Why the focus?

Gayle and I have had a focus on shifts in society for a long time. Gayle was involved in education and taught in schools that were not rated highly in government statistics. In that context she saw people come to faith, and early one morning when having arrived before anyone else was in the school she then thought someone else was also in and playing music… but no, simply some angels had also (got up early?) and come to add some music to the prayer. My push was simple: through prayer the church would shift demonic powers, discover the gift of the city / region and people would come to faith. As I developed that focus I moved from a simple vision of something that might look similar to classic revival (Finney, Welsh, Hebrides etc.) to a presence of God’s Spirit and people throughout all society. Influenced by Anabaptism the challenge was how to see that outwork practically. Thankfully the journey of understanding the nature of the imperial spirit ran parallel to the push toward the emphasis on salt in society. So an understanding that was in contrast to anything top-down developed.

Three years ago, this month, it became clear that a sharp focus for us was to be the opening up of space for a new politics to grow in Spain (and beyond in Europe). This was something left of field as neither of us have a background in politics. And if we were to see some kind of shift here so what? Why this focus? If we did have a top-down perspective this might be easier to understand, but we see the drive to get the Christian PM / President as misplaced. We do not think that all that is needed is to get the right party in power. The party governing can change but unless the very shape changes nothing really changes.

We will soon have lived in Spain 9 years and in this apartment for almost four of those. In the past 9 years we have dug deeply into the history of the land, both recent and ancient. We have witnessed an increasing exposure of corruption, of cases going to court. (Fancy buying a T-shirt with an extract from handwritten notes printed on it? The handwritten notes of the governing party’s illegal accounts and who was paid. This T-shirt has the extract of one of the many names: ‘M Rajoy’, and one of the payments he received from an account that has been run for decades.) There is a long way to go but there are shifts. We sat recently with a senior bank employee who told us in no uncertain terms that we needed to understand that ‘corruption is part of Spain and will always be here’.

The mainline press and TV channels do not cover a lot of the corruption. Thank God for social media and some very honest journalists. This past week a set of conversations have been recorded between a ring of at least 100 national police. (Thankfully there are many good and honest people involved in law and order.) However the conversations have not only been highly negative about the Catalan situation, but have talked one to the other of their hope that certain people will be destroyed and blown up. They have named journalists and the mayoress of Madrid among others.

The Catalonian crisis continues. Are the current Catalan political leaders ‘political prisoners’ or not? Even Amnesty International has said that they are not. At the same time as this goes on, greater clarity is coming into one of the big corruption cases, with the clear implication that many politicians in the governing party, including the PM, have received large illegal payments. The same party has failed to give an explanation for 40billion euros that has disappeared from public funds. The other main historic party has just had a huge debt written off by the banks. (Contrast this to a 42 page letter we received from the government saying that if we did not respond within 10 days we would be fined 70,000euros. Our crime was to send some money to a friend who was threatened by the banks and had no money to buy food.) The Catalan leaders have not been granted bail while a member of the governing party was granted bail and the next day one of his houses (in Mexico) was raided and 5million in cash was discovered. I could go on – almost 900 senior members of the governing party are either now in jail, court, indited or suspects in corruption. Our banking friend was correct – corruption is part of Spain… Corruption continues! But the future?

Anyway I am a little of track with this post. We are committed to seeing the corruption exposed and old ruling families from the Franco era no longer shape the future with that agenda. But so what? Why the focus? In making a response I note that something continues for us both – shifts in society; but the change of focus indcates that there have been some paradigm shifts.

  • The levels of corruption indicate that there is the presence and effect of the demonic that is unacceptable. Demonic powers do not just focus on one area but look to destroy humanity. We are their nemesis, created in the image of God. They look therefore for all kinds of partnerships, all of which focus on the dehumanisation of humanity. The corruption indicates their presence. That is almost reason enough to focus this way!
  • We see the body of Christ carrying responsibility for the world. This is God’s world, everything is in God, for in him we live and move and have our being. We owe it to the world so that living within boundaries they might seek and find him. That is certainly a significant reason.
  • Justice is called for and this has led to a new word – we are not looking to Christianise the world (as per Christendom) but to heavenify it. By this I mean a greater measure of heaven’s love, freedom, servanthood and justice to be made visible. All good gifts come from heaven.

We are deeply grateful to God for both evangelical and charismatic foundations. We pray that those we meet and increasingly share life with will find Jesus in a not-too-dissimilar way. We continue to seek to be a witness, bearing testimony to new creation realities… but our focus is on the politics, to push back space so that those who, knowingly or not, partner with demons will no longer be able to do so, and those who manifest love and justice will find space to yield their gifts for others. That is our focus in the foreseeable future as we believe that is our responsibility.

We have been here almost 9 years, by the end of 12 years we expect to see something shift beyond recognition. The next years… a focus that needs to stay sharp and a bumpy ride!

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Facilitate or be?

We are at a wonderful moment in our corporate body of Christ journey in Europe. In 2001, right after 9-11, Target Europe began to take shape with some focused prayer into the ’40-70 window’. It was at that conference in Hannover that I first understood the role of Spain was to re-capture some core elements of the Pauline Gospel. (Disclaimer: the strength of our faith is that it is ‘faith’. We seek to make sense of the world in the light of the belief in the resurrection. What I write in this post is my making sense of what is around. Others use a fear window to look at the world. So what follows is a perspective – but a considered on and it focuses on ‘politics’ in the sense of the world being re-constituted.)

We have watched political debates (elections are days away) and on Monday the two historic parties went head to head. It was so ‘old’. Insults, lack of respect, criticism. In the studio were the two leaders of the two young parties, one that worries us because of its leanings to the ****t (no give aways there then!) and the other for a reason I will come to a little later. So ‘politically’ they are poles apart but to see the two leaders of those parties embrace each other was a sign that maybe a new politics does not need be adversarial. (If you have not seen it check out the video from yesterday of Owen Jones and his enthusiasm for coming to Spain at this time – for Europe.)

So now follows some dots that I have connected.

  • Persecution in the history of the early church was not primarily because of being a new ‘religion’ but for being perceived as a new political movement. Here I am pulling on ‘gospel’ being the direct challenge to Imperial rule. There is something of a kick back to this view from some but I suggest that the Pauline gospel is not simply the good news of the kingdom to Israel (as was proclaimed by Jesus) but what was imparted to him in the Damascus and post-Damascus wilderness experience. The Jesus-to-Israel message had implications for the re-shaping of the world.
  • If there is something new happening in Spain that is pushing us beyond the old politics then I consider that this is part of the recovery of the Pauline gospel itself. (For those who follow this blog you might realise at the beginning of the year we eventually made a connection between a full square and a proclamation from heaven for Spain, and now at the end of the year we are making a similar connection.)
  • The rebirth of a new politics – forget the old definitions – that are taking place in Greece, and to some extent even the UK, are gathering momentum here in Spain. This election might well give us more of the ‘same old same old’ as before but something has shifted forever. This re-birth is part of the Pauline gospel – maybe even the core of its outworking. The challenge then for the body of Christ is to be present, for in her absence there is a vacuum to be filled, a ‘spirit’ to be imparted.
  • In the same way as I watch the new voices calling for a new Spain, a new country for the next generation, and see the tears flow as hope comes, I have all my memories kick in of the wonderful days from the late 80s and through the 90s of church movement conferences in the UK where proclamations of a new future were declared. I am reliving the experience.
  • And that gives me the lead in to the title of this blog and also the concern over the other new party I mentioned above. In those ecclesiastical days there was inevitably a view that had ourselves placed at the centre. We somehow would feature in the fulfillment. So the concern (maybe we have lessons from our past that can help those who are now, at least in part, carrying the torch of hope for the future?) is related to a belief that our call is always to facilitate what is rising, to be preparers of the way and not to become the way.
  • The early stages are not the most dangerous. Fluidity and a non-defensiveness are not too difficult to embrace. Even embracing the ‘opposition’ is not too difficult. It is in the stages beyond that the difficulties arise. The church is never meant to take centre-stage (sorry to those with the thought of the ‘highest mountain’ perspective!). Priesthood is the call. And ‘new’ political parties. Are they to take centre-stage? For me the jury is out on that, and what is more important is the release of a new politics, a facilitation of a re-shaping of the world. That brings me full circle – I think that was Paul’s vision. Blind for three days then with sight.

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Chicken or egg?

Which comes first – chicken or egg? Not really my puzzle for the day. If you get time look at this TED talk – inspiring… My musings that follows the video are not as valuable as what Theaster Gates communicates.

Sweeping out the house that he had spent all his money on – ‘performance art’. I know many people who have done things like that – or more likely at a lesser – level over the years. ‘Prophetic acts’. A number of those acts done inside the four walls where parts of the body of Christ had assembled, but some done in the public space.

My question is – is there a connection between the insignificant so-called (though I think with many of them the rightly-called) prophetic acts and the amazing city transformative vision that is exhibited, for example, in this video? Can we see a connection? Or if we do is that arrogant?

Here are my Sunday morning thoughts on this:

  • To lay claim to what ‘we’ have done as being the starting point would be arrogant
    It would fail to understand that the Spirit of God is in the world
    It would be to fail to grasp that the gifts of heaven and the vision of heaven is in the hearts and minds of many, and many who do not profess faith in Jesus
  • But if there is a ‘firstfruits’ anointing on the body of Christ maybe there is a connection, between the prophetic acts (crazy stuff???) and some of what is already beginning to manifesting.
    And if so we need to continue to see the fulfilments for the prophetic as taking place in society not in the church.
  • It raises the question about the need for the ongoing prophetic sweeping out of the buildings. Now what buildings need to be swept – surely we do not need to keep sweeping the same old buildings of before?
    And it raises the questions about the repositioning of the body of Christ to partner with the ‘Theaster Gates’ of this world.

I suggest we need to humbly thank God for initiatives that are taking place where at least there is some sort of connecting line between the community transformation vision that has been a body of Christ emphasis for a couple of decades. We need to see the spaces that are opening now (for spaces we can also spell that word c-r-i-s-e-s) as indicating that there are incredible opportunities. Political space is opening – the election in the UK posits questions of which way forward for the UK on critical issues of housing, immigration, employment, unity of nations, Europe-focused etc. So I think there are some buildings to sweep. There is certainly new ways of thinking. The old ways will prove insufficient for the future (and the present). There is space to be stewarded. And there are artists to be released who truly carry the political imagination for the future. If the answer to the fifteenth year of Tiberius (Lk. 3) was found in the desert, we should not think of the answer to our issues as lying in Westminster / DC / Madrid or Brussels. Crazy clothing, bizarre diets might just be where the word of God is coming. Only from there was there a journey to Rome.

So maybe we cannot be at the centre of transforming our community. Lack of skills, connections, faith. Maybe we have too much fear, unwilling to take risks. But we can either get to the performance act / prophetic act of sweeping the house again, calling for it to be filled with kingdom vision. Or we can embrace the need to get out of the way, stand guard over the space that has been cleaned so that what comes to occupy it is not again corrupted with an imperially shaped orientation. Stewarding space. We might not be personally capable to transform our communities, but maybe we are responsible to sweep, create space, guard space so that they are transformed.

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Expectations – the final shape

So we have some revelation, some of which is more influenced by other people than we probably realise, but one way or another they translate into convictions. Somewhere in it all the true revelations will conflict with our expectations, and we either allow our expectations to be updated, or we lose our original convictions… or we refuse to change either and deny the inner conflict that results. So having suggested we should allow our expectations to be reshaped here are a few I reflect on.

Having come through 1994 and then the ‘Marsham Street’ meetings where do I now stand on ‘revival’? Just a note first, I am aware that there are also different definitions of revival, particularly when we cross the pond. I am not using it in terms of a style (‘revivalism’) nor in terms of something church bound (‘we have been in revival since 19xx in our church’) but along more classic lines of community / outside the church experiencing the presence of God.

A journey…

Post 1998 I began to travel and focused on cities/ regions not church. I had an emphasis on one church in the city. That brought a slight change to my expectations. Then I began to see the need for the engagement in and through society, then the post-christendom perspective led me to consider that the issue is not that we have the wrong people at the top / place of influence but that the ‘top’ by definition is wrong. Empire is not wrong because the emperor is not a believer.

So let’s get right in with what do I expect now, given that I do believe we are on a journey toward transformation. I see a (not straight) line over these past years.

  • The increasing demise of christendom

I start here as I see this as a major context that is and has to disappear. I believe Islam’s fuel is that of christendom. I see the church’s weakness as being christendom, which eventually connects us to the two blockages to heaven: having a source of protection and provision that is not rooted in heaven.

In moving to Cádiz there were two ‘goals’: to sow into the restoration of a first-century apostolic Gospel, and to help with the more rapid demise of christendom. The two are related as I see them as being mutually resistant.

So a weakening of certain forms of church – either willingly or unwillingly.

However, this weakening is in order to strengthen. As I have written many times on this blog, the two issues always that faces the people of God is to come to the confident place where they know and experience that God is a) their protection and b) their provision.

  • A greater evidence of God’s presence / values in community

I expect a revaluation within life. So a simple money-based economy being challenged and as a result partnerships that will be diverse between the community of faith and those who do not profess Christian faith. I see this primarily demonstrated in Acts 19 and Ephesus.

Put the above together and I expect a lot of unhappiness among those who want to preserve their comfort, but amazing new opportunities for those who will stay true to their faith and lose fear but connect with those who might be coming from a different background, but are looking for a new shape.

  • A greater scattering and disconnection

Ever since the pulling up of the Roman way in 2004/05, culminating in the prophetic walk led by Steve Lowton that hit St. Peter’s Sq on 21/12/05 (US: 12/21/05) I consider there has been a release of fresh winds to blow, and one of the evidence of being born of the Spirit is that they are like the wind (NB Jesus did not say, in that context, that the Holy Spirit is like the wind.

We expect that this will result in believers being seeded in new lands, sometimes without a knowledge of why that has happened or how to connect. But as they seek God it will become clear to them. We can tie the words ‘Exile’ or ‘forerunner’ or ‘relocation’ to this experience though most will associate the words ‘desert’, ‘loneliness’ and ‘dislocation’ to their experience.

Tied to this a comment on immigration. Biblically people movements come at climax times in history, when stewardship has failed there is a cleansing of the land through people movements as new stewards are brought in.

  • We are in an era shift

Era shifts are not as regular as season shifts. We are coming to the semi-end of the Western world as we know it. This decade is set for the rebalancing of the Western world. The shifts from North to South and West to East will continue. By the end of the decade I anticipate some significant shifts, with the Western world challenged economically in the global arena.

Organic unity and diversity of structure will increase. So (right) calls for independence will be matched by fresh ways of being together, that do not enhance the centre but allow for better distribution. The internet is a good prophetic symbol. Who owns it? Who controls it? Is there a centre? Can it be switched off? Is there a freedom for information? Perfect – no. Open to exploitation – totally.

  • And of course… Europe’s day

How could I not end with this. The issue is not primarily political nor economic. It is spiritual. Just as the Gospel’s cradle was Europe in that third day (and this was also a day of christendom) there is coming a new day for Europe. The connecting point here between Christianism and Islamism is very strong. As a new day of repentance, simplicity of vision grows so it will pave the way for a shift in Islam.

The women in Islam (Malala Yousafzai – another woman through whom we are seeing fulfilled the instruction we heard in 2009: ‘Watch the women in Islam, they will be the sign and the means through which Islam will come down’) will continue to make headlines. Although Jesus, the Jewish Messiah, has incorporated all who are in Him into the covenants of God, there still is a distinctiveness for Jews. However, any way ‘back to Jerusalem’ is through the Islamic world.

So back to where I started – revival?

No I do not look for full buildings and the community coming in. There will be manifestations like that. Be encouraged by them, but I believe God is pushing for something much bigger. I see people of humility, ‘small’ people, living on the edge, away from the spotlights, marginalised, but buoyant with the Presence of Jesus. A church that is ‘hard to find but present everywhere’.

A return to something more akin to the first century. Not belonging to the system (Paul a prisoner of Jesus not of Rome, a slave of Jesus not of Rome) but embedded in the community and at times in the system.

We are in an amazing move of God’s Spirit. In one sense since the 90s and in another sense since the original Day of Pentecost. Slow but consistent growth (40% per decade) could be ours again?

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The Fall of the Church: Chapter 4

fall_of_churchThis chapter is entitled ‘Biopower meets the Holy Spirit’. Human life itself has been colonised, something that is not immediately evident as we are caught up on the inside of it. ‘The Matrix’ or ‘Inception’ then become tools to open our eyes to that reality. And when this is placed in this era of history, there is a very real sense in which there is the coming together of crisis that exposes the true nature of this fullness – this biopower, this consuming life itself as the raw material. Quoting Hardt and Negri, ‘We need… a love as strong as death’, opens a window to consider the Gospel in the context of biopower.

Reflecting on the past century and the three outpourings of the Spirit beginning with Azusa Street, Roger highlights the counter-cultural flow of life. The egalitarian harmony and the refusal to serve Caesar and God was strongly present in Azusa Street, for example. (There is a remarkable quote from Parham, that I won’t spoil by inserting here, that illustrates this level of perception.) Azusa street then was a resurgence of the people beyond the control of sovereignty and money.

Roger notes a similar egalitarian aspect in the mid- and late- outpourings of the 20th Century, and then the subsumption of those movements by Imperialism (I summarise… this is not a simple ‘started well but’ analysis). The early primitivism giving way to pragmatism. So what is required is a rediscover of a theology of the Holy Spirit, not simply as a ‘theology’, but as a reality. The Spirit that is the Spirit of Jesus, the Spirit that provokes civil disobedience… and an exciting partnership of those who are able to practice a loving, inclusive attitude of faith and those who are emerging (‘naked life’). Then a shift from sovereignty to ‘kenarchy’ can be achieved.

It is this context that makes the book so pertinent and powerful. If Roger is close to analysing the situation with any level of accuracy then it is about understanding the crisis of the Western world is the sign of a fullness and that the most significant aspect is that biopower in a ‘maturing’ manifestation not only has had some encounters with the Holy Spirit but is meeting (very much ongoing) the Holy Spirit.

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Empires… how long do they last?

The academic world has really taken hold of this issue of Empire. Scot McKnight and Joe Modica have a recent recently published book called Jesus is Lord, Caesar is Not: Evaluating Empire in New Testament Studies. There have been studies on Empire for a considerable length of time – the Anabaptists with people like Yoder of course have understood this issue – but unless I am mistaken the focus on this issue within Academia has intensified in recent years. Helped along by the re-discovery of the Gospel as political proclamation, the new perspective etc.

In around 2002 I can remember how in prayer we began to increasingly touch on the issues of Imperial power, and if I had received a euro for every time I have (mis-)quoted that the

Imperial spirit is that which pervades any organisation so that there are a few that shape the organisation and they promise benefits to all who comply but the real benefits flow back to the few.

I would be reasonably well off (well in euro terms!!).

I remember the day when I had a word that God was going to lead us to the Roman cities in the UK to undo a prevailing spirit there that was still active in the land. Two or three days later I met with a few people, we had no discussion about this and into the mix Sharon Stone said she had had a dream and in it the Lord said ‘I am coming to roll up the Roman road’.

Exciting days. Has the prayer and revelation increased the interest in the academic world?

Prayer… right thinking… legs and feet to the body.

Flooding in Rome at the Milvian Bridge. Is it too crazy to think we could be seeing a shift on Imperial issues on a larger scale than we thought possible? I am under no illusion that we build the kingdom (basileia = Greek for kingdom and the Greek word used for Empire) but I do think increasingly there are gaps appearing where truth and good practice can rise. And those who speak the truth and get in with good practice might include a few Christians but will certainly include many who have not found themselves in a personal relationship with Jesus, but they might just be influenced by his Spirit.

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Still valid

I had an email this morning from someone who said – ‘I was given your book Impacting the City. Given what you are writing on do you still see it as current?’

Yes I do!!! Everything I write is valid for all time… well maybe not!! The book though is still valid, even if I might express things a little differently some 10+ years on.

What has changed is the location of the body. It is not too different to the Exile. In the land the Jews had a way of life that was related to who they were in that context, in Babylon the context had changed totally. They had to learn to pursue the prosperity of an alien land.

So a brief recap:

I see three phases in what God has been doing with us. (All of which has to be saturated with the Presence of God.)

  • The prayer element with a strong aspect of dealing with history. This has been done and is not completed, more will be called for – but this is not the primary emphasis for now
  • Learning issues of cities, communities and their giftings and coresponding strongholds. This is where Impacting the City book comes in. We have much more to learn and implement on this. Probably in a number of places this is where people are at. But it is not the main focus currently.
  • Being re-located through dis-location. This is the Exilic experience where the main emphasis is currently. I believe that the majority of the body of Christ is pre- or in this phase

Exile was a major reflection back. It is when the scriptures come together with post-Exilic editing and post-Exilic writing. There is a shift from simply Abraham as father to Adam as the originator. They cannot simply deal with being the chosen people, but what it means to be set within creation with all its fallenness.

This is the current phase for many in the Western body of Christ. Of course many simply think let’s get back – back to the Reformation, back to the simplicity of the house church setting, back to the third wave, back to… It is important not to abandon any of those (and for me of course Reformation does not equal Reformed but the Anabaptist strand) but the setting is different.

So former writings are valid, but the location has changed. The outworking is now the challenge. Recently the core group of people that we dialogue with when back in the UK asked a question. Are we tentatively coming to a building phase again? I think the nervousness of the term building is necessary too, as all language comes with history, but until there is a better word, it can remain as a tentative question. So the question is there, but the setting has to be different. The books can be valid the application but has to be in the right setting.

Interestingly when we came home from the UK across the street in the ‘please prop me up before I fall down building’ the workmen moved in and have begun to reconstruct it. Interesting.

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Joining together

I like how Jesus puts things together. Loose ends that only come together in him. I do not think that lone rangers who come in and do what needs to be done accomplish too much, but I am very open to those who are sent on a mission. I am open cos I have done that on different occasions, so I cannot speak negatively of anything I have and will continue to do!!

We have just finished in our readings the material on the 2 1/2 tribes that were given land east of the Jordan but were instructed that they had to cross over to help the other tribes. Moses was very strong with them and said if they did not do that they would be guilty of the same sin as their forefathers. (Now here’s a thought: sin being generationally relative. Provocative thought and one that I might well push further at some stage, as the activity of the forefathers and the potential activity of these tribes are not the same.) These tribes had to add their weight to the others for there to be a positive outcome.

So this then is how I see it. Those who live in an area have an authority in God because they live there. They can say ‘not on my watch and not in my house’. I am not talking success, but I am talking effectiveness. Success, as I have written before is related to what happens now and around me, effectiveness is much wider in scope, both in terms of time and in terms of outworking – that is the challenge of the book of Revelation as I understand it.

But when sent by God there are those who come in to stand alongside – not over – those who live in a place who will bring an authority simply because they have been sent. If sent they need to be received – this is why not everyone needs to be received. If sent, and received then Jesus comes. That seems quite a deal.

Just because they can come in with fresh eyes, not living under the place, they can often bring perspectives that are so perceptive. That does not mean they carry more authority. It simply means they have crossed over the river to help us. If they come as those sent by Jesus one of the hallmarks must be one of humility and willingness to wash the feet of those who live there.

In all of this I am coming full-circle. Authority is to do with how we live, how we obey, how we learn to submit to one another. It is about change, about prayer, about walking the land. It is about living in the in-between: in between heaven and earth, the past and the future, what is and what is to come.

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OK you can help

‘I live here, you don’t.’ So what does that look like? (The ‘I’ is whoever.)

1) I make a commitment and get some of the junk coming back on me
2) I take heart that Jesus does not let me leave because he is planting me as seed
3) There is something of a shift that begins – a measure of reverse flow
4) I realise I have authority… but

I live here so I really know what it is like to live here, but I live here so I slowly cease to realise what it is like to live here. A contradiction? No not at all. It is only possible to know what it is to live somewhere (and by ‘live’ I do not mean have a house and a bed, but to live as defined by the Last Adam not the first Adam – Cor. 15) by living there. The battles, the personality of the place, what goes on in the heavens etc. However, by living there we can forget what it is like to ‘live’ there. The atmosphere, culture begins to shape us rather than the other way round. That is inevitable, it is part of getting our feet dirty. It happens at the macro scale when my Christianity is shaped by national(-istic) cultural values and I subsume my faith to a cultural set of values. It happens at the micro, localised level when my expectations and experience are subject to what is around me.

So here I am the liberated person left in the region as the key to the future. But here I am the person who begins to lose true perspective. Help and dynamic help can come!

What still no mention of the lone-ranger role? Keep reading because in the next episode…

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I live here, you don’t

The previous post (I like that sounds pretty important: previously on West-Wing Martin Scott’s blog) I wrote about the effect of the two-way relationship, from the land to us and vice-versa. Now if commitment is part of what is needed to exercise authority where does that leave the lone-rangers who fly in, make the proclamations and leave again?

This one needs some unpacking… The story of the demoniac in the Gerasene area is a very provocative narrative. We have dialogue that seems to centre around land issues.

The demons ask not to be cast of that area
The people ask Jesus to leave that area
The liberated man asks to leave

Not all our questions are answered in the narrative, but Jesus’ response certainly is not predictable.

1) He does not seem to cast the demons out of the area.
2) He does not insist on staying when asked to leave.
3) He does not let the man leave.

My guess is I would be tempted to do the complete opposite – cast them out, refuse to leave (we’re back!!) and if I were to leave I certainly would not leave recently delivered convert to the snares that were present.

There seems to me to be a connection between the weak and insignificant and the strong. Jesus takes the foolish / the no-thing (the recently delivered man) to confound and bring down the powers – as represented both in the demonic stronghold and in the economically compromised driven leaders of that region.

So breakthrough begins with living in a place, weak, unsure but available. Oh and what about the lone-rangers. Well tomorrow we can look at that. (In the next episode of xxxxx Martin’s very wise words…)

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So who gets what and from whom?

I finished the previous blog reflecting on the need for a two-way relationship and had quoted scriptures concerning ‘marrying the land’. (I have very much appreciated reading Liz’s comment on the post too.)

So taking this further. Commitment engages us in the grime of where we are. We are meant to get grimey, hence the need for Jesus to wash the disciples’ feet. Dirty feet are not a problem, in fact they are a healthy sign, and we can afford to have dirty feet provided our hearts are clean through his word and we are willing to have our feet washed. (A reflection here – they probably get washed at times, or we refuse to have them washed, when Jesus shows up in unusual ways.)

If we make a commitment there will be a measure of damage that ensues!! What is in the land will begin to infiltrate us (not sure if this is the correct description). If there are particular vulnerabilities within us we will find unhelpful resonances and we will be pulled down.

Now the good news is this is not bad just difficult. We have to push through so that the flow begins to reverse.

Cleansing of our area might be our focus but as we do that we will find that the cleansing has to take place in us first. This does not mean we focus inwardly until we are ‘clean’. No the way God has it is we focus outward calling for the land to be cleansed but as we do we will soon discover that we also need cleansing. The discovery of that will mark some of the shifts.

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Making a commitment

in these posts, starting yesterday, I am exploring perspectives on ‘authority’ with respect to transformation of our environment through the influence of the Presence of Christ. Scripture is full of references to the relationship between ‘land’ and people. There are over 1200 references to land in Scripture an the primary contrast / comparison is not between heaven and hell but between heaven and earth. If movement is from heaven to earth in Scripture true spirituality has to be very earthy.

Location then is important. This can outwork as ‘land’ physical, or land as spheres of society. Our choice of location then is not simply a personal preference issue but a discipleship question. In Isaiah 62:4,5 we read:

You shall no more be termed Forsaken, and your land shall no more be termed Desolate, but you shall be called My Delight Is in Her, and your land Married; for the Lord delights in you, and your land shall be married.
For as a young man marries a young woman, so shall your sons marry you, and as the bridegroom rejoices over the bride, so shall your God rejoice over you.

Strong words, and as always, speaking of the land as the recipient of a response from heaven and from people. Land is personalised. We do not need to push this beyond Scripture to a New Age ‘all is divine’ perspective but neither should we pull back and devalue the material creation. Scripture treats land as personal and invites us to relate to land as if it were personal.

Marriage is a strong term to use as far as our relationship to land is concerned, and there does not seem to be evidence of a relationship to the land that requires a permanent ’till death us do part’ vow to be taken, but the use of this language certainly speaks strongly of a level of commitment.

I know when I am making an inroad to a situation, it is when I am able to talk to the place and have a conversation in the sense that the place begins to communicate back about its history, experience and desires. There is a revelation of who it /she /he is. Like all relationships that has to develop and what is communicated is not always the whole truth.

The first time I ever realised I was connecting with land was some 22 years ago. I received a prophetic word about a geographical move, it seemed so imminent, almost immediately. The next morning I was up and out by 6.00am. I walked the perimeter of where I was living and can remember at one point on the walk speaking to the place, saying I was going to leave, but not to be concerned, others would come who would care for the place. I had never said that before but it seemed the right thing to do and say.

It is very good for me to write these things as these opening months here have been very challenging at the spiritual level of finding a true resonance that is necessary in a two-way relationship.

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