United we stand…

UnknownI  have an appeal, I have a cry of the heart to make known.   It commenced as I was skipping along Facebook and Twitter submissions recently.   Watching the one line soundbites flooding in and being deeply aware that in no man or woman’s heart is the desire to separate or divide, but watching as the submissions pass by, some unknowingly even innocently will bring this about, asking people to stand on right or wrong sides, best or better, are you this persuasion or the other, do you subscribe or don’t you, this experience is the now way, it all sounds a little gnostic, I am saddened.   My cry is let us be united, I am so aware that God has done all in order that we are united with God, should we not do all to maintain this, for this is my cry.

We live in an age where other word carries more weight in our soul than the WORD of the Father, Son and Spirit, or at least that is how it seems.  The immense word that comes out of the divine circle, the dance that unceasingly goes on that we have been invited to participate with, and is not our passion our desire is for us to fill up this world with the life and therefore the Word of God. I read a submission recently, which seemed so good on the surface but I must admit it left me with a question, are we splitting hairs, through this it appears to be acceptable to separate once again on experiences. As one who has been baptized into belonging, like many of us through baptism, we are a people who are desirous to see the one body of Christ in our world, to see Christ filling all in all, allowing various viewpoints without undermining our heartfelt desire to be united as God is.  John 17 surely must become our priority not our theology, or experience, a question should it not all constructively direct us to the will of God?

John 17:21-23        I pray that they will all be one, just as you and I are one—as you are in me, Father, and I am in you. And may they be in us so that the world will believe you sent me. 

22 “I have given them the glory you gave me, so they may be one as we are one. 

23 I am in them and you are in me. May they experience such perfect unity that the world will know that you sent me and that you love them as much as you love me.

Now don’t get me wrong I strongly hold to diversity in every aspect of our faith and life, in our thinking and practice without being given over to every one doing what is right in their own eyes.     How can any one view, any one theology, any one experience deliver or fully describe our vast and wonderful God.      We live in a world where we recognize  that every culture, every colour, tribe and tongue is necessary to express God. There is no one person, no one age, no one culture that can faithfully express God in fullness, we are in need of every difference to make up the full testimony of the Father, Son and Spirit.    For is God not always presented to us in more than the one, God is covenantal.

Now back to my first thought, this submission that kicked this cry to the forefront of my mind was a quote that we do not need an encounter with the Bible but with the love of God.    Whereas I can agree and support the thought to a degree, it is the life encounter that transforms, appealing that we stay in the life of God, being sons of God ‘led by the Spirit, however here is my heartfelt plea, are not the Scriptures, the Word of God, the Bible the love of God, the Father made manifest?       Is not the word we can carry on our arms, hands, hearts and tongues, the Scriptures, the Bible the manifestation of the love of God, otherwise the love of God becomes an emotion, an encounter, an experience, whereas I experience the love of God and find my emotions stirred by the love of God through the Bible as I encounter their words, Christ is made manifest as I encounter him as the Word.    My appeal is simply let us not downgrade the Bible, the Scriptures but only love them, as yet another expression of the love of God, where we can encounter the Fathers love.  God’s words, Father Son and Spirit show their love through the Scriptures and in the Scriptures.

I am one that believes that the love of God through history has given us two Testaments the New Testament and Old Testament I also see God in the new covenant is writing a Third Testament.   You and I are to be a Testament written by the spirit and read by all men, letters that all can read and encounter Father, Son and Spirit.

Let us see the wide expression of vast different ways of the love of God, rather than set up what is right and wrong, person against person through our experience.   I know that is not our desire but unfortunately we do add to the practice the experience of who, what is superior or lesser on these matters.   God is love and his Word, the Scriptures, the Bible as we read it, is one place where we can, and do, encounter the Fathers love as in and through so many other vehicles 

 The love of God is delivered to us through many facets creation, scriptures, even modern-day films, anything really,  we can encounter the love of God in so much and we do!

 

Jesus impact

Interesting? I wonder what you will make of this or will you get lost on his…?

Bono by Michka Assayas is a fascinating book, especially for U2 fans.

From the Amazon page:

Bono’s career is unlike any other in rock history. As the lead singer of U2, Bono has sold 130 million albums, won fourteen Grammys, and played numerous sold-out world tours, but he has also lobbied and worked with world leaders from Bill Clinton and George W. Bush to Nelson Mandela on debt relief, AIDS, and other critical global issues. He has collaborated with the same musicians for nearly three decades and has been married to his childhood sweetheart since 1982. His life, at all turns, resists the rock star clichés.

In a series of intimate conversations with his friend Michka Assayas, a music journalist who has been with the band since the very beginning, Bono reflects on his transformation from the extrovert singer of a small Irish post-punk band into one of the most famous individuals in the world; and from an international celebrity to an influential spokesperson for the Third World. He speaks candidly about his faith, family, commitment, influences, service, and passion. Bono: A Self-Portrait in Conversation is the closest we will come, for now, to a memoir from the iconic frontman of U2.”

What follows is an excerpt from the book where Bono talks about Jesus Christ in an interview with the author:

Bono: My understanding of the Scriptures has been made simple by the person of Christ. Christ teaches that God is love. What does that mean? What it means for me: a study of the life of Christ. Love here describes itself as a child born in straw poverty, the most vulnerable situation of all, without honor. I don’t let my religious world get too complicated. I just kind of go: Well, I think I know what God is. God is love, and as much as I respond [sighs] in allowing myself to be transformed by that love and acting in that love, that’s my religion. Where things get complicated for me, is when I try to live this love. Now that’s not so easy.

Michka: What about the God of the Old Testament? He wasn’t so “peace and love”?

Bono: There’s nothing hippie about my picture of Christ. The Gospels paint a picture of a very demanding, sometimes divisive love, but love it is. I accept the Old Testament as more of an action movie: blood, car chases, evacuations, a lot of special effects, seas dividing, mass murder, adultery. The children of God are running amok, wayward. Maybe that’s why they’re so relatable. But the way we would see it, those of us who are trying to figure out our Christian conundrum, is that the God of the Old Testament is like the journey from stern father to friend. When you’re a child, you need clear directions and some strict rules. But with Christ, we have access in a one-to-one relationship, for, as in the Old Testament, it was more one of worship and awe, a vertical relationship. The New Testament, on the other hand, we look across at a Jesus who looks familiar, horizontal. The combination is what makes the Cross.

Michka: Speaking of bloody action movies, we were talking about South and Central America last time. The Jesuit priests arrived there with the gospel in one hand and a rifle in the other.

Bono: I know, I know. Religion can be the enemy of God. It’s often what happens when God, like Elvis, has left the building. [laughs] A list of instructions where there was once conviction; dogma where once people just did it; a congregation led by a man where once they were led by the Holy Spirit. Discipline replacing discipleship. Why are you chuckling?

Michka: I think I am beginning to understand religion because I have started acting and thinking like a father. What do you make of that?

Bono: Yes, I think that’s normal. It’s a mind-blowing concept that the God who created the universe might be looking for company, a real relationship with people, but the thing that keeps me on my knees is the difference between Grace and Karma.

Michka: I haven’t heard you talk about that.

Bono: I really believe we’ve moved out of the realm of Karma into one of Grace.

Michka: Well, that doesn’t make it clearer for me.

Bono: You see, at the center of all religions is the idea of Karma. You know, what you put out comes back to you: an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, or in physics; in physical laws every action is met by an equal or an opposite one. It’s clear to me that Karma is at the very heart of the universe. I’m absolutely sure of it. And yet, along comes this idea called Grace to upend all that “as you reap, so you will sow” stuff. Grace defies reason and logic. Love interrupts, if you like, the consequences of your actions, which in my case is very good news indeed, because I’ve done a lot of stupid stuff.

Michka: I’d be interested to hear that.

Bono: That’s between me and God. But I’d be in big trouble if Karma was going to finally be my judge. I’d be in deep s—. It doesn’t excuse my mistakes, but I’m holding out for Grace. I’m holding out that Jesus took my sins onto the Cross, because I know who I am, and I hope I don’t have to depend on my own religiosity.

Michka: The Son of God who takes away the sins of the world. I wish I could believe in that.

Bono: But I love the idea of the Sacrificial Lamb. I love the idea that God says: Look, you cretins, there are certain results to the way we are, to selfishness, and there’s a mortality as part of your very sinful nature, and, let’s face it, you’re not living a very good life, are you? There are consequences to actions. The point of the death of Christ is that Christ took on the sins of the world, so that what we put out did not come back to us, and that our sinful nature does not reap the obvious death. That’s the point. It should keep us humbled . It’s not our own good works that get us through the gates of heaven.

Michka: That’s a great idea, no denying it. Such great hope is wonderful, even though it’s close to lunacy, in my view. Christ has his rank among the world’s great thinkers. But Son of God, isn’t that farfetched?

Bono: No, it’s not farfetched to me. Look, the secular response to the Christ story always goes like this: he was a great prophet, obviously a very interesting guy, had a lot to say along the lines of other great prophets, be they Elijah, Muhammad, Buddha, or Confucius. But actually Christ doesn’t allow you that. He doesn’t let you off that hook. Christ says: No. I’m not saying I’m a teacher, don’t call me teacher. I’m not saying I’m a prophet. I’m saying: “I’m the Messiah.” I’m saying: “I am God incarnate.” And people say: No, no, please, just be a prophet. A prophet, we can take. You’re a bit eccentric. We’ve had John the Baptist eating locusts and wild honey, we can handle that. But don’t mention the “M” word! Because, you know, we’re gonna have to crucify you.

And he goes: No, no. I know you’re expecting me to come back with an army, and set you free from these creeps, but actually I am the Messiah. At this point, everyone starts staring at their shoes, and says: Oh, my God, he’s gonna keep saying this. So what you’re left with is: either Christ was who He said He was the Messiah or a complete nutcase. I mean, we’re talking nutcase on the level of Charles Manson. This man was like some of the people we’ve been talking about earlier. This man was strapping himself to a bomb, and had “King of the Jews” on his head, and, as they were putting him up on the Cross, was going: OK, martyrdom, here we go. Bring on the pain! I can take it. I’m not joking here. The idea that the entire course of civilization for over half of the globe could have its fate changed and turned upside-down by a nutcase, for me, that’s farfetched

If only we could be a bit more like Him, the world would be transformed. When I look at the Cross of Christ, what I see up there is all my s— and everybody else’s. So I ask myself a question a lot of people have asked: Who is this man? And was He who He said He was, or was He just a religious nut? And there it is, and that’s the question. And no one can talk you into it or out of it.

 

“You Won…”

images-9Subtitled “You won Arthur!”

We recently directed some guests of ours from overseas to Kings Cross station London as they wanted to see platform 9 ¾, I wondered what they wanted, 9 ¾ never heard of such a platform, cannot be really?  I had no idea what they were talking about, never heard of it, thought they are not from UK.    However I found out that they knew better than me, the platform was made famous through Harry Potter’s book, you go to the platform quite simply to get your photo opportunity… just in case you wish to see it take the Underground to Kings Cross / St. Pancras, (two main line stations that share the same Underground Station).        Follow the signs into Kings Cross Station when you get to the surface walk along Platform 8 (it’s totally free access).     When you see a sign directing you left to Platforms 9 to 11 keep going on along Platform 8 and the Platform 9 3/4 photo opportunity is a few yards further along on your left. There is normally a conspicuous sign on the platform pointing to the small alcove and out of the wall projects half a baggage trolley.   You have arrived at your destination.

I had no idea of how to get there or how to help others arrive there then the thought came to me, it is a real challenge for us all to answer the question   “where are we going and how can we help each other get there?”.    It is a timely question in the hour we live, with so many changes in society, politics and the economic world , in the business world and in the world of faith, the church change is coming at us as a fast speeding train, whether we want it or not.    Where is it taking us and how can we help each other get  there?

It  is a day for the prophetic people of God to come to the forth, a day in the midst of much noise and debate, to take hold of the word of God.     Gods’ words when uttered in the past created, they also sustained people who took them up.    These spoken words gave direction and knowledge to those who listen and heard them, those who listened  did not find themselves with out understanding.

Clearly we are in a day of discovering a deeper trust of the Father a new listening and obedience that will lead us into freedom and to the land of promise.    We have to grasp the idea that we are on journey,  that in itself  will empower, challenge and  mature all who embark.

Today as people of God in the west, we find ourselves so much part of societies thinking at large, that it has invaded the church and they way we think, becoming consumers in every way.   Seeking ever-increasing experiences for our emotions, listening to the word of God to consume that which we believe that will give us a quick advance, an edge on life or even fix?    Making decisions on that which we can get hold of immediately, the NOW rules us.    Yet the Journey men and women of old, the pictures of lives of people between the covers of the scriptures walked a journey, not a quick dash with immediate consumer gratification.    Consider the lesson of one of these journey men, Abraham, here is a man who had promise upon promise spoken to him, of people’s, fathering, sons, nation and land, God promises to bless all nations through Abraham, yet Abraham received none of these in his day, but  even 1000’s of years on the promises are still coming to pass.

Even more than that Abraham had a 644 Kilometer journey, once he was willing to entertain the promise.   A 644 Kilometer journey and a 4000+ year, time frame, to get the promises.   Now that is a challenge once he become obedient to the promise words of God it was a long haul walk and a massive time frame to content with.    Now don’t get me wrong on the journey there where evidences, victories of the promise but its fullness took walking on investing time, he become wealthy in his day, he had influence and did finally get a true son of promise, but certainly one son does not constitute a nation!   Once Abraham believed and entered the journey it was counted as righteousness to him, that is keeping in right line with the journey, and keeping it foundational to life’s actions and decisions.   The words of God are living, but how living are they ?  They require movement, obedience, a change of vicinity, a change of surroundings, a departure and a step in front of you.    Actually the words of promise to us all are to bring about sons of God who are led by the Spirit, to bring maturity in light of eternal promise.

I think its time to discover not only the joy of the immediate but the eternal will of the Father, knowing that we have been called to an eternal purpose, to depart from the tent of  the immediate and become the tent of meeting for our life and then our world around us.     We are, the people of God, the ecclesia, the church are to be the place where people will meet the love of God along with a people who are a prophetic journeying people

Let me encourage you to find others people who will also ask, where is all this taking us?  where are we going and how can i help you get there rather than making sure i can get there.

Traveling in a plane has its challenges, but no more for me than the initial film or safety demonstration, we are all shown, there is one difficult line there to listen  to, it goes something like this …make sure your mask when it drops from the roof goes on you first before you see to children or others… that is so against the journey of prophetic people,  firstly seeing to ourselves before others, so that we can all arrive together.    Many years ago  we were taught to play croquet by a great Godly man called Arthur Wallis some 15 or so of us, in a retreat centre in Sheffield.   As we came to the end of our game and lesson Arthur being the master crossed the line, won the game and a shout of “…you have won Arthur…” went up from all,  with this he turned and said “…no I only cross the line when all my brothers cross…” and with that he went to  be with the Lord.   What a line to enter eternity with, to depart this expression of life with, what a way to live, asking more how can i help you get to the destination of the will of God rather than consuming, to get there myself.

So find journey men and women, young people, children sojourners who are pursuing the will of the Father in eternal promise and plan and seek to help each other fulfill the prophetic purpose of God.

Our Time…

“And likewise, all the prophets who have spoken, from Samuel and his successors onward, also announced these days. 

25 “It is you who are the sons of the prophets and of the covenant which God made with your fathers, saying to Abraham, And in your seed all the families of the earth shall be blessed.’

images-9Acts 3:24-25

I’m not sure how long I have heard certain types of comments and messages going around the church, not only the church but in politics and society, messages on ‘times of transition’. I think I can truthfully say there has rarely been a year not hurt teams such as ‘days of transition’, ‘changing seasons’, and ‘new day’ and even the buzz term of today ‘paradigms shifts’. Why is it that every New Year we feel we’ve entered into the time of transition and without playing semantics I think a better summation of what has been taking place would be to say, we’ve been caught up in the purpose that his constant change therefore you feel you are in constant transition.

Unfortunately what is meant by transition often is to move from one fixed state of existence to another. Yet with great joy we experience something better than that. We are involved in the progressive and sure emergence of God’s kingdom in life and power in the progress towards maturity of the people.

In recent years it’s become popular paint on walls or to purchase planks with pithy sayings on, I came across one recently which stated, ‘if you only do things the way you have always done them, then you only get what you’ve always got’. Progress to the fullness of Christ, showing the Father that is, is only possible if we escape the fossilized influence of the status quo, of religious acceptance.

I believe we live in a generation that is calling out for Prophets who when they prophesy it’s not insipid prophesying passionate prophets.   Those in-home everything about their life his passion. What they hate they hate absolutely, what they love the love totally. What they do knows no half measure. There is an inch to their sword, conviction and their voice, men and women deeply moved by the spirit of God, men and women carry the burden can’t…Passion.

Over the years we have all recognise passionate preachers. The non-always held, you can be loud and not passionate, and you can be passionate and not allowed. But we could tell if their heart) in one memo from speaking we knew when there was passion inside them. The men and the women believe what they were saying, they believed they carried the word of God and love to such an extent they believe they were the most important person in the building at the moment, and what they were saying was the most important thing in the world at that moment…Passion.

And let me say they were not arrogant, they were not totally sure of themselves but they were sure of the God of the call and the word of the burden. That poured outness, giveness, their abandonment to thy God propelled them.

Passion by itself is not guarantee of truth, but also the passion instead. ‘The letter kills, it is the spirit that gives life’…Passion.

We could join with those 2 disciples that pass comment when they realise that Christ had walked on the Emmaus Road with them and say ‘ did not our heart burn inside this’ when they heard the word of God. We know very well that communicating with heart must be a way forward. There are so many able people to communicate information and do it with such creativity, you when I will be much the better from hearing them, but it also deliver their heart…Passion that captures us.

Should not the things of God, the interests of the creator, the seal of the Lord that will accomplish it be that which triggers and fires a passion?

Samuel and his successors were at the forefront of the purpose of God for their time, and brought to each and burning messages of God’s word. O Lord give us a fire back in words, not empty with no substance words, but words of revelation that carry a fire of heavens throne.They spoke to kings and rulers, who in turn put pressure on them to change their throne to change their message, to change their prophesy. Yet these prophets were 1st and foremost servants of God, and despite all pressures remained such. Political engineering  and electioneering in our day shawls politicians seeking to discover through opinion polls what the people want them to say on issues. When they find this they often change the emphasis opposition accordingly. We have politics of single issues. Not so all the prophets, they know the purpose, they know the heart of God and they press the issue. They are not politicians but prophets.  Men and women who love God and deeply loved the people of God, folding after Christ the great prophet who loved people.

These never measured themselves by people’s response to the word they carried. The fulfilling release they have is knowing that they’ve been the voice of God that time. The response of the word is an issue between people and their God. The prophet is to deliver what is known to be the word of God.

Think about it…your passion, your burden, your abandonment…