23 June 2018
Over Christmas and the New Year, I was reading Jim Wallis’ book “America’s Original Sin – Racism, White Privilege and the Bridge to a New America.” In the Chapter entitled, Welcoming the Stranger, my attention was drawn to two short sentences, “Our politics is stuck.” and “And stuck politics hurts people.” He could as easily have been making the observation about the political deadlock in the Northern Ireland Assembly and its decision-making process (or lack of it!), which has been stuck for the last 15 months! Most certainly people on all sides of the political spectrum are feeling the pain of it!Read more...
Earlier last year I mentioned in a blog that God was stirring afresh in my spirit the issue of the Ulster Covenant. That has continued to stay with me. Indeed, if anything it has been intensifying! (see Blogs: 13th July and 22nd December on www.dignityrestored.org ) In the light of that, I am going to try and bring together in future blogs, a blend of the two key concerns God has clearly given me to focus on: the 1912/16 Covenants in Ireland and Native American reconciliation issues – both have their roots in British/Irish history!Read more...
We trust this finds you well.
This has been a year punctuated with visits to Kilkenny and Barneveld, the Netherlands. In the former it has been to see Dad, Douglas and some of Dorothy’s relatives living in or around there. Dad celebrated his 97th birthday recently and remains in relatively good health. It has been so good to be able visit him so often over the past number of years. When we lived in Community it was either a very quick trip up and down on days off or else take a week out of our annual leave.
The draw of Barneveld is of course Rachael, Jan and our grandchildren Lydia and the birth earlier this year of Lucas. Thankfully, with flights out of Belfast it doesn’t take much longer that driving to Kilkenny. It is unfortunately, a different sort of journey if we want to see Cheryl in Sydney, Australia and Nigel, Kyria and family in Boyne City, northern Michigan. Again, thankfully, we have seen them both this year: We were in the States in March and spent a few very cold days there and Cheryl came to Ireland during the summer when we had a great time with her in Kilkenny and out West in Killarney.Read more...
It’s hard to believe it, 7 years have passed since we left the Christian Renewal Centre, Rostrevor. God spoke to me back then, and true to his ‘word,’ it has been a season of being stripped, a narrow place. Almost everything I was involved in, ministry-wise here in Ireland, has been taken from me – things that I carried in a profound and deep way in my spirit, over many years! Time and time again, He has said, “Lay it down!”
Caught, off guard!
So, ever since our trip to Standing Rock, North Dakota back in March (see my blog – Indigenous Healing the Land Conference. 29th March’17), I have been surprised at stirrings in my spirit regarding Northern Ireland. When I was there, they were totally outside of an Irish context and therefore caught me, off guard! Enough to make me sit up and take notice! Why I continue to have them, remains to be seen!
At one point in the Conferences opening session, the speaker Sevenaca Nakauyua, read Matthew 7: 17-20.
“Likewise, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus, by their fruit you will recognise them.”
He then said that this begged the question – “What fruit is your community bearing?” Adding, “if the root is rotten then the fruit will be rotten!”
He also felt that God was calling some of us to be “fruit inspectors” at which, my thought was, He is also calling some of us to be “root inspectors.” I immediately thought back to a dream I had in 1998, shortly after the formation of a new power-sharing Northern Ireland Assembly.
I saw two groups of people trying to bring together the positive poles of two powerful magnets. The response of the magnets was one of repelling each other.
I instantly knew what it was about: the British and Irish Governments had brought the two main political parties (DUP & Sinn Fein) into the power-sharing Assembly. Both of these parties have diametrically opposite historical and political perspectives. One is right wing and is for maintaining Northern Ireland’s union within the UK; the other is left wing, with aspirations of a United Ireland. Both of these positions are enshrined in covenants – a Church inspired and driven, Protestant Ulster Covenant (1912) and the other by Irish Nationalist on Easter Monday (1916). The two magnets are representative of the two covenants.
God then spoke to me and said, “Built into this new Assembly are two people groups that are Covenanted against each other. As a result, they will always end up repelling each other like the two magnets. There is, therefore, always the potential for its collapse.” The reality of that dream continues to manifest itself in Northern Ireland; for months, we have been living with a highly polarised, dysfunctional Assembly! Meanwhile, we continue to look for a political answer to what is, primarily a spiritual problem! These Covenants are an integral part of a ‘root’ issue!
It is my understanding that the Churches (Presbyterian, Church of Ireland and Methodist) that endorsed the Ulster Covenant, need at their Governmental level, to repent of their action – it was a wrong use of covenant, it implied that God was on their side and they used their sermons, hatred, and fear of Catholicism to unite themselves against the British Government. That repentance will change the polarity of their magnet. What happens, as a result, I do not know, but something will radically change in what the Apostle Paul called the “heavenly” realms!
Root inspectors are needed!! That is what God called me to when we lived in Rostrevor. It is what He has called me to regarding the wrong British roots of what is now the United States of America and the effects they continue to have on the Native American people.
We have been following a teaching series in church over the last few months on Luke’s Gospel. Last Sunday we were looking at Chapter 9. Verse 1 reads:
“When Jesus had called the Twelve together, he gave them power and authority to drive out all demons and to cure diseases, and he sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal the sick.”
During the teaching, a quote by Darrell L. Bock was given, which succinctly explained the differences between power and authority: “Authority is the right to do something, while power is the ability to do it.” Jesus has given us these – “to proclaim the kingdom of God.”!
A tough reality!
My mind went back to another application of this: Through his death and resurrection, Jesus has also dealt with the issue of Satan’s authority. He still has power, but he cannot use it unless we give him the authority. That takes me back to the Ulster Covenant. The Leadership of the Churches by instigating the Ulster Covenant and then giving the lead for nearly 250,000 men to sign it, were giving Satan the authority to operate in the spiritual and political life of Ireland. By using God’s name to endorse it, we have made Him in our image. Thinking we worship Him, we are unaware that we are worshiping the idol of Protestant Nationalism. That is so far removed from the Church proclaiming with God’s authority, His Kingdom! A tough reality!
The problem is, we don’t seem to understand the connection between something the Church wrongly initiated, the stalemate in the political process, the action of paramilitary groups and what’s going on in the heavenly realms. We may not like the actions of the paramilitaries in our society, but the uncomfortable reality, is they live out of the same spirit of nationalism many Christians embrace!
Paul says, that: “… our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” Ephesians 6:12. We have not been too good at unpacking this! Every unresolved flesh and blood struggle, has the potential of giving Satan an operational foothold into our lives, marriages, families, churches, culture … For instance, regarding the issue of anger, Paul writes, “In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold.” Ephesians 4:26, 27.
How long will we continue to look to our politicians to sort out what is primarily a spiritual problem? This an issue of repentance, of intercession, of God’s Spirit bringing revelation to Christians about the strongholds we have embraced. If we have not through repentance cut ourselves free from these idols of Nationalism, we have no God given authority to pray or speak against them! And we are most certainly not good channels through which the Kingdom of God can be made manifest in the nation!
I am for God and the Ulster He wants it to be! For that to happen, we must build His Kingdom, His way – not ours!
First of all, we want to thank you for praying for us on our recent US ministry trip to North Dakota. This report has turned out a bit longer than anticipated – in part due to giving the ‘type ups’ of the verses mentioned. I have also included some ‘one liners’ taken from my notes! For some of you it may also have a personal teaching element in it, for others it will stimulate personal, tribal or national issues to bring to God in prayer.
Pour yourself a cuppa!!