View from a Distant Hill

When you are young the hills of time merge into the outline of a distant horizon. I used to look at my grandparents, who were younger then than I am now, and try to imagine what it must be like to be so old! They were standing on a distant hill and enjoyed telling me what their view of life and history was like from their elevated perspective.

The years have now passed and I, in turn, am standing on one of those distant hills. I have been looking back over the 73 years that God has so far granted to me, over 30 of which have been spent on pioneering and developing, with the Ellel team, the work that became known as Ellel Ministries. What God has done in that time is beyond human comprehension. I have been privileged to see Him work miracle after miracle – both in terms of the life-transforming work of His Spirit, in the lives of thousands of people, and in meeting the practical needs of the ministry.

The Psalmist encourages us to make a record of what God has done (Psalm 102:18), so that future generations will be able to praise and thank the Lord for what He has done. So, over the past few years I have been doing just that – writing the story, both of the years of preparation which preceded Ellel Ministries, and the step-by-step journey of faith that has seen the work established now in over thirty countries.

At long last the book, Strands of Destiny, is finished and about to be published. It is with considerable nervous anticipation that I await seeing the book for the first time. I have used the phrase View from a Distant Hill as the title of the Epilogue. For that is exactly what the book is – a view from the distant hill of my own life, looking back on seven decades of God’s faithfulness through many ups and down and often extraordinary experiences.

I find myself saying a very loud Amen to all that is expressed in Psalm 34 in which we find those simple words of testimony “O taste and see that the Lord is good” (v8). The poetry of Nicholas Brady and Nahum Tate perfectly encapsulates the words of the Psalm, and expresses for me my own thanksgiving to the Lord as I look back from my own distant hill. For He has miraculously woven the many different strands of my own life into His destiny purposes – hence the title of the book, Strands of Destiny.

Through all the changing scenes of life,
In trouble and in joy,
The praises of my God shall still
My heart and tongue employ. 

 Oh, magnify the Lord with me,
With me exalt His name;
When in distress to Him I called,
He to my rescue came.

 The hosts of God encamp around
The dwellings of the just;
Deliverance He affords to all
Who on His succour trust.

Oh, make but trial of His love,
Experience will decide
How blest they are, and only they,
Who in His truth confide.

Fear Him, ye saints, and you will then
Have nothing else to fear;
Make you His service your delight,
Your wants shall be His care.

(Strands of Destiny will be published by Sovereign World at the end of November.

Over 400 pages of text, and 48 pages of photographs.)

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The Spirit of Antichrist

I normally have several books by my bedside – all of which I am reading bits of, according to what takes my fancy on any particular evening. But, this past week two very different books have grabbed my attention, essentially for the same basic reason.

The books are Back to Jerusalem by Paul Hattaway – being the story of those extraordinarily brave Chinese leaders who have laid down their lives to take the Gospel from China back to Jerusalem, through the strongholds of Buddhism, Hinduism and Islam, where the peoples are largely unreached by the good news of Jesus. This is a movement which originated in the middle of the last century – a movement which has cost the lives of hundreds of Christian martyrs, whose blood is on the land.

The other book is a much older tome, Fox’s Book of Martyrs, a great Christian classic which in Victorian England stood alongside Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress as the two books, after the Bible, which every Christian should read. I have only ever dipped into the book in the past, it has been awaiting the time when the Holy Spirit prompted me to absorb the incredible stories of those who, down the centuries, have given their lives for their faith. That time came this past week.

So, a week later I have almost finished Back to Jerusalem and, so far, have managed about 30% of Fox. It’s not easy reading. But my spiritual life and calling has been challenged to the very core as I have read the stories of extraordinary courage and fortitude, as both young and old, men and women suffered the cruellest of unspeakable tortures and means of execution, rather than renounce their faith in Jesus and deny their Lord, even when knowing what terrible sufferings lay ahead of them on earth.

But it was what lay ahead of them in Heaven which shone so powerfully in their hearts, that kept them utterly faithful to their calling and destiny to the very end. Countless thousands down the centuries have lived the reality of Matthew 10:38-39 and have found their lives through martyrdom: ”Whoever does not take up their cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake will find their lives.”

As I have meditated on why God had me read these two books at this time, I found myself analysing the reasons why men could act with such terrible and unjustified cruelty. Ultimately, I realised, that their demonically inspired murderous actions were, invariably, because their victims refused to acknowledge and accede to the beliefs of their accusers.

During the ten waves of Roman persecution, it was the Christians’ refusal to sacrifice to the idols of the state, in which the Emperors and their governors believed, which brought down the powers that be upon their heads. To oppose the authorities in this way was considered to be an act of rebellion, even treason, and this always carried with it the threat of death. Then, when things went wrong for Rome, it was sometimes said that it was the fault of the Christians and, as a result, general persecutions broke out with instructions to kill all Christians. When, what the authorities believed in was being rejected, all Christians became an enemy of the state.

I, personally, am a descendant of Huguenots who managed to escape from France during some of the most terrible and bloody persecutions ever recorded, as the Church of Rome tried to eliminate all protestant believers from France. And in the UK, in the days of Queen ‘bloody’ Mary, refusal to believe in the Roman doctrines and acknowledge the Pope as the head of the Church, lit the fires of martyrdom beneath thousands, including Bishops Ridley, Latimer and Archbishop Cranmer in Oxford. And I could hardly read the unbelievably awful and terrible things that Rome did to Protestants in the Spanish Inquisition.

In China refusal to stop believing in Jesus hit directly at the atheistic beliefs of the communist government. Members of the house churches became enemies of the state and, over the last seventy years, millions have paid the ultimate price for faithfulness to their Saviour and Lord.

It is believed that there were more martyrs for the faith in the twentieth century than in all the previous centuries put together!

And today, in the middle East, we have seen how the beliefs of radical Islamists have caused them to execute a similar brutal judgement on anyone (Christian, Jew or, even, Muslim) who dares to think and believe differently from the leaders of ISIS.

There is a spirit behind all such murderous persecutions of believers. It is cruel, it is antichrist and it rides on the back of a spirit of religion. Anyone who dares to think or believe differently from the adherents of their religion, whatever its name may be, becomes a victim of their hatred and poison. In the world, today, we have many different recognised religions, but we also have a religion which adherents would not want it to be called as such, but which is as much a religion as any other – for it is motivated by a belief.

In essence, that belief is humanism, which declares, in one way or another, that there is no such thing as a Holy God to whom we are answerable and that, in the moral realm, man is god of his own choices and is free to do whatever he likes especially, it seems, in terms of marriage, sexual relationships and abortion. Anyone who dares to think differently becomes an object of vitriolic persecution, powered by the same antichrist spirit that has caused the deaths of millions of martyr-saints in the past two thousand years.

Anyone in the UK, who saw Tim Farron resign as leader of the Liberal Democrats, after the recent election, was watching that antichrist spirit at work, driving him from office for holding orthodox Christian views. Tragically what, essentially, Tim Farron was saying is that in the UK, it is no longer possible for a practising Christian, with orthodox views, to remain leader of a political party. And that is a conclusion that believers would have to reach in many other of our western nations also.

But even more sadly, the church has fallen victim to the same pressures of humanism. Instead of being salt and light in a fallen world, boldly proclaiming the truth of Scripture to what is now a post-Christian society, it is increasingly drawing upon the beliefs and ways of the world for its moral direction, as opposed to being faithful to its founder and the teaching of Scripture, the Word of God.

In my student days, on my way from Christ Church to the science laboratories, I would cross Broad Street at the place where a large brass cross in the road had been put to mark the very spot where Ridley, Latimer and Cranmer were burned at the stake. We may not burn people at the stake today for holding the same orthodox, scriptural views as those noble Bishops but, make no mistake, it was the same antichrist spirit which called for the head of Tim Farron!

I pray that the Churches of our nation, as they deliberate on the critical issues of the day, such as abortion and marriage, will not choose to appease the spirit of antichrist and the false god of humanism in their councils and synods, by changing their orthodox beliefs to accommodate the world. I pray, too, that they will remember our blood-splattered land and not betray those who laid down their lives so that the Word of God could be freely available. These are severely testing days for those who want to remain faithful to the word of truth.

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The Aftermath

The UK has just emerged from its most extraordinary election in living memory. An election where a significant Conservative lead was whittled away by a far-left version of the Labour Party at the same time as two Islamic terrorist attacks on Manchester and London took thirty lives in the name of Allah, left dozens seriously injured and scarred the lives of the many hundreds who were caught up in the events. As the commentators and politicians pick over the pieces of all that has happened in the past few weeks, it is incumbent upon God’s people to not only pray for their nation but to seek His face afresh for how they should respond in the face of chaos, fear and spiritual darkness.

I have always followed closely the unfolding story of all the elections in my lifetime. But the one I remember the most is the 18th June 1970. Not, primarily, for the fact that Ted Heath surprised the nation by coming out on top, but because that was the night when God spoke to me, as I began the work of restoring the wreck of an Alvis Speed 20 car, and said “You could restore this broken car, but I can restore broken lives.” In that moment, my life was changed for ever and the seeds were sown for the founding of Ellel Ministries sixteen years later.

As I stare now at the moral confusion that dominates most of the main political parties – which all espouse what is termed social liberalism and embrace policies which allow all manner of conduct and relational behaviour, without restriction – I felt the grief of God and found myself weeping in my spirit. It wasn’t Buddha, or the gods worshipped by Hindus, Sikhs and Moslems that answered the desperate prayers of our nation during the second world war. The King called the nation to prayer, and the people flocked to the Churches to pray to the God and Father of the Lord Jesus Christ. God graciously heard and answered their prayers in a miraculous manner. But after the war the people forgot and today we have a younger generation that is largely ignorant of the Christian faith, the faith which has been the guiding light of our nation and its laws for generations.

There is no doubt that our nation is once again at war – not with a physical enemy from without, but with a spiritual enemy that has been turning the hearts of the people away from the living God for two generations and has now invited into the vacuum every alien spirit imaginable. Lawlessness is always the consequence of rebellion.

Last night, I dwelt on the chaos that reigned in the eighteenth century and remembered how God raised up John Wesley, among others, a fearless evangelist who spent his whole life traversing the nation, and once again turning the hearts of the common people towards God. I ended the day in prayer that once again God would raise up fearless evangelists who would uncompromisingly declare the truths of God’s Word to the people and that the Holy Spirit would unleash a spirit of repentance on the people.

I found myself weeping for the lack of a credible public Christian voice among the clergy of our churches, a voice which would command the respect of our political leaders. Then I was reminded of what God said through Ezekiel about the leaders of Israel: “Her priests do violence to my law and profane my holy things, they do not distinguish between the holy and the common; they teach that there is no difference between the unclean and the clean” (Ezekiel 22:26).

I read on and was encouraged that in verse 30 it says that God “looked for a man among them who would build up the wall and stand before me in the gap on behalf of the land, so I would not have to destroy it”, but then I was dismayed when I read that God had to say “I found none” and that judgement of the nation was the consequence.

Surely, Lord, there are those in our nation who will stand in the gap on behalf of the land? Where are those with the gift of leadership who have been honed by the spirit in the secret place so that at the right time they will ‘come out of hiding’ and speak with a voice of holy authority in the public place?

Lord, I cry out to you to have mercy on our nation and to look for the men and women who are willing to stand in the gap for the land. Lord, I ask you to raise up those who will become a Wesley or a Spurgeon for the twenty-first century and give them a platform for their voices to be heard. We are desperately in need and our eyes, Lord, are on You.


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“Easter People – living in a Good Friday World”

Recent newspapers have been full of the precipitous stand-off in North Korea, and many other harrowing stories of human suffering, including the stabbing to death of an English girl studying at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. In the midst of all this, the Editor of the Daily Telegraph chose to fill the whole of his editorial column on Easter Saturday with a remarkable account of the Easter message, focussing on the fact that Jesus “descended into Hell” so that we could have a hope of Heaven. Here’s the link:

It’s well worth reading and realising that not everyone in the media is anti-Chrstian. Indeed, during this past week there have been several  major articles in the Telegraph about the persecution of Christians overseas and the apparent disinterest of politically correct governments in opening their eyes to see that there is a systematic attack of believers going on, especially where radical Islam has a foothold. The ancient Syrian church is all but annihilated and the number of Christians left in Iraq is minimal.

But in the midst of the darkness the light of truth is being shone by the Holy Spirit – especially into the hearts of some Muslims who are sick of what their fellow Muslims are doing in the name of their religion. And many are turning to Jesus. And as we have discovered, there are many who come to Jesus the Healer and then discover that He is also Jesus their Saviour. More former Muslims celebrated Easter this year as devout followers of Jesus than at any other time in human history!

This Easter season has been a poignant time for me as I have meditated on the Sabbath day that divided Easter day from Good Friday. It must have been a day of confusion, uncertainty and fear for the disciples. We can look back with the benefit of hindsight and say to the disciples, “Why were you frightened – didn’t Jesus say He would rise again from the dead?” But if we had been part of that first group of disciples, caught between the tragedy of the day before and promises for the future that had not yet been proven to be true, I’ve no doubt we would have felt just like them.

I was deeply challenged by a comment by Andrew White, the former Vicar of Baghdad, who is now ministering in Jordan. He has on many occasions experienced believers having been tortured and killed for their faith in today’s spiritually hostile world. He is living and working with people who face the possibility of death on a daily basis – people who are trusting that the Jesus who was raised from the dead all those years ago, will be true to His Word and when He comes again and that He will raise them, also, to new life, free at last from the horrors they have experienced in this world.

Andrew’s summary of the world He is living in with believers is that “We are an Easter people, living in a Good Friday world.” This profound statement reflects the very heart of the Gospel – we are Easter people because Jesus was raised from the dead. But we are living in a Good Friday world, where the enemy of souls is still true to his name as a thief and a robber and seeking to cut short the lives of God’s people.

I have been challenged afresh to hold our persecuted brethren across the world in prayer in this their time of hurt, grief, suffering and distress. And through the agency of Ellel Ministries to do as much as we can, with the resources we have, to bring hope and healing to those still suffering, through the deep wounds and scars that mark their journey of faith.

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Breaking Through

Ever since the beginning of the work God has had us on a journey. At times it’s been a roller-coaster ride of faith as, little by little, God has taught us vital healing lessons from His Word and shown us how to apply them.

It was a shock, at first, to discover the significance that deliverance could have in the journey of healing. Then we learnt about the bondages people can be in through the ties of  wrong relationships. It was a further huge step forward when God showed us the keys for healing the brokenness caused by accidents and trauma. And then, when helping people with many kinds of struggles and problems, Fiona found that God can minister healing using creativity as a means of connecting to and finding lost identity. Out of this experience she pioneered the Healing Through Creativity courses at Ellel Grange. These have brought deep healing to thousands of people, both in the UK and at our Centres around the world.

And much to her surprise, God even used this course to break a sub-conscious fear of failure within her, which eventually led to finding her own God-given artistic gifting!  She signed up for a local art class and some of her paintings have now been made into greetings cards and are giving pleasure to others as well. You can see them all at

Healing Through Creativity is not, however, about finding hidden talent, although it may do just that!   It is about finding yourself and in finding yourself, finding that God is there with you, releasing you from hidden bondages and controls, many of which can be deeply subconscious.

Some of the most profound healings we have seen on Healing Retreats and Training Courses have  come about as people discovered that they are truly made in the image and likeness of God – creative like their Creator and loved for who they are.   Being creative in the fullest sense is everything from taking a walk, enjoying sport to being a woodworker, a scientist or a cook.  It includes you!

Having seen such wonderful fruit from Healing Through Creativity, Fi began to develop a week-long course, Bridge From the Head to the Heart, at Blairmore in Scotland. Here, in the tranquil beauty of the Highlands there is space and time for healing of the deepest hurts, which are often blocked in hidden places.

Following her years of running these particular courses, and years of praying with individuals, the vision then came for Breaking Through to Freedom – a course (currently run three times per year at Blairmore House) which is especially suited for those who have become stuck in their problem or have wrestled with significant issues, but have not yet found their personal breakthrough.

What a joy and privilege it is to have a part in seeing lives transformed under the hand of God. We are living in a very broken world, but God has His answers and is today transforming the broken-hearted of Isaiah 61:1 into the oaks of righteousness of Isaiah 61:4.

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My thirtieth birthday was a traumatic affair in a spiritual sense. I knew I was then old – or so I thought! For years I had been waiting on the Lord for whatever it was He wanted my life’s calling to be and when I reached thirty I was convinced that I had missed it and God had passed me by.

Youth is naturally impatient and fails to understand that God is not in a hurry and that He takes His time to hone and polish the man or woman who wants to serve Him. At the age of thirty I couldn’t see all the rough edges that God needed to polish and the experience that he wanted me to have. I can see now that God couldn’t release me into my calling until I had got a few more years of testing and training under my spiritual belt.

A wise and elderly saint of God confided in me at about that time that, in his experience, about forty was the age when God’s primary purposes would begin to be fulfilled. I had a few years to wait – until, actually, I was forty-three and we walked through the doors of Ellel Grange for the first time to begin the work of Ellel Ministries all those years ago in 1986.

Which brings me to the initial prompting for this blog – Ellel Ministries will be thirty years old on the 31st October! Yes, it was on Halloween night that God raised up a ministry that would have a strategic role in pulling down the strongholds of Satan in people’s lives. And in a few days’ time about ninety leaders of the work from all over the world will be gathering at Ellel Grange for our leaders conference.

It is almost beyond belief to realise what God has done in such a short period of time. And now we are preparing ourselves for whatever He has next in store for us. We have a deep sense that in many ways the first thirty years have been a preparation. During the conference we will be taking time out to pray into the ongoing vision for the work and we would really value your prayerful support at this time as well.

No-one needs telling that the world is in a serious mess and that the farther that people (and governments) transgress from the ways of the Lord, the messier people’s lives will become.  God has been preparing us over the years to be ready for when people in their hundreds come knocking on the door, crying out to God for the only form of healing that can put their lives back on track.

These are certainly challenging days and while we will be taking a short time out to have a time of thanksgiving and celebration on the 31st, the main thrust of our leaders’ conference is equipping the team who are being Prepared for a Purpose.

There are a couple of brilliant chapters in the biography of Charles Cowman (husband of Lettie Cowman, who wrote the famous devotional book Streams in the desert) about how God orders our steps and prepares us for His purposes. It’s been a huge encouragement (and challenge) to me over the years. It’s a book worth reading – get it if you can. Charles Cowman – Missionary Warrior, by Lettie Cowman. God still has a work for each one of us to do. You are never too old – whether you are thirty or eighty – to be thinking ahead and praying into the purposes of God for the rest of your life!

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God Has Acted

In my recent Blog about the European referendum, I set out the spiritual reasons why I believed that the UK should leave the European Union. As I write these words on the morning of the 24th June, the nation, the European Union and, indeed, the markets of all the world’s major economies are in utter turmoil!

Contrary to everyone’s expectations, the unthinkable has happened. By a very significant majority the United Kingdom has voted to leave the EU and the Prime Minister, David Cameron, has offered his resignation. It is a totally extraordinary result, way outside the parameters of anyone’s expectations. The Remain camp, which ended the day yesterday confident of victory, is this morning in disarray, completely at a loss to explain what has happened. The victory is reminiscent of some of the victories of David when the Lord acted on his behalf to overcome the Philistines.

Yesterday morning, I settled down to a time of personal prayer for the nation.  My reading for the day happened to be Psalm 75 in which the psalmist declares in verse 7 that “it is God who executes judgment, putting down one and lifting up another.”

Then this morning the daily Seeds of the Kingdom devotional from Ellel Ministries, written by one of our team serving in Europe, happened to be based on the Scripture from Exodus 2:25, which says “He looked down on the people of Israel and knew it was time to act.” (NLT).  As I read those words they came to me as a strong confirmation that not only was the referendum result extraordinary, but it was indeed a massive answer to prayer. God has acted to set the UK free from the external spiritual control of the European Union. God has not forgotten our history and He has given this nation another opportunity to recover its spiritual destiny.

This is a time to renew our commitment as believers to be intercessors for the nations – both for the UK and for all the other nations of the European Union. From a place of freedom, I believe we will be much better positioned to stand alongside our brothers and sisters in Europe, serving one another in the Body of Christ. Ellel Ministries has centres and operations throughout the whole of Europe and we are trusting that just as God has answered the prayers of His people for the UK, that He will also answer the prayers of believers right across the continent.

I ended my pre-referendum blog with these words:

“On the 23rd of June I will be voting to leave the EU – but I’m already praying for those hidden ‘Jehoshaphats’, ‘Daniels’ and ‘Josephs’ to come to the fore of public life, and start steering our nation back to the godly roots from which it has currently wandered so far.”

This must now be the urgent prayer agenda of God’s people.

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The God-Life

Jim Graham has been one of my closest and most precious friends for almost twenty-five years. He has taught at different Ellel Centres and Conferences on many occasions and His fatherly input, encouragement, correction and direction have always been immensely valued.

I knew Jim wasn’t well at the beginning of 2016 as he had cancelled some teaching appointments, because of what he thought must be flu. But on the 19th March 2016 I received an email from him, containing the detailed diagnosis of his condition by his medical consultants.  In this he said: “In reality, Peter, it looks like I am heading to the finishing line. I am content and completely free of anxiety. Please pray that I will finish well! Looks like, too, Peter that my teaching days are over.” My eyes filled with tears as I dwelt on those many years of rich fellowship and the prospect of Jim no longer being part of God’s family on earth.

I will never forget the few hours we were privileged to spend together on the 6th April, mainly talking about the Lord, but it wasn’t until the 25th April that I heard of the existence of Jim’s personal ‘translations’ of Paul’s Epistles. I wrote to him immediately, urging him to consider allowing them to be published. Very graciously, he arranged for a copy of all the letters he had completed to be sent to me, together with a Preface he had just written.

Three times, as a publisher, prior to Ellel Ministries, I was fortunate enough to discover and publish significant books and see them become best-sellers. Moments like those are never forgotten. But when I started to read what Jim had sent, I realized I was holding in my hand something far more precious and valuable than anything I had ever discovered in the secular world. This was a ‘publishing moment’ to exceed all others.

For, as I read the text of The God-Life, I realized I was standing on holy ground! From time to time I had heard Jim illustrate his teaching with profoundly impacting readings, but I had no idea that they were extracts from his personalized translations of most of Paul’s Epistles. In his email Jim had said “my teaching days are over”. But what I was reading was so profound that I sensed the very opposite would be the case – Jim’s wider teaching ministry to the whole Body of Christ was only just beginning!

When Jim wrote these personalized translations of Paul’s letters he was doing it in obedience to a personal Word from the Lord, but largely, as he thought, for his own benefit. But now the whole Church, until Jesus comes again, can benefit from Jim Graham’s profound, Holy Spirit inspired, understanding of Paul’s amazing letters.

The God-Life is an absolute gem which deserves to hold a special place alongside the very best of all the modern paraphrases of Scripture. It will be an inspirational blessing to countless other people, as they journey through life to their own finishing line.  It is totally brilliant.

Before publication I sent a copy of the manuscript to various key leaders – and discovered that their response was just like mine:

“this brilliant paraphrase”  George Verwer.  “Nothing short of a spiritual treasure” George Otis Jr.   “A remarkable book” Jill Southern-Jones.  “The God-life is a God-send” Stuart McAlpine. “Brings the Scripture to life” Alistair Petrie!  “This superb interpretation” David Pawson.

And a student proof reader said, “This book absolutely blew my mind! It is so powerful. I can’t wait to buy it and make sure everyone I know reads it.”

Having now got the finished book in my own hands, I can tell you that it’s already become a rich devotional blessing in my own walk with the Lord. If you would like to join me in being blessed by Jim Graham’s ‘legacy’ to the Body of Christ, you can order a copy right away by clicking on this link:

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In or Out?

Thoughts on the coming referendum on membership of the European Union.

The United Kingdom stands at one of the most significant and critical junctions in its long history as an island nation. On the 23rd June 2016 the UK will be voting in a referendum which will decide whether the UK stays in the European Union or chooses once again to be an independent sovereign nation outside the European Union.

The Second World War was fought and won by the UK and their Allies and in so doing preserved the independence of the UK as a nation, in the face of the military objectives of Hitler and the Third Reich. The cost of victory was huge – especially in terms of lives lost. And along the way there had been extraordinary and miraculous deliverances such as at Dunkirk, after the nation had been called to prayer by a God-fearing King.

When, as a nation, we, somewhat reluctantly, put our toe in the waters of Europe and entered the Common Market  in 1975,  it was a political experiment that promised much. Never again would we be vulnerable to war from any of our European brethren and the vast populations of all the European nations together would give us a market for our products which would guarantee prosperity for our businesses. It seemed an experiment worth exploring.

But now the nation is divided. We have a one-time opportunity to assess the success of the experiment and make a choice – either come out and plough our own furrow in the fields of international politics and government as a sovereign nation, or stay in.  Which should it be? Will it be of greater strategic value to the nation and the world for us to remain inside Europe? Or should we pronounce the experiment a failure and walk away to fulfil our own destiny?

Those who are arguing for staying in Europe are issuing dire warnings of what it would be like for Britain if we came out.  Those who are campaigning for Britain to leave (known as Brexit) are arguing equally passionately that, if we stay in, Britain will lose its sovereignty and we will no longer have any control over our laws or our borders. On many occasions now Britain has found that Brussels has trumped London, especially on legal matters, and imposed unwelcome decisions on the British people. There are a lot of question marks in peoples’ minds.

As I meditated on the situation and prayed about how I should vote, God turned my thoughts to the story of King Jehoshaphat, as it is told in Chapters 17-20 of 2 Chronicles.

Jehoshaphat was fundamentally a good King. We are told that the Lord was with him “because in his early years he walked in the ways his father David had followed” (17:3) and “his heart was devoted to the ways of the Lord” (17:6). He gave instructions to his officials to go throughout Judah “taking with them the Book of the Law of the Lord” (17:9) in order to teach the people. The result was amazing. “The fear of the Lord fell on all the Kingdoms of the lands surrounding Judah” (17:9) and they didn’t make war with him. The fear of the Lord became their holy protection and Jehoshaphat “had great wealth and honour” (18:1).

So how was it that a King who was so clearly heading in the right direction, got side-tracked? There were two occasions in his life when he got things badly wrong – both were through wrong alliances.

First, he allied himself in marriage with Ahab’s family. Ahab was one of the most evil Kings who had ever ruled neighbouring Israel. As a result, Jehoshaphat was compromised. So when King Ahab asked King Jehoshaphat to go to war with him against Ramoth Gilead, Jehoshaphat said “I am as you are, and my people as your people; we will join you in the war” (18:3). King Ahab died in the battle (18:33-34) but King Jehoshaphat returned safely to his palace – no doubt very relieved to have survived.

But Jehu the prophet met him on his way home and asked him a very profound question, “Should you help the wicked and love those who hate the Lord” (19:2) referring to Ahab and his evil wife Jezebel. “Because of this the wrath of the Lord is upon you. There is, however, some good in you, for you have rid the land of the Asherah poles and have set your heart on seeking God” (19:3).

Jehoshaphat had learned a very profound lesson and as a sign of his repentance “he went out again among the people and turned them back to the Lord, the God of their fathers” (19:4). In Jerusalem he spoke to the Levites, priests and heads of Israelite families and told them: “You must serve faithfully and wholeheartedly in the fear of the Lord” (19:9) and said “you are to warn the people not to sin against the Lord’ otherwise his wrath will come on you and your brothers. Do this and you will not sin” (19:10). Finally he said “Act with courage, and may the Lord be with those who do well” (19:11).

The whole of Chapter 20 describes what happened next. A vast army came against King Jehoshaphat and he led the people in faith, trusting in God for protection and victory. The Spirit of the Lord came upon Jahaziel the prophet and he said to the King, “This is what the Lord says to you: Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours, but God’s” (20:15) and “You will not have to fight this battle, Take up your positions, stand firm and see thee deliverance the Lord will give you” (20:17).

The story of the battle is remarkable. For “as they began to sing and praise, the Lord set ambushes against the men of Ammon and Moab and Mount Seir who were invading Judah, and they were defeated” (20:22). And the end result? “The fear of God came upon all the Kingdoms of the countries when they heard how the Lord had fought against the enemies of Israel. And the Kingdom of Jehoshaphat was at peace, for his God had given him rest on every side” (20:29-30).

It would be great if that was the end of the story. But there is one more devastating experience in Jehoshaphat’s life-story, that was also of his own making. Following the death of Ahab, with whom Jehoshaphat had been compromised through a marriage relationship, Ahaziah, his son, came to the throne. But we read that “he did evil in the eyes of the Lord, because he walked in the ways of his father and mother and the ways of Jeroboam son of Nebat, who caused Israel to sin.  He served and worshiped Baal and provoked the Lord, the God of Israel, to anger, just as his father had done” (1 Kings 22:52-53).

So why did Jehoshaphat join hands with this very ungodly man in a business alliance? Because he saw it as a way of making money by constructing “a fleet of trading ships” (20:36) in a joint business enterprise that he, no doubt, thought would make him even more money than he had. But why did he need to do that when the Lord had blessed him with so much in terms of both “wealth and honour” (17:5) and with “peace on every side” (20:30)? Maybe it was pride, or greed or that he was still under the spiritual influence of being compromised with the family of Ahab – Scripture is silent on the reason. But it is not silent on the result of his enterprise!

Eliezer, the prophet, came and spoke to Jehoshaphat and said, “’Because you have made an alliance with Ahaziah, the Lord will destroy what you have made”. The ships were wrecked and were not able to sail for trade” (20:37).

Jehoshaphat’s business enterprise was doomed to failure because he had entered into an alliance with an ungodly partner. Shortly after this sad event Jehoshaphat died – what a sad conclusion this final episode proved to be to the life of a King that began well, had been made prosperous by the Lord and had known the blessing of God on his kingdom in time of war.

So what are the lessons that I sensed God has been showing me through Jehoshaphat’s story, that would help me with deciding how to vote in the forthcoming referendum?

  1. Jehoshaphat compromised his godly foundations through a marital alliance with King Ahab who worshiped Baal and who, with his wife Jezebel, had put the prophets of God to death. Having learned the lesson through the words of the prophet Jehu, his repentance was clear and definite as he called the nation back to the worship of the living God.
  2. At the end of his days Jehoshaphat entered into an alliance with Ahab’s son for purposes of trade. It was an unmitigated disaster.

As I prayed through these two stark facts, I sensed the Lord was showing me that when the UK first went in to the European Union it was like a marriage of convenience that seemed good to our leaders and the nation at the time. But that it was not what God wanted for this Christian nation, with its extraordinary and godly heritage going right back to the oldest legal document in history, the Magna Carta. In this, God and Christian teaching were put at the forefront of the nation “to be observed in good faith by our heirs in perpetuity.” And today we have a Queen who has not reneged on the vows of her Coronation, in which she acknowledged that the Bible contains “the law and the Gospel of God as the Rule for the whole life and government of Christian Princes . . . the most valuable thing that this world affords . . . Here is Wisdom; This is the royal Law; These are the lively Oracles of God.”

In centuries past the centrality of the Word of God and the Christian faith has been the solid mainstay of the UK’s life and government. Countless believers became martyrs for the cause of truth and God’s Word. The eighteenth century Wesleyan revival saved and transformed the nation. And in the nineteenth century countless believers left the shores of the UK to take the Gospel to the known world. People such as William Carey, Hudson Taylor and hundreds more, less well known but equally faithful, became true ambassadors for Christ. William Wilberforce led the way, as a Christian in politics, to the abolition of slavery and many other Christian leaders were active politically in the nineteenth century.

It is stated thatwhen asked by a diplomatic delegation how Britain had become powerful in the world, ‘our beloved Queen Victoria sent him, not the number of her fleet, not the number of her armies, not the account of her boundless merchandise, not the details of her inexhaustible wealth … but handing him a beautifully bound copy of the Bible, she said ‘Tell the Prince that this is the Secret of England’s Greatness’”.

In the twentieth century it was the UK which led the way in the two greatest conflicts the world has ever known to overcome an aggressor – and the hand of God was on the nation and her allies to become the victor. On several occasions Britain experienced a Jehoshaphat moment when it was clear that the Lord was with the people of the UK and their allies in holding the ground against a heinous and anti-semitic aggressor.

In May 1940, over 300,000 British soldiers were stranded on the beaches of Dunkirk with the German forces closing in on them from all directions. Churchill thought that maybe 20,000 would survive and told the nation, “There is only one hope. Let’s all pray for them.” Several generals aid that “only a miracle” could save them. On the 26th May 1940 King George the Sixth declared a “National Day of Prayer for Deliverance”. The Archbishop of Canterbury led prayers from Westminster Abbey that were broadcast to the whole nation. The British people stopped to pray – and God heard and God answered.

The miracle of Dunkirk happened as fog descended on the beaches, the German air force could not take off and for “nine days the now calm and foggy English Channel made it possible for anything that would float – tugboats, yachts, pleasure boats – even the smallest of craft, as well as naval vessels – to sail across the channel and ferry 335,000 troops from the shallow beaches of Dunkirk back to England.”

Winston Churchill called it a “miracle of deliverance”. And Archbishop William Temple declared, “Why has God preserved us? We may, and we must, believe that He, who has preserved our land in a manner so marvellous, has a purpose for us to serve in the preparation of His perfect Kingdom.”

And so the nation survived, retained its sovereignty and, after the war was over, began to rebuild and play its part in a newly emerging post-war world.

But the words of William Temple were soon forgotten, for a wind of change was blowing hard through the western nations and the moral foundation of law, based on the authority of the Word of God, was gradually being eroded as the so-called enlightenment began to reap a harvest of agnosticism and atheism. Things were changing so fast that most people didn’t notice how the centuries old spiritual foundations of the nation were also shaking.

Christianity was challenged by the lack of belief of a generation that was indulging itself in the ‘free love’ rebellion of the pop-music dominated sixties, as well as the different beliefs of thousands of immigrants that were beginning to come to our shores. Our tolerant society quickly reneged on its historic conviction that Jesus was the Way, the Truth and the Life, indeed the only way to God. Multi-faith services gave way to the mutual equivalence and acceptance of other religions and eventually to fear of offending those who believe differently, as the more radical elements began to wield an influence through terror based activities.

The world was changing too fast for anyone to notice what was really happening to the spiritual heart of the nation. All the changes were producing a soft and vulnerable amoral underbelly, which has now gone full circle. In my own childhood a non-marital man-woman relationship was referred to by both believers and non-believers alike, as ‘living in sin’ – but today the word ‘sin’ is an offensive word and no-one dare question any form of sexual behaviour, almost no matter how ungodly it may be, because that is their human right!

Morality in relationships and human behaviour is no longer an ingredient of law. And what is of great significance to the current debate is that, within the European Union, Britain has had to make its statute book subservient to the dictates of Brussels. We are no longer free to make our own laws, if others might say that any such changes could infringe a person’s human rights!  Our elected parliament no longer has the authority that the electorate wants it to have.  We are, literally, ‘out of control’ because, the ultimate control of our affairs is now in the hands of Europe. We have been compromised by a political version of a marital alliance.

Denmark, Ireland and Britain first joined the European Economic Community (EEC) in 1973. It seemed a good business deal (Remember Jehoshaphat and Ahaziah!). Under the Labour Prime Minister, Harold Wilson, there was a UK referendum on continued membership of the EEC in 1975. The electorate voted ‘Yes’ by 67.2% to 32.8% to stay in Europe. At the time no-one had any idea of the extent to which Brussels would eventually dictate so much of what has become life in the UK. We were deceived. And now, even if we wanted to, we could never, within the European Union, reverse even one of the laws which, as a nation, we might believe are wrong – for whatever reason. Inside the EU we have become a subservient nation and we are no longer a sovereign state.

After Jehoshaphat realised what he had done through his marital, political and military relationship with Ahab, God gave him an opportunity to repent and change direction once more. He took it and the subsequent years were the most prosperous and God-protected of his entire reign. In some ways I now see this coming referendum as being like an opportunity for the whole nation to repent of the decision it made in 1975, in ignorance of what membership of the EU would mean.

But now we know what it has meant and what it will mean, and we have a one-time opportunity to choose whether or not we are going to remain in alliance with a type of Ahab or Ahaziah, through which we lose both our sovereignty and the potential to be a God inspired nation. Or, we can choose to take back into our own hands the future destiny of our government, our laws and our finances.

You may say that it won’t make any difference, for our own government has not shown any desire to return to our spiritual foundations, an opinion with which I, sadly, have to agree. But the difference is this: with the UK inside Europe, if leaders were to rise up in the future with the intent of changing things, to bring the UK more in line with God’s laws, they would have no legal authority to change anything – because everything would be subservient to our masters in Brussels. Even if God were to raise up a modern day ‘Joseph’, ‘Daniel’ or a repentant ‘Jehoshaphat’, inside the EU they would be impotent.

But, released from the shackles of what I now see as an ungodly alliance, who knows what God could still do in and through this nation?

I do not believe that God has forgotten our history, or the blood of the Christian martyrs who have laid down their lives and I would agree with the implication of what Archbishop William Temple said during the second world war – that God still has a purpose for this nation in the times that are yet to come before Jesus returns.

There are those who are saying that for the economic benefit of the nation and our workers we need to remain within the trading community that is the EU. However, let us not forget the painful lesson that Jehoshaphat learned the hard way – that trading alliances with the wrong partners will not be a source of blessing.

So, for deeply spiritual reasons – reasons that you will not see talked about in the Newspapers, or hear about on TV, I have come to the conclusion that it is time for the UK to cut itself free from alliances which undermine our sovereignty and limit our capacity to make our own laws. On the 23rd of June I will be voting to leave the EU – but I’m already praying for those hidden ‘Jehoshaphats’, ‘Daniels’ and ‘Josephs’ to come to the fore of public life, and start steering our nation back to the godly roots from which it has currently wandered so far.

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A Very Happy and Blessed New Year to You All

First of all, and above all, we give thanks to God for all His blessings during the year that has passed and then we rejoice at all the opportunities that God will lay before each one of us in 2016!

I am  always challenged by the Lord at this time of the year to both review the year that has passed and prepare for the year that is to come. For John Wesley, the first Sunday of the New Year was always designated as Covenant Sunday, when those who called themselves Methodists were encouraged to renew their vows to the Lord.

As the Church is the Bride of Christ, Wesley saw his relationship with God in Covenant as being like a marriage between human beings (both as a community and as individuals) on the one side and God in Christ on the other (cf. Ephesians 5.21-33). His original Covenant Prayer, therefore, involved taking Christ as “my Head and Husband, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, for all times and conditions, to love, honour and obey thee before all others, and this to the death”!

Wesley recognised that people needed not just to accept Jesus as their Saviour, but also to grow in  their relationship with God. He therefore emphasised that God’s grace and love constantly prompts and seeks to transform us, and so we should continually seek and pray to grow in holiness and love. Wesley’s Covenant Service always incorporated Holy Communion, which included the confession and forgiveness of sin, before making the following covenantal prayer:

I am no longer my own, but thine.

Put me to what thou wilt, rank me with whom thou wilt.

Put me to doing, put me to suffering.

Let me be employed for thee or laid aside for thee,

exalted for thee or brought low for thee.

Let me be full, let me be empty.

Let me have all things, let me have nothing.

I freely and heartily yield all things to thy pleasure and disposal.

And now, O glorious and blessed God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit,

thou art mine, and I am thine.

So be it.

And the covenant which I have made on earth,

let it be ratified in heaven. Amen.

Wesley was the epitome of an evangelist and disciple-maker. He also believed in healing and deliverance and it was not unusual for people to manifest and experience deliverance as they listened to his preaching. Often, under the conviction of the Holy Spirit, people were brought to a place where they were set free to serve the Lord.  As the years have gone by, I have realised that the relationship between evangelism, making disciples, deliverance and healing those in need has rightfully drawn ever closer in our own teaching and ministry practice.  This year I have sensed the Lord has been prompting me to encourage all our leaders to take time out during the beginning days of the year to follow in the steps of John Wesley, and prepare our hearts for all that lies before us in 2016. The clouds of darkness have been gathering across the world in 2015 and I believe that 2016 will not only be a year of great blessing  for those who love and serve the Lord, but that the Body of Christ is going to face fresh challenges as well – we need to be ready!

In years gone  by, when I actually had time to drive a vintage car, I would thoroughly prepare the vehicle for any long journey I was going to take. For me this meant servicing the car thoroughly, going over all the working parts and checking that everything was in order before setting out. And I always took a good set of tools with me for the journey, together with a workshop manual! Let’s look on 2016 as a journey that we are all going to take together in our respective ‘vehicles  of  life’ – may I encourage you to get ready for it and give your life a thorough and comprehensive service and get yourself equipped for the journey! He has given us an amazing tool kit in all the Scriptural material which is now incorporated in Ellel Ministries courses and books, and we have the best workshop manual that has ever been written in the Scriptures! May I encourage you to begin your time “in the garage”  by giving thanks  to God for all His blessings in the year that has passed?

I believe that God is preparing His people for greater responsibilities and opportunities for service – hence the prompting that the Lord gave me to encourage all of you to take time out this coming week to prepare yourselves in heart before the Lord for whatever He is preparing you for. The days are undoubtedly urgent. And the clouds may be gathering but, as we sang at our last  international conference at Blackpool,  there is also a light upon the mountains:

“There’s a light upon the mountains,
And the day is at the spring,
When our eyes shall see the beauty
And the glory of the King:
Weary was our heart with waiting,
And the night watch seemed so long,
But His triumph day is breaking
And we hail it with a song.

In the fading of the starlight
We may see the coming morn;
And the lights of men are paling
In the splendors of the dawn;
For the eastern skies are glowing
As with light of hidden fire,
And the hearts of men are stirring
With the throbs of deep desire.

There’s a hush of expectation
And a quiet in the air
And the breath of God is moving
In the fervent breath of prayer;
For the suffering, dying Jesus
Is the Christ upon the throne,
And the travail of our spirit
Is the travail of His own.

He is breaking down the barriers,
He is casting up the way;
He is calling for His angels
To build up the gates of day:
But His angels here are human,
Not the shining hosts above;
For the drum beats of His army
Are the heartbeats of our love.

Hark! we hear a distant music
And it comes with fuller swell;
’Tis the triumph song of Jesus,
Of our king, Immanuel!
Go ye forth with joy to meet Him!
And, my soul, be swift to bring
All thy sweetest and thy dearest
For the triumph of our king!”

As we walk into 2016, let us never forget the reality of the second half of verse four:

But His angels here are human, Not the shining hosts above; For the drum beats of His army,  Are the heartbeats of our love.”

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