Travel with San Lorenzo

spain_2016

The above map is our main drive that we took leaving the East Coast on August 25th and returning 6th September. We stopped off at some key places en route, and meandered a lot(!) covering in total some 4000 kms (2.5k miles). The last few days we stayed in Vigo, Galicia on the West Coast, stopping one night in Madrid before dropping off some paintings at a gallery in the centre of Madrid (don’t ask how we ended up doing this… but all a part of friendship…), then home. Always good to come home but the time away was just awesome. A little insight first (and an aside in reality) but we had the name of ‘Jose’ to drop the paintings to. Now how many Joses are there in Spain I hear you ask? So just beyond the Prada Museum in morning rush hour we find the approximate address – a back door on one of the main streets. We pull round into the street, security guards and police in evidence. Gayle has window down – ‘Jose?’ she shouts. Then we spot the real Jose 100 metres further up the street waving. ‘Lo siento…’ Gayle says, we drive on, now no option but to cross the bus lane, park in the bike lane and overlap the bus lane. Jump out. ‘Jose?’. ‘Si’… Seven paintings all wrapped up over the rail, into the black back door. Security guards now moving up the street. Jump back in and home!! Maybe an appropriate way to end our time – there is a huge back story behind why we did that, but enough that life is an adventure for now.

We had so many highlights. The north west – Asturias and Galicia – are Celtic lands. We carried with us a Celtic book of prayers and they seemed so powerful each day. Without the Gospel of course the Celtic lands of Europe resort to superstition, religion and the occult. We even encountered a small village called San Lourenzo complete with chapel one day on ‘a how many bends does this road have’ drive.

Perhaps though the two big highlights were getting to the most northerly and the most westerly points of mainland Spain on consecutive days. We have been praying for the past year that Spain will be stretched out so this was amazing places to pray. Spain has been contracting in the sense that everything is pulled to the centre (Madrid) and this is presenting a lock up scenario. When I finally get to recording the couple of videos on the generations and how life flows I will try and explain our journey a little more about the contraction of Spain.

On the West we went to A Coruña. A few years back I had a waking vision of a man lying back down across Spain. His head on Bibao (north and the language area of Euskadi), his right arm on A Coruña (west and language area of Gallego), his left arm on Barcelona (and language area of Catalan), his right ankle over Cádiz where we were living at the time, left ankle over Malaga, with the lower centre of his back over Madrid. We have now been to the north twice to pray for new thinking (the head), and feel we hit that in a big way last year. Barcelona we have been to, but the main place where we felt we needed to get to was A Coruña to free the right arm. This is the arm of blessing, and although it is all figurative, were very keen to get there. We found the city very dominating, imposing, not releasing a freedom. Anyway those are good places to have a bit of a battle. And so we did.

So what about travelling with San Lorenzo? We encountered the history of this saint (martyred 258AD, August 10) when in Madrid around 18 months ago. We felt a deep connection due to how we were led to the church named after him and the obvious connection of his death being on my birthday. Subsequent to that we went one year ago to Huesca where he was born. While there we had a real struggle to break through, but left the city with a vision to be more mobile and to go where the wind blows our ‘coracle’ to pray across Spain and indeed Europe, to connect with those who feel, and maybe are, in Exile. So we subsequently bought a small van (una furgoneta in Spanish)… It is our mobile accommodation, our coracle of the road. So as we travelled we had no plans, we came to the most northerly points and westerly by ‘accident’. We have affectionately named it ‘el furgo de San Lorenzo’ and will probably put it as a logo on the van – a good talking point?

Over the time we have lived in Oliva – way too quiet for us!! – we have gained new strength, there has been an impartation of youthfulness to us both. Although since 2011 we have been headed to Madrid, and will be there again from Friday this week, and wonder how much longer do we wait, we also realised while travelling that we went to Huesca, the birthplace of San Lorenzo, with the belief that it would open up Madrid to us, but left there knowing we had to be more mobile. So maybe, just maybe we have to occupy the mobile space more before we make our Madrid entry.

Timing with God counts for so much. Patience is apparently being able to pray ‘and Lord take as long as you wish on this’. Immediately after being in Huesca we were sent two apartments right opposite San Lorenzo’s church. Not happened before nor since. We know things are ‘rattling’ but the timing?

Here then a few photos:

San Lorenzo Church, Madrid

Although not a fam of buildings, this one in the Lavapies area of Madrid is highly significant for us: dedicated to San Lorenzo.

Home for us… aka known as ‘El furgo de San Lorenzo’, or ‘Our coracle’. Not huge but who would want anything more:

Home, aka El Furgo

Follow the GPS, to the north!!

To the north!

At the north we prayed by this old tree, and deposited there an acorn we picked up a year ago from Guernica.

Old Tree

Beauty and no crowds. The north of Spain and off the beaten track. A place of refreshment:

North Beach

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Which train from here?

Gayle and I were not able to attend the recent Sparks conference at Ashburnham Place. In due course we will get some greater feedback but the little we have heard about it sounds great. We also watched this morning a video from the conference of a workshop that Brad Jersak hosted on ‘A more Christ-like God’. Worth watching…

In the presentation Brad used an illustration of being on a journey to cross (eg) London. His background, and many others of course, was that of the evangelical faith with a bias to seeing God as one who needs to be appeased. This ‘evangelical train’ can get one to the station but not across the city. There are then the options of getting out of the train but wandering in the station. Freedom at first but no onward journey. So the need is to find the next train, and one that maybe has the characteristics of ‘forgiveness’ could be an indicator of an appropriate train.

He described part of his own journey as moving from that evangelical train to seeing the value in a dispersed contemplative approach but then moved away from the dispersed aspect. Maybe similar to what Gayle and I read in Brian Zahnd’s book of Water to Wine.

I wonder if we have a bias that is hugely affected by our experience and personality (type)? I tentitively think our analogy might be more along the lines of, leave the station, take to walking, mix with crowd, learn the geography and amble across town. So we are not looking for the next train and do not think that this approach takes away the possibility of leaving the station.

All analogies are simply analogies and imperfect. Mine certainly leaves the question unanswered about intentionality of Christian community. Laying the analogy on one side we of course can defend ourselves (!!) by referring to the many meaningful and accountable connections we make with people who have been key to us over years – and we think mutually beneficial.

A deeper scenario in the current ‘train terminates here’ is probably over priorities. Does the intentional Christian community come first or is it embededness in the wider community? If we are interested in answering that I think that a whole host of things kick in. Our personality type (I can so make out how much I understand the Enneagram with statements like that!), the stage of faith we identify with, and also the context where we find ourselves. The latter should be fundamentally a gospel / mission question… And maybe God might help us find the context that fits our personality type, bring healing to us in the process and enables us to have some measure of effectiveness.

Even if none of the above is of interest (after all my comments and question is as a result of only a couple of lines in the video) the whole video carries a wonderful richness. Enjoy!!

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Plymouth and Canterbury

I have spent this past week in the UK with a few days in Plymouth and then in Canterbury. I try and be selective where I travel and have valued my time in both of these cities. Some while back we were sent a key dream which indicated that we had to ‘consult with the man of Spain as to which European invites to respond to’. Certainly since being across the north of Spain (yes I still will write a blog or two on our travels…) we feel that by making that trip we have in fact connected, to some greater measure at least, with the ‘man of Spain’. The language sounds more spooky than the reality!

There is always a validity in travelling anywhere the body of Christ is to be found, and we know that the body of Christ is found in many settings, both formal and informal. As our focus is the body embedded and embracing Babylon most of our connections are with those who are living in ‘exilic’ situations. Plymouth is a gateway (as is the South West) and Canterbury of course has a strong ecclesiastical and Roman foundation. Indeed in the latter city one could consider there would not even be a Canterbury without the church. It is 16 months since last being in Plymouth and some 8 years since I was last in Canterbury.

(Surprisingly) I am getting older, but my first observation is that many of those engaging with the concepts of city transformation are also getting older. That is a great credit to them – still sticking with the idea that the kingdom will manifest in ways beyond the church and is present to affect every sphere of the city. It is a challenge that a younger (20s and 30s) are not engaged in this context, but I am also glad they are not engaged. Let me explain. What I consider is essential is for those in that younger bracket to be embedded deeply in society, embracing Babylon and we (whoever the ‘we’ are) need to engage with them there. The manifestation of church that impacted the likes of me when I was in my 20s and 30s has shifted. The gospel has not changed but the focus for us has – it is not about church renewal but about socieatal transformation. It is about the church being the royal priesthood, of existing so that the world might be the best world possible. It inevitably means that there are more blurred lines, partnerships that are across boundaries. The content of prayer and prophetic understanding is desperately needed across all settings, and needed in the context of where people are now embedded. But I am glad that many are not abandonning ‘there’ to show up in some of the corporate gatherings. The result is that those corporate gatherings are predominantly with an older generation.

What place can those corporate gatherings have? Well maybe they can still be a means to release something that shifts the spiritual climate. That is certainly what we were seeking to do in both cities.

Before getting to a short few paragraphs on each place a comment on this aspect of generations… and I am (or so I keep saying) going to put together two videoblogs on this in due course. All things happen in due course (maybe that is the meaning of ‘mañana’?) A wrong alignment of the older to the younger, in summary when they are viewed to be present with their energy to continue the existence of the house or ministry of the older will:

  • prolong the life literal and figuratively of what needs to give way to something fresh
  • will steal life, literally with illness, and figuratively with stunting of gifting and missing of life-connections from the younger

I would consider that a classic example of this is of Zimbabwe and Robert Mugabe. We have African friends who began across Africa decades ago to pray for the shift in the dictators who ruled across African countries. 9 of the 10 were removed and they told us ‘we were unable to remove Mugabe’. I consider he literally survives from the lives of the youth, he takes the future and eats from it today. (Spain as a nation is strongly on this trajectory now and it is into this that we have focused prayer.)

The flip side is that when we rightly align that there is:

  • a release for the next generation and an increase in their wisdom
  • and an impartation of youthfulness to those who rightly align

This latter understanding I received in a dream maybe 18 months ago, and it was in Plymouth that I felt free to share this for the first time… so I am pretty sure we are about to enter a season where this will be a key element. I suspect as well where there has been a wrong alignment that we will see some major disturbances.

Plymouth has been a defensive city, being home to all three elements of the armed forces. However in the Spirit it is called to be the opposite. Gateway cities / regions are normally of course on the edge of territory and were often given the identity and purpose of keeping borders secure. Philadelphia in Revelation was positioned in this way, but it was to that city that Jesus commanded them to have sight of the open door before them. The sight can be stolen, the body can lose sight because of a focus on a lack of resources. So we pushed into this while there. Out of the South West will come hidden treasures for the nation, and a sound rising up from the multiplicity of small that sounds all the way to London and Westminster. Also there are many coming back home to the South West. They left in one way but will return with a wisdom and a settledness but will be re-energised when they reconnect with the land. The next years I believe will see a significant influx.

Canterbury – for the third time (apparently) I have brought the Scripture about the scribe trained for the kingdom who brings things out new and old from the storehouse. The new has to come out first, otherwise any ‘renewal’ of what is old will be simply re-energising it but will soon colonise it. I was glad that my connections here were small this time round – the largest get together being around 20 people. I was also glad that those who pulled me in wanted to run with a Celtic not a Roman rhythm. This is essential for the city.

In both these places and across the board in the UK it seems increasingly that we have to obtain eyes to see where the Spirit of God is present, come down to the door and then make the journey from our Joppa to Caesarea to go the path of the ‘not so Lord’ till we have our conversion in Cornelius’ house. If this does not happen… but I think a number are already there, and even those of us who are older will be able to make the journey too with the impartation of youthfulness.

Home tomorrow. Then I have time with a small group from the ‘Black Country’, then interaction, sharing, laughter, discussion and sounding board time with Roger and Sue Mitchell and finally with them off to Madrid before the end of the month.

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God is (definitely!!) where I am

We have just finished the more than excellent read ‘Water to wine’, and deeply impacted by the book. The humility and openness means there are rich pickings on the pages. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED. I am not about to review the book, but there is a reflective path I am taking, partly provoked by the book, and also (maybe) partly provoked that Brian and Peri are about to start the Camino de Santiago, walking 500 miles, participating along the way in various church services, eucharists etc. In contrast(?) Gayle and I have just completed 2500 miles driving and looking ahead trying to call for a future that has never been – and with a few Celtic prayer reflections too… I don’t really think there is too much of a contrast but it has been interesting to reflect.

Church tradition – yes or no?

My (I will write for me, but most will also be reflective of ‘us’) whole Christian experience has been inside the Protestant, evangelical, then charismatic (and ‘new church’) stream. I have never been exposed to the more contemplative nor creedal forms of Christianity. Anabaptism has shaped my hermeneutical approach to Scripture. The weakness (strength?) of that is conviction that draws lines as to what is right and what is wrong, who is in and who is out. If the word ‘sect’ is defined positively (as in ‘sect’ not ‘cult’) then it fits that approach, if defined negatively (‘sectarian’) then that might also fit.

I have come to respect enormously what I have found in the wider historic traditions, and come to appreciate the various ‘services’ offered to the community by those either state churches or more established local churches. I am far from dismissive of that and seek to honour those who serve in those contexts. I would be disappointed to see them disappear.

However…

I see those institutions (and I am not using the word pejoratively) as pragmatic, as very helpful. Others seem to see those as the result of a sovereign God who works in and through history so that what we now have is more or less the result of the NT foundation. Tradition might have some dangers but the church tradition, the church fathers (and they were mainly male), the church councils etc., are all then extremely valuable.

So there is some sort of divide on how we view the trajectory from the past to the scene we have today. This does not necessitate a divide of a ‘right / wrong’ kind just a divide of perspective and of course therefore of focus and passion.

I am grateful for the creeds, but also read the church councils as having a political element. Constantine (and Eusebius) of course are on the wrong side for me, Christendom, state religion also are indicators of a major wrong turn in the road, monarchy anointed to rule by a bishop, monarchy as ‘head’ of church etc… I guess you get my drift.

Having written on the trajectory from priesthood for the nations, to Temple and how Jesus came to restore the church as priesthood to take responsibility for the world, I can easily take a pragmatic approach. God is in what he even sees as in opposition – seen clearly in the choice of monarchy. Jesus did not destroy the Temple, the Romans did that, and maybe had there been a greater level of repentance that event might have been averted. But Jesus did come to sow seed that eventually manifests as ‘I saw no Temple there’ – a city without a temple.

Thank God for wonderful traditions – they have proved to be pragmatic guidelines. Thank God for institutions that serve daily and weekly. But I too have to be true to my convictions.

There are those who are true to their convictions – serving inside the ‘local’ church, serving within the state church. Some move further toward the Catholic or Orthodox traditions either because of their convictions or a mixture of convictions and pragmatism.

Then there are those who live according to their convictions, not disrespecting those traditions, living pretty naïvely that there is another path that the NT points toward. Yes that is what brought me to find a home inside the ‘new churches’ with the restoration of the fivefold ministry etc. Recently I met someone from that background, a person that I had shared the same new church family with. He asked what am I doing, what my focus was. I replied that I am still the same as I was when I was in my early 20s, still naïvely believing we can change the world!

Maybe I am so far from ready to enter the second half of life, or maybe I have one naïvety that I am not willing to let go of. And maybe the ‘tradition is where God has brought us to’ kind of people just live out their life with another naïvety. What is for sure this is God’s world, he has never given up on it, and maybe somehow in both extremes he is found. At least I think I find God where I am.

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Walking out repentance

Auschwitz Repentance

el Pais yesterday reported this story (which I think is actually from 2012?) about “Grandchildren of nazis walk and ask forgiveness for the sins of their grandparents” regarding Auschwitz, walking to repent and stand against anti-Semitism. I had not picked up on this event back in 2012 so thought I too would represent it here.

There is so often (and I suggest always) a link between unknown intercessors who stand in the gap wondering what difference it might make that later leads to those who can stand in the gap with a tangible relational connection that releases the land from the historic memory. It seems essentially how the cross ‘works’. The only true human, who from the waters of a repentance baptism comes to fulfil all righteousness, innocent of all rebellion, carries that to the cross. Not the place where the wrath of God (in the sense of ‘anger’) was satisfied but the place where the love of God finds fullest expression within creation. Righteous anger manifesting as a cry for forgiveness for the sins of others.

Take then the not-new-story as an encouragement for the repentant journeys. We also need to take encouragement as the current season seems to be hell-bent on releasing fear, fear feeding anger (them – us), xenophobia and division. So maybe sowing a seed here – there might well be some very specific geographies / historic events that in the coming months you might feel led to stand (inadequately) in the gap for.

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Online and Off Road

We are having a wild time, now in the north west of Spain and with internet a few days, before driving back through Madrid and home. Once home I will try to put up some coherent notes, with a map and some photos. Thus far many surprises. We have been across the border into France as we thought that was very important. Then to the most northerly point of mainland Spain and two days later the most westerly point. Our prayer has been to stretch the land. A number of years ago I had a waking vision of a man lying on his back across Spain, with his right wrist over A Coruña (west of Spain). We had a very strong encounter in that city but have a strong witness that the right hand is now free. The hand of blessing for Spain and beyond. Our prayer these days have also been for a new government, not just in the sense of a new government to come through this time of turmoil and non-government (nothing is resolved yet from the second elections and without a shift a third election will be called) but in the sense of a new way of being together. Dreams have shown us that there are ancient pillars that have to crumble.

All in all we are driving happily! We have had the GPS inform us that we are about to enter unpaved tracks, it has thrown up literal question marks as to where we are… leaving the paved road has been very important for us in this trip. Accompanied with a book of Celtic prayers and as we are now in Galicia the resonance with the land is strong, and maybe we are not in a coracle as the Celts of old but we are discovering what it is to go where the current takes us.

For those who know the connection we made with San Lorenzo… as we ‘missed’ a turning in one place and ended up again on a 30 mile stretch of ‘over the hills, cross the bridges, and round the hairpins’ kind of road we came through a tiny village where we encountered a tiny San Lorenzo chapel. Out jumps Gayle to drink water from the spring. I hasten to add that I had pulled over! Our prayer is for Spain to be stretched but in the course of our adventure we are certainly being stretched. So in this brief post I leave you with that: for Europe to be re-juvenated there has to be a stretching out. Pulling back to the ancient will prove worse than fruitless. A broader theme I am working on is to do with a possibility of an impartation of youthfulness or the contrary will take place and what is old and decaying will be preserved beyond its sell by date but end up stealing the life from the youth.

So the now affectionately known ‘El furgo de San Lorenzo’ is resting a couple of days, then we will jump back in to complete the journey home – making for a round trip of something around 3000+ kilometres.

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