God Changes Not…

Way back in October 2011 I wrote a little about the hymn Ev’rything Changes that I sang as a very young child at primary school.

I don’t have much memory before 1985, the reasons for which I’ll relate another time, but one thing did stick. Every time we sang that chorus, Bernard Ward – our terrifying headmaster (who was actually a REALLY nice gentleman in the proper sense of the word) would emphasise the same point.

God changes not.

My life is in a transition at the moment. I’m writing this entry from a hotel in a town four days ago I’d never heard of (Colesberg, South Africa if you’re interested) on my way to take my wife for a job interview which, should she be successful, will mean moving away from Cape Town for a minimum six month period. In addition to this I’m caught in the throes of trying to formally register Eagle’s Wing Ministries as a legal entity Faith Based Organisation so it can grow.

In the last four months I’ve seen growth and had contact from more places than I’d ever had before, and from two countries I had to google to find out where they were! It’s exciting times as I can feel God leading this change in my life simply by being true to the call He placed in my heart 30 years ago.

I’ve changed a lot in 30 years.

God hasn’t.

Much in my life changed. Deaths, births, weddings, cancer, emigration to name just a few. But the call in my heart to make this ministry a reality has never changed because God placed it there.

I can’t do it alone, and I’ve had many offers from people all over the globe wanting EWM to visit or partner with them. Thank you all so much for those letters. I’m praying right now for guidance for where to step first is. I’m certain God has it planned, and has had from the beginning.

There are resources the ministry will need to advance – primarily able and willing bodies – so we can move together.

Eagle’s Wing Ministries is changing. We are evolving into the butterfly God made the caterpillar to become.

And what makes it possible is the unchanging nature of God.

We forget as times change and we see reality TV shows like Survivor, The Amazing Race and the Republican Party debates dominate the airwaves that people’s ideals shift. A political wind can decimate a Christian community – like ISIS has.

Pseudo-martyrs can turn people genuinely suffering for their belief in the Biblical Jesus into nothing more than a footnote on page 30 reporting their execution.

The enemy changes the picture we see. Remember the scene in the original “Matrix” film where Neo sees the cat and then sees it again because the Matrix changed something? What if our perception of reality is shaped by something other than our own experience. It’s been said that simply putting a film crew in with a combat unit changes how that unit behaves on the field. The pictures tell the story the editor wants to show.

We need desperately to return to the uncut raw footage of the Gospel. I don’t read Aramaic or Greek so I use about a dozen translations when I’m researching to find the whole meaning of a passage. The simple translation of a single word can alter the meaning of an entire phrase.

But God doesn’t change.

He is the same today as he was 2000 years ago on the cross and as He will be in 2000 years from now.

God. Changes. Not.

Don't Throw It Away

Do not, therefore, fling away your [fearless] confidence, for it has a glorious and great reward. For you have need of patient endurance [to bear up under difficult circumstances without compromising], so that when you have carried out the will of God, you may receive and enjoy to the full what is promised.” [Hebrews 10:35-36 Amplified]

There’s this concept in modern Christian beliefs that has become insidious in the lie it holds. The thought is that once we have been accepted into Christ, that’s it. We have nothing more to do.
Nothing could be further from the Truth.
I recently wrote a piece on Persecution from a Western perspective, and found several articles on Huffington Post saying how American Christians are not persecuted and they (we if not from the US) should be dropped into Syria to see what persecution really is.
Yes, there is a strong argument that the persecution experienced in the Middle East under the genocidal rule of ISIS is an extreme form – like the Crusades but with AK47s – but the role is more damaging and deadly from a spiritual perspective in the West.
The writer of Hebrews was onto something major when he wrote chapter 10.
What we have from God, we have to hold onto to move into it.
CS Lewis touches on the subject briefly in “The Last Battle” when the Narnian Kings, Queens, Lords and Ladies are pulled into Narnia one final time but Susan is not with them. Peter tells them gravely “my sister Susan is no longer a friend of Narnia.” The others from our world explain to the Narnians with them that she has abandoned Narnia to the whims of this World, described by Lewis as “Lipstick and Nylons”. It’s a disturbing concept as it evokes the verses from Mark 13:

Then if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed)!’ or, ‘Look, He is there!’ do not believe it; for false Christs and false prophets will arise, and they will provide signs and wonders in order to deceive, if [such a thing were] possible, even the elect [those God has chosen for Himself]. But be on your guard; I have told you everything in advance.” [21-23 Amplified]

Susan, chosen by Aslan himself has been lured away from Narnia by the cares of this World. Jesus’s own words in Mark’s Gospel more than imply, they categorically state that even those specifically chosen by God Himself will be deceived and drawn away from the Faith by the World’s cares. He warns us to be on our guard against such things.
What troubles me right now is the way Christianity – or what passes as such in the mainstream – bends it’s will to that of the popular media. I read a statistic recently that suggested 1-2% of the US population identifies itself as LGBT while 15-25% describe themselves as Christian – including non-denominational house churches and less formal church groups within protestant ideology in addition to Catholic, Anglican, Baptist and other mainstream denominations.
That’s a massive discrepancy. maybe 2% of the population is forcing it’s religious and ideological beliefs onto a majority that remains silent or is portrayed in the news as Kim Davis nuts – a grave slight on real loving Christians by an over-zealous official. There were many ways for her to handle the situation she was in. She chose one which tarred all Christians as bigoted, hateful people.
Let us remember Jesus was rejected by the establishment of the day because he went and associated with prostitutes, sinners of all kinds, tax collectors, Samaritans and those outcast from society. Leprosy was the AIDS of the day, yet He went out of His way to touch the lepers. The first one to proclaim the Resurrection was an ex-prostitute.
He caught the fish, then cleaned it by His work in it (us). We seem to expect the fish to clean itself out to make itself worthy.
Then we beat ourselves up for falling short.
That’s where the Hebrews verse comes in.
Our confidence comes from placing ourselves in Christ’s care, not relying on our own abilities or works to become acceptable to God, but recognising that we NEED the sacrifice of Jesus to reach the relationship Jesus wants for us. The recognition of the need is our confidence. That’s good news.
The bad news is that the World tells us another story – especially in the West. We’re not good enough if we don’t got to church every Sunday, help in the soup kitchen on a Tuesday, attend home group on a Wednesday, midweek prayer meeting on Thursday mornings, start a prayer group at work to meet every day at lunchtime, never watch a single secular TV program or listen to anything but Gospel music and tell at least 20 people a week about Jesus and how He will save them if they do all of the above.
I guess I’m going to Hell. If that’s the definition, I guess we all are.
For accuracy, look to the thief on the cross next to Jesus. He didn’t live long enough to do any of the things the World lays on our plate as being “essential” to being “saved”. All he did was accept Jesus’s offer of Salvation. Nothing more, nothing less. He put his Faith in the sacrifice of the broken body on the cross next to his own.
And he died with confidence.
We throw our confidence away.
We live in a world where doubt reigns supreme. Consider the books of the Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit and compare the characters with those in the movies. Bilbo remains doubtful of himself and his abilities, Frodo and his companions return to the shire and resume unassuming shy lives. Aragorn has to be virtually
begged to become King. But in the books, Bilbo returns a changed person, stronger and more adventurous – you do actually see flashes of that Bilbo in the opening sequences of Lord of the Rings, but not in The Hobbit. In the books it is Aragorn who requests the shards of Narsil be reforged, he does not have to be convinced to put the ranger behind him – He knows who and what he is. The sanitised ending of the movies has Frodo, Sam, Pippin and Merry returning to Hobbiton unchanged by their adventure. In the books they find the shire under evil rule and overthrow it because their change is profound.

But the World looks for insecurity. Consider how many modern movies have protagonists torn with self-doubt from beginning to end. The characters with confidence all the way through tend to get killed off.

Nothing scares Satan more than a Christian who is confident in what God has given him in terms of authority. He throws sickness and the confident Christian brushes it aside. He throws financial ruin and the confident Christian steps through more like the Terminator than a hobbit.

“No weapon that is formed against you will succeed; And every tongue that rises against you in judgment you will condemn. This [peace, righteousness, security, and triumph over opposition] is the heritage of the servants of the Lord, And this is their vindication from Me,” says the Lord. [Isaiah 54:17 Amplified]

No weapon formed. To walk in that promise we need confidence.

We were made in God’s image. A part of that is “The Lord is a Warrior, the Lord is His Name” says Exodus 15:3. Somehow we have swept that under the mat. Granted our battles are waged on a Spiritual battlefield, but they are war nonetheless.

Be confident. Satan cannot take it from you, but if you look at the wind and the waves of the storm around you, you’ll find yourself throwing that confidence aside.

Put your Faith where it belongs: in the one who made us in His image.

Hold fast to your Confidence in Him.

Don’t throw it away because things are a bit tough. If you do, you’ll never receive the glorious and great reward waiting for us.

Hold fast. Jesus is right there.

Be confident.

Winning or Victory?

I was cleaning out some old VHS tapes a few days ago and found a recording of a final episode of “Survivor”. In it, two men were competing to go forward to the final and the grand prize of $1m.

They had been friends and allies for the entire season. One was a NYC Firefighter, the other worked with aquatic mammals. The challenge was to see who could stand on a narrow-ledged pole for the longest. Watching paint dry would have been more riveting under different circumstances. The dolphin trainer/conservationist had done something that the fireman regarded as a betrayal – I forget what. The winner of this challenge would almost certainly – given their final opponent – win the million dollar prize.

After several hours – yes, hours – standing on the poles, an occupational requirement for both men to the point that we probably could still have been there now had the incredible not happened.

Ian, the dolphin guy, began to talk to Tom, the fireman. They argued back and forth about what true friendship meant and how one had been playing the game and the other had been forging what he expected to go on to be a lifelong friendship. The conversation – the highlights anyway – was broadcast. Tom felt hurt that Ian had gone back on his word. He saw it as a betrayal. Ian weighed the pro’s and cons of the situation and decided the friendship was worth more than the grand “prize”. He told Tom this and dived off the pole.

Tom won the million dollars, but I saw something in this deeper than that.

Ian realised that having Tom as a friend was worth more than having a cheque for a million dollars.

It set me thinking about my schooling. Much of my education was classical history, including the story of Pyrrhus, a Greek General who led many successful campaigns against the expanding Roman army, but at great loss to his own. He is reported to have said following one victory: “If we are victorious in one more battle with the Romans, we shall be utterly ruined”.

Tom’s win was, to my mind, a Pyrrhic Victory. He may have won the challenge, but I felt he sacrificed the nobility and character he had shown through the series in order to attain it. As I saw it, Ian was the Victor. His honour and respect was not only intact but was strengthened by the display of his character. A long-term friendship with – to be fair – a decent, honest and apparently trustworthy man was worth more to him than the prize money, so he gave up that financial win for a longer lasting victory.

What does that have to do with us as Christians?

The Bible sets out the moral and just Laws of God and how we are to receive Salvation and become “more than conquerors” in our lives. We claim the Victory of Christ Crucified.

Alternatively, we have modern society which challenges the teachings of the Bible that have stood for 2000 years in the case of the New Testament alone, in excess of 5000 for the Old Books of Moses and the Histories.

In modern terms, we “win” if we support society’s norms and values, twisting scripture to find a way to justify pretty much anything as being God’s Will just like the slavery traders, the inquisition, the crusaders, witch hunts and a myriad of other obscenities inflicted on mankind by men who yearned for power like the Ring Wraiths in Tolkein’s masterpiece “The Lord of the Rings”.

Victory, however, is more elusive. It’s a narrow path. I heard it said recently that the fact we sing of a “Highway to Hell” and a “Stairway to Heaven” says a lot about expected traffic volumes.

Victory can be found in the pages of Volumes 1 and 2 of “Jesus Freaks and the Voice of the Martyrs” books and the work of the Voice of the Martyrs which continues today. Dozens, if not hundreds of men and women who are named and held up as an example of what it truly means to be a Christian underwent torture, imprisonment and brutal deaths over the last 2000 years are recorded in the books alone. In the eyes of the World, these people lost. They lost their lives, their homes, families, reputations. They gave them willingly to honour their Jesus.

They held a Victory more powerful than the “win” the World accomplished.

It’s time for a new generation of witnesses to rise up and challenge the direction of the World.

I’m a Generation X baby. I was alarmed to find recently that the mother of a friend in her mid twenties is actually younger than I am. I still feel like I’m 25 and ready to fight, even though it’s nearly 20 years ago that I was that age.

Generation Y, a lost generation even more than my own, has no clue how to innovate in general. At least Gen X has produced some advances. Gen Y seems to sit back. Many of the twenty-somethings I speak to have dreams but then end their statement with “but I guess I’ll never get there”. They’ve been taught to settle.

That’s the Enemy’s voice.

Settling brings a short-term win. A passive life where you accomplish nothing of true value.

A man I met a few times in the 1990’s passed away recently. He was in his 70’s so I guess he’d be a “Baby-Boomer”. He had such a passion for life and he used it to propagate his faith in his friend Jesus. Dave was larger than life. He was physically an imposing figure – and I’m not a small man – and exuded enthusiasm and life wherever he went. He treated everyone the same from meeting World Leaders in private audiences to teaching a group of teenagers. He described himself as the “Warm-up act for the Holy Ghost”. And his witness was unrelenting. His message uncompromising.

I aspire to be the kind of man Dave Duell was. Fearless and passionate. A real Ambassador for Jesus Christ.

Where are the Generation X and Generation Y replacements for men like Dave?

I long to be one. It’s why I write and why I want to be able to speak with the passion I have in my heart. I want to go out into the world and fight on God’s terms. I’m sick of waiting for the fight to come to me. I was reminded by a friend writing to me recently that I’ve never been Spiritually or physically stronger than when I’ve been at the front of the battle. I was also reminded – gently – that my current depleted state probably resides in sitting back and letting someone else fight for me.

I won for a short time in the World’s terms. Financial comfort and the trappings that go with it drew me away from noticing I was slowly less and less involved with God. Then those worldly wins dried up and I was left with nothing but crippling debt and poor health. It’s a long way back out of a hole like that.

God does the impossible as a matter of routine. My situation changes daily. I experience victories regularly and setbacks often. Losing my focus on Christ even a little has cost me a lot. Ten years of my life have gone that I’ll never get back.

But God can overturn the World’s Win and replace it with His Victory.

If I let Him.

It’s hard to do, but I’m doing it. I’ve been writing here and on my own blog for a few years now and I’m looking into registering my own ministry, Eagle’s Wing Ministries, as a Faith Based Organisation (not for profit) as I am now being approached to write leadership courses and raise funds to help people get basic items like clothes and Bibles in their own languages. Not to mention food.
I hope by Christmas I’ll be registered. I’ll continue to write as I believe that is a BIG part of my calling, but I find my heart being pulled to do more, to work 100% for Jesus, not just give Him what’s left at the end of the day. It’s 3am here as I’m writing this. I need to be able to do this as my main work. To move into my Victory.

I’m tired of just “winning”. Winning has brought me nothing but heartache.

It’s time to become more than a conqueror and walk in the Victory Jesus bought for me.

Join me. To quote Dav
e Duell: “It’s only Forever”
Join me and let’s turn the tide back against the World.