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A Response to Prophets Apologising for their Trump Prophecy

How do we respond to Jeremiah Johnson, Loren Sanford and Kris Vallatton, who have publicly apologised for getting it wrong in prophesying a second presidential term for Trump? And perhaps others I’m not aware of?

We forgive them! Anyone who humbles themselves to apologise ought to be forgiven, just as God forgives us. We pray that, in the aftermath and unravelling of all that happened this past week, indeed this past year, others will come forward.

To respond to these apologies by putting the false prophesy into context and to ask some questions, is not to be unloving. To discern why and how prophesies of such magnitude can go wrong is not “throwing them under the bus.” To evaluate what they, and we, can learn from what happened is not recriminatory in any way.

In our world of hyper sensitivity, insecurity and broken identity, to evaluate, and even disagree, is mostly taken personally. Tragic! What Robert Bly called The Sibling Society. There is no recrimination or rejection in reflecting on the apologies. It is, in fact, to hold the prophets, and each other, accountable. That is truly loving them. To “speak the truth in love” is to grow to maturity, saving us from permanent infancy (Ephesians 4:14-15).

Context of The Prophecies

6 January 2021 will infamously go down in US history as a failed insurrection by Trump supporters. No, it was not perpetrated by Antifa. The more we see the video clips and research of what really happened, with the unfolding fallout, the more we will see how huge it is in significance, symbolism and shame. The culmination and unmasking of the real character of Trump and his presidency of American Christian Nationalism (explained here).

The false prophesies and the apologies must be seen in that light. Johnson and Sanford apologised the day after (not before) the violent attempt to stop confirmation of Biden as President-Elect, targeting VP Mike Pence to hang him, because he said he wouldn’t overturn the election results as Trump wanted. Kris Vallotton apologised on 7 November 2020, then removed his post by advise of fellow prophets, then reuploaded it on 9 January 2021.

All this while other prophets are hardening their hearts, continuing to believe the devil (meaning Democrats) stole the election. Even telling the other prophets not to apologise!

Reality is what we run into when we are wrong. To be hard-headed is to not face reality and be adjusted by it. Johnson, Sanford and Vallotton have yeilded. Will the others face what really happened or remain in denial? Will they see how their prophesies were in service of the spirit that inspired Trump and his supporters to keep him in power “no matter what”?

This is the seriousness of the context of these wrong prophecies. They were not spoken in a vacuum. Neither were they simply personal or local church prophecies. They were national prophecies of national determination and destiny – with international ramifications.

The rest of the world looks on in shock. And wonders how and why Christians (actually, fundamentalist charismatic evangelicals) can get into such political prophesying and nationalistic deception. The rioting protestors invaded the Capitol under the waving flags of “Jesus” and “Trump” and the national flag, which were prominent in all of Trump’s rallies throughout his presidency. God’s credibility is at stake. The Church’s witness is weakened.

This is no small thing. Therefore, though we forgive, the apologies raise questions.

Questions to Consider

What is really being apologised for?

How well do they understand what has gone wrong? Why and how they went wrong? What is behind it? What are the root(s) that allowed them to falsely prophesy at national level?

What was/is the effect/damage of their wrongdoing on others, on the nation? To what extent did their wrong prophecies inspire what happened on Capitol Hill? What is the damage to Christian credibility and witness, both nationally and internationally?

Do they understand and own that? I.e. is there “godly sorrow that leads to true repentance” or “worldly sorrow that brings death”? (2 Corinthians 7:9-10)? Therefore, with the apology, is there repentance, metanoia, a turning away from by a change of mind and direction? If so, what do “the fruits of that repentance” look like?

Have they held themselves accountable with their internal team? Or have they subjected themselves to external respected credible leaders (untainted by any wrong prophesying regarding Trump) to hold them accountable? To correct and discipline where needed?

Most importantly, what can they, and all of us, learn from this?

What actually is prophecy… biblical prophetic ministry? It’s nature, function, practice?

What is the difference between true and false prophets? Or true prophets who “get it wrong” once in a while?

Is there a difference between Old and New Testament prophecy and prophesying? If so, what continues in the New Testament, and what is discontinued, or changes?

We can go on. I can’t answer all of these questions here – I list them to challenge you to think, pray and search the scriptures like the Berean Christians (Acts 17:11). I plan on writing a more comprehensive piece on A Re-examination of Biblical Prophetic Ministry in Contemporary Context.

I will give an orientation on prophecy, then brief comments on some of the questions in response to the apologies given.

Orientation re Prophetic Ministry

Prophecy is inspired speech. Biblically, to prophesy is to speak by the inspiration of God’s Holy Spirit. The source of inspiration, however, can also be one’s own spirit (ideas, imagination, emotions, interests). Or another (evil) spirit. This raises the nature of inspiration and the steps involved in prophesying, which I cannot elaborate on here.

Essentially, biblical prophecy is to speak God’s mind/truth/will on a matter, to a person, church, or nation. It takes the form primarily of “forth-telling” and on occasion “fore-telling”. Its common mode is to tell forth (reveal and proclaim) God’s mind/truth. What God is saying and doing at this time in/to this person, situation, church, or nation.

God sometimes reveals future events/happenings which prophets predict. But if they do not take place there are consequences for that prophet, as in this case under discussion. “How can we know when a message has not been spoken by the LORD? If what a prophet proclaims in the name of the LORD does not take place or come true, that is a message the LORD has not spoken. That prophet has spoken presumptuously” (Deuteronomy 18:21-22).

The primary purpose of prophecy is to comfort, encourage and build up (God’s) people (1Corinthians 14:3). But it also has other purposes: to confront wrongdoing, expose hidden sin, correct error by speaking God’s truth, give direction, and to predict. Normally the latter functions are for more mature and reliable practitioners of prophetic ministry.

Biblically speaking, “the prophetic” is the flow of the Holy Spirit in all the enabling grace-gifts that the Spirit manifests through us by inspiration. Thus 1 Corinthians 12:7-11, words of knowledge, wisdom, faith, discerning of spirits, healings, prophesy, tongues, etc, are all prophetic ministry. And all God’s people in the new covenant of the outpoured Gift of the Holy Spirit can prophesy (Numbers 11:29, Ezekiel 36:26-27, Acts 2:17).

Thus prophetic ministry is not for the specially anointed or gifted. We all manifest The Gift of the Spirit via various manifestations of enabling graces. We are humble servants and instruments of grace, not owners of the gift(s) that we share, as in “I am a Prophet”.

Jesus fulfilled the “Offices” of Prophet, Priest and King (capital P, P, K), which God worked through under the Old Covenant. The ascended Christ now gives “grace” (Ephesians 4:7-11) to followers to express his offices, as in his ministry (not ours) of apostle, prophet, evangelist, pastor-teacher (small a, p, e, p-t). They are functional descriptions, not positions, titles, offices. Jesus expressly taught his followers against the use of titles (Matthew 23:5-12), because it’s the way the world does leadership. It feeds ego. We find identity in titles and ministry, and become demigods that lord it over others (Mark 10:42-45).

If we take a person as a “Prophet”, the implication is they’re infallible, they have “plenary inspiration” like the Old Testament prophets. If the Old Testament prophets got it wrong their failure was fatal, they were stoned (not with marijuana!). In exercising Christ’s prophetic ministry, however, we humbly and openly acknowledge that we only “know in part, prophesy in part” (1 Corinthians 13:9).

Therefore, we do not say, “God says…”, “Thus says the Lord”. Because, if we get it wrong, it’s God’s fault – he said it through me! And God cannot be wrong! No, we prophesy, not God. We take responsibility for what we say and how we say it, because “the spirit of the prophet is subject to the control of the prophet” (1 Corinthians 14:32). Using disclaimer language like “I sense the Lord is saying…”, “I feel the Spirit is doing…”, leaves the door open to be wrong. In that way we invite testing and evaluation as Paul teaches (1 Corinthians 14:29). We hold ourselves accountable to be corrected by leaders.

There are “levels” of prophecy and accountability. Giving someone “a word” is personal prophesy. Or prophesy in/to a home church. Or to/for a local congregation, a city, a nation, including international prophetic words and ministry. The move from personal through local church to national means higher levels of accountability and judgement, because more people and constituencies are affected, for better or worse. And if we get it wrong at any level, we apologise to that level at that level. National voices are subject to public national evaluation and accountability, whether they like it or not.

Therefore, discernment and accountability of prophetic words and ministry is not only needed, but required in both Old and New Testament. Here are two references.

In Deuteronomy 13 Moses teaches: do not be dazzled by the manifestations and power of dreams, signs and wonders through which the word of the prophet is spoken. Rather discern the content and intent of the word of prophesy, whether it is consistent with the faith of Yahweh revealed in Torah – fulfilled by The Prophet greater than Moses, who will give the Messianic Torah (Deuteronomy 18:18-19). Or, does it subvert, undermine and draw you away from God’s revealed word to other ideas and beliefs, into idolatry? It is scary and challenging to realise that God actually allows false prophets/prophecies, in order to test us, to see if we really love God, or other gods (Deuteronomy 13:4).

Besides Paul’s instruction to “carefully weigh” prophecies (1 Corinthians 14:29), John says,  “do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out” (1 John 4:1).

Discernment, arguably, is our greatest need in this post-truth ideological world of lies and conspiracies. We stand or fall by our training in discernment of truth and error, or lack thereof (Hebrews 5:14). The disappearance of the moral knowledge to distinguish good and evil, right and wrong, is plunging our world into profound darkness, preparing people for “the lie” (2 Thessalonians 2:10-11); i.e. the numerous lies and untruths that many will and do believe, “because they refuse to love the truth and so be saved.” The spirit of prophecy is the testimony (truth, teachings) of Jesus. If we are truly his disciples (disciplined learners), we will love, study and obey his teachings, then will know the truth that liberates.

Reflecting on the Apologies

Anyway, back to responding to the apologies! A few comments.

First, there is – as indicated above – a difference between false prophets who routinely prophesy falsely, and true prophets who might “get it wrong” on occasion.

Second, I find the apologies a mixed bag of confession with reasons, explanations and interpretations that reveal underlying theological AND ideological paradigms governing their thinking and praxis of prophecy.

Thus the self-reflection on why and how Johnson, Sanford and Vallotton “missed it” is key. Because, to remind us, this was national prophecy of a determinative event that did not happen. To his credit, Sanford says he got it wrong  because he was emotionally caught up with the other prophets prophesying Trump’s second term. He didn’t hear God properly for himself. Citing Jeremiah 23:30 (God says, “the prophets steal from one another words supposedly from me”), Sanford says his insecurities and need to belong was the cause.

He says “another element of how I got it wrong: The tendency we have to hear what we want to hear. Strong desire and strong opinions play a huge role in distorting the words we believe we hear, if we allow that to happen.” Referring to his “strong negative opinion of the Democratic Party played a role”. This is closer to the deeper causes that not only make us vulnerable, but actually pre-condition us to “get it wrong”… our underlying worldview.

The extent of our ideological conditioning (e.g. as Democrat or Republican), from mild to extreme, determines how we see and respond to life. It interacts with our theological paradigms (biblical interpretation). Both are determinative in making us vulnerable, or not, to getting it wrong, or to even be used by another (evil) spirit. Rightly understood, theology is not ideology. But theology can be – is often – used ideologically, i.e. in service of socio-political group interests over against “the other” group. Christian nationalism is a classic example. Ideologies reflect the spiritual principalities and powers behind them.   

For example, in Matthew 16, Peter had pure revelation from the Holy Spirit of who Jesus was/is, God’s Messiah/King. Then the King explained he would suffer and die in Jerusalem. Peter responded, “No ways! That will never happen! We need to defeat our enemies and set up the Kingdom in Jerusalem and reign.” Jesus rebuked him: “Satan, get behind me! You speak from your own vested interests, not from God’s plan and purposes that I’ve just explained to you”. One breath God’s Spirit, the next breath evil spirit. How so? Could it be that Peter’s ideological interests, and mixed theological paradigms, had so conditioned his view of the President and his MAGA kingdom, that he got it wrong?

Sanford cited Jeremiah 23:30, being stirred up by what the other prophets were wrongly prophesying. The context says more: how much of “getting it wrong” was motivated by their own mindset, like Peter (“delusions of their own minds”, v.26. “prophesying from their own imagination… following their own spirit”, Ezekiel 13:3)? Or worse: was it “reckless lies” (v.32) that “filled (the people) with false hopes” (v.16)? That even “strengthened the hands of evildoers” (v.14) leading to the shame of Capitol Hill, where five people were killed.

So, the ideological context of Jeremiah 23 is important. In Jeremiah 6:14 the prophets don’t address the root corruption, but “dress the wound lightly” by prophesying “peace, peace” to the king, princes and people, “no harm will come to you” (23:17). Typical prophecy in ideological service of those in power, saying what they want to hear in order to stay in power. I.e. they are “court prophets”.

What the “wilderness prophets” like Jeremiah (Isaiah, Ezekiel, Micah, etc) refer to – regarding the false prophecies, and indeed, court prophets – is their proximity to power. Their ideological conditioning through loyalty to and support of power. Their uncritical laying on hands and blessing the kings and princes. Little or no healthy distance to “unblind” them for relative objectivity, for critical engagement with the powers.

And, biblically, behind every earthly ruler/government is a spiritual principality and power. The interaction between these “gods of the nations” and the earthly rulers and their people, is little understood. As they become corrupt, seeking to incarnate themselves in the nation through idolatry, ideology, injustice, corruption, God judges them (Psalm 82).      

Sanford also referred to 1 Kings 22, how God allowed a “lying spirit” to be put in the mouth of 400 prophets to say what the King wanted to hear: “You will win”. God allowed it to carry out judgement on King Ahab. Only Michaiah – 1 in 400 – “heard” right and courageously prophesied truth. How can a prophet be vulnerable to a “lying spirit” in his/her mouth?

Is it because of an ideological environment built on lying? Read the context of Ahab’s kingship. Bad character in leadership, as in President Trump’s pathological lying, releases and gives permission to a spirit of lying at all levels of leadership, society and the nation. Is this partly why and how the prophets were vulnerable to prophecy the lie of Trump’s second term? Is the fruit of this lying spirit seen in the deception of lies believed to be truth and truth seen as lies? And in the election debacle where half the voters believe it was fraudulently stolen? And that Antifa invaded Capitol Hill? 

Lastly, a word on theological paradigms. In brief, the following underlying theologies need to be examined as possibly at work in why and how the prophets got it wrong.

Dispensationalism, with its Israel theology – Christian Zionism and support for Israel.
Restorationism, with its “Apostles & Prophets” theology and practice of prophetic ministry.
Spiritual Warfare teaching of bind and loosing, proclaiming, declaring, commanding, fighting in the heavenlies, pulling down powers, and so on.
Reconstructionism, with its Seven Mountains teaching to Christianise nations, contributing to the rise of Trumpism. It’s a skewed understanding and practice of Church-State relationship.

These seriously “mixed seed” theologies are part of the problem. Jesus’ worldview of the Kingdom of God, in terms of what he taught and practiced, and how his first followers interpreted and lived it, is so different to the above. The theology of the Kingdom, correctly understood, addresses answers these theological paradigms.    

God help us all.
God have mercy on us all.

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A (Real) Prophetic View of what happened on Capitol Hill

What we witnessed in the storming of Capitol Hill in the USA yesterday – the Day of Epiphany of Christ’s ‘revelation’ to the world – was the epiphany or unmasking of the full fruit of Trumpism.

Captured in THESE IMAGES of the confederacy flag in Capitol Hill chambers and the fascist fist raised in the chairperson’s seat of government. That is the equivalent of displaying the old Apartheid flag and raising the Hitler salute of Eugene Terblanche in our current South African parliament. Absolutely unthinkable!

The image of the hang-man’s scaffolding and a Trump flag enfolding the “stop the steal” protestor, gazing up at the noose, says it all. Imagine the premeditated thought in taking the time to prepare and transport and assemble this on site? Pure racism. The original sin of the USA. To say Trump and his supporters are not racist is to deny the reality of these racist symbols that are present again and again in his rallies and protests.

Symbols are profoundly emotive. Just burn the American flag in America and see what happens to you! These symbols, especially of lynching, reinforce the profound pain deep within African Americans, first nation Indians and all people of colour. The pain of the historical and ongoing systemic racist injustice perpetrated against them. It is nothing but naked white supremacy on display for all to see. Yet, most Trump supporters will not see that reality.

This is not to even mention the banners of “Jesus Saves” at the “wild protest” (Trump’s phrase). With what happened, it’s blasphemous. Classic civil religion. Christian nationalism. Co-opting and using God for the agenda of the Evangelicals and GOP in bed with Trump.

A biblical prophetic view would say that this is the full fruit of Trumpism. It’s the ripe fruit of the root of bad character, with the ideology of white ‘Christian’ nationalism. Trump himself called for this “stop the steal” “wild protest” on Capitol Hill, publicly egging on his followers with fraudulent lies of massive election rigging to do what they did.

The result: four people were killed and others injured, windows smashed, and so on. If they were black protestors, the law enforcement put-down would have been far more violent. Their blood is on Trump’s hands, he is directly responsible… including the GOP and the evangelical leaders who have ideologically supported Trump. They must be held to account.    

Jesus taught that we know a good or bad person by their fruit, what routinely and predictably comes out of their mouth (and seen in their words, attitudes and behaviour, Matthew 5:15-20, 12:33-37, 15:17-20). Fruit does not lie. It reveals the truth of who we are, what we are rooted in, what has formed our character, whether good or bad.

Trump did not have the character for the office of president. Lying from the beginning, right after his inauguration in 2017, claiming the largest audience ever to witness an inauguration. We’ve seen the fruit of his bad character become ever clearer over the four years, in his tweeting, press conferences, treatment of people, etc, including his ideology of ‘greatness’, both personal and national. That is Trumpism, with its fruit now on full display for all to see. Ripe for judgement. “In your judgements, O Lord, remember mercy” (Habakkuk 3:2).

Prophetically speaking, Trump didn’t change America, least of all made/make America great again. The truth is that Trump REVEALED America… this IS America… at least the divided half that supported him, those who have been deceived and captured by the spiritual powers working through his bad character and ideology.

Biblically speaking, we get the leaders we deserve. God raises up and/or allows leaders in power, often to unmask and mirror the face of the nation, revealing the character of their supporters. In this case, the majority of white US evangelical Christians.

Trump has not so much damaged the witness and credibility of the Church – through the wholesale support of fundamentalist evangelicals, with their leaders and court prophets continually uncritically blessing Trump – rather God has used him to reveal their theological and moral bankruptcy in their idolatry of American Christian nationalism. Judgement begins at the house of God (1 Peter 4:17).

Their deafening silence right now, in light of these events yesterday, makes them all the more culpable. All the Christian prophets who prophesied Trump’s second term, and all the Christian/church leaders who continually blessed him without challenging and correcting him on his bad character (as in serial lying, manipulation, control, racism, sexism, ego-centric narcissism, dangerous nationalism, “deep state” conspiracy mongering, and demonization of the Democrats and main stream media as “the enemy of the people”)… they all must now publicly confess and repent to break the unreality of the parallel universe that Trumpism created.

In biblical prophetic terms it is a spiritual principality and power operating behind, in and through Trump and his administration. That is the demi-god idolatrous world of Trumpism, a parallel universe from which they have all drunk, in which they have all worshipped and lived, and continue to live, under whose protection and power they have operated. But it has blinded them to reality.

VP Mike Pence, as a leading evangelical politician and the lap-poodle of Trump, has particular accountability under God for his co-dependent enabling of Trump. Pray for Pence. If he has BIBLICAL Christian integrity left within him, after four years of erosion by abetting Tump at every turn, he ought to humble himself and repent with godly sorrow.

At least Pence remained faithful to the constitution, saying he cannot overturn the election result as Trump demanded. Today he announced confirmation of the results of the election in favour of President-Elect Biden. Trump, in effect, heard his own words, “You’re fired! It’s the end of your (un)reality show!” But just after Pence’s announcement, Trump brazenly continued to publicly say, “the elections were stolen. I won by a landslide”. After over 50 court cases and Supreme Court rulings saying that in all that was presented, there was no evidence of widespread fraud.

Will Trump be held accountable for his words? For his continued divisive lies that have systematically undermined public trust, democratic institutions and process?

I will let the reader judge whether this is true BIBLICAL prophesying versus the multiple, now self-evidently false, prophecies of Trump’s second term. May they all repent!

Christ have mercy!

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UK Ministry Report & Observations

I’m resting up after returning home from a wonderful ministry trip in Vineyard Churches in the UK. I was honored to minister in Plymouth, Truro & Falmouth, Bristol, Birmingham, Cardiff, Milton Keynes, and Yoevil. My essential message was the four irreducible missional dimensions of the Kingdom of God (the message & ministry of Jesus that defines how we do church).

  1. Power encounter: Spirit-ministry of  healing & deliverance, signs & wonders.
  2. Personal Transformation: Spiritual Formation of discipleship to Jesus.
  3. Social Transformation: Holistic engagement in society, as in mercy relief, justice advocacy, community development, ecological ethics.
  4. World missions: Evangelism & church planting to advance God’s Kingdom to all nations that The End will come (Matt 24:14).

In teaching Jesus’ basic Kingdom framework and explaining the four implications, I focused mainly on the first two – though I emphasized it is a ‘package deal’ and we cannot engage in ‘selective obedience’ (we do all four at the same time). After doing the conferences & seminars in these cities and being with all the leaders and people, I summarise my overall sense in the following seven points:

  1. Vineyard churches in the UK are on the cusp of a further and new season of growth and expansion. 
  2. There is a feel of vitality and expectation in the face of serious spiritual opposition, dark secularism and divisive social uncertainty. I sense the UK is ripening for a real move of God.
  3. There’s a need for stronger grounding in a clearer biblical understanding of Jesus’ worldview and praxis of The Kingdom for the health and longevity of what God is doing.
  4. There is also the need to do succession well by focussing on the younger generation of leaders to train and mentor and hand over authority and power as Jesus did to his apostles and disciples.
  5. The deliberate turn toward deepening the  psycho-emotional health and spiritual formation of the pastors and leaders is very encouraging. Pacing oneself in the easy yoke of Jesus, in what GOD is doing, is key for good sustainability and growth.
  6.  The call of God is to seek first  Jesus and HIS Kingdom, then Jesus will build HIS Church. If we focus on building the church it subtlety becomes our kingdom, and we stop pursuing GOD’s Kingdom. If we truly fall in love with Jesus and stay in love with Jesus, it will change everything. This is discipleship to Jesus in the spiritual formation of GOD’s LOVE for us and his world.
       
  7.  Jesus is coming to his Church in the misty wind and waves of all our years of rowing against the storm of evil and social turmoil. The clearer we see Jesus for who he really is, the more we will step out of our boat of security, of what we’ve known and worked with for so long, and we will  walk on water. Fix your eyes on Jesus in the midst of all that’s going on. It’s time to exercise assertive faith and push into the unknown of ‘the  already’ of the Kingdom.  It’s time to walk on water! Even if the ‘not yet’ overwhelms us and we sink – taking our eyes off Jesus – he is beside us. He reaches out his hand and pull us up to stand with him in faith, in the dynamic reality of his Kingdom come.
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Entering A New Season

Sunday 27 January 2019 was our farewell service at Following Jesus, the Vineyard church we have led for just over six years. Many have asked us: what now? Where will we be going? What will I be doing?

I decided to give a more detailed answer than a simple one-liner. The purpose is for awareness among all who know of our journey with Jesus and ministry, with his church and world. And especially to ask for prayer in our new season with God – God knows we need his grace!

Just to say, if you would like to hear what we shared with Following Jesus – our farewell address and responding words of thanks to us – then click http://followingjesus.org.za/sermons/alexanders-farewell-message-to-following-jesus/

I was sent into full-time paid ministry on 20 January 1975. Ever since that time I’ve been planting and pastoring churches. For the past few years I’ve known the time was coming for me to change gear and focus on what I believe God has prepared me for over the past  44 years. Simply put: to be available to the broader church to consult with and mentor leaders, to help churches with teaching and training – generally doing spiritual formation. I have been doing this for years while pastoring the local church, but now it’s time… !  Biblically speaking, I’m being released into apostolic work on a full time basis, sharing my years of spiritual-theological formation and ministry experience with those who may want to receive it.

However, to be more precise, the way I understand this new and further journey – the heart of it – is to live a slower more contemplative life. I have sensed a strong call, for the remaining years God gives me on earth, to a deepening solitude of intimacy with Jesus, to literally “echo silence” (Thomas Merton’s phrase) in all I write, say and do. I am called to write more books – as Morton Kelsey said, “I am pregnant with a number of books!” But, I want to write from inner solitude and silence, in which I hear God more clearly – the still small voice that Elijah heard – that my life and ministry may echo God’s thoughts, desires, words and deeds. To this end I would appreciate your prayers, that I may live this reality for the glory of God and fulfilment of his purposes.

Practically it means Gill and I are locating ourselves with another team and congregation not far from where we reside (I do not believe in ‘a dislocated travelling ministry’ – we will always be grounded in a local church). Gary Bradshaw, the team leader, has invited us to worship with them, to teach and lead spiritual retreats, and use it as a base for travel.

However, Gill and I are aiming to relocate to the Kwa-Zulu Natal north coast – Ballito Bay/Salt Rock area – north of Durban. We hope to do that early 2020, locating ourselves near an airport for ministry trips, and especially to base ourselves in a vibrant church that is welcoming us a teaching/mentoring/apostolic presence.

So that’s the story! Thanks to all who have supported us in one way or another, not least in prayer – especially now as we ‘walk on water’, trusting God step by step in this next phase of our lives. And P.S. my book, Doing Spirituality: The Journey of Character Formation Toward Christlikeness, is with the editors and I’m itching (waiting very impatiently!) for the final comeback, so that I can do the corrections and get the book into print. God bless!

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Report on my Ministry Trip to Chile, 2-10 January 2017

I had an exceptional time of ministry in Chile, thanks to all who partnered with me by collaborating with God in prayer to bring about what HE wanted to do with the Vineyard youth leaders, pastors and churches.

There were about 75 youth leaders and 12 pastors from 18 Vineyard churches in Chile. We met for 5 days (Tuesday to Saturday) in a Catholic retreat center 200 kms South of Santiago in the foothills of the Andes mountains. A remote setting with beautiful walks in the forests and crystal clear rivers. I had three sessions per day: two for teaching and one for questions and answers (Q&A), each 50 to 60 minutes long. What pure joy to teach such open, keen, sharp and enthusiastic young adults – an impressive group of leaders filled with God – the future of the Chilean Vineyard in really good hands! In all my years of ministry travels I have seldom come across such a sense of God’s presence, such promise, hunger for God, desire to learn and grow, where God is so evidently at work in such depth.

I was asked to teach 10 sessions on the Biblical Story and Kingdom Theology. A detailed systematic exposition of the Kingdom of God had not been done with the Chilean Vineyard leadership in this manner, and I was honored to do it! The Q&A times showed they understood everything I was teaching, and more. Their questions probed many aspects of Jesus and the Kingdom. They also watched 2 DVD sessions per day of John Wimber teaching “Power Evangelism” – a privilege for me to share a conference with John – even if it was ‘Electronic Wimber’!

The worship times, all in Spanish, were simply heavenly. I had little or no clue what I was singing, but most of the time I was overwhelmed with tears at the sheer sense of God’s presence, passion, intimacy and joy. The ministry times were equally remarkable. They went on for at least an hour at a time. Whenever I said, “Come Holy Spirit…” and watched and waited to see what God was doing, things began to happen. There is an extraordinary openness and responsiveness to God. The emotional freedom and expressiveness – perhaps part of the Latino culture? – made for a glorious mess! Some simply stood, faces shining with light. Some cried and shook, while others were coughing up ‘stuff’ (spiritual powers?) that came out of them. A few young women ended up on the floor wailing and screaming as God pulled out the deeply rooted pain of rejection and abuse.

Men also responded to the Spirit and freely expressed what was happening to them. One tall young man was standing up against a wall with eyes closed and hands and face raised to heaven. I saw the Spirit of God all over him. Then I said, “Juan, God is your real father. God is a father to you as your own father was unable to be.” He began to cry. Then bent over sobbing. I said, “God is saying to you, ‘my son, my son, my son, I love you my son’…” Then he collapsed on the floor and wept and wept. His close friends ministered to him for a long time.

It’s pure heaven to see God on people in different ways, working his own good work – largely is a mystery hidden from our own eyes and understanding, more so when you don’t know the language! I’m learning to let GOD be God, and trust him for HIS compassionate work. God is more willing to touch people and do his work through us than we are willing to take the risk of saying, “Come Holy Spirit…” Whether I feel inspired or feel nothing at all (which often is the case), I simply bless what God is doing, not knowing what he’s doing! I’m learning to relax into God and follow the faintest promptings, trusting that any movement in my thoughts, or emotions, or body, is the Holy Spirit. Then as I take the risk of speaking it over the person in faith, I see things begin to happen. What an awesome privilege to work with God and his power in our human weakness!

I preached in San Miguel Vineyard in Santiago on the Sunday morning. God gave me a specific word for them from Psalm 133: Maintain the unity of the Spirit through right relationships with God and each other. Where there is relational unity God anoints with his Spirit and commands a blessing! Where there is unresolved disunity, the devil is at work, a curse! We had a great time of ministry, with good feedback as to it being the very word from God that they needed. Then a Kingdom feast followed with all their leaders, with Chilean meat and wine and all sorts of tasty food, from 12:30-18:30 – with an intense question and answer session on Jesus and his Kingdom for the entire time! I understood Jesus feasting with people and sharing stories and teachings of the Kingdom!

At 18:30 my host said, “It’s time to take Alexander across town to preach at Agape Vineyard!” The people had been worshipping since 18:30 and as I walked in at 19:10, the pastor called me up to preach!! Again, in all my tiredness and over-eating, the power of God broke out as I taught on The Love of the Father. When our buffers and restraints are down it seems God can work more freely with less interference from us! The ministry time was particularly powerful – people didn’t want to leave the building – we only got out after 23:00! One last story: I went to a young woman who was bent over a chair. Whenever I touched her she moved and moaned with pain, as if things moved under her skin. We got her laid on the floor and then I laid both my hands on her back. There was an immediate strong reaction of body convulsion, coughing and vomiting. It went on for some time till full release and rest came over her. Eventually, in debriefing with her, a interpreter-friend told me she had sensations of burning heat and power wherever I touched her body. Yet subjectively, I felt no feelings or sensations of power. I simply followed Jesus in rebuking whatever was binding her. She had a history of chronic bodily sickness and depression. She said that she didn’t know what had happened, but she felt as if her body had been renovated and set free!

Thank you Jesus, and thanks to all who pray for me when I go on ministry trips!

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WORLD REFUGEE DAY, 20 JUNE 2016

Today is World Refugee Day. The UN says world population is 7.349 billion with currently 65.3 million refugees. That is the highest ever number of refugees in the world, defined as people forced from their homes due to dictatorship, conflict & persecution. 65.3 million is plus or minus the population of Britain, or of France.

That is 1 out of every 113 people are refugees in our world today.

There were 5.8 million newly displaced refugees in 2015.

This is an unprecedented global displacement crisis, with growing compassion fatigue & resistance in receiving nations. it is a massive test of the collective global good will to work together for human interest and common wellbeing.

2000 years ago, after a long journey on foot there was no room at the Inn for Jesus of Nazareth to be born. He was born in a cave-stable with animals. Then his parents had to flee with him to Egypt. Jesus was a rejected refugee. And thus he has mercy on all refugees, and by God’s grace so should we. 

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Extraordinary Jubilee Of Mercy declared by Pope Francis

As some Catholic Popes have done from time to time, Pope Francis has declared a special Jubilee, which begins Tuesday 8 December 2015.

What is a Jubilee?

God commanded the Jews to declare every 50th year a Jubilee, a Year of Freedom (Leviticus 25). All property was returned to original family ownership, slaves were set free, all debts cancelled and the land was free to rest. The decks were cleared to give everyone a fresh restart on a free and equal footing. The record does not show if and for how long Israel implemented (celebrated) the Jubilee. Some scholars say that when Jesus began his ministry, taking his mandate from Isaiah 61:1-2a, he actually declared the Jubilee, “The Year of the LORD’s favor and mercy” (see Luke 4:16-21). Jesus proved to be God’s promised Messiah and his ministry of the Kingdom was The Jubilee of all Jubilees – The Day of Salvation.

Pope Francis continues his courageous leadership as a follower of Jesus, by announcing a Jubilee of Mercy, thus radically stirring the Roman Catholic Church and challenging the world. And the rest of the Church of Jesus should take note.

Why choose the theme of mercy? Why an “Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy”?

In his Bull of Indiction, Misericordiae Vultus, he motivates why: “Mercy is the very foundation of the Church’s life. All of her pastoral activity should be caught up in the tenderness she makes present to believers; nothing in her preaching and in her witness to the world can be lacking in mercy” (n. 10).

I fully agree! I support this Year of Mercy. What follows is from my reading of the Vatican News on zenit.org, with a mix of quotes from Francis and my interpretations and comments. I’m doing this to motivate YOU to ‘do’ this Jubilee – for God’s sake! Continue reading Extraordinary Jubilee Of Mercy declared by Pope Francis

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Pastoral Letter regarding the Xenophobic Violence in SA

To listen to the audio of this Service of Confession, Reconciliation and Healing, regarding the xenophobic violence in SA, click on this link
http://followingjesus.org.za/sermons/the-current-xenophobic-violence-in-south-africa/

Dear family and friends – fellow travellers in Following Jesus!

It is with a heavy heart that I (we… I speak on behalf of the Oversight Team) write to you. We are experiencing attacks, with rumours of more attacks, on foreign African nationals in SA. Tens of thousands are living in fear, with their extended families in their home nations worried and perplexed as to what’s going on. It can explode into terrible ethnic violence in SA and retaliatory violence in our neighboring nations… God forbid! What a shameful day to be a South African! We humble ourselves, confess and turn from our sin, asking God for mercy to heal our land of all the blood that’s been shed – not only in this wave of violence, but in our long history of shameless murder and racist violence.

Because of the seriousness of the situation I decided to set aside my planned teaching and hold a service of confession, reconciliation and healing. We humbly ask ALL the foreign nationals, particularly Africans, in our church, to forgive us for what we South Africans are doing to them. God’s house – his Holy Temple, the Church of Jesus Christ – is a “House of Prayer for All Nations” (Isaiah 56:7, Mark 11:17). We are blessed by God to have a growing number of (inter)nationals worshipping with us. What a great opportunity to model here and now God’s future reconciled family worshipping at his heavenly throne: “I saw a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands” (Rev 7:9). May we truly become God’s House of Prayer for All Nations, God’s instrument of reconciliation and healing in society, the hope of Africa!

Read the statement from the Vineyard  (below) in response to the xenophobic violence. I won’t comment further – simply to call on us to actually do points 1 to 4.

Prayer is still our primary ‘weapon of warfare’ in the spiritual battle behind the racism of xenophobic violence. We had a powerful time of prayer on Friday night, pouring out our hearts before God in confession, repentance and intercession. Why not commit to come every third Friday night of every month to do ‘prayer-warfare’ with us? Continue reading Pastoral Letter regarding the Xenophobic Violence in SA

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Mandela’s First Anniversary of his Death

This morning I woke and when I checked the headline news on my cellphone I saw this link (below) of Johnny Clegg’s tribute to Mandela. He has republished the song he wrote for Madiba in 1987, when Nelson Mandela was still in prison and his picture was banned from publication in SA (since 1964). Listening to the song this morning was as emotional for my wife and I as it was when we first heard (and saw) him perform it in 1987 at The Market Theatre in Johannesburg, under the State of Emergency of the Apartheid regime.

At that time we took our little reconciliation group called “Johweto” (a symbolic joining and reconciling of Johannesburg and Soweto), of black and white South Africans, to listen to Johnny Clegg and Savuka (his band). It was an incredibly powerful experience, climaxing in the first performance of Asimbonanga. I remember: we stood as he sang and tears streamed down our faces in hope of Mandela’s release, in hope of a changed South Africa, in hope of freedom, healing, reconciliation and justice. Listening to the song again this morning, with the next generation (teenage girls) singing with Clegg, was equally emotional and brought back a flood of memories. And also pain.

Johnny’s message in the republished song is clear and simple: the work of Mandela, of healing, of justice and reconciliation, of rebuilding a nation of peace and shared resources, with genuine dignity for all, is still to be done. And the next generation has to pick it up and take it further. http://www.news24.com/Live/SouthAfrica/News/WATCH-Amazing-new-Asimbonanga-written-by-Johnny-Clegg-in-tribute-to-Nelson-Mandela-20141205

The tragedy is that the wounds of our nation have been healed superficially (despite the good work of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission), that by all accounts racism across all ‘colour groups’ is on the rise, and that we seem to be forgetting our history, both the true darkness of Apartheid and the miraculous change in our nation by God’s grace and mercy. And of course, not to mention the ANC under Jacob Zuma, which has not only betrayed, but flaunted the legacy of Mandela in their behavioural practices while paying lip service to it’s lofty values. The (evil) spirit of entitlement and greed reigns: “It’s our time to eat” (in the words of the courageous Kenyan whistle blower, http://www.amazon.com/Its-Our-Turn-Eat-Whistle-Blower/dp/0061346594) The ANC has become corrupt from the top down: arrogant, unaccountable and self-protecting – especially of Zuma and his corrupt appointees who protect him. It’s reaching dangerous levels of a ‘tipping point’ of a downward spiral as has happened with other nations north of our border. I know that this is incredibly emotive but look at the nations north of our border and see what naked greed and corruption (‘doing whatever it takes to stay in power for self enrichment’) does t0 a nation… Continue reading Mandela’s First Anniversary of his Death

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Following Jesus Pastoral Letter: 2020 Vision & Plan

For the audio of this talk, click on http://followingjesus.org.za/sermons/following-jesus-vision-and-plan/

Hello fellow travellers on the journey of Following Jesus! I invite you to take time to prayerfully read this very important letter summarising our decisions regarding the 2020 Vision & Planning process.

The journey: Alexander was inducted as team leader/Senior Pastor of Following Jesus on 20 January 2013. His vision was to ‘replant’ the church by a) re-gathering and healing people, and b) re-laying a foundation of what it means to truly follow Jesus – how we do life, church, leadership, ministry and mission – represented in the circled triangle of our core values: Following God, Forming (in) Community, Fishing the World.

Alexander came with a clear conviction of his life MISSION and that of the church he would lead – this church! The OT (Oversight Team/eldership) accepted and adopted it as our church mission. A Mission Statement is one’s reason for existence, of being; answers ‘who are you?’; giving a sense of identity and calling under God. What is your personal life mission? Our church is committed to this stated mission: Following Jesus and making followers of him, learning to live a life of love just as Jesus loved us. Continue reading Following Jesus Pastoral Letter: 2020 Vision & Plan