Woe? Really?

“Woe to you when all men speak well of you, For so did their fathers of the false prophets.”  (Luke 6:26)

When we read the Beatitudes, we all love the “Blessed are…” bits – but we tend to overlook and forget the “Woe to…” admonitions that appear most strongly stated in the Gospel of Luke.

Jesus is indeed love, light and truth – and we all love focusing on that.  But part of the truth of loving Him and understanding His message involves remembering the other things He said:  His powerful rejection of the mores of the day’s religious leaders, emphasis on the causality created by God in our world, and the many warnings about being careful where we focus our attention.  The above passage falls right in line with His many statements on this last topic:

“For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.”  (Matthew 6:21)

And even more directly in point:
“Take heed that you do not do your charitable deeds before men, to be seen by them. Otherwise you have no reward from your Father in heaven.”  (Matthew 6:1)

The passage is a reminder that what ‘everyone thinks’ is not necessarily the truth – and that people flock where they see numbers, often without any real perceptiveness.  It also hints at the soul-eroding quality of craving popularity in the eyes of men.

Dangers of the Internet

The dangers of seeking man’s approval rather than God’s have become even more powerful with the advent of the Internet.  Marketers and frequenters of social media (now a key factor in marketing success and the inflow of money and ‘all good things’) are taught to strive for ‘hits’, ‘visitors’, ‘likes’ and favorable comments.   Algorithms in search engines further feed into this.  And of course, the practice has moved beyond marketing into straight social activity, where it is in danger of becoming a fetish on the likes of Facebook.

Please understand I am talking here as a 20-years-on-the-net, ex-marketer who several years ago threw marketing away for this very reason, that I perceived the huge pitfalls of letting this whole approval-seeking, Internet fad become ingrained in the soul.

There are indeed many ways to fall into ‘The Trap’.

“Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.”  (1 Peter 5:8)



New Year’s Visitor – 2

bucks2-iconHere I was with 2 on-heat bucks running loose among my does.  Didn’t I decide 9 years ago that I was done with the ‘Births, Marriages and Deaths‘ scenario?  This was by far the worst thing I could think of!

I went down to the house and over a cup of coffee was inspired (thank goodness) to give myself a real hard talking to:

“Pat, this is the Serpent messing with you.  He’s got you in a right stew and as long as you’re in a stew, you block the Lord’s work.  Remember what He said: “Focus on Me!”  Just do it, and stop falling for Satan’s talk.  Whatever happens, it’s not the end of the universe.  With the Lord’s help, you will get through it.  And remember, “Greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world.”  (1 John 4:4)

Thank you, Lord.

In trials like these, it can be very difficult to realign your thinking.  All the evidence is against that, all the facts point one way, and the news is all bad:  ‘No-one in their right mind would think any differently.’   But Paul emphasized the importance of walking by faith, not by sight.  And he was tested sorely throughout his ministry: you can’t accuse him of not knowing what he was talking about.

Paul said, “So we are always of good courage. We know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord, for we walk by faith, not by sight.”   WHICH TRANSLATES:

The more we engage with worldly thinking the more we turn away from the Lord’s power.  So we need always to be of good courage and walk by faith in Him, not by what we see.”   (2 Corinthians 5:6-7)

Our limited minds are always searching for answers and solutions: “How, how, how can this come right?”  “What can I do to sort this problem?”  “Can I think of some way out of this situation?”   It’s hard, with our worldly drive to organize and plan everything, to ‘opt out’ and let things go.  We get hammered with the goal setting, visualizing and life planning ideologies of the self improvement gurus.  Not to mention  the ‘I Did It My Way’ would-be standard for living enshrined in the world’s thinking over 46 years ago.  What a travesty that was!  How many people were fooled by it!   Still are.

Didn’t Jesus say, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”  (Matthew 11:28-30)  No DIY, no  goal-setting instructions there.

How many of those who heard Him, and how many of us, struggling with the issues and dramas of everyday life, have thought, “This guy was crazy!”   And yet … ‘this guy’ holds the keys to the universe, life and death, in His hand.

Somehow, I managed to settle down and quit worrying.


It would be nice to say that next morning the bucks had disappeared – well at least I couldn’t see them anywhere.  I opened the paddock gate again and the does went up.  Washing the dishes, I was full of hope – until I heard an irate call that didn’t sound like a doe.  It was Himself, allright – suddenly realizing they’d got away from him.  As I watched from the kitchen window, he charged through the open gate and on up the paddock in search of his harem…

But now, 7 days down the track, I can pretty definitely say the bucks are not on the property.  None of the does is on heat and I haven’t sighted Himself or his offsider for over 6 days. Maybe they are like sailors with a girl in every port…   Somehow, they must have got back through the fence into the bush and I have a window of about 2 weeks to get the fence mended before the does come on heat again (if they haven’t taken to service).

As far as I could tell, only 2 of the does cycled.  So if I can keep Himself and his offsider out, the kid drop may be less than I feared.

Praise the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits…”  (Psalm 103:2)

Yes indeed – Regardless.


New Year’s Visitor – 1

bucks-iconMy last post about the new piglets for Christmas sets the scene for this follow-up New Year’s Tale.

In addition to the 3 Kunes, I have 3 Boer cross does, the remnant of breeding that I was into some years ago.  These doe goats have lived on their own with me for 9 years and they tidy up around the place.  It’s a nice, peaceful arrangement.

Or, it WAS a nice, peaceful arrangement.

On New Year’s Eve I went up in the late afternoon to give the piglets their evening meal.  One of the does was standing just inside the fence in the paddock that leads up the back, and as I glanced at her, my eye was drawn to something in the gorse a little way behind.

Unless I was much mistaken, it was the top of a buck’s head.  Though I couldn’t see much in among the gorse bushes, I knew the cut of a buck’s horns only too well.  And what’s more I could smell him.

As if to answer my unspoken question, he stood up even as I looked.  Quite a big boy, too.   And I had a good idea how he’d got in – through a breach in my back fence made by wild pigs this last winter.   Though I was planning to fix it, pinning down a contractor at this time of year is not the easiest. In the past, I would have grabbed some waratahs and done the job myself, but when I last thumped in a couple of standards a few months ago, I wrecked my back again and got a telling off from my chiropractor (plus a bill or two).        It pays to be careful.

The doe waggled her tail – yes, she was on heat, all right.  Drat!  This really puts the cat among the pigeons.

The buck even had a bit of a Boer look about him – could have escaped from the Boer cross farm a few miles off over the hill, where I got the current does.

I went to feed the piglets, mind in a whirl.  When I got back, I could see there was a second, younger buck a little further behind.  The leading buck had quite a spread of horns – near 3 feet, I guessed, so he was a seasoned campaigner and definitely the one in charge.   Drat!   Drat!

I was quite upset that evening.  The scenario in my mind ran something like,  “I was getting everything set up nicely and now this happens.  The other 2 does will be brought on heat by the bucks, and I stand to have at least 6 kids arrive this year, with all the dramas of ringing or destroying any buck kids that arrive, and making sure the buck kids don’t starve the doe kids by hogging the milk supply.  More mouths to feed.  And above all how do I get rid of those 2 adult bucks?

Knowing the bank where the fence had been breached, I couldn’t see them getting out again – and obviously, having found some does, they’d be more likely to stay.

I had some good Deerstalker friends who had destroyed a mature buck for me some years back – the wife was recognized nationally as the top female shooter in NZDA for some years, and extremely accurate.  But that was then and this is now.  We are all that much older and I wasn’t sure even if she was still shooting.  Aaaargh!  And I don’t really like killing things, and I don’t want to let just any old shooter loose around my does…

Next morning when I went up, the does were at the shed.  No sign of the bucks.  So I closed the paddock gate.  Later I went up again with some more feed and heard a mighty rattling in the side fence.  Sure enough, the lead buck had his horns caught in the bottom of it – no doubt the does had gone up into another paddock behind there and he was trying to get through.  I had a great view of his back end as he twisted and turned, pulled and pushed at the fence wires.   He was an entire male, no question about that.

This was all getting to be a bit much – and on a New Year’s Morning!  If that huge spread of horns was well and truly caught in the fence, I’d have to get someone to deal to him smartly.  I have 8 wire high tensile fencing built specifically for goats, so the gaps at the bottom are narrower than usual – oh the power of testosterone!


Fortunately, when I went up again later, he’d extricated himself – these guys are SO smart.  It also became clear that both bucks had now got through the fence and were in with the does.   Later, they all came down to the shed and it seemed a second doe was on heat as well.   Problems, problems…

There was a lot of stamping, gobbling and roaring going on – and a few other unmentionable things that bucks do to entice their females for mating.     Talk about Bad Moon Rising!

This carry-on isn’t any good for fences, either.

More next time.


A Christmas Present – In The Lord’s Good Time

kunesThe week before Christmas, I bought myself a present of 3 female Kunekune piglets, about 12 weeks old, from a breeder down south near Whangarei.

Their purpose is to help me with weed control – specifically an overgrowth of Wandering Jew (Tradescantia fluminosa), reaching seriously epic proportions in the rich volcanic soil all around my house. This weed is becoming a real problem here in NZ, wherever it gets a hold.  I’d been asking the Lord for a solution for months – no years – but not one solution I investigated seemed to be workable.   Frustration!

I’ve had Kunekunes before.  They are a delightful pig, smaller than the large commercial meat breeds, but the boars can tip the scale at 200 lb nonetheless.   A few weeks back I was led to look at a blog I wrote at the time, and the fact that Kunes eat wandering jew hit me in the eye.  Of course !!    At that time, the problem was less serious, which is maybe why it had slipped my mind.

I knew from previous experience that Kunes need to be very strictly contained in their first days in a new home.  I carefully strengthened up a side pen to my goat race up at the shed, and when I got them home, installed them there.

It has been very successful, with the double advantage of getting me walking on rough ground again (now that I am largely pain-free and no longer limping – thank you Lord!).  So I carry feed up to them at least 3 times a day – water too, until I solved the problem of why the tap up at the shed was suddenly not working.  Now my legs are getting stronger again: one single solution to more than one problem.  Doesn’t the Lord love doing that?

So now swathes of wandering jew are being pulled out and fed to these little darlings by the sackful – the dastard weed goes in one end and out of the other comes great fertilizer – AND it’s not the least likely to sprout again!

It’s a wonderful solution, because normally the big question when you pull some of this stuff out is – now what do I do with this?  Every little scrap of this plant that is dropped or thrown on the ground somewhere, will grow as a new plant.  The only really successful solution I’d read was to put the weed into a 44 gallon drum, top it up with water and put the lid on.  12 months later voilà – some great fertilizer.  But I hate to think how many 44 gallon drums I’d need – or maybe a few water storage tanks?  And an impossible amount of work.  Hmmm…

Burn it?  The strictures on lighting fires up north here are massive, plus I’ve no desire to start a raging bush fire in the kikuyu grass.  So the wandering jew problem seemed insurmountable.  The only other option was to get a contractor in to spray the stuff – not guaranteed to be a success, and the cost and toxic chemical exposure potential are both pretty prohibiting.

So the cute piglets (growing like weeds on kikuyu, tradescantia and feed pellets) really are an inspiration – as well as being great fun.  I’m getting ready to let them down into my back garden, once I’ve tidied up the fencing, with unlimited access to grass and jew.  And ultimately I can rotate them around even more areas where the jew is flourishing…

This whole episode has been a huge lesson to me in the value of waiting on the Lord.  The wandering jew problem is of long standing – going back to when I looked after my mom with alzheimers full time – and one possible solution after another has seemed to be blocked.

How often has that happened to you, when steps you might have taken don’t materialize and then later, the solution comes along and you find yourself thankful that you waited on the Lord’s timing for that solution to appear and didn’t do whatever else you had in mind?

How many times have I thought to myself, “Maybe I should get a contractor in…”?    We often wait so unwillingly!  Or berate ourselves for ‘lack of action’.

The bottom line is, I could not have done any of this until I could walk pretty much without pain again – and that has happened only in this last 5 or 6 weeks.  Amazing!

But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.  Isaiah 40:31


Perceptions of The Nativity

nativityI have thought much, this last few weeks during the run-up to Christmas, of some of our perceptions attaching to the place and circumstances of Jesus’ birth.

A lot of what we think seems to have come from the statement of Paul at Philippians 2:7 which says,   “…but he humbled Himself, taking the form of a bond servant, and coming in the likeness of men.”  From this we get ideas about Jesus, the circumstances of His life, and the details of His birth, that pervade the whole Christmas story.  We get the wrong impression that Jesus was born in undesirable, impoverished conditions.

Several years ago, I heard a very interesting viewpoint put forward by Pastor Robert H Shuller that while the innkeeper in Bethlehem has had bad press because he failed to find a lodging for Joseph and Mary, the stable they finally found to lodge in was probably a blessing in disguise.  Pastor Shuller pointed out that with a large number of people on the move to register in their own cities for the first Roman census, towns and inns would have been packed with all manner of people, making a crowded inn probably not the best place for the Son of God to be born.

That REALLY spoke to me.

So I would like to take the reasoning a step further.   When you look at the preparations for Jesus’ birth, His Heavenly Father went to great trouble to set the stage:

1)   The birth of Jesus’ forerunner and cousin, John the Baptist, was special in itself, because his parents were elderly and his mother barren.  God sent the angel Gabriel to announce the birth to the father (a priest of the temple).  God gave Zacharias a clear sign as proof, and also oversaw the naming of the boy.  (Luke 1)

2)   We also know that angels appeared to both Mary and Joseph concerning the birth of Jesus. Gabriel appeared to Mary to announce that she would have the baby, and an unnamed angel appeared to Joseph in a dream to quiet his concerns about Mary’s pregnancy. (Luke 1, Matthew 1)

3)   The birth of Jesus was announced to the Magi, powerfully enough that they undertook a long journey from the east to bring Him gifts.  We are not told how they were told this, but it can only have been by some form of supernatural revelation. (Matthew 2:1-2)

4)   Jesus’ birth was announced by an angel and the heavenly host appearing to shepherds in the fields near Bethlehem.  And before we write the shepherds off totally, let us remember that for many people in Israel, their wealth lay in their herds and so protecting their livestock was a high priority.  Think of David.

In other words, Jesus’ birth was announced both to certain wise and wealthy men who were prepared to honor Him (as the wealthy of His own country were not), and to men from the lower classes whom He came to save – men from the very occupation that He was to use as an illustration of His ministry in calling Himself  ‘The Good Shepherd’.  (Luke 2:8-17)

Are we to assume then in the midst of all this preparation that God somehow made a mistake in designating the place where Jesus was to be born and ended up with an undesirable result? 

That doesn’t make sense.


Let’s look at a few other places where God made supernatural provision for Jesus:

5)   Because Herod had become aware of Jesus’ birth from the Magi, and was plotting to kill him, God took the following steps:

  • The Magi were warned in a dream not to return via Herod (who had asked  for directions so he could find the child), so they went back another way. (Matthew 2:7-8, 12)
  • An angel warned Joseph in a dream that Herod was looking to kill the child, and instructed him to take Mary and Jesus and flee with them to Egypt.  This he did, and remained there until Herod died – at which time Joseph was advised by an angel in a dream that it was safe to return.  (Matthew 2:13-14, 19-21)

6)   Towards the end of his life, when Jesus came back to Jerusalem for the last time, His need for a mount to carry Him into the city was met by the supplying of a donkey.   Clearly, there must have been a divine forewarning given to the owner of the donkey, so he was prepared to let it be taken and used by people who just turned up on his doorstep.   (Matthew 21:1-7)

7)   Later, when Jesus needed a place to hold the Last Passover supper with His disciples, His need was met in a similar way.  (Matthew 26:1-7, Luke 22:8-13)    Obviously, there are other examples.

So what does all this add up to?  I believe first and foremost we must stop demeaning the place and surroundings of Jesus’ birth.  Yes, there is simplicity and a message in it, but not the message we have been taking.

I’ve already made Pastor Shuller’s point that a room at the inn was unsuitable.   By comparison, the stable was a place of peace where God’s holiness and glory could shine out around this most special of births.   What a moment that must have been for The Father!   The animals that surrounded Jesus in His first hours were God’s creation – creatures that He loves.  They were and still are the innocent ones, with more understanding than we give them credit for.  And did I read in a recent publication where a man of God called them ‘dirty’?  Hmmm….

Remember, it was an innocent animal that had to be killed to provide covering for Adam and Eve after they sinned, and through all the history of Israel up to the time of Jesus’ death, it was animals that had to die as sacrifices for the sins of the people.

Now Jesus, the Lamb of God, had come to take that burden upon Himself.



I Make All Things New

new-lion If there is one message that comes consistently through most of the prophetic utterances of recent months, it is this:  God is moving in a new way – he is opening up the Kingdom Age upon this earth, releasing new change, doing new things, and breaking bondages.

These prophecies, and recent events around the world, are an exciting confirmation that our God is truly the master creator, that He has not finished (and never will finish) creating, that man was made and called to work with Him, and that He has not taken His hand off the wheel – although there are times when, in our limited perception, He seems to have forsaken us.

These prophecies are also a vindication of many years of prayer by spirit-filled intercessors world wide.  Why should that be?

We need to remember our beginnings:  that God created us to manage His creation, to walk with Him in the cool of the day to strategize, and plan, and fellowship.  Making a huge investment in man, He also limited Himself by arranging our relationship so that the exercise of His power on earth needs the acquiescence (ie prayers) of His people to fully release it.  If you doubt me on this, Dutch Sheets’ excellent book “Intercessory Prayer” is regarded by many as the best guide and explanation out there, as to why intercession is so important.

As an example, check out 1 Kings 18  where God used His prophet Elijah to deal with the wicked king Ahab:
And it came to pass after many days, that the word of the Lord came to Elijah in the third year, saying, Go, show yourself to Ahab; and I will send rain upon the earth.

And Elijah went to show himself to Ahab. And there was a sore famine in Samaria.” (1 Kings 18:1-2)   We know from James 5:17-18 that this drought and famine had been brought on 3 years previously by Elijah’s prayers at God’s request.  The story continues:

And it came to pass, when Ahab saw Elijah, that Ahab said to him, Is that you, the one who troubles Israel?

And he answered, I haven’t troubled Israel; but you, and your father’s house have, in that you have forsaken the commandments of the Lord, and you have followed the idols of Baal.

Now therefore send, and gather to me all Israel to mount Carmel, and the prophets of Baal four hundred and fifty, and the prophets of the groves four hundred, which eat at Jezebel’s table.”  (1 Kings 18:17-19)

There follows a test of strength between Elijah and the 450 prophets of Baal, to prove whether Baal or Jehovah is the true god.  This is a must read at 1 Kings 18:20-40, and it culminates in the total defeat of Baal and the vindication of Jehovah.

So the people are overcome, and turn from their wicked ways.  Now comes the illustration of intercessory prayer to restore rain upon the land:

And Elijah went up to the top of Carmel; and he cast himself down upon the earth, and put his face between his knees, [the birthing position]

And said to his servant, Go up now, look toward the sea. And he went up, and looked, and said, There is nothing. And he said, Go again – seven times [seven is God’s number of perfection and completion].

And it came to pass at the seventh time, that he said, Behold, there arises a little cloud out of the sea, like a man’s hand.   And he said, Go up, say to Ahab, Prepare your chariot, and go down before the rain stops you.

And it came to pass in the meanwhile, that the heaven was black with clouds and wind, and there was a great rain. And Ahab rode, and went to Jezreel.

And the hand of the Lord was on Elijah; and he girded up his loins, and ran before Ahab to the entrance of Jezreel.” (1 Kings 42-46)

Why would God limit Himself to needing man’s prayers in this way?  For one big reason – He wanted that relationship, that fellowship, that companionship – and He wanted it freely given by beings with a choice.  He did not want to work with a bunch of robots and He didn’t want to rule the world like a despot – and if we imagine ourselves in His situation, we can most certainly buy into that.  It is a beautiful plan.

God has a vision of what He wants in eternity, and it includes man – a redeemed man – working alongside and fellowshipping with Him, and it has taken the sacrifice of Jesus to make that possible.

So we need to remember that it is not God, but man, who delays the fulfillment of this great partnership.

In the Book of Revelation, John wrote:
And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And he said unto me, Write: for these words are true and faithful.”  (Revelation 21:5)

This is God’s promise for the future – the end times future. But I believe it also has relevance right now, when He is getting ready to pour out His spirit on the earth and we can expect renewal, restoration and change in many things, including the churches – and great revivals.

We need to be open-minded enough to accept change, and the new ways God is revealing Himself to people on this earth, because THAT is changing radically.  We also need to press forward with intercessory prayer to enable the fulfillment of God’s plans for renewal at this present time.

Go, prayer warriors, go!!



You Will Be Free Indeed

free-iconIt was Jesus who made this statement – quoted in an earlier post – about Himself, actually:

“Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.”  (John 8: 31-36)

Jesus was referring to the freedom that comes from a life in Him, but I believe this statement applies equally well to the freedom that comes from living in a country that follows His values and His precepts.  Until this last election, America was slipping further and further away from the Godly principles of freedom for a nation.  Personal freedoms were being eroded, standards were being sabotaged.  Standards were being twisted and reshaped out of all recognition.  America had lost its standing as a world power.

If there had been another term under the same regime, many believe American democracy would have been gone for good.  This would impact not only the USA, but also the rest of the world.


Many intercessors have prayed that the scales would drop from the eyes of those deceived by the Great Deception that has been taking place.  It is a blessing that Americans saw the issues, realized the urgency, and made the choice for Freedom.

Stand strong again now, do not be deceived by the enemy’s new displays and threats, and do not be drawn into more division and strife.  Above all, don’t believe that to carry on under the existing system would have caused things to improve – far from it.  That was the slippery slope.  Instead, pray for grace, for everyone.  God has said, “I am doing a new thing.”  So remember this:

“Greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world.”  ( 1 John 4:4)

Satan is ‘he who is in the world’ – and you can absolutely count on the fact that Jesus is far, far greater.  He will bless America again.

“if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”   (2 Chronicles 7:14)