“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.

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Change Why? it’s so Difficult…

images-8Repentance, turning around, growing, maturing, taking on new ideas, new journeys, new ventures, what do they all have in common.   There is a thread that fixes these and other challenges of living together, it is called CHANGE.  If we are to move forward and live our Christian life to the full we must be able to embrace change, knowing it is imperative for us to understand the full elements of change.      Change brings about insecurity, emotionally.   I like the picture from the sporting world in the area of boxing; the unstable time for a boxer is when the boxer changes their stance it is an unstable moment; change brings instability, which we have to negotiate.   The church asks for change but very rarely helps us in the instability and emotional challenge of the change.      Wise people understand that lasting change requires them as individuals to change first before anything around them will change, in the same way influencers or leaders know if they change that which they are responsible for in their stewardship of people or organizations will also change.

Your change won’t last, or disrupt your community, unless those around you personally embrace the change first, at least at some level.    Let us try to understand why most people initially resist change.

There are processes that must be engaged in to bring and complete any change, often these are actions and thought patterns that are hidden. If we are to be Gods Change agents it is necessary that we become aware of our minds and people’s thinking.    As we become more people aware we can devise ways of helping lasting change.

Here are some change blockers, hindrances we will have to deal with:

Assume the worst.      We are wired to pick up threats and negative possibilities around us more than the positive. Before you say “I’m not like that”, 2/3’s of the brain cells are in the flight-fight part of our brain, the amygdala, are wired to pick up on the negative (Hanson, 2010).  Generally people’s initial response to change comes from these emotional centers rather than from their thinking centers.

Knowledge gaps fill with fear instead of faith.  The insecurity and instability about change does cultivate fear. The less information that people have to fill in the knowledge gaps, the greater the fear, which in turn brings about resistance to any change.

No second chances to make a good first impression.       Neuroscientists have shown it to be true (Lount et al., 2008). Poorly introduced change will always start your change on the wrong footing.

Change is emotional.                 Just presenting facts without engaging positive and hopeful emotions will seldom move your forward.    A large number of people make decisions based on emotion.

I can’t handle it.                 Trying to create too much change too quickly can engage the brain’s fear center and cause people to resist, thus hindering change (Hemp, 2009).

“Old habits die-hard” We all have a tendency to return to where we have been or what we have known, they say, as we get older we default quicker to what we know.   How easy is it for us to think about other options.   We have set up habits and it’s a tug-of-war between the familiar and easy

The nearer the change the more resistant we become.      Peoples’ response to change, changes over time.   Introduce a change a year ahead and initially the benefits are seen, the options look good. The negatives such as more work, recruiting more people more time needed don’t seem very large at that point.    Neuroscientists have discovered that when the change is far away, the positives usually outweigh the negatives (Löw et al., 2008). However, the closer we think about the implications and the personal cost. Uninformed optimism gives way to informed pessimism.

Change is interpreted as a threat.             We are told the brain is organized around a fundamental principle—minimize threat-maximize reward—that results in either resistance or openness. Change perceived as a threat produces resistance. Change brings uncertainty and we don’t like it, well our brain does not like it.

when ever change is presented keep these insights in mind so you can work out a plan to Unknownovercome them.

The bible quotes “who builds a house without first counting the cost” the counting the cost is not to prevent but to be realistic in the demands that will be put upon us, Abraham “counted his body as good as dead yet believed God” when the promise of a son was made.   That is, he saw the impossibility, the change at the age he and Sarah was, yet believed a promise, believed God, a God word over the negative emotions of “you cannot be serious”.

We are to “set our eyes on the Christ”’ Paul encouraged us to forget what has happened and press on through to the gain.   There is something so strong in seeing what God has said in all our change and holding on when the insecurity of the change comes.

Find a friend in time of need, that when we are in that place find others who are not in their negative but who have worked through the change and talk, tell of your patterns of thought and walk together learning from others who have changed and are changing.

FUNDAMENTALLY DEVELOP A CULTURE OF CHANGE, readiness to change and a willingness to constantly embrace change, some times keep flexible in making changes in your life to keep change alive, change room layouts, move your desk, change decoration, change your habit patterns, change eating try something new, try something uncommon to you, do something that demands you to say ‘I don’t know how to do this’ or ‘what I am doing’, find a new sport all these and other ways of cultivating change help us to be change agents first to us then to those we touch.

Questions to ponder:

What have you seen in others that make them averse to change?

Who around me deals well with change?

How can I make the benefits of change be big in mind and experience constantly?

How can I build a reason for change that out weights the insecurity and instability I will feel, CHANGE is part of life, it is maturing, growing up and older it will not go away it will knock on the door of your life daily, LEARN TO EMBRACE IT.

 

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.

 

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

 

 

To this End… will we reach it, by the Spirit of course.

images-4Accompanied by the last number of blogs we have been journeying through a process in my experience, its aim is that God may achieve an end in me and just a little assist us all.   I suppose we would have to say its a maturing process, a journey of one degree to another.   Over the 40 years I have come to realise that what we call sonship is not an event or something that is given but it really is a process, a process of maturing.   We are all born ‘children of God and all have the potential to become sons of God as we mature into the full measure of Christ.  I would suggest that this is the only thing that can explain the circumstances, the challenges along with the joys of our walk for however many years we remain in our ‘earth suit’ so to speak, the apostle Paul called it a ‘tent‘.

Here is a biblical story to hook that though on.   At the age of 12 as Jesus grew in favour with God and mankind, we will know this account of Jesus that he was left behind in the temple, this is not a series of titles for an eschatological writings but Jesus was actually left behind by mum and dad.   The day mum and dad lost God, what a parenting achievement.    All of us who have had children have lost one in a shopping mall, or somewhere the scare, the fear, well Mary and Joseph lost God.   It tells us of a very different community feel that they lived with to today, may be?      Community was so strong for Jesus, someone would be caring for the other child, “…no need to worry when you cannot see him, some ones eye will be upon him…” but after a day they realized “he’s not here.”     Jesus own words told us he know his aim of life “about my Fathers business” yet his heavenly Father sent him back for 18 years to the wood cutting shed to be a builder.   He was not ready, although he could confound the teachers in the centre of all things of God, he had not matured to the place necessary yet.    In his 30th year when he stood at the river banks with John “this is my beloved Son” was declared and the Old Testament saying “today I have begotten you as my Son” comes into view.   Jesus had matured through 30 years of life, joys, pain, challenges, suffering as he learned to be obedient until he now was a mature Son – Think about it!   Sonship is a process open to us all to become ‘sons of God.

So we continue on our process of life and learning, maturing to this end…

Taking up other people’s’ offenses

Frequently those who were proud, rebellious or stubborn would get hurt. They would then Campaign for support. In the ensuing controversy I often foolishly found myself supporting persons out of sympathy or friendship though lacking understanding as to the issues involved, taking up their offenses as my own.

Some of these arguments would go on for months at a time and churches would have several ‘cliques’ within them that were quite political in nature. I had to learn that:

  • To be part of the answer you must not become part of the problem.
  • Defend a rebellious person and you share their lot and outcome.
  • Support the proud and you share their downfall.

When friendship rules judgment then the best means of bringing resolution is rendered impotent.

Secondhand opinions

Because I was generally untaught in the scriptures, I tended to learn from what I saw in others. The people I admired were strong men with equally strong opinions.

In the absence of personal revelation I adopted their opinions as my own. I failed to realize that when secondhand opinions are stubbornly defended, one can end up a bigoted exponent of other people’s’ prejudices.

  • Your foundation in life is your personal revelation.
  • In order to stand in truth you must be in the revelation of it

This is the essence of John’s assertion ‘Yet I know that the touch of the Spirit never leaves you, and you don’t really need a human teacher. You know that his Spirit teaches you about all things, always telling you the truth and never telling you a lie. So, as he has taught you, live continually in him.’  (1 Jn.2:27)

Let us press on as we are encouraged to do so in the scripture laying hold of the end that the Father is drawing, loving us to!