom of God is within you."  Luke 17:26  "..Hope never shames us, because the Love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who is given to us." Rom 5:5  

All that love is far to big to be locked into a 20%-80% existence. What would revival be in this context? Take down your tents, get out in the midday sun from under the shading oaks, fill the water bottles and leave Elim. Now!

Teddy Donobauer, Doncaster Feb 7 2018




*Allelopathy:  https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/pdffiles/HS/HS18600.pdf

Tuesday, 6 February 2018

Blogtext: Authority and women in the church.

It is not very often that there is any feedback on the things I write. But my text about the silence of women in the church raised  feedback with some questions that I do well to address. A medical student somewhere in the cyber world has read and commented and made some critical remarks.

I thank him for the feedback and will try to reply here.


First he makes the observation that " my own views on things have crept into the blogtext." Well I venture to say that he himself has never said one sentence  that did not have the same problem, and as far as I can see he voiced only his own opinion in his critique of my text. Seems a blunt weapon.

The major critique pertains to my 'threefold presupposition". I am not clear on which those three presuppositions are, but I can certainly say that I know what my presuppositions are for any interpretation of the word of God.


1 The first one is that which the NT repeatedly establishes: All things written beforehand are written for our times and for our wisdom to conduct ourselves wise at the end of the ages.

2 The second presupposition is that scripture explains scripture, making it necessary  to place everything in context with itself where it is written and compare it with what has been written in the rest of the Word of God on the same topic. That is how scripture teaches about scripture. Case in point: the temptation of Jesus in Matt 4 and Luke 4.  One of the most heinous sins perpetrated right through church history is the refusal to do just that.

3 The third presupposition is that the work of the Holy Spirit takes precedence over the direct instructions to individuals is specific situations  in local circumstances. A case in point: To Corinth Paul writes that he had only one message: Christ and him crucified and not human wisdom or mere intellectual reasoning. The back drop is that in Corinth there was a certain wisdom culture in place with which the church had to come to terms. To use that statement aimed at Corinth specifically as an excuse for only preaching the crucified Christ would be folly especially since the same Paul in his other letters writes about an awful lot of other things.

Those who maintain that the clear command that Paul gives about women being silent in the church always and unconditionally, must therefore do more than quote the Ephesian passage, they must explain a lot of other statements also made by Paul. I will list a few here in the form of questions.

1 Is it not clear that the arrival of the New Covenant would mean an equal blessing to men and women, an equal outpouring of the Spirit on young and old, male and female alike? What else does Joel 2:28 mean? "And it shall come to pass afterward that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men dream dreams and your young men shall see visions. Even on male and female servants in those days will I pour out my Spirit."

2 Is there any indication anywhere in the bible that salvation is different for men than for women? Is there not even in Paul's writing a totally covering statement made as to the equality in grace irrespective of sex? "But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian (chaperon?) for in Christ Jesus you are all the sons of God, through faith. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, neither slave nor free, there is not male and female, but ye are all one in Christ Jesus."  Gal 3:25-28  Who will tell me that Paul here is only speaking to MALE men about being in Christ, baptized into Christ and therefore no longer to be recognized by their former status "but by being one Spirit with Christ".


3 Is regeneration different for men and for women? "Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is  a new creature: old things are passed away: behold all things have become new. And all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself by Jesus Christ and has given us the ministry of reconciliation." 2 Cor 5:17-18
Will my critic then stand up and say that this  is not true for women? They cannot have the ministry of reconciliation because they are women? 


4 Is God a respecter of persons so that God only calls male men to be his (verbal) witnesses? "These all continually prayed and interceded together with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus and with his brothers.... and when the day of Pentecost was fully come they were all with one accord in one place .. and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues as the Holy Spirit gave them utterance." Acts 1:14- 2:4


They spoke, men and women, of the mighty deeds of God without respect to their sexual gender. And that is on the Birthday of the entire Church of Christ.

Is that not clear? The women are there as part of the universal break through of the church fulfilling the prophecy of Joel and doing exactly what God promised would happen, women would prophesy just as well as men.

5 Is female prophecy limited to a ministry to women only and outside the church? Anna the mother of John the Baptist is a prophetess daily in ministry in the temple. The four daughters of Philip, the ex deacon from Jerusalem are identified as having a prophetic ministry. Where is prophecy carried out? In the midst of the congregation where the gifts are given by God in response to the needs of the church, not according to gender but according to the sovereign decision of the Spirit. In 1 Cor 14 the matter comes to a head. "Desire the gifts" he says to all believers. " For the edification and up-building of all." The Spirit decides to give His gifts to men only? Oh My...


And that is where he puts in this contested limitation of women who are not allowed to speak in church but to be in submission " as the law " says. Elsewhere he refers to Sarah's submission to Abraham, and here he concludes that women should keep such business out of the church which belongs to the domestic domain, "if they have anything to ask, they should consult their husbands at home." At least then they are a) married  b) have husbands that they are submitted to and consequently are in a christian marriage where the husband is the spiritual head under Christ. c) the things not suited in church are not be discussed there.

An old testament illustration in point: Abigail and Nabal. Remember that story? If she had bent down under the authority of her fool of a man as my critic seems to indicate, she would have had a different fate and so would David. ( All things were written for our instruction.) I Sam 25

But what about the common dilemma: a non spiritually mature man with a spiritually mature wife? Will we tell that woman not to speak up? Is not the issue of taking authority a matter of deliberation depending on circumstances? Should women be silent just because the men are there, or are there requirements made on the men? For sure there are.

I claim: The authority of any man is not vested in him but in his Lord and manifested in the man's submission to Christ. If he is not obviously submitted to the authority of Christ he cannot demand to be considered an authority by anyone. The meaning of Eph 5:21-33 is to be taken as a whole text, not snipped in pieces to suit whatever male power fancy there may be. 

Lastly: "I cannot accept women to be in authority over men, or to teach men." 2 Tim 2:12  The irony is that unless women had had at least some authority over men, Timothy would not have been a believer at all. Since it was his mother  Eunice and grandmother Louis who had brought him up in the all too common absence of a father.  It follows by Paul's further teaching that all women are to teach all their children and one another! The older to teach the younger: "Teach sound doctrine the aged men to be sober, serious. moderate in consumption, sound of faith, charitable and patient. Aged women in the similar manner in a behaviour that is fitting holiness, not talebearers or tattlers, nor lushes, but teachers of good things to the younger women. That these should  be sober, and love their husbands and their children. Tit 2:1-4


To usurp authority then is the key. Women are not allowed to do that. But let me ask you, are men allowed to usurp authority? Is any one in fact allowed to do so on the strength of their gender alone? Is not the entire gospel designed in opposition to anyone lording it over anyone else? Is it not true that the only way to become the greatest is by being the most humble servant? Is it not true that every attempt to claim authority for one self is strictly forbidden and frowned upon in the kingdom of God?


How often does Paul challenge people's authority? How often does he speak of false teachers and pretenders to apostleship? How often does he ask for the credentials of those who preach another gospel? The authority of Jesus, whence was it? It was from above. Not vested in Him but given by Him who had sent him. He spoke with authority because he never spoke anything but what he had heard from the Father. Who will tell the world that no woman can do that?

If any man or woman or even a donkey speaks the word of the Higher authority it is not usurping any authority at all. But if anyone claims authority on the basis of their gender, male or female, then they are to be admonished and demoted from their inflated ego as soon as  possible.

The churches suffer from lack of leadership. Many churches have an absolute majority of women in the church. Where are the men? Some of them sit and spend their time on defending men's natural sovereignty while being in no responsible leadership at all.

It never is about the gender of the servant, but of the true comitment to the Master who  calls, equips, establishes and protects his servants.  


Well Paul has one very important point to make. Those who do not submit to Christ but usurp authority  and aspire to lead without being first led will wreak havoc in the church, be they male or female, chauvinist or feminist. What do Mary Baker Eddy, The  Kate and Margret Fox, Madame Blavatsky, Ellen G White have in common? Errant women under no authority creating offshoots of Christianity that have deviation from the truth in various degrees. So yes: women are easily deceived.

But ere you fly at my throat: Charles Taze Russel started the Watchtower Movement of Jehovah's witnesses, infamous Joseph Smith started the Mormon church on the basis of more falsity than one can even conceive. John Thomas started the Christadelphians, Emmanuel Swedenborg his own oddity and so on.

Men or women, who usurp authority that is not theirs to begin with are always sooner or later lost cases. I insist that this must not be the only way. I firmly believe that God calls whom he will and when that calling is in a man or a woman it will be seen in their devotion and unselfish service to Christ and his church.

I fear that the issue of authority being so touchy is a reflection of the way the Church has lost its bearings. "You know how the princes of the heathen exercise dominion over them, and they that are great exercise authority over them- But it shall not be so among you: but whosoever will be chief among you let him be your servant. Even as the son of man came not to be ministered to but to minister, serve and give his life a ransom for many." Matt 20:25f.

People who aspire to become ministers on the basis of seeing it as a position of authority and power have fundamentally missed the point of christian and  spiritual leadership. Furthermore, no-one appoints themselves to a ministry. No one is a solo enterprise in biblical church leadership.The one pastor/priest/bishop pattern of virtually all churches is not the work of the Spirit. Ministering in the church of Christ is not a career but a calling.

It would to me seem as close to blasphemy as possible to claim that God  must only call men to lead and to teach. 
That is not the God of the true church, the assembly of the Lord.

 So whom does God call? Those who are born of the Spirit, filled with the Spirit, led by the Spirit, skilled in rightly dividing the Word of Truth, approving themselves as stewards of the sound doctrines.They live in submission to the Lord and are acknowledged by the church as God's gift to it. They do not impose themselves on the church, they qualify for ministry by service.

But we have changed all that. We produce religious broilers in seminaries and universities who are then put on the market for pastorship/priesthood. They come to churches with their own agenda and look for the available career leading to bigger and richer churches.. Do they listen to the Chief Shepherd? Are they familiar with the leading of sheep by first being sheep to the Shepherd? Will they give their lives for their sheep or are they hired hands with their hire as a first concern?

How many church leaders are engaged in doing what Paul did with Timothy? "What you have received from me in the presence of many witnesses, commit to other's who in turn can instruct the next generation." Any leader worth his or her salt trains up their sucessor, and makes themselves superflous by discipling others. It is a far cry from anyone usurping authority. All such servants answer to their Lord. 


Fruit is what it is about, not gender.


Teddy Donobauer, Doncaster Feb 6 2018


Monday, 5 February 2018

Blogtext: To God be the Glory..

Another  case of Ichabod? 

How can the matter of praising God become a hot and debatable issue among believers? There is a lot of furore and the various positions taken up by brothers and sisters on the issue threatens to be as divisive as any other matter over which the body of Christ has been divided to the eternal shame of all those who set their theology above their duty to love God and their neighbor.

One of the  effects of sin is this constant pride over our own achievements. What we do is approved by us or by our supporters and must therefore also be acceptable unto the Lord. We can't be wrong can we now? The LORD God himself said in the very beginning that "nothing man sets his mind to will be impossible for him". (Gen 11:6) The end effects are, among others, several human inventions that harness and use God's creation in a manner that leads to the very real probability of successfully destroying all of life and the world as we know it. Man can, if any one can we can. But should we?

Even hinting at the possibility that our doing what we can could be a moral issue and should therefore not be handled carelessly, is rapidly met with loud cries of: "it is against science to question the inevitable development". And nothing is seen as so despicable as to be anti science. But there is a double issue here: there is the knowledge of what things are and there is the knowledge of how things should be used. The former is naturalistic science and accords with creation, the second is a moral science that comes from the owner of the things studied under the first science. Unless both sciences join forces any human achievement can run foul of either one or the other and ruin the usefulness of both.

Modern worship is no exception from this pattern. The immense gift of music is a wondrous marvel of creation. The very fact that it exists is as heavy a hint of God as anything that can be imagined. The soaring heights of musical expression brings us so close to 'seeing' God as anything on earth can do. It is no wonder at all that one of the questions Job is asked by God indicates that there was eternal music before any single composer had set his foot on earth: "Who laid the cornerstones of the earth when the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy?" Job 38:6-7

The collective singing to God's glory is a standard feature along the entire history of God's people. They sing, sing, sing. All of them together sing their spiritual inheritance, declaring their salvation history in a multitude of ways as a constant way of remembering what they must never forget if they want to stay true to themselves and stay true to their God. They therefore invent musical instruments at the very dawn of human inventions: "His brother's name was Jubal, he was the father of all who handle the harp and the organ. (Read: all stringed and all wind instruments)" Gen 4:21 

After the narrow escape from slavery and a watery grave as told in Exodus chapter 15 we find percussion instruments in the hands of Miriam leading the chorus of Israeli women confirming  the message of praise which had been sung by all of the children of Israel: "Miriam, the prophetess, the sister of Aaron, took a timbrel in her hand, and all the women went out after her with timbrels and with dances, and Miriam responded to them, Sing to the Lord for he has triumphed gloriously: the horse and rider he has thrown into the sea." Ex 15:20-21


Every major event in the life of the people of God will be accompanied by music with a divinely declared content. It has musical expression born out of the skill of the musicians and the quality of the instruments man has invented as he learns from creation how music is made by the other surrounding elements of the creation. From drilling skylark to susurrating brook, from roaring thunder to the chirping of sparrows, from the low frequency of the hump back whale to the high frequency whine of the locust, we hear and learn how to accompany the truth with our music. It is the flesh that submits to the spirit by using earthly means for spiritual ends.

"Solomon is said to have spoken three thousand proverbs and a thousand and five song were attributed to him". 1 Kings 4:32
"Two hundred and eighty-eight singers were appointed at the first temple "to be instructed in the songs of the Lord" 1 Chron 25:7
"In the days of  David and Asaph there were chief of the singers, and songs of praise and thanksgiving unto God"  Neh 12:46
"Your ordinances have been my songs in the house of my pilgrimage" Psa 119:54
"They shall lift up their voice and they shall sing: for the Majesty of the LORD they shall cry aloud from the sea. Therefore glorify the LORD in the valleys, even the name of the LORD God of Israel in the isles of the sea. From the uttermost part of the earth have we heard songs, even bringing glory to the righteous." Isa 24:16

"And the ransomed of the LORD shall return, and come to Zion with songs and everlasting joy upon their heads; they shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away." Isa 35:10
"The LORD was ready to save me; therefore we will sing my songs with stringed instruments all the days of our life in the house of the LORD." Isa 38:20

Put your feet where 
your mouth is!

But the music changed as they turned their backs to God while still mouthing his words in song. They would sing but not put their feet where their mouth was. A case in point: days after the song of triumph, full of confessions of faith, the very same choir of Israel came (by God's design) to the bitter waters of Marah. (Ex ch 16) Not a word of thanksgiving, not a mutter of praise was then heard. No songs at all, only complaints against Moses and against God.  Repeatedly in their history they maintained the words but lost the meanings. They continued singing the right words, but they did not agree with their deeds. And then the invention of Music as such becomes the very opposite of what it should be.

God says: "I will cause the noise of your songs to cease, and the sounds of harps shall no more be heard." (Hez 26:31)
"Take away from me noise of your songs, I wont listen to the melody of your violins." (Amos 5:23)
"And the songs of the temple shall be howlings in that day, says the LORD. Amos 8:3-14 The end of the chapter gives a clue to when music in the church is empty and meaningless: when it no longer is inspired by the Word of God.


The prophets echo a realization that soon arises when you listen to some of the present day church music: "We have piped music to you, but dance you will not." Matt 11:17 When the content of the music does no longer change behaviour in the right direction it is merely noise, but for it to be a joyful noise unto the Lord it needs to be more than noise.

And that is getting to the root of the matter. We have much to sing and much to praise for with all kinds of music. But there are spiritual criteria that must be met.

If we are pursuing biblical and spiritual criteria then some questions need to be asked.
1 Cor 1:29 (God has chosen things that appear base in the eyes of the world in order:) "That no flesh should glory in God's presence".

So let us discuss how the flesh glories in the present day cultural expressions of christian music. Is God getting the honour, or are the musicians?


Is the ministry of music proportionate to the tasks of the church which have been given by the Lord? 

Does music teach the world the words of Christ? Is evangelism done by the musical expressions? 

Irrespective of who and when and how the music is written, it is the purpose and therefore content of the music that must be discussed. It is not a christian criterion to claim 'artistic license' and thereby get away from evaluating music. Unless it conforms to the God given purpose it  has little legitimacy. ("We must not judge", is the standard defense against that. But we must discern and evaluate.)

It would seem obvious that form is second to content on that basis.

"Those who worship God, must worship Him in Spirit and TRUTH." John 4:22-24  What does not have either the Spirit or the truth as it's basis cannot be worship in any shape or form. And it is not enough to have one or the other. The flesh can sing the truth, but it does not turn it into worship until it also is "in the Spirit." When is anything in the Spirit?

"When it is born of the Spirit, not out of any ambition on behalf of the flesh, accords with revelation of the truth in the Word of God, and brings the Lord Jesus Christ into focus and glory to God the Father." 


This is easily deduced from the teaching in Johns gospel about the work of the Holy Spirit. As it is clear that the work of the Spirit is to lift up and glorify Jesus and never to bring the lime light unto himself some songs directed at the Spirit itself would hardly be the fruit of the Spirit. Such divided hearts belong to humans, but not to the Holy Spirit of God.

The operating power in the christian life and in the church is the Holy Spirit or it is not of God at all. Having made the dynamic executive agent into an object of worship has seriously hindered the worship of the church of the only one worthy to receive Honour and glory. "You are worthy, Oh Lord, to receive glory and honour and power; for you have created all things and they exist for your own delight." Rev 4:11  ""Saying with a loud voice: Worthy is the Lamb that was slain, to receive power and riches and wisdom and strength and honour and glory and blessing." Rev 5:12


What is the 'praise culture' teaching about God? That is the matter under discussion. Again, what form or artistic expression it takes is second to that.

"It is the Spirit who gives life, the flesh is useless in that context. The words that I speak are Spirit and life." John 6:63
Don't imagine for a moment that you will be heard because you repeat the same words over and over, those are the vain repetitions of pagan cults. The unclear thinking behind the idea of chanting the same phrase a hundred times over needs to be addressed. If words of truth are sung, then they are true the first time and become no more true after the 50th singing. Conversely, if their meaning has not passed from being a sound in the ear to conviction in the heart by repetition 25 the problem lies not in the word but in the hearer. There is one criterion for all hearing of the truth:

"The Word of God; the gospel, came to us as well as to them. But for them it was useless and did not profit them at all because it was not mixed with their own faith after they had heard it." Heb 4:2


It is true that: "repetitio mater studiorum", (repetition is the mother of learning). So there is a pedagogic sense in repetition. But there are many other kinds of repetitions that are frequent in the world outside the church. They are called incantations, chants, mantras etc etc and typically occur in the worship of idols. And the need for a learning repetition is well met by three or four repeats when there are less than 20 words in the chorus repeated a hundred times. The rest is what?  Creating an atmosphere? Numbing the mind? Creating a trance like state of mind? Repeating something false until it becomes accepted by being entrenched in the memory despite being untrue from the start?

It needs searching out and addressing at it's root. When is a song of praise  merely a song? When is it a true song of praise? Scriptural pretexts and practices serve as good guides. But the actual reading of the whole Word of God is not high on the agenda in the praise culture. As far as I have seen anyway.

"Holy Holy Holy is the LORD God Sabaoth.. woe is me for having seen Him. I who am of unclean lips among a people of unclean lips (and uncircumcised hearts)." Isa 6:1f  Worship is biblicaly speaking always also the recognition of our need for a double bowing down before God. We bow in two ways. First 'metaphysically' as we recognize the quality difference between God and ourselves. We the created, He the creator, we the wood, he the Carpenter, we the clay, He the potter. Never will we tell Him what to do or be or say. "We will bow down before Him, we will worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness, bow down before Him, His accents proclaim!" Never will He bow down to us except to see what ever new tower of Babel we are now building.
Second 'morally'. The moment we enter worship we become aware of the uncleanness of our hearts and lives and everything else. And this does not stop when we become believers but stays. Listen to Paul as he who would seem to be a 'super christian' confesses himself to be of the lowest order. Where then is the  "Holiness of God" in the praise and worship culture? I do not say it is not there, I have no normal access to those circles so have no means to claim to know. But I will ask the question.


"Be wise now therefore, O ye Kings: be instructed, ye judges of the earth. Serve the LORD with fear and rejoice with trembling. Kiss the Son lest he be angry and ye perish  from the way, when His wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are they who put their trust in HIM." Psa 2 10-12  It seems little known that the word to worship is literally "to approach someone with a kiss of reverence, recognition, adoration and respect". Greek word is "proskuneo". It is alive in the Roman Catholic church where the kissing of the popes ring or feet is part and parcel of that meaning. It used to be a gentleman's way of appreciating his lady by kissing her hand.
To kiss is in the NT "fileo" and is also the word for respectful love.  Another part of worship then. "Katafileo" meaning to "kiss vehemently" is used only of Judas kissing Christ in the early morning hours on not so good a Friday.

I cannot but wonder if the term 'groovy' for worship singing is not the same as "katafileo". All depends...


"If you say that I am your Father, where the is my honour? Why do you call me Master when your respect and reverent fear is nowhere to be seen? This is what the LORD Sabaoth says to you priests who disrespect, disregard and despise my Name. What? you reply, When and how do we disrespect your Name? By bringing unclean gifts to me!" Mal 6:1ff  The critics of the praise-culture tend to see this uncleanness in various ways. It seems, so they say, it is born out of a kind of "anything goes" that tickles the ears and gets the body moving. Call it worship and it is immune to scrutiny, for to question it would be to question God! (Woe is me: what wide open doors for every evil that opens up.) 

Celebrate creativity for it's own sake, allow many flowers to bloom. Be generous to those who want to shine on stage for God. Huh?

But has God then not told us how He wants to be worshipped? Hmm.. Reducing God to a cuddly bear or a chummy pal is blasphemy. No second opinion invited or asked.

Lastly: The modern day church offers a high tech and high energy consuming stage event. Seeing all the invested technology and even guessing at the cost of it is a daunting thing. It is only possible in a very artificial environment and could barely survive in the street or on any of the old mission fields where one hand cranked generator is still the order of the day. How do we put that into perspective?  What was our mission? "Stay in the building and sing? Make records, DVDs and tour the world with a praise train?" Standing on the promises of God is not the same as singing about them on the premisses. Does the praise culture draw people to the churches? Undoubtedly!! Well that is good!! They sure are not drawn any longer by the hymns of Wesley, Watts or Stainer. Neither will the music of today draw crowds tomorrow.


Do they also come to the new birth? To repentance, conversion, conviction and sanctification? They may, and sure enough unless they come within earshot they cannot hear that good news which is needed before they can  have the faith that saves.  So as a hook to draw them near it most certainly has a legitimate place.

BUT: The music as such never saves any one for the kingdom of God. And that goes for Johan Sebastian Bach, Wolfgang A Mozart, Gabriel Fauré and George Beverley Shea. It is no more right to routinely sing a hundred psalms of the Scottish Psalter without ever approaching God Himself as a result, than it is to repeat a few lines of words in an up-tempo body-shaking rhythm in a Bethel Church or Hillsong event.  That is not where it is at.


Musical seduction.

Singing praise to God is then not a debatable issue in itself. It becomes an issue when it brings musical offerings to God that God himself rejects.  It becomes an issue if the music that is a gift from God for man to be aware of God, becomes an instrument for leading away from God. There is plenty of that going on in the world. The most notable biblical case is found in the book of Daniel. (=God is judge)

Nebuchadnezzar is the mighty, almost omnipotent and grandly selfconfident ruler of Babylon, but suffers from the same megalomaniac tendencies as all tyrants. There can never be enough of the policy of "May they hate, if but they fear." (Latin: Oderint dum metuant). The need of the godless flesh to have all praise can never be stilled or satisfied. The very essence of Ego is to have, to extort, to manipulate and to demand that others should give ME all possible attention and all praise.

To that end He has a statue of gold set up and feigning humility he does not say it represents him, but  he still demands that everyone should fall down before that image and worship with face to the ground. The signal for the start of this false worship is the first cord struck by the orchestra. Consisting of cornets, flutes, harp, sackbut ( early bagpipes), psaltery, dulcimer, and all kinds of musical instruments it would certainly be loud. It was also decisive. Not the music as such, but the expected result of listening to it. Hear and fall on your face!  Buy whatever message is behind the music or you will die!


Problem! No true child of Abraham, Isaac or Israel would ever bow down on command to any other man or that man's image. And there were such men in the very center of Nebuchadnezzars dominion. Bow they did not, seduced by the music they were not. They knew their God and no musical expression in the world would change their allegiance. To withstand whatever seduction lies behind this or that music you need to know a God worthy enough! One for whom  it is totally normal to give your very  life, if that is the only option to idolatry.

"(Nebuchadnezzar:)Oh you are believers? So you do not serve my gods, nor worship the golden image I have set up? Ok. I am giving you one more chance. If you now fall down when you hear the music then all is well, if not you will be cremated alive. Take your pick. The young men replied: "Well  we don't really need to reply to such nonsense. If you do what you threaten, then the Lord whom we serve is perfectly able to deliver us from any fiery furnace, and even more so out of your hand, O king. But should God so decide that the fire would have us, then so be it. But falling down to your image, serving your homemade gods? Think again...not in a million years!" Dan 3:1-18

What is the power behind any music in the church?  Those who say that the present day wave of worship culture is wrong must answer that question in no uncertain terms. And those who hold their present culture to be better or different and out-of-habit ok must do the same.

Music is and has always been used for different purposes. For good and bad. The christian faith has found many different ways of adapting music to its life as a church. Musical tastes  change and what is cherished by some is despised by others. That however is a secondary matter. How it is used is the primary matter! No music is right which does not accomplish the following:
"Wherefore be not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is, you will not intoxicate yourself but keep on being infilled with the Spirit; speaking to yourselves in psalms, hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord. Giving thanks for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our  Lord Jesus Christ." Eph 5:17-20


"Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. And whatsoever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the the Lord Jesus giving thanks to God and the Father by him. " Col 3:16-17


(Music and teaching is in order that)" The Gentiles might glorify God for His mercy, as is written, For this cause I will confess to thee among the Gentiles and sing unto thy Name." Rom 15:9

"He is not ashamed to call them brethren but says: I will declare your name to the brethren and in the midst of the church/congregation I will sing praise to you." Heb 2:11-12


"And at midnight Paul and Silas prayed and sang praises to God, the other inmates heard them. Suddenly an earthquake shook the prison, doors unlocked, chains flew off and all awoke, prisoners and guards alike. The chief warden feared God and fell on his knees before Paul and Silas and asked: what must I do to be saved?"  (How in the world could they sing without  microphone, drums, keyboard, hammond D3 organ or mixer panel, strobelights and loudspeakers? Just asking!)

Takes no genius to see what christian music is to be used for. But it takes the Spirit of God to make the musicians able to do what they hear.

I have been here long enough in the proximity of many christian practices in this field to have fairly wide insight into the variety there is. I have sung all the major works on the Choral society lists of choir favorites. I have even written a few pieces of music for bible texts myself. I have sung almost every hymn Wesley ever wrote. I am familiar with many variants of church music. 


I  am a little confident that I can recognize the word of the Lord in and  behind any music. And I am also quite good at seeing when it is the flesh trying to be religious. I know my own. It is easy to fall for the trap of producing something of my own and presenting it to God and asking him to accept my effort.

Abraham did. Yes, even he did that. Having blown a fuse or two and short circuited  his heart he accepted the idea of having a son by Hagar. It was a good idea. Ishmael is born. God visits:
-Abe dear you will have a son. 
-Ach, well Lord, I already fixed that for myself. Nee bother.. See my boy Ishmael over there.
-Nay nay me old friend, sure a nice lad but not what I said I wanted. You will have a son of my making, after my promise, not after your flesh.


Oh dear..what glory is there to God if all you have to offer is the best you can do without Him? That goes for everything, including music in the assembly of the saints.

Teddy Donobauer, Doncaster  Feb 5th 2018

Thursday, 1 February 2018

Blogtext: No, I don't believe in the Devil either!

"All that crap about the God and the Devil is so just so much gibberish and another fairytale, I'll have none of it, I am a modern person."

Right! Or very very wrong! Might even be a very significant sign that the largest marketing enterprise in the universe has paid off good dividends. The ultimate triumph of deception is keeping mankind in the absolute dark as to who really rules behind the things that seem to be going on. The deceiver designs a jungle of lesser evil to hide the great. Load fluffy toys with explosives and afghan children are blown to bits because they love a fluffy toy, even if dropped from an airplane.

I should say clearly that the ruler of the air, the usurper of authority over the present world has a limited 'best before date' stamped on him'. For a him it is. (I suppose that is the only point of agreement I will ever find from the ultra feminists of the world). Not a him in the male sex sense, but male as an "Anti Christ." One who mirrors, by deception, all that the Christ is. He is called 'the  man of sin' in the writings of the christian church.

To believe in the devil is a different sort of belief than when someone says I believe in Jesus Christ. One of the most often used words in scriptures of the New Covenant is the word "to believe", and its noun, "faith". It very rarely means  just "knowing about". But nearly always refers to the committance of the one who believes to the object that is believed. To believe is to trust, to rely on, to risk life for. And surely I agree, in that sense, I do not believe in the Devil at all. Nor should you. There are lots of people in the world however who literally do just that. The frightening thing is that there is a vast middle majority without a clue. " I don't believe in the devil, they say, but he may well believe in them, because they do not need to believe in him to be in his pocket." No baby born needs to know that it is in Britain to be there. "Unless you are born again, you cannot see the kingdom of God". What other kingdom is there?

The world of Drama is fascinated by the concept of man's dealings with the devil. The Mephistopheles figure is of high theatric value. Mozart introduces similar characters in the "Magic flute". If you have ever understood the plot in Goethe's "Faust" then you know what I mean. It is  the baddies, the evil ones that bring the silver to the box office, not the do-gooders.

Images of the devil have been well publicized and used in many different ways. Not one of them are true portraits. (There is one such possible portrait described by the old Testament prophets) The sum total of these images has contributed to obliterate the real existence of such a twisted being  from the minds of most men and relegated the idea of a horned leech thirsty for blood, goat beard, cloven hooves and all, to the comic strips. Clever bit of misinformation. Make the devil an abject object of ridicule and he will be dismissed from the 'real world' of most people's perception of reality. It does not stop him from existing or being about business as usual, in fact it helps greatly.

So what is his business? 

In essence his ambition is a very straightforward one: The building of  a kingdom for himself that in every respect is as good as possible, but with him as the absolute ruler and center of all attention. It is all about the feeding of the ego of one who considered himself great and good enough to challenge his creator and attempt to take the place of the un-created and everlasting God. We know of him that he once was one of the first order of arch-angels before the dawn of creation. The morning-stars sang together for joy at the handiwork of god, but Satan frowned and was caught up in a fierce jealousy, for challenging God he was forthwith thrown out of the heavenly court and was thrown down unto the earth. He is now the ruler of the 'air' over this world of ours. We are told that "the whole world is in the power of the evil one".
In order to hide his true self and make his work as free from interference as possible he appears frequently as an angel of light. He never appears as the evil one until you have sold your soul to him and can no longer get away! In fact all this ambitions are good ones from his perspective. The likelihood is that unless we have faith in a prior word of God we will agree! He wants us to be the same as he is. Angels of light, yes even divine beings without God! Free to be whatever we want to be, free from any dependence on God and free to ignore the word and will of God. He promises material bliss as he cannot give spiritual blessings. His trade idea is for men to sell their souls in exchange for influence, power, fame and fortune. 


Unable to make anything new he can however imitate everything and uses mimicry to perfection. Not that anything needs to be absolutely perfect, because mankind which has lost sight of God and God's word is easily satisfied with shoddy copies of God's work. Presented with the second rate copies mankind applauds the copies and the copiers and ignores the originals and denies their Original Maker.

Case in point: after thousands of man-hours in research the "double helix" of the DNA was discovered and finally unravelled by Crick and Watson in 1953,  (the unsung work of Rosalind Franklin was the basis of their work) they received the Nobel Prize for their research in 1962. I still have never heard anyone in the Nobel Prize awarding board acknowledge the maker of the DNA. Only the ones who 'found it'. They prized a print of what it might be thought to look like. They gave not even a seconds tribute to the perfectly working reality of the DNA in every living being. This is  the brilliant working of the deceiver. Study a tick on an elephant and pretend you can ignore the elephant. The tick is all we need to know. When the elephant lies down some will be crushed.


The sweetness of evil. 
The trouble with evil is that it never looks it. It never is bitter on the tongue, but only later in the belly. It would not fool any Eve into eating the forbidden fruit unless it was literally 'beautiful to see, sweet to eat and would make you a better person than you were already". How anything expressly forbidden can be thought of as being "sweet, fine and useful" is the topic of the Psychology of Sin. (Excellent little treatise by Oswald Chambers)  But sin always begins with a deliberate denial of what God has said. The rapid forsaking of the Bible shows the result. No longer knowing what God forbids, black is turned to white and white to black in the very high places of the governments of the world.

Are the various calamities besetting the world the work of the Devil? Is war, famine, murder, landslides the footprint of the evil one? No way! Not once does the entire word of God claim any such effect for the working of Satan. Never in a single sentence do the disasters of the world become attributed to Satan. They are useful to Satan however, since they invariably lead to God being blamed for the disasters and therefore to be maligned. "The fifth Angel poured out his vial upon the Seat of the Beast; and his kingdom was full of darkness, and they gnawed their tongues from pain and they blasphemed the God of Heaven because of their pains and sores, and repented not of their deeds."


Where do all these calamities then originate? The Bible is very clear on the topic: "Whence arise wars? Do they not come from your lusts that war in your members? You are full of envy and greed, you want, want want but cannot get in any legal way, so your steal, rob murder and go to war. But you wont ask for things, because that would force you to ask according to the will of God.  Submit yourselves to God and resist the Devil so that he will flee from you, as he is unable to stand before God. Draw near to God you sinners and the devil loses his grip over you." (Paraphrase and summary of James 4:1-7)

What about global warming and climate change? We are all supposed to feel guilty of having 'caused it', and because we are guilty as charged we should ransom ourselves by paying for the amount of CO2 that we leave as footprints wherever we go and whatever we do.  Stop polluting and /or pay for it!

It is probably as unrivalled and deliberate a piece of deception as anyone could create who was of the most exquisite intelligence. Make everyone feel guilty, but give them no access to anyone who could forgive them their 'sin' but make them pay for it! Genial piece of evil!


What does the word of God say? Well, read 1 Kings 8:35-40, or read Deuteronomy 28, or in deed Jeremiah 5:24:"This people does not say in their heart:"Let us now fear the LORD our God, who gives rain, both the early and the late in their right time; it is He who controls the harvest times. Your sins have actually turned the seasons upside down, and they are the cause of your calamity."  Your sins against God, against creation, against fellow man and against yourselves. Not the emission of CO2.

Read Romans 8:20-22 "For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are nothing compared to the glory that is about to revealed to us. For the anxious longing of the entire creation is the final revealing of the sons of God. ..for we know that the entire creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now."  The evil one will have no sons of God in his kingdom. There is only one passport for those who will be accepted by him, one authorized by Satan, and will be free to those very same ones  who use the word of God to turn people away from God, and who kill the Lord and all who will be his witnesses. Make no mistake, he is a liar and a murderer from the beginning to his own end. For the end will come.

The understanding of the identity and individuality of the same is a tricky one. One of my friends refused to accept the idea that the Devil is a person.  He is right in doubting that. The presence of evil and malice always reduces the person and makes it less than personal if  by that we mean someone who is responsible to a higher authority than himself. If there are no restraints in any being, all the evil that can be chosen is as available as all the good. But once having chosen the evil there is no turning back. So that old crafty devil is hard to align with what we mean by "a true person".

Even his names are elusive. "Satan" is simply a noun made from an activity: one who resists and opposes something or someone. It is even used of the wannabee apostle Peter as he begins to remonstrate with Jesus as he has just said that his purpose for coming into the world was to give his life for it.  Peter yells, "No way is that going to happen", and Jesus answers: "Get behind me Satan, your thoughts are not those of GOD!"  Oops!  Anyone living, angel, serpent, man or demon who denies the word of God is by definition a true "satan".

The other word most people know is  then "devil, diabolo, teufel, djävul  etc" and it is another word derived from an action. It comes from the greek "dia balloo" and means to throw, hurl or cast something against someone. Hurling abuse, invectives, slander, accusations etc etc.. and so it is a generic term for one who in a frenzied whirl of anger rages against both God and the saints of God. It is also frequently used of the idols and false gods that are worshipped by people right through the entire times of the human existence. As now.


Their name is "Legion" for they are many.

Devils, yes in the plural, are known to take over the lives of individual human beings, sometimes actually taking up residence in them. They invade personalities and reduce them. They fill people with other voices at times voices forcing them to kill, maim and murder. I personally knew one such man. They are at the brunt of the work of Christ in the times of gospel events..They remain common in the world, I meet them in the mission field.. 
they interrupt and express behaviour patterns familiar from the gospels. Their work is the same all over: blaspheme God, frighten people away from God and call the power of God into question. They in turn are frightened of nothing, except Jesus Christ. A whole host of the angelic beings have joined Satan in his fall, and serve him as demons.

That old devil is called a number of names beyond those above. Beelzebul, Abbadon, Ruler and prince over the powers of the air,  just to recall a few. Add "the god of this age", "Belial", "the tempter, the liar from the beginning" and you get the picture. Looking at the world as it is and asking the question if it shows these types of activities among men could quickly lead to the insight that there is indeed a mighty force  behind the condition of the world.


The bible gives him none of the credit that he craves, that is done by God's enemies. There you have another reason why he hates the Word of the LORD God, it does not give him or his ambitions or his successes  enough praise and glory. There  will never be an angelic choir singing his praises, he will be totally stymied in his world rule ambition. And his end is nearer now than when I  began to write this blog.

He may still have some of us killed as he has done for centuries. All he is doing thereby is sending them home to God who really don't see this world as their home anyway. But they are all gathering, dressed in white ready for the day of reckoning. And every murder done to a christian adds another line to the evidence against the evil one for the day of judgement.  No wonder he goes about like a roaring lion, ready to swallow whoever is careless enough to step out of the Light of god into the darkness of him for whom utter darkness is prepared. Like so many human beings he is too occupied in the now to bother about the end.


He is the prince of the power of the air.. The atmosphere in some cities and places I have visited have been filled with almost tangible evil. Even some vicarages. When people tell me they don't believe in him it rings a bell. They have never seen the air that they breathe either, but they believe it implicitly or they would die every morning as they wake up, because of first having to check what it is that they breathe, whatever is . You do not have to believe the air to breathe it..

Nor do you need to believe in the devil to be held by him in a firm grip. But if you have no use for God or his word, if "Jesus Christ" is just one of your swear words,  I dare say that you are very useful for the enemy of God. You may be enrolled in his home army reserve without knowing that you have been conscripted.

You end up in the kingdom of God by making a deliberate choice, you end up in the kingdom of the devil by not making a choice at all.

That is what the Word of God says. No apologies.


Teddy Donobauer, Doncaster Feb 1st 2017



Wednesday, 31 January 2018

Blogtext: At the cross, at the cross.


Crosses, one, two and three.

You see them as decorative bling bling in the ears and navels of people, or as  tatoos on various body parts; as signs of office on priests chests and bellies. You see them on mountain tops in the Alps, on church-spires and as worship inducing elements in churches. You see them, and they are perceived in various ways by those who see them. Responses to them include everything from total indifference to veneration, from sheer hatred to deepest respect.

Say "Red Cross" and benign humane Rescue and Aid comes to mind. Say "cross roads" and you intend to speak of choices to be made about how to direct your steps on ongoing journeys. 


Say "Hot Cross Buns" and you have Easter Morning breakfast in view. As a symbol it has a multitude of different meanings to whomever wears it , hates it, loves it or ignores it. It is hotly disputed politically and theologically and is used to crucify men and women to whom the cross and its original meaning is their reason to live. It is their "spes unica" = only hope! And has often been used to effectuate their physical death.

In the wrong place the carrying of a cross is a death warrant. You get killed either for it or on it. In the right place it is the most powerful image in the world. It is your only way to salvation and determines the ultimate condition of being lost. The two aspects go together. They are in fact inseparably connected. How come?

Great men of the christian church have often warned of a future christianity without the cross, of holiness without the Holy Spirit and of preaching without power to change peoples lives. That scenario is no longer in the future, it is here now.

How did it come about to be such a loaded symbol? What gave rise to such a fearful aspect?

Begin the begin.

To understand the cross at all we must start at the first dawn of human existence. All things that now are had a beginning. This is it:

  • Man was made to be in a relationship with His Maker
  • Man was made to be steward and tiller of the ground under his feet 
  • Man was made in two entities called male and female to be together
  • Man was made whole and in harmony with himself, in command of all his facilities.
You might say that as far as his relationships are concerned he has four arms embracing him. Four, just as many as the arms of any cross. The first three are easy to see. The last one is slightly out of sight to us because it is the one closest to us. To attempt an awareness of that fourth embracing harmony is  not unlike trying to be aware of your eye while looking at an object in the room. But we sure know when that harmony is missing. It creates a number of voids  and causes fears and shame in the presence of the Maker and in deed over against the entire creation.

The mankind that "Elohim" made was first 'adam' (of the earth) only but containing all the ingredients of woman in itself. And having found no match for man among all the other living beings in the whole world, God separated out of man that which was to be woman, independent in space but united with him in a myriad ways. The very idea of human marriage is embodied in the twosome unity. With it came a joyful command of sexual reproduction and the population of the whole world with beings all like to Adam's self. While Adam remains in the image of God, it is that image which would be reproduced through them. Then the calamity of sin intrudes and all Adam can do from now on is "bring forth a son in his own image". (Gen 5:1-3) Outside the garden of order (farsi language: paradise) disorder reigns ever since.

To be man and able to communicate with the Maker, the Creator, Owner , Lifegiver and the sole source of understanding for how to live in the new world was the starting point, and it hung in the balance of only one thing. Allowing God to be God and refusing any attempt to try and be God's equal. And most importantly, to consider God's word as the First Opinion to be for ever the measureing rod for every second opinion.

The word obedience is crucial. Was..Is.


Towards the Earth under his feet there was a commanded framework of ruling over, caring for and utilizing what God had made for survival, multiplication and harvesting what produced fruit enough for all living beings to feed on. Man is the "head" of creation, the head in which the Creators rules are placed for the entire created order. Ignore that and all will be destroyed. Global warming is not the cause of calamity, it is only one effect of it. (To think that the singling out of that reality is the critical one is like finding a scratch on your bumper and losing sleep over it when in fact the engine has gone bust and the crankshafts are sticking out of the engineblock.)

In "The greatest story ever told" we see how it all fell apart and why. If you consider the four relationships in which God placed mankind then the similitude of a cross is formed. The vertical part of the cross points to heaven above and the earth below, indeed it is planted in the earth and designated by heaven. And only as long as heaven is allowed to rule can the cross stand in the earth. If it loses its upward thrust it becomes a fallen tree along the face of the earth only.
The horizontal part is above the earth but alongside it. On the right hand side is the relationship to his 'own flesh and blood'. Woman taken out of Adam left the man and became his other self in order to be a dynamic partner for all that which God had made them.

  • To be the walking, talking, thinking, loving and obeying image of the Creator. Together!
  • To be the creative co-worker with God on behalf of all the world and every living being. To have dominion, never to be a slave.
  • To be true 'Adam' together and never allow that they should ever be independent of each other. 
  • To be at peace, not at war.
  • To be God-dependant not selfpropelled

On the left hand of the horizontal bar is our relations
hip to ourselves.
As I said above it is less apparent to ourselves, but of primary importance. Let me try to explain why.

"What good is it for a man to gain the whole world and lose his soul in the process?"

"It is not what goes into man by the way of his mouth that makes man unclean, but that which comes out of his heart."

"But when he came to himself, he realised that every servant in his father's house was better off than he, so he said, I will arise and go to my father."

"Oh wretched man that I am! The good I would do, I do not! And the evil I would not, that I do! What is the matter with me? Sin reigns in my body..."

"And as God was walking in the garden in the cooling evening, Adam hid from the Lord. And God said: "Adam where are you?" I was afraid because I am naked."

"My guilt/punishment is to hard for me to bear."


"Love your neighbor as yourself"

Our most critical and universally true dilemma is our lost identity!

God was never lost. Man is. He has lost himself and whatever he finds in life will only add to the lostness until he finds himself, returns to himself and his true being, the child of a Father. Reconciliation, the act of moving out of the way every obstacle that blinds man to his Maker, Redeemer and Restorer begins with this confession: "I have sinned against You and against heaven". Adam could not have sinned unless he first found it in him to become untrue to his own real nature. The image of God does not sin,it has to give room to the progression of sin as seen in James 2:13 "Let no one say when he is tempted, "I am being tempted by God"; for God cannot be tempted by evil and He Himself does not tempt anyone. But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust. When lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death."

Sin starts as a temptation to which we chose to accept as a reasonable action to gain something. And, for the record, "the Devil never made you do it" unless you had already become possessed in a real way.

I imagine this conversation between Adam and the Lord:
-How did you come to break faith with me, to transgress an explicit command, to sin and take the fruit that I had forbidden?
-I lost my self to the words of my lovely wife, after all I saw her eating, and she didn't die on the spot, so I thought that I must have misunderstood the First Opinion about the tree.
-Did I make you to listen to your wife on matters that I committed to you? Why do you think, Adam, that a Second Opinion is needed? Was my command so diffuse, so incomprehensible? I said: do not eat! What was it in the word NOT that you did not understand? Was it the N the O or the T?
-Ah, but the wife that You had given me, took and ate and gave to me. How could that be wrong?
-Because I said so.

How are we lost to ourselves? How do we know? 

Which are the main questions that all of mankind constantly battles with? 

Who am I?
What am I?
What am I doing here?
How can I live in this crazy world?

The lack of sufficiently reliable answers is the driving motor  of all psychopharmacology, the root of every mental disorder, the major cause behind every crime. It is the cause of rising costs for dealing with the means of escape from these questuions by the abuse of various substances in the world. It is the driving engine in the entertainment industry, the prime motivator for make up and fashion.

"Adam where are you?" "I hide because I am afraid and naked."  Who told you that you were naked? I became aware of it the moment I lost my true innocent self. Love kept fear at bay. Love gone leaves the field free for self loathing and shame.

I have lost myself. True self is God-self. All that is left by sin is the Ego.

I note in passing that when Moses finally turns aside from his own ways and goes to see what God is doing in the burning bush then he eventually wants to know the name of God. Not unreasonable since his world was filled with things claimed to be gods but who could tell if any of them were worthy to be God? Did they have what it takes to be god at all?

-"What is your name?"
-"I am who I am, remain what I was, and will be what I will be."


Is it not remarkable that our use of the 'I' from cradle to grave is (mis)using the name of God for ourselves? Have we not then made ourselves into gods? And have we then not also broken the first commandment of the law? Indeed we have. That is how lost we are to ourselves until we return to the great "I am". When the lesser is swallowed up by the greater, then the lesser can again become great enough to be a real human.

The first and lost cross is then this four-dimensional cross of our original relationships. It is broken and in every one of the four arms there is a gap between man and the four directions. Broken relationships to God, to the very ground under our feet, to our co-human consorts and to our selves. Read any daily paper, watch any TV news and you will see the truth of our disaster.

Who am I? Either a self with the "great I am" or a lesser ego without the "I am". There are no further options.


The second cross is one we all bear. But you will not find it spoken of as a cross in the scriptures. All the same it is  part and parcel of our daily experience and the shape of the idea is not important except as a way of remembering what it is.  It is the "cross sight" of the weapons aimed at mankind since the beginning. The story told us of the serpent being wiser than anything else and the one who came to Eve with the tempting ideas that God was really shortchanging man by the forbidding of that fruit.  In essence Satan (the accuser) said "God is withholding something GOOD from you! Emancipate yourselves, eat and be free to be God's equals!"

Satan is portrayed as the deceiver of mankind, the killer and liar from the beginning. His lies are so efficient that few people believe that he exists. He denies that God's word is what it says, including any traces of himself, and he is the server of every second opinion that questions the moral uprightness of God. He acts true to his nature and accuses God of being unjust. That is the upward thrust of the second cross image. In so many words: "God is unfair in imposing conditions on your life. You are his slaves! Step out of this childishness and become mature by doing what God forbids."

Read the book of Job and you see the same: God is being accused of being unfair in that he gives man all good things and thereby bribing them into believing in God. "But let me touch the man and all he has and you will soon have him screaming curses at you!"  But not only is there the upward accusation against God, there is also that most insidious accusation of man before God. "That clayish moron called man cannot be good of his own will, he must be selling out his soul, his confessions of loyalty to God in return for '"a pie in the sky when you die". You do not believe in God for God's own sake, but only for what you get from God." (There is at least one other word for it: prosperity gospel.)

"Now have come salvation and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ; for the accuser of our brothers is cast down, he who accused them before our God day and night!  They overcame him by the blood of the lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they loved not their lives unto the death!" (Rev 12:10-11)
"And in all these things Job sinned not but said, naked I came into this world, naked I go, blessed be God, Yes, though God slay me, yet will I trust Him." (Job 13:15)

The crossbar of the devilish weaponsight are the other two subtle but constant accusations. Listen to the very words: false accusations, slander, bearing false testimony, betrayal, etc etc, they are the more or less elegant covers pulled over what today is called 'fake news'. It is an ongoing process in the entire world, and it it is divisive, inciting to murder and war, it sets brother against brother and nation against nation, ideology against ideology, religion against religion etc since the fall of man. It is not hard to see, but although everyone knows it few understand that it is part of the original strategy of the would be world ruler, the spiritual ISIS power which is said to be the one in whose hand the whole world is presently held captive.

Accusing man before other men. Anybody who does not believe it happens?

But lastly and fourthly, as difficult to define as the relationship of man to himself in the previous cross, there is the inner accuser where I am being accused by myself for all kinds of imagined and real crimes comitted. 

So the four arms of this cross are these:

  • Satan accuses God before man.
  • Satan accuses man before God.
  • Satan accuses man before man.
  • Satan accuses me to myself.

These four directed and unrelenting attacks are the basis of Satans strategy, and they were devised by extreme wisdom of the created order before mankind began to live on the earth. It is such a perfect stratagem that it has never been revamped or reviewed. It is effective to the final degree. The apostles, the emissaries of God, have told us that we must not be ignorant of the Devil's devises. We should know of these strategies and weapons used against us all. But the christians go unarmed into battle, and suffer defeat because they lack the first armor: knowledge of the enemy's devises.

This is the cross we all bear, wether we took it up of our free will or not.

If a man sins before God. He can be forgiven by God.
Break trust with a fellow man and you can be forgiven by them.
But if you are your own accuser and defender, as well as your own judge, who will forgive you then?
And now the clincher: do you blame God for this and that in your life? Have you also joined God's accusers? Will you forgive him?

What? Do we need to forgive God? Not really, no. But if you believe the One who tells lies about God then you will have any number of issues with God the way He actually is. And you cannot committ to someone you do not trust explicitly and implicitly. You see: the second opinion is always accusing God of being unfair, or worse. And once that suspicion is harboured in your mind and heart, your life will show it.

The third cross, the cross of Jesus, cross of sorrow.

"At the cross, at the cross where I first saw the light,
and the burden of my heart rolled away;
It was there by faith I received my sight
and now I am happy all the way."

Arms outstretched, feet and hands fastened to the wood of a cross by hammered nails. Bleeding from the wounds inflicted by crown of thornes and nails one man is readied for death on behalf of and for all men. On a hillside with the look of a scull due to it being part of a sedimentary rock formation with various caves dug into the frontside there were three crosses erected and as the afternoon progressed the three men thus crucified suffered through the agony of that particularly brutal execution.

On the center cross was nailed the body of Jesus Christ. The one cross in a thousand others that stands out as being unique because he who hung there did it on purpose! The thousands of other similar crucifixions were all, without exception, things  the hapless victims would have avoided at all costs. Not so the Christ. "The Son of Man has come to give His life as a ransom for many". 

This was the cross of reconciling what had been broken. It was the only reasonable and effectual answer to the first cross that we started out with in this text. "For it pleased the Father that in Christ all fullness should dwell, and that having made peace through the blood of His cross, by Him to reconcile all things unto Himself - by him I say, whether they be things in heaven or o
n earth."Col 1:19-20 

"The Spirit of the LORD God is upon Me, because the LORD has anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound, to proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD, and a day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn."(Isaiah 61:1ff) cp Luke 4:17-21

The third cross in our consideration is at the heart of the very stumbling-block of christian faith.
A crossless faith is not christian. We preach Christ and Him crucified, the power of God to those who will be saved, but a stumbling block to those who do not care for God's remedy to the issues raised by the fall. But the death of Christ is the only door to any rescue operation possible. Because only that perfect sacrifice of the Lamb of God "can take away the sins of the World". Only the sinless giving His life on the cross can heal by the same cross that cross of the relationships which was broken in pieces by the sin of the first Adam.

"For since by man came death, by Man came also the resurrection from the dead. For as in Adam all die, so in Christ shall all be made alive.... for so it is written: the first man was made a living soul. The last Adam was made a quickening, lifegiving spirit." 1 Cor 15:41-47

So the christian is  someone proclaiming the message of reconciliation, the restoration of all that was lost in the fall of man. The third cross on Calvary's mountain, the cross of Christ is the answer to the disaster at the beginning of the human existence. "And all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself by Jesus Christ and has given us the ministry of reconciliation, that is, that God was active in Christ, reconciling the word to himself, no longer holding them accountable for the trespassing, and giving this task to us, this Word of reconciliation... for he has made Him, who knew no sin, to be sin for us, that we might be the righteousness of God in Him." 2 Cor 5:19ff

So the confession is made: "I am crucified with Christ, nevertheless I live; but not really I, but Christ lives in me. And the life that I now life in this fleshly frame, I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me." Gal 2:20 Preach less than this and the cross is of no effect. Here is the serious note: the proper meaning of the cross is entirely linked with what happened on it for us all. To reduce the cross to an element of church decoration, to be a piece of jewellry in a belly button, to use it as a means of forcing people to the monstrosity of christianity or what ever else man is cajoled to use it for, quickly runs into this scathing asessment by the Holy Spirit through Paul: "Many walk, I have often warned you about this, as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their end is destruction, their God is their belly, and their glory is their shame as all they mind are things of the earth." Phil 3.18-19

In our modern times many sneer at the old simple gospel songs such as this:

"On a hill far away, stood an old rugged cross, the emblem of suffering and shame.."  and there are fewer and fewer who confess that they cherish that old rugged cross where the dearest and best of this world was deliberately there, to be slain, because of our  desperate need for being saved. And we have had three thousands years to prove that we cannot save ourselves.

Three crosses then. On the hill of Calvary. One for the deeds of man, one for the viles of the devil, and one for the glorious act of God.  The sinner who repented not did not enter paradise, no restoration of that which was lost in his case. The other responded to the suffering saviour and was given assurance of presence with ths Saviour in the eternity of God's kingdom. And in between those two "the Man of sorrows, familiar with shame, temptations, ills and woes of mankind." On His cross in His last hours you see how the broken relationships of the fall are indicated as being restored. The sun was darkened, the earth shook, the dead were raised, the temple veil rent asunder from top to bottom, the widow about to lose her son was given a new relationship with one disciple. And Jesus did not die, he called out to His Father and having tasted the bitterness of utter isolation from God by the sin he bore in our place, he could say that all was now finished and closed that chapter by saying "Father into your hands I commend my Spirit."

Unjustly accused! You see that is where the hidden cross of the enemy is in plain view. Over his thorn-crowned head we see the accusation: INRI. Iesous Nazareus Rex Iudaeorum! False accusation all together but fabricated along the lines of the old pattern. "Say not that he is the king of the jews! Say only that he claimed to be it. We don't recognize him as such!" So said the scribes and the Sanhedrin. But Pilate is adamant: "What I have written I have written."

Pray, friend, tell me, what are the accusations written boldly above your head? They were nailed to the same tree, why are you still carrying them around?

The satanic cross has only one true opposition: the Word of God. Which is the only sword of the Spirit that bites against those powerful lies. My heart shudders to see how little knowledge in the Word that the majority of the professing christians have.

No wonder that the cross is so abused. So little understood, so often emptied of all it's life-changing power.

Teddy Donobauer, Doncaster Jan 31 2018


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