Its September already lets check how we are doing?

Just some simple questions to ponder, take up do what ever you will with they will impact your life if your honest, be free and liberate your self through them, these are meant to empower and make life an adventure.

What’s one way you could utilise time to increase your enjoyment of God?

What’s the most humanly impossible thing you will ask God to do right now?

What’s the single most important thing you could do to improve the quality of your life and your family life?

In which spiritual discipline do you most want to make progress, and what will you do about it?

Who are three people you can disciple more intentionally?

What is the most helpful way you can build community with a few other followers of Jesus?

For whose salvation will you pray most fervently?

Who is the person you most want to encourage and how could you do it right now?

What one thing could you do to deepen your conversation with the Father?

What single thing can you plan to do that will matter most in ten years?  Then as the opening scene of the Gladiator film says whats will echo in eternity?

Consider these…

1              Surround yourself with others

2              Try to be more visual, use picture diagrams to express your ideas, visualise what your direction is and what you want to achieve.   See yourself there.   see it accomplished and live there. 

3               Stop trying to tell yourself that your creative.     There is no switch on or off for this you just are, get into the flow of it, thought provoking and creative solutions.    Don’t measure your creativity find your own creativity never mind how big or small.

4               Mess things up and mix things up see what new solutions or creative ways you discover.   Try not being liner?     Play at the intersection of mistake, stupid, wrong, impossible.   Mix and re mi ideas

5               Avoid the paralysis of analysis trap they key is limit your analysis

6               Walk, run and Jog don’t sit get away from your usual work position and posture, change your space, come out of the space, look at the world with fresh eyes walk with other people’s eyes, as what other see.   Before you ask what they see knwo if they are negative of positive thinkers or seers 

Fathering, Apostles, Maturity an all that…

UnknownI was an avid fan, probably still am of the radio series that caught people’s imagination back in 1978, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy it was a crazy science fiction comedy radio series written by Douglas Adams.   It followed the adventures of hapless Englishman Arthur Dent and Ford Prefect, who happens to be an alien writing for ‘The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy‘, a pan-galactic encyclopaedia and travel guide.    The exploits of Arthur begin with the Earth being destroyed only to find themselves aboard a stolen spaceship piloted by a motley crew including Zaphod Beeblebrox a depressed robot Marvin, and Trillian, the only other human survivor of Earth’s destruction.  

During Arthur’s travels he encounters many strange aliens and tongues, to enable him to understand he has a fish called a Babel Fish that enables translation it is a fictitious alien fish that performs instant translations.   I don’t 

know about you but I think life would be a lot easier if we all could insert a babel fish in our ear to understand what’s being communicated.

 I find myself in need of a babel fish quite often, common words that we all adopt and use frequently only to fall into problems when we realise we didn’t understand what was being said. Although we quote back the sentence we are told “I didn’t mean that”. O for a babel fish!

Words that I thought I understood, I discovered I don’t, and they are not complicated words. I don’t know if it’s assumptions we make or just we need to explain. I have found that there is a continual need for vocabulary upgrades, and understanding upgrades, vocabulary is our ongoing challenge in life. Oh Lord for a Babel Fish 

imagesI was part of a conversation recently with the question being asking around various networks, what is an apostle?  I seem to hear quite this regularly, I have come to the conclusion it really is asking what is the function of the apostle and what is the authority of the apostle.  The question is quickly followed by the following statement,  “I would rather use the word father to the house, fathering…’.   O for a Babel Fish…

Fathering, parenting a people, a church…what does that mean, how can it work out.  For some people I’m sure it is an alien language, and for others it is understood and in use.  Each of the words used have significance in different ways for so many people. It would be a lot easier to have the most honest thing in the universe sticking out of our ears so that we could understand each other’s perception and the vocabulary in use.

I will address the issue of being a spiritual parent to individuals or to churches this has an interesting outworking.     We are to enable people to come to maturity who ever we are, every believer providing and encouraging people to maturity to the fullness of Christ. That is, every Christ follower is to be helped to meet their own needs and the needs of others, not to make us needy but certain to help every one mature and be the supplier for their neighbour, brother and sister.   

Your example of living for Christ will set the scene, aim for every  one you  touch becomes Christ like in maturity.   Maturity, a journey that takes the challenges of each day, what ever they may be, taking the strain and breaking through in maturity.  Good care, fathering, apostleship, discipling will  cost you much in time and care through prayer.

I watch my three children now grown and watch my 2 grandchildren, presently growing it is amazing to see them grow in the details of life to carry life in its fullness for them then for others.

I noted that all five children and grandchildren have the same basic needs however the realisation that is necessary, in each is also unique.   All require personal, individual attention, this growing people up,  also reflects through to spiritual parenting and apostleship to people communities, the church.  Each community is unique and cannot be helped and encouraged without relationship, not networks, or organisations but knowing relationship in each others lives.

Each person and community, church have basic needs that are the same but each one also has specific distinct ways.   Herein is a challenge to relationship, disciples are hand-tooled not mass-produced (Sam Shoemaker).   An organisation cannot turn out leaders and people cannot church people as a supply chain it is the hand -tooled of relationship.

God involves in our lives, onwardly he continues with us until it is competed we are hand tooled (Phil 1:6), the call of Eph 4:11 is to be in constant relational process preparing people for life – works of service.   

While recently reading Genesis 1 I looked at the flow of the poetry in the verses and realised it was not just a catalogue of world, atmosphere, plants, seas and animals being created. I really was a chapter of relationship, God outlining the relationship between the unseen and the seen, plants and animals, humanity and creation, sun stars and moon, a chapter of relationship. Communicating to us that you cannot do anything in isolation. It is said that it takes a village to grow a child every friend, every neighbour, every instructor all adding to the maturity. It’s the same when we look at the Community Church it is every gift, every ministry, each one supplying.

In spiritual maturity for the body every church needs help and stimulation from many others. All that is happening when there is the background of parenting, fathering, mothering, ‘apostling’ to the church.

In the midst of the necessity of many, Paul still reminded us of his personal care in 1 Corinthians 4-15  Paul was the spiritual father to gain the maturity in Christ, all laboured, expended energy in his relationship to bring about Christ in each community.

Discipling into maturity, fathering to fatherhood, my spiritual father Bryn Jones used to say you cannot father without being fathered. That opens up a big debate for many, you could add it takes a disciple to make disciples. Am I a disciple?   In order to disciple, have I been fathered so I could father? Not looking for perfection only but have these been extended to you and me.

Spiritual parenting, we are called to be an example (1 Cor 11:1) to the people the retoucher, strain a little harder to follow Christ more closely.   To anchor people in the truth, that is Christ, make Scripture alive, to keep people centred in Christ.    

Christ likeness does not mean the conformity to certain patterns of behaviour, does not mean memorising versus. These may be involved in the process but they are not the end. The real test of Christ likeness comes in the package of life, through the School of the spirit the stresses and strains of everyday life. This is where we are to mature. As background to this maturity it is true that we need a grasp of the promises of God. I don’t mean more money,  more comfort, more for me, but what is God after,  as a promise to all of creation, maturity needs to understand and believe the promises of the scriptures.

Our everyday experience since being moulded and conformed by these promises is much more the indicator of a disciple, a maturing follower of Christ.

As a spiritual parent, as a fathering gift, as an apostolic ministry it requires that you stay relationally through with people,  it is hard, it requires you to give your life to someone. It takes your time and your energy, whilst opening up yourself to close observation.

It is a great need for spiritual parenting within the community of God, true fathering gifts, true mothering gifts, I love that Paul said he mothered the churches and not only fathered, true apostolic, not those by title only, holding people together by dominating emotionally and financially, but those that who pour themselves out so that others may walk more Christ-like.

Chaos all Around

images.jpegLet me see if I can take your mind back to moments and experiences we have all had causing the rise of feelings and emotions.    Recall the first stage school when the classroom seemed so large and the buildings towered over you, when you first started a job, the challenge of being thrust into a new environment and the mixed feelings of excitement and the uncertainty of where you belong, the changes you went through in your teenage years, wondering what all the emotions and feelings were about, feelings misunderstood, or the emotions that coincide with moving from full-time employment to retirement what a disorientating moment. Whatever you look at, there are exchanges, even when with open arms you run towards the change with anticipation and excitement, even in the welcoming there are challenges to cope with.

I came across a word recently which is used by those who have given their lives to study people, the study of various aspects of peoples within past and present societies, the word “liminality”, it’s the word that is used in describing a sense of chaos and ambiguity that a group endures in a time of transition.   It is further described at the point during a rite of passage when we become no longer what we were and yet we have not arrived at what we will be, a point of “betwixt and between”.  During these moments and associated feelings, these that change us one of the major assesses and I would say helpful ways o dealing with ‘betwixt and between’ is to discover a point of connection, this is highly important in regard to when a community is at its height and is necessary to achieve transformation healthily.

These changes and transformations necessary in our advance and in any journey, turn out well because the culture we live in underpins all and transforms the change with a deep sense of purpose. Without this change falters and falls.

The emotions we feel come out of organisational patterns, rhythms of life seem to get suspended when our expectations and responsibilities change. It is then we need an empowerment to ensure that the experience of change has a sense of solidarity and community rather than in a void where resentment and envy invades.

Unknown.jpegTherefore to successfully negotiate these moments, that seem to come fast and furious can we, with a sense of purpose ensure advance in the continuation of our journey.

There is no greater narrative that indicates the sense of purpose than we find in the Christ of God, in the midst of major transformation and change declaring a sense of purpose. When Jesus “sweat drops of blood”in the garden, when the creator of the garden becomes the grain of wheat to be planted, to die enabling a new life, resurrection life. At that moment the statement “if this cup” is so powerful, Jesus is looking at the transformation from his perspective and then declares “not my will, but yours”, that purpose becomes the driving purpose that holds all in perspective during change and transformation.

Jesus projects himself and draws his strength from the community of the Godhead, the Trinitarian  relationship of community, the covenant of life and states his purpose is to live my life by the will of another. Purpose becomes the stadium and guiding cause but it should always be. A purpose that is greater than self.    

So true in our lives also, to discover a purpose, to live by a purpose beyond ourselves is the only way to navigate our journey. Let me say I’m not talking about small visions and goals, our own vision statements and plans, but a purpose that adds value to all of creation. The divine covenant, the invitation of the Father, Son and Spirit is to join a community and be part of a purpose bringing total stability in the times of emotional and transitional challenges that every one of us will participate in.

My desire is that you and I find the purpose of God, the eternal and ultimate intention of God is our purpose for the day in which we live in.    That “Christ filling all in all” becomes the purpose of bringing stability to us.  For this purpose  “No eye has seen, no ear heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him” (1 Cor 2: 9 NIV).    What a major impact of this purpose when we deicover and become one with the vast visions of Gods aim and then see our union with this purpose which is not our own to begin with but becomes ours .

Early Christians believed not that the church “had a mission” but that the church was God’s mission in the world, the very living body of Christ, the actual visible embodiment of the good news.   All creation groans (Romans 8:22) joining with those purpose and transition.  The Trinitarian God in Spirit intercedes for us “with groaning which cannot be uttered” (Rom 8: 26 KJV); “with sighs too deep for words” (NRSV).

The restoration of God’s creation was the reason for the incarnation of the eternal Son and Word of God in Jesus Christ, this being the over riding will of God and this purpose we have been invited to join while becoming one with, thsi purpose that will make stable all for us who believe.

The Apostle Paul and other New Testament writers (as well as Old Testament prophets) elaborate the scope of the purpose being one with God’s larger economy or plan “to bring all things in heaven and on earth together under one head, even Christ” (Eph. 1: 10 NIV), 

For Jesus, finishing God’s work meant his sacrificial death (“ It is finished,” John 19: 30) and the eventual total triumph of the kingdom of God (“ It is done!” Rev 21: 6).  We now hold this purpose above all else and celebrate “the finished work” while working and praying “May your kingdom come, may your will be done on earth as in heaven”, may our stabilising purpose be the will of ANOTHER.