A Question of Obedience


If you’ve previously read my posts ‘…more than conquerors …’ and ‘A Proverbial Spider’, you will have already realised that I have long held doubts about the veracity of the whole ‘coronavirus pandemic’ story. A story that we have been fed ad nauseam for over eight tedious months.

My views of both aren’t necessarily important right now, and my own interpretations are not really relevant to the issues I’m about to cover. Whatever our understanding of 2020’s global phenomena may be, we have all been affected and our lives seriously disrupted.

Many people have lost their livelihoods as a consequence of the autocratic ‘pandemic’ precautions taken worldwide. Additionally, whilst many have lost their lives as a direct result of a virus – the source of which is not yet clear – a staggering number of lives have also been lost due directly to the draconian measures taken by governments around the world.

But, enough on that. Books may be written for decades to come, analysing and dissecting the minutiae of these events. My six-pennyworth is neither necessary nor useful here.

Instead, I simply wish to explain why I wasn’t among the small congregation earlier today when my church opened its doors for the first time in over five months.


I knew that when our church reopened, it was to be in full compliance with ‘Guidelines for the Safe Use of Places of Worship During the Pandemic’ issued by the UK government.

Some may consider that our church has no choice in the matter but to obey these parliamentary directives. But there lies the crux of the problem. When official, secular rulings conflict with God’s directives, who should we obey?

For me, the choice was simple, albeit painful. And that is why I have not attended church.

There are those in the church who direct my attention to the book of Romans:

‘Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God.’

Romans 13:1

I can say, hand on heart, that I have been a law-abiding citizen for all of my sixty-two years. However, when rulings issued by our ‘governing authority’ contradict those of God, there can only be one outcome. This point is illustrated in the Book of Acts, chapter five, verses twenty-six to twenty-nine.

‘But Peter and the other apostles answered them and said: “We ought to obey God rather than men”’

Acts 5:29

So what are those problem areas that so prevented me from joining with fellow Christians in worship today?

For ease of explanation I will quote a sample of those instructions issued by the church, beginning with the obscene masks:

  • Face coverings are mandatory for places of worship – except for those who are leading services or events in a place of worship, and those who assist them, (or unless you are exempt) [sic].

When God breathed that initial breath of life into man – as described in the first book of the bible – it wasn’t through a cloth face covering. There was no intervening fabric reducing or befouling man’s first lungful of air. It was a breath of life, God-given – as each one should be.

In addition, the Book of Deuteronomy includes the following instruction:

‘You shall not muzzle an ox when he treads out the grain.’

Deuteronomy 24:4

Interestingly, and as a direct consequence of this law, this humane practice continues in parts of Syria, where oxen are permitted to tread the grain, unmuzzled. Furthermore, in his first letter to Timothy, apostle Paul applied this verse in reference to the fair treatment of:

‘… those who labour in the word and doctrine …’.

To continue, in full compliance with government, today’s church also forbids close contact between worshipers:

  • Do not shake hands, hug or lay hands on anyone.
  • Observe social distancing within the building.

There are two issues with this. The first is what has been shamefully termed ‘social distancing’. Such an instruction ought to be anathematic to all Christians. God, through Paul’s first letter to Peter, provides a clear instruction on how we must greet one another:

‘Greet one another with a kiss of holy love.’

1 Peter 5:14

How on earth are we to do this while six feet apart? Furthermore, in his first letter to Timothy, Paul also wrote:

‘Do not neglect the gift in you, which was given you by prophecy, with the laying on of the hands of the body of elders.’

1 Timothy 4:14

Once again, how can we administer such aid to those in need whilst maintaining obedience to government? We can’t.

As if these ordinances weren’t enough, Christians are no longer permitted to express their joy in open worship:

  • There will be no singing by the congregation, or raised voices.

This appalling rule, given to appease authors of a political decree, flies in the face of numerous contrary edicts we’ve clearly been given by God in His Word. Such as:

‘Serve the Lord with gladness; Come before His presence with singing.’

Psalm 100:2

‘… be filled with the spirit, speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord, giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, submitting to one another in the fear of God.’

Ephesians 5:19

‘Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, in all wisdom, reaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.’

Colossians 3:16

There are no ambiguities in the Word of God. His instructions are clear.

To contravene the ‘guidelines’ of a profane government may solicit an unfavourable response. Disobeying God, however, will have way more serious ramifications. This was something Adam and Eve discovered right at the start, to the detriment of all mankind.

As a footnote, I’ll add one further prompt that appears on my church’s ‘Covid-19 Guidelines’.

Whilst those directives shown above reflect church’s willingness to place government policy above scripture, there is one biblical component they do wish to uphold – tithes and offerings:

  • We have appreciated most people have been able to give their Tithes & Offerings online, and we would encourage this as much as possible. If this is difficult for you there will be a marked box that you can use as you exit the building.

I was sorry to miss today’s meeting, and my decision has caused me some considerable distress over recent days. However, as with the story of ‘The Emperors New Clothes’, I consider that vital truths have been laid bare here, and this church is one to which I will not return.



Treasure, More Valuable than Gold


Guest Post, submitted by Ray, a brother in Christ


A brief bio of my guest:

Following a difficult childhood, Ray had decided there was no God. While serving as a hard-hitting, heavy drinking young man in the British Army’s Corps of Transport, Ray’s best friend and fellow soldier, Mike, became a Christian. It was more than Ray could bear.

Ray’s friend became a target for his anger and was subjected to a series of pranks and beatings until one day, Ray’s rage was such that he tried to kill Mike during a barrack room brawl.

The two men parted, leaving Ray embittered, isolated and unhappy.

His isolation led him to consider how his friend’s life as a Christian starkly contrasted with his own. At this point, the two men met once more and Ray declared:

Mike, I want what you’ve got.

Mike then led Ray through the Bible, showed him that he was a sinner who needed the salvation offered by God through His son, Jesus Christ, who’d died on the cross for him.

Ray asked Jesus into his life and became a changed man.

He left the army, and in the ensuing forty years, God led him from the Barrack room and into ministry, during which Ray took the gospel message to nineteen countries on four continents.

Ray with friend, Pastor Lucas in Tanzania


One of the first things I was told when I became a child of God was that a half truth is worse than a lie. Sadly, the church in general is today full of half truths and many out and out lies.

Each year, how many churches have Father Christmas for the children? A nice little lie, I am told. Revelation 21:8 should be read and re-read by those who think God accepts any form of lying.

One of the reasons people are led astray is that they do not have the knowledge of God’s presence in either their own lives or in the church.

In referencing the church here I am not referring to the emotional excesses we have witnessed in many churches over recent years where both leadership and led have been trying to work up some sort of ‘spiritual experience’. 

If people really grasp what we are, where we are and what we have, many would stop trying to fill their lives with the things of this world, but would instead enjoy true fellowship with their heavenly Father.

First of all, we need to understand what we are. Romans 8:16 declares:

“The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God.”

Those who are truly born of the Spirit will have this absolute assurance, that they are a child of God, and that their Father loves them. They will not need to go to church every Sunday to be told that God loves them. They will have the peace of His presence within them at all times.

Secondly, where we are.

Hebrews 12: 22 says:

“You have come … “

This is present tense. We are not on the way. We have arrived – this is the here and now, not something that will happen in the future.

Where have we come to?  Hebrews 12:22 goes on:

” … to the city of the living God … ”

Verse 23 adds:

“ … to God the judge of all … ”

We have come; we are in the presence of the living God.

In Ephesians 2:4 Paul writes “But God” – then in verse 6 adds “raised us up together and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus.”

What do we have here?

In one word: ‘Fellowship’ – that is, a true unbounded relationship with our Heavenly Father, the true treasure of heaven, which is more valuable than gold, more fulfilling than worldly possessions.

Jesus said:

“Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

Matthew 12:21

 

Where is your heart?



‘… more than conquerors …’


Earlier this year on the day before Valentine’s day, my Bible study at that time was on the subject of ‘witnessing’. It included a text from Luke I considered to be appropriate, given the task I was about to embark on. In the text, Luke quotes Jesus, saying:

‘And he said to them, “The Harvest is plentiful but the labourers are few. Therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out labourers into His harvest.”‘

Luke 10:2

The following day, I met with some friends at our church to hand out Valentine’s Day roses to passers by. Attached to each rose was a brief greeting and invitation to attend our church services.

I explained to one of my friends that I’d felt unwell that morning and almost declined to attend. I reasoned I was probably being coerced into feeling that way. Satan wanted me to stay at home.

My friend replied that this was to be expected. While we remain inside our churches, singing our happy songs and enjoying fellowship, Satan leaves us alone. But once we venture outside – to witness or spread God’s word – we become a threat.

This threat is also reflected in Luke as he continues to quote Jesus:

‘… behold I am sending you out as lambs into the midst of wolves.’

Luke 10:3

Matthew also refers to this quotation in his own gospel:

‘Behold I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves.’

Matthew 10:16

The wolf metaphor intrigued me so I reflected on why it should be used. Why wolves? What was it about wolves that prompted Jesus to choose them? Among those things I found were these:

  • Wolves are relentless predators
  • They hunt in packs
  • They begin to devour their prey while it’s still alive

It’s fair to say I’ve often felt as though I’m being devoured at times – sapped of spirit or wearied by a world changed beyond all recognition from the one of my youth. A world in which we’re assailed by an endless parade of headlines that appear to have one of two agendas:

  • To divide us
  • To make us ever fearful

Now, it is the Coronavirus ‘pandemic’. Before that we had:

  • Sars
  • Bird Flu
  • Ebola (1 & 2)
  • Aids

As a backdrop to this we have ‘climate change’ and numerous terrorist events and other acts of mindless violence, all of which – to those with eyes to see – appear to follow a defined playbook.

Today, evil activities and agendas previously conducted covertly have breached the surface, visible for all to see.

Satanic symbolism is flaunted openly, transgenderism encouraged, abominations and perversions applauded and countless thousands of children and babies murdered by traffickers and abortionists alike.

What happens to the bodies of these innocent victims? The victims of wolves in the form of men and women? Here the word ‘harvest’ takes on a new and horrific connotation.

We all know what a wolf looks like.


How do we recognise a wolf in sheep’s clothing?

Truth about our world is far more horrible than we could ever imagine. But truth will out – it always does. And when that happens, we need to be ready.

One thing the Bible teaches us, however, is that we’ve been here before.

The previous quote from Matthew took me to the book of Ezekiel, chapter twenty-two. In it, Israel is being judged and found wanting. The wolf metaphor is used once again.

‘Her princes in her midst are like wolves tearing their prey, shedding blood, destroying lives to get dishonest gain.’

Ezekiel 22:27

Destroying lives for dishonest gain.’

This paints a familiar picture. One has only to consider today’s geo-political chess-game, the perpetual wars, terrorism and misery. The text continues:

‘The people of the land have practiced extortion and committed robbery. They have oppressed the poor and needy, and have extorted the sojourner without justice.’

Ezekiel 22:29

If this image isn’t yet familiar, Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary provides clarification:

‘All orders and degrees of men helped to fill the measure of the nation’s guilt. The people that had any power abused it.

It bodes ill to a people when judgements are breaking in upon them, and the spirit of prayer is restrained. Let all who fear God, unite to promote his truth and righteousness; as wicked men of every rank and profession plot together to run them down.’

Matthew Henry’s Concise Comentary

Where am I going with this?

I’ve painted a picture of a small number of Christians going out, roses in hand, into enemy territory. It is a territory of ravening beasts tainting God’s creation with their evil, perversions, greed and corruption.

Under such circumstances it’s easy to feel overwhelmed, except God has left us with numerous reassurances scattered throughout the Bible. Such as:

‘No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.’

Romans 8:37

On Valentine’s Day there were three ‘conquerors’ manning the front line.

This has since put me in mind of the TV series, ‘Band of Brothers‘. In one scene depicting the eve of a battle one officer warns another: ‘Looks like you guys are going to be surrounded.’ To this the series’ hero replies: ‘We’re paratroopers, lieutenant, we’re supposed to be surrounded.’

In another, the film ‘We Were Soldiers‘, Mel Gibson and his troops face off against the Vietnamese in a Hollywood account of the first major land battle of the Vietnam War.

In one scene, the situation is dire as Mel’s boys are about to be overwhelmed by advancing Viet Cong. All appears lost when Mel snatches a radio mike, contacts HQ and calls in an airstrike, saving the day.

As Christians we not only man the front line, but we operate behind enemy lines, surrounded and vastly outnumbered – on the earthly battlefield. But, just as Mel Gibson could rely on his wireless link to headquarters, we have a direct link to God.

We need no radio, microphone or antennae. We simply pray.



I delivered this piece to my church in February 2020, little knowing the degree to which the ensuing months would increase its relevance.