Position Yourself…careful

images-7We must position ourselves carefully to exercise influence. 

Positioning means us saying ‘Let’s get where the action cannot be missed’.   Let’s position ourselves to get involved with this generation.   Position ourselves to be the incarnate body of Christ in our street, work place, education world and homes.

We redeem men by the proclamation of the Christ and his gospel: we influence society by being salt in the street, world.  Both are essential, and often our ‘salt’ is the necessary forerunner to our proclamation.

I recently visited a township in South Africa where the conditions were so dire, the filth and squalor, the heartache, pain, poverty and hunger were indescribable.   This seen is repeated world-wide, its experienced on very continent, in the back streets of Brazil, on the roads of India, in the aftermath of every war, even in areas of the so-called developed world, some time son our doorsteps.     You can’t simple preach, ‘repent of your sins and you’ll be saved for heaven’ and walk away from a place like that with no sense of further responsibility.    God is concerned with people’s social conditions as well as with their souls’ destiny.  True, eternal destiny is paramount, but this doesn’t mean God has no concern for our social conditions.

We are to be ‘Restorers of streets to live in’ (Isaiah 58) and we must not divide images-13our world into social and salvation, our theology into liberal or evangelical, one after the soul and the other after the transformation of society.   One view looking through one eye and saying ‘don’t get side tracked into a social gospel it’s the souls that need saving and the other looking through the other eye ‘but what about saving them?’

Jesus shows us he had two eyes open, as the Son of Abraham he wanted to redeem mankind, as the Son of David he wanted mankind’s world to be an ordered and just society.

It is right to bring God’s saving grace and correct to transform society.

We must position ourselves to do both.

No longer ignoring the deepening plight and worsening social conditions of our world, while protesting we are concentrating on saving their souls, continents and countries need more than a soul-gospel.    We cannot close our eyes to the growing number of homeless building their cardboard cities on our own doorsteps as well as in distant lands, which is our responsibility, let me explain.

One of the early characteristics of the community of the King, in the words of Jesus that an apostolic community, the church as it should be apostolic,  was to be focused in being established where they where local ‘…wait in Jerusalem until the Spirit comes…’, then to have a four focus at one time beyond the local.   This focus I suggest was a command to work on four areas at any time, being the living life church of Christ, ‘…God into all the earth…Jerusalem…Judea…Samaria… and utter most past of the earth…’, we are to be local, regional, national and international in focus, in our actions, message, pray and work of faith.   We cannot close our eyes to our world and end up local minded only or even the a fool with our eyes in the ends of the earth, holding these four focuses will prevent foolish eyes for us.

We have a voice, a gospel to restore our world to the Fathers first thought in creation, beginning with the restoration of the soul to the image and likeness of God.   Therefore  where am I, where are we hitting the streets of our world to create a ‘….street to live in…’ and a people who are able to live in a street with a Godlikeness pursuit?

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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.  

 

“To this end…” still working towards it

Community under canvas Our journey is continuing on this time I will deal with only one step, it’s so important in a disconnected society, a society that is not aware of anyone else but of self, that this step be prayed and worked through, enjoy considering.   To be a people of love and display to our world people being TOGETHER

Step Seven COMMUNITY LIVING

I don’t know whether it was my upbringing as a child in the Welsh Valleys, where lives were thrown in on each other and things were shared or what, but I have never found community living a problem, and long to see it at every level. I am not talking about a commune but a community where no one has need and each person is considered and looked after, where people are aware of others around them rather than just self.

I have been able to adapt easily to living with a crowd as long as there has been some place – all I’ve needed was a bedroom – to pull aside and be alone with God for a time.     Apart from that, the difference of temperaments and personality were no great issues for me.

Here are some of the things I have learned in community with others:

1. Don’t take things too seriously. It is amazing how we can make mountains out of mole hills, and little issues assume great importance. This is where many relationships have foundered and fellowship been broken. Many things are best over-looked and forgotten by the immediate release of forgiveness and love at the time.

2. People respond to praise. Don’t be afraid to praise others. This acknowledges, honours’, and builds men up. Make room in your heart for appreciation of others.

3. Everybody loves to be loved and so the time taken, word spoken, gesture made, effectively communicates our appreciation and love for people,

4. Make room for others. Don’t look for ways to promote yourself by seeking prominence. Make room for other people respond to those who have made room for them.    Give them scope in your life, fellowship, responsibilities.     Let them try things out for themselves, and ‘have a go’.

5. Keep short accounts. If there is a breakdown of fellowship deal with it quickly – Get rid of it before it widens. It is the accumulation of small things that creates the big problems. Just as it is the silt that comes down with the river that forms the mud bank that eventually holds the waters back.

6 – Don’t be afraid to confront. Don’t look for confrontation, but neither should you run from it where it is necessary for the saving of the person or situation. Paul disliked confrontation but was not afraid to stand up to Peter when a fundamental issue of the gospel was at stake. It is better to be wounded by your friends than destroyed by your enemies.

7. Grace and faith. Serve up, in every relationship with people, great dollops of grace and faith. These are the twins of all progress and achievement in relationships.

8. Be loyal to men and women and people will be loyal to you – the end time will be characterized by this breaking down (2 Tim.3:4) amongst other things.     All the more reason to shine as a light in a dark place in respect to keeping covenant.

9. Love the brethren. By this I mean demonstrably so. Let your feelings become tangible in this respect.

10. Serve one another. Do little things – learn to hump the tables around. Learn to look after each others needs, be a servant and in this way you encourage others to serve, particularly be a Joshua to a Moses somewhere.

These principles hold good as strengthening bonds to secure harmony inside the relationships of the wider community of the church.     It would be wonderful if our Christian experience was only a series of positive virtues.      Unfortunately I have been both a victim and perpetrator of some negative issues also.

 

All Ministry begins with…what?

A Blog taken from various other sites to stimulate thought and biblical accuracy

Women Bishops: It’s about the Bible, not fake ideas of progress by Tom Wright

Exhorting CoE to ‘get with the programme’ dilutes the argument for women bishops

“But that would be putting the clock back,” gasps a feckless official in one of C. S. Lewis’s stories. “Have you no idea of progress, of development?”

“I have seen them both in an egg,” replies the young hero. “We call it Going bad in Narnia.”

Lewis nails a lie at the heart of our culture.       As long as we repeat it, we shall never understand our world, let alone the Church’s calling.      And until proponents of women bishops stop using it, the biblical arguments for women’s ordination will never appear in full strength.

“Now that we live in the 21st century,” begins the interviewer, invoking the calendar to justify a proposed innovation.        “In this day and age,” we say, assuming that we all believe the 18th-century doctrine of “progress”, which, allied to a Whig view of history, dictates that policies and practices somehow ought to become more “liberal”, whatever that means. Russia and China were on the “wrong side of history”, Hillary Clinton warned recently.      But how does she know what “history” will do? And what makes her think that “history” never makes mistakes?

We, of all people, ought to know better. “Progress” gave us modern medicine, liberal democracy, the internet.       It also gave us the guillotine, the Gulag and the gas chambers. Western intelligentsia assumed in the 1920s that “history” was moving away from the muddle and mess of democracy towards the brave new world of Russian communism.      Many in 1930s Germany regarded Dietrich Bonhoeffer and his friends as on the wrong side of history.      The strong point of postmodernity is that the big stories have let us down. And the biggest of all was the modernist myth of “progress”.

“We call it Going bad in Narnia.” Quite.

It won’t do to say, then, as David Cameron did, that the Church of England should “get with the programme” over women bishops.     And Parliament must not try to force the Church’s hand, on this or anything else.      That threat of political interference, of naked Erastianism in which the State rules supreme in Church matters, would be angrily resisted if it attempted to block reform; it is shameful for “liberals” in the Church to invite it in their own cause.     The Church that forgets to say “we must obey God rather than human authorities” has forgotten what it means to be the Church. The spirit of the age is in any case notoriously fickle.     You might as well, walking in the mist, take a compass bearing on a mountain goat.

What is more, the Church’s foundation documents (to say nothing of its Founder himself) were notoriously on the wrong side of history.       The Gospel was foolishness to the Greeks, said St Paul, and a scandal to Jews.       The early Christians got a reputation for believing in all sorts of ridiculous things such as humility, chastity and resurrection, standing up for the poor and giving slaves equal status with the free. And for valuing women more highly than anyone else had ever done.     People thought them crazy, but they stuck to their counter-cultural Gospel. If the Church had allowed prime ministers to tell them what the “programme” was it would have sunk without trace in fifty years.     If Jesus had allowed Caiaphas or Pontius Pilate to dictate their “programme” to him there wouldn’t have been a Church in the first place.

So what is the real argument?     The other lie to nail is that people who “believe in the Bible” or who “take it literally” will oppose women’s ordination. Rubbish.      Yes, I Timothy ii is usually taken as refusing to allow women to teach men.       But serious scholars disagree on the actual meaning, as the key Greek words occur nowhere else.         That, in any case, is not where to start.

All Christian ministry begins with the announcement that Jesus has been raised from the dead.       And Jesus entrusted that task, first of all, not to Peter, James, or John, but to Mary Magdalene.       Part of the point of the new creation launched at Easter was the transformation of roles and vocations: from Jews-only to worldwide, from monoglot to multilingual (think of Pentecost), and from male-only leadership to male and female together.

Within a few decades, Paul was sending greetings to friends including an “apostle” called Junia (Romans xvi, 7).      He entrusted that letter to a “deacon” called Phoebe whose work was taking her to Rome. The letter-bearer would normally be the one to read it out to the recipients and explain its contents.       The first expositor of Paul’s greatest letter was an ordained travelling businesswoman.

The resurrection of Jesus is the only Christian guide to the question of where history is going.       Unlike the ambiguous “progress” of the Enlightenment, it is full of promise — especially the promise of transformed gender roles.

The promise of new creation, symbolised by the role of Mary Magdalene in the Easter stories, is the reality. Modern ideas of “progress” are simply a parody. Next time this one comes round, it would be good to forget “progress” — and ministerial “programmes” — and stick with the promise.

Tom Wright, a former Bishop of Durham, is research professor of New Testament and early Christianity at the University of St Andrews

Whats in arrears

I read this  it made me chuckle, “a lady in front of me in the queue at the bank had a rolled up fiver (£5) in one ear and a tenner (£10) in the other. When she got to the booth they told her she’s £15 in arrears (behind in payment)”, I hope the play on words is seen by those like me who have English as their second language.

In the light of the word play I wonder what is in your arrears or ears, as it’s should say?    What is in my ear, such a stupid sounding questions but profound in its application, in other words what is getting the most, or who is getting the most listening time from you and I.     What are we investing our listening towards there is so many noises and sounds everywhere which we work though in every day, there is so much accessibility to sound today.   I think we live in an era when silence is fought against.    One thing out of many Sandra and I love in Africa is the deafening, still silence, so still that it ministers to you, yes you did hear right, deafening silence, to stand where there is no sound pollution to rob, distract and overwhelm.

Our world seems to be filled with people who have become adverse to silence  with music in lifts, songs in bathrooms, ear buds full of music in people’s ears.    Sounds and noise every where we go, musac, however you say it, lift music, in-store music, music every where.    Even people who have the TV on in the background for noise with no one listening to it, no attention being paid to whats on, TV being for security and comfort that there is some one there rather than have a still silent house, as I said adverse to silence.

Are we polluted by sound or is there a sound producing in us, is this not the difference, when we are polluted we become unable to conduct life normally or distracted for any actions our thoughts filled with cluttered thoughts, distracted from every angle.    However there is a true pure sound, a sound that will produce an inner person, that brings about a purpose.   A sound of the creator that resonates inside us, calling us, making a clear sound in the midst of so much sound pollution, can we hear it?    Here is a different take on a well-known text on Jesus life, while Jesus challenge in the garden of Gethsemane, a fight of what sound would Jesus listen to, the inner thoughts of his own will against the pure sound of the Father, in the struggle of his mind the human sounds, the voice that said “No”,there has to be a different way”, the voice in your head that says this is life threatening, too hard, go another way.   But a pure sound resonated inside Jesus he cleared the sound pollution become clear purposed “not my will but yours”.    That settled it the noise, the sounds became silent, its done now.      I know submitting to the will of God was and today is the challenge for us daily, however I know that when the purpose and will of God is before me noise, sound pollution of my mind speaks to prevent applying the will of the Father and I have to do a clean out of “whats in my eras“.

Where shall I turn to, whom shall I listen to?    So much information is available to make us all experts, I hear the challenges of some teachers and preachers today, discovering that as they teach, the people listening are more expert than they are, as they have the ability to research what is being said on iPad, iPhones and the like, right in front of the lectern, they can discover even more about the subject than the teacher/preacher does.   I even heard of one setting that invited twitter responses with questions as they taught, so they could deal with the questions in real-time, how exciting a use of modern technology, so to speak, it has become a realisation that people know more due to the accessibility of information.   Who will you listen to?

There was a day when we gathered to hear the superior knowledge, when the teacher at school or at the front, knew more than even mum and dad, when the child said “teacher said”, I recall saying it and hearing it from my own children.   Now with so much sound available, through podcasts, multiple teaching CD’s, books and the number of ‘Christian TV ‘ channels, who do you listen to?

In our world we live in if you do not define or outline the words you use, what you mean by every concept or biblical term, we all hear through gained filters of other people’s definitions and communication.   Try its use a term in a room covenant, authority, Kingdom of God, anointing.   To introduce simple words in conversion or teaching only to discover that even in a room with a few say a dozen people 12 different definitions and view of the same word or term are present.   The self-confessed expert has dominated our ears and we struggle to hear anything different.

More than ever it is necessary for us to help each other hear the sound of God, the voice of the Father, to enable us to say “what is in my ear”, so “What is in your ear?

It’s an time in the midst of so much sound, noise pollution, so much being said, so much teaching available that even contradicts.   How can be sure of whats truth any longer?    Neither cannot return to a day when one teacher had the monopoly of our ears, there is so much available today for us all, TV, podcast, books etc., etc.     Which can be and is a good thing as long as we instruct, teach more perfectly how each one of us can hear vice of God, helping us all to distinguish through our sentiments, emotions, insecurities, whats in vogue, whats the now word, even teaching us not to be subjective but how to know a God Sound.     The scriptures say “my sheep hear my voice” so you can hear God is dealing with the polluted sounds to get the pure sound.    Also realizing that revelation is not an individual event when it breaks in on our world but it is meant to be a corporate experience and corporate forming, so God Sounds are to be openly shared to become more perfect through each diverse life filter.    Find people who you know hear the Father and watch while listening so that they can help you here God Sounds.

So finally “Whats in your ears?”