Leading from mail, ’email’, ‘snail mail’, ‘Royal mail’ or Power Letter…

Biblical LetterWhat a book, what a letter, what a pouring out of wisdom and revelation.

How can I best present the book of Ephesians to you, a book that was penned into a world where the evidences of powers behind politics, social challenges and finances were so evident. The signs of strength were openly displayed on the market streets of the day. History tells us even the world power of the day, ‘Roman Empire’ had claimed the eternal rights of power in having a divine Caesar, this was the world Paul wrote in to, this was the world in which the readers took hold of the truth that Paul unpacked.  Perhaps in truth, not 1,000,000 miles away from our own world where the powers still seek to capture the state, the politics, the finances, the world markets, therefore this letter introduces to us  how to live in such a world.

The writings are there to encourage the readers, you and I, a people who are “in Christ, women, men, children all that are and were being called to be obedient to the Creator of the Universe (Eph 1:4,3:9). The truth of being “In Christ” is this, God graciously included us into Gods eternal family (Eph 1:2,5; 2:18,5:20). What a thrilling narrative what an exciting reality for each one of us, we have been given a role in the eternal purpose of God (Eph 1:9-10). Which means we have a close relationship with Father Son and Spirit. This is not any relationship but one where God was so committed to being united with us that God was willing to humble God to achieve being united with is.

The reality must be sounded greatly in our and through our lives, we are to be bold and take hold to the truth sounded by Paul in this letter by engaging and embracing “seek first” the coming of the kingdom and the anointed King, Christ Jesus has already established the victory of God, the eschatology of our world, Christ is the end!    This victory for is declared to all the “spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places”, we being united translates to that the very same power has become available to God’s family.

WOW, the earth shattering,  eternal impacting message of this book, Paul Longs that our eyes might be open, that spiritual blindness will be taken away by all who read this letter. Because of this we are called to live as one, encouraged to take on the overcoming fight with the forces around us.

We are reminded that if we are “in Christ” we are joined, United with him and each other.

Not only did Christ conquer but also took of himself on the heel of the victory, not only crushed the head of the evil one but made available all and gave himself away by Christ distributed himself, in giving gifts so that we might maintain our oneness and come to maturity (Eph 4:11 cf)

Paul wants us to grasp and hold in our foundation that God is in the process of restoring his creation to its original unity, the unity of peace between people’s, the unity of peace in creation.

I urge us to read these passages rightly, to grasp the reasons Paul is committing hand to pen and pen to paper, so that each one must grow up to maturity in all ways, that we might learn what it is to grasp “the breath and the length and the height and depth… of the love of Christ” in order that God’s eternal plan might come to full maturity in each individual and in the corporate life of the church of God.

The giving of gifts, distribution of Ascension gifts, the setting of good works, the grasping of the love of God, see that we have been arrested since before creation began,  all is our inheritance to enjoy.

Asking the WHY question

images-8We all have many friends that live around our lives, some pass through for a season others stay around for longer.   I begin this blog not with friendship in mind directly buy more to ask I wonder out of all those friends or acquaintances now many helped us on our journey though life.    Who has impacted me and to what extent?    It always amazes me we have friends even that don’t help and well as those that do.     Who walked through my life and is still doing so, being the imprint of wisdom through words, actions.   Who has become the fingers of God working in my life, is this not “every joint supplying”.   I opened up a meeting on Sunday with this thought “…to join my self to any one even to be joined to a people group, a church, cannot be just to attend…” Unfortunately for far to many this is so, the Christ like life degenerate to attending rather a relational joining, a felt joining, even the language used can be ever so relational but do we feel one another?   It’s much more “you are not joined until I feel you, we have not joined until we feel one another”.

I would suggest that Jesus showed this in his own life painting pictures constantly of this, glimpses of joining’s so many times.   One story comes to mind of the woman who had bled for 12 years she came not just to be in the crowed but to join herself to him.   When she did so Jesus felt it, it was not just a healing we are told Jesus felt something leave him.   She was joined he felt it and I am sure she did, a story of order, government (number 12 is always seen as government, 12 tribes, 12 apostles of the lamb, 12 disciples etc.) her life came back into order after 12 years of disorder.    This was a relational touch in story form “she touched him”, actually her  healing came not as she just brushed past his prayer blanket, in her action she joined here self to him and Jesus announced “…who touched me…”, I felt it flow from me.   Is this not “ever joint supplying”?

Back to where I began some people touch our lives and help us to put lenses on that enable us to see bigger picture to get a balance back in life, others to see the detail of all that goes around, some more to put lenses that assist us to appreciate people and circumstance, and there are those that even help us to see with future lenses making sense of past and future along with present.   Few come along and probe strategic questions on how we see , view so that we can prioritize or respond correctly.  Questions that shake but ultimate make secure our journey and the way we live that journey.

Here is my point reading today the Psalmist viewpoint as life is lived around him and as the Message translation brings home some necessary view to consider reading today.   I read a simple word yet major in its consequence if dealt with incorrectly it could shipwreck a life but if dealt with correctly will enhanced and make authentic our faith journey and intimate relationship with the Christ of God.

Psalm 106:1-3 says “…hallelujah! Thank God! And why?   Because he’s good, because his love lasts.   But who on earth can do it — declaim God’s mighty acts, broadcast all his praises?   You’re one happy man when you do what’s right, one happy woman when you form the habit of justice.

My simple word is WHY

What a great opening and a wonderful habit to get into asking WHY?   It’s not any why being asked here, it’s why are you being God focused, why are you thankful focused and why are you both together thanking God?      Don’t just do it as the pressure of the crowed or the church you belong too expectantly expect you to conform in what we call “worship” just do it.   I think God likes the question to be able to cut through the dross of performance to the real essence of you and his relationship felt with us.

The Psalm commences with Hallelujah where does that go to, what is its meaning here.     Praise it starts with in heart and action then we have an abrupt stop WHY?

One sure thing that this WHY exposes is don’t give you self to form the anchor of things that are so emotional, soul issues, gaining ego stuff or position to be included in the inner group the things of life that change and that are insecure, find the unchanging stuff.   Find a WHY that is worthwhile and a WHY that is compelling, a WHY that brings a reason and momentum an advance, that creates a sure foundation.

Praise, thanks, WHY these three may be a good combination for life’s journey a threesome, a coupling that brings a way forward.

Praise

Thanks

WHY

Three legs of an expressive disciple, a disciple that turns his her heart to the Lord becomes one of these who God looks for!

That we have a WHY not to undermine but to engaged further, to become personally authentic, rather than to be part with this group I have to do it.    So I need to understand WHY and there is a way to ask my WHY’s even.   How can I ask an empowering WHY, not just a child’s frustrated why or we even a rebellious why, but a why so I can get to know me along with my motivations.

This WHY is to bring and understanding of

Self

My environment

The overcoming power of testimony

An encounter of God

Why I do what I do that the expression comes from an inner well.

That no religion distracts or engrosses

That no unreality destroys authenticity

That we are always aware of the inner man discovering in the wilderness of inner the challenges of motive.

WHY ASK WHY?

5Whys  question is outlined in Wikipedia as:     The 5 Whys is an iterative question-asking technique used to explore the cause-and-effect relationships underlying a particular problem.     The primary goal of the technique is to determine the root cause of a defect or problem. (The “5” in the name derives from an empirical observation on the number of iterations typically required to resolve the problem.)    The following example demonstrates the basic process:

  • The vehicle will not start. (the problem).
  1. Why? – The battery is dead. (first why)
  2. Why? – The alternator is not functioning. (second why)
  3. Why? – The alternator belt has broken. (third why)
  4. Why? – The alternator belt was well beyond its useful service life and not replaced. (fourth why)
  5. Why? – The vehicle was not maintained according to the recommended service schedule. (fifth why, a root cause)
  6. Why? – Replacement parts are not available because of the extreme age of the vehicle. (sixth why, optional footnote)
  • Start maintaining the vehicle according to the recommended service schedule. (possible 5th Why solution)
  • Purchase a different vehicle that is maintainable. (possible 6th Why solution)

The questioning for this example could be taken further to a sixth, seventh, or higher level: the “five” in 5 Whys is not gospel, but five iterations of asking why is generally sufficient to get to a root cause. The key is to encourage the trouble-shooter to avoid assumptions and logic traps and instead trace the chain of causality in direct increments from the effect through any layers of abstraction to a root cause that still has some connection to the original problem. Note that in this example the fifth why suggests a broken process or an alterable behaviour, which is typical of reaching the root-cause level.

It is interesting to note that the last answer points to a process. This is one of the most important aspects in the 5 Why approach – the real root cause should point toward a process that is not working well or does not exist. Untrained facilitator will often observe that answers seem to point towards classical answers such as not enough time, not enough investments, or not enough manpower. These answers may sometimes be true but in most cases they lead to answers out of our control. Therefore, instead of asking the question why?, ask why did the process fail?

A key phrase to keep in mind in any 5 Why exercise is “people do not fail, processes do”

Why Ask Why?

Should I never ask, is it productive, should it be part of my life’s cycle, do I have the ware all on managing asking the question.

WHY are you doing what you’re doing, find the answer the Father will bring it, WHY is a powerful a belonging word, it really will cause you to feel your relationship when WHY’s are asked that we will feel one another as we bring form to our WHY’s of life and faith.

Kingdom has come and is coming…

What great changes we are seeing in practice and thought patterns, I firmly believe that we live in an age that the people of God are experiencing a new reformation at every level.    A massive transformation is happening around us, Dispensational practice and theology is in images-6the last shakes for survival as the ‘Gospel of the Kingdom’ is growing and affecting the thinking of the church, the people of God.   Its onward advance is transforming our responsibility for creation rather than upholding a hoped escapism, it brings an accountability for transformation in our societies rather than doing away with a fallen world, it is the Kingdom of God at hand!

We are born to a very challenging yet exciting moment of advance as Father God makes known God’s purpose and will.   Today we are much more given to the language and practice of ‘mission,’ ‘transformation,’ bringing the rule of God to earth to see the coming of the Kingdom of God.    Jesus said the kingdom ‘…has come….and is coming…’, for some this means that over the years we have had to deal with the immediacy of the kingdom ‘…has come…’ being careful not to get lost into triumphalism with ‘Kingdom now’, only now having to deal with the onward transformation of ‘…the Kingdom is coming and will come…’, this is where our labour comes in, the travail until Jesus receives the ‘travail of his soul’ Isa 53:11

Church historians tell us that following every move of God approximately 30 to 35 years on, those affected in the move turn to transformation initiatives prior to another move of God.   Historically an example of this can be seen following the move of God in the UK with John and Charles Wesley in their education, health, etc, initiatives.   The UK experienced a move of God some 30/35 years ago commonly name the ‘house church movement’, this was a move, as it changed the structure of the church and theology.   Note it also was not isolated to the UK.   Similar move happened with a groups of men and women in South America, South Africa, USA and I am told Australia, they may have been under different names but there was a move of God afoot.

However, I can only comment on the UK, I believe what we are seeing in the UK now is not a recycling of history but the impact of a Kingdom Gospel.   Time will only tell, if it is history recycling we are on the verge of another move, but I seeing it as the coming of the Kingdom along with our growing grasp of understanding relating to the Kingdom of God.   I write this as an introduction to a book review that I believe all should take time to read to ensure our Kingdom is foundationally correct in all the changes we are seeing.   Please note this book was written many years ago and does not contain all the advances made over the last 40 years however a good place to commence a journey from. It is imperative we establish continually our foundation as we advance and fresh revelation breaks in on us, it is necessary to be able to contain revelation.

I will introduce chapters for you, this blog will only deal with the initial chapters so you can think on them, then we will return in the next blog to further chapters continuing our thinking.

‘The Gospel of the Kingdom‘       George Eldon LaddUnknown

Chapter 1 – What is the Kingdom of God? – There are diverse interpretations of the Kingdom of God. This is the result of the many varying different interpretations that are found within the Bible. The Kingdom of God is seen as a present spiritual reality, (Rom 14:17) the Kingdom is also an inheritance which God will bestow upon His people. (Mat 25:34)  The Kingdom of God therefore holds two tensions closely; it is a present spiritual reality but at the same time the Kingdom has a future realm as well. The Kingdom of God is God’s rule, reign and sovereignty now. Gods rule is also an everlasting rule and reign. In order for one to enter the future realm of the Kingdom of God, one must submit himself in perfect trust to God’s rule here and now. The Kingdom of God is God’s rule, reign and sovereignty now. It is an everlasting rule and reign.

Chapter 2 – The Kingdom is Tomorrow – George Eldon Ladd explains how the Kingdom of God can be held in two different spheres as a present spiritual reality & a future hope by explaining that there are two different ages; this age and the age to come.

This age is dominated by wickedness, evil & rebellion against the will of God, whilst the age to come is the age of the Kingdom whereby God’s rule and reign will be at the centre. Ladd explains that the drive of ambition for wealth & success are all involved with the cares of this age. He suggests that the spirit of this age is hostile to the Gospel of Jesus. In Ephesians it talks about Satan being the prince of the air, this age is defined by Satan having the power of the air.

The age to come will witness the fullness of God’s Kingdom, the perfection of God’s reign. Ladd explains that we will never experience the full blessings of Gods Kingdom in this age as he argues that death will not be destroyed until the final judgment at the end of the rule of Christ talked about in Revelation.

Chapter 3 – Kingdom of God is TodayHeb 6:5, ‘who have tasted the goodness of the Word of God and the power of the age to come,’ displays that which belongs to the future has become a present reality.  By the power of the age to come may be delivered from the from this present evil age. Within this chapter Ladd goes onto explain that the Kingdom of God has invaded this age.

In the last chapter it was suggested that death will not completely be destroyed until the end of the millennial rule of Christ.  Although this is true it is important to note that through Jesus’ resurrection the triumph over death has begun and Satan has already been defeated. (Heb 2:14) Jesus life on earth broke the power of Satan. Satan is a defeated enemy and because of this we may be delivered from the power of this evil age into the Kingdom of God.  Therefore we can bring God’s rule and Kingdom, age to come into the present evil age.

Chapter 4 – The Mystery of the Kingdom – The Mystery of the Kingdom is that it has come amongst men, but yet men can reject it. God’s Kingdom is working among men, but it will not compel them to bow before it, they must receive it through a willing heart and a submissive will.  The Kingdom of God does not force itself upon men; it is not like a stone grinding an image to powder but the Kingdom requires a submissive heart & will.

The Kingdom of God has come to work among men, destroying human rule & abolishing all that stand against the Father will from the earth.  The Kingdom offers men blessings of God’s rule, delivering men from the power of Satan. However the Kingdom will not work with an ‘irresistible power,’ but will work within the hearts of men that have submitted to God’s rule & reign.

 

Restoration of the HOUSE

“…give no rest UNTIL he has a dwelling place…” Rev 21, 22

Psalm 132:2-5

images-7I wonder what these words paint in your mind, what picture does it cultivate.    As the words are read what is sculpted in your imagination?

There is an implication for us all to do something with these words; an act of disturbance, a work of not allowing settlement, a challenge of activity with a goal of an “UNTIL” in mind.     Take all you have and all you know, all your ability and apply it to disrupting yourself, your acquaintances, deep friends, family and even God, UNTIL an end is reached.

When you are young the UNTIL must be in the fore front of your mind, it is the goal by which the Father requires us to make our focus, our first thought, our life’s ambition and longing “…seek first…”.     Don’t settle back as you get older then, as the years go by be careful not to join the status quo, be mindful not to think it is some one else’s turn or responsibility.   GIVE NO REST, it is not a time to retire or go on holiday, nothing wrong in them but keep the aim of God until our Father receives the goal of his course.   It is said of Jesus “…for the joy set before him…” of Paul “…I press on towards…”, it is too easy to make an excuse why we have done enough, it is too easy to say “this one and that one hurt me”.   To blame others, but these words sculpt in our heart’s “…GIVE NO REST…”

The Father, our God, the God who is so committed to being UNITED with you and me, that God left his abode and created a universe, so that God the Father would be one with us.   God was so given to this that God HUMBLED God to bring it about.    David in Psalms utters this, in the light of the God of grace he met, the Divine that left the Mountain and came to humanity, leaving the high abodes to join us in our ordinary lives.    David overwhelmed by this Father God and says “…give no rest UNTIL God has a dwelling place…”

God has a dwelling place in our union with God, we should take nothing else on, no other agenda, no other view,no other self-centredness or other good cause until God has a dwelling place, this is the root foundation of all true good causes and should be our only cause.   God have a dwelling pace in me,  a UNION with me, that God has a dwelling pace in the people of God, one with the bride, the ecclesia of God, that God has a dwelling place in creation, that Christ might fill all in all.   It really is about the dwelling place of God.  We understand this by the time we read Revelation 21, 22  I saw a city, that turns to a bride and a declaration “…I will be their God and they will be my people and I will dwell in their midst…” Father God has the dwelling place and the UNTIL has come.

Restoration is about the dwelling place of God.   A little personal discomfort until, my sleep, rest, my home will be realised when the Father receives the dwelling place.

There is a major “UNTIL” here, until God has a dwelling place is this not the New Testament declaration, the words of Acts 3 that Jesus will remain in heaven UNTIL a time of Restoration.   That Jesus will be held UNTIL his enemies are made a footstool, I wonder?

The “…dwelling place…” is about taking away the disgrace from the walls of the city of God, it is about building the walls of the city in Nehemiah, it’s the work of Jesus, it the prayer we pray “….let heaven come to earth…”  it is let your dwelling place be found.images-6

Even the goal of maturity in Christ is the personal maturity of Gods dwelling place, a house prepared for you O Lord.   We must not allow our eyes to be taken off finding a dwelling place for God, when we read Jesus saying “…I go and make a place for you…” let us not go away with the fairies and think of our room, house in heaven but continue for the UNTIL God has a dwelling rather than being distracted into finding ours; waiting, holding on until we get our place.   Our life and love must be to give God a dwelling place.

The joy of being about our Father’s business, we must make a place for God.  

 

Life is constantly changing.

Theology is supposed to be a servant of the gospel and the church, not its master, as long as Theology is a pursuit of God.

images-4Doing research  seems to clarify the truth we proclaim, helping us to re-examine what we believe and equipping us to practice what we believe and preach in a more consistent way.

Eventually all theology is a reflection of God and is reflected in life. Good teaching produces a healthy lifestyle, bad teaching produces distorted living.

For theology to perform its servant ministry to the church, it must address the central biblical truths and relevant social and cultural issues. Most Christians were not delivered their faith in monasteries, but in continually changing societies. They must be equipped to practice their faith with relevance and integrity.

The world we live in has undergone considerable social change. Christian theology, theory and practice are intrinsically bound to many ways of thinking in many people, most people don’t know it, but the way we see or consider God will affect our life style and the decisions we make, knowingly or unknowingly.   People will think they are making decisions but the decisions are always affected by perception which is gained through experience, history, parentage and, like it or not, the theology of the culture you are part of.

The world we live in is a scene of both new thinking and new practices.

How should Christians face changes in a secular society, that is how do we face new ways, issues and challenges?    We have seen changes economically in Europe and other countries, how do we face these changes, changes in law regarding sexuality in the UK, how do we face this, the changes in regard to our view of marriage and family, how do I face this, some the issues in society bring about necessary changes and some are enforced changes, we will face the changes.     There have been too many Christians who consider any change in secular society as negative and are negative about cultural and secular changes, because they have a fundamentally negative view of the secular world.    This is not a healthy reaction.

There are other Christians who see every “progressive” step in history as an act of God.     That is, all liberal and liberation movements are the direct result of the activity of God. This is as unhealthy as the opposite view posed above.

A balanced biblical view is that, while no changes in society can be given utopian status because of the perception of mankind, it is equally true that many changes in society are to be welcomed because they reflect the providential care God has for the world.

My approach

My view of Scripture is a high view, in the historic sense I believe that Scripture is authoritative, both when it speaks about salvation and when it  speaks intentionally about other issues.

I hold this view not because I am unaware of the difficulties that exist in Scripture, but because history has demonstrated time and time again that the moment we set ourselves up as the judge of what is essential or non-essential within Scripture, we begin to slide towards a rejection of scriptural authority and the enthronement of the human mind.

I have come to this position having been pressed into views realising it is not the way of dealing with Scripture, for instance, on gender, am I a complementarian or an egalitarian? Neither, a bit of each I say, I am not sure that all biblical text fits either system.   So how do I face these changes?

We must tackle Scripture not forgetting the following issues:

Trajectories – we must ask what direction does this thinking pattern set us?   What Trajectory will I take when I embrace this direction of thought, where will I end up?   Asking this question every time I grasp the word, where will I end up as far as i can see now, what direction will it set me on?  I have made a change from a hierarchical view of God to a Trinitarian view, it is amazing the Trajectory of that thinking and what areas of practice it impacts, it sets a Trajectory I did not realise, its impact  is so far reaching.

Where is it going? – An important question, if any destination replaces a view of God for us, a replacing of this Trinitarian God of Scripture with anything other than we must be careful.    Does this destination so deconstruct God that I have nothing remaining.

Let me suggest an example text to ask these questions as we consider further that describes man in the image of God.      Genesis 1 describes mankind as male and female, agreed, then consider Paul relates the relationship of the father to the son in some way to man-woman relationship in 1 Corinthians 11:1-3, and we can argue male female dynamics but first we must deal with the ultimate issue of this is it not: What is God like? 

If we settle this as being at the heart of these texts What is God like it sets a Trajectory for all other debates when handling these texts.

As we consider these text and move forward it opens up many issue to look at and have been debates through time but for our example let us consider just two views.

First there are those who argue from a permanent hierarchical relationship between men and women, arguing from the eternal subordination of the Son to the Father.     Those who argue from an egalitarian relationship between men and women arguing from the eternal equality of essence within the Trinity.      This takes us into the depth of Trinitarian theology.

Second if humankind as male and female, reflects the Trinity, therefore this opens up how does sex relate to God?     Does God transcend gender?   How does this effect the gay debate in sexuality?  Should the consistent liberation of women lead to a review of merely gender language about God in favour of a female gender language about God?

What is God like?

Further consideration as we deal with Trajectory, the where is it going questions of texts about the creative order and the fall from that order

Genesis 1 describes man and woman created equal in the image of God. Genesis 2 then describes the more detailed relationship between man and woman in creation, both Jesus (Matthew 19:3-8) and Paul (1 Timothy 2:11-15) argue from creation, basing their statements on the way things were intended to be.

Genesis 3 describes the fall, which distorts Gods intended pattern of gender relations. We have to ask what exactly fell and altered in the creative orders here and has become part of our describing the creative order.

The creative order includes hierarchy, or does it really?   Genesis narrative is placed in the context of kingship, who what doe that look like?

Are these text’s simply about the coming of the kingdom and the new creation, we also have now have tasted of the age to come.   In Genesis we simply have  the Kingdom expressed as it will be in relation to male and female, along with Paul’s reference when he said to the Galatians there is neither male or female, Paul just took a glimpse into Trajectory and saw the Kingdom a view of where this going, was talking him, and spoke from that view.    Paul painted a picture of the ultimate in a very broken, fallen world.

The general theological position I subscribed to is enacted, inaugurated eschatologically in all my discussions and life style.    I must take an eternal view where I can in all my positions.    Did not Jesus come announcing and demonstrating the Kingdom, which he brought, announced and taught from an eternal kingdom view.   He knew where his teaching was going towards, he had settled the Trajectory of the thinking.   He knew the impact of the accepted religious world and how the Trajectory of his words would challenge and change the world around him.

So what is your Trajectory if we adopted the new in vogue teaching where is it going, this is the only way to deal with theology, truth and direction of teaching