God, Land, People and Personal Maturity

Busy, buy, busy we have been. I have had a full-on week in the UK in Wales and the South-West; while away our area had the strongest storm in 140 years and co-incidentally (or otherwise?) Gayle hosted a very strategic time on ‘the feminisation of politics’. I am convinced that feminisation is absolutely key and there is a connection there to the shifts that are needed at this time, and somehow that will enable a push back against the demonisation of the ‘other’ and open up a receptivity in lands to the enormous enforced people-movements that are currently taking place. I am exploring the death of Jesus being to the distorted image of maleness and the perversion of what it meant to be chosen, and to the allegiance to nationalism, hence dying as a Jewish male.

Frutifulness is very difficult to measure. If an evangelist goes to an unevangelised area and there are a phenomenal number of personal responses to Christ then that might register easily on our ‘fruitfulness’ meter. Maybe church growth is a measure? However, where there is church growth there is also often church shrinking – other expressions go down in number. And how does one measure in a situation where there is little outword personal response to the Gospel? Beyond ‘fruitfulness’ of course faithfulness is the criterion by which we will be measured.

I have been reflecting that perhaps there are four elements that need to come together to produce something of a shift. Taking these in order:

God: being in the place and situation that God has appointed is #1 on the list. The complication with assessing this is that God, being God, shows up where we are… even if we are not where s/he would really like us to be. The presence of God does not signify an approval from heaven as s/he will maximise every situation for blessing. One of the prime examples of this is the anointing of the king when the very choice of kingship was a vote against God! However, let’s assume that the more responsive we are to being in the place or situation that God would desire for us the greater the shift likely around us.

Land: with something over 1200 biblical references this is not a second-rate theme. Where land has been cultivated in a certain way for centuries we can find a real resistance manifesting to those who come in the opposite spirit. Using the metaphor of ‘marrying the land’ in such situations there will be a process. First those coming in a different spirit will find extreme resistance and a whole season where the land seems to bring junk into their situation and home. If those people can hold through eventually – and how long is eventually? – there will be a shift, with the righteous position beginning to flow into the land.

People: those who live in the land have incredible authority. If they welcome those coming in the name of the Lord they open up their immediate situation to the miraculous. (‘Eat what they eat, heal the sick…’; ‘if they welcome you, they welcome me…’) Should they not receive those coming then there is a judgement they bring on that area – Jesus using the comparison with Sodom’s destruction. (Those stories indicating the power of hospitality and the presence of the angelic where there is hospitality.)

If we had a lining up of all three above there remains a fourth element. The personal response to the provocation to grow in maturity.

Through divine help we have been located in Oliva for just over 5 years. We have been blessed that dreams took us here; that over and over we have recognised how good the land has been to us. It was while we were here that we both simultaneously (at a moment of time while we were driving to Zaragoza) that we recognised the land could not evict us. That was an important shift and one we were grateful for. Maybe had we stayed where we were geographically prior to Oliva we might never have reached that stage, or it might have come a lot later, and perhaps if we had moved directly to Madrid (we planned to do so in 2011 and again in 2014 but had our two ‘diversions’) we might have discovered that we could not have continued. We have found such a welcome here, people have pulled us in, befriended us… so there is more to come.

God, land and people. Nicely lined up. It is early days for us in Madrid. Certainly we have had an enormous battle to get into the city, the vision that our entry would be up a sewer pipe has proved to be so accurate. We have had so many challenges to our prayers and prophetic declarations. Proclaiming that Madrid will align to ‘true north’ while watching as on many fronts it has aligned to any direction but.

We have no doubt God has led us, we will have to work hard and consistently for the land to respond, and we pray that there will be those with authority, those of the city who will receive us. Yes, we will need to be focused but some of that is beyond our say so. There is one element that remains… personal maturity! Now that is a challenge. Better stop writing and keep my head down.

PS. In July I wrote about not believing one’s own advertising / publicity and so wrote that I have a new resume to send out..

Martin Scott has had it pretty easy in life so has not learnt so much. He often thinks he knows better and so can be somewhat stubborn. Maybe it is reasonable attribute not to be overly-impressed by the opinions of others, maybe he is just a reticent learner. Many times quick to try and give an answer, can be guilty of pontificating beyond his understanding. (Photo can accompany the above publicity when the invite comes.)

While recently in Plymouth I read this out so that people might know me better. It was responded to by someone as ‘I think you have embellished that somewhat!’ OUCH!!

An offer – with a twist

Imperial power is deeply embedded in culture, manifesting in different ways. At times hidden (though always present) and at certain key moments in history manifesting very clearly. Reading the book of Revelation from the point of view of it being an exposure, a ripping back of reality through the world of surreal imagery, I suggest, will give us back a book to critique the world we live in. The Imperial spirit has always been present, but never more clearly than in the times of the NT – the fullness of times. Our own times might just be coming close to that reality.

A simple definition of the Imperial spirit would be something along the lines of:

The Imperial spirit is present when there are a few who sit at the centre shaping the future. They promise benefits to those who comply, but the real benefits flow back to the centre to them, and their connections. There being an implicit (and at times explicit) claim to a divine mandate for the activity.

The divine mandate can be as non-theistic as secularism right through to a monotheistic sovereign God perspective. Probably the non-theistic approach is when there is less threat against the imperial life. If this be so we have to be very careful when there is a seeming advance of certain values. Are they as a genuine shift of powers and the advance of the Gospel, or are they being subtly co-opted, and thus eventually lose the power; maybe in biblical words that the latter stage will be worse than the former, with 1 demon replaced by 7?

The West has manifested this Imperial spirit very clearly with a dominance and exploitation of the rest of the world. There can be claims of how benefits have come to other places, and at a Christian level there can be claims that the Gospel has travelled along the routes that Imperial trade has opened up. Benefits to a level – yes, but the end result is not a shift toward an equalisation and empowerment.

Since the turn of the millennium there has been a great focus on shifting the imperial spirit, of ‘rolling up the Roman road’, and inevitably there was a big kick back into ecclesial structure. Maybe more so on the ones claiming a biblical shape(?), where however much body ministry was emphasised, inevitably teaching on authority bought into the ‘sovereign’ perspective of authority from above.

The shaking (madness) of the current time is very sobering. When the imperial structures shake there will always be a searching for divine approval. What better place to go searching than to some form of the Christian faith? In exchange for a bigger place at the table, a bigger opportunity to influence the future, that injection of life, indeed the very life itself, can help give resurrection to the Imperial spirit – in the words of Revelation, though the head received a mortal wound, the beast lived again.

These are very dangerous times indeed. There are many words spoken of family values, Judaeo-Christian values and the like. When that happens there will always be a compromise if believers somehow believe the kingdom of God arrives through the exercise of power. Inevitably in all situations of imperial power there will be persecution, it will always be against those who disturb the status quo. It would be very sad if in seeing the opportunity of the place at the table the result was a strengthening of the imperial arm to persecute those who are fleeing from real danger in other lands. Currently many are dying, or being sent back to die. Such a response begins rationally but if not opposed it will become ratified by means of legislation… and this would be very sad if this was found to be supported by many traditional Christians.

For those with a touch of Anabaptism or alternative to mainstream ecclesiology about them, we are coming out from under the ‘blessing’ of Constantinianism. The work of years could either take a step back or we could see a whole new landscape appear.

There is a madness

I am very grateful that I was copied in to a video that Steve Watters put out privately to a few on WhatsApp. I have asked permission if I could post a transcript from the video. It is of course not a short but I think an important read. We are living in a season at least of huge shifts and redefinitions, with the West losing its hold on the future, and maybe something even bigger is happening. For the kingdom to come, imperial strength must go. For the multiplical-diverse voice of God to be heard (as in Pentecost where they all spoke or the book of Revelation and the sound of many waters) the voice of the beast has to be silenced. In this current throw the beast has not just been given a voice but is shouting so loud that all voices of the demos are being silenced.

Below then is the transcript from Steve’s video:

Like me, you might have struggled to find hope in the midst of some of the things going on in our politics over the last few years and the way that we’ve not been able to ‘talk to each other’ across different viewpoints.

I was reminded last November of the dream that a king had. King Nebuchadnezzar dreamt of a huge tree – the tallest tree in the land. The birds sheltered under it and the animals ate food from it. Then it was chopped down. The king was really worried by this dream and couldn’t find an explanation of what it meant. He eventually got an interpretation – Daniel said “Bad luck king, I’m sorry to tell you this, but you’re going to go mad and you will be mad for ‘seven times’. You will lose your sanity and you will lose your kingdom – the tree is like your kingdom. You will eat grass like the cattle. But then after ‘seven times’ your sanity will be restored to you and then your kingdom will be restored to you too.”

That has felt like a fitting analogy to me over the last 9 months or so of where the UK is at. It feels like we have gone mad. Plus it feels like there is something in that madness that is to do with losing some of our kingdom, some of what the UK has been.

I’m not suggesting that to support Brexit is ‘madness’ – I think that’s totally legitimate. For me the madness is about the way that we haven’t been able to talk to each other, haven’t been to have a conversation. It’s about the division that we have seen sown across our communities and across our country.

We’re normally a ‘conservative’ country – agreed? I don’t mean the political party – I mean that we don’t change things very quickly as a country, we don’t like rocking the boat. We’re not like the French – we don’t have revolutions and things like that. We’re very slow to change.

So here we are… A normally ‘conservative’ country, willing to throw the baby out with the bathwater, willing to rock the boat. Even willing to really seriously rock the financial markets – something that we never want to do as a country, especially not under a tory government. Here we are ‘going mad’, with things changing.

So why? Where’s the hope in that? For me, the sense of hope is that there is a new identity to be found for us as a nation. We’ve never really shed our identity as the ruler of the British empire, as a colonial power, as a nation that expects to have a seat at the top table around the world. I think there’s a new, more redemptive identity for us to find as a nation, where perhaps the only way for us to find it, it seems, may be is that we need to be humbled. It certainly seems like we are being humbled – that our sanity is temporarily gone and that maybe our kingdom is going as well. So I see the chaos that goes on at the moment in politics, in communities and in conversations and I feel we need to pray for new identity and for new beginnings. Because we do need the old way to die.

I’ve been looking out for a sign… If you remember back when Greece was in chaos and reeling after the financial crash – yet in the middle of that Greece suddenly win the football and it felt like a sign – a moment in which Greece seemed to be losing everything and yet, really unexpectedly they won the football. So I’ve been watching out.

I thought earlier this year that perhaps England might win the football. We didn’t. But then it came to the weekend of the Cricket World Cup finals and I suddenly was struck – what greater symbol is there of British Empire than cricket! I was convinced that we were going to win the cricket final and I kept telling people watching the cricket final who were all really nervous – “Don’t worry, we’re going to win!”. They didn’t appreciate this, but sure enough, we won the cricket world cup.

To me that felt like the ‘last hurrah’ of the old way. Great to win the cricket, but it’s a symbol of the old identity that the UK has had, that needs to go. It felt like the last hurrah. It chimes for me with the style & personality of our current prime minister – it feels his style & personality is also a bit like a ‘last hurrah’ – it’s like going out with a bang of an old way of doing things that simply won’t serve us in the future, pushing to an extreme.

I also took note of the really big power cut that happened around the UK a few weeks ago. Again, that felt to me like a sign of the need to change and the need for new beginnings – the power being cut from the ‘old ways’. It was reported to be the biggest power cut in the UK since 2008 – the year of the financial crash. So I took note of it being the biggest power cut since 2008 – it’s a moment of disruption for us as a country. I also took note of the fact that the power cut happened on the 8th August. So the 8th of the 8th and the last one since ’08. The number 8 often symbolises new beginnings. After the 7 days, then there was the 8th day – the first day of a new week. So I think there’s an opportunity to pray for ‘new beginnings’ – for that 8th day to come, for that day when things are made new again.

We need a new beginning, a new identity as a nation. And as we know, people up and down this country in different communities need new beginnings & new starts for their situations.

The Churchill spirit

For some Winston C. was a hero who stood up to the nazi spirit, and it is easy to go along with that – even if one espouses non-violent resistance. There are those who have prophetically and conviction-wise seen the entrance of a certain Mr. B as one coming to the scene (I could not use the ‘kingdom’ there) for such a time as this, and he is anointed with the Churchill spirit. Maybe.

Given that the Spirit of Jesus is pure, but the ‘spirit of Martin’, or the ‘spirit of Churchill’ (or ‘anointing of..’) is mixed what if the ‘spirit of Churchill’ is great in a certain situation and setting – such as when there is the advance of nazism which manifests as domination, crushing and eradicating all difference – but in another setting is anything but in the right direction, such as working with neighbours, hearing and appreciating difference?

Ends the thought for the day.

True north and a bear

Lee Ann Thompson highlighted this article that was published in the Gaurdian on August 30th:

Compasses to point true north for first time in 360-years

It begins with:

At some point over the next two weeks, compasses at Greenwich will point true north for the first time in about 360 years.

This will have ‘no impact on daily life’ the article states, though it is certainly ‘a once-in-a-lifetime event’. And ever so interesting and impacting for us. So I embark on a winding story, and I will keep it brief!

In 2018 we were with Lee Ann and numerous other people in Prague, invited by Cathrine Novotna, where there was a strong focus on shifting or aligning time for Europe. Many aspects seemed to come together and alongside immediate and ensuing signs a survey was sent out to EU countries as to what time they wished to be on. Ever so significant.

Three months later we were with a group called ORCAS (Orkney, Caithness and Shetland) who are seeking to take responsibility for the north of Scotland where they are based. It was great to be there – and for me of course having been born there it was unique. During the conference there was input from Bert McKaig who said the purpose of the people gathered was to set true north. That word penetrated our ears and hearts, and we took it on board for our own situation since. True words of that nature (nearly?) always have a sign that follows, the sign pointing to and re-enforcing the reality AND DRAWING THE REALITY TO THE SIGN.

Our prayer for the year since that word for our own situation has been for Madrid to align to true north, so that Spain will be aligned and we know that Spain is to line up in a direction that will enable there to be total right alignment across Europe. Gayle bought me a compass earring as a daily sign; I had my back tattooed with the words ‘true north’, something that goes back to November 2013 and understanding how even the current Catalan situation has to be resolved with a right alignment of Madrid… Then lo and behold the compass earring was lost. OK I lost it, coming clean I cannot blame the earring for that. I do have a birthday once a year and Gayle had ordered me two new earrings. A new compass earring, and a silver bear (the symbol of Madrid is the bear). Interestingly the bear arrived first so in it went with some great prayer from Gayle.

Growing up with clear skies – other than when the rain was present in abundance! – one learned early on to know where north was. Find the bear, follow the two final stars on the right and there is ‘true north’, the pole star. The bear leads you to find true north.

We have been praying for Madrid to find true north. A good prayer, and over the past year – read the last post – Spain has seemed to align in every direction other than true north. Hence extreme personal insult. Now there is a further element… Madrid be the bear you are meant to be. The statue in the middle of Madrid is called ‘el oso y el madroño’ – the bear and the strawberry tree. But the bear is not really el oso (male) but la osa – the female / mother bear. Likewise the the great bear constellation in Latin is the female bear.

There is something BIG happenning at this time. The sign is pushing us:

  • True north aligned at Greenwich (the place of time measurement).
  • True north is shifting eastward – there is a shift from the dominance of the Western mind-set. Intuition not simply academic.
  • The restoration of the feminine is key to enable us to find true north.

I wrote in the last post that it has been a challenging year (understatement!) but that does not make it a bad year. It raises questions of course, and the key questions will always be about whether we have missed something along the way or could have done more. There are many more bumps in the road coming these next months, and as I wrote that this morning in an email response to someone I saw that we (corporate we) have to learn how to ride a ‘hover board’. Follow the terrain but also be elevated above the terrain. We must follow what is happening but not dictated to by all the ups and downs.

Western democracy is creaking. Old institutions are being used to abuse, for the beastliness is coming out in force, that beastliness that dehumanises. The beast receives a voice (Revelation, so that there is only one voice that is heard – think about how the huge wrong alignments are silencing the voices of diversity at this time), but the Spirit gives to one and all so that ‘they all began to speak’.

I have been reflecting on the dream of the shift from 2010 to 2020 with the see-saw eventually balanced. The end of a decade and a level playing field, but I suggest opening the way for a ‘game’ to be played over not one but the next two decades. we were reflecting on this yesterday and noticed today in the Guardian article:

By 2040, all compasses will probably point eastwards of true north.

Signs point… and signs pull… Time and direction.

A (maybe) relevant post

This article might not be of relevance to anyone other than myself, and given that I end it with ‘the relevance of the article is that this article might just not be relevant’ I am not sure who I expect to read it, but here goes…

Been a challenging year to say the least; maybe the most personally insulting of any of our now (almost) 11 years in Spain. I don’t expect anyone likes to face failure, and truth is failure is very hard to define. In the important areas of life, that of personal relationships and for those of us who are married, those familiar relationships are not easy to assess. I consider I get an ‘average’ in those set. Anyway the areas of husbanding and parenting are not two areas where a ‘failure/ success’ category seems appropriate, and my mantra has been , ‘just muddle along’. Indeed a lot of life I seem to have approached in that way! It is more when we get into the areas of doing something that we should be able to do but come up short that the ‘failure’ category seems to kick in. And that is where the sentence of this paragraph has relevance – been a tough year.

We had some simple tasks, and not just some simple tasks, but revelation with them to enable the tasks to be fulfilled. The signs that we had done something close to fulfilling what we were to do would be visible in the public arena. On both fronts the signs have either not manifested or even the opposite has become visible. That makes for a tough year. Maybe even the ‘failure’ label is justified.

There are some riders which I hope I do not make into excuses:

  • The apostolic vision is marked by ‘patience’. A long term vision is required in which there will be setbacks and advances.
  • No kingdom activity is wasted. Harvests are reaped after seed has been sown. Seed ‘dies’ when it enters the ground. Jesus (Jn. 4) informed the disciples that they would reap where they had not sown, but it is not possible to reap where no-one has sown.
  • Sometimes aspects we want to shift get visibly stronger before they shift. There is a final manifestation (or series of final manifestations) before the change.
  • We see in part, no-one has the whole picture.

In life we all fail but two key things seem to be important. To fail does not make us a failure. Thank God for that! And secondly, we can only make tentative responses as our assessment is warped.

Might have been a tough year. In some ways that is almost irrelevant. So the relevance of the article is that this article might just not be relevant.

Simply profound

Ever find something hard to understand – or is it only me? I was once told that truth is both simple and yet profound. Sometimes though getting hold of what someone is saying / writing is not always so easy. Words used, and wait for it, the ‘presuppositional pool’ might mean we don’t quite get it. In this post I am going to recommend a video and a post from two important contributors in the realm of theology and its application.

I am grateful for Roger Mitchell’s work and also for having the privilege to dialogue with him so (I think) I have some grasp on his important writings. In his introduction to the video that appears below he writes:

If you find me hard to read as some do, although by no means all, then this talk will help hugely!! As an activist I find it s much easier to make sense at a popular level when I’m in context hands on. Here I am!

There is so much meat in the talk and his explanation of why he pursued his PhD is very clear. He came at it with three questions:

  • why do the rich and powerful always end up at the top?
  • why is it the same way in the church?
  • and why has the church actively supported / endorsed and strengthened that scenario?

Let the ‘ouch’ of those three questions sink in and then here is the link to the video:

The second post I suggest that is more than worth a read is one by Andrew Perriman. The opening paragraph reads:

Here I want to try and answer some questions sent to me by someone who grew up in the “reformed, fundamental, SBC” tradition but has spent the best part of the last year deconstructing his faith “down to nothing.” He has been reading the work of historically-minded interpreters like Pete Enns and NTWright, but has been having a hard time finding a way forward. His faith is sinking. “I currently don’t see any reason to be a Christian or to continue in the Christian way.”

Sinking faith feeling

I do not find and agreement with the perspective that Christendom is the fulfilment of the hope that God is acknowledged as Lord of the nations, so on that I do not go along with Andrew, but his writings and his insistence on the narrative shaping theology is invaluable. This post I reference above will help enormously in understanding this.

Without languages the world languishes

Sub-title: Would Jesus get a PhD?

Reason for this post: writing helps me think and also Steve Lowton and I have just had an hour or in conversation, so he is partly to blame.

There are so many languages spoken, so many combinations of words and sounds used to communicate.

Gayle and I are very interested in how movements grow and develop. In Spain there is a political movement that pushes back strongly against the status quo. We do not expect any movement to be perfect, but some of the aspects of this movement have impacted us. At the core, and at the roots of its birth, are a set of relationships that were involved together at the University and academic world. Iron has sharpened iron in that environment. So often movements for change have a strong philosophy at their roots, a philosophy worked out in the academic world.

Maybe this is how it is meant to be… Maybe the academic world is the place that initiates change. However, there is a difficulty for many of us in this. If we are not versed in the literature, and do not have the intellectual ability to access it, we will find it hard to critique what is being presented. Let me give a simple example. I have been hugely influenced by N.T. Wright. Why? Is it because I have judged what he presents as being on the ball? Or is it (and much more likely) I do not have the means to see where he is missing it and therefore he must be right? If I had been exposed to someone else maybe they would have convinced me.

Remember the days of debate on women in leadership? (Thank God so many, many years ago.) A pro-women in leadership could present the biblical material one week, the ‘male is leadership’ person the next. Then the rest of us could be convinced one way on week 1 and the other on week 2. Or the current debate on same-sex unions. Read author 1… and I am so convinced; read author 2… I have changed my mind. Truth is on many issues we do not simply have the ability to work it out intellectually.

Back to N.T. Wright and other such genuinely bright (and humble) people. There are many aspects of N.T. Wright’s writings that I like, and I respect enormously that he can write at an academic level and a popular one. If I can (just about) access the popular level it does not make me his equal!

I am sure the academic world is important. The world of analysing and dissecting, thesis, counter-thesis etc. But is it the only voice we need to hear?

A movement I am very keen on is that of Liberation Theology. Birthed in the favellas of South America, allowing for interpretation of Scripture that was not academically based but a ‘how do you read this from your oppressed situation?’ That kind of question is so important. I am sure not the only question that needs to be asked, nor the only people who need to have a voice, but people and voice that is seldom heard.

Much is often made of the uneducated nature of many of the disciples of Jesus – a number pulled from the world of the norhtern fisheries, not from those who had completed first and second degrees. Maybe because of that some of their writings are not as theologically dense as we might think… Maybe even in the case of Paul, someone who was probably pretty intellectual, we might find him pulling a face if he could see all the theologies written that explain what he was really saying. What if he was unable to access the theologies on his writings because what was written was just simply beyond him?

And back to the sub-title. Did Jesus have the intellectual ability to obtain a PhD? I don’t think we should automatically assume he did. He certainly had wisdom beyond any other wisdom, but that does not mean he had the intellectual ability to access the academic world at that level.

OK, coming in to land after such a waffle. There are many voices. Most are very small. Most of us have learnt so little, but the voice has value, and it is in the multiplicity and diversity of voice that the voice of God is heard: the sound of many running waters.

God bless the academics, but if I have a say on it at any level, let’s have a strong breath from heaven to amplify the voice on the street.

Faith, hope… and love

‘Faith is the substance of what we are hoping for’ (Priscilla’s words in Heb. 11) presents one of the relationships between faith and hope. Hope is like the mould that faith can then fill. Ultimate hope is of re-creation, the renewal of all things – that outcome is secure. What I term ‘interim’ hope is that bright outlook on the future, that expectation that something will change. That kind of hope, if it is to contribute to the future, cannot be simply (naive) optimism but has to be based on some solid foundations. If that hope is genuine faith becomes the bridge across which heaven’s values travel to our realm. From the initial hope then as faith increases so there is a shift. (Faith increasing was Paul’s prayer for the Corinthian church. They practically lacked at so many levels in their call to fill their region with heavens’ presence, but Paul narrowed down the lack to ‘faith’.)

There remains faith and hope, Paul says – and love. I have written a few times that losing hope is understandable. The issues that need changing are enormous, but we need to look to where God is at work and put our hope there. As the body of Christ recovers her destiny to be the agent of change for the world hope can develop. This does not mean that God only works through the church, but that the church’s responsibility is to change the environment so that the good (and God-given) gifts of human servanthood and enterprise can be expressed.

My hope is for a recovery of that call in the body of Christ, to understand again the political (small ‘p’ please, not NOT NOT party politics, right, left, but certainly shaking all things about political passion) nature of the Gospel. My hope is for the partnership of the body of Christ both with heaven and with the world. Yes we have a long way to go and this signals a big shift from where we have been, but that is my hope.

Hope and faith grows… And not all things are resolved as we want. Maybe we did not really have faith, maybe we did not see the whole picture. Maybe we are not as smart as we thought. Maybe we just simply failed.

Faith and hope. And love. Those three remain, but the greatest of these is love. When all else fails, when our passions do not produce what we thought, when we have prayed and stood and just plain got knocked over… there is love.

There are losses. There are times when the good of the past disappears, but if there was love in there it is stored up in heaven. It cannot be lost:

He has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you… in all of this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you mayhave had to suffer grief and in all kinds of trials. (1 Peter 1:3-6).

Stored in heaven, kept safe where rust nor moth can destroy. Stored there so that it can be revealed here in the eschaton. Everything good is stored… Setbacks are for real, our hopes might have been misplaced, our faith might not have been genuine… but the greatest of these is love. When all else fails we can love, and love opens the clearest channel to heaven to deposit all the good things that will be manifest on that great day.

Time for hope, time to believe, and if for whatever reason we do not see what we hoped for… provided in and through it all love remains, somehow everything that we hoped for but never saw, had hold of but lost… will come through the fire intact.

BTW: Priscilla is as likely as it being Paul who wrote Hebrews and as she is the best known female person with ‘P’ what more evidence do I need?

Breathing hope

I have been writing a little about ‘hope’, both as the secure ultimate hope that there is another age that will swallow up this age, there will be a culmination to this age, there will be resolution to the issues we wrestle with here… and of holding on to hope within this age, while not looking for a utopia, to see visible signs that point to heaven’s greater realities.

It is very challenging to hold on to ‘temporal’ hope when there are so many issues unresolved. Stay within the four walls and of course it is easier… but read about those seeking safety not being allowed entry to a European port.

https://openarms.es/en

Open Arms… brave, courageous, risk-takers, lovers of people… working tirelessly to save people from danger with the wonderful statement on their home page:

All those lives we save in the Mediterranean aren’t numbers, they are people with a story and a voice.

So a comment on the big picture (as I with limited vision see it). We have moved from the hope raised by global relationships – end of the Cold War, Berlin Wall collapse, China becoming open to the market and capitalism, EU expansion etc… And of course all the downside of that with globalisation and global companies becoming more powerful than many states – witnessed to by who decides how much and where taxes are paid. The result has been one of the extremes of wealth and poverty, exploitation etc. However, there is a shift taking place with a pull back from the globalisation (as if this is possible!) to nationalism. ‘Make **** great again’ (insert whatever country you wish); close borders, claim sovereignty, new threat of cold war etc.

My big picture analysis could well be so suspect that a whole fleet of buses might just drive through it, but the other day as I was disturbed by this I saw it as being a breath in and a breath out. Not necessarily in this order, but a breath in for nationalism, breath out for globalisation. The breathing keeps the beast alive.

The conflict of interests is huge at this time… which way to pull, but it is in this season that we have to be ahead of the game. The current pull back will lead to re-alignments to push again for a global hegemony, probably we will see this becoming very visible in 15-20 years time.

And for ‘me in my small corner’ it has to be an embrace of an alien status, a refusal to let love for the land ever become nationalism, a use of any gifts to open doors of opportunities for others (come on we can push beyond Proverbs!).

This is such a creative time, and I suspect that the body of Christ has to move more toward the global in this season, and in a non-colonial way. Not global in that we are here to help you with all we know, but global in what can we learn so that we can partner with you? And this includes coming to serve the world – it is a time to learn. Certainly any pull back in this season will simply feed the beast – best not do that!

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