Last post… of 2017

(Almost) a happy new year to one and all. A few more hours and off we trot into 2018. God does not turn over the calendar, but he comes with us into the next year. He is moving all things toward the final consummation, encouraging all of us to work with his purposes to add to the store of building materials. 2018 is opening for us in an interesting way. Calendar filling up, an offer on an apartment in Madrid and waiting to hear a response on January 4th. A sealed bid in with 27 other sealed bids. To get it will be a miracle, and not to get it will be back to square one, with us probably getting up to the city in the next few weeks for an extended search. Just SOOOOO feels that 2018 is the year to get in there, and before too far through the year.

As for Spain we are looking at provoking a shift in the constitution. This is something we began to pray into from 2015 when somehow we realised that there has to be loosening up of the nation to allow for an expression of diversity. A small task – apparently not (source):

So, what now? The obvious course of action would be a dialogue, but that is still not on the cards. Puigdemont would not settle for anything less than independence or a legally binding referendum. Rajoy says the constitution does not allow it, which is true. Changing the constitution, if there were the will to do so, is a daunting task.

The majorities that are needed – including an all-Spain referendum on the reform – make it almost impossible. Only a consensus among all the parties, like the one that made possible the constitution itself, could work the miracle. But not even at Christmas does that seem likely.

Franco’s only child passed away Dec. 29th. Maybe marking another end to that era?

Since October of this year we have seen the four years of 1975 – 1978 as being very significant. Franco died in 1975, having said that ‘everything is tied up, well tied up’ with regard to the land. No doubt the shift to democracy loosened things somewhat and the working out of the constitution was probably a remarkable achievement in the context of those traumatic years, but what was a shift then is certainly proving to be problematic now. Compounded with the compromise of the judiciary (government appointments!!) it is of course no surprise that the consitutional judges ruled that any Catalan referendum is illegal – hence the charge of ‘sedition, rebellion against the state and the abuse of public funds’ has been brought against many Catalan leaders. (For the Manchester City fans, hope you get to keep Guardiola – he too is on a government watch list!)

Dialogue is necessary – no party is ‘right’. So we have a task ahead. Hence 40 years on from the constitution we would like to be established in the city of Madrid. Maybe the door opens immediately, maybe it shuts in our face with a ‘you do not have enough money’. Either way we will get it because an insufficient offer might do something crazy, or mammon will speak.

I will probably write in the new year concerning 2018, and some of what I will write of course will be shaped by where we stand. But here is a focus:

He energizes those who get tired,
gives fresh strength to dropouts.
For even young people tire and drop out,
young folk in their prime stumble and fall.
But those who wait upon God get fresh strength.
They spread their wings and soar like eagles,
They run and don’t get tired,
they walk and don’t lag behind.


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Where to now?

Most of you will have followed the ‘outcome’ of the Catalonian elections. I write ‘outcome’ as it is far from clear what the outcome will be. How does one get an outcome through imposed elections when half the people respect the centre that imposed those elections and the other half resent the same centre? How does one get an outcome when two positions are defended from a typical male approach of immovable strength? Rhetoric without listening… re-telling history that does not address injustice, but keeps a wound open and increases the depth of the wound.

The result of the vote seems to clearly indicate one thing – the 7 million people are divided and the division is very deep. When we have prayed – and we have prayed into these issues for the past years – we have been calling for a Spain that recognises diversity. One land mass but a family of nations / cultures. For diversity to rise voices have to be heard and voices have to be listened to. What though is ‘the’ Catalan voice? Almost 2 million of those in Catalonia are not from that ‘Communidad’ but adopted Catalonia mostly for economic reasons. Does their voice carry any weight? The historical perspective – is there / was there ever a Catalan nation (defined by language)? The Catalonian region was a semi-autonomous region of Aragon…

Perhaps the inconclusive result was the best result we could have hoped for. Central government had a bad night with their returns being a clear ‘no-vote’. The independent parties had a good but not overwhelming night. Back to where we were.

Our conviction is something much deeper is going on. There is something seeking to break through from the hidden place, away from the public eye. Change is from grassroots. That is certainly in line with the ‘Christmas’ message of one born to save a nation from exile. The economy of Barcelona (the capital) will be impacted greatly and sadly those on the margins are almost always those who feel the effect deeply at a survival level, but behind the neo-liberal prosperity is a city that has a long history of pulling together. In June 2017, Barcelona en Comu held the world’s first ‘Fearless Cities’ International Municipalist conference, gathering 700 urban activists from over 40 nations. The invitation to Fearless Cities began with a ringing declaration:

In a world in which fear and insecurity are being twisted into hate, and inequalities, xenophobia and authoritarianism are on the rise, towns and cities are standing up to defend human rights, democracy and the common good.

We (Gayle and I) are committed to continue to pray for Catalonia, but wider for Spain. We were recently at the Supreme Court in Madrid. We are committed to see corrupt judiciary being exposed and for the constitution being changed. The judiciary are political appointments and as noted in The Guardian

Certainly the alacrity with which the justice system has responded to the Catalan crisis is in marked contrast to the glacial pace with which it is handling the hundreds of corruption cases involving members of the ruling Popular party.

In all places there is a Babylon that rises up. That Babylon will dominate, refuse to shift, and any beast that represents it that has a mortal wound will simply live again to dehumanise the many while rewarding those who comply. There is also a gift from heaven that can come. Tomorrow marks the day when God appeared in a surprising way. That event is unrepeatable, Jesus is unique. Signs point to the event, but the event also releases signs. Those signs are surprising, but are marked by those who occupy the high place losing their seat, and of the hungry being fed. Mountains brought down and valleys brought up.

So Spain, Europe. Bumpy ride – wide swings and shocks in 2018… but signs for those with eyes to see.


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Big and small

Steve Lowton has been video blogging, a series entitled Stories from the edge. Here is a link to the latest:

We often comment on Steve’s walk with a team to Rome that ended there on December 21st, 2005. I had texted Steve a few days before they arrived to say that as a sign my first grandson would be born after they arrived in St. Peter’s Square but before they made their declaration. Into that 90 minute slot Luke was born. An earlier part of that story was that I had also informed Ashley (Luke’s mother) that he would be born on the 12/12 as a sign of the rising of the apostolic anointing. Trouble was that Ashley did not have – nor did I(!!) – any contractions that would have contributed to the birth taking place on that date…!!! one can be wrong, very wrong I hear someone say… and also one can simply say something out of the obvious. 12 – the number of government, hence a straight line to 12/12, but in a 24 hour (1440 minute) period of time the obvious does not take place. When this happenned I prayed over the next few days then rembered that Andy Knox had said in 2005 that we were going to get our sight re-calibrated, that what we thought we were seeing would be like a reverse image. It was then that I sent the text to Steve. What I had missed through a commitment to the obvious in 1440 minutes, God brought about in a 90 minute period of time.

We are 12 years on tomorrow from that walk. Catalonia goes to the vote. (BTW last night the world renowned ex-judge, Garzon, had his office broken into in Spain. It seems all his hard drives were copied. This is almost certainly politically inspired (the current government stripped him of all his permission to be a judge…). A few days ago Gayle and I stood outside the supreme Court of Spain to proclaim the judiciary is going to be uncovered. As often is the case this is the backlash. Annoying but we take it as a sign.)

Anyway back to Steve. I was very struck by the video and the comments. Inspired to put one up myself:

Inspirational… thanks for keeping us focused on the big picture and committed to the small. Too many committed to the big but only focused on self-promotion. Thanks for the recalibration.

I love Steve focusing on the big. I love the story of walking to Rome, of looking for a shift for Europe, for the banking system, for the economic world. So important that somehow we are focused at that level. Then the context he speaks and records from. Pulling up weeds, cutting trees, digging, mud, earth, compost, worms, insects, hippopotamuses, dinosaurs (OK I made the last two up, but hope you get the point). Such a contrast to so much that has disempowered the body of Christ with a commitment to the big. Big conference, big speaker, big promise. Unless the big helps us recalibrate true value (cup of cold water) it carries a potential danger, of fantasy.

The multiplicity of the small.

Christmas – the small. The Last Supper – the multiplicity of the small. Pentecost – the multiplying of the small.

The straight line is to 12/12. I think God’s line is to 21/12 (or in the USA 12/21), the reverse images, the shortest day, the deep place.


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Let Justice roll down…

A few years ago we went up to Colon (Columbus) square, Madrid, to pray the day before the so-called Columbus Day. It is certainly a sign of power and from our viewpoint a source of power. We are happy to report that the objections to the annual Columbus day has become more public since then. (Also very happy to report that Margaret Thatcher Square (yes, really) next to this Colon square is now devoid of power!)

Supreme Court

This morning we took a visit back to that area and focused on the Supreme Court (above) and the Audencia Nacional. Our strong sense has been for a few weeks that there is now a phase coming of the judicial powers in Spain being shaken, a cleansing and an exposure of corruption, bribery and lies. So we proclaimed that today in those places. (Well after all you just got to do something, right?)

A few days ago a judge, who said clearly in a major (another major) corruption case involving the government, that he could confirm that a certain M. Rajoy who was in the PP party and had received cash payments was indeed the PM Mariano Rajoy was then removed from the case. Today a judge published a poem that not only insulted the leader of a political party, but in it used mysognist and suggestive language about that party\’s spokesperson (a woman). So we have called time on this. The unravelling of secret (and not so secret) agreements is not how justice was ever designed to flow.

(If you want to read the poem and article about it:

Indignación por un artículo machista de una asociación de jueces sobre Irene Montero.)

So Spain – bumpy ride is a-coming, but it has to and through it all something healthier for one and all.


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Back Again

A week ago we were in Madrid (surely the most cool city in Europe?) with our friends from Cadiz, Simon and Amy. Always good to catch up with them. Wednesday morning we did an hour or FaceTime to Ben and Ashley (California). An hour later into Gayle’s inbox comes a property in Madrid in the very street we have focused our prayers on, and in one of the three blocks that have been the central focus for those prayers.

Back we travel and dump our bags and go see the property. Not too much to see, a crazy bathroom, no kitchen, broken floors and windows. (Photo is of what was a bedroom.) But the investors and developers are also very interested. So, unfortunately or not, one of us does not seem to moderate the other, and we have launched in today with filling in and then filing a 4 page document complete with a 500euro deposit of intent to pursue the possibility of buying afore mentioned piso. Assuming we get through the first round we then enter into a sealed bid.

Small chance of getting it. And if we do get it big implications!! Walls would have to come down, new floors, windows etc… But big implications really would be that of getting stuck in to push for the changes needed in the land.

Go for it though we have (practicalities come later!!) and if we don’t get anywhere we will at least have put a foot in the door to say spiritually we are not simply going to let developers walk wherever they wish. (Our guess a developer comes along and in 6-9 months turns it all around and pockets 50k in the process.) If we do get it then we will enter a challenging process but will have a base in Madrid!

We know this next year is opening out in a different way. Our focus in Spain will be the four years 1975-78 with the culmination of the transition with the signing of the Constitution 40 years ago; somehow focusing too on the Thirty Years War (400 years ago) and the implications for Europe; a plan to revisit Brazil after 8 years; so when there are some major shifts the entry is not normally predictable.


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Essential Kenosis

I have always leaned toward ‘Open Theology’, ever since meeting Gordon Olson who taught in many YWAM schools in the 70s. I visited him in California in 1976, stayed in his house and used his library. He had in those days the best library on Charles Finney and many books on Open Theology. Clark Pinnock, who moved from being a Calvinist to being a key figure in articulating Open Theology likewise influenced my thoughts. However, for me, the best writings to date are from Thomas Jay Oord, and his articulation of God’s love as uncontrolling is both releasing and challenging (in what sense is ‘God in control?’).

Oord has made a short introductory video of ‘Essential Kenosis’. If it whets your appetite then his book ‘Uncontrolling Love’ you just know is the one you want for Christmas!


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Don’t forget Badajoz!

In our travels around Spain this year, covering all-but 5000 miles, to pray into the Muslim expulsions we planned the end of the travels to be in Gibraltar being the point of entry in 711AD. We realised that our focus would be much wider than that, and focused a lot on economic issues. Maybe the exposure of the ‘Paradise Papers’ have some relationship to that time; maybe the continual flushing out of corruption in Spain (where did 40billion euros of public money disappear?); maybe finally the acknowledgement that M. Rajoy in the Caja B (illegal / supposedly hidden) accounts of the government is indeed Mariano Rajoy – though the judge who was clear on this has subsequently been replaced…!!!!

While preparing for the final trip in Gibraltar we were in the most southerly point of Continental Europe (Tarifa). Liminal places (and experiences) are very key and while there I had a dream that was extremely helpful and full of insight. One part of it though contained a dialogue with a \’neighbour\’ who eventually said he understood what we were doing, but pleaded that we did not forget Badajoz. Badajoz is in the West of Spain very near the Portuguese border, and although orignally we had no plans to go there, we felt obligated to include the city in our journey.

We were probably not quite prepared for what we found there. We were hit very hard with the \’forgotten\’ state of the city. There had been much blood shed in the city, one of the most recent being in the Civil War when some 4000 children, women and men (all unarmed) were taken to the bullring and slaughtered. Since then a new city building has been built there with a focus on the arts. Outside is a sculpture that was placed there to honour those who were slaughtered. There is no plaque on the sculpture, nothing to indicate what it was. I even asked someone who was walking there dog if he knew what it was, and he only vaguely realised there was something there, but confessed he did not know. When the sculpture was initiated there was a gathering of families who had lost people in that event. It was unveiled with no speech, nor acknowledgement of what had taken place. Forgotten…

We do not think we have been to a more forgotten place. We prayed, wine on ground… left heavy.

This week Pablo Iglesias has been in the same place. He has been speaking in the building (Palacio de Congresos). He is calling for the memory to be honoured, that Badajoz will not be forgotten. For us very moving to see and hear. We called for singers to sing and push back the spirit of death and forgetfulness. Pablo’s first thanks to the artists – to the singers.

Pablo professes no faith in God, though indicated that his grandfather who grew up in Extremadura would have really like the current pope.

Moving… also a provocation to us. Keep pushing.

Also so in line with what we believe. The body of Christ must open the way, the ones stepping in might not be those who identify with the body of Christ. The \’priesthood\’ theme is so central in this phase.

A footnote: increasingly we are looking at the so-called years of transition, 1975-78, and the need to engage with the centre to get a shift for the land as a whole. A privilege but also battle.


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No denial – he was human

Often evangelicals will fight the battle over the divinity of Christ. And too many times pulling on material that is not as strong as it might at first appear. ‘Son of God’, for example does not necessarily mean divinity, as this was a term applied to Israel. Divine qualities do not necessarily imply an identity of deity. The early followers came at things from the other end. This Jesus was human… and came to terms with ‘what kind of person is this that even the winds and waves obey him?’ Human but at another level all together. This extraordinary human then is seen as the Messiah, the Promised deliverer. But I suggest they did not see him as ‘divine’ and certainly not as ‘the second Person of the Trinity’. They had a journey from knowing that he was (truly) human to in what sense was he ‘God’.

The journey of the evangelical is often the other way. He is ‘God’, but in what sense is he human? The early followers seemed to make their journey, I am not convinced that all evangelicals make their journey.

It is interesting that John in his letters strongly argues for the humanity of Jesus as an acid test:

This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming and even now is already in the world (1 John 4:2,3).

If there is a denial of his humanity (come in the flesh) that is a manifestation of the spirit of antichrist. Not if there is a denial of his divinity! Of course John is pushing back strongly against the Docetist heresy, but nevertheless the emphasis is incredible.

The humanity of Jesus is so key. God affirms humanity at every point. The resurrection, where the rebirth of the Universe is initiated, with the refusal to leave the physical body in the tomb is the greatest ever affirmation of humanity’s value to heaven.

His humanity means…

  • that any maturity I will reach is through the path of becoming yet more human. Of moving from humanity being created in my image to being shaped by his image, the only truly human one.
  • I need to sacrilise all of life that enables humanity to live life.
  • I need to demonise anything that dehumanises.
  • I need to see people, no longer after the flesh.
  • I honour all who work for humanity’s future, as expressed in this life, for it is this-life expression that will determine that-life expression (see my last post).
  • I do not see my identity along the lines of any elitism, be that ethnicity, class or gender.

This aspect of the humanity of Jesus is what has caused us to understand that if someone can truly see the value of people, they are ever so close to seeing God. They might be a professed atheist – and on that we have to ask what is the ‘God’ they do not believe in – but they might have more sight on God than the person who ticks all the ‘Jesus is God’ boxes but can only see others as objects. Maybe to see, and truly see, humanity is to see God… to see Jesus is to see who this God truly is. ‘If you have seen me you have seen the Father’.


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