What and where…

Arrived home last night which is always a ‘nice’ feeling. Home… though being on the road is just wonderful too. We have just been to Madrid, Toledo and Caravaca de la Cruz. A few more kilometres on the ‘furgo’: around 1.3k or 800 miles, so not huge distances. Madrid was our first destination and we met there with two generations of ‘Hawkes’ from north London (Adrian and Pauline, Gareth and Jo). They are such inspirations to us – maybe I should say provocations. Their passion for the Gospel and its outworking at a level of justice (is there another outworking that is at the centre of the Gospel?) is very striking. They have given themselves to everyone but with a focus on asylum seekers and refugees and the provision that they have believed God for, not once but on many occasions. There are those you can read about but it is always a deep privilege to be with the kind of people one can read about.

Over the past years we have met with a sightly wider group from http://phoenixcommunity.org and are glad that we seem to have some positive input to them. Their input to us is immense. We had a few days together and we stayed with them on an interesting street (more below on this!).

From Madrid we made the short drive to a city with major history, the city of Toledo. At one time it served as the capital. Our focus was very narrow – the city had been a centre for church councils, many Jewish massacres and also a centre for the Inquisition – but our focus has been on the Muslim / Christian / ReConquista aspect. In 1045 Alfonso VI of Castile captured Toledo, and although the city is a long way south the capture was viewed as one of the most significant captures in the ReConquista process. A truly magnificient city and one that understandably pulls in the tourists but it is hugely oppressive with clear evidence of the alliance of religion and military pride coming together. It would be a major challenge to live in the city as a believer as those spirits always come to suffocate real life.

Alfonso has a statue erected to him on one of the main ways in to the city. A sword raised to heaven!

Because our focus was on the Muslims we did not visit the Jewish quarter, though we have done that in the past and are deeply grateful for the focus Spanish believers have had on repentance into that history. On the edge of the old city by the Puerta del Sol (gate) there is one of the 10 original mosques that were in the city. It is pretty much intact and has been there since around 1000AD. It was a good place to pray, and as it was still during Ramadan it also carried some weight.

From the Mosque we went to the Cathedral, the Town Hall and the archbishop’s palace. All three together in the one square, and all three together in a spiritual history. How far have we shifted from the simplicity of following Christ, the simple and yet deeply profound message of the cross that made an open show of what is at the heart of controlling power? It is very difficult to avoid coming to the conclusion when walking the streets of a city like Toledo that ultimately there is no difference between the controlling Judaism that colluded with Imperial power, the Islamic faith that proclaims a predestinating God, and a christianity that transforms the cross into a sword. They are of one spirit, and certainly not of the Spirit of Jesus… though wonderfully he can be found hidden in there. Days of walking, praying are very provocative, they seem to bring sight in new ways.

Cathedral and a military / Knights T / St George images:

From Toledo we went to Caravaca de la Cruz, a town not too far from Murcia in the south. It of course has Moorish history but our focus here was simply to complete going to the three places in Spain that are legitimated by the Vatican to offer ‘perpetual indulgences’. (Inside Spain there are three, outside two – Jerusalem and Rome.) I am sure there are those who find Jesus, and even find forgiveness in the midst of the paraphernalia, but oh for some of the simple ways of Jesus to become available! This place draws so many pilgrims but here the religious spirit was not so heavy as in Toledo…

Here is view of the city from the pilgrimage sanctuary:

So a little journey and back home. The next days we will try to shape the next parts.

And the street name? Just before we left Noé (from Calpe) had talked to us about what is considered the major battle that is the turning point in the ReConquista: the battle of Las Navas de Tolosa (1212). So we have been reading on this and know that (probably) in July we will travel there. There is much to write about on the history, but of interest in terms of where we have been, the ‘Christian’ forces came from Toledo to the battle. They included the most unlikely of allies, and also drew in the Knights Templars and the Order of Santiago. Later in the same year of the battle there was a major slaughter of Jews in Toledo. Those kind of connections are not uncommon.

And the street in Madrid? Here is the corner of the street:

Nice pointer on the journey – who needs GPS with signs like that!!

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La Muela

La muela – the molar. The name given to high cliff top area to the West of Valencia, la muela de Cortes de Pallás. Our last 30 kms to get right in to the village took us over an hour, beautiful but inaccessible. It was here that some 3000 moriscos (and of course that term suggests that they were muslims but in reality they were a mix of muslims and christians) had gathered. They retreated to this area as they did not want to be evicted from their land.

Having travelled in the north with Noë, Loli and Sam, they left for Calpe and France respectively and Gayle and I drove to La Muela. It is in the middle of a huge mountain range:

They took to the cliff top above the town for their protection. A major force came against them, initially offering for them to surrender, but the ‘Christian’ troops did not want to lose their plunder so took things into their own hands, to rape and plunder. It was brutal, and there are records of women with their children jumping from the cliffs to their death in order to avoid the brutality. The attack was under the governor of Xativa (I commented on Xativa in yesterday’s post).

Eventually the so-called ‘last king of Morisco Spain’, Turixí, was captured a few months later and taken to Valencia where he was drawn and quartered.

A bloody history and one that took place centuries ago (1609) – for the Western mind-set it has nothing to do with us today. For other cultures? And for the land that holds the corporate memory, it is alive until there can be a Jubilee, a re-set. This reset is what is motivating Gayle and me. The cross is an event in time to re-set all things.

The pursuit of the moriscos from the area of La Muela continued and in 1611 a reward was given for every morisco brought in ‘dead or alive’. ‘Christian’ bounty hunters descended on the region in great numbers as a result. In the midst of this a Simon Zapata took on himself to coax Moriscos down without violence. He spent months roaming the mountains and led them personally to the coast. He even sent his brother on a ship with them to guarantee their safety on arrival in Algiers. We bless and are blessed by his memory. The land too remembers this.

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Santiago via a field

Having discovered the story surrounding Priscillian we planned to travel to Santiago de Compostela via a field (as one would). The reason being that Priscillian engaged with people where they were and was willing to oversee the eucharist outside. So before getting to Santiago we pulled off the road and with bread and wine prayed, unravelling some of the string.

As we began to pray we had a number of swifts turn up, flying all around – this we have found not to be uncommon, and even back in the day we had one fly in and out of our apartment in Cádiz. There is so much more resonance between creation and heaven than we often realise.

On to Santiago… without doubt many people meet God on the camino with time to reflect and re-centre. As well there are many diverse ways in which people connect. I would benefit from the camino I am sure, but this kind of focus is not something that would come easy to me. Maybe when I eventually grow up and enter the second half of life I might be able to connect more with this kind of spirituality!? The history though of the camino is a covering over of the Prisicillian history with the myth of St. James – whose body is supposedly in the cathedral having been taken across the Mediterranean, avoiding pirates en route and in a stone boat!! (Remind me when I make up a story to stay a little closer to something a little more believable!) For all those who have found God on the camino nothing I write here is to take anything away from that. Even if it is a myth and a covering over of something deeper, and in that sense a deliberate deception, as I believe, it highlights that God is to be found in all kinds of places. That God is found does not say too much about the place where he is found – it simply says a lot about God’s mercy.

Inside the cathedral we did not find great darkness. Of course there are religious aspects that do not seem too healthy but God is to be found. The statue (actually 2 statues) of St. James is present and we took our turn to walk past, not to pay homage, but to indicate that something was passing!

Glad we made the journey there. It is Gayle and my second time there in the city. So we bless all pilgrims who truly connect with God through whatever spirituality works for them. For us… the field, the open space will continue to draw… and the city!

Outside the cathedral there was a sign regarding work being done on the cathedral, and saying that this was a new time for the cathedral.

 

Below is the map of our journey:

1 Oliva
2 Madrid: picked up Sam at the airport / connected with Noë and Loli in El Espinar
3 Lugo: string, Marcos Zapata, hospitality
4 Santiago
5 Santo Toribio de Liebana
6 Santander: John Mark and Marcela and hospitality
7 Madrid: a day in the city
8 La Muela de Cortes de Pallas: the last king of the Moriscos

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Lugo: 11 hours away

For those who follow this blog you will know that we are focused for this year on how we can contribute to the undoing of the negative aspects of the ReConquista: the taking back of the Iberian peninsula for the ‘Christian’ faith and the ending of almost 800 years of Muslim rule. We neither come at this believing that we would not have done what our ‘Christian’ foreparents did had we been alive then, nor that all the fault lies on one side. We do approach it from today, carrying the perspectives of today, so hold that what was done in the name of Christ was not reflective of the Gospel he left for us to proclaim. We approach it as followers of Christ hence believe we carry a responsibility to stand in the gap with repentance for what has gone on before. There are many prayers and exhortations in Scripture concerning the confession of one’s sins and the sins of those who have gone before. There is no suggestion that the NT overturns this and the strongest NT example is the baptism of Jesus, a baptism for the forgiveness of sins which he underwent. Only when it was clear that Jesus was being baptised representatively to fulfil all righteousness did John agree to baptise him. Anyway – our convictions, and what motivates us for the year. There is no need to convince others! I (sadly) came to realise some years back that the Lord does not focus on convincing others that what I believe is correct and I also discovered that he seems more interested in how I live according to my convictions than how clever I am!

We have always been amazed that information surfaces when one needs it. God is not the purveyor of information as and when we want it. I consider this is the case as any real information has to be responded to. We become accountable for what we know. The Pharisees understood that Jesus was clearly of the opinion they were blind (Jn. 9) and were a tad upset about this. His reply to them was that for their sake they would be better off just accepting they were blind, for if they had sight their guilt (responsibility) would remain. Hence I always consider that information follows revelation and is an indicator of a time-line. God gives information when the body of Christ can respond and see a shift as they partner with heaven.

Last year we began to call for anything deep in the land (in the north) that was related to a Celtic understanding of the Gospel, then began to be convinced that 2017 was the year to journey and pray into the undoing of the negative effects of the Christian / Muslim conflict over the land. In the wider picture we would see that this still gives Islam a foothold on the land spiritually and that such non-cruciform response to Islam is what gives it strength… in other words that Christendom (church state alliance, ‘Christian nation’ theology etc.) is what feeds Islam today. In that sense Islam, with its space for Jesus even in the Quran, could even be seen as a cult as much as another religion. Oops, I just saw a can of worms there, so moving on quickly.

Information comes forth

Into that mix our connections turned up with a gentleman called Priscillian, a Celt who became bishop of Avila, but who operated also in the open fields with the eucharist and held to the equality of women and men. He did not seem to have a direct connection to the British Celtic church, but there is some link to Martin of Tours (though I consider him really Martin of Poitiers) who had a link to Patrick, of Irish fame. And then the big one… it seems the whole camino de Santiago was created to squash the Priscillian history, and that someone as academic as Henry Chadwick held to the belief that far from James being the body in Santiago it was actually Priscillian!! The Celtic in the land being suppressed by an overlay of church and Empire (the two that came together to have Priscillian killed).

So for us there was an added element that came in. Not only the ReConquista but the calling forth the Celtic Christian roots and also seeking to stand in the gap for what we understand to be the first Christian to be killed by the initiative of other believers who pulled on Imperial power to have it effected. This of course being in parallel to the crucifixion of Jesus, pursued by fellow Jews who pulled gladly on Imperial power to see him killed.

So off we went just over a week ago. All across Spain to the north west, initially an 11 hour drive. We went with Samuel Rhein (France) and Noe and Loli from nearby Calpe. Amazing travelling companions and we were highly privileged to be with them. Our first day was in Lugo. We were hosted there by Marcos whose church and work is doing an amazing work in that city and across the Galicia comunidad. Some weeks back Gayle had said to me that we have to start in Lugo as that was where the end of a ball of string was and we needed to begin to unravel things from there. Amazingly when we entered the old city through a gate in the intact Roman wall the first shop in front was a string shop with all kinds of string, sizes and shapes! We bought a ball of 7 metres of string that will come with us and we will unravel this piece by piece until we get to Gibraltar (September).

Here are:

The happy travellers:

The happy string shop (outside):

and also happy inside:

The happy ball (about to be unravelled) that will accompany us:

A lot of happiness… and getting on the road, a feeling of what one was born for, or rather what two were born for, does help and pump the happiness gauge up a bit!!

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Our few kilometres

Always good to come home. I have been away for some 10 days, with one night at home in the midst. As soon as I arrived home Gayle and I took a friend back to Alicante Airport and then covered some 2000 kilometres to Madrid then Cádiz. If ever you are taken with the thought of driving in a country just to see it we would recommend Spain every time. A beautiful and very diverse land. From the coast to the plateau that Madrid sits on at 2100 feet (Europe’s highest capital city), to the ancient city of Cádiz to the mountains of the Sierra Nevadas. That was our journey.

 

spain-trip-0515

 

Last November while in the liminal space of the West of Ireland something happened to us, and maybe particularly to Gayle, with the awareness of the need to protect political space becoming something we have increasingly felt responsible for. So it was great to make our way to Madrid to meet with a UK journalist (and friend) Julie Tomlin who was there to explore how to listen to the voices at grass roots level. We were also able to stay in the apartment of our ex-landlady, Ana, who hosted us. She too has a (family) background in the political scene of Spain.

Sunset in Madrid
Sunset in Madrid

We had three incredible days there with connections, and walking the streets of this capital city. People and places have to connect and we feel such a connection to this city. And with the situation in Spain as full of potential as it is at this time we simply loved every minute there. (Dream-wise) we are aware that the level of changes needed will not take place this year (2015) but the level of shift and challenge to the status quo is at an unparalleled level. The reactions too are simply incredible! We are sure that the timing of prayer at Franco’s tomb in March, and that it is 40 years since his death, have contributed enormously to the current shifts. We are certainly glad to have prayed there, having called for an earthquake as a sign, and then to read the language in the press with virtually the total results of the elections causing an earthquake in the land.

Of course no political party is the ‘saviour’ for a situation, and we will not sell our soul in such a way, but the whole land is reeling. People we have talked to use words ‘dangerous times’, ‘end of an era’, ‘hope’ through to many more negative terms. We would aspire to being able to spend the major part of November in Madrid as the general elections will take place at that time.

Mentidero Cadiz
Mentidero Sq Cadiz

From Madrid we spent a couple of days in Cádiz. Amazing to come back to the city not as people living there but as ‘semi-visitors’. Something has shifted but the city is still at a huge balancing point. It was great to spend some time with Simon and Amy but also to meet up with some friends from before. We did have two fairly disturbed nights there which is always a sign of spiritual disturbance, so there still needs to be a big push in that city. There are undoubtedly keys there for the nation. In the previous post I covered some of the perspective of the young / old woman of the city, and this is clearly still contested ground both in the city and the nation.

In my next post I will go back to the travels before our drive in Spain as I was in Plymouth for a few of days.

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Romania… this time of year

Gayle and I have just returned from Romania to work with Networks. I hope we bring something to them – I certainly know we are always the richer for being there. No ‘work’ is perfect but the commitment of the team, the flow of short-term people through (500+ per annum), the engagement and empowerment of the local people, and…

The team leader and founder of the work now has his own bedroom! The level of commitment to live at a basic level with no poverty mentality is a challenge. So often we can justify a level of living, or conversely live with little and a poverty mentality. I have been pursuing the concept of the ‘money bag’ for the kingdom being ‘contentment’ so again this was a lesson to me.

Arguably Europe is statistically the ‘darkest’ continent for the Gospel, and the Balkans the darkest area within Europe. If there can be a way of not looking for models elsewhere this whole area can be a place where new models rise up that reflect the bigness of the kingdom. It is for these reasons that G & I will see how we can now invest more in to this area beyond the once a year that we have done.

I have written in the past of the investment into the team being as much from those who do not openly share an evangelical faith, such is the fruit of the work there. While there this time there was a team from a school in Sweden, some believers, some not. The students work for the final years in the school with the hope that they will be able to travel to Romania. They are touched in amazing ways. We asked a Swede what it was that makes the difference. He replied that they have seen situations of significant poverty before but in touching this team they experience a ‘love for the poor’ that is tangible.

Lee also told us about a lady who was visiting from Sweden, and while driving in the car, the presence of God filled the car ‘from nowhere’. With no background in that sort of experience and without any prayer this woman was deeply impacted in the silence. The connection between the supernatural manifestations of God and the context of the poverty are absolutely remarkable.

I could go on… check out the web site and if you have any sense of making a contribution I could not suggest strongly enough that all investments in this work are investments into the work of the kingdom.

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Romania… many questions

This is our third year to come alongside the Networks Romania team. Although it was beneficial for them – described as helping trim the feathers on the arrow so that it flies straighter – the real benefit was for Gayle and I. The quality of the dedicated hard work that goes on is very impressive. The team are not ones to blow their own trumpet and I hesitate to do so, so just one example. Recently Lee was invited to a dinner for some 200 people in Sweden by a wealthy investor. Sitting at the table he asked someone what they were involved in. Later the same person leaned across the table, grabbed Lee’s arm and said ‘Compared to what you do I am sure what I am involved in sounds very hollow to you.’ The amazing part is Lee had not even said what he was involved in.

Stories of favour, of being called on for input could be multiplied many times over.

Practical help with vegetable growing, creating a clothing line, repairing houses, providing firewood and a host of other basic tasks that are anything but glamorous are all part of their invaluable support for the communities where they work. They have also been able to provide school education and some health care. And all of this connected to a people who believe in the supernatural intervention of heaven is wonderful.

We also connected this time with a church in Arad, Adoram, and I was able to teach there for a couple of hours. My interpreter said that it dismantled everything they had believed (about eschatology) but it all hung together. Imagine translating at the same time as ‘that’s just destroyed what I believe’. Funny interlude: last time I had a similar response was when riding with an ex-southern Baptist minister across Texas. About 5 hours in to the journey the conversation turned to alcohol.

‘I preach against it’ he proclaimed.

No response, then ‘what about you?’

Response (I had not read how to win friends and influence them at the time): ‘I drink it.’

Shock, horror…

‘But the Bible teaches against it.’

‘It does? What about Jesus and the early disciples? They drank wine.’

‘The wine in the Bible was non-acoholic.’

‘Ah that makes sense of Paul. Do not get drunk on non-alcoholic wine’ I replied.

‘You have just ruined my sermon.’

‘Maybe you had better get a new one then.’

That dialogue made the time pass a little quicker!!

Any way – interlude over… There were a couple of areas that really provoked me while there. First the question of do we need another outpouring of the Spirit or do we simply need to see released what has been deposited already. Now I hope we are not going to turn down another outpouring, but as Sue Mitchell has pointed out the 20th Century saw three global outpourings of the Spirit. Do we need more? Or is God now expecting us to steward what has been given. The hugest challenge has to be the release of an apostolic movement – and thank God there are already ones released – that puts feet to what has been released.

We have the presence of God in the earth, now enough framework of theology and thinking around the issues of the kingdom and empire, that what is really needed is for feet on the body. We are told that the early church grew at some 40% per decade (not stupendous growth – but way beyond anything in the Western world): this works out at 10 people today and 14 in ten years time. If that is a pattern then it is not that we need tremendous growth targets, we simply need consistency and depth. I do not think for one moment that what we saw in Romania is perfect, but if we could see something similar spread throughout the Balkans maybe in 10 years there would be little to show for it, but maybe after 40 years (an apostolic lifespan?) we might have something very different appearing.

Long term planning?

Another aspect that is very noticeable in Romania is the strong support from Sweden for the work there. Some funding and practical support comes from that nation – and from people who would not proclaim to have an evangelical faith. That aspect is always a strong sign – like Paul and his Asiarch friends in Acts. The second aspect that is so encouraging about this is that the nation of Sweden carries a giving and finishing anointing, and for years I have been saying that when we see the gifts of Sweden released we will know that Europe is moving into a new phase.

Always questions… Yesterday we sat with pen and paper to write down reflections, and questions that have been posed to us while away. Questions easily fill a page. Answers… well I am still scratching my head this morning, but as always great to be home!

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The american patient

Wolfgang and Mercy Simson sent out this open letter the day of the US election, with permission for it to be made available to a wider audience. The spirit of the letter is admirable, as it always so difficult to write to another culture. He quotes from Der Spiegel ‘The American Patient: The decline of a Great Nation’. In reality there is either a better question, or a parallel one that has to be addressed to western society as a whole. Here then in the letter.

Our dear America – where do you go from here?

Today, Obama has been re‐elected; all the efforts of many Christian leaders, prayer movements, “prophets” and “concerned Americans” who have lobbied, written appeals, articles, books, letters ‐ some have even done films ‐ to warn not to vote for him have come to nothing. Many of them have behaved as if the future of the Kingdom of God is at stake. Well, it is not.

Can we, as foreigner who dearly love you as a people, say a few words into this situation? Because it is evident to us that God has a clear plan with your nation. But many don ́t seem to see it, and therefore run the danger of fighting the wrong fight, wasting precious time and resources, and even endlessly call upon God to do what he just will not do.

The German weekly Der Spiegel, kind of a German Time Magazine, has a cover picture of Uncle Sam in bed, titled, The American Patient: The decline of a Great Nation. We think this is a prophetic picture. As your friends, we know, acknowledge and admire that America has had a great past. But how will your future look like?

God chastises whom he loves because he knows: pride will come before the fall, and humbleness and brokenness is the only condition he responds to. We personally sense we need to tell you: the destiny of your nation is in God’s hands, not yours. It is not at all about Obama or Romney, it is about God using all the nations in the world according to his global and unchanging plans. Did you ever allow the thought that God in his sovereignty is using Obama like a pawn on his chessboard to humble the US as a nation because he wants to show his grace to a nation gone completely self‐sufficient? A nation that is so full of independence, individualism, nationalism and trusting a greed‐and fear‐based economy that there may be only one way open to heal it from its idolatry and re‐align itself with the Kingdom of God: a crisis beyond anything that America has ever seen?

In 2008, God has been challenged by a man standing up in public, preaching to the cheers of a huge crowd: “Yes we can!” We watched it; we saw the tears of excitement in the eyes of the people; the statements were received as if coming from the Messiah himself, and the electoral rallies had all the flavor of a religious revival. “Yes, we can” is the exact opposite of the King of kings saying: “Without me, you can do nothing!”

If God is the one who “deposes kings and raises up others” (Dan 2:21), does it really matter what are the names of the current puppets set in place by God that advance both the New World Order and the Kingdom of God? Neither Herod, Pilate nor Cesar were truly important for the development of the Kingdom. That is exactly why Kingdom people do not play in the Second League, but the First, the one that matters. The one that puts the Kingdom first, and everything else ‐ including their own nation ‐ second.

The problem of the current commotion and insecurities arises when even the people that call themselves after God keep confusing the Kingdom of God with the United States of America. And when that happens, especially through Christians with a public voice, then we have truly lost all perspective of the coming Kingdom of Jesus Christ and the predictions he has made that will precede his coming.

America is being publicly humbled by God; and he is going to use Obama – and those after him ‐ to further advance his agenda that will lead all nations to kneel before that one true King Jesus very soon. If any nation wants to become a tower that reaches up to high heaven, it will be humbled by a God who will not share his glory with people relying on their own strength.

America, where do you go from here? What does this mean for you? The future is going to be very, very rough. Your securities will vanish, the economy will go down, the education system will become even worse, the streets more dangerous, the churches even more divided, the youth even more disillusioned – unless there is a true movement that abandons all those idols mentioned above, and radically repents, makes a radical alignment with the King of the Kingdom of God and his constitution, live the Law of Christ in all areas of life, first and foremost in the areas of sex, money, power and how we “do church”. This is a defining moment for you as a nation. You could go down, as the German journalist of ‘Der Spiegel’ predicted. Or, America could be literally re‐invented by Kingdom people who are ready to implode the prevailing myths about Americas greatness, and replace it by God’s greatness. The King has even greater things purposed and would fulfill those purpose IF those who call themselves after Jesus the King, would turn away from their self‐made religion, self‐made churches and religious factions, self‐made visions of success, and their self‐made, harmless God.

Can we lovingly but urgently call you back at this hour to begin and initiate a movement to reposition and repatriate yourselves into the eternal Kingdom, by submitting yourself not only in theory but also in practical deeds to Jesus the King, starting to obey the King and his liberating decrees in all the areas that count? You might even want to write a declaration of dependence on God and each other, because by idolizing anything else before and over God, you will become illegal aliens in the country that counts, where we all are called to have our home: the Kingdom, the one place where our true citizenship, nationality and allegiance lies (Phil 3:20). This is the only one country that will not be shaken, as it has an unchanging King.

If there is any way that we can help you in this great challenge and task – we want you to know we will.

Wolfgang and Mercy Simson, Germany

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A Texas conference

We were a couple of days in Texas at a conference graciously hosted by John Paul Jackson, and I thought I would take a post to reflect on our time there, not a report as such, but more a reflection. I am not going to give a full report as the conference was by invitation and the content that some shared of course was shared in a private setting.

There were a few of us there from outside the UK. We enjoyed sharing time with Justin Abraham (Wales) and Aliss Cresswell (Chester). Also something I appreciated on the wider front was the honesty and non-judgmentalism. No big deal but we were joined each evening by a few of the delegates in the hotel lobby (visible place) for a glass of wine. I appreciate those who by conscience do not drink, but I do not like, nor understand, drinking in private in such a way that other people would be stunned to discover that we actually partake. Small point, but another pointer to the positive environment.

It is always interesting to step outside of one’s context. Challenging of course to one’s own culture. Spain is a challenge. We are Europeans… but there are more differences than just the language. South and North Europe is different. Crossing the Atlantic there are more differences than just the accent. So I want to reflect back as objectively as possible. I am very appreciative for the recent post by Paul Wood on how Jesus comes to us to let us know that he is not for us or our enemies: he comes with a big fat ‘neither’. Or maybe put a little more subtly: the line defining right / wrong is not drawn between us but is always drawn through us. Very annoying of course!! I watched the last days of Hitler (film) and was challenged: he treated women and children near him with respect. Was he not ‘totally’ evil? And am I not totally right? Apparently not.

There will always be elements we do not understand about other cultures. Politically there are always challenges. Maybe I need to learn that the ‘right’ politics does not exist. I lean left of centre, the options for the US presidency were both (my perspective) way right of centre. So the angst that the right person did not win was a mystery to us.

So trying to lay on one side my biases.

We were very impressed with John Paul. Humble, accepting and gave me 15 minutes to speak into the group of invited guests. He has his perspectives but not controlling. 10/10 for his hosting and the environment he created.

He had Lance Wallnau address us on the 7 mountains of society. For those who have read what I have been writing will know my reservations about the term ‘mountain’. I have not met him before nor read his material. We loved his pragmatism. ‘Doctors always want to know where they fit… so I simply create for them another mountain, an eighth.’ Wonderful pragmatism that says – this model is not fixed, it is just a helpful tool. I still have two major reservations: why is there a church / religion mountain? And is the ‘we must infiltrate the 3% who shape the ideologies’ the Jesus-way. However the message he was bringing was very potent in this mix, where he suggested that all the emphases on ‘church’ (mega, revival etc.) was in the main simply business and business as usual. And he s doing what he is talking about, working alongside influencers to consider how to shape things for the release of a good environment for people to prosper.

Discussion groups on how would we enable apostles and prophets to work together. Less positive on this! My reflection was not reflected back in the feedback – wonder why? I am still unconvinced that a summit to decide best practice will achieve too much!! In my 15 minutes I did suggest that there is less difficulty in people working together when we are not shaped by the four walls but can find ourselves dealing with the issue of the values of Jesus within a multi-cultural society is the context. Wrong context and there are no solutions, other than the further establishment of religious structures.

Gayle sitting two days 9.00am – 9.00pm probably speaks volumes. Although our cultures (US/ Europe) are poles apart, and many of our concerns and conclusions differ enormously, we have not appreciated two days in such a context as much as this in a long time. We leave provoked to be what we personally need to be within Babylon. We are not responsible for cultures we do not fully understand. We are responsible to understand the culture where we live, and what our responsibility is to be, in some measure, a manifestation of Jesus within that culture.

Finally, what a privilege to sit with John Sanford (Elijah House). His major contribution to the two days was to inject humour. Someone who carries God’s presence, with totally nothing to prove. Another challenge to us to grow up!!!

Tomorrow I will post an open letter from Wolfgang Simson, Germany to the USA.

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Helsingborg: Sweden

Gayle and I are waiting for our flight to the UK having been in Sweden for a few days, with a main focus on Helsingborg. This is a border city, a gateway city with (as many do) a history of battle. It was Danish until early 1700s when it was ‘liberated’ by Magnus Stenbock. Liberation was at a terrible price and after all the killings the wells were polluted with both human and corpses from horses. The resultant plague devastated the city and Helsingborg did not recover until the middle of the 19th century.

Our weekend focus was on city transformation. A great core of people who have stepped up to seek to take responsibility for the city. I was here 5 years ago and certainly things are more in place now than then.

Keys for the city? With the foundation in place of prayer and commitment, the two next phases are the release of resources from the city, which will include those who are not yet believers partnering for city transformation. (Acts 19 – disciples and rulers of Asia were friends / supporters of Paul.) And of the release of the disciples (Acts 9 in Damascus there was a certain disciple). This is key and is part of the gift of the city, to see disciples trained (and not just in ‘Christian’ things but across the board). As always the issue is whether or not that will be permissioned. Of course the right question is whose permission is needed?

There are big hearted people in the city, and any mention of names is questionable, though Torbjörn and Anna_Karen and Jonas were our main hosts, and to them a huge thank you is due.

I certainly feel the city is at a point now in time where the potential for a quick move forward is there. If it is not taken then it will be harder to hold the ground that has already been taken.

We valued the time enormously there and have huge admiration for those in the city. Battles are always strong in a gateway place, things often go down to the wire, resources do not seem to be in great abundance, but sight is the key. There are people of vision in the city, so we will shout from the UK and from Cádiz ‘Come on Helsingborg’.

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Cameras, ipads – any spare?

Earlier this year we were in Romania visiting and working with what we consider is one of the most wholistic mission works we have visited. Their site is here.

Here is an excerpt from their latest newsletter:

Talent is distributed evenly across the earth….

We work with some amazing children and young people who live in some truly awful circumstances and education is an amazing key to help them escape the cycles of poverty that have held them and their families for many years. As part of this process we are beginning a program of creative education in order to expand their horizons. This will include a wide syllabus of subjects explored through afterschool clubs.

Here are some ways that we can help them

I quote from the newsletter:

1. Do you have an old 2 or 3 megapixel digital camera that you no longer use? (Most smart phones have better cameras these days.) If you do, then we would like you to think about donating it to us for a photography class.

2. Do you have an old ipad 1 or ipad 2 you no longer use? (Maybe you upgraded to the ipad 3?) If you do then maybe you would think about donating it to our school program?

3. Do you have an old laptop you could donate to us?

How to get it to them?
If you are living in Sweden, then there will be a truck leaving for Romania around the 2nd October.
If you are in the UK or elsewhere you will need to contact them.

Check out their web site to find out more about their creative education program as they would love more people to get involved.

And not being people who sit around they are also opening a sewing factory to train and give employment, so likewise if you have lurking in a closet somewhere a sewing machine or an overlocking machine they can use those.

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A couple of posts to read

Today I read a couple of posts. The first on not buying into an eschatological belief about politics is always something of an ever necessary reminder. If you read, also read some of the comments to get hold of what is / is not being said.

It is titled:
Dear Christian: If the Thought of Either Romney or Obama Getting Elected Makes You Fearful, Angry, or Depressed, You Have What we Call a Theological Problem

All political regimes are utopian. Communist, socialist, fascist, monarchic, and democratic. All of them.

Peter Emms.

A great reminder. Yesterday around 2 million were on the streets of Barcelona, calling for a divorce from Spain, independence and to become the next state of Europe. Maybe they have been wronged, maybe the current government is not moving in the right direction… maybe. I have my political views, but neither left nor right are right. All systems are fallen, and Jesus informed a certain Roman puppet that his kingdom was not of this domination system.

A good reminder too – I have some chapters in Revelation to finish!!!

The second is by Andrew Perriman entitled:

No other name by which we should be saved

An excellent post – as so often taking a different take on the issue because of a strongly narrative reading.

Here’s how it starts:

I am not a universalist. I do not think that the New Testament teaches that everybody will be “saved”, though it appears that the political landscape of the new creation will be more complex than we may have thought. The framing soteriological argument in the New Testament is not that humanity needs to be saved (in a universal present) but that Israel needed to be saved (in a particular past).

An excellent post and a reminder that I need to get back to a few comments on the issue I started with the blog ‘Between Extremes’.

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