Art – what is it worth?

A few years ago I prophesied that ‘when we learn how to value art, the housing market will be re-valued’. I have re-visited that word many times with perplexity. Many artists struggle to make a living; many of the high, high end earners will buy up art as an investment. The ‘art market’ is all over the place. The investment of time, effort and soul that some put in for little return is so wrong; storing art away from public view simply as a means for personal security is also so wrong…

What is the value of art? (And rightly by extension I include ‘the arts’.)

My perplexity I now realise (I got this insight by reading Deb Chapman’s comment on the last post) is that I have been thinking in monetary terms. As we know the vast percentage of money does not exist. 97% in most western economies does not exist, hence it is only confidence and debt that keeps the economy at the levels we find them. I should never have been trying to work out what the word meant money-wise. Driving as we do in our San Lorenzo (died 258AD in Rome) whose gift was to force a revaluation I should never have been trapped into the way of thinking I was in over art.

The value of art

It has to be given its rightful place. It is one of the means to connect heaven to earth. It touches the imagination (and therefore can also be perverted to connect hell and earth) so that speech can be made that releases heaven to earth. God made the trees and saw that they were good… If for a moment I overstate things. God saw what he had made and it impacted him. That is art. We are not talking about a rational function but of an inner transformation through a visual / auditory / kinesthetic experience. How do we value that?

Art challenges how we value everything. This is the challenge San Lorenzo presented to the emperor when he presented him with the blind, sick and poor. ‘These are God’s riches’, he said! The emperor had him killed… but he being dead still speaks. Jesus said that no prophet can die outside of Jerusalem, but he fulfilled that. From his time on the place of death is Rome / Babylon / the empire, the place that says we value things and you will not buy nor sell unless you bow to our value system.

Art is subversive. In art we learn how a new economy that is not based on trade, but on giving and receiving.

Now is the time. Yes the winds are adverse but there is a breath of the Spirit behind the arts right now. So vital as we are coming to another economic crisis. The last one was patched over when the body of Christ (the ‘authority carriers’ for the future) opted for an alignment with the familiar, lacking imagination for a different future. When we can only imagine change through getting to the top we have failed to imagine. Art can help us imagine change through the subversion of service and love. We owe you a huge debt, you artists.

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We still dream

In looking at Pentecost and the background of the tower of Babel narrative there is the implicit message of a boundary being removed. God inserted a boundary at Babel so that there might not be a level of unity whereby ‘whatever they put their mind to they will accomplish’. He did this through the confusion of the languages. At Pentecost where everyone heard them speak in their language there is the gift of languages so that there might be a working, a planning together so that what was in their hearts might indeed be accomplished. Pentecost unlocks the imagination so that possibilities open up.

The imagination is so important. The ‘I have a dream’ speech of Martin Luther King resonates because there is something so strongly of God’s character in it. The dream is of a different future:

Go back to Mississippi, go back to Alabama, go back to Georgia, go back to Louisiana, go back to the slums and ghettos of our northern cities, knowing that somehow this situation can and will be changed. Let us not wallow in the valley of despair.
I say to you today, my friends, that in spite of the difficulties and frustrations of the moment, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.
I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal.”
I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slaveowners will be able to sit down together at a table of brotherhood.
I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a desert state, sweltering with the heat of injustice and oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.
I have a dream that my four children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.
I have a dream today.

As believers this is what we bring to the table. Something not based in the Enlightenment ideal of progress, nor in the Marxist ideology of change through conflict, but based on faith in an ‘optimistic’ life-giving God who demonstrated this in Jesus. What we bring is more than a good idea, or simply an ‘imagine all the people’ that Lennon invited us to. We are to bring a faith that true imagination unlocks the activity of heaven. Paul put it like this:

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us (Ephesians 3: 20).

God can do, but we have to do something too – it begins in the imagination, in the asking. What God does is in proportion not to his power, but in proportion to his power that is working among us. That power is not simply measured by how many miracles we can testify to (though that is important) but how much the power of God is transforming our lives from self-centredness to God- and world-centredness. As that takes place and there are imaginations fuelled by God’s loving, redemptive agenda so God shows up. I am convinced it was that intangible, yet very real presence of God that provoked non-believing, with a lot to lose, people, the Asiarchs, to connect to Paul in Ephesus.

If we can move beyond that of ‘saving souls to get them their ticket to heaven’ and see that God is in the business of rescuing people from life as it has been sold to them, to enabling them to engage with his dream and activities of aligning the world with a visible manifestation around us of heavenly values. This is what Luther King articulated.

There is now an incredible battle on for the soul of the world. Conformity, monochromeness that obliterates difference has incredibly become an agenda that wins votes. We were made for difference and it is fear that is the fodder that turns those votes. When the media is in the control of the elite it should not surprise us that it can quickly be labelled the ‘enemy of the people’. Any activity that challenges the status quo becomes sidelined and illegal.

There is something bigger at stake than Britain leaving the EU… the bigger is the reshaping of Europe regardless of levels of government. For any reshaping to be redemptive I consider that the wonderful body of Christ needs to dream again. The future context (and the one that is already here and has been for well over a decade) is so different to the one in which ‘Toronto’ occurred. But ‘Toronto’ prepared us for this. We have been prepared to go places we have never gone before, to no longer exercise in the playground at the set time, but to live with a soul bared, wind in face, looking the conflicts in the eye and proclaim – we still dream.

A while ago I declared a new media is here. It will come. It cannot be silenced, for God is a communicator. I declare today the dream is on. It cannot be stopped. A shift of time is literally now on the EU agenda. From the shift of time comes the setting of ‘true north’. The setting of direction for journey. People have been moving at an alarming and unprecedented rate these past years. The issue now is the setting of true north for people movements in Scripture indicate a great shift in time. There are political and economic decisions that will have to be made… but first has to come the unlocking of the imagination about a future that has not yet been shaped. For this we make room for the artists, the cartoonists, the graffiti-ists, the writers. They will both articulate and make room for the imagination.

The adverse winds are blowing… but I think the dream is still on.

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If you build it?

‘If you build it they will come’ (Field of Dreams, 1989) is a powerful inspirational strap line. Go do something, set it out and there will be a response; rather than try to get the result consider the context. A truly motivational directive. At some level this is what lay behind the flow of the OT hope where something will happen in Jerusalem and the nations will be drawn to it. In the days when there was no visible centre there (Temple) the hope was for its rebuilding and the nations would then come to that place where the glory of God was and acknowledge the One true God. Such a strong motivational and eschatological hope.

Cyrus was proclaimed the Lord’s anointed and in the (normally) last book of the Writings (2 Chronicles for us) we read that he instructed the people to go (re-)build a temple in Jerusalem:

This is what Cyrus king of Persia says:
‘The Lord, the God of heaven, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth and he has appointed me to build a temple for him at Jerusalem in Judah. Any of his people among you may go up, and may the Lord their God be with them.’ (2 Chron. 36: 23).

In Matthew’s Gospel with its focus on the fulfilment of Scripture we find such a clear echo of those words as that Gospel closes with the ‘Great Commission’:

Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matt. 28: 18-20).

The parallels are clear:

  • authority given
  • go
  • promised presence.

Fulfilments are not repeats but often transform the original hope. As inspirational as the ‘go build it’ was and a stretch to faith, the scope of the Jesus’ commission and the how to do it are in another league all together.

Build it somewhere becomes be everywhere; go to a place becomes go from a place; and the clear implication is that the Temple being built will not be with literal stones, nor confined to a specific geography but invisible and universal.

In Field of Dreams the challenge was to build something not knowing what the result will be. Build something and believe there will be a result was a clear challenge to faith. In the Jesus’ commission the challenge to faith is so much greater. Don’t even build something, but have a very clear focus, and something will be invisibly built. He also does not focus on ‘they will come’ but on ‘I will come’.

Everywhere can manifest somewhere: ‘where two or three are gathered together’; but the somewheres must never claim to be everywhere nor create borders that stop people going everywhere. (I hope that sentence makes sense!) Jerusalem is not the goal, the New Jerusalem is the goal, that image of the total transformation of the then known world, the presence of God being the light that fills everywhere. That presence can manifest in specific places at specific times, but when any wonderful expression of God is held on to it can eventually resist the very reason for the manifestation. This is why there is such a need for continued apostolic and prophetic ministry as new terrain is entered into. Any centres that are reproduced, in the big scheme of things, can only be temporary. The Revelation vision is not I saw a Temple, nor I saw many Temples, but I saw no Temple, the city without a Temple.

The Jesus’ commission is of the continual movement into new terrain by those imbibed by his Spirit, God building something where previously there was either rubble or nothing. At the core is a multiplication of ‘disciples’ (learners) and those who are walking in the light of the presence among them.

If we do not keep the big picture in front of us, the steps along the way will become the camp, the model to be reproduced. There is no model. There is only a journey and the step we take on that journey will depend on our context at that time. True north sets the direction; the Spirit calls for followers; followers are promised his presence.

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A diverse meditation

While doing the washing up this morning I had a meditation. I know some of you will be surprised I had a meditation… What!! I even hear some of you saying to yourselves – Martin doing the washing up, it must be a sign of the end of all things! Shame on you…

Once we move beyond (abandon) the book of Revelation as some kind of history written in advance and allow it to be a revelation that opens our eyes / imagination to all things pertinent at all times we can have a few insights that do more than fill us with fear. (When was fear ever the context in which we were to make decisions?)

Then I heard what sounded like a great multitude, like the roar of rushing waters and like loud peals of thunder, shouting… (Rev. 19:6).

Come, I will show you the punishment of the great prostitute, who sits by many waters (Rev. 17:2).

After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb (Rev. 7:9).

The above are a sample of Scriptures from Revelation. The sound like the roar of rushing water: I have written on this before, the diversity of sound, the languages together, no language above another. That is the sound of heaven. In contrast Babylon sits on (Gk.: epi) many waters. Using power but to only express one aspect.

The multitude made up of, the oft-repeated phrase in Revelation, those from every nation, tribe, people and language.

How far do we have to go for ‘on earth as in heaven’. I was meditating this morning on a city that has a tremendous ethnic diversity, and considering the prominent expression of the body of Christ there. If I contrast my meditation with that of Revelation:

  • I heard the sound like that of many waters
  • I heard the sound and it was one voice that I heard
  • I saw the make up of the people – cultural, ethnic, color and language diversity
  • I saw a monochrome people.

I do not write this though as critical of anywhere. My meditation took me to my own house and context. We must continue to pray ‘on earth as in heaven’ – then make room for the wonderful mess. Waters coming together are always dangerous.

I am focused too on a future trip to Brazil. So much going on there. A key is the voice of Brazil, not the Portuguese translation of a voice from elsewhere.

Heaven on earth. Now that is a dream (for the old) or a vision (for the youth).

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Us, God or what is changed?

‘Prayer is not for God it is for us’ is one explanation that has a lot going for it. Once we get beyond ‘do this for me’ kind of prayers there is a huge truth in the above. If we are serious about situations changing and begin to address them in prayer it is not normally too long before we discover that the same issues are present in us and need addressing – even if the same issues are not present to the same extent. This is the principle I see in Jesus’ teaching that murder is rooted in anger, adultery in lust, or Paul’s words that idolatry is rooted in greed. One of the principles in strategic prayer (and identificational repentance) is the genuine personal identification and personal repentance that comes through in the identification. It is rare for the prayer to be simply I stand here innocent but I stand in the gap, but more of a ‘we and our ancestors have sinned’.

Prayer changes us, for as we interact with God we find that once we are exposed to his presence we are impacted. Prayer then is certainly for our benefit.

I contend it is also for God’s benefit. Not so he can change (though there are many OT references to God changing his mind after human interaction and dialogue) but so as he can act. The key request / command that the will of God be done on earth as in heaven that we find in the pattern prayer surely indicates that at a very real level for the will of God to be done prayer by followers of Christ is essential. Without the request we can only assume there will be whole aspects where the will of God is not, and will not, be done. Something is released when we pray. We see this with Daniel who prayed fervently but there was a delay, the angel indicated that the prayer released him (her?) to move, but en route there was a necessary battle against opposing forces that took time to resolve. We also see how, in Revelation, that the prayers of the saints rise up to heaven and fill a bowl that once full can be released. No prayer and there is no move forward by the angelic in and through territory occupied by forces of darkness; no prayer and there is no bowl being filled that once outpoured can bring about change.

Prayer of course changes us but it has a major part to play in changing the environment where the prayer is focused. We do not need to adopt an extreme position of God’s mind being changed, as if we can move him from being a hard God to a kinder one (OT) but that he is enabled to do what he was unable to do before the prayer was offered up. This to me is in keeping with ‘the earth he has given to humanity’. This is our jurisdiction, and through wrong choices, both past and ongoing, we have given power to the prince of this world – who has been judged at the cross, and we are to press for that judgement to be visible.

I have many times written that we can never draw a straight line between we prayed this and this happened. To make those claims indicates that we are also claiming to have the full picture. There are so many things we do not know. I had the privilege of praying for a lady who had not walked unaided in 19 years, for 16 of those she had been confined to a wheel chair. The MS had by this stage taken her voice, and her eyesight had also been very badly affected. For whatever reason, I leaned over to the person next to me and said, ‘that woman will walk tonight’. Her story was subsequently written up in one of the national newspapers (sorry to say but it was ‘The Daily Mail’!!).

I visited her later to get the back story. She told me that someone suggested she went to the meeting, but she was very reluctant. She had been prayed for so many times over those many years and had had no improvement so was not looking to expose herself again to any prayer. She inwardly agreed to go only if someone came and directly offered to take her. This subsequently happened.

With regard to all the prayers that went before we might assume they were ineffective, howver in this situation the most likely scenario was that the last prayer was the least effective, but somehow tipped things over.

There are so many things we do not understand and I am certainly not saying that every situation will be resolved if we simply throw more prayer at it. That was the situation for Edith, but we cannot quote one example and make it applicable to every situation. Yet I am suggesting that prayer changes situations that would not change without it. Prayer is not simply for us and our benefit.

I know the frustration of the seeming ineffectiveness of prayer; of being (reluctantly) able to recount where what I have prayed has not received an answer, but in it all I am still pushing to move beyond the passivity of ‘God has everything in control, he knows what is best…’ God has entered our world and is walking with us. His activity might not be totally limited by our response, but it is certainly increased with our partnership. Prayers rise to heaven and one day we will see how it all fitted together.

(Disclaimer: I do not possess the prayer book in the image above the title. (Surprised?) Probably would do me some good to get a prayer book… but that is another story!!)

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What can be lost?

I read this article this morning in Christianity Today. Short but pulls a focus back to the bottom line issue, confronting the compromising road that Christendom opens up. Although the article is written in the USA and applied to the US it has an application beyond there. I have sought to make no comments about the US as I do not carry a responsibility for it, others carry that responsibility, but the singular point of the article makes it worth referencing. Just before reading the article Gayle and I were talking about Brazil as we go there in October, and were listening to what I spoke into a conference there in 2016 (by Skype) as to what was coming to the nation. Although the comments are ‘this is now happening’ I am also convinced that there is much more to be flushed out. The challenge politically will be when a ‘moral’ candidate comes forward to pull in the evangelical vote with favours given in return.

We are called to be shaping our location. In the article Horton quotes Phil. 3:21 which I would take to mean that because our citizenship is in heaven we are called to make where we are resemble heaven, thus pushing us to a passion for transformation. I have some hope that Brazil can break the christendom paradigm, that the wilderness becomes the more natural habitat than the palace. Maybe this is why I have long-term hope for the European context. If we (Christians) are less privileged we might just find that true glory is found in the wilderness.

A taste of the article can be seen in this quote (again focused on the US but applicable anywhere):

When we seek special political favors for the church, we communicate to the masses that Christ’s kingdom is just another demographic in the US electorate.

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Burgos and Ferrol

Gayle and I have just returned from a 2,700km (1,600 mile) drive and camp around northern Spain. Both a great break and also time to reflect on the wider land where we are located. This included sleeping in a car park to cliff headlands, a field and also a few random days in camp sites (it is helpful to have a shower – helps when co-habiting a small space!). In those days away we took in two larger cities – Burgos and Ferrol. So rather than expand on what deodorants we used to compensate for the (few) days without a shower I will focus on these two cities.

We always love to walk around a city, to observe, pray and speak to it – sometimes of course it will speak back, usually at night time. Burgos was our first stop so I will start there. A ‘proper’, well-behaved city, with everything in place. (Photo above title: Burgos cathedral.) A place that does not overtly resist what comes in new but will domesticate it before long. The city is calling for a person / persons / corporate body that will not be owned but come with a generous spirit speaking life to everything that is truly life-giving. So willing to relate to all expressions of the body of Christ but investing into both what is young (as in age of people) and fresh. Such a person has to be able to carry humour in the sense of not being focused on what they are building but on the life they are releasing. If this can rise there will be a time to make a key response when they are offered a place at the table of respectability, and at that time without disrespect to simply to continue to focus on the margins. The city is calling for it now!

Ferrol… we visited here primarily because this is the birth place of Franco (Photo: Franco’s birthplace – where we prayed), and we visited here on a Thursday. The next day the Spanish government passed the edict to exhume Franco’s body from the Valley of the Fallen. This is both historic in seeking to resolve some of the outstanding issues from the Civil War (1936-39) and the period of the dictatorship (1939-75) and for us in our journey into the history of Spain. (Co-incidentally Pablo Iglesias (1850-1925) the founder of the Spanish socialist party was also born in Ferrol.)

It is always challenging to see a city when coming with an agenda, but for us this place carried an affluence and a pride that was just beneath the surface. A place that has to discover the gift of mercy and align to where it is going rather than hold in to a history. To live here as a believer would certainly be a challenge. Think, pray and act long term. Invest in what is at hand, staying hidden, but waiting for the openings when there can be a shift for windows of opportunity will come in this city – it cannot put up defenses that are impregnable.

In praying at the house where Franco was born we simply knew we were there to cut off a root. we have experienced on a number of fronts that we have seen a significant proposed shift only for it not to take place so are also now focused on making sure we finish what we get involved in. Although the government has passed the vote, there could still be an appeal to the courts to reverse the decision to exhume the body. As mentioned in a recent post Valley of the Fallen is located alongside El Escorial – a place that very early on we realised was a power situation where dominating power was anchored, which has greatly affected the church in Spain. We have not yet made a specific visit to El Escorial but are pretty sure the day will come.

Burgos y FerrolGayle y yo acabamos de regresar de un viaje de 2.700 km por el norte de España. Un tiempo de descanso y para reflexionar sobre la tierra en la que nos encontramos. Esto incluyó dormir en: un parking publico, los promontorios de los acantilados, un campo y también algunos días aleatorios en los campings (es útil darse una ducha: ¡ayuda al cohabitar en un espacio pequeño!). Esos días fuimos a dos ciudades más grandes: Burgos y Ferrol. Sin embargo, en lugar de expandirnos sobre los desodorantes que usamos para compensar los (pocos) días sin una ducha, me centraré en estas dos ciudades.

Siempre nos gusta caminar por alguna ciudad, observar, orar y hablarle, a veces, por supuesto, nos responderá, por lo general de noche. Burgos fue nuestra primera parada, así que comenzaré por allí. Una ciudad “adecuada”, de buen comportamiento, con todo en su lugar. Un lugar que no se opone abiertamente a lo que viene nuevo, pero lo domesticará antes que después. La ciudad está pidiendo una persona / personas / cuerpo corporativo que no sea propiedad sino que venga con un espíritu generoso que hable vida a todo lo que es verdaderamente vivificante. Tan dispuestos a relacionarse con todas las expresiones del cuerpo de Cristo, pero invirtiendo en lo que es joven (como en la edad de las personas) y nuevo. Tal persona debe ser capaz de llevar el sentido del humor en el sentido de no centrarse en lo que están construyendo, sino en la vida que están liberando. Si esto pudiera aumentar, habrá un momento para hacer una respuesta clave cuando se les ofrezca un lugar en la mesa de respetabilidad, y en ese momento sin falta de respeto simplemente para continuar centrándose en los márgenes. ¡La ciudad lo está llamando ahora!

Ferrol … Lo visitamos principalmente porque este es el lugar de nacimiento de Franco, y visitamos aquí un jueves. Al día siguiente, el gobierno español aprobó el edicto para exhumar el cuerpo de Franco del Valle de los Caídos. Esto es histórico al tratar de resolver algunos de los temas pendientes de la Guerra Civil (1936-39) y el período de la dictadura (1939-75) y para nosotros en nuestro viaje por la historia de España. (Coincidentemente, también nació en Ferrol Pablo Iglesias (1850-1925), el fundador del partido socialista español).

Siempre es un reto ver una ciudad cuando se viene con una agenda, pero para nosotros este lugar tenía opulencia y orgullo justo debajo de la superficie. Un lugar que tiene que descubrir el don de la misericordia y alinearse a donde va en lugar de aferrarse a la historia. Vivir aquí como creyente sin duda sería un desafío. Piensa, ora y actúa a largo plazo. Invierte en lo que tienes a mano, manténte oculto, pero espera las aperturas cuando pueda haber un cambio de ventanas de oportunidad que llegará a esta ciudad: no se puede poner defensas que son inexpugnables.

Al orar en la casa donde nació Franco simplemente supimos que estábamos allí para cortar una raíz. hemos experimentado en varios frentes que hemos visto un cambio significativo propuesto solo para que no tenga lugar, por lo que ahora también estamos enfocados en asegurarnos en terminar en lo que nos involucramos. Aunque el gobierno ha aprobado la votación, todavía podría haber una apelación a los tribunales para revertir la decisión de exhumar el cuerpo. Como mencioné en un post reciente, el Valle de los Caídos está ubicado junto a El Escorial, un lugar que desde el principio nos dimos cuenta de que era una situación de poder donde el poder dominante estaba anclado, lo que ha afectado enormemente a la iglesia en España. Todavía no hemos hecho una visita específica a El Escorial, pero estamos bastante seguros de que llegará el día.

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By the end of the year!

Friday the Spanish parliament passed a very important vote to exhume Franco’s body from the Valley of the Fallen. (For the objection to this for example: The Guardian.) In 2015 we prayed with Roger and Sue Mitchell at the Valley of the Fallen at at his tomb. Thursday this week past Gayle and I went to the house where he was born. We had believed there still was unfinished business… and Friday the vote!

We have realised of late that in a number of issues that we have given a good push to that we have to finish them, the ‘finishing straight’ can hold the biggest resistance. Tomorrow we will be in Madrid to put a push in prayer behind the move.

We have looked for this year to bring a few things through to a completion. The constitution was signed at the end of 1978 – 40 years ago. Although it was a remarkable constitution to move Spain to democracy, it also needs to be loosened up. At the end of Franco he proclaimed that ‘all things are tied up, well tied up’. So… A time to untie we think.

These past 2 weeks we have been off road – without electricity, only very occasional internet. So getting home (Thursday?) will be great, but also the slow process of working through emails. For those who have written and there has been no reply… either an apology or the gift of patience!!

I will probably put up in a few days some reflections. Particularly with reference to Burgos and to Ferrol. Two major cities that we spent time in.

We have travelled exclusively in the north of Spain. It is our break, but also to get our feet in the land, hence the off road camping. We are also in the process of getting sight on the next 30 years… Might not have another 30 years, but there are those who died in faith whose voice still speaks, and maybe there are those who are alive whose voice does not speak any more. So seems faith is important.

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Pentecost: how far off?

What will it mean for us? The promise is for those ‘afar off’. Peter prophesied it, probably had some measure of expectation, but the fulfilment was way beyond what he anticipated. The ‘afar off’ were of course the Gentiles. I have covered some of this material elsewhere so will not write extensively this time round.

Peter’s life was about to change the day he went on the roof top to pray before dinner. Three times (3 times!!) he had a vision and 3 times he responded holding his ground, the ground that he had stood on because he had followed the ways of God. He moves from the vision to the front door to be confronted by three people (3 persons!) on his doorstep. They came speaking of supernatural encounters that an ‘afar off’ person had had: an angelic visitation with an address and the name of who he should contact. Role reversal! The apostle had an encounter that left him needing to be re-educated, Cornelius has the ‘high’ level encounter.

Peter has to make the journey, literally, culturally, emotionally and spiritually. He comes through because he is willing to have a major conversion. Cornelius too needs a conversion, but in the context it seems that was fairly small.

I consider that in every wave of the Spirit there are three phases, or at least there could be three phases. The promise is for ‘you’ is where it begins; the promise is generational… and dependent on how we respond to the generational promise, it can also be for those who are afar off. The promise is not as simple as ‘and then the afar off will come to you’, to embrace that third aspect we have to be willing to undergo conversions and to go on a journey. To stand our ground and say ‘never have I’ might be OK as a starting point, but we have to be open to being taught. That re-learning process will only come as we walk the path.

Some strange reports lie ahead. Ones that do fit in the categories we have pre-determined. Such is the promise of Pentecost.

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Pentecost: two paths

The promise is for you, and for your children. A promise for the future and for the generations to come. Every generation has a responsibility to and for the future. We are of course linked to the past and so each generation comes with choices as to what should continue and what will no longer serve the journey, but with a key choice as to how to relate to the generation to come. I am sure there are some good parents out there, I certainly do not think I excelled at that, but in my cluelessness tried to maintain a relationship and an encouragement for them to be who they need to be. Any success in that is down to them not me for sure. Familiar generations is important, and spiritual generations likewise.

I entitled this post as ‘two paths’ because I consider there are two ways in which any current generation can relate to the next. Both paths seem to extend life (and at times I consider this to be in a literal sense) to the current generation. The first is to verbally value the generation to come and to give them a focus and a profile but… and there is a but, but to do so because of mixed motives. I am not saying the motives are all bad, but they also include the motivation that every movement needs the energy of the younger, and in reality they are profiled with the knowledge that they are needed to bring life into ‘the house’. The result is that the younger generation gain kudos through association, but fundamentally their life is feeding and extending the life of the former generation. The result is that former generation continues, but the next generation never reach their true destiny.

The other path is where the former generation truly release the next generation, making their wisdom available but do not demand conformity. Such a pathway threatens the current shapes and existence, is risky, but is the path that has to be bravely embraced. In doing so ‘life works in them’ but when one gives, something also returns.

In the former path, life is taken; in the second pathway life is given – and received. The former works from control and conformity, the second with release and relationship.

This whole aspect is an increasing challenge to likes of me – what was my date of birth again? I entitle this blog ‘3Generations’ so am consciously embracing the need of generations together; I had a dream that my future was dependent on how I aligned to Gayle – not how she aligned to me. I have, though, lived much of my life with a platform provided, hence am weak relationally, and not well equipped to input to a younger generation. In realising that, I have been privilege to make phone calls and to contact people who have been (past tense) the next generation after mine and make apology for any aspect where I had deliberately or inadvertently seen them as life-givers, rather than be a life-giver to them.

If, however, I truly imbibe a pentecostal spirit, this promise is for me and for a connection to the next generation. There is life on offer, and I for one want to grab that as part of the promise of pentecost. And maybe if I can set out some shape for the next 30 years…

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