Passionately Prophetic – You & me?

images.jpegActs 3:24, 25      

 “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.’

Let’s take a moment to be honest shall we?   It might be refreshing in these days of electioneering that we find ourselves in, weather in recent days of USA or in the coming times of South Africa and at least in the UK its the immediate political landscape.  Being British I can say, I’m not sure if any of us are any clearer today than when we first heard the election machine cranking up its mortars, during the last few weeks.    It indicates that the Uk is quite well divided hearing  different thoughts in different parts of the country, voices saying, “I can never vote for the party, but I don’t like that other party leader as a Prime Minister”, or “I like the policies but I don’t like the personalities”, “I believe in empowering the have-nots but I don’t trust him or her”.

Honesty, honest to oneself it must begin here, this means we have to deal with common statements that so easily roll off our tongues and be honest to discover what we really mean.  Here is one example of common statmenste made, to be honest I can not recall, I’m not sure about you either think of when we first heard a message on a “time of transition”, it seems to be a popular theme constantly. This covers individual and corporate experiences.

It seems as if there has hardly been a year, since I don’t know when, when a message or repeated theme has not been about Transition, changing seasons, overlapping eras, paradigms shifts, Reformation etc.   Why is it, every year we feel as if we have entered into a time of transition, without playing semantics I think a better summation of what has been taking place, would be to say, we are caught up in a purpose that is constantly changing, constantly advancing through this change and therefore we feel we are constantly in transition.

Firstly I guess we need to settle what we mean by transition.   Let me put a peg in the ground and direct transition, to mean moving from one fixed state of existence to another. However I hope, I trust, I believe we will experience something better.     You and I are involved in the progressive emergence of God’s kingdom in life and empowerment, progressing towards maturity, to the maturity of God’s people, this is our transition.

Our world is full of one line clichés, one line statement of wisdom abounding everywhere, one of these clichés you often see on posters  says ‘if you only do things the way you’ve always done, then you only get what you’ve always got“.  I would put to you that maturity, progressing to the fullness of Christ, is only possible if we escape fossilisation of the religious status quo.   Only if we cease doing the things in the usual way, doing it different or at least contemplating different ways of doing it again.    It really is a time to behold and step aside of the influence of society, of structures, of systems telling us verbally or emotionally the way we MUST do this, it is the way its always been done and will always be.

The transition to maturity is calling out once again for a prophetic wind, prophets, people declaring and prophesying but inspiring words discovering again passionate, purposeful prophets individual sand corporately.   It is time once again to see women and men who in everything in their lives and that their lives are about are passionate, lives lived with passion. People who in what they hate they hate absolutely and in what they love they love totally and abandoned.     A church that knows no half measure, a sharp cutting edge in their lives and conviction in their voice, men and women deeply moved by the Spirit of God…. Passion

Lets us take time to train a people to expose their life in God that is aflame with the Holy Spirit , the Holy Spirit who recognise passionate people. A life aflame with the will of YHWH, people passionately given to the higher agenda of YHWH rather that our immediate structures.   When we hear each other talk we hear the heart burning as the mouth speaks, women and men believing what they are saying as people carried along by the word of God.

Before you come after me I do agree that passion by itself is no guarantee of truth, but truth without passion!  Lord help us, ‘the letter kills, it is the spirit that gives life’.

Samuel and his successors were at the forefront of God’s purpose in his time and brought the people, the nation, the burning message of God. They spoke to kings and rulers, who in turn put pressure on to change the tone and change the message to change their declaration prophesying. These were first and foremost servants of God and despite all the religious and political correctness of the day remained such.     

We live in a day when political electioneering has lost its anchor, as politicians seek to discover through opinion polls, what the people want them to say, we have however lost faith in opinion polls following Brexit, . Politicians on occasions, are willing to change their emphasis  according to the lead of the opinion polls. The church coming to know its purpose, should find the heart of God and speak Gods word loudly and clearly, we should stop being politicians but be prophets.

Let us never be people who measure ourselves by people’s response to a word.  Women and men will know they have been the voice and heart of God in their moment their time. The passionate, the prophets, the church to deliver what we know is the word of God.   In a declining spiritual and moral value base there was a small beginning. A child, one of little influence, a child in the world of men how frequently this has been God’s way.

Was it not a little slave girl who brought a word of cleansing to Namaan, that could have so easily been missed? A child in the world of adults?

Humanity likes to launch itself when everything is full-blown, when every finishing touch has been put on all things before we cut the tape and declare it open. It seems to be not so in God’s plan, God plants seeds.     God will take a woman, a teenager and impregnate them with a seed that the bring God’s voice to a world that is needed. God never fears the pressures of time because purpose is always on task.

Samuel stood in the overlapping timeframe of a corrupt priesthood and its growth along with the developing of a young hearted righteousness Samuel to bring his life and voice to make his mark and play out Gods part.   The fulfilling of a mother asking for a son and a God needing a prophet – Heaven and Earth meet with purpose.   You se purpose a Divine purpose makes one creation and Creator.

Here we are again with something small coming to purpose, arrived in an era when the small is threatened by death, mocked at, laughed at criticise them, prophesied against, pushed into a corner according to the success of our day. Today a Godly people in whom a vision of relationship and understanding of relationship and its cost, in whom a commitment to the order of God – Kingdom is still vigorously captured in pursuing that they become the spoken word of day. Stay believing holding on to the prophets promises of a restored world, the earth shall be filled with the glory of God.

The story of Samuel is interesting as it does not begin with the call of the young child while lying near the altar, but the voice the change in the situation is as a result of a woman in anguish of soul, asking for a child.

I wonder if you put the two things together a woman who desperately wants a child and a nation, a world that needs a living expression, needs corporate prophet.

One of the jewels in this story that will marry the heart of the woman and the heart of God together is one that will say it ‘if I get what I’m crying for I’ll give it wholeheartedly to the Lord’. My need I will give wholeheartedly to God when It arrives all that I received is for God’s higher interest. I won’t run away with my little baby son, my child but he will be yours lord.

Can we become a passionate people who are calling on God for their nation, and this world along with creation?   if so we must become a people who will not tolerate anything less than that we are calling for in our homes and in our lives as in the nation.

The story of Samuel speaks so loudly of God’s commitment to the covenants of history, we become those with an understanding to the continuity that is in Gods heart.

We conclude in saying this: firstly, God will never allow the spiritual state of God’s people to deteriorate to the point where everything former, testimony and commitment to God’s purpose is lost. God has heard the cry of all those that have gone before us and God’s purpose as their passionate high purpose.

Secondly we must remind ourselves of the covenants of old and the continuity of the line of God’s will, that this purpose of God moves successively through generation and ages to accomplish itself there is a continuity.

Unknown.jpegLastly every generation must serve God in the freshness of its own word and vision, this is what makes us authentic, it is not that we are different from everything that is being or everything that is around us, but we are continuing the purpose of God, the purpose that others formally embraced, that which they along with us are building on and not turning against.    As I read the scriptures it seems to suggest that it is pride itself that makes us  build on our independent foundation, we are to build the foundation has already been laid.

Let us be a passionate people…

Sound Advice for the future

images.jpeg1              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 

Out or In-clusion

images.jpegJesus Included who?

I have found the word inclusion in a number of leadership, church and theological settings can stir up so many emotions and discussions along with arguments that conclude in expelling or excluding some one in thinking.

It has become for some a defensive reaction for others a leap of Joy as discovering their welcome.   In saying this it really is a fundamental choice before us today, it also depends  on my understanding of the Divine, I would suggest, the view I have of YHWH I live with and may be speak and take actions from.

As well as answering the questions of inclusion it really is an opportunity to display Father, Son and Holy Spirit  a way of life to the world we are born into.   An opportunity to be the representation of Image and likeness.   So you see it is not just a debate over a word it is a reflection of how I see the Godhead and my responsibility to be that in my world…

Therefore do I have my own theology of inclusion?

Here are some key considerations the kind of Jesus inclusion we should show

Inclusivity…

recognise, value, love and celebrate the marginalised – was not Jesus from the edge of society sent to include those considered least – poor, weak, outcast, foreigners and prostitutes.

…recognise harm done in the name of God. – we cannot be followers of Christ and oppressive, you don’t have a future in being oppressed or oppressing others.     We must do all to continue in love and be love as the scriptures exhort us, yet many feel rejected, people say that teaching has oppressed them, tradition imprisoned and excluded them.

….show a full intention to create life on the margin. – our inclusive community deliberately makes a conscious and unapologetic decision to love and celebrate the Creator’s diversity welcoming all persons regardless of race, colour, ancestry, age, gender.       Foundational Christian community outside the dominant culture seeing the  Kingdom of God includes the margins of life.    The Kingdom of God is to be inclusive, this the very nature of God.   Edges will respond to people who are open and full of extravagant grace, where other people from the edge gather.  A place to be safe what about being this kind of community

….will not imitate the church structures, but will be Church – the people of God are the sole property of God not a denomination, a person,  a stream or a group.    Radical inclusivity is rooted in restoration reconciliation, creational restoration, Christ filling all in all.

A free people to use their freedom to love to model and demonstrate the inclusive love of Jesus Christ.

….requires a new way of seeing and a new way of being. celebrating one another in in Christian community – accepting, see each other as God sees us.

… is to be aware, information and understanding – creation of a Christian community among people marginalised means through education and training an understanding, developing a welcome and de-stigmatize its view of any group of people.

… will not hide, and works to undo shame and fear.

Jesus says don’t hide your ‘unacceptable’ realities so you can be accepted or embraced, In order for people on the edges to ‘be’ a community that is “naked” with their “edge-ness/marginality” in full view. 

…sees fully diversity on the margin. – the margin is generally full with people who have been forced out.    People on the margins are challenged to find the inter-connectedness.

… must be linked to preaching and teaching. – the Church requires preaching and teaching that defines and strengthens community by developing a biblical understanding of inclusivity.

… demands hospitality.   a hospitality where no one has to defend nor deny their place or their humanness.   Listen to how Henri Nouwen says it, “Hospitality…means primarily the creation of a free space where the stranger can enter and become a friend instead of an enemy.  Hospitality is not to change people, but to offer them space where change can take place.  It is not bringing men and women over to our side, but to offer freedom not disturbed by a dividing line.  It is not to lead our neighbour into a corner where there are no alternatives left, but to open a wide spectrum of options for choice and commitment. It is not a method of making our God and our way into the criteria of happiness, but the opening of an opportunity to others to find their God and their way.  Hospitality is not a subtle invitation to adopt the life style of the host, but the gift of chance for the guest to find his/her own.”

…is sustained & celebrated when everyone in community is responsible & accountable. – establish a belonging that includes everyone in the life of the Church, I mean every one, so we truly produce a shared life, experience in and contribute to the welfare of the whole community.    A thought “freedom without responsibility and accountability is as detrimental as slavery”.  Freedom is not an end itself, let me expand freedom from something must flow into freedom to be something else or it is not truly freedom.

Resilience key: some days will be better than others, but you have to bounce back and just keep working

Always have hope that tomorrow will be better – even when things seem darkest.  Believe in yourself and your offerings.   Success take time.

Be streetwise and confident when navigating the entrepreneurial space.

Accept that you’ll probably get the least sleep you’re ever had and that you have to get out there, promoting your business and creating new accounts.

Learn dot ignore those who didn’t value me or my talents, but if someone believed in me and supported me, then I’d work even harder for them.

to listen to another person requires stillness of the soul, a quietness o fetch mind an empty space where you can hold the other person.

Art of listening to be a better person and epically influencer – workshop dedicating to listening?

Unknown.pngPeopel listen not to understand but to reply (Stephen Covey)

Difference of listening and hearing – listening is undervalued and must be revisited.   “Fake news what about Fake lightening?”  not listening to self and are of own voice.

making room for some one els ensues and concerns.

to lead is to along your message with the highest concerns of those who follow you. 

Are your In…or out, or do you create in or out people?

images.pngChoices, choices so many, I recall first time we traveled to the USA as a family, one member being overwhelmed when as we sat at a restaurant table and ordered a coke and there came the barrage of choices, but its just coke – diet, sugar free, one, original, gold label, caffeine free, cherry… the list went on an on, so many, it silenced the one who asked as they tried to catch up, all the choices, only to ask for water. We are so spoiled for choice in every avenue today, in some nations whether it be in tastes, smells colours or clothes. While I make that statement I also realise some are excluded from the choices others have, on my travels I have observed that not every one has the opportunity to choose, however world wide if I find a TV anywhere the choice of channels is quite overwhelming.

One of our many channels recently aired a narrative of a personal journey of a known British presenter, the sub title of the programme was ‘What I believe, was determined by where i live’, an interesting thought. The program as best it could listed people who celebrated faith, they travelled to Turkey to engage with Muslim families, to Israel to participate and understand the people there, they went to various people to enable understanding. The programme I saw concluded with Charismatic Christians in celebration in Israel, I found my self reacting unusually, I found I did not enjoy or could not relate to the displaying of their encounter or experience even though I am a Jesus follower, a Christian by new birth and Charismatic Holy Spirit moving, tongue speaking.

inclusion
ɪnˈkluːʒ(ə)n/
noun
noun: inclusion
  1. 1.
    the action or state of including or of being included within a group or structure.
    “they have been selected for inclusion in the scheme”
    antonyms: exclusion, omission
    • a person or thing that is included within a whole.
      plural noun: inclusions

I was intrigued at my feelings. The presenter outlined how welcoming every one was, how they felt included and drawn into some level of participation with each faith family and individual. They commented on how much people wanted to be at peace and one with all people, which is not the side we are painted through the media. The presenters were overwhelmed with the appreciation of the lives of people and the enormous and overt generosity they were shown.

This generosity and appreciation was the over all feeling and communication until that is, they were amongst the people I would have most in common in my christian faith. It actually scandalised me, although I would believe all they held in terms of the centrality of Christ, I was so disappointed to see and feel that they needed to distance themselves from people rather than celebrate in the midst, celebrating humanity, to be the ‘imagers’ of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit to all people by letting people ‘taste and see the Lord’. They rather communicated superiority and judgement to all who came near.

I pray and ask God for wisdom on how to know the amazing uniqueness of Jesus and all God has done for us, yet communicate the reaching including hand of God to bring peoples to an encounter of faith. The Charismatic Christian celebration lost the people of the program sadly and produced an uncomfortableness in them. This was not the conviction produced by the Holy Spirit but the non inclusion in taking people to God, in sharing the love of the Father. Projecting we are pure you are not, we have to keep ourselves pure and don’t include you.

I wonder what this thought has stirred in you already?

Inclusion has become a dirty word for some, yet we cannot read of Jesus without being overwhelmed by his practice of inclusion. Including the very edges of society that have been excluded.

Theologies of inclusion tend to be feel good, ‘nice’ theologies and more importantly they promote social cohesion by providing a theological rationale for mutual respect, or at least tolerance of difference. Is this what inclusion really is, the biblical inclusion that we are the people of God the Imagers should display and follow?

Every one of us have at some time or another been affected or drawn into an agenda of legitimisation, I may call it, beliefs or practices required to find a legitimisation to be part, or to belong.

Every belief system has thoughts of exclusion and inclusion. We, each in our own faith traditions, are probably more familiar with theologies of exclusion – ‘We are right, you are wrong’, there is only one way to ” ” (insert preferred soteriology or eschatology) and it is ours’, ‘If you do not believe what I believe, do what I do …’
Each religion has within it groups more inclined toward exclusivist theologies and groups within it inclined toward theologies of inclusion. A theology of inclusion is essential to motivating honest participation in inter-religious activities and events.

These views, thoughts or beliefs are really there to help to make people who already belong feel good; that means the “outsider”, those who have not found their way to be part of the already feeling belonging group, these “outsiders” may feel the impact of both being accepted but let us be honest often rarely do these ‘outsiders’ listen to them, the ‘in’. We are required to be so aware that such views, thoughts or beliefs only allow those who are “in” to treat others in such unacceptable non including ways. I must admit i have found the non inclusion was never really belief or theology but when it all boils down comes to a person or a groups insecurities or social defensiveness, inability to have peers, often cultivated from an orphan spirit (written about that in other blogs if interested), an orphan way is one of protection and provision. Enough getting side tracked now…

Inclusion should never cause us to deny difference ‘differences would go away if you see things the way I do’ one may say. Let us be honest the denials of difference are insulting to the other, a failure to respect people.

So how can we strongly hold to a faith, our belief about who Jesus says he was and yet still be including. I see so many answers on how to live and practice life in the way jesus interact.

Next time Key to Jesus kind of life on including…

THE FUTURE – reality check

“There cannot be a crisis today; my schedule is already full”                                             Henry Kissinger

Unknown.pngIt seems as if not to be alive is the only way to not experience crisis of differing levels and descriptions, whether large or small, domestic or international.   Henry Kissinger’s comment is rather quaint really and we could all say we wish it was like that too busy, too full a diary to have  a crisis.

World crisis that takes decades to pass such as the Ebola outbreak of 2014-15, despite early warning signs it still took a long time for the world to recognise the the scale and severity.   Early warning signs ignored until it was too late.

Even recent crisis that filled the news, of ‘terror’ on the streets of London, for decades training and preparedness worked upon.   Reality again all the political commentators say it was inevitable for some crisis to happen some time.   Would our worlds be great with out this inevitability.

As we look around we have health care issues and Global warming, both have their crises presently.

We indulge in films, TV, news, games all depicting world crisis of some kind or another,  lets’ be honest, we love it, worlds of zombies, aliens, outbreaks, terrorism, cosmic collapse and it all unfolds.

Scriptures also rolls from narrative to narrative unpacking stories of victory, challenges and crisis on the surface of it all.   Each new story line bringing lessons of the nature of God to help us discover the relationship and existence we have together with the Father Son and Holy Spirit.

The crisis that characters have with in the pages of scripture, Jospeh from family crisis, to deep hole crisis moving on to prison crisis, what do these encounters train us and teach us ?

The Crisis of Paul the apostle having been hunted and sought after, needing to be let down in a bucket to get away from the immediate crisis.     What about the comment in Hebrews 11 when the writer says time does not allow me to fill you in on all the people who handled crises, as a threat to their existence or journey of life.    Each comment of the ‘heroes of faith’ as we like to call them, having to deal with crises in various forms.

Crisis even though we can be often surprised and legitimately surprised by their actual manifestation and impact; the reality of it, we loath when they come.   Even when we train our imagination for the events, do we take them seriously enough to give time, energy and resources to prepare.

The bible encourages our preparedness on different levels, in mind and spirit.   We are encouraged to walk by the Spirit, be led by the Spirit this really is a preparedness for life not just a prayer line.   Unfortunately the thought of being led by the Spirit for many are words of knowledge only, sadly not seeing it as a means of living life in a prepared condition.   Be careful its not just a way to get an experience rather than a way to walk LIFE.

The cares of people, elders are encouraged to “Know well the condition of your flocks, and pay attention to your herds” Prov. 27:23, is this not an encouragement in crisis averting?   Knowing where people are is means of avoiding that crisis or making sure we have seen the early signs?   To care for people is to be so aware of people, helping them through every crisis by being there alongside.

It is not only the responsibility of the elders/leaders, the scripture encourages each one of us in Romans 12:3 “For I am telling every single one of you, through the grace that has been given to me, not to have exaggerated ideas about your own importance. Instead, develop a sober estimate of yourself based on the standard which God has given to each of you, namely, trust”.   Be so aware of your self that you can avoid the crises that comes your way.    Establish your self through trusting God, in order to stand in crisis, “standing firm” we are encouraged to trust.

Consider the following:

  • Consider the weak signals, improve our sensitivity and ability to listen, learn, and anticipate crisis.
  • Note any changes taking place and think how they will map the coming crisis
  • Listen, become a skilled listener especially in unfamiliar and threatening environments – interpreting sounds with accuracy and a sense of promotion.