All for Loving You

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Rising from the depths of her being, this burst of praise and thanksgiving came from the heart of a dear friend who lives in Jersey, Anne Laure Jackson. She joined us in Malvern a few months ago to record this and a number of other songs. Sally has prepared an exquisite YouTube to draw us yet deeper into worship. Anne writes:

“I wrote this song at a time when I was overcome with praise and thanks by how much we receive from the Lord when all we can give in return is just to love Him. From that simple act of surrender and letting go of everything else in order to trust, rest and love Him, we get so much in return!

I know, it’s by no means always easy, but it is simple! He made us, He knows us, and He meets us in those deepest places that are so precious and that make life worth living. All of this just for loving Him . . . So beautiful and powerful . . .”

 

The Political Landscape of Great Britain: Post Election Insights

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Come, let us return to the LORD; for He has torn us, that He may heal us; He has struck us down, and He will bind us up (Hosea 6:1).

When Mt St Helens, a volcano in Washington State, blew its top in 1980, the topography of the land changed overnight. Anyone seeing some of these phenomena a few years later would have been inclined to suppose they must have been there for millennia, so deeply embedded had they become. Overnight the political landscape of the UK has likewise changed – though only time will tell the full effect of the political and spiritual forces that have been released.

The overwhelming impression that kept coming to me during the election night was that this was necessary. In this article I am sharing the insights the Lord has given thus far concerning events, as well as takes from various other friends. We hope you will find them helpful and a springboard for prayer.

The first point to bear in mind is that winds blow much stronger at altitude – as every mountaineer knows. Those in high positions experience pressures that the rest of us know little of. This is why it is so important to be a praying shield around those who are called to live and move in high places in the world as well as in the church.

Trees that grow too tall, and people who operate from too narrow a base, however, have to be levelled; for “He humbles that which exalts itself” (Luke 14:11, 18:14). We would hardly expect to find inscribed on the wall of the cabinet office the Biblical verse, “Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. (1 Pet. 5:6, cf James 4:10) It is, however, the ultimate warning of all.

Given the pressures of the job and the Theresa May’s own personality, it is easy to see how she came more and more to trust in a narrow clique of trusted advisers. But since this ended up with policies that appeared to offer little for the young, whilst at the same time alarming and alienating the elderly, the Lord has had to go to considerable lengths to unpick something which had become dangerously ‘hot-housey’.

The humbling of Nebuchadnezzar at the hands of the watcher angels in Daniel 4:10-37 is no fairy tale to point a moral; rather it represents profound spiritual reality. The mercy is that the Lord allowed a stump of the tree that had been levelled to remain in the ground. As we know from the Book of Job, at the scent of water, a tree (or political party?) that has been cut down can put forth new shoots and revive again (Job 14:7-10).

Once again we are witnessing another political earthquake – or volcano to revert to the Mt St Helens image.

As we prayed in the town wide prayer meeting this weekend, the picture came of a wind from the Lord blowing leaves off their trees. The interesting thing was that some of these leaves did not appear to be dead, but had still been blown off. We ignore to our peril the fact that our Heavenly Father is the Gardener, who, like any good gardener, prunes and cuts severely in order to secure the best results (John 15:1-8).

Sally Mowbray subsequently mentioned that she had climbed the Malvern Hills last week one day after there had been a strong wind, and noticed how the wind had stripped loads of leaves off the trees. There were drifts of them – as though it was autumn! All the stripped leaves had been the lovely soft fresh spring leaves. It felt a bit weird – something unusual had happened but all was ok!

Something that needed to be stopped has been stopped dead in its tracks. It is easy to feel that the present situation looks likely to produce anything but the best results. The risk of serious political instability is great – and this at the time when so many important decisions are going to need to be made.

The Lord gave a friend who had been feeling gloomy in the aftermath of the election this ultimately encouraging verse: “Come, let us return to the LORD; for He has torn us, that He may heal us; He has struck us down, and He will bind us up” (Hosea 6:1).

Lashan Hara and the power of speaking out

One of the joys of walking in the Spirit is that we are called to declare into being the things the Lord gives us to declare. This is entirely different, however, from the violent words and actions that are increasingly accompanying anyone who dares to proclaim beliefs and policies that do no match their own beliefs. Berkeley University in California, for example, the home of the Free Speech movement, is experiencing more and more hate attacks from supporters of both the left and the right making it dangerous for people to air their opinions.

More and more, therefore, reasoned debate – and the chance to see the good in what the other side is saying – is being thrown out the window, leaving plenty of dangerously sharp edges to tear the skin.

There is only too much ‘speaking against’ going on, the effects of which I warned about in the articles on Power outages and Lashon Hara. Nowhere is this more evident than in the ‘revenge’ George Osborne has been taking against Theresa May for sacking him as chancellor. Pray for the Lord to bring a pause to this endless sniping.

With this in mind I have been encouraging people to pray much for Theresa May herself. There is no question that Theresa May has been responsible for making many decisions in both self-imposed and ill-informed isolation. Not, be it said in the interests of fairness, that her opponent has necessarily shown himself to be a model for taking advice either!

Soul searing shocks as intense as the one she is now experiencing require enormous grace to handle. I doubt she has much experience of failure to fall back on.

She certainly needs prayer to reflect well, cope with and process the shock, and then develop the more consultative leadership style that is clearly needed. Bearing in mind how little time off she has had for so long, this is a tall order and why she needs prayer. See also this chapter on shock and shame in my book Ravens and the Prophet.

On the wider front, I suggest we hold the verse from Hosea high: which speaks of God’s people’s pressing in as they return to seek His face, of God having wounded but also of Him doing something good beyond the pain.

A view from France

Sheila, a friend who lives in France, wrote,

“I’ve been reading lots about “mess” and “chaos” post-election but my own feeling is more in line with seeing the stripped trees you speak of. The illusions have been stripped away. Britain is far from being united and we now have MPs that reflect the true situation. Possibly the younger voters have also had chance to express their view on Brexit via the clumsy method of the ballot box.

“However, I think that there are chances for positive things here. Scotland is less likely to split from the Union now, and working with an Irish party that apparently doesn’t want a hard Brexit with sensitive border issues will be a more pertinent point than the current vaunting of what are seen as the DUP’s failings. Praying for humility and a heart to reach out to work together might be a good starting point!’

With the first round of French elections over, there is a similar theme over here; since the new president is not from an old party there is again the prospect of working together.” (There is, of course, voting now for the Parliament as opposed to the President. Reporting on the first round of voting, Time Magazine report that “His fledgling Republic on the Move! — contesting its first-ever election and fielding many candidates with no political experience at all — was on course to deliver him a legislative majority so crushing that Macron’s rivals fretted that the 39-year-old president will be able to govern France almost unopposed for his full five-year term

Praying for young and old alike to be able to see through specious promises

It is noteworthy that those who have appealed most to voters recently along ‘populist’ lines, such as Barack Obama, Donald Trump and now Jeremy Corbyn, tend to bring a very strong message of hope and positive change. These play well to people’s increasing sense of entitlement. Whether they can come good on all that they promise is another matter; there were and are illusions here that in turn will be stripped away.

The wider issue here is to pray about what we are doing to protect the young from being bribed by specious promises – a question that applies as much to spiritual teaching as to political or economic matters.

A call to sit apart and pray

It was back in 1980, at the time of the Mt St Helens eruption, that the Lord first called me rather dramatically to pull back somewhat from my hectic ministry to spend more time seeking Him, and to call others to do so too.

I believe we are at such a time again now, when the Lord is calling those who are willing to stand aside from much of the prevailing spirit to humble ourselves and to pray on behalf of the land.

Let him sit alone in silence, for the Lord has laid it on him. Let him bury his face in the dust – there may yet be hope . . .  Though He brings grief, He will show compassion, so great is His unfailing love. For He does not willingly bring affliction or grief to anyone (Lam. 3:28-33, cf 2 Chron. 7:14).

May the Lord hear the heart cry behind the prayers of God’s people and find ways to bring about more of His purposes.

Incidentally, that call in no way contradicts the call to others to get profoundly involved at every level!

The Irish Question and the prophecy by Alex Buchanan

Ireland has been bleeping for some time on the radar screen as a result of the breakdown of the Stormont government. The prospect of the London government needing once again to oversee Irish affairs is not an attractive proposition. But it had certainly crossed my mind that the DUP might end up as a major factor in holding the balance of power in a hung Parliament.

The complications at this stage are considerable – not least because of the risk of the London government being – or at the very least appearing to be – biased towards the DUP at the expense of the other parties in Ireland.

The strong prophetic word by Alex Buchanan I shared in the last edition was given in the context of the Irish troubles. It led to the forming of many fervent prayer groups, and perhaps ultimately to the Peace Agreement – which itself came about because Ian Paisley unexpectedly humbled himself to seek a deal with his erstwhile enemies.

May the Lord enable similar wisdom to be displayed now at this time – as opposed to seeking only expedient self-interest. Jumping the gun by declaring prematurely that a pact had been signed is an early reminder that much wisdom and tact and patience will be called for – both here and in many other areas of governmental life.

Scottish seats

The strongest burden the Lord gave me to pray during the run up to the election, however, was that there would be major surprises in Scottish seats. My goodness there were – far exceeding the scale anyone had predicted.

Which, of course, is another reminder of how far short of the mark, once again most opinion polls (as opposed to the exit poll) were. Perhaps they are indeed, as one former leader of Intercessors for Britain famously declared, “a mild form of divination”!

May the Lord be at work north of the border in sharping the political, social and spiritual landscape.

Tensions between Chancellors and Prime ministers

I have been aware for some time of a pattern of unpleasant tensions developing between the Chancellor and the Prime Minister, who find themselves living at extremely close quarters but seeing things through different lenses.  Whether this is through ambition on the part of the occupant of number 11, or a strong grip on the financial realities, this is certainly something worth praying into.

We have only to think of the extreme tension between Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, and now the increasingly well documented spats between Philip Hammond and Theresa May.

When I mentioned this to Sheila, it reminded her of the tensions in her world, the Arts, that often exists between Artistic and Financial Directors. At best it is tension that keeps the ceiling up; at worst we know only too well the damage it can cause.

Pray that the layers of tension between successive Prime Ministers and their Chancellors does not function as a spiritual stronghold, preventing proper discussion and decisions from being made.

The Brexit dimension: praying for creative solutions

I began by speaking of volcanoes. Europe has always been a source of controversy and division for the Conservatives, and now more so than ever in that many of its MPs are committed to a ‘soft’ Brexit, whilst others are equally as eager for a ‘hard’ one. But there is no wriggle room of a majority left to absorb those who think differently!

And all that is only from the British end; what Brussels will insist on is another matter altogether. Unless the Lord leads and overrules, working with 27 other European nations to achieve proper deals is likely to prove more like Olympus Mons than Mt St Helens. (Olympus Mons, in Mars, is the biggest volcano in the solar system, being more than two and a half times higher than Everest, with a base the size of France!)

That is why it is time to pray creatively! When we were in the process of buying Mowbray Lodge jointly with Mum and Dad, it required us to sell two houses in order to buy the one. A few days after exchanging contracts, but before completing, we lost the sale of our house – and were left looking down a barrel. Mercifully, the Lord came up with a master stroke through the household owner. Given that he was as keen to sell as we were to buy, he came up with the idea of offering us a private mortgage (on very fair terms) to tide us over. The arrangement worked perfectly.

This may be wishful thinking, but surely everyone in the EU, like virtually everyone here, is eager to find a deal that works. May a creative and affordable way forward be forthcoming!

One of the main effects of the shaking, however, it that the momentum towards a ‘hard’ Brexit would appear to have been curtailed. All the more reason to pray the Lord’s grace for all that happens next. May the Lord prepare the right ‘vulcanist mountaineers’ to be scale the formidable challenges ahead.

A final word from another friend:

“My thoughts are with yours, that this situation is necessary, because it exposes how things really are. I’m not a great one for politics, but I do feel that the moral issues far outweigh any others, particularly abortion. It is interesting to see what will become of this alliance with the DUP and even more interesting to see the huge rally in London with the blatant pro-abortion placards.

“True prayer and politics do not sit comfortably together. Last night I was invited to a local mosque to share a meal as they broke fast. Many from the neighbourhood were there, including the Jews (one of whom was called Ishmael!)

“There was such a lovely sense of camaraderie between the Jews and the Mms, including jokes about how it was the Romans who destroyed the Temple, so don’t blame the Mms! And the Jews filling in the gaps about some of the prophets, with the Mm guy generously conceding defeat, because his imam wasn’t around to debate. Such fun!

“It made me reflect how many Christians identify so closely with  politics as if certain people or policies are definitely God’s will, but in so doing they create more barriers instead of recognising that Jesus broke down the dividing walls.

“There are so many people of peace out there – a powerful force to be harnessed for the Kingdom, if we could only see it. I think the younger generation understand this better than we do, even if their votes have strengthened some political strands we might rather do without!

“The Lord gave me the exact same phrase you had: ‘at the scent of water . . . ‘ this very week. My prayer is that righteousness will spring forth.”

Why it is still wise to heed Alex Buchanan’s prophecy

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Concerning the immediate threat of more terrorist attacks – whether lone wolf or pre-planned – there is no doubt at all from the pronouncements of so-called IS for Ramadan this year and last that they are calling for a major push to wage all-out war on the West during Ramadan, which has only just started.

And see more of the wider situation here, [also at the Independent].

May we refer you back to the last edition in which we mentioned the very strong warning prophecy and plea from the Lord that the Lord gave Alex Buchanan back in the late 1970s. The word speaks not only of blood staining our streets, but looks at the deeper reasons why this is happening. Continue reading

Heaven’s Kingdom

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Heaven’s Kingdom

Long before Jesus announced that the Kingdom of God is at hand, the prophet Daniel declared that the Lord’s kingdom is one that will never be destroyed (Dan. 7:14). The first reference to Heaven’s Kingdom in the Old English language is in a hymn dating back to the seventh century, in which the songwriter-poet Caedmon declares that “the Eternal Lord, the guardian of mankind, established Heaven as a roof for the children of men, and created middle earth, and appointed lands for people.” He urges us to “praise the keeper of Heaven’s kingdom, the might of the Creator and His purposes, the work of the Father of glory.”

Unlike Daniel, Caedmon was neither literate nor musical. He was, in fact, a farm hand, who cared for the animals at Hilda’s great double monastery in Whitby. Bede, the earliest English historian, tells us that he dreaded the feast days when people sang and made music on the harp. In order to avoid having to take part, he sidled away one day and hid in the stables.

As Psalm 139:7ff reminds us, however, it is not so easy to escape from the Lord! Falling asleep amongst the horses, Caedmon met an unknown person in a dream, who took no notice whatsoever of his protestations concerning his lack of musical skill but commanded him instead just to sing. Obeying reluctantly the farm hand opened his mouth – and out flowed a beautiful song about creation, which he remembered clearly on waking. Continue reading

The Spiritual Landscape of Britain and praying for the General Election

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As you will long since have realised, articles in the Malvern Mashals alternate between personal, intercessory, teaching and devotional material – all liberally interspersed with beautiful music. We are well aware that whilst some people are attracted by articles addressing wider situations, others are drawn by the devotional, whilst others again find the teaching articles to be the most helpful.

With the shadow of the Manchester atrocity hanging over the nation, to say nothing of the forthcoming elections and the Brexit negotiations beyond that again, I am focusing here primarily on providing a few insights into the British spiritual and political landscape. Just as we are being urged to remember at the political level that our vote counts, how much more so our prayers! Continue reading

Praying for the media in a post-truth era

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“I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people—for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Saviour, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth” (1 Tim. 2:1-3, cf Heb. 13:7).

An obvious aspect of being watchmen for the Lord in a post-truth generation is to pray for our political and spiritual leaders – but let’s remember too the many who shape and influence our thinking through the media. Continue reading

Clean Air: In the Flow of the Spirit

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An offering on behalf of all you dear ones who are seeking to live in the flow of the Holy Spirit.

This is part of a longer piece I wrote called ‘Clean Air’ for recorder, which Peter Richards skilfully reworked to add the lovely string accompaniment.

This second movement traces the path of a stream from its source to the broad places that it reaches.

Rather as it takes time to enter deeply into the Lord’s presence, we would recommend listening to this piece more than once, to allow our spirits to steep in the beauty of the music and the moving pictures that Sally has so skilfully set it to. As we do so, let the Spirit bring any unresolved issues that He wishes to the surface so that we can hand them to Him and allow His peace to flow anew.

Now the Green Blade Rises

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One of my favourite verses in the Bible is Paul’s declaration in 1 Corinthians 15:36 that “What you sow does not come to life unless it dies”. This is a truth that illustrates John 12:24: “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.”

As surely as Jesus knew He must lay down His life two thousand years ago, He also knew that He will come again in glory to rule and to reign (John 12:11, 17-18). In this hymn John Crum poetically likens Christ to the growing grain. Continue reading

Strategic Prayer

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Many of us might not describe our main calling as being that of the intercessor, but I believe that almost all of us have more slack to take up in prayer than we perhaps realise.

I have a passionate desire in this edition to steer us towards the concept of praying at a strategic level; whether for people or for situations. God hears all our prayers, but so much of our praying is at the ‘reactive’ level, in response to what has already happened. As we continue to explore what it means to be Lovers of Truth in a post truth era, we will be thinking here about how we can be involved in prayer that takes us as it were ‘over the horizon’, to be involved in shaping the unfolding of God’s purposes for issues far and wide – including some of the world’s current hottest hotspots. Continue reading