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Covid-19 and Isaiah 26

Covid-19 and the Evangelical Proof-Texters

Well, it didn’t take long before the ‘proof-texters,’ sensation-mongers and the chain-letter writers got their teeth into the present Covid-19 crisis.  The misinterpretation of psalm 91 was sure to happen sooner or later, – without any reference to Psalm 90, of course.  But a recent ‘don’t break this chain‘ scam on social media has been based on a proof-texting use of Isaiah 26:20.  The text reads,
Come, my people, enter your chambers,
And shut your doors behind you;
Hide yourself, as it were, for a little moment,
Until the indignation is past.
So, of course, the proof-texters want to find in the words of that verse a prediction of our present state of lockdown and self-isolation.  Some have even claimed that there is more than a coincidence between between the text reference (26) and the date of the Lockdown announcement.  Worse still, the Charismaniacs are urging people to ‘decree and declare’ authority over the virus, and urging people not to ‘break the chain of prayer’ (whatever that is) by posting the deception on their own social media pages as well.

Break the chain scares!  DON’T FORWARD THEM TO ANYONE!

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The Madness of Crowds

The Madness of Crowds

Douglas Murray, a secular political commentator has written a book called ‘The Madness of Crowds.”  In recent times we have seen many examples of collective madness, with people fighting with each other in shops over a loaf of bread, storing up toilet rolls to combat a virus that affects the respiratory system, and so on.  Crowds really are easily swayed by the latest startling news item, by persuasive media voices, by the insistent conformity of peer groups, by societal norms, by wanting to be liked, to be ‘part of it.’ And of course by the abandonment of the threads that held together the very fabric of society, the Bible, the Christian faith, the teaching of prayer and memorisation of Scripture in our schools, the ungodliness of the so-called ‘unchurched’ generations, the post-modern view of the meaning of truth.
No better example than the crowds who welcomed Jesus into Jerusalem on what we now call ‘Palm Sunday,’ the Lord’s Day before the crucifixion of our Lord Jesus Christ.  On that day they cried ‘Hosanna!’
Matthew 21:  Then the multitudes who went before and those who followed cried out, saying: “Hosanna to the Son of David! ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!’ Hosanna in the highest!”
Yet a very few days later the Jerusalem crowd was crying ‘Crucify Him.’
How fickle is the collective madness of crowds, and how illustrative of our natural human condition.  As Christians too, we need to be careful, to watch that our lives are being influenced by God, through his written, infallible word alone, and not swayed by the collective madness that seems to govern the behaviour of the ungodly world; why we must live humble, repentant lives, examining our hearts, to see if there is any trace of fickleness or coldness toward the things of God.

Wherever you are undergoing your social isolation this morning, stay safe, and sta focussed upon the Lord Jesus.

With Christian Love,

Essay Review – ‘The Pentecostalist Minister: Role Conflicts and Contradictions of Status.’ 

Reflections on Pentecostal Ministry Challenges in 

The Pentecostalist Minister: Role Conflicts and Contradictions of Status. 

A Review of an Essay by Bryan R Wilson 

While reading for my Brethren History Project I came across an out of print book, ‘Patterns of Sectarianism’ a series of essays edited by Bryan R Wilson, and published in 1967.  The book has two essays on early Brethrenism, but to my surprise, it also has an essay, by the editor himself, on the British Pentecostal Movement.  At least that’s what the cover advises, but It’s actually more specific than that; the essay is about the Elim Church, and even more specifically about the Elim ministry.  And uncannily, it is revealingly accurate in its assessment.   

Now I began my ministry in Elim, and was an Elim pastor for almost twenty years, from 1983 to 2002, and I am grateful for the experience and the friendships that I made during those years.  I never write about those years, I never preach ‘against’ my former denomination, or write articles or blog post critical of them, so this blog post, a review of Bryan Wilson’s essay on Elim ministry, is a departure for me, and I have done my best to keep it as objective and non-judgemental of Elim as possible. 


Wilson begins with an assertion that Elim began its life as a ‘sect’ (after all, the title of the book hints at this), and to some extent the article charts its transition from ‘sect’ to ‘denomination.’  Beginning in Ireland in the early years of the twentieth century, Elim was essentially a ‘REVIVALIST MOVEMENT,’ the early evangelists were revivalists, and the first converts were (at least in a human sense) the product of fiery revivalist style preaching.  The question then, that Wilson asks is: 


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God’s Care is both Comprehensive and Climactic

God’s Care is both Comprehensive and Climactic

Text. Psalm 91:3-8

The psalmist has been telling us about his personal relationship with God.  We found two challenges in verse one and two; have I a personal relationship why God, and if I have, how deep is that relationship?  Am I, like the psalmist, living close to the Lord?  In the next section of the psalm, the pronoun changes from ‘me’ and ‘I’ to ‘you!’  What the Lord has done for the psalmist, and is doing for him, he does for everyone who trusts him. Here’s the promises that are given to us in Psalm 91:3-8.

Listen to this service as a podcast:


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A N Groves – ‘Christian Devotedness’

A N Groves

It was while I was researching the history of the first great split among the brethren in 1845 that I encountered the name of A. N. Groves, who had written a letter to Darby expressing his concern that Darby’s insistence upon enforcement of excommunications and disciplines enacted in one meeting be effected in every meeting would destroy the fundamental principle which initially had drawn them together in fellowship.

He wrote: 

I ever understood our principle of communion to be the possession of the common life, or common blood of the family of God; these were our early thoughts, and they are my most matured ones. The transition your little bodies have undergone, in no longer standing forth the witnesses for the glorious and simple truth, so much as standing forth witnesses against all that they judge error, has lowered them in my apprehension from heaven to earth, in their position as witnesses….The position which this occupying the seat of judgment places them in, will be this: The most narrow-minded and bigoted will rule, because his conscience cannot and will not give way, and therefore the more enlarged heart will yield. It is into this position, dear Darby, I feel some little flocks are fast tending, if they have not already attained it, making light, not life, the measure of communion.  (Ironside p.36) 

Groves had also appeared among the very first brethren meeting with Darby and Dr E Cronin at Dublin, and at the Powerscourt ‘prophecy conferences.’ I decided that I needed to explore a little more about the lives of the seemingly ‘minor characters’ in the brethren movement of that age outside of the main protagonists; Darby, Newton, Muller, etc.  The first name to attract my attention was Mr Anthony Norris Groves, and a relatively superficial analysis convinced me his life was worth a rather more detailed study. 


A Norris Groves

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The Lord Protects His People

The Lord Protects His People

Text. Psalm 91:1-2

Today we are looking at the first two verses of Psalm 91.  This psalm is a great encouragement to Christians in times of distress and trouble, when it seems that our situation is hopeless and we are in despair.   


The psalm falls into three distinct sections, and so we will look at it in three separate short thoughts, each lasting around 10 minutes.  The three sections are marked by a change in or noun, so in verse 1-2, the psalmist speaks as ‘I’ (I will say of the Lord…’). In verse 3-13 he speaks to ‘you’ (eg. v7, A thousand may fall at YOUR side…) then in verse 14-16 he returns to speaking of ‘Me’ – (eg in v14, ‘because he has set his love upon Me).  So there is a very simple structure to the psalm,  

  • My personal relationship with the Lord. 
  • The Lord’s promises of protection. 
  • The Lord’s assurance that His promises never fail. 

So, let’s look a little at verse one and two.  He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.  2 I will say of the Lord, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust.

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Salvation for Every Nation #4

Salvation for Every Nation #4

Part 4, Two Lessons from Peter’s Arrival at a Gentile Home

Reading: Acts 10:24-48

God brings Peter and Cornelius together, and works a tremendous outcome to the whole account!


1. A Gentile Learns that Worship Belongs ONLY to the Lord! Verse 24-28

Peter, along with the three men from Cornelius, and six others, ( 11:12,) had made their way from Joppa to Caesarea. It would have been  an overnight journey, and so they arrived  the next morning. (v24)   A reception committee was awaiting them.

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